Spring has not yet sprung here at Three Sisters Farm, but it seems oh so close! If you’ve been dreaming of fresh, tasty veggies like we have, come commiserate with your farmers this Saturday at the Urban Ecology Center’s CSA Open House, from 11-3. Farmers Jeff and Kelly will both be there and would love to say hi!
New Beginnings thanks largely to a successful member-funded loan campaign last fall (Thank You!), we’re diving in to the next stage in the farm’s development. We’ve spent the winter researching and making plans and now -- from snow melt until about our first deliveries, when we get too busy for much else -- the race is on to enact some of these exciting developments. Here’s a taste:We’ve been enjoying tasty salads of spinach and lettuce mix from our hoophouse almost daily over the past few weeks -- so much better than the tasteless California stuff! Jealous? Well, we’d like to offer the same to you, along with some of our nice storage vegetables, starting with a Spring Share next year. But doing so means lots of changes. We’re re-habbing our current hoophouse, and are in the process of constructing another one. A new larger and adequately heated greenhouse will let us get started earlier (Kelly’s in there seeding onions as I write).
Additionally, a revamped washing and packing area -- complete with a greens spinner to better dry your greens, and a larger cooler to hold more produce -- is getting off the ground. On top of all this is the fact that growing greens in the winter in our climate is expert-level stuff. Kelly’s taken on the task, so it is good that she is, in fact, an expert.
Farmer Jeff, meanwhile, has been hard at work designing and laying out our new site. This 29-acre parcel is nearer to our home farm than where we’ve been growing, and is a really cool partnership with some ecologically-minded investors who want to establish habitat for monarch butterflies and other pollinators. Jeff’s been laying out the growing fields and crop rotation, which will include a unique system of cover-cropped aisles between the vegetable growing beds. We hope to modestly begin a farm stand there this summer, and also to plant a bunch of fruit trees.
More on that below.Fruit! We’ve long wanted to add high-quality, locally-grown fruit to what we offer you, but establishing and growing fruit trees successfully and organically is no easy task (especially while you’re also trying to grow high-quality and tasty vegetables). Now though (fingers crossed) the stars may be aligned. There is plenty of space at the new site for fruit trees, and a secure long-term lease makes planting them worth the investment and time. Add to this the fact that we dug hundreds and hundreds of fruit trees last fall, from our own nursery bed and that of our friend and nurseryman Adrian Lee, and stored them in our barn this winter. Provided they survived the brutal temps, we hope to get them in the ground this spring.The main impetus behind this initiative, while it is still evolving, is not to start some kind of orchard following a conventional business model. No, our times call for a different approach. We’re accordingly imagining something like what we do with vegetables, call it “fruit for 100 families.” A diversity of seasonal fruits -- apples, plums, pears, peaches and more -- will be grown and distributed as a “share” through the season to those who value quality local and organically-grown fruits. We’ll do the bulk of the work but -- even more than with vegetables -- we’ll need some extra help for the really labor-intensive tasks like pruning, thinning and harvesting (this will all be 3-4 years off). If you’re interested in being part of this “core group” -- this “fruit crew” -- (with plenty of fruit to reward your troubles) then planting this spring would be a great time to explore your interest. Get in touch with us if so!
Jeff Schreiber has been farming organically for 10 years. In 2011 he started Three Sisters Community Farm with his wife, Kelly.