Greetings! Welcome to the very first blog post for Gwenyn Hill Farm. This is your Head Gardener, Laurel. I will introduce myself in a later blog post. For now, I wanted to catch you up on some of the planning that has been going on here at the farm. When I accepted this position, starting in November, lots of people asked me, “What are you going to do on the farm in November, if you don’t plant until April?” The answer may surprise you!
Actually, planning for the farm started long before I got here. Linda Halley, the General Manager, has been working to transition the farm from conventional to organic production for the last 3 years. This involves many steps. Farmers Linda and Lloyd conducted soil tests to discover what kind of inputs the soil needs to maintain optimum health. Then they applied these organic-approved inputs to the soil to make sure we start the growing season right. Next they planted cover crops to hold the soil in place and to provide the soil with much-needed organic matter. Lastly, they planted a beautiful crop of oilseed sunflowers which was harvested this fall.
If you drive past the farm, you can see construction crews hard at work, laying the groundwork for a Greenhouse, a Packing Shed, a Machine Shed, and other necessary farm buildings. I will post more pictures of these areas as they progress. Believe it or not, we’ll be planting in the Greenhouse as early as March 1st. The growing season is so short in Wisconsin that many plants need to be started indoors.
Personally, I’ve been busy making the Farm Plan for 2018. This involves deciding what to grow, how much of it to grow, purchasing seed, and mapping out all the beds for next year. Since this is the first year we are going to grow vegetables, we have a lot of planning to do! I have experience growing vegetables, but every farm is a new challenge. What will grow well here? I don’t want to disappoint my CSA members, so I’m growing more than enough to provide for the member families. I’m also growing multiple varieties of crops so that we can determine which ones grow the best on this land.
The most fun part of this process is picking out seeds. I’ve been poring over seed catalogs from multiple major seed companies to choose the varieties with the best flavor, biggest yield, reliable performance, disease resistance, and beauty factor. Gwenyn Hill Farm will provide members with a U-pick that includes a gorgeous flower garden. I did my best to choose a wide variety of flowers with a range of colors and a long harvest window.
We still have lots more planning to do! I’ll be back next week with another look into what it takes to start an organic vegetable CSA farm in Wisconsin. Stay tuned.