On The Farm

Weekly Update: May 1st, 2017

May 1st, 2017 Weekly Update

Outreach & Education Update

We’re wrapping up projects with Ms. Frazier’s Earth Science classes at Legacy Charter School. Scholars have spent the semester comparing how veggies and oats grow in different soils, including biochar, which is charcoal made from heating biomass. We’re excited to read through their findings and learn how biochar impacts soil health. Farmer Jason also attended the City View Coalition meeting. To learn more about the Coalition and its aims, check out this fantastic article.


Our seedlings have all been transplanted! For reference, a job like this took about 108 hours split between three or four workers. We timed our seedling deliveries for two separate weeks in order to keep our work load manageable and to have a bit of succession so that all of the lettuce isn’t ready to be harvested at the same time. We suspect that we’ll need to separate our succession by more than one week in the future to achieve a more manageable harvest schedule. Also, since we ordered three different varieties of lettuce, we may discover that some varieties have different maturity rates. We’re keeping a production log to track planting, timing, order size, and labor. When it’s time to harvest, our log will help us determine a fair price for our produce. Jason developed the production log based on Curtis Stone’s and Richard Wiswall’s production planning.


GAP certification

In order to sustain our operation, we hope to sell some of our produce to Legacy Charter School. In order to do this, we need to focus heavily on food safety certification and develop a system to track and recall produce. We’re planning to pursue the USDA Harmonized GAP Certification with the help of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA). We’ve filled out an Application for Assistance, which outlines where we’re at and where we hope to go. CFSA will first help us out with food safety and GAP certification, and then move into business development.

Stephen Nix, CFSA’s South Carolina Food Systems Coordinator, has shared three very useful resources on post-harvest design that we’re studying at the moment: Building a Low-Cost Cooler and PackshedTwo Vegetable Wash Station Designs, and Building the Leopold Center GAP-Certifiable Vegetable Wash Station: Notes and Modifications

Cooler Upfit

The students of Goodwill’s YouthBuild program have completed our walk-in coolers and delivered them to our post-harvest processing space yesterday! The partnership won’t end here though – we’ve got plenty of other ideas in mind! Our next project will likely be a farm stand. Ratenski Services helped us move our greenhouse, as well as the walk-in coolers. The coolers are plugged in and operating while we test out CoolBots and AC units.


We’ve continued to observe and adjust the farm’s irrigation settings. Since we don’t live on the farm site, we drop by at least once a day to check on everything. We try to stop by between 2 and 4pm since it tends to be the hottest time of the day and thus, the most stressful for our young lettuce seedlings.



So far the fencing is doing its job! Our seedlings have not been impacted, but we’ve noticed that something likes to burrow in our leaf mulch. Leaves are often moved around and we’ve found a few burrows too. Our neighbor, Ms. Tarrant, says she often sees squirrels near the fence, so they may be the culprits.


Business & Marketing Update

GREAT NEWS! We’ve been awarded a $1,000 grant from the SC Exotic Pest Plant Council. We plan to use the funds to control and/or remove the site’s callery pears, mimosas, honeysuckle, and kudzu.

This week, our primary focus is on post-harvest operations. We’ll continue searching for and pricing the following equipment: a durable spring scale, plumbing supplies, shelving for supplies and coolers, hose fittings, hand sprayers, sanitizer, brooms and squeegees, buckets for harvesting, and a big dunk tub.
We’re also working to set up a PayPal account that’s ready to invoice our sales!


Next week

Celebrate the end of our biochar projects with a tour of the farm; continue to monitor seedlings and adjust irrigation setting; acquire more post-harvest equipment; organize post-harvest processing; continue connecting with CFSA on GAP certification