Love and encouragement were given to us by the helping hands of friends and family when we put up a 30’x48′ moveable high tunnel. The frame went up on one hot, glorious day at the end of May. When I look at it I see more than the structure. I see the faces and hear the chatter of the crew that volunteered to help us; standing on construction ladders, or bracing them, drills in hand, bolts and bits at the ready. Al’s mom brought a giant tray of delicious homemade banana pudding and my mom set out lunch. Every action lifted us up, just like the sections on that building. It’s very humbling to hear and see the answer “yes” when we need help. We are so grateful to the wonderful people working that day.
What’s so great about a high tunnel? Al will tell you it’s a key part of creating a microclimate that will produce a variety of fresh food throughout the year. This is not a greenhouse with a covered floor and artificial heat. The “movable” function of this high tunnel allows crop rotation and soil rest. Instead of feet, the bottom of the high tunnel is like a sled. This is a covered winter garden, we will be growing in the soil using the same sustainable methods we practice during the summer. A chef at the King Farmers Market summed it up differently. “So, you might have dirt tomatoes late in the fall?” From her lips to God’s ear. The plan is to have dirt tomatoes and a few other things growing late into the fall.
In between prepping for markets, going to markets and tying up tomatoes the day goes fast. Al and his dad are currently putting up the end walls. I help where I can. The next step will be covering it with plastic. A day when our efforts alone won’t be enough and we’ll need to ask for help. We are thankful for the friends and family that will still take our call and answer yes. Lunch and banana pudding anyone?
the King Farmers’ Market located at the Stokes YMCA, 105 Moore Road in King, NC, on Wednesdays from 11am – 1pm, from April 22nd through October 28th, 2015.
Also at the Reynolda Village Farmers’ Market located at 2201 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem, NC, on Fridays from 8am – 11:30am, from May 8th through October 2nd, 2015.
We started with French Breakfast radishes, a wide assortment of heirloom tomato plants, edible flower transplants (calendula, nasturtium, borage), herb plants, and some beautiful Festiva Maxima Peony cut flower bunches. We will soon have Cascadia sugar snap peas and heirloom tomatoes.
Please come see us if you are local to these markets. If not, please go find a local farmers’ market where ever you live. Buy and eat great food, and learn more about naturally and sustainably grown food. Enjoy getting to know your local farmer. While Al is always so serious, Linda is really funny.
Buying local. Eating local. Sourcing local. Supporting local. Good Neighbors. Common catch-phrases, but this year Linda and I have learned how much our local community has to offer. We are committed to the idea of natural sustainability, so we have done a lot of reading from the likes of Eliot Coleman, Rodale and other nationally recognized experts on organic practices. We are also realizing the incredible resources available locally.
Our Forsyth County NC Agricultural Extension Agent, Mary-Jac Brennan, is fabulous. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience available from NC State University, growingsmallfarms.ces.ncsu.edu, and CFSA, the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, carolinafarmstewards.org. Always around for good advice and information are neighbor farmers and friends like Kevin Frack at TerraSol Farms, terrasolfarms.com. While Eliot Coleman’s book, The New Organic Grower, is a must read so is Vegetable Gardening in the SouthEast by regional expert Ira Wallace, a gardener and part of the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. It is a valuable seeding, planning and harvesting guide specific to our area. Of course, it was Kevin Frack who recommended the book. We went to Slow Food Piedmont’s Annual Seed Swap at the end of January and learned about several local vegetable varieties.
One of my goals for 2015 is to look closer to home for the expertise and advice I need first. Yesterday I was describing to a new neighbor, Wade, that I was going to have to learn how to keep deer out of our fields this coming season. Wade mentioned prior to retiring he was a professional fencing contractor. He described the type of fence that would be the most effective, told me where to find it, and like a good neighbor, offered to help us with it. Most often what makes a place a haven, is the people around us. We love this haven.
It was a beautiful day to search for new wood and prune the thick,overgrown mess that is our very, tiny vineyard. A sleeping princess would not have been out of place in the mad tangle. Farmer Al’s dad, pictured at the corner post, is an accomplished wood carver but this job required more blunt force than finesse. Despite the severe pruning we are hoping for a few sweet, bronze scuppernong grapes toward the end of summer.