Farm Infrastructure


organic farmers in a squash field 2
Every year on the farm, awesome stuff happens, things we consider successes (and…. some less-than-awesome stuff….aka learning opportunities). There are lots of small things we consider successes, but we used the winter months to think back on the season as a whole. We each told each other a few special things we didn’t want to forget about 2017. Here’s what we said: The Swamp Milkweed flowered! It’s a biennial so it starts flowering during its 2nd year after planting. And Monarch butterflies found it! Basically, we were obsessed with watching the Monarch caterpillars chomp down on the milkweed plants and […]

Awesome Things that Happened on the Farm Last ...


rototilling 5
After years of using biodegradable biobased mulch films (or biofilms for brevity), in early 2015 certified organic farmers in Canada were told that biofilms would no longer be considered an allowable input. Farmers from across the country were understandably upset and confused. Biofilms offer benefits in weed control and soil warming.  And they biodegrade within 2 seasons, eliminating the need to be picked up. Every ecologically-minded farmer who was using or wanted the benefits of regular plastic mulch, was happy to avoid adding more waste to the landfill. When I first learned about non-GMO, corn starch-based biofilms, I was excited […]

Biodegradable Plastic Mulches No Longer Allowed in Canadian ...


tulips
  The sun feels good! It’s been nice to see plants that spend the winter in the ground sprouting up and doing well. With the mild winter that alternated snow and thaw, we weren’t sure how things would overwinter. It’s still unknown whether everything did well….our overwintered onions seem alive but their black plastic ground cover blew off during heavy winds mixed with thawed out soil. A bed of overwintered baby kale (never harvested) looks really nice and we’ll be harvesting from it soon. This year our biennial flowers were planted into beds that were pretty wet this winter….though bulbs […]

Spring Update on the Farm



Landscape fabric 9
I wrote this article for ACORN’s summer 2015 newsletter and am now republishing it here. At the end of March of this year (2015), we found a memo in our inbox from Ecocert (the organic certifying body that we are certified with). In this memo, we were told that we would no longer be able to use the biodegradable plastic mulch (made with non-GMO corn starch) that we had been using unless we removed it after use. We were surprised and concerned. It was definitely a little last-minute! We still had leftover rolls of it at the farm from last […]

The Case of the Unapproved Biodegradable Plastic Mulch


DIY Germination Chamber 11
On our farm, projects start with internet research and often use odd pieces of “junk” we’ve got hanging around. One winter’s projects was a germination chamber. Some of our seeds require light to germinate but most vegetable seeds don’t. They do need consistent moisture though. Many growers use a germination (or sweat) chamber to reduce: space that seedling trays take up before the baby plants emerge (when they all need light) frequency of watering (which also relates to algae growth) Since we moved to this farm, we’ve started our transplants many different ways. In the 1st few years, we made […]

DIY Germination Chamber


Seed Cleaner workshop 4
Saving seed is one thing…but then cleaning it is a whole other thing. Why clean it? Well, when we first harvest the seed, we just want to get it out of the elements and keep it dry. Along with the seeds, we end up bringing in all kinds of other bits of the plant. In order to incorporate seed saving into the operations of our small farm, we need to try to make the process of both harvesting seed and re-planting the seeds we’ve saved, as efficient as possible. You know when you buy seed and you open up that […]

Work Bee: Building a Seed Cleaner