Happy Spring 2023 and here we are in our 13th season! (Our teenage farm!) Our greenhouse is full of young plants, our hoophouses are filling up with growing plants, and our fields are gradually getting prepped for planting. This is how we roll out each season these days!
We don’t take it for granted that we’re still in business. We’re honored to be able to continue growing food for our community and grateful for your support that makes it possible. We’re planting so that YOU can eat delicious, nourishing food. Thank you for wanting what we grow!
In addition to our springtime vegetables that become more abundant each week, we have transplants for your garden that you can begin purchasing on Wednesday, March 22, our bakery continues to make delicious loaves of wild-yeasted bread available on Saturdays during the springtime (we add in baking on Wednesdays starting May 10), and we have exciting events here on the farm for you to practice new skills! Our Folk School workshops give you the chance to use your hands to create useful things in your life. Follow the link above and below to see the full details, but here’s the scoop:
Sunday April 2, 2023, 2-4pm
Learn to Plant Perennials with Sylvie of TACC. $10
Preparing the site and soil are crucial to the success of your newly planted plants! Learn hands-on how to prep the soil for plant health, select locally raised plants suited for growing (organically!) in this region, and go home with a bag of a custom blend of Broadfork favorite fertilizers/soil amendments. This workshop focuses on perennials, as part of TACC‘s mission is to get more people planting perennials in their yards and garden spaces, but the methods apply to annual plants as well. (Sylvie’s annual garden beds will be available for additional learning.) Why does TACC focus on perennials?? Because their larger root bio-mass means they sequester more carbon than annual plants. Sequester what?? That substance, Carbon, that belongs in the soil that we humans have spewed into the air by burning fossil fuels and tilling farmland (among other activities). Building healthy soil and filling it with root biomass helps mitigate climate change! TACC is here to help you learn all of this.
Next set of Folk School workshops: practical arts on the farm in June!
Saturday & Sunday, June 3 & 4, 2023:
Creative carpentry, baskets (small and large!), making fire with a bow drill, bone & antler craft, forging knife blades, carving knife handles, stitching leather bags, wooden bow & arrow, felted wool boots, leather moccasin style shoes… Make what you want to use in your daily life, custom designed to your liking. Some projects are one-day projects; others take two-days. Prices vary accordingly.
See the complete list of project options and registration links on our Events Page here.
Next up: Your garden!
We’ve had a cold few nights this week, but on Wednesday the weather cooperates for us to make available to you plants for your garden!
We’ll have plants for sale in our self-serve FarmStand starting the afternoon of Wednesday, March 22 and at our market booth at the Farmers’ Market @ St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church starting Saturday, March 25. During the next few weeks we’ll continue to have cool season plants available: Chard, Kale, Cabbage, Broccoli, Cilantro, Mint, Parsley, etc. After frost danger is passed, we’ll have warm season plants: Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, Cucumber, Summer Squash, etc.
This year’s crew is busy getting plants taken care of in the greenhouse and planted in the fields and hoophouses. It’s 22 degrees outside as I started typing this on Monday morning, yet tender tomato and cucumber plants are in the ground in our heated hoophouse, pictured below.
We take a measured and deliberate approach (typical us) with our use of technology on our farm. We know that our greenhouses and hoop-houses allow us to grow really delicious (therefore we know it’s really nutritious) food for our community in healthy, alive, rich soil. There’s plastic and sometimes even some electricity involved in order to grow food this way. Yet we always remain soil-centered and human-centered. We believe deeply in the value of biologically diverse and biologically active soil as the best place to grow food. We believe deeply in the value of human hands seeding, transplanting, tending, and harvesting the food you (and we!) eat. There are alternatives, but our perspective and priorities put these practices at the center of our farm. Thank you for joining us in this perspective!
In the fields, it’s only safe right now for cold hardy plants such as our over-wintered (planted last fall) Garlic, Onions, Spinach, and very cold-hardy Collards. We planted Onions last Friday that will bulb up this summer. Here’s what they look like going in the ground:
For those onions we’re using a weed barrier that will last a decade or more. As our farm has matured, we have chosen to invest in more and more tools that we will use for many years. For many seasons we tried mulching onions with straw, etc. to keep weeds down, but the weed pressure was too great to make that successful. We then tried a bio-plastic layer (made from corn). It worked, but it only lasts one year. What you see above is similar to landscape fabric. The holes are permanent and specific to certain crops. Meanwhile the biology in the soil thrives under the cover of the fabric and in synergy with the roots of the Onions.
Before the farm version of March Madness got cranking, Sylvie and Janet traveled to D.C. for the Farmer Climate Action & Rally for Resilience. Members of Congress write a Farm Bill once every 5 years and 2023 is a Farm Bill year! The event focused on asking Congress to make this Farm Bill a Climate Bill by prioritizing climate-smart farming practices. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Certified Naturally Grown, and many other essential groups joined together to bring attention to our concerns about the need for the Farm Bill to include farmer-led climate solutions, racial justice, and priority on communities rather than corporations. We spoke specifics with Representative Abigail Spanberger, as she is the only member of Congress from Virginia that sits on an Agriculture Committee.
So, all in all, we are cranking on all fronts. During these colder months we’ve put in place, as usual, some farm infrastructure upgrades, maintained and repaired a hundred things, done a ton of computer and paperwork (how many hours can the Ag Census take???), added a few new varieties of vegetables to our crop plan for the year (get ready for a cherry tomato that we’re told has the texture of a gumdrop!), welcomed some new members to our crew, and stayed busy off the farm with politics, community service, and our kids’ activities. This newsletter covers about 1% of what we’ve been up to. Life is full and rich and the variables on the farm are as dynamic as ever.
We continue to sell from our booth at the Farmers’ Market @ St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in the near West End every Saturday. Visit us there for what we harvest each week from now til the Winter Solstice, plus plants for your garden through mid-May. Sometimes, when it’s cold out, there’s a panda hat in our booth.
Our self-serve FarmStand is open every day now, from 9a – 7p, with product availability that changes frequently. Keep an eye on our Facebook or Instagram pages to see a recent list of what we have for you.
Thank you again for eating what we grow and bake!
With huge farm love,
Janet, Dan and the starting line up of the 2023 Broadfork Crew (Julie, Tait, Erica, Alisa, Leah, Siera, and the farm kids)
Want to follow along during the week, including Farm Stand updates? Visit us on Facebook or Instagram