Happy New Year from the four old roots, plus our new baby fifth root!
Early February finds us knee-deep in crop planning, spreadsheet making, seed ordering, and baby snuggling here on the farm. Ninety percent of these activities take place within six feet of the woodstove, which is exactly as it should be in the depths of our long (and rarely snowy, and surprisingly mild) winter.
In honor of the new year, here are 16 things we're excited about in 2016:
- I may be his mother, but I don't think I would be too out of line to say that one of the things we are all most excited about is watching baby Ellis grow through his first season on the farm. Though we didn't plan it this way, his late October birthday makes him six months old in late April, just as our earliest harvests will start to roll in - which means that his introduction to eating solid food will be perfectly choreographed to the farm season. He'll learn to love over-wintered carrots in the spring, juicy tomatoes in the summer, and creamy squash in the fall. Pure seasonal eating takes on new meaning and joy when each new crop ripens for the first time in your young life!
- Our late fall and winter seasons have not been as quiet as you might expect on a small farm, because we've been building like crazy! Our first season on our new land was totally makeshift and ad hoc - we improvised systems for irrigation during a very dry spring, rented greenhouse space on a nearby farm for propagation, and did crazy puzzles every week to try to fit the harvests into our 8' x 8' cooler. But this fall and winter we have started to build real, permanent infrastructure around the farm. We have an irrigation well and are running lines to each field. We are running power to the barn (no more packing and unpacking by the dim light of headlamps!). We had ten dumptruck loads of coarse gravel spread on our little farm road in the hopes that it won't become a muddy river during each snow melt. And, most importantly...
- We built a greenhouse! A big (huge, actually), double-skinned, heated greenhouse with a badass geothermal system to maximize energy efficiency and minimize our dependence on propane. Gone are the days spent in the truck back and forth to the greenhouse to water seedlings! Gone are the days of cramped aisles and undersized tables!
- And, thanks to the new spacious quarters of our greenhouse, we're excited to host a giant plant sale this spring. We're going to sell lots and lots of our favorite varieties of vegetables for your garden. Check back here in a couple months for the details.
- The largest (both literally and figuratively) thing we're building on the farm this winter is... a house! Yes, a whole house! Aaron and Caitlin and Ellis will continue to live in and slowly renovate the ancient farmhouse, and Rachel and Elise are moving into Rachel's brand new super energy efficient house as soon as it's complete in the spring.
- We're excited about tomatoes, of course. At least half of us, I should say, are very excited about tomatoes. We're growing some new better varieties, and lots more of our favorites from last year! (Read: GOLDIES. All day every day.)
- Also: tomato grafting! Perfecting our art form!
- We wouldn't be the farm that we are if we weren't planning some hyper-detailed field trials for this coming season. Data data data!
- Though the particulars are still being developed, we're very excited to host our first big farm event this summer with our favorite local chef. Stay tuned!
- If you know us you know that we're always on the hunt for the next exciting experimental crop (don't worry! gherkins will be back and better than ever this coming season!) and this year it's... peanuts!! We're so excited to try growing fresh organic peanuts - we know it's theoretically possible but besides that have no idea what to expect.
- Thanks to our newest high tunnel purchase (bringing our grand total up to three) Elise and I were able to negotiate an entire 90' row of flowers under cover! Aaron and Rachel were less than enthused (tunnel space is so precious) but let's just say that Elise and I drive a hard bargain. If you've ever tried to grow flowers in this part of the world, you know how excited we are for inside space - get ready for some enormous celosia and lisianthus coming at ya in 2016.
- Though our eyes and ambitions sometimes outrun the 24 hour limit on our early spring days, we are seriously committed to doing some general beautifying around here - ima plant morning glories and lupine and elephant ears and hostas everywhere! Literally, everywhere!
- We just ordered a custom carved road sign to announce our presence to passersby on Tater Hill Road. For being such a windy, remote, and densely forested road, we have so many wonderful neighbors. It's not uncommon to run into friends while out for a walk, and we're excited to formalize our presence as a local business!
- We're excited to give not one but two NOFA talks at the upcoming CT NOFA conference. In one talk we'll describe how we use spreadsheets and data to provide useful and productive feedback loops in the organization of our business and the planning of next season. In the other, Elise will demonstrate her tomato grafting skills and describe how we plan our grafting efforts each season.
- You've probably already seen our posts about the expanded market share program, but we're excited to be offering it to all our markets. Check out more information here.
- And it seems only fitting to end where we began: ELLIS! We're excited about you, handsome. Thanks for being so awesome in 2016 and beyond.