By Guest Blogger: Jan Hayes
This season 2015 was the most challenging for me since we started in 2009. We made some huge changes in the spring by adding additional water lines so we could setup a new drip system through out the entire garden-this was a huge undertaking. Then we decided to change row directions, adopt a no tillprocess, and begin our first year using a more sustainable farming practice, Permaculture,(a methodpracticed to grow food). And in my mind is simply the Windows 10version of my generations “Hippie Lasagna gardening method”. So, yeajust a few changes!
When you add all that up and then throw in a really weird weather pattern of dry and warmer air, weed seed that never went dormant we have been up to our necks trying to keep up.
A few workers really put out some hard time doing some really hard work utilizing the free wood chips from the county and a Tree Service friend of mine. We used these chips as mulch in the “Walking Rows” along with some donated cardboard that we cut into strips the width of the row then piled the chips on top of that. This was to help control weeds, and retain moisture. These components break down over time and will help build a healthy soil.
Crops finally started growing better, but some food struggle or failed, due to the drought conditions mainly. We harvested early in season lots of Zucchini, Crookneck squash, lettuce, and kale. Spinach came and went to seed very early. In the 40+ years I have lived here I had never pulledfrom all my knowledge of growing food in Southern California, but now I was faced with trying to blend two different ways into one. Way weird to mix the two methods for sure.
Good things that were cultivated were life long friendships, new relationships with our Youth that volunteer at Seeds of Grace Resource Centers Food Bank. A new program launched from the Seeds Resource Center, the Mentorship Program. This program enabled recipients of the Food Bank to learn how to setup a business plan and run it, and partner with First Fruits by harvesting some of the food grown there and selling it by becoming a vendor at the new Marysville Farmers Market. This helped the mentors realize what it takes to start and run a business, and receive training in hopes of building a stepping stone to improve these participants chance of becoming a contributor into society again. And also participate in the New Farmers Market - a win-win.
First Fruits Co-0p members harvested food for them selves and also purchased other food and commodities at the new Farmers Market, so we feel we ended this year on a good note.
I’m excited for the 2016 growing season, for the Co-Op members are adopting some new ideas to improve life on the farm. Stay tuned.
See you all around AC3.