Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Further- a sense of always moving forward. Further- accepting obstacles as part of the process and not letting them get in your way. Further- knowing that there are places to be, but being part of the process in the moment. Further- accepting too much rain/too little rain. Further- accepting bugs and beasts that strive to eat what you are growing. Further- persevering regardless. Further- loving what you do, doing what you love.

Farmers have to live in the moment. On a daily basis there is much that needs to be accomplished and it seems that no matter how much time is allotted a particular task, that task always takes longer than anticipated. Think something is going to take an hour, anticipate a glitch and plan for two hours and then the task takes three. And on and on. A flat tire. Mice eating seeds. A broken belt on a lawn mower. A mistake on the electric bill. Reports of late blight already being seen along the East Coast. Why do 'old timers' stay in farming? Why do 'newbies' get into farming? A sense of commitment to the soil. A feeling of passion for the act of making things grow. The feeling of joy upon seeing a seed start to germinate. The sense of oneness with nature. The sense of satisfaction of succeeding in spite of the obstacles. All farmers experience these feelings. The smaller the operation the more personal the relationship the farmer has with the land. To succeed in farming there needs to be a complete and total commitment to the ongoing process of the tasks at hand, regardless of obstacles.

May 12 marked a milestone day at Z Food Farm- it was the first day of planting. The honor of being the first crop into the ground was, drum roll, ............ potatoes!! Since then lettuce, beets, kale, Swiss Chard, salad mix, carrots, summer squash, and on and on have been planted. Farmer David, with the help of his crew of paid workers and volunteers, has been busily trying to catch up having been delayed in getting everything moving further along. In terms of staff there is Gregg the intern and Oscar the hourly farm hand; both are young men and both are extremely diligent in their efforts. They are friendly, personable, and committed to helping make Z Food Farm a great success. David is fortunate to have both of them. David has also benefited from the assistance of volunteers. Old friends helping out include Mary Jo and Malaika- much thanks to them for their assistance. One new friend is Anthony who has helped out a few times with seeding, table building, and planting. To date the most consistent helper has been Angela. She has been coming on a weekly basis since shortly after the farm was up and running. Much thanks and gratitude to all who are involved in helping to make Z Food Farm a great success. (Pictures of staff and volunteers will appear shortly on this blog. There are a couple pictures on the web site. Sorry to be running behind on this and other items of interest.)

Following are some other bits of news about the happenings at the farm.

Here David is using Farmer Matt's tractor and roto tiller. The roto tiller breaks up the soil to enable the farmer to next form beds into which either seeds will be directly sowed or plants planted.

Here David is using Farmer Matt's plant bed former and plastic layer. The discs along the side of the attachment help form the beds and lays down both the plastic mulch and the drip tape. Black plastic keeps in more heat and provides some of the crops with needed added warmth. Regardless of color the mulch is intended to aid in weed suppression.

An organized farmer is a happy farmer. Part of the process is knowing where your tools of the trade are 'living'. Organization of tools, seeds, and supplies is of critical importance.

With mom making use of Craig's list, David was able to obtain this lawn mower. Sadly, it now has a flat tire and a frayed belt. It has been used extensively; probably excessively. But it sure did a good job.

Not sure what the official name of this is, but it will be called the post thumper. It was used to put all of the posts for the deer fence into the ground. By hand it would have taken hours/days to dig all the post holes by hand (some 80 posts). In about four hours David, with the help of Lee Hendrickson, whose machine this is, was able to put all of the posts into the ground in about four hours. At the front end is a hydraulic 'thumper' into which the post is placed and then pounded into the ground. What a wonderful time saver.
And here are the posts. Along the side of the posts, which surrounds the field, as you can easily see in the front post conductors. There are seven on each post. Seven strands of wire were then placed around the field, attached to the posts by the conductors. The wires are then electrified with the goal being to keep deer out of the fields. The purpose of farming is to grow vegetables to bring to the people, not to feed the deer.

To borrow from Simon and Garfunkle, it's all happening at the farm, I do believe it, I do believe it's true. Markets are right around the corner. Hope to see you there soon.

Peace and good eating to all.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Building Tables

"Architects may come, and architects may go, and never change your point of view. When I run dry I stop awhile and think of you."

In previous posts you've seen the seeding trays resting on 'tables'. While these tables do not need an architects expertise to design and build, they do need to get built. The following pictures will show how this is accomplished.

Step 1. First you need lumber. In this case the frame is made of 2x3 studs, 8 feet in length. The goal is to find pieces of wood that are as straight as possible. This is not as easy a task as you might imagine. For every piece of wood that was selected at least 5, if not more, were rejected. David is using 2x3's to make the tables lighter in weight. They are held together using deckmate screws. Clamps made screwing the pieces of wood together much simpler than using one's hands. Notice that produce crates make a great work table. Farmers are very resourceful at using what is at hand.

Step 2. After the outside frame has been assembled a 2x3 stud is connected to provide strength and support. Again, clamps are used to hold the wood in place as the screws are inserted. At the top of the photo you can see the clamp holding the wood in place. In the right front of the picture, on the produce crate you can also see the clamp.

Step 3. Again using 2x3 pieces of wood, support braces are screwed into place. The top picture shows one brace being put into place. The second picture shows all four braces in place. As with the center brace, the purpose of these braces is to provide stability and strength to the table as a whole.

Step 4. Additional support braces are placed the length of the table. For this step 1x2 pieces of wood were used. As with the 2x3's finding straight pieces of wood is important and was quite challenging. It took about ten pieces of wood to find one usable piece. These braces do not lend much to the overall stability of the table itself. It will provide support for the wire that will now be stapled onto the completed frame of the table. To assemble this frame takes approximately one hour.

Step 5. Here is David using a staple gun to stable the wire onto frame of the table. At the top of the table is the roll of wire that is used. Chicken mesh wire is then stapled over this wire. This allows for a more stable surface on which to place the seeding flats. In the second photo you can see the completed table. It takes approximately 30 minutes to staple both pieces of wiring to the table.

And there you have it. At this time there are currently 29 completed tables. Most of them will be place in the greenhouse. The rest will stay outside the greenhouse where plants will go to be 'conditioned' prior to going into the field. (More about this in a future post.)

The dog days of summer. Here Hule is resting under a tree escaping the oppressive summer heat. Oops! It is only the first week of May. Hmmm? What does that imply about how the summer weather is going to be?

Things are moving along at Z Food Farm but much work remains to be done. Stay tuned for ongoing updates. And don't forget to check out the website (www.zfoodfarm.com). The site is still in its developmental stages but should be up to date by the beginning of June. Until next time, peace and healthy eating to all.