Farm Update

It’s a picture perfect day and I’ve decided to head out to the farm and work from my Tent in the Woods. From the highest point, overlooking rows of staked tomatoes, and cultivated plots beyond a field of flowering buckwheat there is a perfect breeze and the canopy of oaks and hickory seem to be whispering to each other. A series of small billowy clouds look like storybook ships sailing across blue sky.

It’s a great vantage point not just to survey the progress of the farm, but to step back, take a breath, and reflect upon where we are at this moment as an organization just before things get super busy and we hit peak season. It’s an opportunity to appreciate the great group of folks working for Norman’s, ponder grand openings and new locations, and to enjoy the tranquility while Nick Drake covers Bob Dylan, and I enjoy a sweet cantaloupe with prosciutto from the stand. The dogs are snoozing beside me on the porch after burning off their initial excitement at the farm and I’m sitting in my adirondack feeling like I’m in a different time.

There’s definitely treasures to be found around the farm if you know where to look. I discovered a patch of raspberries, the result of an experiment on pruning (or not pruning to be more precise). There’s a gorgeous row of lavender in full bloom attracting white butterflies beside rows of rosemary and mint. Our onions with tops and garlic are ready for the picking and you will find them at our markets.

I visited our 25 hives of honey bees which seem to be doing what they do. Pollinating our plants and keeping busy. We have several areas cover cropped in buckwheat to rest and replenish the soil and the honey bees are loving it. We are looking forward to harvesting about 1500 lbs of honey soon enough.

I happened upon the crew trying to make do with whatever wooden stakes they can find to trellis all our vegetables. They’re cutting and sterilizing them to get the most bang for their buck. Typically we would not re-use as a precaution and to help the plants stay healthy, but it’s been so challenging to get the materials we need this year, be it seeds, stakes, even change at the bank. There is actually a shortage on coins if you can believe that. The bank says they are having a hard time getting quarters, nickels and dimes. That’s the bank saying that. This year we had a tough time getting seeds and had to substitute tried and true varieties with other lesser known ones. We have noticed this in particular with our kirby cucumbers which seem to be slower growing and less prolific.

The cooler temps particularly during the evenings so far have slowed down our tomatoes, peppers and other warm weather veggies, but have been great for our leafy greens. Fortunately we have farms to our south and greenhouse growers to our north to help keep our tables full. As I finished my walk I encountered a single solitaire sunflower about twenty feet from the rows we planted. A volunteer. It was tall and sturdy and perfect and felt like a good omen or a glimpse of things to come this season. Have a great week!

John Norman