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.

 

Riding out the bumps and over the hump - CSA Underway

The start of year 23 at Hilltop has had its bumps, but been auspicious in some ways too.

The bumps include the first week of April which managed, with its Siberian cold, to kill our bees after an otherwise successful ride through the Wisconsin winter. In March, the workers thronged the entrance to the hive, enjoying the warm sun and searching for the first apricot blossoms and dandelions to appear. The following week, their exoskeletons poured from the frames of comb in piles as I lifted each from the box that had been their home.

Nor was the furnace in any mood to work. A wood pellet burner, the machine is so mercifully simple that even a farmer can keep up with its maintenance. In the 12 years since it was installed I've managed to make the thing supply at least the BTUs necessary to keep the house habitable in Spring and Fall when we need it; now it needs coaxing every time we turn it on just to strike a flame. But I'm sure it will have no trouble burning up a few large-denomination bills once the repair man arrives for a visit.

On the up side, no large trees blocked the driveway upon our return from winter hibernation in Madison, as happened last year.

 Fiddleheads, young fern leaves unfurling, fine tune the forest floor. Despite setbacks, mother nature always provides us with a hit of spring ephemeral mojo. Photo by Rob McClure

Fiddleheads, young fern leaves unfurling, fine tune the forest floor. Despite setbacks, mother nature always provides us with a hit of spring ephemeral mojo. Photo by Rob McClure

Our septic system has not collapsed. I'm not sure how the 40-year old cess-pit keeps on working -- the old metal tank was rated at 30 years when it was installed in the early 1970s. But, minus a little un-nerving sagging, the tank keeps doing its thing. I know I can never express my full appreciation for a functioning toilet these days.

Two weeks of mild, dry planting-weather during mid-April have got us ahead of schedule in the gardens, if momentarily. Subsequent rains – which were grudging at first, but slightly more ample in recent days – promise reasonable returns in early-season produce. Our peas have poked-through (always a good sign) and the cotyledons on the radishes have recently become visible.

 Asparagus peeking through the carpet of chervil. Asparaugs alongside ramps and rhubarb are our signals that another CSA season officially beings. Photo by Erin Schneider

Asparagus peeking through the carpet of chervil. Asparaugs alongside ramps and rhubarb are our signals that another CSA season officially beings. Photo by Erin Schneider

The warm weather in the middle two weeks of April has also resulted in the 2nd earliest start to deliveries for us – May 1st is surpassed only by April 21st of 2012, the notorious year in which a string of 80 degree days around the Vernal Equinox sent the entire phenological cycle into motion weeks ahead of its normal schedule. 2014, by contrast, didn't see a delivery until the 18th of May – a surprise even at that late date given that buds didn't appear on deciduous trees until a week later, the latest green-up ever in southerrn Wisconsin. So, it goes without saying that some crazy meteorological event will bollocks-up the year eventually; but for the moment: so far, so good.

We expect to deliver on May 1st and 8th, then take a break for a couple of weeks until our annual crops start to produce. If the month turns unusually balmy, that hiatus may shorten to a single week. Given how early the season has started, I would expect at least one other week-long pause in deliveries some time in late May or June before the regular weekly routine sets up.

Just a reminder: Saturday, May 21 we're throwing open the farm gates for a bit of member-appreciation starting at 4PM. Feel free to come wander the fields, nibble from the gardens and otherwise see what we're up to; a bit of potlucking and probably music will carry us into the evening. Bring a tent if you want to stay overnight.

And, not to worry -- we'll block off the septic tank so no one falls through. - RM -