Posted by: A Part of the Solution | January 9, 2013

The Farm’s Third Year

Once again, the learning curve in the agricultural endeavors end of the spectrum is steep, not to say unforgiving. But the farm continues, trundling down the road towards the future with every possible intention of continuing to do as well, or even better.

This year saw adequate rain through the entire of the growing season. This first freed up astounding volumes of time for the growing volunteer staff of WWOOFers. And the WWOOFing program did grow. The farm’s notice on the US WWOOF board was frequently updated through the season, to keep activities and undertakings current. The farm’s orientation sheet not only came into existence, but was repeatedly refined to reflect the staff’s experience of it in practice. And the farm topped out with ten (10) volunteers for about as many days at the end of May. These temporary staff members allowed the farm to acheive it’s planting goals on a rigorous timeline, determined by the lengthening of days. Those volunteers put in an entire herb garden of more than 25 cultivars in under six days. In addition, the WWOOFers gave the home acres such a great beginning-of-the-season weeding, pruning, mulching that it lasted through the summer–reducing hours devoted to landscaping maintenance by unbelievably.

And of course, the farm hosted it’s first full-season WWOOFer. He came on Superbowl Sunday, and stayed until Thanksgiving. His excitement over whole hog processing; his expertise in so many kitchen techniques; his dedication to seeing the farm achieve it’s stated goals. All of these and his amazing sense of humor besides, made him an invaluable addition to the staff and operations of the farm. He will be missed.

This year saw an entire micro-orchard of multiple sour and golden cherries go into the ground in a site selected for it’s optimal sun exposure, and its relative shelter from the on-going winds which are a year-round focus of the farm’s climate. This year saw the planting of the permanent asparagus beds as well. And the tripling of the hops fields. Despite the relative neglect of the new hops planting, almost ninety percent of the transplanted corms made it into the autumn. In addition, the Japonica Quince windbreak held up well, with more than seven of the farm-rooted whips establishing healthfully.

This year saw an explosion in the pig population on the farm. Razorback-Tamworth crosses were introduced into the Gloucester Old Spot-Tamworth and Tamworth pigs already on site. The fresh bloodline will continue to keep the farm pig population vigorous, nimble and hardy. At its peak, the swine population on the farm crested up to sixty. Sales and marketing brought that number into a healthier alignment, as about thirty to thirty-five is a preferred target with the current resources in play.

The farm sold pigs to new contacts in Bedford County, both live and from the meat locker.The farm brought pigs down to new consumers in the DC area, and made contact with some exciting, top-of-the-line chefs looking to bring their menus to greater heights of sustainably farmed and locally sourced food stuffs.

The farm began hosting events on the farm acres. A spring camp-out and bonfire for hardy out-doors types. An early autumn wedding–with the reception in the barn. A small, Old Time music festival in mid-autumn, with outstanding fall color for its backdrop. Each of these events was accounted a success by those who attended.

What will the future hold for this exciting, multi-focused farming endeavor? It’s hard to say from a distance, but no doubt it’s well worth watching any forward progress the farm may continue to make.

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