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

Adapted to the growing season in Maine

Wildfire Fellowship Farm operates year round using methods developed by Eliot Coleman ( no relation ) among others. On the farm we utilize tools such as unheated hoop houses and fabric row covers to extend our growing and harvest season.

Winter of 2012-2013 inside hoop house #2.

Winter of 2012-2013 inside hoop house #2.

The hoop house environment combined with row covers provides just enough protection for the hearty crops to thrive in the fall and be harvested over the winter. This approach is both sustainable and efficient, keeping us busy all year around.

Walking out to check on Hoop House # 2

Walking out to check on Hoop House # 2

During the spring the hoop house environment is used as a transition space for seedlings as they are moved out of the seed starting barn before they are planted in the fields. Soon after as spring becomes summer the hot weather crops take over inside the hoop house such a tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplants.

Inside hoop house #1 during the summer of 2012.

Inside hoop house #1 during the summer of 2012.