Thursday, February 28, 2013

Its CSA Fair season

Our friends at NOFA-NY posted a calendar of CSA fairs throughout the upstate area. In Ithaca, Cooperative Extension sponsors the local event -- this Saturday, March 2, at Boynton Middle School from 12-3pm. We'll be there to tell people about our new CSA pick-up option -- our mobile farm stand will be outside The Piggery and Red Feet Wine on Wednesday evenings. We'll also continue with our Friday happy hour market at Felicia's Atomic Lounge. This year we'll be parked across the street from Felicia's in the Ithaca Foreign Car Service parking lot. Why across the street? We're hoping to leave the pickup truck at home and sell out of a converted 24-foot bread truck equipped with an insulated area that keeps the veggies cool using an air conditioner and a Coolbot.  Here's a picture of Sharon working on pulling out some old plywood and styrofoam insulation, early in the construction phase.

We still have a long way to go to frame in the cooler area and insulate it, but first we need to seal up the old skylights and other holes in the roof, walls, and floor. The truck belongs to our friends at Red Tail Farm and it's a joint project to get it up and running so that both of our farms can use it to haul more to market. Unfortunately for them, the truck is too large to park at the Ithaca Farmer's Market, so for the time being Tree Gate will be the primary user of the truck.

One of the reasons our farm has been able to flourish and expand each year had been through the wonderful mentorship and resource sharing from other local farms. As beginning farmers, we really didn't have the experience, knowledge, or bank accounts to launch a fully functioning farm on our own. So each year we've worked a little more of our land and borrowed a few pieces of equipment from other farms, sometimes for just a few hours or in the case of tools that had been languishing in a hedgerow or at the back of a barn, on very extended loan. We have some friends who've borrowed heavily to launch their enterprises more quickly than we have. For us, our slow progression has allowed us to grow into our learning curve as farmers and ponder how to best steward our land.

Here's one more photo from earlier in the month. Over the past year or so, I've been taking regular pictures from the back porch to give a sense of our progression season-by-season and year over year. This is a shot from that series, taken just inside the back door.

The layer of ice on the glass and the 50mph wind gusts convinced me that working on the year's seed planting schedule -- at the computer -- was of more importance on that day than tractor repair or fieldwork. I'm clearly getting soft in my old age. Those used to sound like the perfect conditions for cutting out of the office to go camping in some remote national forest. Now I get all that and more just walking out the back door. :-)