Spring news and a Chipotle(!?) fundraiser for the farm

Spring has arrived to Minnesota in its classic roundabout fashion.  A week in the 50s gives way to a week with expectant snow squalls and nighttime lows in the teens.  I often feel a bit trepidatious this time of year – should we till today?  should we wait until it warms up next week?  will the radishes even germinate at this temperature?  One part of me feels an urge to crawl back into winter’s grasp, the other has slept in fitful bursts, up at dawn, excited, nervous, eager to begin the farming season.  Today, after the cold night’s air burns away and snow returns, we will begin the major tilling of our fields.  A dear friend/advisor to the farm, Dan Guenthner (of Common Harvest Farm) has lent us chisel plow shanks for the tractor.  This will allow us to rip and fracture the urban soils to a fairly profound depth (about one foot), aerating the soil while not overly inverting and disturbing the earth.  While our farm acknowledges that hand tillage methods (e.g. broadfork) or the gradual build-up of compost are likely superior methods of improving and aerating the soil, we make compromises.  The tractor allows us (and many, many other farmers) to manage more land and produce more food.  The fossil fuel compromise is one that our society has, for better or for worse, decided to make.  The benefits – major reduction in human labor, comfort, mobility are outweighed by, among other things, catastrophic environmental destruction, urban sprawl, the very serious and unpredictable development of global climate change.  In using diesel and gasoline, our farm has decided to make the fossil fuel compromise.  Our work is to closely track fuel usage and make steps to reduce this amount both by conserving and adopting alternative energy technologies, all while maintaining a farm operation focused on high-quality vegetable production.

In other news, major infrastructure projects at our 2820 15th Ave. plot in Minneapolis are beginning to wind down.  Three large sheds are nearly complete and a water hook-up is scheduled for next week.  We will also be building a large shade structure to centralize our washing and packing operations.  Farming in the city has required (continues to require) a staggering amount of logistics.  At times, the farm is so spread out and in so many nooks and crannies that the inefficiencies become glaringly obvious (how many places do we need to go to find the tomato stakes?).  We have spent the winter and spring moving the entirety of the physical infrastructure (trucks, trailers, tools, hoes, etc.) out of our houses and garages and into a single location.  This is a big step for us and I hope it will allow us to spend our energy more wisely on farming.

As this spring begins wonderful volunteers have already begun to swoop to our rescue.  A young man named Kevin, riding his bike back from Lake Nokomis last Friday, stopped by the farm and spent an hour broad-forking an entire high tunnel.  Our friend Hannah has built wonderful rock walls to line perennial herb beds.  Our employees, Kristi and Caroline, are already hard at work.  Speaking of help, a man named Mike Fuller of Chipotle (the burrito store chain) contacted the farm, wondering if we were interested in participating in a fundraiser.  On Earth Day (Tuesday, April 22nd), 50% of all Chipotle sales in Minnesota, up to $5000 will be donated to our farm, if our farm name is mentioned while ordering food (i.e. “I am here to support Stone’s Throw…”).  This will be a major benefit for our farm, especially as we have invested so much into infrastructure these past few months.  Please support us if possible and/or tell your friends, co-workers, family, neighbors.

Enjoy the week,

Alex

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