Farm Blog

Thank you again for braving the blizzard to celebrate, connect with great food, and 'planting an orchard'! Just imagine all those future cherry trees (don't forget to squat:-).
I am so uplifted from all the good vibes, intentions, laughter and seeds shared and planted.

We were able to raise $850.00 in funds! This will go a long way, thank you! Additionally, with all the seeds donated today and from what I've gleaned from others, The women growers in the Sine-Saloum region will be able to plant out a couple hundred row feet/farm. In the past we've planted shared 'demonstration beds' ie since many of the farmers share space/land to grow on we've constructed seeds beds to trial different varieties, plant insectory herbs and flowers and share techniques. From there seeds are harvested and shared forward amongst the individual farmers. So in essence your generosity helped plant teaching/learning/eating/

sharing beds of veggie, herb, and flower goodness!
 

I will honor my commitment and extend the immense gratitude, generosity that was shared during the workshop with the women farmers in the following ways:

Work with NCBA CLUSA Farmer to Farmer Program to transfer funds and mail seeds.
I'll also email and share highlights, photos forward later this week in celebration of our workshop success.

I am tentatively set to travel there Nov/Dec. or January in 2016.

I also finally remembered the name of third grower group, JUBO (means widespread). If you're interested in learning more about how they got started, here's a link to an interview I did as part of my last Farmer to Farmer adventure in Senegal.

I Will keep you in the loop as the project evolves and thanks again for sharing your generous spirit!

For the chocolate lovers:
Becky Otte, who made the amazing truffles, has more of her chocolate goodness to share and is selling some of her creations just in time for Valentines. if you're interested send her an email: raonine@gmail.com

Also Here is a link to Roots Chocolate website.

For the Fruit Lovers:

I've enclosed a handout of some of the different fruits we grow at our farm as well as a flyer highlighting this season's events at the farm! We'd love to have you venture out and tour the orchard, come visit us (though not nearly as cool as the orchard poses we did during the workshop).

Thank you again for helping me transition from being a butterfly weed seed (ie wind pollinated, not knowing where or how my intentions, projects might stick) to more of an oak or cashew seeds - wherein I can deepen my awareness, provide support in the same place(s) in Senegal for the growers and in my backyard in Wisconsin:-). Here's to planting the seeds of the as yet to be imagined on and off the yoga mat! Wishing you all much abundance.

Happy Mid-winter!

Yours in hardy kiwi,
Erin


PS If you are into exploring the planting side as well as enjoying more local fruit creations, we'll be hosting a Local Fruit Tasting May 16, details on our website.

 

Your Annual Food Calorie Receipt

The calendar has gone November, so it must be time to reckon the season's work. You might remember that back in August, at share #14, I got out the calculator for a preliminary estimate and was sanguine enough to predict a record year in-the-making,“north of 180 lbs per share” as I optimistically put it.

Not quite, as it turned out.

 Broccoli Mt. Harvest High...We enjoyed fresh broccoli for over 15 deliveries.

Broccoli Mt. Harvest High...We enjoyed fresh broccoli for over 15 deliveries.

But at 163 pounds, it was the highest yield in the past four years, a full 25 lbs (18%) more by weight than last year's paltry 137.5 pounds, the lowest of the past four years. Last year's dreadful showing was due in part to the late spring and shortage of fruit that it wrought, as well as misery in the brassica patch from start to finish – cabbages that repeatedly succumbed to leaf tip-burn and rotted; broccoli which steadfastly refused to produce any secondary florets once their primaries had been cut. Sweet peppers also failed almost entirely.

But one year's drought is the next year's flood: 6 lbs of 2014 cabbage nearly doubled to 11 in 2015, and two deliveries / two lbs of broccoli mushroomed to 15 deliveries (the most of any vegetable) and 11 lbs this year. We're not quite sure what prompted such a performance (a record over any previous year by a factor of 3 or 4), but we'll cross our fingers and hope it hangs around for 2016. Sweet peppers did better this year at 3 pounds, but still only half the six pounds per share we turned out in 2013.

Other big winners this year include potatos (up 7 pounds to 15), pears (up 3 pounds to 4) and carrots, up 2 pounds to 5. This last success was in large measure attributable to the deer fence that went around the larger of our two gardens in early June. Though it was built at a time we could hardly afford to be putting in the extra labor, the eight-foot fence was a long-needed investment, allowing also for better beets this year and a near doubling of chard to 9 weeks from 5.

Our garden soil produced about 45 calories per square foot in 2015, an increase from previous years due at least in some measure to the fence since both carrots and beets return a fairly high number of calories per square foot in comparison to other vegetables.

 Sample of our fall storage CSA share.

Sample of our fall storage CSA share.

In terms of food calories produced per calorie of non-renewable energy consumed, it looks as though the number is somewhere between 6.3 and 9.4 this year depending on what has once again been a somewhat inexact measure of how much gasoline actually went through our tiller. The amount was almost certainly between 1 gallon (returning the higher figure) and 1.5 gallons (returning the lower). My best guess is that the energy return was somewhere around 8 calories per calorie of gas (these are kilo-calories, ie., food calories). Into this figure we should probably add the energy used for irrigation, which was minimal this year due to fairly well-timed rains. We drained 1,000 to 1,200 gallons of water from our gravity-fed tanks during a dry spell in July, which saved us 1,200 to 1,400 Kcal of energy. A small additional bit of water was pumped from our well, but that should be a net-zero as far as non-renewable energy is concerned since the electricity was entirely supplied by solar panels.

So, our farm is probably still in the range of 1-2 orders of magnitude more efficient than the practices of conventional agriculture (usually estimated at 10 calories in for 1 calorie out). Our numbers may be ebbing slightly over the years due to age which forever exacts its toll.

November is thanksgiving season as well. Our beloved livelihoods depend on your continuing support and there are few things we enjoy more than providing you delicious food; so it is with great gratitude that we once again wish you well for the winter and hope you are well-stocked with comestibles for the coming season of feasts.