So once again the end is here, one more Saturday market. Just as the finish line is in sight, the starting line appears. Yesterday we planted the first seven beds of flowers for next spring- Sweet William, delphinium, scabiosa and more. Today leeks go in for next spring too. This is one of the main reasons we stop selling at this time of year so we can concentrate on growing for next year. Sure it’s also about the improved quality of life that comes with a reduced schedule and enjoying the fall weather especially after this brutal summer but it is equally about getting ready for next year. The coming year is really made the preceding fall as we prepare the soil with mineral amendments and raise up the beds we will plant next spring then seed them down with nourishing cover crops that will protect and improve them over the winter. We will slowly plant flowers and vegetables to overwinter too so they will be ready for those early markets next March. Finally we are planning and ordering seeds and plants and dreaming of new things to entice you and interest us.
Then there are the projects we can only do in the off season and the meeting season begins all too soon as well. The big project has already started, the final addition to the house, a living room. The mason will finish the foundation today so that it will be standing there waiting for me to strap on the tool belt in two weeks to frame it up so it can be dried in before it gets cold. This means the rest of the winter will be filled with interior and exterior finishes, I promised Betsy that I would have the construction done by the time we were 50, I figure a year late is not too bad. The meeting and speaking calendar is already full too, beginning next week when the national cut flower meeting is in Raleigh where Betsy is an integral player and I will be giving a presentation. Two more conferences in North Carolina in November including the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s meeting in Durham, where I am giving multiple talks. December takes me to South Carolina to speak at the Vegetable Growers conference. January is too full, with trips to Tennessee, Missouri (where I am the keynote at a vegetable growers conference there) and Kentucky. Late February I am off to speak at the Georgia Organics conference and March might take me back to Missouri. Betsy is thinking about heading to Italy in February for a cut flower conference there and then to see our friends while I am hopefully hiking out west. In between all of this will be sheetrock and trim and painting and flooring; I wonder when I am going to get to read those books on my side table? We will keep you updated on all of the off season activities will a monthly newsletter.
Finally we want to thank all of you who have sent kind messages through out the year in response to one grousing or report of yet another obstacle we have encountered and reported to you. It is our hope that through the newsletter that you get a feel of what everyday life is like on a small farm like ours. Sure there are hard things that happen but majority of our work is calm and rewarding. The good news is that after all that has happened this season (late freeze, drought, no blueberries or turkeys, poor and late spring crops) we have roared back and have had the best season we have ever had (as far as gross income). That is a tribute to a resilient, sustainable farming system we have developed over the years, of which all of you are no small part, thank you again for your support!
Picture of the Week
Happy first day of Spring and Easter! Alright so once again the winter has zipped by and I have managed to be so busy that I didn’t get one newsletter out. I would have to say that this has been one of the most densely packed winters we’ve ever had but we did get a lot done and find some time to have fun too. Dominated by the construction on the house, which has occupied most of my brain power since October, and punctuated by trips away to conferences, before we knew it, it was time to start planting again. People always ask who do we get to do the construction work and then look quizzical when I say we do all the work. We did hire a mason to do the foundation and to build us a fireplace and an electrician to make sure we don’t burn the house down but everything else we do ourselves. It takes a bit longer sometimes but the end product is exactly what we want and Betsy is an excellent assistant. The whole project has turned out great and is “almost” done. Some entrance steps and a few other outdoor things remain but I hope to have them done in the next week or two. The funny part is we keep asking ourselves “who’s house is this?”
There were too many conferences and farm related meetings away from the farm this winter and I will have to have a word with my agent about over booking. We try to schedule just one a month but sometimes things pop up after we have committed to another group and we just can’t say no. The highlights for us are the new and interesting people we meet who are changing the face of food and farming. Our own “home” conference of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association was a good starter along with the 1200 attendees at the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group’s conference in Kentucky. As always I had fun at the Georgia Organics conference a group I have worked with for many years now, it is pleasing to see it grow from a group of 20 or 30 to over 600 this year. The most unusual meeting and highest honor for us was to be inducted as fellows in the Fellowship of Southern Farmers, Artisans and Chefs. An offshoot of the Southern Foodways Alliance, this new group brings together those folks, from across the south, who have been working for a long time in food and farming for a weekend to be able to share ideas and experiences. Betsy and I are still trying to figure out exactly how it all works but it is certainly an interesting group of people.
On the farm things are moving a pace. The greenhouse is full of transplants, believe it or not, we seeded peppers yesterday. Almost all of the lettuce is planted in the field now as are the onions and most of the spring vegetables. The peas are up and look better than last years poor stand. The little sliding tunnels are full with early greens and flowers and today we will slide the last three so we can plant the earliest tomatoes and melons in the next week or two. We are thankful for the rains we have gotten in the last month but we still need more. One pond is full but the other one still is six feet down. We will begin to fill it from the creek (which only started to flow again on New Years eve) in the next few weeks. To be honest we are still very worried about whether there will be enough water for this season, we are planting like there will be but know that if the drought persists we will have to make decisions about what to water and what to let go. The staff started this week and so now we really know that the winter is over! No more late mornings with another cup of coffee, no more random unscheduled days, every week is full with a plan now. Welcome to our 27th growing season!
Pictures of the Week
The finished livingroom and incredible anemones