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Current pleasures including grabbing anything to then enter the mouth. Over-wintered chard made for much enjoyment.

I learn through experience. Information doesn’t stick with me until I have been through the thing, sometimes more than once. Becoming a father has been difficult to write about because all these new experiences are happening in real time. Everyday is at once flying by, and moving slow.

One of the more interesting challenges has been the interpersonal relationships created by incorporating another person into our lives. In my ignorance I thought he would simply fold into my partner’s relationship. Having a child seemed like simply adding another person into our existing relationship, and building from there. Instead, we have rebuilt from the very foundation.

A deep reprogramming of my relationship to my partner while creating relationships between mother and son, father and son, and the family unit has taken place. As the post-birth glow faded into reality, these new interpersonal relationships started forming.

Instead of taking several weeks off like I had intended, big changes on the farm brought me back to work after a week. As the season slowed, we could evaluate our new situation. It is cliche, but everything was different. The life we had been building over the past year was brought down to its core. Until you actually have a child in your arms, crying in the middle of the night, you can’t really understand just how demanding parenthood can be.

In the past we could rely on our relationship, but in building a family that dynamic had changed. I didn’t realize how significant that change was until several months into parenthood.

With time, we have found more solid footing. Our foundation remained strong and now we have a platform to rebuild our life. Routines around feeding, napping, and bathing help structure our days and more evenly allocate energy. Our bodies have somewhat adjusted to waking up several times a night, and my expectations for remaining energy at the end of the day is realistic.

I knew I would have one new person to get to know, but I neglected the change this would have on Rey becoming a mother. Her mind has shifted to become the caretaker, able to meet our son’s demands with incredible endurance. She stepped into herself and has emerged a beautiful mom that I am somehow more in love with than before.

As for my relationship to the boy, love grows everyday. Through the birth I felt my heart tear open, and while I thought it had receded afterwards, he continues to leverage open my being. It is surreal that someone so small can have such a great effect on your life. Sometimes when we look at each other I feel a connection straight to the core of my being, that somehow continues to grow deeper.

I have been grateful to unpack these feelings with a therapist, to then share with my partner, and now you. The reflective space has allowed me to step into myself and actually look around to notice the great changes we have been through.

There are still so many mistakes to make, tough conversations to have, great moments to experience. Surrendering to become the person you are meant to be demands vigilance. Through this effort, life can be experienced deeper, making the low points as tough as the high points are great. There is no limit to the depth of experience available and this is what makes a life worth living.

Farm News

We are steadily moving towards an abundant growing season. With the nursery fired up and plants growing this year is starting out strong. A big round of onions is on the horizon, as well as peppers, endless rounds of lettuce, a more herbs for our new Kitchen Herb Garden.

Work is continuing on a new and improved high tunnel that will house early rounds of your favorite crops!

CSA members have driven the farm’s progress by providing the upfront capital to begin a new season. We offer CSA members a bonus 10% on their dollar that can be used to purchase a wide diversity of fruits and veggies throughout the season.

Stay tuned for updates and early season events!

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Search “market farming” videos you will find titles like “5 Best Crops I Grow” or “How I made $200,000 in my Backyard!”. Small scale farming models based on rapid bed turnover, quick growing specialty crops efficiently produced in intensive systems are sexy. A successful farm would only grow the most popular and most profitable crops, right? That farm would have few issues selling their products, and provide the farmer with the highest return.

Planning our field for 2023, I return to our CSA survey and not surprisingly there are crowd favorites. Should Folks Farm focus on these high dollar products that we can cost effectively grow?

Organic farming and gardening success relies on the coalescing of nature and garden. Weather patterns, fertility, irrigation, strong plants, weed control, and pest issues work in concert. Hopefully the checks and balances make a positive return. Not relying on chemical fertilizers or pesticides makes the grower a more active participant in this process. To reap a harvest the grower must make decisions and adapt to shifting seasons.

Diversity is the cornerstone of the resilient garden. Rather than 1 large annual crop, successions elongate the harvest and be back ups when a crop fails. Planting different varieties, ideally regionally adapted, can help buffer against pests, add flavor to a diet, and further elongate the harvest window.

In diverse ecosystems, there are organisms that inhabit every niche. Vines climbing up deep rooted trees, herbaceous perennials occupying the understory, all complete with intermingled animals. Any given catastrophe has a contingency plan. If a large tree falls in the forest other plants will grow towards the sunlight as fungi and other decomposers break down the new material to feed the upcoming life.

Our gardens can function similarly. An elementally balanced garden provides a diversity of species, across all seasons, to foster life. When I say elemental, I am referring to earth, water, fire, and air. In plant terms: roots, leaves, fruits, and flowers. Incorporating these crops, grown together, you invite the magic of nature into the garden ecosystem. This idea comes from biodynamic farming that takes the process a further step in harnessing cosmic energy to imbue your crops with the cosmos.

I use this lens in planning my beds, incorporating companion plants to round out our farm’s offerings. While growing a row of tomatoes I can plant basil alongside, adding levity to the heavy fruiting tomatoes. Basil is not an especially our most popular crop, but the herb will attract beneficial insects above ground, feed a diversity of microbes below ground, and bolster production of the tomatoes.

Last year we had tremendous success with pole beans and turnips. As the beans (fire) matured upwards the turnips (earth) filled our bed edge. Instead of waiting for the beans to ripen, we were harvesting turnips for weeks while the beans set. This bed was also surrounded by buckwheat (water/air) that brought vigorous pollinators to the garden and fed soil organisms.

The excitement of planning the upcoming season is bolstered by the opportunity to build on these elemental relationships and increase our farm’s productivity for all species involved. We start by incorporating the favorite and cost effective crops, then play with different combinations of plants that fill out our offerings. The goal being a consistent supply of the crowd pleasers balanced with other marketable crops to create an ecosystem. If we only grew the crowd favorites, we would be neglecting the larger ecosystem that supports our small farm. This balancing act has been the catalyst that has weaned our farm off organic pesticides, foster diverse insect populations, and increased our soil organic matter.

Our CSA offers a diverse diet because increasing diversity grows the resilience of our farm, leads to fewer disease issues, and increased yields per bed. A system, built on creativity, fosters a path of long term productive beauty. To me, this is worth more than anything.

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There is a surprising amount of giddiness this early in the year. There is something satisfying about planning a season, acquiring the seeds and materials, and dreaming up another summer. In this cerebral stage the rows are perfect, the crops are crisp, and it all feels possible.

I never would have predicted to become a spreadsheet fan. Attention to detail has never been my thing. Yet, spreadsheets have become one of the most useful tools on the farm. I have been putting together the road map of our season over the past couple months. Strategizing and planning to accommodate more intensified production.

It starts with the self. What do I need/want to live? After personal/family costs and time are factored, the next step is how. Weekly sales predictions, markets, employees, and materials predict revenue. Then, the crop plan. Mapping out the fields and nursery complete to make sure the metrics are possible. This process has taken weeks of planning.

Now, in the phase of ordering. Seeds, soil, irrigation supplies, and market materials are compiled into an extensive annual shopping list. Constantly prioritizing what needs to be ordered now, and what can wait. Since most of these materials will ship freight, I try to consolidate the order onto one truck, minimizing shipping costs.

This is where the CSA becomes a cornerstone of our business model. The ability to purchase without taking a loan allows our farm freedom and security. Not only does the CSA model support early season expenses, but provides crop insurance during the growing season unavailable to most small farms. When you purchase a CSA, you are trusting a farmer to do their very best to provide during the growing season. The shared risk helps alleviate the farmers stress, a value that cannot be understated and over appreciated.

The upcoming season is planned with improvements from last year. We are keeping the gift card system to allow maximum flexibility. Customers can pick-up veggies at the Farm Stand or Downtown Farmer’s Market, making for at least 46 hours of availability, and giving them free choice in what they purchase. This ensures access to fresh veggies and plants throughout the season. For those utilizing the farm stand, customers will be able to take advantage of a pick your own Kitchen Herb Garden as well as a U-Pick flower field included in the CSA (these gardens will also be available to the public for a price).

All that said, I am very hopeful for a great upcoming season! We are spending the week organizing and repairing our greenhouse in anticipation for the first plantings of 2023. Welcome back to the growing days!

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