Spring?

Image

CAM00810Hello Food Farmers,

Happy Spring! It seems that Christmas and Easter have gotten themselves confused once again, but things are hopping here on the farm. Dave has been hard at work in the greenhouse since early March, and Jeanne and our new intern Karin just started work two weeks ago. The early season transplants are looking great—the first tomatoes went into CAM00804the ground in the hoop house on Monday, onion transplants are about 8” tall, and the third planting of broccoli is already a week old. It’s hard to believe that April 19th is our normal plant-out (as in, outside) date for the first broccoli; last year was the first year in memory that we haven’t gotten it in the ground on time and we decided to not even bother seeding it in this year. So with all this snow and cold, when will summer shares begin? We’re planning for a typical start-date of June 16th, but we’ll make a final judgment in a month or so and keep you updated as the season gets going.

 

We also have a couple of exciting announcements: First, on Tuesday we finalized the purchase of the new land across the road. What better way to celebrate Earth Day than the introduction of new land into organic farming! Big thanks to members Patricia Clure, Jackie Falk, and Kathy Ziells. Without these Food Farm leaders and their vision and support this growth would not have been possible.

Second, we just found out that our root cellar grant was funded! That was just one CAM00807component to our fundraising for the project, but a very important one. We’re just developing the rest of the plan, so stay tuned in the coming weeks for more information.

On a personal note, Annie and I are excited to announce that we’ll be having a baby this fall! We’re thrilled to add a new aspect to life on the farm and will be glad to have a little helper around!

That’s all the news for now from the slushy wonderland that is the Food Farm.

For the farm crew,

Janaki

Farmers in the City!

The farmers are all dressed up and making a trip to town! The public is invited to an informal gathering hosted by the Food Farm in the atrium at the Zeitgeist Arts building on Tuesday, February 25th from 5-7pm in Duluth, MN. Drop in for a few appetizers, say hi to the Food Farm crew, meet other members, welcome new shareholders or sign up for the 2014 season and become a member yourself. The Food Farm has officially opened its season – don’t miss this opportunity to sign up for vegetable shares.

This is a great event for those interested in learning more about CSA (community supported agriculture), the role Food Farm has in our local food movement, a way to meet people involved in sustainable agriculture, how to become a member or volunteer of the Food Farm community, or as an easy way to renew your membership. Please come down and say hello; we’d love to see you, even if it is just for a few minutes. Parking after 5pm is free in the lot behind the Sheraton.

At Food Farm our passion is producing high quality food for our CSA members, a sustainable livelihood for our farmers, and sustaining the productive capacity of our land. This is possible by cooperating with the natural and human communities to which we belong, and unleashing the creative power of human imagination. All our vegetables are certified organically grown. We offer Summer, Winter, Poultry and Egg shares and deliver to many locations in Duluth, Superior, Cloquet, Esko and Wrenshall. Come enjoy the fun, good food and great company!

My Thoughts While Holding onto the Last Remnants of Fall

Image

CAM00064

A few days of sunshine and warmth have been interspersed with the quickly approaching cold weather of winter. Luckily enough, volunteers and the work crew at the Food Farm worked together and got all our veggies in the root cellar for the 2013 season. To me, it is almost mind boggling how this happened, but after careful reflection I believe it was due to hard work, tactical strategic planning, and the dedication of steadfast, committed individuals that made this all come together to make something so bountiful and successful.

eyeemfiltered1384518533291IMG_0842[1]eyeemfiltered1384518546069

 

 

 

 

As we clear and prepare the farm for slumber, I find it a beautiful and chilly experience that leaves my hands numb from the frost and ice that is forming. This last week we were taking down trellis that once supported strong healthy vines and plants. As we pulled out stakes, cut twine, and wrapped trellises- my feet crunched through dried basil- a simple pleasure of the smell wafted through the greenhouse.  As we finish for the season we are beginning to delve into the depths of thoughts of what we want for the seasons to come. I know my hands have thoroughly loved being covered with dirt and it had begun to seep into the cracks of my fingers from working, but I can tell with the change in work, the dirt is fading.

 

CAM00125CAM00177

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I am out taking care of the turkeys I am coming face to face with the remembrance that their slaughter is near. There is nothing more intense than to see the animals you have raised and cared for being taken from their building and knowing shortly they will take their last breath. As sad of an experience as it is, I feel it is such a beautiful thing to be exposed to the raw and unfiltered experience of seeing where one’s food comes from. It is quite a powerful experience.

 

 

eyeemfiltered1384518495723

As the sun began to set at the farm today, I looked through bright (some almost barren) and icy fields that are holding on to the last remnants of fall with the sky turning to brilliant shades of pink and orange and it makes the whole experience feel so surreal. There are moments in my life where I am utterly blown away by my surroundings and it can almost leave me breathless. This was one of them.

wpid-eyeemfiltered1384518574201.jpg

Driving directions

Howdy folks,

We just discovered that Google maps no longer gives accurate directions to the farm. Yikes! To get here for the shindig this afternoon, use Bing.com maps, or see directions below:

From Duluth: exit I-35 at Grand Avenue/Hwy 23. Take Hwy 23 through West Duluth, Gary, and Fond du Lac. Continue on 23 over the St. Louis River in Fond du Lac for another 5 miles. Turn right on County Road 4. Drive 2.5 miles to the stop sign on County Road 1.  Turn left on Co Rd 1, we are about 1 mile south on the left hand side of the road. Look for the deer fence, solar panels, and veggies!

From Cloquet / alternate Duluth route: From the Scanlon/Carlton/Hwy 45 exit from I-35, go south on Hwy 45 to the stop sign in Carlton. Continue straight, you will now be on County Road 1. Follow 1 through Wrenshall. The farm is just over 2 miles south of Wrenshall on the left hand side of the road.

On Weeding and Summer’s Progress

Hello everyone,

I’m sorry it took us so long to update our blog… you know how summer can get. Between all the weeding that needs to get done, the swift increase in harvests, and with all the other things that summer entails, we haven’t been the best communicators lately. Shorter updates are posted more often at facebook.com/pages/Food-Farm/86869408561 for those who are interested.

When I saw the tomatoes starting to ripen this week I began to get the sense that we are about to enter the height of the season.  The delivery boxes are loaded and then I realized we are half way done with our summer share deliveries! Now that it is halfway through the season, I guess it is a good time to reflect and I guess it also means some of us on the farm should start to consider what we will be doing over the winter. Eeek!

This year’s crops have been a spin of the roulette being so variable in production. We had a poor stand of peas, and the tomatoes are abundant, but are ripening late this year. The zucchini are behind schedule and the squash are slow growing. We have also lost a lot of our storage potatoes.

On the flip side, as I am sure a lot of you may have noticed, the broccoli has been fantastic, abundant, and large! The cauliflower has been following right along. The first planting of potaoes are large and we’ll start sending them soon. The peppers are moving right along and the carrots are promising. I am definitely not seeing as much asters yellow as last year.

We are all excited to start to harvest our onions. Our early variety should be in our delivery shares soon and our storage crop has about another 3 weeks until harvest. The garlic should be coming out of the ground to cure soon. John pulled a couple last night to check on their progress and they look and smell fantastic!

While weeding and thinning last night I just had to take a moment to look behind me. I realized sometimes we only see the weeds in front of us and as you’re weeding, all you see is all of the millions of weeds in front of you that still need to be weeded, and you feel like a) it’ll never end and b) that you haven’t made much progress.

However, if you look behind you, you see all that you’ve done so far and how far you have come. It is quite impressive.

This season has been kind of like that for me. During the farming season there is always going to be weeds in front of us and there will always be more to do. It can be completely overwhelming, but sometimes all it takes is just a moment to glance back from time to time,  to realize how far we’ve come. Thank you for all your support.

Fresh Foliage and a Battery Operated Tractor

I really do enjoy this time of year as the foliage looks so fresh and full of promise!  I always find it far easier to appreciate the early stages of plant development during Spring. The beauty of the foliage is so obvious at this time of the year; I am reeling in amazement at how differently things can look so quickly!

It is truly astounding how the greenhouses can feel empty one moment and overwhelmingly full the next. The permanent greenhouse is loaded with a few different types of lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, beets, and spinach.

The tomato tunnel is also beginning to fill out with both the first and second planting of tomatoes in the ground. The third and last planting of greenhouse tomatoes should be in by early next week.

Our transplant greenhouse is pretty much completely full with all of our pepper, outside tomato, leek, fourth and fifth planting of brassica, and newly germinated squash plants.

 John thought it wouldn’t hurt to mention that there should be roughly 100 extra greenhouse tomato plants for sale if anybody is looking to fill out their own greenhouse with our choice variety that is bred for prolific production and does very well in our climate.

CAM00247CAM00239CAM00249

Since the snow has melted, we have been able to work the ground and as of now have three plantings of brassica in and under row cover in the field. In other fields we have early potatoes, as well as onions, peas, and the first planting of carrots and kale.CAM00275

With the cold weather, rain, and clouds, the plants are small and could definitely use some more sunshine. Since we’ve been unable to “get in the field” there has been time to work on more projects! One of them has been converting one of the tractors to electric. By taking off the motor we are taking another step in becoming a more sustainable farm and putting the solar panels’ energy to good use.

The chickens are braving the weather and to my excitement their replacements as well as this season’s meat birds have arrived!

IMG_20130522_173958IMG_20130522_174126CHICK

 

 

 

So, all we need now is warm weather, a nice breeze, lots of sunshine, and moderate rainfall and the season should be incredible.

For the farm crew,

Jeanne

Breaking Records, Not Sweat

Aside

The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.

-Henry Van Dyke

This is officially the snowiest April of all time in Minnesota’s history. As of April 19th we are at 41.7″ of snow for the month and even though some of us received over 20’’ of snow in the last 24 hours, I am choosing to remain optimistic that this cold system will break and our normal temperatures will return.Though this has been a difficult spring, we have been very active in the greenhouses. Today we were busy seeding our third planting of brassicas for the summer shares.

Our first planting of greenhouse tomatoes was scheduled to be on Monday, but we are going to wait a week or more until our overnight temperatures are a little warmer before sending them off to their more spacious homes.

Also, our first planting of brassicas was scheduled to be outside today, but I think we are going to hold off on that for a bit. In the mean time we have been keeping them as cool as possible in the greenhouse to slow down their growth and they are remaining healthy and waiting patiently.

This week we began another round of tomato grafting experiments. This has been an interesting addition to our greenhouse operations. To do this we choose two different varieties of tomatoes. One is characteristically known for devoting a greater amount of its energy into producing leaves, stems and roots and the other to devoting a higher amount of energy into the their flowers and fruit. We cut the young plants just below their cotyledons at a 45ᵒ angle and join the two stems with a silicon grafting clip. We then put them in a dark, humid 80ᵒ healing chamber for 24 hours. Following this, we then slowly re-introduce them to light and in a few days we begin transitioning them to normal greenhouse conditions. If successful, the addition of this practice should mean more tomatoes for you in the coming years!

Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin has been my lifelong home so the extended winter-like weather is really not a surprise; however, we will be happy to see the snow melt, fields clear and begin preparing the land for sowing.

Today’s morning sun has been a touch of encouragement.

 For the farm crew,

Jeanne