Winter is a busy time for our team over at the Seed Farm. While we are in the off-season, there’s still a lot of work that goes into getting the farm ready for the upcoming growing season.
Check out this Q & A with our Assistant Manager, Neil!
What kind of work do you do at the Seed Farm during the winter?
Most of it is maintenance, organization and planning. We fix infrastructure (greenhouses, irrigation, electric), tractor and implement repairs (replacing worn/old/broken parts, fluid changes, electrical issues, corrosion) and plan ahead for the following year.
What preparation goes into being ready for the growing season?
We have to create a plan for each season that includes:
- Research on how to mitigate potential pest issues and coming up with contingency plans
- Plant sale listings and troubleshooting from last year (how to streamline processes, methods for keeping track of all the orders and the 230+ different types of cultivars, how to coordinate labor while doing field prep and CSA plantings)
- Crop planning for CSA (which includes timing succession plantings and fertilizer inputs to ensure consistent yields, figuring out how forecast predictions will influence success likelihood of some crops vs others)
- Incubator assistance and education, reviewing initiatives we started to see if we want to continue for next year (i.e. mushroom trials)
- Scouting for new programs and opportunities, coordinating with ag community and extension agents
When does the growing season actually begin?
Growing season can begin as early as March, because at that point we will have started frost hardy crops/cover crops outside and we’re trying to have seedlings ready to go for April and May! The plants are mostly in the greenhouse at this early point but we’re out in the fields getting the soil ready for plantings.
What are you most excited about for the next growing season?
Brad and I are most excited about all the new incubator farmers we have! We’re really curious to see how their different approaches are going to work and how they’ll collaborate with one another. We’re hoping to make the farm more of an event and community space to help generate more income for as many incubators as possible and to also bring people together to celebrate food and the beautiful outdoors.
Nowadays, agriculture isn’t just about growing food to earn a living. With the actual process of growing food being so stratified and segregated from everyday life for most folks, as a farmer creating an experience for your customers makes a big difference in how successful you are. We’re hoping that by engaging with more hospitality-based endeavors we can build more community and help our incubators find more reward for their hard work.