We have stayed in touch with Stephen Nix and Patricia Tripp of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) about Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Certification. Mr. Bowen of Legacy Charter School has helped us transition into our mini-post harvesting processing space, which is fantastic news for the farm and for our future GAP audit. Look out for our post-harvesting plan in the coming weeks, including a layout for our coolers, sinks, and storage. We’re also working to devise a Food Safety Manual. CFSA will help us make good bold moves toward food safety certification.
This week we’ll continue to work with Mr. Cheek and the students of Goodwill’s YouthBuild program, who will help upfit our coolers. Our goal is to redesign our coolers with food safety in mind. That means easy-to-clean, smooth surfaces with no gaps for potential contamination. If we are able to sanitize the inside surfaces of our coolers, then we are more likely to be food safety compliant. After we install vinyl surfaces, we’ll install and test the CoolBot, a controller that’s helped us make an affordable walk-in cooler. Check out Curtis Stone’s video on walk-in coolers to learn more about CoolBot technology and farming on a budget!
Up and running! We tested the rain delay feature this week. Because we’ve had so much rainfall and our soil is so absorbent, we’ve decided to reduce irrigation for the time being. We found many springtails, which are insects often found in damp soil, hopping everywhere. We’ll let mother nature continue to water our seedlings in the meantime.
This may be our biggest weak spot at the moment. We’ve seen groundhogs and rabbits in our neighborhood almost every day, so we’ve designed and installed a light weight, step-in fence that extends about 1ft underground. We didn’t have the resources to build this 6ft design, so we stuck to a 3ft design for the time being. While there are mixed reviews on its effectiveness, we’ve used chicken wire. We’re prepared to learn a few lessons here and will keep you updated!
Seedlings & Cover Crops
We planted 50% of our seedlings last week, which are from Banner Greenhouses. This week, Farmer Jason will pick up the remaining order. With help (and the weather’s cooperation), we’ll complete transplanting on Tuesday. We’ve also planted an interesting mix of summer cover crops and compost crops! These will help protect the soil from erosion and improve the soil’s nutrient levels by adding organic matter. We’ve chosen grains, legumes, and vining squashes. You can learn more about cover crops from Clemson Extension here.
Business & Finance
Farmer Jason is documenting crop inputs using a combination of enterprise-type budgets he’s studied from other farmers and organizations – primarily from Curtis Stone (The Urban Farmer), Richard Wiswall (The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook), and Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (Fearless Farm Finances). Along with some of our own thinking and spreadsheet skills, we should be able to identify the financial bottlenecks in our processes. We’ll share what we learn!
This Week’s To-Do List
Transplant remaining seedlings; watch for sprouting cover crops; start moving supplies to our post-harvest processing space (which we like to call the blue building); organize and clean blue building; create food safety manual outlines; continue consulting with CFSA for GAP guidance; chop invasive plants on the farm’s perimeter; meet with Ms. Frazier’s scholars about analyzing data, making conclusions, and finalizing the reports for our biochar projects.