Wow! We have been busy beavers, bees, hummingbirds and students! We started our class with Mountain BizWorks in March and quickly realized how desperately we needed the guidance of people with experience and business skills. As a result, we decided to become Yielding Branch, LLC (limited liability corporation) and get the ball rolling! We’ve been tracking our cash flow and researching our markets while simultaneously building potting benches, sowing seeds (more on that later) and prepping beds. What a whirlwind.
In addition, we ordered two hundred bare-root strawberry plants and twenty raspberries from the NC Extension service--a very affordable option for those of us who don’t have friends or neighbors able to divide that many of their plants. Those strawberries are happily settling into the beds we constructed using the lasagna method against the base of the fence surrounding the tennis courts. Cardoon seedlings and sunflowers will soon join them to create a living, vibrant “screen” softening the hard edges of the fence and clay courts. We also contacted Frank Salzano at the Appalachian Center for Agroforestry after reading several of his informative and exciting articles in Permaculture Activist. The Center offers bare root native trees and other plants at extremely affordable prices. Manchurian apricots(Prunus armeniaca var. mandshurica) , Nanking cherries(Prunus tomentosa), nitrogen-fixing guomi (Eleagnus multiflora) and Chokeberries Aronia spp. now await their permanent homes in pots as we observe the cycles of sun, water, wind and wildlife over the next few months.
In the greenhouse, Christopher completed our potting bench design using untreated pallets and lumber to create compost bins underneath the tabletops. One pile is underway and heating up thanks to the contributions of semi-aged horse manure and daily gifts of scraps from the restaurant kitchen. We also removed the shadecloth covering the roof after observing our seedlings leaning precariously towards the windows. Now our plants happily reach towards the sky and the shade cloth will be easy to re-attach if needed.
We’ve planted lots of veggies and herbs and are still waiting for more herb seeds to arrive from Horizon Herbs. Yarrow, lemon balm, Hopi tobacco, catnip, valerian, chamomile, calendula, hibiscus, motherwort, shungiku (edible chrysanthemums), oregano, tulsi, Bolloso Napolitano basil, Italian parsley, cardoon and borage have emerged to join the tomatoes, peppers, melons and winter squash awaiting transplanting to the big world outside.
Our first day at market was a great success! Christopher’s first day as manager went smoothly thanks to a lot of prep work, and our booth looked great. Although we brought a small array of microgreens-pea shoots, broccoli and radish, people were excited to try them and enjoyed watching as their broccoli and radish greens were harvested to order from the growing flats.
In the season of rapid growth and startling discovery, we are called to give thanks for our growing community as well. We give thanks to our parents for the phone calls of encouragement, free labor here on the farm, and support by mail and email. Christopher’s sister Sam designed our beautiful logo, and we’ve been ‘adopted’ by local farmer Lee Mink of Leap Farm. His gifts of seeds, knowledge and even venison and pesto give us the courage to keep at it with passion! Lee also introduced us to the local chapter of Slow Foods, and a new friend, Katie Murray who has been helping us with physical labor despite her busy schedule as a volunteer garden educator at Vance Elementary in Asheville.