This week in the pack, we expect to have beans; 2 bunches of carrots; zucchini; cucumber; basil; garlic; salad mix; arugula; herbs; we’ll try to have kale; and cherries. Please note: the cherries are not from our farm and they are conventionally grown.
On Saturday August 9 we’ll have our first Open Farm Day from 2pm onward. Directions to the farm can be found here.
David contributed this week’s farm news.
Over the next few weeks, the final field plantings of the year will be completed. Even though we are in the middle of the season, this is a time to review the goals we set last winter, assess how things are going, and start thinking about next year. I’m glad to report that our original vision for Abundant Acres is still guiding and inspiring us. To build a farm that is a place of abundance on many levels. Health, joy, livelihood and perhaps most importantly, community.
In many ways this has been a successful year so far. On a practical level, we are distributing almost 190 produce packs a week, close to our long-term goal of 200. Several big infrastructure projects were completed this spring as well: the new wash area and walk-in cooler; the mile long deer fence; an irrigation system expansion to cover six acres of vegetables; farm road improvements; and the establishment of raspberries, seedless grapes, and 40 new fruit trees. We also have continued to purchase equipment to further increase efficiency.
On a personal level we have also been experiencing major growth. The big news is that Bruce and Nadege are getting married in September! We’ve been getting to know Nadege over the summer and she is a gem of a woman. Living and working side by side with Bruce for the past three years has been such a gift for Jen and I. Spending so much time together building this farm has made us very close. I can’t imagine making a connection like this with someone through leisure time activities and social gatherings, even if they spanned many decades.
This rapid growth has come with a number of challenges, and it is these challenges that make the personal side of farm life so rich. For example, I like to innovate constantly. Over the past season, I began to use biodegradable plastic mulch with clover sown in the paths. On the other hand, Bruce is cautious of trying unproven ideas. I think this comes from his fondness for orderly planning, which of course relies on predictability. Jen tends to sit back and let Bruce and I talk about farm plans for hours, only interjecting with a quiet voice of reason and caution every now and then.
Last fall I laid nine rows of plastic mulch and planted rye and clover between them. I hadn’t guessed that the deer would go nuts for the cover crop, and punch holes through the plastic with their cute little hooves!
Come spring, with our new deer fence in place, we started over, laying thirty rows of plastic mulch. This was enough space for all of our outdoor plantings of melons, onions, cukes, kale, chard and more. I was nervous about putting so many important crops into an unknown field but could see how much easier the planning and management that Bruce puts so much energy into would be.
Well, for reasons we are still trying to understand, this system is not working well. Most crops are way behind expectations. Because of this shortfall, we have not been able to attend the Halifax Seaport market as planned, and some crops, notably chard, kale, melons, and onions will be light in the packs this year.
Fortunately, the hoop houses are booming and the other fields are doing fine, so we will have enough produce to keep the packs full.
Jen, Bruce and I have worked through this disappointment through a lot of talking, careful to avoid the spiral of blame. Instead, I think we have drawn closer because we can trust each other to be supportive when something goes wrong.
While this has been a painful loss, we have gained more of the things we value the most: patience, mercy, acceptance and the ability to laugh at our big plans when they don’t materialize. I’m also learning to listen to Jen more. Being so quiet, Bruce and I can easily override her, clearly not a good idea when I consider how often she is right about something being a problem when I’m sure it will succeed, or seeing success when I see certain failure.
Into this rich mix we have welcomed Peter, whose family gets a produce pack in Fleming Heights. Peter has been staying with us four days a week for two weeks now. He comes eager to learn about farming and ready to take on big jobs. It seems that he is quickly becoming part of our experience of community on the farm.
Thanks to all of you for supporting this farm. After almost three years of produce packs, I think we are just getting started in terms of growing quality food and building the kind of community that truly nourishes everyone connected to it.
This week’s photos:
See you all soon!
Jen, David, Bruce, Benjamin, Marshall, Lori, Nadege, and Peter