Got Dirt?

dirt_tomato

Not to belabor the point, but we are a very, very small farm. And while I think we are doing pretty well and will likely turn a profit this year, we’re a long way from pulling anything like a real salary from our tiny farm. I figure at most, if we execute perfectly and add a second weekly market, we can generate 9k-12k per year from our scant 1/8th acre (with as much as 60% going to expenses). So, unfortunately, if one of us ever wants to work this as an only job we’re going to have to expand.

CSA_hoops

Around here, most people expand by leasing county land. We’re in Boulder County where there’s a progressive program for converting public land into leased agricultural plots. The leases are affordable and the county does a lot to support small growers. It’d be relatively easy for us to go that way. We could join with a few other small farmers, form a Growers Association, and together lease land from the county. Frog Star could end up with 1-3 acres, more than enough for us. And, after a couple years spent working it, we could produce between 40k-70k worth of produce per acre per year. That means that from a two-acre tiny farm, with 60%-70% going to pre-labor expense, we could earn at least one full time salary.

Problem is, we’d have to move our farm into the country. We’d have to leave the neighborhood and our community and I don’t want to do that. I like working in a residential setting. I like talking to my neighbors and the people walking by while I’m planting or cultivating. I don’t want to move our farm from the neighborhood.

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Pickled Garlic Scapes

scapes-jar

Scapes are the flowering stems that grow from hardneck garlic. Around here, fall planted garlic usually emerges in mid-April.  By early June it’s growing great and as the days get warmer the hardnecks bolt, sending up tender, delicious scapes. The scapes bend and curl as they grow, wrapping around and through each other like frisky boa-constrictors playing Twister. Unfortunately, as they curl, they become much less tender, replacing what was once a fantastically satisfying crunch with a woody chewiness. So it’s important to harvest scapes early, 180-degrees of curl is a good rule. (The scapes in these pictures are a bit too curly and thus too woody. But I suppose tender treats are the price one must pay waiting to make a picture.) It’s this need to harvest, to beat the woodiness,  that makes scapes such a fleeting, garden treasure. They arrive from nowhere. One day there are none and almost literally the next day the whole garlic bed is in scapes. From there, it’s two weeks, maybe even 10 days, maybe even less before they’re past their prime. Asparagus is known as the archetypal fleeting vegetable and it’s season is four or five times longer than garlic scapes’. Even fennel pollen, my absolute favorite garden delight, lasts longer than scapes. Garlic scapes are momentary. Pay too much mind to the rhubarb and you may well miss them.

scapes-cut

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I'm a Stranger Here Myself

Stranger-Butter

We’re six weeks into the market season and despite my normally tenacious melancholy, I’d like to report that things are going great. It’s nothing less than a miracle. Our farm is tiny (really tiny, between 1/8 and 1/4 acre) and for many months, I’ve had a nightmare, flop-sweat kind of concern about our ability to produce enough food to support the market. But every week so far we’ve filled our stand and had plenty to spare. Hell, we’ve even been able to donate food and plants to some community organizations. Beyond that, people appear sincerely positive about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. And money wise, so far we’re on the happy side of break even, so that’s good. But best of all, the people at market are great. They’re kind, involved, interesting and for the most part I can’t say enough good things about them.  They’ve made market Saturday the best part of my week.

Stranger-Adam

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And What A Week It Was

market-greens

Last week. Wow.
It was like racing through a dry, rocky river bed in the back of an old pickup, driven by a half-blind, half-drunk whiskey bootlegger. In a word – Bumpy. In three words – Real, Real Bumpy. A unsettling, impossible to get your balance, impossible to catch you breath kind of bumpy. Bumpy enough to bang a kidney loose and challenge your faith in comfortable things. It was one crazy week. Sure, there were good bits, and it was productive. But, it was rough and I’m very glad it’s done.

Milo Farmer's market

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