Our 2015 CSA season has started! 

Starting this week our first CSA shares of the season will officially be out the door!   

Our customers from Paychex of Auburn will be receiving their shares on Thursday June 11th at the office. 

Customers picking up shares at the farm in Buckfield will be able to get them Saturday the 13th from 8 AM until 4 PM.

Customers picking up shares at Old Squire’s Farm Market in Norway will be able to get them Saturday the 13th from 9 AM until 2 PM.

Spring 2015 – Welcoming the new growing season!

Spring crops in our propagation barn.

Spring crops in our propagation barn.

The spring growing season is upon us once again here at Wildfire Fellowship Farm, the winter hoop house spinach crops have gone by and we are ready to start the new season!

Soil block seed starts in the barn.

Soil block seed starts in the barn.

Soon the propagation area of the barn will be full of trays containing hundreds of soil blocks, each is the starting medium for a seed. Some of the seeds are no larger than a fleck of pepper, they will soon be growing into vigorous plants ready for transplant.

Permanent raised beds in the hoop house growing area.

Permanent raised beds in the hoop house growing area.

Outside on the land our permanent raised beds stand ready for transplants. Our first outside plantings have started this week with the aid of fabric row covers to help control for the cool spring temperatures. We have introduced the permanent raised beds as a way to intensify soil health and reduce mechanical tillage.

The garlic crop for this season has awoken!

The garlic crop for this season has awoken!

As the days get longer and the soil warms our nearly 1000 cloves of garlic that were planted last fall begin to crest the surface. Their green whips remind us that some plants need the harshness of winter to grow into their full character.

Thyme, Leeks, and Onions transitioning to the outside weather in one of our hoop houses.

Thyme, Leeks, Onions and other seedlings transitioning to the outside weather in one of our hoop houses.

Now that the winter spinach crop has gone by we cover the beds with black landscape fabric to weaken the plants before they are cleared for the another crop. We also use the hoop houses to transition seedlings to outdoor weather before they are transplanted.

The spring fed watering point for our new cattle.

The spring fed watering point for our new cattle.

In addition to preparing for the new growing season we are getting ready for our new Scottish Highland cows Polly and Bronwen. We have established a spring fed water source and are in the process of setting up paddock fencing. We will be practicing intensive rotational grazing with our herd. Simply put we will be moving our cows around the property frequently, even daily! A combination of fixed and portable fencing will guide our small herd to their grazing location every day. This practice closely mimics the natural grazing pasterns of animals such as wild buffalo. This natural grazing method will help enrich and build our soil for years to come.

Polly, our four year old Scottish Highland cow who will be giving birth to a calve on our farm this spring.

Polly, our four year old Scottish Highland cow who will be giving birth to a calve on our farm this spring.

Bronwen our two year old Scottish Highland cow.

Bronwen our two year old Scottish Highland cow.

We expect the cows to be on the farm in early May, they will be coming to us from Stan Maynard’s Orchard Hill Farm located just outside Caribou Maine.

Spring on the farm wouldn’t be complete without picking a few rocks out of the growing beds. They say we grow great rocks here in Maine!

Always plenty of rock picking to do every spring!

Always plenty of rock picking to do every spring!

Our spring growing season is off to a great start here on the farm, we look forward to seeing new customers this year in our CSA and at market.

 

 

Reflections on the 2014 Farm Season

As 2014 comes to a close, we take time to look back at what was a very successful year on our farm. 2014 was the inaugural year of our CSA. While snow was piling up outside the greenhouses and barn we were hard at work planning the new season.

Our barn standing steadfast against the cold and wind of winter.

Our barn standing steadfast against the cold and wind of winter.

The days eventually lengthened and our new season took shape from planning to seeding.  After a lot of mixing of topsoil and planting the seedlings soon emerged.

Seedlings emerging from soil blocks in the barn.

Seedlings emerging in the barn.

Renewable heat! Tending the pellet stove to maintain the barn temperature over night.

Renewable heat! Tending the pellet stove to maintain the barn temperature over night.

As the snow melted on our farm we eagerly awaiting spring.Spring on the farm represents promise and mud! After the mud dries out the work outside starts.

The slow wet start of the spring season.

The slow wet start of the spring season.

Early outside crops begin to take shape.

During the spring we soon sold out our CSA shares and were ready for our new members to visit the farm. In June we had our first open farm day for our members.

Pausing by a hoop house with two of our CSA members visiting us during open farm day.

Pausing by a hoop house with two of our CSA members visiting us during open farm day.

We had a great time showing our customers where their food would come from. We enjoyed this day immensely and look forward to our 2015 open farm day!

Washing lettuce for our custom CSA mix.

Washing lettuce for our custom CSA mix.

Packaging garlic scapes.

Packaging garlic scapes.

As summer started we had established our routine and our customers were pleasantly surprised on a weekly basis. It was great to get to know each family and their tastes. From dry days to wet days harvests continued.

A look at the potato crop ready for summer.

Potatoes and other crops ready for summer!

One of the many lettuce plantings on the farm during the season.

One of the many lettuce plantings on the farm during the season.

A look at a full share from late June 2014. Lettuce, green peppers, radishes, garlic scapes, strawberries, and parsley.

A look at a full share from late June 2014. Lettuce, green peppers, radishes, garlic scapes, strawberries, and parsley.

A look inside one of our hoop houses, tomatoes reaching for the sky!

A look inside one of our hoop houses, tomatoes reaching for the sky!

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Green beans growing in the August heat.

Grape tomatoes on the vine in one of our hoop houses.

Grape tomatoes on the vine in one of our hoop houses.

As summer waned and fall emerged, new varieties of vegetables were sent out in the weekly shares.

A full CSA share from September 2014. Lettuce, kale, cucumbers, salad tomatoes, carrots, yellow wax beans, and a buttercup squash.

A full CSA share from September 2014. Lettuce, kale, cucumbers, salad tomatoes, carrots, yellow wax beans, and a buttercup squash.

    Surveying the lower field near the end of September.

Surveying the lower field near the end of September.

Soon the regular season was over before we knew it! The air had become touched with a not so subtle nip of cold and the colors of fall showed all around the farm.

Looking up at the farm from the edge of the lower field.

Looking up at the farm from the edge of the lower field.

A carpet of fall leaves paint the landscape of the farm in fall.

A carpet of fall leaves paint the landscape of the farm in fall.

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Our high bush blueberries showing their fall color.

Fall is also a time to finish projects on the farm in preparation for winter. We undertook two large projects on the farm this fall including the installation of electric cattle fencing on our front field and the renovation of our equipment maintenance and storage barn. Our fencing improvement is in anticipation of the addition of grass fed beef cows to our farm in 2015.

A look at the new fencing in the upper section of our front field.

A look at the new fencing in the upper section of our front field.

The lower fence line protecting the lower field plot.

The lower fence line protecting the lower field plot.

The equipment barn was in desperate need of renovation. The project was started this fall and included new siding, doors, windows, and a new metal roof. The final painting and touch up work will be finished in spring of 2015.

Our equipment barn at the start of the renovation.

Our equipment barn near the start of the renovation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The equipment barn near the end of the renovation.

The equipment barn near the end of the renovation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 This fall we began selling our produce at the Saturday market at Old Squires Farm Market in Norway.

Our first day as a vendor at Old Squire's Farm Market in Norway.

Our first day as a vendor at Old Squire’s Farm Market in Norway.

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Our very tasty hoop house spinach.

Market Saturdays, full of great fall produce.

Market Saturdays, full of great fall produce.

Our time at the fall Saturday market has been a great opportunity for us to serve our customers and meet new friends. Late November came around and we enjoyed distributing the Thanksgiving bonus shares to our members. This is a free bonus to our CSA members that we will again be doing in 2015.

As this year comes to a close so does our tenure at the winter market. We are at the market through the middle of January 2015. After that time limited produce from our farm will still be available at the market in the self-serve cooler for the remainder of the winter as it is available.

It is with great joy that we look forward to the new year and the chance to serve even more customers as we expand our CSA in 2015 and start our farm direct sales program.

Thank you and have a happy and prosperous new year!

Peter and Sawyer Coleman
Wildfire Fellowship Farm

Announcing our 2015 Farm Direct Sales Program

IMG_5592Order Organic vegetables a` la carte from our farm.

A new option for customers in 2015 will be farm direct sales. Customers that sign up for this option have the opportunity to order our produce and have it available for pick up in the same fashion as the CSA shares.

Direct sales customers may order a` la carte off a weekly produce list that will be sent out via email. Direct sales customers will not receive any discount off of our retail prices; however, they get full control of what produce they purchase.

Pick-up options:
At our farm between 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM each Saturday.

At Square Root Natural Foods in Poland (Friday Pick Up).

At Old Squire’s Market in Norway (Saturday Pickup).

There is no cost to sign up for
Direct Sales and there is no obligation to purchase produce.

To sign up as a direct sales customer email us your contact information to – sales@wildfirefellowshipfarm.com

2015 Wildfire Fellowship Farm CSA

We are currently taking reservations for our 2015 CSA. Email your contact information and share size (Full / Half) to sales@wildfirefellowshipfarm.com. 

The Wildfire Fellowship Farm 2015 CSA

Our season will begin in mid-June and continue for twenty weeks (end of October). As a special bonus, we will provide fresh greens, winter squash, onions, carrots, rutabagas, and potatoes for your Thanksgiving feast.

IMG_2129COST AND PICK-UP

Recognizing that there are different size family groups, we are offering both full and half shares. A full share should provide a family of four, while a half share will be perfect for couples.

The cost of a full share is $500.00, with half paid by March 31 and the balance by June 30. The cost of a half share is $275, paid by March 31.

Each share holder will also be given opportunity to purchase additional quantities of available produce offered by the farm each week.

Pickup options will be as follows:

  1. Pick up at our farm in Buckfield on Saturdays – 8:00am – 4:00pm
  2. Pick up at Old Squire Farm Market –  Norway on Saturdays – 10:00am – 2:00pm
  3. Pick Up at Square Root Natural Foods – Poland on Fridays – 10:00am -Closing

For more information and to sign up, please contact Sawyer Coleman, Sales and Marketing Director for the farm:

Telephone: 207-713-6502 or email: sales@wildfirefellowshipfarm.com

 

COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE (CSA)

CSA is an opportunity for individuals to connect with the farm and support the operation by purchasing a “share” of the season’s harvest. CSA shares provide the farm with a base of local support and enable individuals and families to purchase fruit and vegetables at a discount from the retail price.

While sharing in the risk of any growing season (mainly weather related), the purchaser of a CSA share can feel confident that they will receive the full value of their investment by the end of the season. The farm will strive to produce a steady variety of produce beginning with spring greens through the fall harvest.

Late Summer Bounty

Summer in Maine on the Farm

Here on the farm summer has arrived and our crops are coming along nicely. Our CSA is in the fourth week and we are starting to deliver the first of our summer produce varieties. Just last week we started to harvest strawberries and so far it has been a great season!

New for this year is our lettuce mix. We are growing several new varieties for this mix and the results have been spectacular. SalanovaThe lettuce we use for our mix is called Salanova. This lettuce comes in several varieties and is quite tasty.

Salad MixThis is what the finished mix looks like. It holds up very well in the refrigerator and has a rich flavor.

As the weather heats up our summer hoop house crops begin to mature. The tomatoes are developing well and will soon reach the top of the trellis. Our eggplants are looking great and will be ready for harvest this week.

As the season progresses we will have even more produce varieties available. Enjoy the flavors of the season and be sure to check back with us often.

 

Come Join Our Farm!

This position has been filled, thank you!

Our farm is growing and we need your help! Have you ever wanted to learn more about organic farming, and get paid to do it! We are seeking the right person to work for us this summer on the farm. This is both a learning opportunity and a full-time summer job.       The official listing is as follows:

Wildfire Farm - Summer tomato bountyWildfire Fellowship Farm, a Certified Organic grower of fruits and vegetables, is seeking an individual to assist with all aspects of farm production during the summer of 2014.  The term of employment will be twelve weeks (40 hours per week) from mid-June through mid-September.  This is an opportunity to learn about Organic farming while contributing to the success of the farm this season.  The farm is located in Buckfield, Maine.  Information about the farm can be found on its website:  www.wildfirefellowshipfarm.com and on its Face Book page.  The individual must be in good physical condition, able to work outside in all-weather, willing to learn, and to work with diligence and efficiency.

For more information or to apply for the position email your resume and or a letter of intent to info@wildfirefellowshipfarm.com

The deadline for applications will be Thursday June 12th 2014.

Spring has sprung on the farm!

As the weather improves and the sun warms the freshly uncovered soil it’s actually starting to feel like spring on the farm. On the first calendar day of spring this year we were hit with a massive snow storm that left around a foot of fresh snow on the ground.

Spring 2014Since then the weather has shifted and all but scant traces of the white stuff are gone from the fields. Through it all our seedlings have been growing in our warm barn.

Spring Hillside 2014 The seedling are starting to look good and planting continues at a rapid pace.

A close up look at the parsley, rosemary, and thyme.

A close up look at the parsley, rosemary, and thyme.

Back outside we have a couple of rows of spinach that over wintered with nothing but snow for cover. The plants look good and will soon be making additions to our dinners.

Spinach that survived the winter.

Spinach that survived the winter.

In hoop house number one the over wintered kale has done well despite the cold we had on the farm this winter.

Over wintered kale starting to wake up for spring.

Over wintered kale starting to wake up for spring.

We look forward to the coming weeks of planting and transplanting, the season starts slowly but it wont stay that way for long!

 

Raising Vegetable Seedlings at Wildfire Fellowship Farm

In the 1975 Farmstead Magazine “Commonsense Planting Calendar,” the first “Planting Tip” on dealing with Maine’s short growing season was to “sprout early.” By that is meant starting vegetable seedlings weeks or months before it is time to set them out in the garden. Here at Wildfire Fellowship Farm we have constructed a “Propagation House” for that purpose and it is the center of farm activity at this time of year.

Barn

Our propagation house is the front third of a well insulated barn. Triple wall polycarbonate glazing allows ample light and solar heat gain while retaining warmth at night. We use a pellet stove for nighttime heat and automatic ventilation fans for daytime cooling. During the very cold, but sunny days of late, temperatures in the propagation house reach 90o by mid-day unless the house is vented. On cold nights we burn 40-80# of wood pellets to keep temperatures above the 65o threshold for tender plants like peppers and eggplants.

Pellet Stove

High quality seedlings begin with quality seeds. We buy from three suppliers: Johnny’s Selected Seeds (www.johnnyseeds.com), Fedco Seeds (www.fedcoseeds.com), and Highmowing Organic Seeds (www.highmowingseeds.com). The second key to success is the potting soil. We have been very impressed with Lite Mix produced by Living Acres in New Sharon, Maine (www.livingacres.com). Lite Mix is available at retail from Johnny’s as their “512 Mix.” We began using this potting mix because it was recommended for making “soil blocks” and experience has shown that it grows strong, healthy seedlings that hold well if transplanting must be delayed.

Soil Blocks

The twelve and four block makers rest on Lite Mix

Most of our seeds are sown into soil blocks, made by forming a very moist potting mix using “block makers” that compress the mix into two inch cubes. Fifty of these fit just right into a standard greenhouse tray facilitating production count. The benches in our propagation house were sized to accommodate the trays with no waste of space. We have enough bench space to hold 6,000 soil blocks. We also seed directly into loose Lite Mix in deep flats (onions and leeks) and use three inch square pots for direct seeding of cucurbits (squash, cucumbers, melons) and “potting up” of peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes. Electric heat mats under the flats and trays are used to speed germination for the heat loving plants like peppers and squash.

 

Eggplant (right) and Red Sweet Peppers (left) just sprouted on the heat pad

Eggplant (right) and Red Sweet Peppers (left) just sprouted on the heat pad

 

Our first year of using the propagation house in 2013 taught us that conditions are so ideal that the seedlings grow very fast, so this year we have delayed the planting schedule. It is very important that seedlings not be so mature at transplanting that they will be set back. The trick is steady, active growth from seed to garden soil. We use an Excel spreadsheet to schedule and track greenhouse and garden activity and keep things flowing smoothly. For me, working with seeds and potting mix in a toasty greenhouse while the wind howls and the snow is still deep on the hillside is one of my favorite seasonal activities.

Thyme, Scallions, and Onions (Left) and Lettuce (right)

Thyme, Scallions, and Onions (Left) and Lettuce (right)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Construction Progress

During the snowy winter months on the farm we were finally able to catch up on several construction projects in the barn.

During the spring we built our walk in cooler in the barn but did not have a chance to finish the outside fully. To finish off the thermal envelope additional insulation was added on the outside in the form of foam board. With an R value of almost 7 this addition brings the wall up to around R 30. Walk in Cooler To protect the foam and finish the outside of the cooler sheathing boards were placed over strapping.

Walk in cooler with sheathingAnother carpentry project that we worked on was the loft staircase. The loft area provides a substantial amount of storage but access had only been via a ladder last summer.  Staircase

staircase 2Up in the loft we added railings and toe boards, this makes the area much safer to work in. RalesRales 2

In the future shelving and other organizational helping hands will be added to the loft area to help us contain the myriad of parts and pieces we need every day on the farm.

Next to the cooler another addition to our work area is a set of sturdy built-in shelves that will hold all manner of tools.

shelving

The list of projects seems never ending but it is nice to see progress as we prepare for the spring.