Donald had the pleasure of attending the second to last Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Horticulture class at the Kerr Center this past Saturday. This class was more intense then other classes and included a field trip to Wild Things Farm.
Jim and Cathie Green started the 90-acre Wild Things Farm in 2000 to raise wild flowers. They immediately changed direction and started growing strawberries. Mrs. Green provided a tour of the farm, background information, and an excellent power-point presentation of the various activities conducted on the farm. Wild Things Farm is a very successful, diversified farm that has made a beneficial transition to agri-tourism. Mrs. Green provided a diverse range of information that will be useful to all of the attendees including Baker Heritage Farms. A big thank you to Mrs. Green and Wild Things Farm for their hospitality. For more information on Wild Things Farm, visit their web site at http://wildthingsfarrm.com/.
After the visit to the farm, each class member gave a brief overview of their successes and failures, what they have learned, what has worked and what has not worked, and the ups and downs of farming.
This class included more information on preparing a farm business plan, including drafting contingency plans (necessary for resilient farming). Also included was Farm Food Safety (Good Agriculture Practices for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables) and winter cover crops. The class ended with a final visit to the Demo field as well as the other Cannon Horticultural Plots.
We need to complete our Farm Business Plan and get it submitted before the final class next month. We have already benefited from the Business Plan by keeping our farm on track with our initial plans.
We are already working on planning our winter cover crops. We have several goals for our cover crops, including:
1st - Increase nitrogen levels;
2nd - Weed control;
3rd - Tillage; and
4th - Attracting beneficial insects.
We have been working to determine what winter cover crops will meet most of these goals based on priority, and are essentially down to a number of clover and vetch varieties, peas, and beans. The Kerr Center has offered their assistance and we will be meeting with them in the next couple of weeks for their guidance in determining what we will actually plant this fall. We have not yet determined whether or not we will be planting any winter production crops in the test garden.
Debbie, David, and Donald went down to the test garden today. More squash was picked, as well as some cucumbers and watermelon.
We are in a quandary with our watermelon. We have had several go rotten, and one of our Congo watermelon had split; when we opened it the meat was red and juicy. However, we picked one of the Congo that met all of the criteria for ripeness, but when we opened it, it had yellow flesh. We also picked two Moon & Stars, which showed all the signs of ripeness. When we opened one, the flesh was red and the seeds were mostly black. Danielle liked the yellow flesh of the Congo melon, which she thought was sweeter and better tasting then the Moon & Stars. We think that the Congo melon may have been cross-polinated, we will need to better plan our planting times and location to try to avoid future cross-pollination problems. The Moon & Stars appeared mostly ripe and had a good watermelon flavor. Debbie thought both types were good, as did David. At least we know we can grow watermelon.
|Moon & Stars Watermelon|
We have at least two pumpkins that are doing well and several other possibilities. Our beans are growing but it will be interesting to see if we can get a usable harvest before the first frost sets in.
It has become obvious that being diversified in crops, and working the farm year-round, will increase the success, and possibly even the profitability of the farm. One of the things we learned from Mrs. Green at Wild Things Farm was how to use agri-tourism as a benefit to both the farm and the community. We hope to eventually open a cooking program at the farm, showing how to cook a number of dishes using products produced on the farm.
Watch for Ramblings of a Wanna-be Farmer to be added to the blog in the near future.
Blessings to all;
Baker Heritage Farm