2006 in Review
Friends, Food Activists and Small Farmers (big ones too)...
Here's a quickie, pictorial sketch of our very excellent '06 season. Great appreciation and thank you's go out to Vincent, Elie, Divya, Leylee, Chris, Laura and all the other friends and allies who make this farm a community, including all who participated in this year's CSA, farmers market sales and U-pick visitors. The season never ends here. Please keep in touch!
With the dang hoophouse finally finished (April) and rudimentary beds installed, we started spring with new direction and excitement. The summer has been a blast, experimenting like mad with great results already! The hoophouse is transforming our entire operation with early starts, higher production capacity, and new success with heat lovinig crops like melons, peppers and sweet potatoes. We are only now discovering what the hoophouse can do extending the season into winter. I've become a true believer in this low-tech, low-cost alternative to traditionally glazed greenhouses. The key, say folks wiser than I, is to build the hoophouse strongly and manage it carefully to keep it from being blown to smithereens in a galeforce storm or crushed under heavy snow or ice load some awful winter's night...
The hoophouse yielded robust, early brassicas and beans... Now I'm intrigued to see just how much organic food can be cranked out of so many square inches. Guess what folks? It's more, way more than anyone knew. We don't need acres and acres of prarie to feed the earth, just a new kind of knowledge and the will.
Daniel and Hannah Manfredi, young WOOFer from California display exotic tomato varieties while educating the public about the importance of heirlooms and seed saving to sustainable agriculture, at Greenfield farmers market. We were a regular presence there with our produce including these rainbow colored heirlooms.
Leylee instructs a visiting kindergarten class in goat husbandry. Increasingly, we see the core value of what we do as promoting greater awarness of food and food systems by modeling and teaching basic permaculture farming. Irrepressible Leylee brought the house down with an original song (accompanied by Sara Pirtle!) at the Five Rivers Council (www.fiveriverscouncil.org) inaugural community building event, in October.
In 2006 Daniel again indulged his deepening passion for rare and irregular squashes.
Elie and Divya found their bouquet-making form down the stretch of summer. We delivered flowers to the CSA partners 20 weeks straight! (Actually 40, counting last year!)
We were visited this spring by the Bitter Melon Council (www.bittermelon.org) a non-profit dedicated to spreading awareness of this bitter, but edible vegetable, (highly prized in the far east as food and medicine). These folks gave us seed and we grew a successful crop, consumed, distributed and talked up the bitter melon in '06. The flavor takes some disguising/mental adjustment... but, I enjoyed the cross-section slices partially dried and batter-fried with garlic and ginger. We have seed to give away for this exotic and versatile cucurbit. Who knew there were so many amazing and valuable things to grow?!
Divya (right) performed at a momentous Labor Day weekend kirtan chanting extravaganza at Omega Institute in downstate New York. Divya continues to grow in her appreciation of aesthetic gardening and in her lover of all manner of plants, flowers and food.
Daniel managed a day or two off the farm in 2006, here at the beloved Old Home Day event in Wendell. "Ageing hippies stand together."
Here are examples of what keeps me fresh and inspired in this labor-intense, micro-farming mission. The bitter melon we grew on the left is not only valuable as food and medicine, it's also beautiful! This "pineapple" heirloom (tomato) on right is already exotic by nature, but this one suffered an artful herniation in growth, probably the result of this season's highly variable H2O. Variable rain didn't bother this mammoth, single head of leaf lettuce I'm admiring.
We capped off the fall with our first ever harvest of hardy kiwis, which we have been cultivating, on hope, for six long years. The key seems to have been a sturdy trellis erected for them last summer by then house-mates, Rick and Sarah. The kiwis are not only sweet, tangy amd delicious (more like a ripe fig than a store-bought kiwi) but also resist frosting and hold their ripeness for a long time. I highly recommend the New England cultivation of these (male and female required) permaculture vines.
Finally, three images of the rich and colorful life we enjoy. The first is the back of the Escort one CSA morn in August. The second is our dear Divya, perhaps one of the few, true, remaining flower children assembling some late summer blooms. And finally, Vincent, Elie, Leybones and myself fooling around in the morning mist, having completed the week's harvest and packed up the car to ride...