Spirits are high on the farm these days. The early spring has given us a much-needed jump on the season, and there’s nothing like long, sunny days full of building projects and baby plants to put farmers in a good mood!
We have welcomed many new arrivals this spring. Topping the list is our first-ever intern, Sydney, who flew in from Arizona to spend the summer sustainably farming with us! Her enthusiasm and willingness to pound stakes for a pea trellis all day in the sun are already a beautiful addition to our small, mostly-human-powered farm.
She is pictured above with our recent shipment of perennials, including asparagus, rhubarb, blueberries, raspberries, & hearty kiwi. Perennials are an exciting new frontier for Sweet Acre. In the past, farming on rented land, we restricted our growing to annual vegetables. Now that we own our fields, we feel liberated to invest in long-term crops, planting a few more every year, and experimenting with our own propagation.
As I write this, I can see out the window our good friend David, visiting from Texas, whaling away on a boulder that is currently in the way of our new greenhouse foundation (I said he was a good friend, right?). With it’s demise, the track of our Rolling Thunder greenhouse will be set to receive it’s wheels, hoops, plastic, and the hundreds of tomato plants patiently waiting in our seedling house.
Yesterday the foundation, floor beams and joists were set for our timber-frame shed. These are beams milled from the trees Jonathan felled last winter in our lower field. Our brother-in-law brought his carpentry skills (and two exceptional children) down from Boston to help jump-start the construction.
Spring is a time of such momentum on the farm! Every day the place looks different – a new section plowed, a new crop transplanted, a new pastured opened to the goats & chickens. At moments it’s hard to keep up, which usually means it’s the perfect time to grab a beer and sit down to watch some farm TV from the back porch – the sprinklers turning, the animals munching grass, the garlic growing before my eyes. That never fails to get me up and out there again – getting dirty, making progress, having a blast (did I say we’re in good spirits??).
We’d love to be your farmers!
CSA-enrollment season is well underway on our farm and many others across the state and the country. Being a share holder of a farm is a meaningful way to show your support of both that small business, and the larger local food movement. Although by now it might feel normal for you to hear about or be part of a CSA, or to buy food from producers you know at farmers markets, we want to remind you that it really is both a radical choice and a meaningful way to vote with your food dollars. The products we small farmers grow are different than grocery store stock – they are grown with intention, with respect for your health and the health of our planet, often with little thought of profit. This food movement is still young, and each one of you are still a valuable, critical part of it. Thank you for showing up!
Here are our CSA options for 2016:
The work we do as farmers is generating value from the things that are devalued by our society. Dirt isn’t dirt, but the medium to grow our sustenance. A dumpster can often be a trove of re-useful building materials. In the case of the pines on our property, they could be viewed as a liability. They shadow our house and field and threaten our outbuildings with their majesty. They produce a beautiful dappled light at sunset, but they fill our pond with acidifying needles. When exploring our options for the pine grove we consulted professionals. A few conversations demoralized us as the pine is virtually worthless to the lumber industry and even the process of turning it all to chip would cost more than a small fortune for cash-strapped farmers.
We have always been gluttons for punishment when it comes to adding new dimensions to the giant DIY project that is Sweet Acre Farm.
So, here is where we stand: Since the days in 2006 working in the Adirondacks I have been interested in timber framing. I worked for timber framers the winter after our 2012 farming season, but had not done the work on my own until this year. Last fall I began the felling process on our land, starting with the trees whose absence would allow us to put up more permanent fencing for our goats (and future sheep?). Once approximately 20 of the giants were on the ground, we hired Dennis from Terrific Timbers to bring his portable sawmill to the property. The timbers were cut to the correct lengths and custom milled to generate all the “members” needed for a 12’x16′ shed. The on-going work this winter is cutting all the mortise & tenon joinery in order to erect the building this spring. Besides the timbers, the milling process also generated enough 1″ siding for this building and many others, scrap lumber for our endless other building projects, and 100 tomato stakes for the upcoming season.
We are excited to be able to transform this “liability” of the pines into a valuable building. Using the materials from the property will contribute aesthetically to the feeling that it, too, “grew” from the property. I am lucky to have friends interested in this old time tradition of building, and willing to help out in various ways. While the work now is slow and a little lonely, I am eagerly looking forward to the communal process of raising the building.
And we’ll keep you posted!
The majority of our 2016 vegetable seeds arrived this week from Johnny’s Seeds of Maine, so we took the opportunity of a surprise snow storm to lovingly welcome and organize them! This arrival is the culmination of our winter dreaming and scheming about what worked last season, what didn’t, what’s new & exciting in the world of vegetables, and how to make more people fall in love with local produce. Jonathan spent approximately 2 weeks straight at the kitchen table with pen, paper, books and catalogs, calculating out the size and timing of every planting of each of the 100 varieties of vegetables we will grow this season.
Needless to say, we have our sights set on spring. It won’t be long now. As of today, the countdown to seeding onions in the greenhouse is 23 days!