Slowing down at the farm

616263Two of our employees will celebrate their last day with us in the next week.  Dripline will be pulled.  More areas will be mulched.  Flower beds, now full of bedraggled stems, will be plowed in for the sowing of cover crops.

It’s a wonderful time of year.

And while we take down and put away, there is still a bounty of produce.  Loads of collards and kale are ready for harvest.  Brand new crops of salad, arugula, mustard, and Asian turnips are growing rapidly in the hoophouses.  Two full beds of flowers are nestled in to overwinter for early spring flowers.  This is new and so exciting and scary to me.  Hundreds of snapdragons, sweet william, foxglove, feverfew, delphinium, and campanula.  It could be the most amazing display of a rainbow of colors giving us the problem of “what do we do with all these flowers?” or they could be trounced by this supposedly brutal winter that’s coming.  I have goosebumps just thinking about it.

Construction continues on the washing shed.  Bert has decided to go all out and make the second floor a timberframe structure.  Unnecessary, perhaps, but if you have a big project, why not make it a delightful challenge with an impressive outcome… one in which we will delight in spending time.

It’s also paperwork time.  I’m digging through stacks of receipts to enter them all into the record-keeping.  In another week or so, I’ll drive to Rhode Island to learn more about the business of flower growing.  Other growers will bring their ideas and suggestions, and we’ll exchange schedules of seedings and tips for improved production.  Then there are brochures to print promoting wedding flowers and the 2014 flower share program.  It’s surprising how much energy we have thinking of next year.  I guess it’s supported by the dark evenings that send us to bed earlier and the lack of physical demand… or maybe it’s the extra cup of coffee as I sit at the desk and start flipping through magazines and catalogs.

I look forward to sharing more farm updates from here at the desk.  I raise my cup of coffee to you, our supporters, that have made another year of family farming possible.

Construction continues on the washing shed

50515253Exciting progress made on the new packing shed these last weeks.  Finished the foundation preparations so we could get a cement truck in to pour a slab.  The risk-taking truck driver had no qualms about driving right up the slope for better access.  Thanks to Chandler Concrete for putting their insurance policy to the test.  Up to this point it has been a lot of digging and investment to get the building up to 8″ high.  Now we are continuing the concrete block work, up, up off of the ground.  It’s been a tricky year to get work done — whenever we get a break in the rain there are 20 projects we want to tackle.  Blockwork has been fit in as we can make time.  But the linear, solid work of building with cement is a nice counterpoint to the often transitory and fleeting successes in the vegetable world.  In 50 years our fields may turn back to forest, but when 8 tons of concrete goes in the ground it’s there for a while.

Summer at Stonecrop

40This year will definitely go down as the most weather-challenged year of farming.  Spring was too cool and wet to get summer crops in on time.  Summer still doesn’t feel as though it has truly arrived, temperature-wise.  And the rain has continued to fall resulting in poor growth and even rot in the worst cases.  We are counting our blessings as we have been unharmed by blight on the tomatoes (so far?) and our flower share members have been so accommodating and understanding with the smaller-than-traditional harvest.  Spring wedding season went well and the summer celebrations begin soon.  Here’s hoping we get lots of warm sunshine in the next two weeks to really bring out the best in the beds of blossoms.

41With the cool nights, we have transitioned to fall.  The first salad bed is seeded.  Next up, mustard, arugula, and spinach.  And the overwintered flower bed won’t be far away.

Local wedding flowers – the season begins

The earliest wedding ever was scheduled in this, the most unusual year for weather.  Thankfully the hoophouse crops hit their peak in time for Kristy and Ben’s wedding.  The first photo is Kristy’s bouquet.  Next, they challenged me with the opportunity to create large altar arrangements for the church.  They pew arrangements were all made by daughter Zoe and tied on with help from the folks at St. Mary’s.  Then I was off to battle the winds at Smithfield plantation with the table arrangements.  I hope they remained upright through the reception…


The big weeks begin

20What an enormous week. We picked, washed, and sold 99.8 pounds of greens. That doesn’t include the turnips that flew off the market stand, the herbs featured in local restaurant menus, and the asparagus that made its first appearance on the table. We’ll have enough in this week’s harvests to bring it to market next weekend.21

We transplanted flowers, head lettuce, and a tunnel full of tomatoes. Just this morning we called in extra help to tuck in two beds worth of onions before the week of rain begins.

While all this farm work was going on, somehow Bert managed to find a way to make progress on the new washing shed. He prepared the drains and trenches and called in the concrete truck. Implausible as it seemed, we took a break from Friday’s harvest and market prep to pour footers. And Wednesday we took the day to attend the Backstreets restaurant auction and buy a few items to put in the shed once it’s finished.

23I continue to make plans with couples to create the flowers that meet the vision for their weddings. The first one is later this month. The flowers in the greenhouse are doing well. This week we offered straight bunches of sweet william at market – reds, magentas, fuschias, pale pinks, and a hint of white. Next week we should have foxglove in a dreamy shade of apricot. The plants outside are coming, but with the unpredictable weather this spring, it’s a mystery when things will bloom.24

A few spots remain in the roster for the flower share, but I think we’ll fill up soon.  Be one of those rare folks that give the gift of flowers.

25We’re talking about an on-farm event this year. Probably just a day for a visit. A loyal customer asked for a cooking class on greens. I’m not sure. That would mean a serious scrubbing at the house.  When would that happen?

Locally and sustainably grown flowers and vegetables