Things are coming along.

Today I am sitting in the greenhouse typing this and all around me are the plants that will go into the fields in a couple of weeks. Hundreds of cucumber, squash and tomato plants and that doesn’t include the kale, onions or others. The quarter acre that was cleared of corn stocks is coming along; the first peas are making progress and we hope to see the fruits of that labour in early June. It’s amazing what a little rain can do – they seem to have doubled in size overnight. Beside them are the early transplants, leaf lettuce, broccoli and swiss chard.

The coming weeks will be busy, getting things ready for the big transplant day May 25th. For those who are planning to come out and help please e-mail me back with the number of people coming. I am trying to plan dinner and looking into renting a porta-potty – (Note: if you are planning to come on the 25th or anytime for a visit we currently don’t have a toilet). Market prep, signs and containers need to be made and purchased. Figuring out a temporay stand on the farm for sales, and putting together a seeding/planting plan for things like lettuce and radish all have to happen.

marketSign  (first draft of a sign)

 
And of course preparing to make those first deliveries to everyone in the Food Share = Farm Share program.

The business part aside, it is amazing how connected I am feeling to the land and the plants. I spend time every day walking in the fields or the small stand of trees, listening to the birds and other little creatures. I am always amazed at the things that come up. Each time I find something new I take a picture and send it to my friend Sean James (he runs Fernridge Landscaping in Milton); he is amazing at telling me what each plant is and is very patient when I ask “Oh, can I eat it?”  80% of the time it’s no, at least for the moment. Oh well the flowers are pretty and if it brings the bees….

It really is amazing that I spent the last 20 years going 100 miles/hour never having enough hours in a day and wondering where the time was going. Now there’s lots to do but my perception and attitude are different. The plants come and when they come my job is to take care of them and their home – the soil they live in. It’s peaceful, it’s quiet and I don’t miss all the tech that I thought I couldn’t live without.

For the first time in a long time minutes seem like minutes.

For me it’s just about breathing and remembering I am now a steward of the land…not for a day or a year but hopefully for a lifetime.

Chris Marcucci
Farmer – Sommelier

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Another night in the greenhouse…

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So I finally decided to do what I want and H**L freezes over. When I started this process I decided I would do this or die trying, so

I’m not going to let this stop me. I just didn’t figure that it would be this soon. This has been a weird spring and as a start up farm, well, it’s not helping. The biggest issue is keeping the greenhouse at an acceptable temperature for the seedlings. Ideally the soil temperature should be in the 20 c range.  In a regular day the sun would warm the soil to above that and the soil would hold the heat through the night, even if the air temperature fell. Well, not this spring…with so little sun, the issue is keeping things warm at night.

With that in mind I have basically moved into the greenhouse. At night I am doing my best with an alarm to check the temperature every hour and then making sure the woodstove is loaded for the next hour. It’s making for long nights.

The issue is because a greenhouse is a passive solar system the daytime sun is imperative. It can be used to warm water through the day and that will give some of that heat back at night. I tried boiling water on the woodstove to reclaim some of the heat – not so good. The sun warms the ground and rocks and these also give back heat. So I went for a walk in the fields and picked up some rocks then I started cooking/heating them; this worked better than the water.

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In the end I will do what I can but farming is weather driven. I guess I could go rent a generator and heaters but that wouldn’t be right, or at least not the way I want to do this. So for now I’m up most of the night and hoping for better weather.

But, hey, yesterday was nice and I got the peas in the field.

Other things going on – some broccoli and brussels sprouts along with some basil are up.

I cleared some of the corn stocks to put in the peas.

And we have an osprey nest next to the farm.

I would also like to say thank you to Kelly and Peter for the wood.

It’s amazing what you can do…

…if you put your mind to it.  I am a big believer in the ability of a human being to be able to learn and do almost anything.  If we were to share and expand on this knowledge and learning what could we achieve? The problem is our society expects us to profit from every idea – we’re supposed to make money off of them or, if someone shows you something and you do it and something goes wrong, you should think about suing.

I am not a big believer in either of these concepts. I feel they stifle creativity and stop progress on things that could help people and the planet. (insert you own comment about big oil here)

This little rant is leading to the fact that I hope to not only show you what I am doing but how I’m doing it. If you have a suggestion on how to do it better, let me know. If you want to try some of the ideas you find (insurance company says I have to say do so at your own risk) please feel free. If we all put our heads together, who knows what we could come up with…

Project 1:  the greenhouse.  Here is a partial time lapse of the greenhouse going up (iphone ran out of battery partway through). Because there is no hydro on site as of yet, I did the cutting beforehand so what you are seeing is the assembly.
Planning time – 4 hours – I like to draw things out. And I made an extensive cut list.
Cutting time – 2 hours
Assembly time – 10 hours over 2 days; would have been shorter but the ground is a bit soft and I kept losing my wellies.

Tomorrow I am going to extend it and start planting. For now, here’s a look at what I’ve been up to.

A little wound up…

It has probably been a good thing that it’s snowed the last couple of days. It has forced me to sit down and get more planning done. I know when the deal closes the last thing I will want to do – and it will be last thing I will have time for – is the planning . The deal closes on the 28th of March. Peas should be in the ground the first week of April and, well, tomatoes should be started in the greenhouse this week. So there is still lots to do between now and then. The seed order is done but there are still a couple of things I would like to get. The order was for about 40,000 seeds so far, so it might be enough but there are a couple of perennials I would like to start for next year and I can’t seem to find a heritage yellow corn.  The history of corn is actually very interesting and an example of how human intervention and experimentation with nature that deeply affect the planet.

So what do the next couple of days hold? There will be some measuring and marking out of the site; finishing the plans for a small greenhouse to get the tomatoes, peppers etc started – these need to be ready to start going in the ground as small plants by the end of May.  Figuring how to effectively heat the green house, this one may be a problem (I am open to suggestions); finish the planting schedule and map; then there is the business side, filling out forms to try to get into markets; working on a website so you can place orders directly; possibly a Facebook and/or google page; working out a picking and delivery schedule (this might be able to wait a bit as the markets will affect the delivery days); looking for restaurants and small grocers that may want seasonal vegetables; oh yeah, also coming up with a name that would be good.  Then to move toward, what I would like the farm to grow into,  working on some events and what I like to call open Sundays, which is about making the farm a community. At this point there are some logistic issues –  a toilet, for one.

I hope to make another post after the deal closes and after the Easter long weekend. Until then have a great week and long weekend.

Chris

One steps at a time.

So the first step is complete, the offer has been accepted. The next step is to secure financing as I work with the bank; we also have to keep moving forward because we are coming to a time crunch.

Decisions on what to plant and where to plant it… Because the goal of the farm is to be as natural as possible, the planting plan is very important. There are plants that will work together in sharing resources and there are others that will aid in pest control.

The plan is to do true market gardening, which means we will grow a lot of different things. Here is the working list we’re looking at. Might be a bit excessive but the goal for the first year is to grow enough vegetables for 250 families by working 4 acres of the property.

Beans Green Eggplants Potatoes
Beans Yellow  Garlic Pumpkins
Beets Green Onion Radish
Bok Choy Ground Cherries Rutabaga
Broccoli Kale Spanish onion
Brussels Sprouts Kohlrabi Spinach
Cabbage Leeks Squash
Cantaloupe  Lettuce Swiss Chard
Carrots Parsnips Tomatoes
Cauliflower Peas Turnip
Celery Pepper Hot  Watermelon
Cucumbers Pepper Sweet  Zucchini

Some of the things we hope to do is to use the Three Sisters model. Corn, beans and squash are companion plants: corn is a nitrogen-taker and tall beans are a nitrogen giver and if you grow a climber, it will climb the corn. The squash then shades the ground around the base of the plants and keeps the soil moist and the weeds down.  We will do the three sisters planting if only as an experiment, with a soil test at the beginning and end of the season.

To that we will add herbs and some flowers like marigolds which are all pest deterrents and other plants that will hopefully feed and foster the local bee population.

Again if you would like to be part of the Farm Share =Food Share program let me know, it is filling up.

Our question to our readers:  what’s your favourite vegetable?

The time has come to plant some roots.

Went and walked the land again. It just feels right. With no buildings, well or hydro yet, there’s lots to do. It will be a hard year(s) but I’ve never been afraid of hard work. The interesting thing is that as we walked along I could see where the buildings would be, and what would be planted where and I could even imagine the people visiting. I see a place that will become a community and a place that helps feed that community.

So what are the plans for February? Well, the first is to secure the land. Second is to start planning what we will grow and to start taking orders for it.  The Farm Share = Food Share program has been launched and I’m happy to say we all ready have people signing up.  We will be applying to markets and talking to small stores, ordering seed and supplies, looking for a few tons of manure.  It’s all leading to setting up a temporary greenhouse in the first week of March and starting the plants we’ll need for the season.

As well there’s the short and long term planning. Would love to have a Spring launch concert and picnic or something like that, a Fall harvest party and, who knows, even a pumpkin launching contest. Then there are the buildings we will need for food and equipment storage, a little fruit stand out by the road for passers-by and of course a chicken coop – what’s a farm without a couple of chickens, really?

As to this blog I will try to post every couple of weeks and let you know what’s happening and what’s coming up.