What I Learned in 2017
I remember sitting at home around this time a year ago, planning the upcoming Farm season. In the past, I've worked three seasons on two different farms. I learned so much about plants, pests, machinery, irrigation, soil composition, on and on and on. I quickly found how much I was lacking in decision making and leadership. I am great at completing tasks given to me by someone else. However, deciding on my own what to do, when to do it, and being solely responsible for the consequences is entirely different!
For those of you who have not been to the Farm, getting a sense of the layout will help me explain some experiences last year. Our property is 5 acres total, almost all open field, from the street to the tree line. It is only 200 and some odd feet wide with a straight run. Our back yard is fenced in with the farm located in the field beyond the fence. Inside the fence is a chicken coop with our senior chickens, Pickle and Pepper (RIP Penny), our cold frame for seedlings in the spring, and a small garden. Around this garden within the fence is yet another fence to prevent Lucy and Ducky (our dogs) from eating just about everything. I used this garden for our family, to help supplement the CSA, and also to experiment with plants and techniques that could be used in the field the next year.
One of the biggest things I learned about was the culinary preferences of my dear, dear friend, Marmota Monax. Who's that you ask? The groundhog.... Perhaps next year I'll start screaming "Marmota Monax!" instead of the less family friendly nicknames I used last year since Liam repeats basically everything now. I can tell you his favorite foods first hand. They include, but are not limited to, peas, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, chard, and probably many other crops I'm drawing a blank on right now. Our experience with the groundhogs taught us a lot for next year! The garden in the fence was pest proof, minus a few birds, bugs, Liam's, etc. I greatly expanded the size of this protected garden for next season and will grow lots of those tasty crops in safety for the CSA and the market.
Other new changes for next year include: improving soil quality and the irritation system, planting more fruits and berries for the future, increasing the variety in shares, and providing more customized shares.