Friday, April 23, 2010

Fixing a Hole Where the Rain Gets In

"I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in and stops my mind from wandering, where it will go. I'm filling the cracks that ran through the door and kept my mind from wandering, where it will go."

The greenhouse is an essential component of a farm. It is where the newly seeded plants are placed and where they will germinate and begin to sprout. The greenhouse provides a warm and secure environment for the newly developing plants. Though certain crops are directly seeded into the soil in prepared beds, most plants start their life in a greenhouse. In addition to protection from the elements, in the greenhouse the farmer can control how much water the plants will receive. The greenhouse provides the new plants with the warmth that enhances their growth and development. As a new farm, Z Food Farm needed a greenhouse. Over the course of a couple of weeks, and with help from Farmer Matt, David erected his greenhouse. A few pictures were presented in the previous posting. In this post are pictures showing the process of building the greenhouse.

In the previous post it was mentioned that the posts needed to be hammered into the ground. This is that process. David is using a spacing board that was sent by the manufacturer of the greenhouse. This ensures that the posts are evenly spaced.

Also mentioned previously was that the hoops came in three parts and had to be assembled. Here are the pieces of the hoops.

Here is the completed frame of the greenhouse. If you click on the picture to enlarge it you will see the cross bars running along the top, corner braces, and wood running along the bottom of the posts. This is all intended to provide support to the structure to help hold the greenhouse together.

In this picture David is digging a hole into which will be place a post. Four posts are embedded in the ground. 2x4 lumber will then be placed on top of the posts. These 2x4's provide the foundation upon which the end walls will be built. Along the ground you can see heavy duty landscaping fabric- this will suppress the growth of weeds.

Here you can see the frame one of the end walls. You can see the 2x4's along the bottom and how the top pieces are attached to the metal of the last hoop. You can also see rock that has been placed on top of the fabric. This was done to help, somewhat, level the ground.

After receiving assistance from Farmer Matt in framing one end wall, Farmer David is beginning the process of putting up the frame for the other end wall.

Having completed the second frame, the next step in the process was putting plywood onto the frame. In this picture David is using a reciprocating saw to cut off and round off the plywood. The shiny, metal object that you also see are vents that will open up when the heating unit and fan are in operation.

In this picture the end wall has been primed in preparation of being painted. Also, on the left side of the picture, about half way up you can see some wood that is running the length of the greenhouse. This will be used to help secure the plastic to the greenhouse.

And here you can see the truly green, greenhouse. You can also see the fan that will be used to help with both the heating and the cooling of the greenhouse, depending on what is needed. You can also see that the door has been put in place. In some ways getting the door situated so that it would close and stay latched was one of the more frustrating aspects of the entire process.

Here it is, one greenhouse. Actually, at this stage there are still a number of tasks yet to be completed, but you have a general sense of what the finished project looks like.

Here is a picture of the interior of the greenhouse.

In this shot David, with the help of Farmer Dean (he no longer farms, but once a farmer, always a farmer), is beginning the first of various final stages. Here he is putting on pieces of wood that will help hold the plastic on the end walls.

Putting the greenhouse up was a long and arduous process. Actually, the notion of long and arduous sums up most aspects of the life and lifestyle of a farmer. To be a farmer, in particular a small scale, independent family farmer requires commitment, dedication, and a love for what you are doing. It's been said here before, and will be said again, when you go to a farmers' market take the time to get to know the farmer you are buying from. Ask them questions about the food you are buying. And remember to thank them.

Peace, hopefulness, and healthy eating to all.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


"Well there's just a little bit of magic in the country, music we're singin' so let's begin. We're bringin' you back down home where the folks are happy. Sittin', pickin', and a-grinnin' casually, you and me. We'll pick up the pieces, uh huh."

Since the last post a great deal has been taking place at Z Food Farm. There will be time to sit and sing later on, but for now Farmer David is more putting the pieces together rather than picking up the pieces. This point was mentioned in the previous post, but the truth of the matter is that despite how much time David has allowed himself to get things done, such as putting together the greenhouse, things still take longer than anticipated. But day by day David is gettin' there. One important item to mention is that the website is, sort of, up and running. 'Sort of'- the site is still a work in progress with much yet to do (there is an ongoing theme here). Thanks to David's friend Gab, with assistance from brother Peter, for getting the site moving towards excellence. To visit the site go to

The following is paraphrased from the book "Bringing It To The Table", by Wendell Berry- "People live for quitting time, for weekends, for vacations, and for retirement. One works not because the work is necessary, valuable, useful to a desirable end, or because one loves to do it, but only to be able to quit. This is explained, of course, by the dullness of the work, by the loss of responsibility for, or credit for, or knowledge of the thing made." The reader can decide for them self the extent to which this statement is true for them. For Farmer David, and the farmers within his local farming community, as well most small family farmers, this is simply not the case. Small farmers, and even some who are part of the large agri business farm system, couldn't do what they do if they did not have a passion and commitment to what they do. For the most part 'quitting time' for a farmer is when the sun goes down and there is very little that is dull about the process of farming. When you go to your local farmers' market, get to know the farmer and learn about their love for what they do. Peace, happiness, hopefulness, and healthy eating to all.

And now to bring you a little up to date with some of what's been going on at Z Food Farm.

It might be a little thing, but appearances are important. On the left is the before, on the right is the after. The color of the newly painted door is Miso.

Greenhouse construction- Part 1: The first step in constructing the greenhouse is to pound the posts into the ground, in as straight a line as possible and to as an equal depth as possible. A surveyors transit is used to get the posts to the same height, relative to the level of the ground.

While the posts are being pounded into the ground, the hoops are being put together. Each hoop consists of three pieces that are connected with a bolt and a nut. Both of these steps is very time consuming and took the better part of six hours.

To install the hoops one end is placed in one of the posts. Then it requires team work with one person pushing the hoop to get it in line while the other person pushes the end of the hoop into the post. A vice grip is put on the end of the hoop end to make sure it doesn't go to far into the post. A nail is then inserted through the pre-drilled holes that are now lined up in the post and the hoop end.

After the hoops are in place one cross beam is attached to the top of the of the hoops and two are attached along the upper sides. In the picture you can see Farmer David pointing to the top beam and around waist high you can see one of the side beams.

The reality of life on a farm is that ground hogs are not the farmers friend. They are very destructive of crops. While traps can be effective at capturing ground hogs, the best weapon against them is man's best friend, the dog. Here Hule has dispatched her first ground hog at Z Food Farm.

At the end of a busy day, Hule enjoys a well deserved nap.

There will be more pictures of the construction of the greenhouse in the next post. Until then, happy and healthy eating to all.