Notes on the season's end
Events and Dinners The 2017 season began for us with our first Farm Dinner, to celebrate the graduation of our beloved farm hand (year previous) from Skidmore College. Julia, and her family, dined on the last of the winter pig (porchetta), the first of the roasting chickens, risotto with wild ramps and fresh peas, in a dining room filled with lilacs. It was a memorable evening, and went off without a hitch, bolstering our intentions of making a regular occurrence of meals and events here on the farm. We outfitted a prep kitchen with sinks, surfaces, and refrigeration, and began construction on a room suitable for gathering, but progress stopped short of hosting a second event of the season. We had, naively imagined, that Thursdays (box pickup days) would be relaxed days of toasting a glass, playing games and entertaining at the farm. The reality was much different! Both a market day and a pick up day, it was hard for us both to be in one location. The start to the season, mostly rainy, and everyone’s busy schedule made most interactions quick and to the point. In 2018, we want to take a more deliberate approach to hosting with our Goode Farm Supper Club. We are still working out the details and dates of next year’s events, but will send those details out to you folks first. Inquiries welcome.
$20 BOX We launched the $20 Box a month before the farmer's markets opened, while we could still forage and offer wild ramps to our earliest customers. The first $20 Box (ever!) was purchased by five people and contained: French breakfast and cherry belle radishes, wild ramps, mixed baby lettuces, pea tendrils, eggs, and fresh herbs. Curating each week’s box was a genuine pleasure. Sage offered suggestions for wine pairings to go with the (almost) weekly companion recipe. True to the spirit of the concept, there was a core group of regular buyers, and also a number of new customers coming and going throughout the season, making use of the buy as you go, non-subscription platform. I got to know quite a few of you, and you got to know us, see our projects and messes, and meet our friends, and the now famous, Cousin Timmy. In October we heeded the call for a Saratoga Springs pick up and added Tuesdays and Wednesdays to our rotation. My general sense was that people preferred delivery to pickup. We will either find another host site next year, or will offer optional delivery.
Spring If 2016 was marked by drought, then 2017 is marked by rain. Things started early, and there was no late freeze. The hedge of lavender and the peonies, in their second years, were waking up very pleased. We took advantage of a rainy stretch to plant six rows of willow, intended for basketry and floral arrangements, in an area designated for permaculture pursuits. Lettuces, peas, fennel, parsley, chives, celery, and spinach were all in early, looking particularly robust and he tomatoes, started in the greenhouse, were 4" tall. when that ”rainy stretch" continued on all the way through June, and into July. Our garlic, planted the previous fall, in the wettest part of the field, was being choked out by grass from the hay field. The hay, itself, grew so fast while the rains continued that there was never an opportunity to cut, fluff, and bale it dry; the first cutting ended up being dumped in our woods. Where there is rain, there is no sun. Our hoop houses (tunnels covered in greenhouse plastic) that usually allow us to get a head start on tomatoes, didn't produce more quickly than the field tomatoes. This was a very late year for tomatoes, by most accounts; the cool and wet offer conditions for blight and other disease, and the lack of sunlight impairs photosynthesis. A huge issue for us was that we couldn't till our main field. The cover crops, planted the year before, with the idea that we would cut them down and till them in, nourishing the soil, couldn’t be worked mechanically or otherwise. Tilling wet soil will wreck a field and introduce a ton of future problems, including soil compaction. We experienced a bottleneck of healthy seedlings in the greenhouse begging to be transplanted with little to no room to start more, and our first annual plant sale was born!
Plant Sale Our first ever plant sale, mostly heirloom tomatoes, some specialty peppers and a few other starts, was a success. I really enjoyed hearing back from customers about how insanely delicious and beautiful the Berkley Pink Tie Dye is. Because it really is. This is a new area of interest for us and I can’t wait for next year’s plant sale, with more variety of plants.
Farmer’s Market This was our third season at the Ballston Spa Farmer’s Market. We love and value our customers who do shop at the market, but we and other market vendors were disappointed with turn out this year. Despite bringing more variety and higher quality to the market than in the years previous and having less competition, we sold about the same. We are working with BSBPA members to find ways to bolster growth at the market, and will take the winter to evaluate our future participation in this or another area market.
Flowers 2017 marks the year I got bit by the flower bug. When I wasn’t seeding, planting, weeding, harvesting, at the farmer’s market, or packing boxes, I was trialing different cut flower varieties and studying the new to me world of flower farming and floristry. I attending field days at both Tiny Hearts Farm (OMG) and Hay Berry Farm, and workshops at our favorite grower, Red Wagon Plants, in both flower growing and arrangement. I was wowed by the overwhelming interest in flower bouquets, the response to our pop-up sales, and the pleasure that growing and working with flowers elicited in myself. I used to believe that flowers were a luxury, even to grow. It took less than a year into a Trump presidency to recognize the importance, necessity even, in cultivating beauty wherever we can, and putting it out there. We are prepping the soil in a new half acre site devoted to next year’s blooms and I will be spending all of January and most of February taking this pursuit to the next level, having enrolled in the highly acclaimed Floret Flower Farming course. Another round of gratitude to those of you who bought bouquets this year. I’m thinking about a few of you who bought the pretty, but less than inspired bouquet of blooms before my first class. I am so excited about this, and can’t wait to share with you
Storage Box We wrapped up the season just before Thanksgiving with “The Storage Box” -50 pounds of vegetables that keep well, for $50: cabbage, leeks, beets, popcorn, potatoes, squash, cauliflower, dried chili peppers, herbs, and jam with free delivery in Saratoga Springs. I loved the response, thanks again. I really like sharing the harvest, which comes in great waves sometimes, like the month of October! It is so much better to get it right to our customers, and pass on some savings, rather than trying to store and sell through the colder months.