At last, the culmination of four months of preparation! Yesterday Wellspring Gardens welcomed its first CSA members as they picked up their first baskets of the season. Even before the bags were completely packed, recipes and preparation suggestions were flying between food enthusiasts. Although the delivery was one week later and a few ingredients lighter than originally planned, we were happy to be able to fill baskets with snap peas, spring onions, Scarlet Queen and Tokyo Cross salad turnips, a sauté medley of kale, chard and beet tops, a Romaine lettuce mix, a beautiful head of Batavian lettuce, dill, Italian parsley and basil. Everyone on the farm heaved a collective sigh of relief as the rain finally let up and the sun ripened enough peas to fill the pint boxes, even then it took two consecutive harvests, crawling between the trellises and squinting closely to make sure we got every last one!
Everything started out in February looking rosy, despite the snow on the ground! The membership was filling up, as was the greenhouse, and the seed orders were arriving with their promise of untold bounty and exotic heirlooms. Alarms were set to check the greenhouse temps in the dead of night and plug in the extra heater when necessary. Painstaking plotting and calculating produced an elegant crop rotation and garden plot schematic.
Little did I know back then that many of the fields would become ponds and that first and, in some cases, second plantings would meet their muddy demise as late as mid-June. The carefully drawn up plans went out the window as overgrown greenhouse plants long past their best-by dates were planted on the highest ground available and the rest were trimmed back to keep them viable until more ground rose from the floods. Even the chickens in their Salatin-style chicken tractors had to be rescued one evening as water inundated them and they squawked their discomfort ankle deep in water. We placed firewood in the pens and they waited out the storm perched in relative dryness. Friends called frequently to encourage us by asking if we’d nailed the last plank on the ark yet and were we considering cropping rice this year…
If there’s a lesson to be learned in all of this, it’s that Mother Nature always has the last word!
We also enjoyed a visit from St. Anthony’s School in Chalk River on June 27 to wind up their unit on sustainability. Grade 7 and 8 students toured the garden, solved math problems (using the Earthway seeder), harvested and prepared a salad for their lunch and finished the day off with a compost tumbler workshop led by my husband. Their handiwork is already filling up with compost beside the wash station (http://www.wikihow.com/Build-a-Tumbling-Composter).
All in all, a pretty encouraging start 🙂