That showstopping wind, folks!
So... it tore the plastic right off the hoophouse frame.
But we're still standing, and no one is hurt.
It's an invitation to re-assess priorities...Priorities are being assessed in terms of:
1.) FISCAL SOLVENCY & THRIVING!
2.) Long-term security
sub-section: security viewed on a family level, biological level, collectivist human level, etc....
I've been wanting to share with the world where we're at in terms of our (relatively) huge infrastructure investments for 2017.
1.) Rain catchment
This is supported by the money we received from NEIdeas in 2016... we will have storage for approximately 2250 gallons of water at a time, which, together with an average year's rainfall, will diminish our need for city water by approximately (conservatively) 25%.
Both our home and the hoophouse will have two 500-gallon tanks... this will be the basis for an application for deferral of drainage fees from DWSD.
We'll pull the new plastic for the hoophouse, and install the rain catchment gutters & tanks on it in summer of this year.
2.) Drip irrigation
Also supported by the NEIdeas money, drip irrigation is a water-saving and time-efficient way to water crops. This is a system I've had extensive experience with in my time at the CASFS, Poughkeepsie Farm Project, and the Plum Street Market Garden. Been there, done that, I'm ready to order. They'll be here for planting time (it's best to lay your drip irrigation at the same time that you plant).
3.) Tillage equipment
You might've seen Fresh Cut's fundraising campaign floating around out there... we were awarded a $3000 grant through Eastern Market, but we need to raise the remaining balance to receive that grant as matching funds.
This high quality walk-behind tiller will be perfect for quick-prepping our beds after they're cleared. At least 20% of the beds will get to be double-cropped in a single season, a move which will boost our revenue by at least a couple thousand dollars.
What used to take us days will take us hours.
Having tillage equipment on the farm also invites us to invest in the soil more through cover cropping. We'll be making prodigious use of quick cover crop Buckwheat, to suppress weeds and build organic nitrogenous material in the soil between cash crops. We'll also be introducing red clover as a living pathway in our perennial planting areas (inside the fence, south of the hoophouse).
4.) Outbuilding & cooler!
So, we'll get this big beautiful tiller, but where will we store it? And, we'll grow more flowers than ever before, but where will we keep them fresh until they're delivered to their customers?
We're going to build a big beautiful garage on-site! 20' long, half of it will be built out as a cooler using the wonderful low-tech cool-bot system.
Adjacent to that, we will build a roof over an additional 10' of harvest & staging area! We will have a place out of the wind & rain to clean flowers, make bouquets, & more... And the door to the cooler will be literally inside of this area. I can't even believe it.
5.) Passive Perennial Prep
All these infrastructure investments point the way towards our footprint - what will it look like into the future?
For instance, the south-facing wall of the outbuilding provides an excellent microclimate for introducing fruit trees. The area between that and the existing apple tree (and dead apple tree) will someday be home to a gorgeous perennial area.
For now, we will use sheet mulching and low-impact planting to get that site ready to plant in the next couple years. This goes for the area alongside the alley as well.
Not-so-passive perennial prep includes a push to get the woodlot to the north-east of us cleaned up this year, hopefully in conjunction with some community events. We've already planted hellebores in the rotted wood of that area, and would love to begin to have a more reciprocal relationship with that little stretch of pheasant habitat & wild plants.
6.) Administrative Improvements!
Hoo boy! Assistant Manager Shelbie returned to the farm this week, and I have to say we are COOKING! She was very proud of the plans I'd made over the winter. We're prepping on-boarding & ongoing training for new crew members, chores & predictable responsibility lists to keep things humming, and more.
We are more organized than ever, and that means that we have room to finally introduce some of the practices that we've been introduced to in other positive settings over the years... intentional check-ins, recipes for success, and more!
So... if you've read this far, thanks. When you visit the farm later on this year,
ASK ME ABOUT MY INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS!