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: raonine@gmail.com

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,
Erin


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.

 

The Fruit and Flower Mood Board - a Season's Color Palette Reverie

The other day I received an inquiry to grow and design a flower feast for a 2020 wedding celebration. With 12 years under my belt, I continue to deepen my understanding of how to both read the landscape as a grower, align wedding dates with flower phenology, and read the needs and interests of clients and members.

June brought the ability to see green. Growth was the name of the botanical game and I found myself marveling at how the pears, peas, and poppies sprung from its original seed-coated horizontality, gesturing forever upward and outward. Onward with growth, mulch, and the subtleties of purple and pink. Pink pillows of peony blossom, cathedral spiries of delphinium racemes and the intimate splashes of pink on pistils on view when I paused to consider fruitset of apples and aronia.

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Lilacs

May is the time of year when lilac blooms appear in the share.

            To be fair, we did not grow these. 

            The four ancient trees which bear the flowers came with the house when my parents purchased it in the early 1970s.  At that point the farm had been abandoned for nearly thirty years.  Even at the time, the gnarled, twisting trunks were massive, coppicing out from what must have been the location of some original, planted stem, heaving the soil upward and out around them as they went, as if they were not so much growing as erupting from the earth.

            Originally there were five, ensconcing the house at almost every turn.  As a teenager, I removed the one that stood abaft the front porch.  It's scent was lovely, pouring forth through the dining room window in May.  But it had the misfortune of blocking the view to the northwest where the warm-season sunsets were an essential companion at the balustrade after a long day of work.  Extracting the tree was a two day task even when I was young and full of energy.  The roll of terrain left in its wake remains an object to be negotiated with the lawnmower even to this day.

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Wrapping up In Her Boots Podcast Series Talking Beauty

“The Earth didn't need to be beautiful, it just is..." Mary Oliver
One element that drives our farm, but is often overlooked, is beauty. We grow food and flowers as it connects to our passion for the Earth and people, builds bridges, softens spaces, and helps us connect, explain the mystery in between my hands where bouquets are born.

I am grateful and excited to wrap up the In Her Boots Podcast Series featuring our farm to talk beauty and celebrate the beautiful place that is our farm and our hearts. Happy Listening!

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This Growing Act of Beauty is For You

Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” Rachel Carson

I am trying to endure. April has been rough and exhilarating for your farmer. Rob has always been much more Zen about life's disturbances and I continue to learn from his fluid, grounding love. For me, I've been at the mercy of April's moods. On the one hand I am welcoming the snow and quiet and the chance to linger over coffee with friends, catch a film, read the backlog of BrainPicking's Newsletters, or dust off the canoe. On the other hand, snow and cold unsettles my circadian farmer rhythm. We should be hardening off our young larkspur and allium transplants and seeding spinach alongside sweet peas. Instead the seeds and seedlings stock-pile in our greenhouse overflow zone (aka our kitchen and dining room).

Cold and wet is great for fruit tree planting, grafting, and dividing perennial herbs. Yet this too has been hard to do since the frost refuses to leave let alone heave under the weight of the shovel. 2014 memories come to mind—a year without kiwi due to a lingering cold come May—the kiwi refused to fruit save for 11 brave berries. There is reason to hope amidst the fickle jet stream.

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Madame Butterfly a Floral Opera

I have been contemplating flowers and operas. Specifically the story of Madame Butterfly. I know, I spend way too much time thinking about flowers and am ready for the ground to thaw and start planting!

Ever wonder how flower varieties are named? This question nudged me as I paged through the seed catalogs and became mesmerized by the floral photo candy of Antirrhinum majus – Madame Butterfly var. My curiosity soon meandered to Giacomo Puccini's famous Opera, Madame Butterfly wherein the human Butterfly first took to the stage in Milan, Italy in 1904.

The unique double-petal flowers of Madame Butterfly snapdragons are no less dramatic than the opera's themes of cultural and sexual imperialism, and allow me to mingle the operatic and horticultural. Here is my attempt at the Snapdragon Opera of Madame Butterfly.

Madame Butterfly the Opera – summarized from the Metropolitan Opera website

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A Floral Feast Reflection...2017 Flower CSA Breakdown

I have always grown flowers – in my mother's garden, as part of my own garden landscapes, apartment balconies, and kitchen windowsills. When I started farming with Rob in 2009 (Rob has been a CSA farmer since 1993) flowers were always part of the field mix, work/life balance and experimentation, and soul nourishment. The last 4 years, however, I have been consciously shifting from vegetable production to fruit and flowers and this is my second season with a 'formal' flower csa program. I enjoy how it balances and compliments other areas and market channels for our farm including wedding flowers and fruit and vegetable share program.

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Solstice Floral Inspirations

At 7:24 pm Tuesday, June 20, Rob and I exhaled into the horizon, celebrated the fullness of life and the potential it holds.

Abundance abounds around the Solstice.

At 7:24 am on Wednesday, making the orchard rounds, calling it 'insect monitoring', I gave myself permission to lay my head down under the eldberry umbels and stare at the sky as petals rained on my face. Overwhelmed by all this being and doing. I took comfort in the refuge of nature's fecundity, if only for a moment.

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Of Tides, Foxtail Lilies, and Vase Life Tips

I woke up from the mystery of the night thinking of flowers and the resurrection of the morning, of tides and foxtails.

Rainwater dreams, muffled by the excitement of distant thunder (maybe Tuesday into Wednesday we will see rain?). This past week was tidal. Washed ashore from Ghana and teaching—beached at the foothills of my flower beds—I traded sand for silt loam between my toes, ripening mangoes for a hearty saskatoon set, and bright pink red hibiscus petals for equally showy peonies. No time to linger, the blossom tides are peaking.

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What does it mean to be a Farmer Florist?

While I was vending at the Reedsburg Food Fair this past March, a Heather Stanek, a fair-goers asked me, “What does it mean to be a farmer florist?” I've been ruminating on the question since. Meanwhile, the daffodils carpet the earth in sunshine, the apricot blooms burst in our orchard (please no 'ice days of May), and the peonies poke through the soil, giving me a nudge to wake up to the question and give it the attention it deserves.

A flower farmer: one who both grows flowers and designs with flowers with love and care from field to vase. Since I love doing both adding flowers to the farm flow is a natural fit.

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Alphabet Soup of Farming Gratitude

I was out walking 'Up and Down the Hill' with my mother and a friend as part of the La Valle celebration this past summer and we were talking of relationships with our mothers and all the gratitude, headaches, tensions, and celebrations that come with it. My friend shared that in coming to terms with her mother's aging, she and her sister were putting together the ABC's of appreciation –a reflection of what they have learned and learned to appreciate about their mother over the years.

As I tuck in the farm for the winter months, exhaling from the frost-nipped fields, I thought I'd share in the ABC's of all the things that I have learned and appreciated from Mother Earth at the farm community this season beginning with:

Autonomy - and interdependence. Our food forests continue to subtley and not so subtely teach us about how to best design perennial polycultures of multi-purpose plants so we might share resources, create networks of mutual support in growing our own food, fodder, fertility, fuel, 'farm-a-cueticals' and fun. And like our orchard guilds, personally, I farm in part because I enjoy the autonomy in decision making, running a small business, and finding my niche. At the same time I reminded of how much as farmers, we rely on others to grow food in partnership with the land and our community.

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Flowers on the Vegetable Farm?

Every farmer in her/his career hits the pause button and considers a re-invention. For me it's been steadfast, subtle, and soaks in a mix of the personal to planetary when it comes to optimal growth for our farm and finances. With seeding needs just around the corner, taxes due, body restored from a restful winter and farm plans in tow for the year ahead, I never knew that my farming re-invention would embrace so many F-words! I am moving away from the vegetable realm (my husband Rob's terrain) and honing in more on fruit, food forests, financial footing, and flowers. The latter, flowers, I've been marketing direct through CSA and providing wedding flowers for the past three years -slowly, mindfully This season, I am looking forward to stepping into my new role as Farmer Florist, experimenting with how to take flowers to the next good dance.

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