A quick word about what we’re doing here… For years, we’ve sent out a weekly newsletter to our CSA members about what’s been going on around the farm, what veg will be in the CSA, and maybe a few things I’ve been thinking about with regard to the current state of agriculture. It’s as much for myself as it is for them—our CSA folks—because it holds me accountable to do a little writing each week. Writing is a form of thinking, and writing to others makes you organize your ambling thoughts into coherent ones. But, why stop at just CSA members?
A farm blog! We’ll be posting our weekly farm letters open to everyone on our farmsite, every week. Not only will you get a glimpse into our farm as it grows, but also an honest take on small-scale farming, maybe even some farm-nerd stuff. In the age of social media, the realities of farming and running a small business have been replaced by heavily cropped images, virtue signalling, and not-too-many-words-because-no-one-will-read-it… ness.
We feel the opposite is true. More and more, people are moving away from the thousand microblogs a minute, or the sound-bites of traditional media, to fewer, long-form, more in-depth forms. Our audience isn’t everyone, it’s those handful who really care about local food and farms in Southern KY, who want to know more about it, and are motivated to take a little time out of their week to commit to seeing it grow. We also welcome other farmers :)
The Garlic is out…
… and in the neighbor’s barn. We harvest nearly 1,500 heads—one truck load worth, official unit of measurement—almost double what we harvested for storage last year. We plan on saving enough seed to double production next year, as well. We got our seed (var. Music) from Rough Draft Farmstead a couple of years ago, who got it from Bugtussle Farm, who have been growing it here in KY for over a decade. So. Cool.
We don’t have great infrastructure for curing crops like garlic, and I’m not sure we’ll ever need it. Our neighbors have over a dozen old tobacco barns on their hundreds of acres. One of the good things, maybe necessary things, about farming in a farming community is neighborliness. Not everyone needs most of the tools, equipment, and infrastructure at the same time. The downside to feeling completely independent is isolation, and whether we like it or not, we’re all dependent upon something, might as well be one another.
At the very least, it felt good to put one of those old barns to use curing a crop again.
The first tomatoes from the tunnel…
… are beginning to ripen. We’ve put a lot of time into high-tunnel tomatoes this season. The plants look healthy, but still it feels like I know so little about what I’m doing here. Each year, we provide better protection for our ‘maters, grow fewer plants, and end up with more of them. Here’s to keeping with that trend.
Our aim is to grow enough on as little ground as possible, and interplanting is one of the ways we go about it. Most folks would simply plant a bed of tomatoes, but—following some of our no-till principles—we have used the extra space along the shoulders to plant beets, scallions, and lettuces. The tomatoes provide some shade for these no-so-heat-loving crops and, with a little luck, we’ll be harvesting more than just tomatoes from the tunnel throughout the Summer. If nothing else, it’s great to see so much potential grow in such little space!
Just to keep it real, here is a not so pretty picture of the working end of the tunnel. It’s June, which means some of the farm projects have been put on hold, more things are falling to the bottom of the priority list, and odds and ends just end up in piles across the farm. Small-scale farms are just as guilty of beautifying their social media as the rest of us, so it’s healthy to always insert a good reality check. Yes, the tomatoes are beautiful, but so is a good bit of honesty. #realfarmlife #blessthismess
Tarps… the good, the bad, and the dirty
Here’s a before-and-after of one of our caterpillar tunnels, We removed the plastic, mowed the leftover crop—and weed—residue, and covered the ground with the plastic to break down what was left. It’s almost magic, in two weeks the ground will be clear and with little work we can plant back into these beds. However, it implies we didn’t really take care of these beds to begin with, because we should be able to clean out the crop, put down some compost, and plant right away. About one-third of our growing area is currently under a tarp, mostly because I’ve not been on top of the weeds. Moreover, there was an interesting piece on NPR about how ‘organic agriculture has a plastic problem’—not to mention the potential of phthalate leaching (which we’re looking into)—but, until we can come up with some creative solutions (which we’re working on), these plastics are simply better than the conventional alternative.
For CSA Members: week 8
Here’s what you can expect in the share for the upcoming week:
Squash & zucchini
Over the next couple of weeks, the baskets will shift from Spring to Summer as the greens begin to fade. The peppers are beginning to size up, most of the potatoes are out of the ground, and the sungold cherry tomatoes are beginning to blush. We’ll have plenty of carrots for the better part of the Summer and more head lettuces and arugula in just a few weeks, because the unrelenting heat in May got the best of us.