Friday, March 24, 2017

Early Spring Farm Update!

by Andrea Yoder

Spring is officially here and our first week of CSA deliveries is only 6 weeks away!  Here at the farm we are looking forward to the return of spinach, salad greens, spring onions, ramps, asparagus, chives, baby bok choi……we love seasonal eating!   We’ve had an exciting first week of spring and within just a few more weeks, the pace of the farm is going to quicken.  As we transition into a new season, we thought we’d share a little glimpse of farm happenings.
Onions looking forward to going in to the Cold Frame
Greenhouse to 'toughen up' before the journey to the fields!

Back in February we fired up our nursery greenhouse.  Despite a few snow days that slowed us down, our small winter crew worked diligently to get the house cleaned and set up before starting to plant.  Our onions are now 4 weeks old and were fertilized for the first time last week.  They enjoyed a few bright, sunny days earlier this week and were so happy they shot up a few inches over the past two days!  We also have some pretty little lettuce plants, the fennel poked through this week and the celeriac is finally coming up!  Celeriac takes almost two weeks to germinate, so it can be a real nail-biter waiting for it to come up!  This week Beatriz & Laurel seeded all of the first plantings of broccoli, cauliflower, spring cabbage and kohlrabi as well as our first planting of kale and collards.  Over half of the herbs for the herb packs are planted and we’ll be putting those together in just a few short weeks so they’ll be ready to deliver to your CSA sites in May!  
Beatriz, Gerardo and Laurel
in the Nursery Greenhouse.
Our second greenhouse is quickly filling up, so we’ve been working on preparing the third and final house.  This is our cold frame greenhouse which has rollup sides to give the plants a bit of a controlled dose of reality before they are transplanted in the field.  They get tickled by the wind blowing in the sides and their nights are chillier than they are in the other houses.  The plants will spend a few weeks in this house to toughen them up before they are transplanted into the field.  

John, Scott and Simon finishing up the
Cold Frame Greenhouse plastic project!
This year we had to replace the plastic on the cold frame greenhouse.  Imagine giant sheets of plastic billowing in the air….a magical image, right?  Not in our world!  On our first attempt, there were reports of large men (Scott and Richard) being lifted right off their feet by the force of the gentle wind coming up under the plastic.  We’re thankful that Beatriz held on tight and she landed on two feet!  After having to abort the effort on Tuesday, we regrouped and tried again on Wednesday morning.  Everyone on the farm came in at 7 am and we were able to successfully get the plastic anchored onto the frame before those seemingly gentle gusts of wind came up.  Simon and Scott will finish putting the house back together today and the onions will move into that house on Monday!

Early Wednesday morning
greenhouse re-plasticing project!
Our winter crew members have been doing a great job keeping up with our greenhouse schedule, getting the willow trimmed and bunched, etc, but when we look at our to-do lists for the next few weeks, we acknowledge we’re going to need more hands to get everything done before the first week of CSA deliveries!  This week we were thankful to get our final approval and be able to move forward with the process to obtain H2A visas for our field crew members in Mexico.  Yes, we’ve been a bit nervous and won’t fully rest until our guys have safely returned.  We expect the first group to return the second week of April.  Keep your fingers crossed that the rest of the process and their travels will go smoothly and safely!  

Out in the pasture, the ducks and chickens are anxiously awaiting the return to their summer pasture by the creek.  The ducks are looking forward to playing in the creek again….the puddles just aren’t as satisfying.  Our goat herd has expanded by two kids this month and there are 5 more expectant mothers.  The cows are healthy and have had a good winter.  They’ve enjoyed their “chocolate” hay on cold, wet, snowy days when they eat inside the barn, but prefer to eat outside in the sunshine where we feed them their special haylage bales.  Within the next month we hope to add pigs to our pastures and then our “Old MacDonald” farm animal collection will be complete.

One of our roosters saying 'Hello'!
Ducks waddling in a puddle waiting
 to go back to their creek across the road! 

Farmers Richard & Andrea
holding one of the new baby goats!
In the office, Kelly and Lisa have been busy processing CSA orders and working on the 2017-2018 CSA Calendar.  Richard has been working on his crop plan, ordering field supplies and sneaking in some time to work on a few wood projects.  Over the winter John has been working on finishing the inside of the new solar kiln for drying lumber.  Laurel and I enjoyed attending the MOSES Organic Farming Conference in LaCrosse, Wisconsin at the end of February.  One of the highlights of the conference included a keynote presentation by Mas Masumoto, one of our fruit growers from California!  I had the opportunity to have dinner with him at the conference and will share more about his story and our conversations in our fruit newsletters this summer.  

Farmer Richard working on a
walnut coffee table
And finally….Farmer Richard has a field report for us.  The overwintered spinach is alive! We had large row covers on it for the winter and perimeter fence to keep the deer out. Several weeks ago we had high winds that lifted some of the corners got tangled up in the fence and made a real mess!   Scott and Richard replaced the fence before the deer realized it was down and turned the field into an all-you-can eat salad bar.  The garlic sprouts are pushing through the straw mulch and our rye cover crops are a bright, dark green.

Dreaming of Summer Strawberries!
We are looking forward to the start of a new CSA Season and hope you are too!  Our supply of canned tomatoes, frozen mini-sweet peppers and berries is dwindling.  The stored onions are starting to sprout and the last portion of our winter supply of potatoes are starting to look more like seed potatoes!  I have a stack of seasonal recipes I’ve been collecting and am looking forward to trying them as the vegetables come into season.  Before we know it, we’ll be enjoying thick over-wintered spinach salads, fresh oven-roasted beets, juicy ripe strawberries, fragrant basil pesto and sweet sungold tomatoes bursting in our mouths!