"Vermont's Year Round Diversified CSA Farm"

You can eat fresh vegetables, and pasture-raised & grassfed meats from our farm YEAR ROUND!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Upgrading greenhouse benches

Last year we cobbled together some pallets and scrap wood to make greenhouse benches. In the past year we have visited some farmers and their greenhouse growing systems and decided we needed to make some changes.

We made another farm investment by moving from wood to metal pipe and building roll-away greenhouse benches. The frame is made out of tubular greenhouse pipe the legs are adjustable, and their are 2 pipes on the top of the frame that allow you to roll a frame that sits on top (see photo). We built the top frame of 2 x 4 lumber and then bent some roofing metal that holds seedling trays.
The next improvement in the greenhouse system is a recyclable water supply. It is a very simple system that contains a livestock tank and a sump pump. Plastic water pipe (main line) is connected to the sump pump outlet with feeder lines coming from the main line to each greenhouse bench. At the top of the greenhouse bench is a "T" ball valve and 3/4 inch diam pvc pipe with a few holes drilled into it to allow water to flow on the metal pans. The bench is tipped toward a gutter that is attached to the side of the greenhouse frame that takes the water and dumps it into the livestock tank at the end of the greenhouse. You fill up the livestock tack once and recycle the water through the season. This allows for warmer water going to the seeds and bottom watering of the trays.

We are still fine tuning the system, but it should already allows for efficient use of greenhouse space and less time spent watering. Come by the greenhouse and see how it works!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Time to Farm

We were a nation of small farmers not more than 50 years ago. These were small family farms on 100 acres and less. The primary income producer was the dairy cow with a milking herd of 10 to 40. These farms also raised pigs, chickens, eggs, horses and vegetables. These families preserved the foods they grew (canning vegetables, smoking meats, rendering lard) for year round consumption. The younger generation lived with and learned from the older generation who passed down their knowledge.

Our farm is not so different from this earlier model of farming. We raise a diversity of livestock and vegetables for sale to the community and we preserve and store meat and vegetables for our own consumption during the winter months. We are currently 2 generations working together on the farm and a young 3rd generation tagging along.

About 5 years ago we set up a cardboard table with extra garden produce to sell along the road that runs by the farm (see photo above). This spring we have made the decision to make a living from this and other lands that we use in our town. You don’t read much about young families jumping into farming full-time, least not those who don’t own any land (we lease or have handshake agreements). The media seems to report all the doom and gloom of farms going out, land lost to development, dairy farms dwindling, etc. We think they should be reporting the successes of new farms.

We have made a sizeable leap from 5 years ago – and we still do all the farming ourselves. Last years purchase of a used tractor and some old farm implements have helped us be a bit more efficient since we increased the amount of land that we cultivate. We raise a diversity of livestock and poultry focusing on raising them outdoors on pasture. We have embraced the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) model of providing nutritious, organically raised vegetables to many families in our local communities.

We have received great feedback from our customers over the years and our business has grown to the point where we believe it can support 1 and ½ families. Neither of us worked high paying jobs while we started farming, and we don’t have trust funds to bail us out of poor decisions. We saved and have never incurred debts (save a small house mortgage). We live simply and we work hard at what we love to do: grow great food for our local community.

So this spring we are both excited and scared for what the farming future may bring, but life is too short not to go after what you want. Hope to see you on the farm!