Updates from the farm
One of the internet's most popular food websites, TheKitchn, is running a week-long series called Tomato of the Day, and they're featuring our tomatoes! Check it out, and share it widely.
Notes from Chris upon returning to the farm
|Moving on, what makes our tomatoes special, squash notes
Where planning meets execution...
Upcoming crops and flame-weeding in a wet spring.
Note: We will post weekly updates from Chris in this space until we resolve the issue with Constant Contact's email archiving process.
The forecast is looking good...
Spring is finally starting to happen and none too soon. With the extremely cold weather this winter, the water lines leading from the farm's main pump to the house and heated germination greenhouse froze weeks ago. So, the farm house has had no water for nearly a month, and probably won't for another month. The four of us who run the show (Paul, Kurt, Brady, and Me) have a friendly bet going as to when the water will run again. Our guesses range from late March to late April. Word through the grapevine suggests that the frost is 6+ feet deep this winter, so the mid-to-late April guess might well win the bet! I, being the optimist (which is kind of a joke as I'm just as much a realist), am hoping that the forecast trend continues, and that the ground is thawed out by early April. And I hope ourgarlic survived under the straw mulch and snow.
In fact the current 7 day forecast has many days in the 30'S, 40's, and even one day in the 50's, with sunshine, so we're pretty excited. The only problem will be the lakes of water from melting snow which will freeze at night, but that's not a big deal. We'll be able to plant our first spring hoop houses by the end of the week, hopefully, and the spinach that has not grown all winter will make a sudden growth spurt. We'll find out how much of it died and how much we'll have going into the spring. While there's not much room to feel guilt about not including spinach in the boxes so far this winter (we can't control the weather after all), we are excited to have a big fat bag in the last box of the season. Better late than never. I suspect that the last box of the season will be way, way over stated value because we want to finish on a good note -- and we do feel a little bad that you've received no spinach all winter. Thanks for your understanding and patience.
Otherwise, seed starting/germinating for spring is going well with the best crew and best leadership we've ever had at Tomato Mountain. More on that below. The aforementioned water crisis has not totally crippled the farm, as we're able to tap directly into the farm pump, and move that water on the surface via the huge 3" pipe we use for irrigating the field in spring, summer, and fall. Because we obviously can't leave that line full of water (it would freeze), we use it to fill 100+ gallon tubs in the heated greenhouse, and use a sump pump to water plants as needed. We then immediately drain the big line to avoid catastrophic freeze up, in which case we'd be totally out of luck/water.
I'm beside myself with the group I've been lucky enough to assemble. Kurt, who was with us from June of 2011 through February of 2013, is back at the farm after a year of trying his own farming operation (which is stupidly hard). He'll be both in Chicago and at the farm, managing many things in both places. Paul is our best and first totally bona fide information manager ever. What could be more important than information and its expression? He'll likely be an overall farm manager. Brady is the local, blue collar, professional type I've always hoped for but could never find. He'll be our field manager and all-purpose leader. Mark is another local, a regular jack of all trades type that sees so many of the things that make us work, or not, efficiently. I see Mark as an assistant field manager, a handy man with construction/building responsibilities, and a greenhouse manager. With these 4 guys around, we're in the best shape we've ever been in at the farm.
In Chicago, Sean is working on filling Robin's shoes regarding CSA logistics and planning. As we get bigger, we need better information organization, and Kurt has been helping Sean make sense of all the delivery instructions, egg orders, and much more. Our morning deliveries have been been less painful to implement than we had imagined, and promise to be far more efficient once we work out the week-to-week flow.