Thursday, October 1, 2020

Foresight 2021 - Predicted Production

We promised that we would outline some of our considerations at the Genuine Faux Farm for 2021 - so here we are, in the midst of it.  It does seem a bit odd because we have not really reported back on 2020 thus far.  But, we can be forgiven if we want to look forward instead of back at the moment, I think.

What do we want to grow at Genuine Faux Farm?

Let's just start by saying that we both still want to grow something at the farm.  Let's also include a statement that we're disappointed in 2020's production in a large part because we just could not come up with enough time and energy to do well with our crops after we split the resources we had on our jobs, marketing, poultry, personal health, farm upkeep and repair, and veggie crops.

But, that's not the question on our plate right now.  The question is what we WANT to grow.

Part of me says I want to grow a little bit of lots of things.  Part of me says I want to pick an even smaller set than we did for this year and specialize a bit more.  Once again, there are more questions than answers at this point in time.

One of the things I have done is look at some of the harvest pictures from prior years and see how I respond to those pictures.  I am surprised by how well I can 'transport' myself back to that moment in time and remember how I felt about that particular crop.  For example, we both have always loved having a hayrack covered with pumpkins and winter squash.  On the other hand, it has always been stressful trying to find shelter for all of them when cold weather moves in.  I can still very clearly recall hauling a few hundred winter squash down the stairs to our basement.  With a walk-in cooler/warmer and new stairs to the basement, it is probable that such an event would be much less traumatic in the future - but still.

I have always enjoyed growing peppers and we love eating our green beans.  So, neither of those is too hard to see growing more of those to share with others in some fashion.  We know that we have a good farm and a decent system for excellent broccoli and cucumber production.  Tomatoes love our high tunnels and we can be quite good with lettuce if we give it the time and effort.  Our onions are typically very good sized on our farm, with a good taste and garlic has been reliable in all but one season.  And - there will always be flowers among the veggies.

In the end - we're still not sure exactly WHAT we want to grow.  Just... something.

What are we able to grow at Genuine Faux Farm?

Here's where the question gets practical.

If we don't have any help beyond ourselves on the farm, then we are going to have some real limitations.  If the two of us can't find a balance between our jobs, the poultry, growing things on the farm and the rest of our lives, then should we even try?  If we can't continue to make progress on controlling water during wet seasons, then there are other limitations.  If there isn't a place for the production to go, then we have to ask what the point would be in making the extra effort to raise produce beyond what we will eat.

This is probably the root of all of the questions we are asking right now.

At present, we are assuming that we will both continue with our off-farm jobs, we will remain on the farm and we will only have periodic (and likely very rare) help on the farm.

With that in mind, a first blush looks like this:

  • we will focus on growing in our two high tunnels (Valhalla and Eden)
  • we will increase the diversity inside the high tunnels so we can cover all of the veggies we want to grow at some level
  • we will continue to use our southwest plot as it drains the best for outdoor crops
  • we will take the fields south of Valhalla out of production and into 'rehab' to bring up the soil health
  • we may grow a couple of 'specialized' crops in the east fields if we find the right opportunity
  • we will maintain our perennial veggie and fruit crops (apples, asparagus, grapes, etc)
  • we will put in cover crops for unused areas and leave our options open for some or all of our tillable space.

How much will we grow at Genuine Faux Farm?

I CAN tell you that Tammy and I love our fresh produce and we will be growing enough of our favorites to feed our family regardless of what we decide. The question is how much of what will we grow and what might we make available to others.  

Just like the poultry - we are willing to consider everything from growing only what we will eat to something more than that.  Some of that answer hinges on the next question.

What will we do with what we grow in 2021?

Let's start by saying what we will NOT do.

  • we will not return to farmers' markets
  • we will not return to our old CSA model

The time for both of those things, our farm, and ourselves as farmers - is past.  The effort to do either of these things as we used to no longer fits our lives.   

Options we could take?

  • refine the farm credit model from 2020
  • donate to the food bank
  • sell to larger 'bulk' outlets
  • on farm sales
  • larger amount sales to individuals
  • grow crops for seed
  • specialize growing for a multi-farm CSA we don't manage
  • only grow what we need - no product shipped off farm

In other words, the options have a very wide range of possibilities. Fairly new to our list is the idea of growing crops out for certified organic seed production.  Also fairly new to us is the idea that we could be audacious and donate everything to the food bank - beyond what we keep for our own consumption.

Once again, if you have thoughts, input or wishes - this is a great time to let us know!

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