When I was a young child, a year seemed like a huge span of time, and I could hardly imagine the changes that laid in store five or ten years down the road. Well the decades have piled up and middle age has officially arrived. Now the years seem to be going by faster and faster.
The same thing is happening in the life of the farm. Back in 2011, when Jen and I started to market garden together, every month brought significant challenges and accomplishments. Suddenly, we are coming up on our eighth harvest season. The farm has reached middle age along with us.
So now I’m going through a bit of a mid-life review of the farm and life in general. Several farm infrastructure projects are almost finished. For instance, there are large piles of crushed rock waiting to be spread on our farm roads. Once this is done, we can look forward to getting around the farm without getting stuck next spring.
We undertook a huge expansion of our irrigation system this year. We now have a really big electric pump that can sprinkle all of our open ground plantings at once. This is a huge time saver. Gone are the days of constant negotiations among the crew over who would get to water next. Our next project is to automate the drip irrigation system. We have the equipment but just need to find the time to install it. Once this is done, a computer will open and shut valves several times a day, keeping the moisture levels perfect in our hoop houses and under our bio-plastic mulched crops.
Our season extension program is going well so far. We increased the number of hoop houses in production this spring and hired extra help this summer to insure that we get all of our fall planting and greenhouse work done on time. If this happens, we should have a lot more winter greens for sale than ever before. We are also considering a plan to greatly increase our mid-winter micro greens by heating our seedling greenhouse through the winter. This would keep more people on our crew employed over the winter and keep an adequate supply of fresh greens flowing from the farm to the Warehouse Market during the darkest months.
The Warehouse Market and our farmshare program are both hopping! Thanks for your support. Jen and I frequently discuss how much we adore our customers and the wonderful feeling of community that has sprung up around the collaboration with Afishionado, Holdanca, Espresso 46, and the many other people that share the Warehouse building.
Our experiment with importing organic produce seems to have been well received. The shift from selling only local produce to being more fully stocked has been interesting. As a farmer, I have to plan out what I’ll be growing months in advance. Now we can respond to requests and sales trends week by week with our import orders.
For instance, a few weeks ago we started to bring in organic sweet potatoes from California after several people asked for them. By the way, would you prefer a certified organic sweet potato from California that costs $3.25 per pound or a local, conventionally (chemical) grown sweet potato that costs $2.00 per pound?
So far, we have only brought in conventional local fruit, and have stayed with organic for everything else. It would be great to hear from more people about their preferences so we can make the market the best possible place to shop.