Farm Life

Foundational February

As I write this, the wind roars furiously over the land in a fight to the death between winter and spring. Immovably solid trees sway with their whole trunks, revealing an unexpected reservoir of grace and flexibility. A strong tree is not afraid to bend when the wind compels it. It is secure in the strength of its roots.

My resolution to prioritize joy this year comes from a deep place of dedication and persistence. I am bringing my soul’s purpose into being on this farm. This work is very important to me, and I will not allow the spark to burn out. I must remain focused on my path: planting the plants, tending the land, sharing what I learn. In support of that, I dedicated my February to building a stronger foundation upon which to grow.

Foundational work isn’t very glamorous or exciting, but it is the work that allows me to do more of the exciting work. I have spent a lot of time this winter reflecting on last year’s experiences, what I learned, what I will keep, what I will change. One of the things I realized is that my foundations are not fully developed. For example, I don’t have the right storage furniture to organize my tools. Consequently, my pruning shears have been lost since December. As a result, when I come across a task that requires pruning shears, I use my folding pruning saw instead, and that takes extra time. When you accumulate enough of these foundational gaps, workarounds add up and so does that extra time. These are some of the steps I took this February to strengthen foundations and pave the way for more joy.

Integral Foundations

Due to some new regulations for produce vendors, I needed to complete two new certifications to remain in compliance with state and federal regulations. Since this is not the exciting part of my job, I wanted to complete these certifications as soon as possible to remove their weight from my mind.

I successfully finished both the Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training and the ServSafe Food Handler certification this month. I also reached out to numerous other licensing and certifying agencies (many of which I wasn’t even aware of until late last summer) to inquire what it would take to begin offering certain other farm products in a best-practice compliance way. I now have the information I need to decide on the best products to offer in the coming year, all things considered.

Foundations of Connection

This farm has many different projects all happening at once. That’s a side effect of the permaculture path I have chosen, and it isn’t going to change any time soon. However, between the web site, the online shop, and the market booth, I feel like the full identity of this farm hasn’t been shining through any one platform. None of those things are going away, but I am taking steps to really clarify this web site as home. This site is the place where I can best share all of the things I am building here with the beautiful community that is forming around this project.

I am very excited to announce my brand new shop, right here on this site! It’s already fully stocked, so just go to the menu bar at the top of this page and click on “Shop” to access it any time. I have been working very hard on this new shop space and I love all the possibilities it offers. I have big plans to expand this shop in a variety of ways that I hope will benefit my local customers as well as the wider community online and really tie it all together. All these new developments are enhanced and connected by the new newsletter, so please sign up for that if you want to stay in the loop.

Structural Foundations

As I previously mentioned, I need simple places to put things. This is true on a small scale (like the pruning shears), and also on a larger scale. One growing problem I’ve been dealing with on the farm is what to do with the enormous quantities of brushwood that the farm generates. My brush piles were already numerous due to the many ash tree casualties caused by the Emerald Ash Borer and random tree limbs that fall during storms.

Soon after I began the honeysuckle reduction project, I realized that adding more brush piles was not going to be a viable solution for the massive amount of honeysuckle brushwood I was generating. I even started to consider burning it just to make the problem go away, though I don’t like that option for environmental reasons. A friend suggested a solution called a brushwood fence. This was the perfect solution for my brushwood problem. I now have a tidy and useful place to put all the brush I encounter on the farm. It’s amazing what a difference it makes to have a well-defined process and place for brushwood. I intend to prioritize finding good solutions like this for all the rest of my tasks (and for my pruning shears, whenever I find them) so that I have more time free to do the best kinds of work, like planting more trees.

Speaking of trees, it’s time for my annual pilgrimage to the Indiana DNR Tree Nursery in Vallonia. I can’t wait to begin planting. This year I ordered 100 Pecan trees, 100 Hazelnut Trees, and one variety pack of 140 or so assorted native trees. Tree pickup day has become one of my most treasured annual rituals for the farm. It represents a dividing line between my winter work and my spring work. Thanks to the strong foundations I built for myself this winter, I am ready to greet spring planting season with joy!