It’s about that time - Spring actually seems to have arrived in Chatham. Our field doesn’t have any more snow on it, and it’s almost dry enough to start working the soil. We didn’t plan to be in the ground until the first week of May, and our to-do list for that first week was incredibly intimidating after a long winter of completely falling out of shape. It looks like we’ll get into the field next week, though, which means that first week’s to-do list will stretch over two weeks, instead.
We’ve got tarps to move around, beds to prep, new beds to make (adding a quarter acre this year), cover crops to seed, and all kinds of other things - along with some tasks I’m sure we’ll find for ourselves along the way.
Over the past few weeks we’ve been seeding quite a bit in the greenhouse, and our tables are filling up quickly. I’m not sure how many years of farming it will take for me to observe seed germination and early plant growth and not get all weird and giddy about it, but there’s something incredible about taking a couple of small boxes worth of seeds and turning them into thousands of pounds of food. One of the things we’ll be doing better this year is tracking our yield, and I think it will be pretty cool to know the weight of food we produce overall.
This time last year we didn’t quite know what to expect. We were confident in our skills as growers, but had no sense of the local market, didn’t know any of our future customers, and all of our planning about how much of each crop to grow was pure guesswork. This year we have a lot more data to work with, which is fantastic. We have a year’s worth of feedback from customers, and a year’s worth of notes on what went right and what went wrong. Something Kate and I both struggle with is putting too much pressure on ourselves, and going into our second year we’re both feeling quite a bit of pressure to improve on our first season and knock this one out of the park. Don’t worry, though, along with the pressure comes a huge amount of excitement to be back in the field, and to have the first markets right around the corner.
This year we’ll be at the Munising market on Tuesdays from 4-7, and the Downtown Marquette Farmers Market on Wednesdays from 5-7 and Saturdays from 9-1. We’ve been putting in a lot of work over the last month or so, along with fellow farmers from Chatham, to get the Wednesday evening market started, and we’re so happy it seems to be working out. We’re also offering a free choice CSA, which you can read about (and sign up for) here, with pick-up options at each market as well as at our June-October farm stand in Chatham. A little later on I’ll write a post updating you with the stores and restaurants where you can find our produce.
For three weekends in a row (May 17th-19th, 24th-26th, and 31st-June 2nd) you’ll be able to find our plant starts for sale at Rock River Farm from 10-6. We’ll have lots of tomatoes, peppers, basil, broccolini, cucumbers, kale, zucchini, and more - and Rock River will have all kinds of flowers and herbs and perennials.
The middle of April is a funny time of year for us - we’ve just finished working our winter jobs, but we’re not quite full time on the farm yet, so we’re a bit antsy. It’s giving us a lot of time to prepare things like a new irrigation setup, and a trailer for our bikes to carry around tools and transplants, and all kinds of other little things that we won’t have any time for come May. Fortunately, we are taking as much time as we can to enjoy the beautiful natural spaces in the Central UP, and we were even able to watch a mama pig give birth to a whole lot of little piglets.
Oh yeah - and we’re planning our wedding! It’s not until 2020, but we’re excited about it, of course.