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Amend and Amend

The Compost is Coming...

Spring means melting snow – yea! But melting snow also means soggy ground – boo!

We have nothing against mud, but because the ground is so soggy restrictions are in place on area roads – which means big semi-trucks can’t get to our farm. And right now we are waiting for multiple semi-truckloads of compost to be delivered!

Yes, you read that right. Multiple semi-trucks of compost. That’s a lot of compost.

In fact, all told it will be thousands of cubic feet of compost. It is critically important that we get it soon so we can begin amending the soil on our new property. You see, when we purchased the farm, we knew the fields had been rented out for years and continuously used it to grow hay and other crops. When we had the soil tested, we weren’t surprised to discover that it was depleted of some key nutrients.

Instead of using chemical fertilizers, we are providing an alternative that we think is better. So as soon as we can get the compost delivered, we will immediately start hauling it -- one wheelbarrow load at a time – and spreading it throughout our gardens so they are ready when the seedlings are big enough to replant in the fields.

Taking The Time – Healthier For Everyone Yes, amending the soil with compost requires more physical labor and is time-consuming. But using compost is good (actually great!) in so many ways.

§ It encourages the growth of beneficial microbes – which is great for the plants.

§ It adds important nutritional elements – which is great for those who eat plants;

§ It helps the plants fight pests & disease, while limiting weeds – strong plants defend themselves;

§ It is environmentally friendly – limiting soil erosion while protecting aquafers, streams and rivers.

We are so thankful for our CSA friends who recognize the value of using farming strategies like building soil vitality through composting rather than chemical fertilizers. We know you share our concern about the importance of healthy living and caring for the world around us. So we work hard to provide you with tasty and nutritious fruits and vegetables using environmentally friendly methods. Together, we can demonstrate how (and why) organically grown and locally sourced food is better for everyone.

Vegetables – The Real Workers

But here’s the amazing thing: the steps we take to amend the soil is only half the story. The real workers are the fruits and vegetables we plant! You see, our healthy soil is packed with the great minerals and other nutrients we all need. But our bodies – by themselves – don’t absorb these nutrients very well directly from the soil.

What farmers like us do is set the stage for vegetables to do what they do best!

You see, to get the “good stuff” that our bodies need (the basic chemical compounds and natural elements in the soil) they must be captured and converted into digestible organic matter – and that’s exactly what fruits and vegetables are! You could actually consider our fruit and vegetable plants to be tiny workers that absorb the solar energy and extract the key nutrients from the soil. They are basically converting inert “rock powder” and making it biologically alive so we can consume it and live!

Seeing Signs Of Yummy Life Every spring it is so exciting to see the very first bright green sprouts appear in our planting flats! I expect to see them this week! Each kind of seed germinates and grows at its own pace. Some come up in just a few days and others are slower. Some go right into the field, while others need to be transplanted into bigger pots before they are ready for planting outside.

That’s why our greenhouse is so important. It really makes a difference. We can keep the growing environment stable – the right temperature, the right amount of water, plenty of sunlight. What we are planting now will be harvested and distributed by June!

Scramble Season

By early next week we expect to have at least 100 flats of seeds started – lettuce, broccoli, bok choy, and plenty of herbs. As we keep adding more and more flats, organization is vital! Knowing which flat contains what seeds and when they were planted is key! In these early days, the sprouting plants often look similar but watering routines and planting schedules vary wildly – so our system has to be good!

For the most part, Joel is doing just about everything right now. While some of his time is devoted to caring for Una, Rosemary and Frankie, it is good to see that they can help in small ways (like, “please run and get me the trowel I left by the back door!”). Plus we are thankful that Megan and Beatrice are getting stronger every day. But to keep Joel sane during this “scramble season” -- when so much is happening all at once -- we are thankful for the handful of local friends and family who take on a task or two. They keep Joel from getting a scrambled brain!

One way YOU can help is by spreading the word about our farm and the CSA specifically. If we can keep the signups rolling in that ensures cashflow is available for Joel to work with as he builds the infrastructure, amends the depleted soil, organizes equipment, and manages ALL the operations. So tell your friends! Tell your neighbors! Get the word out--great, local food is here and you can play a part in establishing a farm that nourishes bodies and cares for the earth! Join our CSA!


The ATF Crew

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