Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lil Farm Update

This was written for our May CSA newsletter, but I figure it can do double duty as a blog post:

Setting up the farm

The first season farming at a new site is special because we essentially get to design our farm. What does that mean? Well we design and set up our irrigation, design our field and planting beds, create a crop rotation and figure out where other important farm infrastructure like our washing station will go. It is a season to be creative and it is also a season of hard work because all of the set up happens at the same time as planting.

These times are not without their challenges…

Take, for example, the set up of our hoophouse, which spanned over a couple of months and involved several days of hard work (okay so the boys worked really hard…we just worked hard). The final step was to put on the brand new plastic, which we decided to do in a bit of a storm the day before Amy went on a week-long trip. We were so excited to finally have the hoophouse done and to get our light starved transplants out in the sunlight. Well…just hours after we finished the plastic, the wind kicked up, and needless to say our brand new plastic tore and was flapping madly in the wind. Guess we should have spent some more time making sure it was secure…

(Thanks to Joe for the somewhat heartbreaking photo).

Despite hard work there are several things that we are extremely excited about.

One thing is the new irrigation/water system. Those of you who have been with us for a while may have heard about our water set up at the old farm. The old system involved us dragging a 60 lb gas water pump up and down a steep embankment every time we wanted to turn water on. This often was done in office work clothes in the early hours of the morning. Get this…the new system can be turned on in a heartbeat by merely flipping on a valve. Amazing eh?

Another thing that is really quite exciting to us is the fact that our field is a regular shape (cheap thrills). Seems simple, but after farming in an oval shaped field that was shaded on one side, the new field is a dream come true. With a regular shaped field that is not shaded, we have planned out a 6-year crop rotation based on 6 separate planting beds. What this means is that every 6th year, the same crop family will be planted in the same area. Crop rotation is a critical aspect of managing pests and diseases as well as maintaining high quality soil for our style of farming.

]Speaking of soil, our little tractor, Benny, is having a much better time tilling up this nice sandy soil compared to the heavy clay we have farmed in the past. With only 12.5 horsepower, we were quite underpowered and had a very hard time doing our field preparations. Field prep has gone much more smoothly this year thanks to the big tractors from Fraser Valley Duck and Goose and our little Benny.

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