Farm Blog

Thank you again for braving the blizzard to celebrate, connect with great food, and 'planting an orchard'! Just imagine all those future cherry trees (don't forget to squat:-).
I am so uplifted from all the good vibes, intentions, laughter and seeds shared and planted.

We were able to raise $850.00 in funds! This will go a long way, thank you! Additionally, with all the seeds donated today and from what I've gleaned from others, The women growers in the Sine-Saloum region will be able to plant out a couple hundred row feet/farm. In the past we've planted shared 'demonstration beds' ie since many of the farmers share space/land to grow on we've constructed seeds beds to trial different varieties, plant insectory herbs and flowers and share techniques. From there seeds are harvested and shared forward amongst the individual farmers. So in essence your generosity helped plant teaching/learning/eating/

sharing beds of veggie, herb, and flower goodness!

I will honor my commitment and extend the immense gratitude, generosity that was shared during the workshop with the women farmers in the following ways:

Work with NCBA CLUSA Farmer to Farmer Program to transfer funds and mail seeds.
I'll also email and share highlights, photos forward later this week in celebration of our workshop success.

I am tentatively set to travel there Nov/Dec. or January in 2016.

I also finally remembered the name of third grower group, JUBO (means widespread). If you're interested in learning more about how they got started, here's a link to an interview I did as part of my last Farmer to Farmer adventure in Senegal.

I Will keep you in the loop as the project evolves and thanks again for sharing your generous spirit!

For the chocolate lovers:
Becky Otte, who made the amazing truffles, has more of her chocolate goodness to share and is selling some of her creations just in time for Valentines. if you're interested send her an email:

Also Here is a link to Roots Chocolate website.

For the Fruit Lovers:

I've enclosed a handout of some of the different fruits we grow at our farm as well as a flyer highlighting this season's events at the farm! We'd love to have you venture out and tour the orchard, come visit us (though not nearly as cool as the orchard poses we did during the workshop).

Thank you again for helping me transition from being a butterfly weed seed (ie wind pollinated, not knowing where or how my intentions, projects might stick) to more of an oak or cashew seeds - wherein I can deepen my awareness, provide support in the same place(s) in Senegal for the growers and in my backyard in Wisconsin:-). Here's to planting the seeds of the as yet to be imagined on and off the yoga mat! Wishing you all much abundance.

Happy Mid-winter!

Yours in hardy kiwi,

PS If you are into exploring the planting side as well as enjoying more local fruit creations, we'll be hosting a Local Fruit Tasting May 16, details on our website.


Getting Started

An annual rite of Spring for many vegetable growers in this area is the Upper Midwest Organic Farming conference which takes place regularly during the last week of February. Some growers insist they won't start seeds until after its yearly passage.

When I originally contemplated taking up community supported agriculture I ventured to what was the first such conference to try and get a grasp on whether CSA was something I should be undertaking in my mid-30s – vegetable production has a reputation for being murderous on the back and joints, as I already knew from gardening, and I wondered if I should be diving into it more fully as I approached middle age. I remember little of the conference but the presence of a number of participants much older than myself was reassuring.

While attending, I stayed with a couple of college friends who had recently moved nearby and started a family. When I reunited with the two of them again recently – after having rarely been in touch over the intervening years – I found myself trying to estimate their children's ages and getting it wildly wrong even after compensating for the passage of time. Not only were they past high school but through college and on into adult life.

Such unpleasant shocks are a hazard of age but a good reminder, at least to me, to be thankful that vegetable farming, whatever its risks to backs and shoulders, has at least one hallmark benefit: unlike other types of agriculture - or employment generally - vegetable growers are effectively dealt a new hand to play every year. This is extremely useful to the motivation come February when the instinct to sit and read a book – rather than mix potting soil and plant celeriac - is still fairly strong. No matter how disastrously the past season has gone, new hope is suddenly on offer again come Spring, divorced delightfully from the realities of past experience. I can return to the daft-headed exuberance of youth each year – at least in my farming life – while every other working-stiff, including myself on the day-job, must slog on toward eternity with little more than the hope of the occasional vacation to buoy the soul.

There is no telling what the coming season portends. Perils, most probably, but I know it is possible to have weather, insects, bacterial pests, soil-borne disease and every other possible factor affecting vegetable life to somehow all collaborate to produce near-perfect growing conditions. This sounds fantastical, but I've experienced years – even periods of years – in which it seems to have happened. There was a string of growing-seasons in the late '90s and early 2000s which, with only a few exceptions, were shockingly productive for almost every vegetable and fruit I grew, though I'd have to dig deep in my notes to pinpoint which years those were. After 2004, a flood year, the really excellent seasons seem to have dwindled. So we are due for a good hand. Either that, or I'm doing just what I hoped I would be shot for doing as I aged, making fond of the past while frowning at the present.

Despite unfinished books on both the nightstand and couch, I was perfectly delighted this past weekend to crouch over a bucket of mud in the basement for a couple of hours and crank out hundreds of tiny soil-blocks which will shortly be receiving onion seed, tweezer-full by tweezer-full, over another period of crouched, cramped, non-reading hours. So commences a season of work which won't end until mid-November; but if that's the price for a brief restoration of youth, I'm lucky to pay it.

But, you might ask me how I feel in July.

making soil blocks and seeding onions for a variety trial. Photo by Rob McClure

making soil blocks and seeding onions for a variety trial. Photo by Rob McClure