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Late in the week to be sending the newsletter out, but this running a business stuff never ends. Whether it is gathering forms from the IRS, paying Colorado Taxes, communicating with the Farm Service Agency, getting certified in produce safety, or planting crops the work is never done.

I have been reflecting on how life comes from soil. Every living thing. You, me, dogs, trees, birds, all come from the soil and in the soil they finally rest. The Earth we walk on is truly everything, the foundation of life as we know it.

It is startling to learn that the nutritional content of our food has decreased sharply over the past 100 years. When you compare an orange from the 1920s to one today they are different crops. To get the same nutrition from one orange in the 20s you need to eat 8 today. How has this happened?

When we grow crops and do not return organic material (leaves, roots, ect) to the soil there is a net loss of nutrients. Successional withdraws from our soil bank leaves the ground taxed and starved for nutrients. Chemical fertilizers have fought this problem and provided short term fertility solutions. However, these fossil-fuel based fertilizers neglect to add essential vitamins and minerals back to our ground.

Most of my peers are taking daily doses of supplements or medications. Our bodies no longer have access to these essential building blocks of life and we must take an industrial route of “healing”. Fertilizing our bodies with pills to keep them running as we continue to tax them, just like the crops we consume.

If we are soil, and our soil is depleted, leaving us lacking nutrients to thrive, what can we do? The amazing thing about nature is its capability to heal. I remember the early days of pandemic lockdown when fewer cars were driving. The skies shone a tremendous blue free of smog! We can practice the same to rehabilitate the ground.

We spent time this week planting a cover crop on an acre of the farm. A cover crop is a selection of plants intended to be given to the earth. A five course meal for all manner of soil biota. Sowing legumes, grasses, and flowers we hope to establish a diverse stand of biomass to be incorporated into our soil. The timing of the planting could not have been better for a few reasons:

  1. The soil was dry enough to be lightly turned and support the weight of a tractor

  2. Constant freezing and thawing of winter left the surface cracked and ready to accept seeds

  3. Rain and snow in the forecast means we won’t need to use irrigation water to grow this crop

  4. Friday is a full moon meaning there is strong cosmic energy aiding in germination

  5. We have 2 months before we can irrigate this section of the farm. Now instead of bare dirt and weeds, we will hopefully have a diverse pasture

Plants perform this amazing function where they collect energy from the sun and exchange that energy with microorganisms in the soil through their roots. The greater diversity of roots, the greater diversity of microorganisms. These microscopic critters provide access to minerals and nutrients previously locked in the soil. Cover crops build an ecosystem of exchange and activate life in our soil. As more nutrients are available to the plants they become transferred to those who eat the plants. The cover crop we planted will be alchemized in our fall crops including lettuce, greens, bok choi, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, rutabaga, and more. These crops will be charged with nutrients as we continue to enjoy them up to a year from now!

Our world is complex and it feels like we have to make compromises to live. It isn’t possible for everyone to access a locally-sourced diet of nutrient charged food. I know our food is not cheap, not as convenient as the grocery store. Hopefully though by changing a few minds, and bellies, at a time we can elevate our well-being and reverberate outward to others in our ecosystem.

I got into farming because I wanted to save the world. I now realize the world and our bodies are the same. By providing healthy food and space for community I believe we can heal not only ourselves, but others in our world.

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The warm before the storm. Last night the chicken’s water was not frozen, but we aren’t done with winter yet. Fort Collins is expecting lows below zero for the next few days. That means batten the hatches, stock up on propane, and get ready to hunker down.

Our nursery was turned on a week ago and now has several thousand plants germinating within its clear walls. Onions, herbs, and even spinach have been planted trusting spring to be coming. I continually fight the urge to over-plant, trusting the plan and process, and keeping within our limits.

Do you remember that tunnel we had wrecked by hurricane force winds? We have been repairing it and I am pleased that 20% of the frame has been salvaged. The goal is to be growing early crops within 2 weeks.

Seeds have continued to ship as orders come in. For Folks wanting to shop in person our seeds are now available at Fort Collins Nursery, Lucky’s Fort Collins, Lucky’s Boulder, and soon the Flower Bin. Pretty awesome to see over 1,000 packets of locally grown seeds go out into the Front Range community!

I have been reflecting on the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model and am finding it incredible. Our CSA members act as our bank and crop insurance. CSA micro-loans help us tremendously as we gather supplies for the growing season, pay for early season labor, and invest in infrastructure. All while sharing the risks inherently a part of farming. It really makes me consider other businesses our community could support that localize the means of production and strengthen our bioregion’s resiliency and sovereignty.

I really appreciate those who have stepped out of the box to support a CSA. I think I can speak for some farmers when I say having the CSA backing helps us feel less stressed and that we are not alone. For that we are deeply appreciative. The CSA model represents how our choices have immediate effects. If we can take the time to creatively problem solve, imagine how we could change our world.

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The sun feels warmer. Daylight is growing, and soon we will be too. Our season has shifted from the Persephone Zone of winter, when daylight it too low to provide enough energy for photosynthesis to more than 10 hours of daylight, to the early stages of spring.

Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld and Goddess of Fertility in Greek mythology, led an interesting life. While harvesting flowers with her maidens she was abducted by her uncle Hades, King of the Underworld, and taken to be his bride. Upon hearing of the abduction of his daughter, Zeus sent Hermes to the underworld to return Persephone. Hermes was successful, but since Persephone had eaten in the underworld she could not leave completely. It was decided she would spend two-thirds of her time above ground and return for one-third below. Her rhythm of moving between worlds led to the creation of the seasons.

Farming and gardening constantly revolve around the cycles of life an death. Here in Colorado our soil, crops, and growers work so hard during the growing season as daylight peaks at 16 hours. It makes sense with all this intensity we would need a rest, maybe die a little, and come back to life. The depth of winter recharges our batteries, crystallizes our soil, and sets the stage for the rebirth of spring.

The newly arisen goddess of fertility has coaxed a flock of geese to call our South Farm home. Every day there are 50 of them foraging amongst the crops remaining in the field. The flock is a welcome sight. Their manure will help our soil I am happy to provide refuge for these migratory animals. We have not incorporated rotational grazing into our system so I am glad nature has filled the gap.

This week will bring about finalizing our new greenhouse in preparation for the first crops of 2022. Hopefully we will also start cleaning and organizing our South Farm. Big plans in motion for this property and with weather like the past few days working outside has never been more appealing.

Intentions of the Week

Schedule time for tasks

Conserve energy by remaining calm

Trust the process

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