This winter’s extreme freeze-thaw cycle is giving drivers a run for their money—who doesn’t love a good pothole? It's also got me making frequent trips to the farm just to check the units where we store our food. Our ideal range is 33°—43°; thanks to the insulation Peter put in last year, we’ve been able to maintain it with minimal heat. That said, when the outdoor temps from go from 10° to 50° and back within 96 hours, I get nervous. The only way to ease my nerves is to hop in the car, drive to the farm (avoiding all potholes, of course), and check the units. Not surprisingly, two months of late-night/early-morning drives has put me in the market for a remote sensor. I called my gadget-loving brother-in-law last Sunday to see if he had any recommendations, but apparently there was this big football game going on, and I couldn’t get him to switch focus. People are funny with their priorities, aren’t they? While I wait for Bryan’s post-game feedback, I welcome other recommendations. The farm doesn’t have WIFI, so that narrows the field.
Meanwhile, the seeds have arrived, the crew schedule is set, and we can’t wait to begin the first seeding of 2022…too bad we still have three weeks to go. Our first official seeding on March 4 is late by local standards, but it works for us; we’ve lost too many early plantings to cold soil to tempt fate. So to keep out of trouble while counting down the days, I’ve been focusing on our CSA members and farm stand customers instead, hoping to convert more people to the Gospel of Seed. A big poster of our seeding schedule is now hanging in the Tin House. The seed rack from High Mowing Organic Seeds is restocked and ready to go. We also added a collection of whimsical, just-for-the-fun-of-it seeds from Hudson Valley Seed Company—butterfly weed, stinging nettle, and wild bergamot, to name a few. And Dan is looking to buy a sling of Vermont Compost potting mix, which we’ll resell by the pound (BYOB—bring your own bucket). Let the seeding games begin!
We’re also staying out of trouble by keeping a busy calendar of conversations, meetings, and visits with a range of people on a range of topics. I had a 3-hour phone consultation with Ed Fraser, a garlic grower from Rochester, NY—you can never learn too much about garlic! I also met with Gary Haglich from the Old Bethpage Village Restoration to discuss how Restoration Farm can help support the Long Island Fair. Turns out, they need volunteers, and I think I know where to find them. Dan and I have also been catching up with local growers—Alethea Vasilas of Orkestai Farm in Oyster Bay, Elizabeth Rexer of Rexer’s Family Farm in Huntington, and Sean Pilger of Hamlet Organic Garden in Brookhaven. If you can’t hang with everyone at one big conference (this year’s NOFA-NY conference was virtual), making the local rounds is the next best thing. Finally, to continue the process of thinking about and preparing for the future, I’ve reached out to several women with professional experience and insight. CSA-member and attorney Vicki Gruber advised me on how to pursue a real-deal lease with Nassau County (we currently operate under a Use and Occupancy permit). Wendy Burkhart-Spiegel of Common Thread Farm in Madison, NY shared her insight on running and moving on from a non-profit farm. And La-Tasha Best-Gaddy of the Democracy at Work Institute provided a 30-minute consultation on transitioning to an employee-owned cooperative. It’s enough talk to make your head spin, but totally worth it in the pursuit of camaraderie and knowledge.
And in the midst of it all, the farm stand chugs along. We’ll miss the hustle of winter share pickups, which end in two weeks, but we’re also excited to switch gears and offer up some off-season fun at the March and April farm stands. Here’s what's coming down the pike, and a big shout-out to Jackie Ford for coordinating it all: