Tuesday, March 19, 2013

2011---Our Eighth Season

Impression of Rocky
By 2011 we had experienced eight years of farming in the same spot and seen how the land responds to just about every weather condition.  We continued to work on systems that could keep our farm resilient and sustainable for the future.

We were helped along by a principle promoted by Dr. W. Edwards Deming to "improve constantly and forever"... something I had learned in engineering and Rebecca knew inherently. It is an axiom that is in concert with the idea of sustainablility. We felt that we had a firm foundation to now build for the long-term future of Fair Share Farm.

The first couple months of the year were as busy as ever. We had one last area of the house to gut, insulate, re-wire, re-wall, re-window and re-door. We got it mostly done before things got too hectic and are enjoying the fruits of this labor to this day.

Only a memory now
The previous November, Lucas Knutter joined the farm team, house-sitting the apprentice house for the winter and joining us as a full-time apprentice in March. He had just finished a 27-month stint in the Peace Corp working with farmers in Senegal, and returned ready to start a farm of his own.  He went straight to work in January, joining us to repair some problem spots on the greenhouse.

It was a great year for the soil. Our Spring plantings went as smooth as ever after a quick cultivating pass with the G.

The Summer cover crop of sudan grass and cow peas grew 7 feet tall and was our best yet. Between the top growth and an extensive root system, the soil was given a feast.
Mowing down the cover crops before turning them under
Weather played its usual good guy/bad guy role, threatening tornados in the Spring, baking us silly in the Summer, and providing for a robust harvest in the Fall.  Kim Conrads joined us for the summer right after high school graduation and spent one of her first hours at the farm in our root cellar with the farm crew of CSA members, workers, farmers, a dog and two cats. Luckily no funnel stopped by.

Safe in the root cellar
August 2, a record high.
Among the standouts that year were our record snap pea (400+ lb), tomato (5,600+ lbs) and sweet potato (2,100+ lb) harvests . Other crops did excellent too, as the almost 2.7 lb head of broccoli pictured below can attest.

The tomato share during Week 11
CSA morning in the packing room

Colorful carrots
Head-sized broccoli
Fall share
July 25 was a unique day for us as we hosted Justus Drugstore and Outstanding in the Field for an al fresco dinner on the farm. It is tough to describe in one paragraph what a wonderful event it was. The food was unique and satisfying, the crowd happy and boisterous, and the presentation professional and artful. The whole story is in our July 26 blog.

The long table on a hot Missouri day
By August, Kim had headed to college and we had a new apprentice in Dani Hurst. She was ready to put the homesteading and farming skills she had learned about as a writer for Natural Home magazine into practice.  Her energy and good nature was appreciated for the next 1-1/2 years she spent with us.

Dani mulching leeks

Another group that has helped out over the years is my family. The road Rebecca and I took to where we are right now was not a normal one. While no doubt skeptical at first, their love and support for us over the years has been true and real. My brother and five sisters have all done a stint or two at the farm, visited during unique events like OITF, and otherwise used their talents to help us out. It has been a fun family affair.

My brother Bill juicing pears with our great-grandfather's press
Autumn 2011 was warm and the crops thrived into early winter.  The fields were plentiful past the end of our CSA season and for our annual night at the Bad Seed pre-Thanksgiving Market.


A rarity for us, the hustle and bustle of running a market table on a busy night is a lot of fun. So is catching up and bartering with all the other vendors, seeing our big city friends and enjoying the festive atmosphere.

Fall bounty
Next up...one year ago and a new high tunnel, more record harvests, the drought, OITF II, and back to the present.

No comments: