It’s almost here. I can smell it in the air, hear it in the birds’ song, and feel it in my bones…..
February rain pelts my windows and melts away the snow. Though officially it’s still winter, with the possibility yet for snow, the “Old Man” is definitely losing his grip, and even if it snows, it won’t last. Within just a few short weeks, thousands of tiny seeds will be sprouting in the greenhouse, and I can’t wait!
Much has been going on in the Mehaffey household these long months as we prepare for the season ahead. Winter has given us a chance to hibernate, pore through the many seed catalogs, and think and plan. We are excited to tell you about our first hoophouse project unfolding this spring (more later.)
Meanwhile, we’ve been hard at work on our business plan, now nearly complete. Although a business plan is a drawn out and complex affair, it’s been a rich experience for us. It’s generated fruitful conversations at our table, the place in my house where the drawing pads come out and ideas flow from the pens of Ross and Michael and Bill. All three seem to communicate best when they can draw a picture. It’s so true, a picture is worth a thousand words! As for me, the wordsmith of the family, it’s my job to get it all down on paper — all 25 pages of it, complete with financial spreadsheets. Whew!
It’s a heady feeling to hold something in your hands that started as an idea, nearly an impossible dream, now crafted into a road map to turn all of our dreaming and planning into something that’s real and tangible. It’s so satisfying to look back at all we’ve accomplished in the past two years, to walk around our farm and see the direct result. Now we’re even more excited about what lies ahead.
I’m putting the finishing touches on our CSA brochure, which is going out in the next few weeks. This year, we’re offering 30 CSA shares, and we’ll be selling our vegetables at two local farmers markets. A second beehive is going up on the hill, with the promise of more honey. The men are building a stand for the CSA pick ups at the farm, and have been hard at work clearing the area where the first hoophouse will be constructed, as soon as the ground can be worked.
Back to the hoophouse project: Over the next two years, we’re putting in a system of moveable high tunnel hoophouses that will be positioned on a system of rails along 4 to 5 contiguous garden plots, each the size of the greenhouse. Then, according to a planting plan for maximum season extension of each selected crop, the house is moved by pulling it over each plot when appropriate. This is a proven method described in “Four-Season Harvest,” by Eliot Coleman, a successful Maine market farmer for over 15 years, who grows vegetables year-round in a similar system of unheated greenhouses. We plan to offer a late season greens and root crop share that will provide salads through December and hopefully, beyond.
We’ve doubled our planting area and are planning on putting in lots of new and exciting varieties, including some of the popular Asian vegetables. Michael has also doubled his strawberry bed, and will be planting new crowns, which take two years to bear fruit. However, mouths are watering for our first strawberries, which he planted last year. Ross, with the blessing of his new bride, Casey, will join me working on the farm this summer at least half time. Desiree is coming back, and so is Peter. As our plan unfolds, we’ll be able to afford to bring more family members on board, and eventually hire outside labor.
Stay tuned! More info will be coming in the next couple of weeks.