Winter at the farm

04 Dec 2014
winter at the farm winter at the farm

As we wind down the twenty fifth year farming here in the hills of Litchfield County, it never fails to amaze us at how lucky we are to call this place home.  The land is beautiful, to be sure, but what makes it even more so is the devotion and care that those men and women who oversee the farms daily operation bestow upon the operation.  Tireless in their approach to farming, always learning, and always looking for ways to improve the bottom line, it is a joy to work with such a spirited team.  Alas, it is only now, as winter sets in that the daily hum of the place comes to a slow murmer, and we miss the larger crew of summer.  There is work to be done, always, but the fields are now far more quiet then just a month ago.  It was a record year for us on every level,  the CSA program grew in size for the fourth year running (and will do so again in 2015), market revenues hit all time highs (back in September, no less, and the year is not yet over), and we increeased our yields per acre in just about every crop.  We were rolling by early May and didn't really slow down till mid November.

The unusual early snow and chilling temperatures that arrived last month, and the far shorter work days, have not completely taken the fields out of play, however.  We still have beautiful broccoli and kale outside, as well as greens growing in the high tunnel.  The main barn has winter squash, turnips, and potatoes, some other root crops, too, all awaiting the two winter markest we will attend in Decemember and through the spring ( they are at Wooster Square in New Haven on Saturdays, and in Coventry on Sundays).  We will also have plenty of our tomato products available, as well , and our honey and maple syrup.  We grow all year round at the farm now, and the two new high tunnels we received from an NRCS grant last month will help us to be able to run our CSA throughout the year starting in 2015/2016.  This is very exciting for us and we cannot wait to get the new tunnels into production.

There are a few names to give special "shout outs" to before closing up for the season. First and formost, our fearless farm manager, Jed Borken.  Just five years ago this mild mannered lawyer from Minnesota was clerking for a judge in Westchester.  Now, after what seems like an accelerated farming MBA course load, he has overseen the growth of the farms revenue stream by over 100% since his arrival.  We could not have done this without him.  Second on the list are the "core four" - Dana Jackson, Will O'Meara, Jason DePecol, and John Charles.  This group of farmers nailed it in every way this season.  From seeding and planting, from farmers markets to tractor and field work, these guys are farmers in the first degree.  And it makes us proud that more then one of them will pursue their dreams of farmeing their own land in the years to come.  Until then, they are invaluable to our success.  Of course the summer crew were extremely important, too. They were green in knowledge but long on effort, and were led by returning verteran Lindsay Jenkinson. They are in no real order; Ethan, Hiller, Anastasia, Sacha, Madison - who deserves special mention for running the Kent market most of the season, Hanah, Ava, Lucky-Dawg (too briefly), Charles, Reilly, and Margot.  Lastly, are two guys who bookended the year: Lyle " Nickles" Nichols and Tom Armstrong.  The former is now in Nepal seeking his fortune as a minerals prospector (actually Peace Corps), and he was a huge asset in the spring start up..  He brought some much needed humor to the daily activities with his killer stand up routine, as well.  The latter, a Kiwi from the south island, came to us via the Borkens.  Living in the new barn, this farming mercenary arrived in the fall just as the main crew were returning back to school.  He was without a doubt the best visiting farmer we have ever had the pleasure of working with.   We hope he comes back in the spring after heading to San Diego and crushing the winter pro surfung tour.

So there you have it.  A record year and one that will springboard us to better things in 2015.  Thanks for the support.  We love what we do and want to do it for another twenty five years.  Hope you will come along for the ride.


Written by  Patrick Horan Published in Farm Blog Read 14625 times
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