Sunday, June 17, 2012

Farmers' Markets getting started

Hannah at the opening day of the Providence Downtown Market

Our Season has just gotten busier. Farmers' Markets are getting started, and, thankfully, we've got some stuff to sell. Salad greens are going strong and we've got really nice head lettuce as well. We also have radishes, hakurei turnips which we market as Japanese Salad turnips, kale, chard, sugar snap peas, garlic scapes and even some flowers. So far so good. People have been showing up and we've finally started to go to the bank to do more than withdraw. We have lots more that it is really close to ready to pick which is important. We try to keep it exciting for folks by always having a few new things to choose from as the season progresses, and it looks like that will be the case so we're pleased with how the marketing season has gotten started.

It's also been our opportunity to unfurl our new logo. This off season Jim Sullivan, who is Jean White's (owner of Holly Hill Farm, dear friend) son in law had some fun with Skinny Dip Farm as his theme and came up with the art you see on the banner behind Hannah in the photo above. We couldn't be more pleased. It still cracks me up when I look at it and fits with the Skinny Dip Farm vibe that we're cultivating perfectly. It's funny, we didn't even talk to Jim about specifics and he just nailed it. Our thanks to him!

A little catch up:

Hannah and I made varsity rock picking this year. It really is a team sport and one that should not be taken on lightly by couples. One of us is up on the tractor using the bucket loader to get in under the big rocks that we're unable to remove by hand, shovel or rock bar. The catch is that the bucket of the tractor totally blocks the view of the person on the tractor, so whoever is on the ground has to communicate the millions of subtle cues that would have the tractor operator inching forward while dropping the height and angle of the bucket all at once. Oh, and the tractor is loud, so all that communication needs to be through hand signals and facial expressions. Luckily the new field that we were getting ready to plant this spring is incredibly rocky so we got lots of practice.

Our biggest achievement of the rock picking season
We started plowing up the lawn at our new house in Little Compton. The idea is to grow cover crops this year to build soil organic matter and fertility so that we can crop it this fall and next year. We're really looking forward to having some of our farming closer to home. Much of our planning is coming straight from the kitchen and goes something like this, "I think we should grow our herbs here next year because this salad dressing could really use some thyme." Whatever we're lacking from the recipe, that's what we want to grow at home next year. We're especially excited to get started with planting perennials and have a long wish list. So far we've probably plowed up over an acre but our list keeps growing so I think it's fair to say that our lawn's days are numbered. It's just a matter of time.

Ben on the Farmall turning over lawn
We turned in quite a lot of cover crop this spring, which feels great. Cover cropping is something that I have been wanting to do more of for a long time. At Holly Hill Farm space was so limited and the fields were so wet that we were not able to cover crop as often as we would have liked. At our new spot we have enough open ground to be able to take big chunks out of production for whole seasons and can grow cover crops on them and really focus on getting them more alive. The smell of the the soil a few weeks after turning in the overwintered rye and vetch was so satisfying. It smelled like finished compost, earthy and rich. All of the soil microbiology populations skyrocketed after getting the special delivery of waist high rye and vetch and really came alive.

Mowing cover crop before spading it in  

Stuff is growing pretty well. We have been continuing to have some pest and fertility issues that have us scratching our heads. The ants are back, but not quite as aggressively. They, unfortunately, really love to do their mischief--chewing on plant stems at soil level--under row cover which we are using to block flea beetle attacks. So it's been a hard choice. Either we leave stuff covered to keep the flea beetles from chewing it full of holes or we leave the row cover on and find major ant damage after we've neglected to check under the cover for too long. Row cover, the white fabric covering rows of crops in the picture on the left above, has a magical tendency to leave stuff out of sight and out of mind, sometimes until it is too late. Like last year though, once soil temperatures got warm enough to think about planting tomatoes, stuff really started to grow better. I wish I could skip ahead and have the biology and fertility at really high levels, but I have to remind myself that we've only been farming this land for a little over a year. Patience.
Peas and Beets looking good
Come see us! We've been doing our part, working hard to grow all these veggies. Now we need folks to come to the markets and buy 'em. Help spread the word about where to buy our vegetables. Our markets are listed and linked to in the "Where We Sell" tab at the top of the page.