Season's End - November 11, 2012

With a fire going in the fireplace and our winter socks on, we can finally say: it's winter. Fall vanished suddenly before our eyes last Wednesday with a unexpected 12-hour blizzard that left us with almost a foot of heavy, wet, sloppy snow.

But, to back up. In the long weeks since our last update we've finished our market season, closed our farm stand for the winter, survived a hurricane, and adopted a flock of chickens. We knew to expect the end of our market season. The hurricane and the chickens, however, were surprises.

Darling Farm escaped the October superstorm relatively unscathed. Our fence has required major rebuilding and some of our brussles sprouts and broccoli got toppled in the wind, but most of the smaller crops were just fine thanks to hardy row cover. Thankfully there were no major trees down around our historic house, though there were many down in the area, and we only lost power for short and irregularly-timed periods throughout the four-day ordeal. 
We've also excitedly become the adoptive parents to a small flock of 13 hens and 2 roosters, who came to us from a friend who needed to find them a new home. They fit seamlessly into our little ecosystem and are happy to see us each day as we bring them food scraps and say good morning.

And now, the snow. Again thanks to the hardy row cover, many of our crops are still growing happily and we'll continue to eat well from the fields for the next few weeks or months, temperature permitting. But with our fridges stocked full with canned and frozen evidence of warmer weather, and the days getting shorter and shorter, we're happy to say that it's time to rest.

We're so thankful for our extraordinary first season here at Darling Farm - thankful to a tireless crew of friends and family, a enthusiastic market crowd, and a mostly-cheerful meteorology. We can't wait until it's seed catalogue time in January or February, but until then, signing off.

September, Already - September 4, 2012

It's hard to believe, but it's also true - we woke up a few days ago and it was September. As the onions, shallots, and potatoes dry and cure, as our fridge overflows with pickled and preserved everything, our giant black walnuts trees have started to shed their leaves. The evenings are cool but the sunflowers are bright - we're in the transition season where daylight hours feel more precious and more fleeting by the day, but where the field is still growing and green and happily producing.

After ordering row cover and low hoops, we've optimistically cleared and planted many rows of hearty fall crops that we will usher through to Thanksgiving, at least. New successions of salad greens, kale, radishes, carrots, scallions, and winter squash happily continue to grow. And with the sunflowers as encouragement, we've started looking forward towards new projects for next season, when Darling Farm will already be a seasoned establishment.

DF Goes to Market - July 30, 2014

Big news this week: DF has joined the new and much-needed market in Ansonia, CT on Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings! Ansonia is a small town just to the north of Woodbridge that has never had a farmers market before - but thanks to the tireless efforts of the Economic Development Commissioner, Vinnie Scarlata, that has changed, and Darling Farm will be a regular vendor throughout the summer. Only two weeks into the market, we can already feel the energy and excitement gathering in the community; direct access to fresh, local produce is a welcomed addition to downtown Ansonia, and we're very happy to be involved.

Come find us at the market on Thursdays from 2pm - 6 pm, or Saturdays from 10 am - 2 pm. Check out the facebook page for more information, and directions to the market.

Early July - July 15, 2012

These past few weeks have been characterized by a contradiction: the quickest and easiest way to get absolutely covered in wet sloppy mud is to move the soaker hoses from bed to bed every three hours, an activity that has been necessitated by an astonishing dry spell and requires wrapping the dirty hoses around your body as you walk the rows to avoid crushing plants. Keeping everything watered has felt like a full time job, but the plants have stoically and happily continued to grow, flower, fruit.

Less than two weeks ago we finally moved to Darling Farm, and, although much of our life is still packed away in boxes, we are so happy to wake up every morning in this ancient, creaky, crooked, beautiful carriage house. Mid week we realized with surprise (yes, we should have known this day would come!) that we had lots of veggies waiting to be harvested, so we happily flew into action. We made a few restaurant sales, got our zoning variance, set up our farmstand, and harvested. Spicy salad greens, salad turnips, french breakfast radishes, zucchini, kale, and chard are all officially for sale.

We had our first farm dinner with a few friends this past week, for which we harvested and cooked a full meal’s worth of veggies, baked fresh bread and lavender cake, and grilled. It was an important reminder about why we’re growing all this food in the first place - not only to build a healthy world, but to eat it in the company of people we love.

We had an invaluable team of helpers this weekend - friends, friends of friends, and parents. Not only did we check almost everything off of our lengthy and urgent list of small tasks (seeding more greens, pruning tomatoes, planting lots of seedlings for second successions, making more kale beds, weeding) but we also built a greenhouse. We pretty much made up the construction method, using cheap electrical conduit and a pipe bender for the frame, PVC footings, and plastic we're borrowing from a friend. $12 of the $40 we spent on materials was for binder clips from Staples, used to attach the plastic to the frame.

And then a perfect end to a productive weekend, after almost three weeks of powder dry soil and constant water worry, it rained. We got exactly what we needed most.

The First Planting Day - June 10, 2012

It was amazing to see the land transform from a field of dirt to a vibrantly green, growing farm in one day - thanks to the help of an incredibly buff and enthusiastic crew of friends and siblings!

The very first things we planted were potatoes and green beans, in a funky bed-sharing configuration that we hope works. Then we planted all the hearty brassicas (LOTS of kale, collards, Brussels sprouts, bok choi), and the chard, eggplants, cucumbers, zucchinis, leeks, scallions, shallots, and onions. Meanwhile, there was lots of direct-seeding happening: black beans, carrots, peas, radishes, arugala, mizuna, tatsoi, and basil.

In the late afternoon we planted our tomatoes and peppers, which came all the way from Brooklyn in the back of a station wagon, from an exciting new farm on some vacant lots on Bergen Street. We teamed up with our friends Tom and Clare, the masterminds Feedback Farms, to use our land and their healthy starts to grow a delicious, colorful, and unique variety of heirloom tomatoes and hot peppers

Getting Started - May 2012

Here's how we inherited the field just six weeks ago, and how we worked to prep it for planting. Because we got access to the land so late into the spring, we had to work hard to get it ready for planting early enough that we wouldn't be at a seasonal disadvantage with summer racing ahead of us at full speed. Starting seeds in the greenhouse weeks before the field was ready was crucial (thanks, Steve!) and now we're officially on track to have our first harvests in mid-July