The past week or so has been eventful here. We finally received our hoop house after two previous promises of delivery! This Monday, Andrew and I and Ron, the freight driver, unloaded the parts in the dark. To save on shipping costs, 10 farms in SE Michigan all got on the same freight coming from Rimol. I think it was worth the trouble of waiting and working out the puzzle of pieces on the truck to save a few hundred dollars.
Because the hoop was not erected on Oct 9th, as I originally planned, our spinach is beautiful but still too small to sell. I had hoped that two weeks under the hoop would have given the spinach the kick in needed in order to sell during the last two weeks in October. BUT–we’ll see if we might still have something for the last weekend in October. I have a feeling, we might just be selling in November. We also got the stamp of approval this week for the Ann Arbor Farm Market! We are able to sell any Wednesday–but Saturdays are only open to us at this point from November to March. That might be perfect for us though, as other markets we’ve planned on Saturday go from May-October.
We also put in a well this week. I should say, Ann Arbor Well Drilling did. It took a couple of days and now we have three frost free hydrants in the field and a very powerful pump. Before this we had to coordinate with house water use (aka-We couldn’t use the shower while someone was watering outside) and now I feel confident we will have enough water to carry us through even the driest months here (July-September).
I’ve been working quite a bit on prepping beds the last month or so. We have them all dug, and now are working on adding enough manure and mulch for the winter. My original plan was to do sheet composting and alternate carbon (leaves or straw) and manure up to 1 ft high on each bed….but I don’t think we’ll get there. I think we will have a good layer of cow manure on each bed and a good layer of straw for the winter. I expect our soil will look different and be more alive in the spring. Old Pine Farm has been kind enough to let us take their manure for free–and they are right down the road!
I love meeting great farming neighbors! Every neighbor that has stopped by the farm–or contractors we’ve had out from local businesses, have been nothing but supportive and genuine about what we are doing. This really affirms for me that what we are doing is good for the community. Even Jim Farmer, an old school Manchesterite (is that what we’re called?), came over to deliver gravel today and asked me all sorts of questions about what we’re up to. He instantly told me about a few other organic farmers in the township and how great the farms were. I get the feeling most farmers around here are supportive of what we are doing, even if they aren’t practicing organic methods themselves. I also really value local farmers knowledge and most of their opinions about what has worked for them and what hasn’t. I think these will be valuable relationships for years to come.
If that wasn’t enough for an eventful week, I found out the Katherine Merrigan, the Deputy Secretary for the USDA is coming to visit Harvest Kitchen, the prepared local foods CSA I work for in Ann Arbor! Harvest Kitchen is doing ground breaking work on building a new local food system–employing 10 or more people part time, purchasing nearly all of their products locally and all of their produce from local farms AND composting all kitchen scraps. I feel lucky to be part of this exciting team, and also provided with another opportunity to sell our produce next year. I have no idea what I will say to Ms. Merrigan, but I might mention that because of the FSA beginning farm loans, we were able to take our first step into full time farming!
We will be hosting the hoop house build this Sunday, October 24th–all day. We expect some great volunteers to come out and help. Look out for more photos and reflections from our first hoop building experience….