Busy, busy, busy

Bent over the soil yesterday, planting turnips and dripping sweat, it suddenly felt like summer. It seems like just yesterday that we were rushing out to the plot with row cover to protect our newly planted seedlings from the late April snow. Time flies when you’re overrun with farm tasks, it seems.

We’ve been busy putting up a fence, planting over 20 different crops, constructing towers and trellises, figuring out CSA pickup dates, searching for grants, and working on our farmer’s tans.

So, a long awaited update:

April 24th: The Big Workday

On Easter, the weather took a break from the nasty cold rain it had been throwing at us and gave us a day full of beautiful sunshine for our first ever workday. We had 20 to 25 wonderful volunteers come out to the farm throughout the day, and managed to accomplish some major projects! We put up a fence, planted cold weather row crops like spinach and radishes, transplanted onions, cabbage, broccoli, and parsley, built some compost bins, constructed potato towers, and painted signs. It was absolutely incredible to have so many smiling faces and willing hands on the farm, so THANK YOU to all of our beautiful volunteers. We couldn’t do it without you.

May 1: May Day Flurries and Complex Polyculture

As a chilly wind whipped over the farm a week after that wonderful workday, Alex and Robin braved the cold to plant some baby greens in with our Brassicas. We’re trying to incorporate as many biointensive growing methods as possible into our farm- this means that we’re experimenting with planting different plants that mature at different rates close to each other, in order to better utilize all our space. Despite the freezing temperatures on May Day, most of our plants survived, and we were reminded of how lucky we are to be in such a creative, diverse, active, and fun community!

Look at that thightly stretched fence!

May 4: Fence Stretching and Rabbit Prevention

Our friend Klaus is a useful guy. He has a fun tool called a come-along that we used to finish up the big fence project. By fashioning braces at the corners of the fence and using this tool, we were able to pull our heavy duty cattle fencing taught, so that it doesn’t sag. We also dug a trench around the whole farm and buried some chicken wire, to prevent our pesky little friends, the rabbits, from sneaking and dining on the salad buffet. Cross your fingers! Alex and Klaus also got to work building some beautiful trellises for the front and rear gates of the farm. We’ll use these to grow climbing flowers and plants, and hang signs. Good work, guys!

May 10: School’s Out, let’s plant like crazy!

With classes and final exams finally finished, we’re free to spend much more of our time on the farm. We celebrated by bringing some Macalester friends over, getting thoroughly sunburned, and getting some good work done.

We constructed some tripod supports for our “strawberry towers”, which are another (self designed) strategy for growing vertically. We mulched the rows between beds, and cleaned up some of the edges of our rows. We planted hops, which will vine all along the fence and impart some delicious bitterness and aroma to the beers we brew this fall. We fertilized with a chicken manure concoction that smelled a lot worse than those hops will. We planted lots of turnips and parsnips and radishes and greens. We transplanted some beautiful perennial flowers and grasses along the walkway because we’re bringing back the prairie! We killed a lot of weeds.

We worked a little slow in the surprisingly humid midday heat, but managed to accomplish a lot anyway. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of a long day on the farm.

Still to Come:

  • Graduation! Two of your farmers, Robin and Emily H, will be graduating from Macalester College this coming Saturday! Our families are in town to celebrate that big achievement, but we’re almost more excited to show them what we’re most proud of: the Farm!
  • May Newsletter: Before our first CSA pickup at the beginning of May, we’ll be putting together a spring newsletter with updates from the farm, what to expect in CSA shares for the first week of the season, and other fun things. It will also be pretty, so get excited.
  • We’ve got plans hatched for the empty lot next door to our farm, if only we can find a few hours, or half a day, to till in some compost and scatter some seed. We’ll be planting wheat and sunflowers in the front of that plot, and maybe doing some oyster mushroom cultivation on straw bales.
  • Hanging signs, and getting a big sign for the front of the farm painted.
  • Building a tool shed!

Stop by whenever you’re in the neighborhood to see the farm take shape! We’re out there working more and more these days.

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