Stonecrop Begins 2014 Season

8081We had less down time than ever this winter.  Bert, with assistance from brother David, has been working in the bitterest of temperatures building our dream washing “shed”.  The walk in cooler is almost complete.  The plumbing is being installed as I type.  We will wash your vegetables and fill those flower buckets in a fantastic new space.

8283I have had the luxury of working indoors… making the spreadsheets, planning out the crop rotation, putting in orders for supplies.  This week, I got to be outside too as the seeding season commenced.  There are two black dogs wandering the farm these days.  Walter keeps watch from his post on the hill.  Frannie stays by my side, shivering in the cold, making me think there really is a reason for dog sweaters.

8485The view is many colors of brown and gray.  I worry about those flowers that are supposed to come back after this fierce winter.  Stay tuned..

Winter workings on the farm

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.

Locally and sustainably grown flowers and vegetables