Summer Is Springing Up
The season has begun at the home farm. Although much more conservative this year in terms of gambling on early plantings, we’re ahead of the game in some cases. Potatoes are in at the Ames Creek property, nearly a month earlier than last year due to drier soil conditions. Crews hit the Griffin Creek fields for the first round of harvest last week, too. Spinach and radishes are ready to roll, and arugula, baby bok choy and white turnips are close behind. There has been the usual struggle with the crucifer flea beetles who find some of the tender greens as delicious as we do. Although their damage is largely cosmetic, we’re trying some new tactics to keep them at bay. Sweet alyssum, a common garden flower, is very attractive to these little critters, so we’ve inter-planted rows of this aromatic annual as a trap crop. Fingers are crossed!
On Memorial Day weekend, the aspiring young farmers who produce our lamb will visit our Carnation farm to explore the workings of a diversified vegetable operation. The Students for Sustainable Animal Agriculture are part of Evergreen State College’s sustainable agriculture program. Those interested in animal husbandry have the opportunity to participate in the management of about twenty ewes and their lambs, from health and reproduction to pasture management and marketing. The animals are humanely raised and grass-fed and finished using rotational grazing methods which support both soil and animal health. The meat is the best we’ve found, and that a percentage of their sales supports sustainable ag programs at Evergreen makes it that much better. We’re looking forward to meeting them and showing them what we do.
We’re on the road again to visit some of our favorite suppliers – and to meet some new prospects on the way. With stone fruit season coming up, we’ll check out the orchards at Sunnyslope Ranch in Wapato, where Rebecca Hunt and Jimmie Wellman have been growing twenty different varieties of apricots, peaches plums, nectarines and cherries since 2005. A terrible spring in 2011 left them without fruit for us, but this year Rebecca says the trees are looking good. We’re especially intent on lining up some of her Tilton apricots for July. Hilario Alvarez is a gracious soul and was happy to hear we were coming for a visit; he said to come on by anytime, and that if he wasn’t at the house to come find him in the field. We have bought his peppers, salad onions and other vegetables for years and consider him a true farming friend and partner. Manny Canales in Yakima, who is growing asparagus and tomatoes for us this year, was of similar mind – happy to tramp around the fields for a visit to kick off the season.
Our goal is to solidify these long-term friendships into mutually beneficial agreements for future seasons, and to forge new working relationships with family farmers. These relationships will provide growers with a secure market for the fruits of their labor, and Full Circle members with great food, a greater connection with those producing it, and the knowledge that together we are building a food system which is sustainable.