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Plowing in 2009.

The season is wrapping up a bit, and I forgot to mark the fifth anniversary of our groundbreaking at Stone’s Throw Farm, which passed earlier this month. This is actually fitting as I’ve never been much for ceremony! A few people have asked me if it feels like it’s been 5 years, and I say, “Yes, definitely.” It’s very rewarding work but I’m sure it’s no surprise to hear that starting a farm involves a lot of sweat, some tears of frustration, and a little blood, too.

We didn’t actually close on our land until December 2009, but the seller (Kathy, a neighbor of ours) let me put in a driveway and plow two acres of land that fall. I couldn’t have done it without help and encouragement from my mentors at Food Farm, where I worked at the time, and, of course, my family.

My parents donated a bunch of old (and some new) farm machinery and loaned me the money to buy this land. They came up from Iowa for the groundbreaking; first we had to stake out the fields and clear the hay bales out of the way, then my dad showed me how to plow and also did a good chunk of the plowing and disking himself while I was at my day job. My parents eventually bought a house near this farm and moved up here to help during growing seasons starting in 2012.

Meanwhile, Elden has put up hoophouses with me, cleared trees, put up our Quonset multi-purpose building with help from our friend Greg Cooper, built an insulated room in the Quonset for me to live in during the growing season, built our walk-in cooler shed (which also has a bathroom in it — a separate room!), put in a small orchard, and has generally made himself handy around the farm in his precious spare time.

Whether you’ve been with our CSA less than one season or all five years (or maybe you’ve been cheering us on from the sidelines), thanks so much for your support of this farm!

Here’s a few photos and videos of recent activity at the farm:

 

HarvestFestPosterDon’t miss the FREE Lake Superior Harvest Festival this Saturday, September 6, at Bayfront Festival Park. It’s the 21st annual showcase of the Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association, and the crew from Stone’s Throw Farm will be at the farmers market from 10 am-4 pm selling produce. This year, the festivities run into the evening as well thanks to a collaboration with the Twin Ports Bridge Festival. Parking is free from 10-4, too. 

See you there!

Bean Time

It’s that time of year at Stone’s Throw Farm: farm members are getting a lot of green beans in their CSA shares, and some are starting to come out to pick their own beans for preserving. My nephews were here visiting my parents again recently, and Franklin (almost 6) helped me pick beans one day. All he needed was a “measuring stick bean” to help him determine if each bean was big enough to pick. Apparently he told my dad that next year, he’ll be able to pick all of the beans for me. In the meantime, I’m thankful that one of our farm members is a massage therapist!

Most of my time is spent picking cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and so forth; my mom helps with picking and does a whole lot of weighing and bagging on harvest days (thanks, Mom). My dad takes care of the pigs and the field work so the show can go on.

The recent rains really got some veggies going, and today’s sun should agree with most everything. Too much of a good thing can be a downer, though; Sunday night we got over 2 inches of rain at the farm, and didn’t need a drop of it! The pigs are probably happy that they have a regular pond in their pen now, so that part is positive. They’re getting more damaged produce now (I know the beets in the second video look good from a distance, but trust me . . .), which they also enjoy.

In case you don’t have a chance to visit the farm, here’s a look around via the camera.

My sister and her family visited us over the 4th of July weekend!

Finally, we got some nice weather. We also got a gift of some hoof-in-the-bucket-type milk from my favorite dairy goat farmer — I figured the pigs would love it, and they didn’t disappoint me. In the 2nd clip, I started taping before I got to the pen because usually they’re excited to see me, and then done bouncing around by the time I get the camera out.

As usual, I’ve not quite finished transplanting the “hot crops” — tomatoes, peppers, squash, corn, melons, cukes, eggplant — and it’s time to start CSA share distributions. All that’s left is transplanting the eggplant into the hoophouse; I couldn’t do that until the peppers were out of the way. We have some sweet corn to transplant, too, but other than lettuce and some Brassicas, we’re getting close to done with transplanting!

I know I shouldn’t take photos on dreary days, but that seems to be when I have time to do so. I did get a few pics of our tomato plants before heavy winds and rain turned them into some pretty sad-looking specimens. It seems like every year, no matter when I transplant the tomatoes, there’s a big storm shortly thereafter. This year’s field tomato plants were not spared a rude introduction to the open air, but I’m hopeful that they’ll prove to be as resilient as the tomatoes have been every other year.

The hoophouse tomatoes are putting on some healthy new growth, the onions look pretty good, and everything else is perking along, albeit slower than I’d like. I’m thankful we had a few sunny days last week in which we got a lot done. Maybe now that it’s officially summer, there’ll be more sun?!?

On Saturday, I treated the piggies to some stale nuts my mom found in her cupboard — I think they like ‘em. The pigs kept chewing on videographer Elden’s boots (they might like shoes and boots almost as much as nuts), so I kept trying to distract them while focusing on not getting my hands bitten off. (There probably should be one of those “Do not try this at home” warnings on this video.) I should also note that yes, I was wearing my winter hat on June 20, because that’s how cold the wind was in the fields here.

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