Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In Like a Lion...

So what else is new? Plenty! We begin the month of March by celebrating our first produce sale! Just last Tuesday, we were having dinner with friends on the Rutland Natural Foods Co-op board, and one of them mentioned that butternut squash was really expensive in the winter. Almost simultaneously, Ed and I both asked, "How much do you need? We've got plenty." As it turned out, after we weeded out the most attractive and largest squash, we had about 42 lbs of the prolific cucurbits. That Thursday, we drove in to Rutland to deliver the goods and to drop off some pumpkins to donate to the Rutland Open Door Mission as well. Both of us are really jazzed to have opportunities like these to contribute to the local community.

On the market farm front, Ed has immersed himself in two important construction projects. Inspired by farmer and writer Elliot Coleman, Ed has begun construction on a small hoop house/greenhouse for starting young seedlings.

One of our setbacks last year, having moved from Middlebury in late March, was not being able to get seeds started until well after most farming operations have young plants ready for the greenhouse. Although we didn't intend to sell vegetables our first year in Wallingford, it would have been helpful to get as much time learning about growing conditions as we could.

This year, during the snow-laden months of December and January, Ed ordered soil-blockers for creating little dirt cubes for planting seeds. The great news is that the soil-blockers (which look like sophisticated cookie-cutters) come in different sizes. As the plants get bigger, you can insert the tiniest blocks (about the size of a large sugar cube) into larger cubes of soil. This gives the young vegetables more root space without the unnecessary boundary of a peat pot. Then one fine day, we move the stronger plants out to the hoophouse to harden off. Next stop: the field!

The second construction project currently underway is the creation of a small 8' x 8' insulated room for refrigerating fresh veggies.

While this project has less of the conservatorial "charm" of building a greenhouse, its success is crucial to the viability of our venture. One thing I've learned about gardening and small-scale farming is the crops are ready when they're ready. A walk-in refrigeration unit is an important business investment. Luckily for us, Ed has both the know-how and impetus to get these jobs off the "to do" list and into the "done" pile! Meanwhile, I'll be misting dirt cubes and planting seedlings with anticipatory enthusiasm.