We are now officially Certified Organic. Using the practices of organic agriculture for the past three years has made the transition smooth. I have become a better farmer because of the process. Record keeping, paying close attention to crop rotation, and contemplating and improving our farm strategy have all benefited the farm’s overall health. We are also concentrating on producing nutrient dense foods that are packed with flavor. This year we amended our tomato field with sea salt to yield a more flavorful tomato. Once they ripen we will let you know if it was successful! The weather has been nice to work in, however we have missed a couple opportunities to plant because of rain. When the fields are wet we do not work them because that causes compaction. Our CSA is entering it’s sixth week of pickup and our market at the West Windsor Community Farmers Market has been great. Weeds are popping up all over our fields, but we learn to live with them. After we make sure our crops are established, which requires weeding with tractors, scuffle hoes, and hand pulling, we let the weeds go. I have noticed the kale stays a little more tender when shaded by weeds. We try to maintain a balance on the farm for the land we care for, the people that work it, and what we reap. These practices and the proper balance produces great tasting vegetables!
Spring felt about three weeks late this year. It is always challenging playing the hurry up and wait game. Once we were able to get into the fields we have been planting ever since. In the ground we have potatoes, lettuce, radishes, turnips, artichokes, peppers, beans, corn, zucchini, tomatoes, kale, swiss chard, cucumbers, ginger, turmeric, collards, herbs, and carrots. With all of these vegetables in the ground we were hoping on an occasional rain, ideally 1″ per week. The rain never came and we have been irrigating around the clock. When one field is shut off, another is turned on and we repeat the cycle endlessly. I think about California and the devastating drought out West that will surely affect our nations vegetable supply and conclude that no one has a handle on the weather these days. It reaffirms that making a connection with your local farmer is important because they may be the ones that feed their local community when other parts of our country dry up or flood. As I write this it is raining outside…the rain dance worked…and now it’s time to stake the tomatoes, hill the potatoes, and weed, weed, weed. It is all so worth it, eating fresh greens everyday and seeing everything bursting with life.
The crew has been on a roll with planting over an acre and a half of greens and potatoes. We even are trying a couple beds of artichokes this year. Our new employees are settling into their focus on the farm with Parker taking on the daily greenhouse duties such as watering, keeping an eye on any pest outbreaks, and setting traps to catch mice from eating our squash seed. There must be something the way the seed smells because every year we find mice damage to our newly planted seeds. Melissa is focusing on irrigation, livestock, and soil conductivity readings and brix tests to monitor how healthy our plants are out in the field. Andrea’s focus is on livestock and has recently become our go to worker for spreading compost. That entails using our large tractor to scoop from the pile and carefully dump it into our spreader. The spreader drops the compost directly on one of our field beds. Andrea has already composted about 80 beds! The whole crew comes together with everything from planting out in the field, seeding in the greenhouse, washing eggs, moving our mobile coops, to harvesting. There are many facets to our operation and each one of the crew is an important part that keeps everything moving forward. One of the most fulfilling parts of farming is when everyone is working together, helping one another learn, and being there to share in the joys of simple pleasures like harvesting radishes for the first time in Spring.