Saturday, January 25, 2014

Time to Get Started

The days are getting longer, the seeds have arrived, the high tunnel crops are growing again, and the last days of January are upon us. We have come to learn over the years that when those things align, it is time to start the season.

Today the first seeds of 2014 were planted in the greenhouse...Walla Walla onions, to be followed by spring high tunnel crops of lettuce, Asian greens, herbs and many more treats. We are looking forward to the harvest.

First seed of 2014
Plans for the season are ambitious. We have already started on an expansion of the greenhouse. It was quite tight last season, and we plan on adding a 12 x 12 area that can be dedicated as a "potting shed." While the weather was warm and the ground unfrozen last week we began the earthmoving and trenching needed to place the foundation. A trip to the lumberyard for materials, some warm days and a few extra hands and we will be ready to start building.

Potting shed outline
Other plans include a new pole barn to house our equipment and shop, so that the old barn can be cleared out. This will allow more room for processing vegetables and construction of a fermentarium. Future production of fermented products like kim chi, sauerkraut and pickles is on our radar.

Sunny and Momma chillin'
This project is in part dependent the continued improvement of our vegetable production abilities. We applied for a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant (SARE) in the fall to look into adding "reduced tillage" methods to our repertoire. If the system works for us we will be able to roll-down our cover crops, let them die back, and then plant directly into the mulch that they create. This will save the need to apply hay mulch by hand, a significant labor and cost savings.

All this while keeping our number one priority, our CSA, loaded with fresh vegetables and fruit. No problem right? We love a challenge and look forward to meeting our goals, but a workforce for the year would help. We still have two apprenticeship positions open, though we have had some nibbles. And we are looking for a qualified person for our seasonal full-time position. If you know anyone who is up to either task, send them to our website's Apprentice page.

Our birds
Birds passing through

Friday, January 3, 2014

Hello 2014

One month ago was our last blog. The Fair Share Farm calendar said that December was for family, friends, and farmers. And while a few farmers markets were thrown in there, we did our best to obey.

The month started with a snowfall and a farewell party to the farm crew. We say adieu to Lorne and Lauren, and hope that their time at the farm helps them build one of their own in the northwest, or wherever they may land. Luke is here a couple more days, but is then off to Hawaii, and a host of new life experiences.

A final farewell with the crew

A little food and farm related work did transpire during the month, as we continue to determine the feasibility of developing a fermentation operation here at the farm. One important step is recipe development. What is the best product we can make, which varieties of vegetables grow and ferment the best, how much salt should we use?????? Trialing has been fun and tasty, and we are hoping that the future of the farm includes a food processing venture.

Sauerkraut trials

Vacation was short, but incredibly sweet. Down to the Yucatan in Mexico we went, for 6 days. Our destination was Tulum, home of sea turtles, Mayan ruins, friendly people, fresh seafood, and bare feet. We stayed in an area completely off the grid, where all power is supplied by solar, wind and generator power. It was a very therapeutic time.

Climbing the pyramid at Coba

At the ruins in Tulum
A whirlwind sent us home and then back out to Cincinnati to visit my family...85 degrees one morning and minus 4 the next. During our short stay we found time to visit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The stories in the museum are ones that have taken too long to be told. If you are ever heading to Ohio, add it to your list of stops.

Slave pen from Northern Kentucky

With the new year now here, we begin our normal routine of planning and anxiousness. The high tunnel, chickens, dog, cats, songbirds, and wood stove need daily tending and keep one busy. 2013 is a tough year to top, but our soil is only getting better. We will be trialing new cover cropping techniques this year and are looking forward to improving our farming methods. We feel rested and ready to go.

50 growing hens
Rocky's favorite bed

The current view
Sunny staying warm inside