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Farm Update

This week we received some great news that we were the recipient of the Howard County Agriculture Innovation Grant. We feel very fortunate to have been selected and look forward to putting these funds to good use as we continue to explore ways to improve our farm and positively impact our community.

Our much awaited deer fence is up and doing what its supposed to do. I would personally like to thank our 3 Year CSA Members for providing us the funds upfront to make such an expense possible and help ensure a successful season.

Seeding begins in the greenhouses this week after first “taking a bath”. We will give them a hot water treatment to make sure they are clean and good to go. Spring is just around the corner and with the deer at bay, we are super excited to put our research and planning to good use and hit the ground running.

March is manure madness month as we prepare to test out our new (used) tractor attachment and spread nearly 150 tons of organic matter. Our plan is to build our soil and improve our tilth. We are trying to minimize the use of chemical fertilizers and tillage by incorporating more cover crops, green manures, and organic material. Our goal is to increase organic matter each season and take the approach that soil is “a limited natural resource, slowly renewable.” Soil Science Society of America

We are educating ourselves on some new farming techniques as well. We will be testing out low tunnels in designated areas to keep our plants dry from rain and protected from pests without relying on sprays. We have focused on row cover design that is affordable and can be set up and managed quickly and efficiently on a daily basis. We will be able to open and close depending on the weather or time of day.

This spring we will be planting our first acre of brambles, (blackberries & raspberries). We have invested in a special trellising system. This system is designed specifically for the biennial canes of blackberries. They will keep the plants healthier and make harvesting much more efficient. They will also give us the option of covering the plants in the winter to save them from a hard freeze.

So with all this new and exciting change not to mention being back at the University of Maryland, College Park studying Sustainable Agriculture there is a great deal of hope and momentum for this season. I can’t wait to catch up and see everybody soon.

John Norman

 

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