On The Farm: Week 2

Week two on the farm was a bit warmer than the first week.  Every Monday morning we do a “Farm Walk” to observe everything and make task lists of the work that needs to be done.  It’s inspired me to try to do some similar weekly assessment / task list in my own garden at home.

At the end of each day on the farm, we do record keeping and make sure that the sowing, irrigation, and harvest logs have all been updated and that any completed tasks are checked off.

While in the hoophouse on our Farm Walk this week, we notice leaf miner damage once again:  (sorry, I’ve forgotten what plant this leaf belonged to!  Chard perhaps?)

white blotchy area indicates leaf miners at work…

This spinach planted in the hoophouse also has a lot of leaf miner damage. We will have to thoroughly wipe each leaf of each plant in this row to hopefully get rid of them and prevent more damage.

I’m really excited to have the chance to learn some basic carpentry skills this year.  It rained on Wednesday, throwing our schedule off a bit, so we worked in the hoophouse.  Half of us pricked out basil…

While Bret & I got to make a propagation table!  First we stapled some hardware cloth to this existing frame to make a sturdier platform to hold seed trays:

this 8′ x 4′ frame will hold a lot of seedling trays. It’s stacked on crates, so it’s easy to move and/or store if need be.

The real treat was when I got to learn how to use a circular saw.  No big deal, really, but  power tools with BLADES do freak me out a little bit, so I was glad to have some supervised instruction!

Bret & I made this 8′ x 3′ frame, including the supports and corner braces.

We then covered it with some metal garden fencing wire using the staple gun.

Here it is filled with seed trays:

the garden fencing creates a surface sturdy enough to lots of trays

There were a few small restaurant orders to fill, so we got a lesson in harvesting last week as well.  Here are some large green onions we pulled, ready to be hosed off, trimmed, and cleaned up.

We got to harvest some flowers for the restaurant as well…

Flowers from sage, cilantro, crimson clover, and batchelor’s buttons

On Friday I got to help out with pH testing.  Every year they test the pH level of each and every bed on the farm.  It was pretty easy with this Rapitest reader.

Of course there was more weeding to do.  For some reason I’m really enjoying weeding on the farm.  (check in with me 4 months from now on that!)  It seems much easier and more pleasant than weeding in my own yard.  Go figure.

We also spent some time discussing special projects.  Time has been allotted into the schedule each week for us to devote some time to a special, independent project of our choice.  We need to make decisions by Wednesday of next week so that we can begin setting up a plan and timeline with the staff.  It’s going to be VERY difficult to choose what to work on.   I had hoped to do something with rainwater harvesting, but unfortunately the roof of the school is set up to drain into the center of the buildings, so we can’t collect water that way.  (Or at least it would be a much larger job than an independent project could pull off.)  We could, however, build a shed or structure that allowed us to harvest water…

I also thought it might be cool to have elementary school kids who come for field trips – perhaps through an art class – select a plant to sketch, draw, paint, or write a poem about – and to auction their artwork off later on at a fundraising event.

Some other ideas that were presented as choices included:

  1. hosting / organizing a community Farm Dinner  fundraiser
  2. working on the Farm’s presentation display and supplies
  3. creating educational signage for plants or for restaurants who use our produce
  4. organizing supplies in the shed and creating a system to make use of vertical space / hanging things
  5. making dibblers – suggestions included old bicycle tires with bolts attached…can be rolled down a row to create regularly spaced holes for seeds, etc.  Lots of opportunities to be creative with this one!
  6. a Farm Photo Exhibit – create a book or documentation of how one bed changes over the season, or of the farm in general…again, lots of ways you could approach this.
  7. social media – working on promoting the farm, creating online events calendars, etc
  8. silk-screening – using plants from the farm to create images for printing on bags and T-shirts, which could then be sold at our Farmer’s Market.  I assume we could use screenprinting presses in the high school for this…not sure.
  9. worm composing – building bins, signs and educational materials, and taking care of the worms, collecting compost tea, etc.
  10. creating value-added products that could then be sold at our Market (salves, oils, maybe even canned food products – sound like we have access to a licensed kitchen!)
  11. building a chicken coop – while BK Farmyards oversees another cooperatively-run chicken coop at different location, they’d like to get chickens here at the Farm as well.  Me too.  :)
  12. growing mushrooms
  13. working on community outreach and events
  14. creating a poster board of insects and pathogens that are commonly found on the farm –  high school kids might be more inclined to go check out the poster board rather than consult a field book.
  15. build and maintain a kiosk / display case to inform the public about the farm, upcoming events, and how they can get involved.

As you can see, there is no shortage of great ideas!  I don’t know how I’m going to decide.  I think I can safely rule out social media, but there are a lot of things that really interest me:  building a chicken coop, making a dibbler, silk-screening, worm composting, value-added products for the market…I also have a little experience hosting fundraisers, but it might be nice to try something new.  By Wednesday I’ll have to have a plan!

12 thoughts on “On The Farm: Week 2

    • It is super exciting! The hands-on work is balanced with many discussions, “classes”, and workshops…so we’re really getting the best of both worlds, I believe.

  1. Amazing how much you continue to earn especially the good habits…weekly or daily walks with a notebook….and keeping a notebook of harvest…I keep a notebook with the seeds inside but not outside…how odd…I would love to learn about worm composting.

    • Hi Donna! There are so many things that are inspiring better habits for me with my own plants at home. I guess when you grow 15,000+ pounds of produce a year (!!!) you have to be organized about record keeping! I like their system and I think it could work even in a small yard garden like mine. I’ve got all their record-keeping templates and plan to use them!

  2. I was excited to see you post today. I’m really enjoying reading what you’re learning on the farm.
    I like the weekly farm walk. Maybe I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed or miss something if I had a list like that for the week. I’m way better at making the garden records of what I have done.
    Good luck deciding on a project!

    • Hi, GonSS! I’m glad you’re enjoying the Farm posts. I’m with you 100% on maybe not feeling so overwhelmed / missing things if I were to to a beginning of the week “Garden Walk” to observe and asses and make task lists. I’m going to try! I really need to get caught up with my garden…feeling behind.

    • I’m seeing a whole new world of insects and pathogens on the farm! In my own garden I just don’t grow enough of any particular plant, I think, to attract much more than aphids (knock on wood.) If I do end up with more, at least I’ll be getting a good education in what they look like and how to deal with them!

      Here’s hoping the leaf miners can be controlled.

  3. Looks like you are having fun learning. My garden/microfarm has looked much better since I started blogging. It keeps me in the garden each week and wanting it to look good. So I use it as my weekly garden walk. I look forward to your project so I can learn something too.

  4. I love the idea of the propagation table made from hardware cloth! We were just talking about doing something similar to make some sturdy seedling trays. I’m constantly toting trays of seedlings back and forth between home and the community garden and those flimsy plastic trays keep cracking on me.

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