Thursday, October 23, 2014

Unity Farm Journal - 4th week of October, 2014

While I was in China at the beginning of the week, Kathy maintained the farm and all its activities.  

To prepare for Monday’s night’s frost, she picked all the mushrooms from our Shitake logs.   Subtypes Miss Happiness, Native Harvest, and Night Velvet are all fruiting in large quantities.   We’ve developed Unity Farm branded packaging using recyclable cardboard containers and a small amount of perforated shrink wrap.    Kathy has been delivering mushrooms to local farm stands in my absence.

Before my departure I picked another peck of peppers, so we now have a pair of pepper pecks which Kathy chose to pickle.    She used our homemade apple cider vinegar and this simple recipe

On last week’s flight to Washington I read a great book about farming in the forest.  Since Unity Farm is about half forest, the notion of planting paw paw seemed very appealing.   So, this weekend we’ll plant paw paw and pack the pair of pickled pepper pecks.

Forest farming in the Northeast can also include American Ginseng, which although rare, grows near spicebush and jack in the pulpit in the Unity Farm forests.  Kathy ordered 75 one year old ginseng plants and 500 seeds which will plant in 5 test areas around the forest - north woodland, mid woodland, south woodland, north orchard, south orchard.  We’ll watch their growth carefully and then add more ginseng to the successful areas.  Ginseng is a slow grower and we’ll have to wait 6-8 years to harvest mature roots.

Now that Unity Farm is built, we’re entering the phase of daily operations - actively farming the forest, managing the trails, inspecting the bees, planting the hoop house, pressing cider, and caring for the animals.   Our to do list looks like this

Forest  -  farming crops,  thin/plant trees, marketing mushrooms
Trails - managing vegetation
Bees - inspecting, feeding, honey bottling
Hoop House - planting, weeding, harvesting, preserving
Orchard  -  pressing cider, making cider vinegar, canning Unity Blue (our blueberry, raspberry, elderberry jam)
Alpacas/Llamas - monthly care, yarn making
Poultry - monthly care, eggs

The path from farm to table is a daily process, always focused on the future harvest and working backwards to the tasks of today.      The leaves are falling and the seasons are changing fast.  The approaching winter will give us time to catchup on indoor tasks, ordering seeds for next year, and reflecting on our lessons learned.

The weekend ahead is filled with planning our ginseng crops,  pressing cider, planting garlic, herd health, and harvesting turnips.    I look forward to getting my hands in the soil instead of sitting on planes!

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