It's Spring time here in Australia. The frogs have awoken. The days are getting longer. And when there is sun, the warmth is welcome! Our seeding for the next season began in August. Tantalizing seed packets arriving in the mail, the excitement of germination and daily growth, the joy of seeing green manures incorporated and soil being readied for planting...Spring is definitely in the air!
We finished our Autumn/Early Winter season in late June. 2015-2016 was our fourth full growing season. While our CSA members were disappointed by our decision to take the Spring off from harvesting, we found the time spent reevaluating the farm goals and the farm plan to be extremely beneficial. Not only did we find the season to be smoother and more efficient then the first three seasons, we also produced the highest quality and tastiest food to date!
On reflection, the first three years of any new business is a flurry of learning and experimenting, perfecting your trade and understanding your market. For us as farmers, it was also about building soil, working on the intense weed pressure we had with "new" land and learning what grows well here...with the unique natural forces and resources available. The vitality and flavour of the crops grown last season were a great reward for not only giving the land extra time in the Spring but also the hard work we had already put in.
In May, we were nominated by one of the country’s top chefs to enter the Delicious Produce Awards for 2016. Our Brode Galeux d’Eysines pumpkin was honoured as one of the Victorian state winners in the "From the Earth" category. In July, we advanced to the national judging with the results being revealed on Monday 12 September. We have been invited to Sydney for the announcement.
This is the first time that our produce has been judged not just on appearance but on TASTE while our sustainable farming practices and ethics have also been taking into consideration.
The late Autumn and early Winter were spent planting hedge rows in the market garden. The diverse indigenous hedgerows throughout the farm provide great habitat for native flaura and fauna as well as hot beds for soil microbiomes. What we needed though was more wind protection throughout the intensive market garden. These rows are single species natives and herbs chosen for their habit and nectar. As they mature, our crops will greatly benefit from the wind protection as will the diverse pollinators and insect predator who feed on nectar.
In addition to the hedgerows, we also changed our irrigation system and reworked our growing beds to be all the same length. These changes should help make our market gardening much more efficient as well as allowing us the ability to better facilitate the all important task of crop rotation.
We also continued to spread the word about CSA farming and our biodynamic practices through an article in Better Homes and Gardens (China)...we haven't actually translated the article yet so we can only guess at all the content... and Robin giving an interview for Justin Russell's podcast Studio Rustica
And so as we step on to that Spring express train, enjoying the fruit blossoms and busy bees and seed germination and the smell of compost and sinking our hands deep into soil, we are very grateful for all the support of our CSA members past and present. Without you, we wouldn't be the growers we are today. Our CSA harvest begins in December. There will be a CSA newsletter going out in the next week with details. We will send another general newsletter when the shares are available in our online shop.
Hope you too are enjoying your season!!