Its Spring! The fruit trees are flowering, the winter green manure crops are being incorporated, the glass house is full of seedlings, radishes are popping out of the ground, the bees are busy!
Our biodynamic practices have continued and feel further enriched as we connect with more bd farmers. Having traveled to farms in North America this June and July, we realise that our practice of building humus to feed the “cash” crops as opposed to using organic/synthetic fertilisers is not frequently done. Our principles of nurturing our whole farm ecosystem, using flowering hedgerows throughout our growing space and making soil health a priority all support the vibrant diversity of life on the farm - Healthy soil leads to healthy plants, animals and people.
After taking a break last Season, we are happy to be growing crops for our CSA again - the harvest will begin in November! We will be growing a smaller number of weekly/fortnightly boxes this time around and we have put those for sale on our website. We have split our seasonal blocks up into shorter commitments - to try and work in with School Terms, Christmas Holidays etc - our first 6 week box season will start Friday 16th November and run through until Friday 21st December. If you would like to get a box for this 6 week season please purchase it via our website at http://www.transitionfarm.com/farm-store/ - you have the option of a weekly or fortnightly box. All boxes are available by Farm Pick Up only and the Farm Pick Up Hours are Friday 10am to 6pm.
This season, we will also be growing to order for four restaurants - collaboration with these chefs is exciting and offers us a different perspective of our produce. We will be running variety trials this season - “blind” tastings of different varieties of carrots for example and asking chefs to fill out a questionnaire about the taste and texture of each variety. It is a wonderful opportunity for them to experience different flavours - and it helps us as farmers to have further information about the flavour and usability of certain varieties as we pursue the art of seed saving and selective breeding. We are growing several new onions, lettuces, carrots, capsicums, cucumbers, pumpkins and beetroots which we will be trialing in the field and on the plate. Many of these varieties will also be in our CSA shares.
The majority of growers, large and small scale, use hybrid varieties. Plant breeders are offering growers disease resistance, heavier yields, crops which “travel” and, in the case of supermarkets, lettuces which do not rust when cut. And while these are all great traits and/or advances in plant breeding, we have found that many of these hybrids have less flavour.
We are pursuing farmer led breeding - choosing varieties which have great flavour and texture and then selectively breeding other traits we need as market growers such as disease resilience, hardiness through unusual climate events (such as 5 straight days of 40C+ temperatures) and high yield. We are trying to produce seed that can rival a hybrid making it worth the space in a market garden. This is a new endeavour for us and we are excited about how it furthers our goal of local food security.
This season, we are growing 45 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes. And we are also growing heirloom/open pollinated lettuces, onions, celeriac, cabbages, capsicums, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, pumpkins, radish, turnips, eggplant…the list goes on! With all that, we also do trial hybrids as we have found some great ones which preserve flavour even while offering the other benefits. We believe in flavour and strive to offer our CSA members and restaurants produce with beautiful colours, textures and tastes.
We wrote a post last Autumn and then never sent it…If you are interested in our “time off” musings, you can read them here… http://www.transitionfarm.com/seasonal-notes/transition-farm-autumn-2018.
And as we are in the season of wildflowers…our six Warre bee colonies are prospering, having survived Winter very well! We continue to find them a source of interest and their honey is outstanding! The Warre hives are managed so that the bees are constantly renewing their wax and the honey that we harvest (when there is excess that the colony does not need) is filled with fermented pollen. This will be available at farm pick up to our CSA members. We are so lucky to live in an area where our major nectar flow is leptospermum…manuka honey - It’s healing qualities are amazing!
You can follow the seasonal changes on the farm on social media:
With Spring comes hope - with more small farms striving towards regenerative practices growing throughout Australia, we hope that more people can access clean local food. You can view a directory of CSA’s online and also there is a directory of farmers accredited markets. Know your farmer and support those who are nurturing our earth and our communities through their great growing practices!
Wishing you all a wonderful growing season ahead!
Robin and Peter