Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Busy busy... fueled by community!!

ShooEEY! Have we been busy settling in! Just in the past 4 days, a LOT has happened. We have moved most of our stuff into the trailer, decorated the interior, rebuilt the bed (it was previously 2 twins—quite the honeymoon suite), built shelves in the closet, battled the trailer “plumbing” system at least 6 different times at all hours of the day and night, 
The pump is not supposed to pump water OUT of the system, this is where you are supposed to connect the hose..but, eventually, when we hooked in to the well water via this input, we had running water.
pruned some very old (and allegedly very productive) highbush blueberries as well as 2 fig trees and a small herb garden, watched Batman Rises (my first Batman experience—awesome!), cut all of our veggies for meals with a pocket-knife, started working part-time in the restaurant (me as dishwasher and pizza-man, Paige as hostess), started and nearly finished cleaning out a greenhouse-turned storage area, cleaning out a workshop-turned storage area  then started and nearly finished reorganizing it into “my” workshop, weeded and forked half a 40’ bed and started planting a some Austrian Winter Pea (more on this process below), and of course with all that one could assume that there was the natural development of a few tussles and so, we also squeezed in several good lessons on partnership and communication.

 While all of that is very exciting, I would have to say that the highlight of the past few days was definitely this morning’s Friends of Agriculture Monthly (free) Breakfast, put on by the Mill Springs Agriculture Center, which is one of the most amazing ag-centric community networking organizations I have ever seen, and it is located only about 2 miles up the road from us in a converted old school building!! Yee haw!!  I tell you, these people in Polk County are the NICEST! The director of the Mill Springs Ag Center, Lynn Sprague, called us up last week, showed up on our trailer doorstep with a smile yesterday, and publicly introduced us to the 70 or so folks there this morning, pointing out many of the old-timers and local specialists that we should know here in the area. We couldn’t feel more connected and supported, and we’ve been here less than a week! 

Each month at the breakfast there is a different speaker or speakers, and this morning’s speakers were a farm owner (Dawn of Restoration Farms) and her resident “homesteader” (Jason) who spoke about the importance of forming those kind of relationships (sound familiar?) especially for beginning farmers as a crucial transitional step toward owning your own land. Given Lynn’s opening introduction and explanation of our new role, and given the fact that our current residence (“the trailer”….we still need a better nickname for it) is visible from the main road, both Dawn and Jason pointed out several times that Paige and I were perfect examples of this movement and commended us for it. We were a little humbled by all this attention, but also appreciated the folks who came up afterward introducing themselves, inviting us to potlucks, taking down our phone numbers.. WE MADE FRIENDS!!!

There was even a very sweet herbalist woman who made a special trip to our place to deliver a Mammoth Sunflower head (for seeds), some great resources that the Ag Center published, as well as some “Polk Fresh” bumper stickers! SO nice! 

Well, we are chomping at the bit to start some of the various seeds that we bought in bulk from Sow True Seeds in Asheville last week: Chiogga Beets, Arugula, Cress, Orach, Lacianato Kale, Kohlrabi, Cabbage, Fingerling potatoes, as well as experimenting with micro-greens production of radish, sunflower, mustard greens, and broccoli, but we HAVE to get the greenhouse cleaned up, replace the plastic on a couple sides, remove the existing raised beds, and replace them with potting benches…that’ll be next week (or maybe this weekend’s agenda). 

Today, when Paige had her fill of cleaning out spaces and relocating my tools for the 100th time, she jumped on my suggestion of hoeing up one of the beds, clearing the clover and Bermuda grass that moved in over the fall and winter. She had recently read that when dealing with an insidious plant such as Bermuda grass, it is best to replant a cover crop immediately after removing the weeds. 
The other day we had bought some Austrian Winter Pea at Fifth Season Gardening in Asheville along with some inoculant (used to increase the Nitrogen-fixing ability of legumes) and so she sowed a fairly dense seeding of those (pre-soaked in the inoculant for about 30 min) with the intentions of selling some of the shoots to the restaurant as a delicious, nutritious salad garnish.  

Prior to spreading the seed, we had used the famed broadfork to aerate the soil. This is an awesome tool, and luckily the one that was here on the farm was the Elliot Coleman approved design with the parabolic tines (as opposed to the straight tines which require a less-ergonomic prying action). We prefer this tool to the tiller, 1. because it uses no petroleum, 2. because it aerates without disturbing too much of the soil strata therefore theoretically still making the nutrients a little bit more available to the plants while giving increased access to the roots, 3. it seems to reduce the chances of bringing weed seeds to the surface (however, it does nothing to uproot or really suppress the rhizome-spreading Bermuda).  It’s all a learning opportunity though. We’ll see how it goes with the broadfork.

The act of sowing! (Trailer, greenhouse, restaurant in background)

1 comment:

  1. I stand corrected.. Lynn's position is actually Director of Agricultural Economic Development, and our new friend Patrick McLendon is the director of the Ag Center.