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:

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,

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.


Keeping Mechanics at Bay

Like my back, our pickup truck creaks a lot more than it used to, but still functions. I take this as an augury that another season of vegetable growing is possible; indeed, with an April share already behind us, it seems to have lept underway.

Both back and truck are indispensable to the enterprise of farming, though I got along without the second for a number of years simply by using my Geo Metro as a truck instead. I hauled uncountable tons of compost to my farm in it, which eventually led to blowing two of the three cylinders, as you would expect from a vehicle rated at 550 lbs live load. (Incidentally, the car operated fine, if wimpily, on one cylinder). After having the valves replaced I was able to keep hauling compost for several additional years. The setup was fuel efficient and cheap, minus the valve-job.

 Rob, upright, and pausing from the rhubarb harvest.  Photo by Erin Schneider

Rob, upright, and pausing from the rhubarb harvest.  Photo by Erin Schneider

The '97 Nissan pickup is also often overloaded since this is the most efficient way to move things, though perhaps not cheapest in the long run. Road gravel is the usual cargo which I find myself schlepping a dozen times or more each year from the local materials yard to throw, by shovelfuls, into the ruts which climate change + gravity conspire to carve down the slopes of our driveway.

Farming involves an awful lot of moving things against gravity, so I'm glad my back has lasted. Like the truck, it has slowed down but still moves, so I am thankful.


I remain thankful as well that the tonnages of water that the atmosphere carries north from the tropics every year continue to be moved, but their timing and volume have grown worryingly erratic. We ended the 2016 growing year with a 7-week wet spell that destroyed half our cucumber crop, made mush of our leeks and rendered our winter squash stringy and insipid. April 2017 is providing another bath: four inches of rain since the 10th of the month have made our ground unplantable with another deluge on Beltane weekend putting our allium and brassica planting off, likely, until the second week of May.

For what it's worth, that recent four inches of water – if considered over the the roughly 1.25 acres we have under cultivation between the the orchard and the gardens – represents 565 tons. The 20 inches we need (at minimum) over the course of a growing season therefore equates to 2,825 tons of water, an amount I'm glad I don't have to haul from the Gulf of Mexico myself, either by truck or by back. I'm not sure agricultural economists keep track of this sort of embedded value-added when assessing the possible costs of climate-change, but they could get a good analysis from any Midwestern farmer coping with an increasingly chaotic and unpredictable supply of moisture.

 Another upright pause to stop and inspect the cherry blossoms saturated after a showery end to April. Photo by Erin Schneider

Another upright pause to stop and inspect the cherry blossoms saturated after a showery end to April. Photo by Erin Schneider

Despite the soggy start, I'm hoping 2017 proves less hydrologically challenging than its predecessor but it's already looking like – barring the possibility of another early round of perennial vegetables this coming weekend – the next share may not be ready until the 21st of May, despite the early green-up.

But, hopefully that'll give me time to take the oil-can to my back.