Spring Update from Farmer Erick

Spring Update from Jubilee Farm

In this update:

  1. Spring arrives at last!
  2. May Day Celebration at Jubilee
  3. Pork and Beef available
  4. Workshare program
  5. Workshare for a day this week
  6. Jubilee needs a good, full-time farm worker
  7. Late Spring Session
  8. Summer Session
  9. Compost Project

 

  1. Spring arrives at last!

I doubt that anyone still drawing breath has seen a wetter start to a growing season than what we saw this winter and right through the end of March.  Aside from the many floods, March was just an incredibly wet and chilly month.  Ok, you all knew that.  It’s just that we usually get something planted out in March!

Thankfully, the weather has changed dramatically, and we’ve been scurrying to make up for lost time.  Last week we had some major “plant outs” of veggie starts in our propagation house that probably thought they were never going to get into the soil.

We’re hoping, of course, that we don’t go completely dry, and we certainly have to be thankful for snow in the mountains, water in the reservoirs, and a fully re-charged aquifer below.  But oh are we thankful for the beautiful, warm, dry weather!

  1. May Day Celebration at Jubilee.

Our May Day Celebration this year is on Saturday, May 7th.  Please save the date, and plan for sunny weather.

The following is a schedule of events for the day.  Our May Day Celebration is open to the public, and is a great time to see the farm in action.  Meet our animals, enjoy a hayride around the farm, take a walking tour with yours truly, and witness the farm as it launches into another growing season.

We have lots of events planned for kids (see below).  There will be a food vendor (Patty Pan) for those interested, or bring your own lunch.  Everyone is welcome, and of course there is no charge.  We’re not selling anything!  (BTW, I hope you all know that when Patty Pan, Standard Bakery, or other vendors come to Jubilee, we don’t charge them anything.  They get all the money from their sales, we have them come as a service to those members who want to buy from them).

May Day collage 2

Schedule:

11 am:  Tractor Tour
11 am:  Live Music featuring the Double Barrs
11 am:  Walking Tour with Farmer Erick
11 am – 1 pm:  Savory food available from Patty Pan Grill
11 am – 1 pm:  Sweets and breads available from Standard Bakery and Café
11 am – 1 pm:  Seed planting in the picnic shelter
11 am – 1 pm:  Barn market open for information.  Find out more about our CSA program and   sign up for the 2016 summer season.
11:30 am:  Scavenger hunt
NOON:  MAY POLE!
12:30 pm – Tractor tour
12:30 pm – Tour the market Kitchen (The Cascading Kitchen)
1:00 pm – Tractor tour
1:30 pm – Meet the cattle herd (gather on the barn porch for a walk out to the herd).
2:00 pm – Work share interest meeting in the loft of the barn.

Please join us for this event, and feel free to invite friends!

  1. Pork and Beef available.

If you are interested in pork or beef purchases, please drop us a note at jubileefarm@hotmail.com.  Here is what we currently have available:

  • We recently harvested a couple of pigs and have a lot of ground pork and sausage.
  • USDA packaged mixed beef cuts (mostly roasts and steaks) that we are selling in 20 pound increments.
  • Quarter-pound burger patties in packages of 40.
  • Pork bratwurst in packages of 20.

** We are currently taking reservations for sides of beef that will be harvested later this spring**

  1. Workshare Program.

I know most of you who have participated in the past know full well what the work share program entails.  So for all of you, just be advised to please get your application back to me.  If you have not received an application, please send me a note and I’ll send you one.

For those who don’t know about our work share program, here’s a brief description:  This program is for people from the community who want to have a chance to engage in farming.  The workshare program requires one half-day of work each week during the Summer Session. Work can be completed any day, Tuesday through Saturday, during either the morning shift (8-noon) or afternoon shift (2-6).  In “appreciation” for their work, the farm provides work share members with a produce box every week.

If this sounds interesting, send us a note (jubileefarm@hotmail.com) and I will send you more detailed information, along with an application.

  1. Workshare-for-a-day: this week!

Here’s an opportunity for existing work share members to get ahead on their summer work share hours, or for people thinking about doing a work share to see what it’s all about.

Later this week (Thursday and Friday) we will be doing a “plant-out” of our propagation starts.  We could use extra help.  If you have the time and the inclination, you are welcome to join us.  Those who come out will get a box of produce the following week, or, if they are work share members, they can “bank” their time against time missed in the summer).

If you have the interest, please join us on Thursday or Friday afternoon.  If you do plan to come out, please send me a quick e-mail to let me know you are coming.

  1. Jubilee needs a good, full-time farm worker.

It seems we could always use more help here at the farm, but right now we’re serious enough about needing help to be looking for a full-time person to add to our core group of workers.

Very few of our staff have ever come to us with much farming experience; most just come with a reasonable work ethic and a desire to learn.   Although there’s always a lot of work to do, the crew turns in “banker’s hours,” working 40 hour weeks.

What is required is that a person is physically fit, able to work from 8am to 5pm five days a week, has interest in growing food, and is willing to work with a team of like-minded people.

If you know of someone that might consider employment here at Jubilee, please pass this information on to him or her.  If you have an interest, send me (Erick) a note at jubileefarm@hotmail.com.

  1. Late Spring Session.

We want to make sure that you all know there is one more short, six-week session (“Late Spring Session”) before our Summer Session starts in June.  The Late Spring Session will begin April 27th, and will feature, for the first time, early spring greens that we have planted in our greenhouses.  It was a bit of a gamble to do this, with the potential for another flood, but we’ve been fortunate enough to not have had one.  So, we’ll have our own fresh greens for this upcoming Session!  You can sign up online at https://jubileefarm.org/members/

  1. Summer Session.

The Summer Session, of course, is the defining activity of our farm (no, pumpkin season, I hope, does NOT define us!).  From the middle of June through the last week of October we offer the finest in local, seasonal, fruits, vegetables, and grains.

There are a number of features of our CSA that we believe to be distinctive of our farm, and distinguish us from the many “local” food boxes that are available online:

  • Everything you get in our Summer Share is what we grow ourselves, right here at Jubilee Farm. It is true that in our off-season (the six-week Sessions outside our normal growing seasons) we bring in organic produce to supplement what we have ourselves.  But in the 20-week Summer Session, June-October, we only distribute what we grow here on our own farm.  You don’t have to wonder “where did it come from?”  If you ask us where it came from, we can show you the bed where it was harvested.
  • We offer a u-pick feature for people to harvest their own produce at the farm. This has become enormously popular with our members, and for good reason.  Whereas picking 400 pounds of beans is a lot of work.  Picking a pound of beans is a lot of fun!  We u-pick our strawberries, raspberries (BTW, they are already up and looking great this year!  We’re expecting a repeat of the outstanding raspberry season we had last year), herbs—basil, cilantro, dill etc.–, cherry tomatoes, beans, peas, flowers, tomatillos, and other items.
  • Every Tuesday and Friday during July and August we offer “Farm School” at 2:00 for kids and their parents. Farm School is open to everyone, and this year we are going to be offering an “advanced” Farm School geared at older children (with longer attention spans!) who want to learn more about growing farm crops and Agra-ecology.
  • Members can pick up at the farm or, for a small delivery fee, have their boxes delivered. Delivery members have the option to pick up their produce at the farm any week they can and want to, by simply emailing us by Monday of that week and letting us know not to deliver their box.  This gives everyone the opportunity to come to the farm when they can, and have it delivered when they can’t.
  • We have a “demonstration kitchen” in the farm run by Terrie Irish, local owner of “Summer in a Jar.” Terrie is in the market every Tuesday and Friday, answering questions, helping people know how to wash and prepare their vegetables, and, of course, cooking and sampling dishes using what is available that day in the share.
  • As Dan Barber says in his currently popular book, “The Third Plate” (a great read, by the way), “There are a lot of farms that raise vegetables, there are a lot of farms that raise meat animals, there are a lot of farms that raise grains, and there are a lot of farms that raise fruit. But there are very, very few farms that raise vegetables, grains, meat animals, and fruit.”  I know why that is the case, it can drive one absolutely crazy, but it is the ultimate demonstration of seeking to establish a fully diversified Agra-ecology.  It is not easy, but it is a challenge to which we’ve committed ourselves, and to which many in our community have committed themselves to supporting.
  • A County official told me the other day that Jubilee Farm is considered an “anchor farm” by the County. I hadn’t thought of that, and maybe it’s true.  But for sure I would say this:  when you buy a Summer Share from us, you are investing your money in the kind of future a lot of us believe in:  a future that includes local, organically-grown food.  You certainly get a good, immediate return on your investment in the form of healthy, locally grown food.  But it’s also an investment that will keep on giving in many ways.

We hope you will join us and invest in your health, in the environment, in our community, and in the health of the earth.

  1. Our on-going Compost project (or, “The latest round in the compost learning curve”).

As most of you know, we have been planning and experimenting for some time with different methods of composting.  Workshare Emeritus Bill (who, in a former life, was an Engineer highly esteemed among his colleagues) and I—lowly farmer that I am, besides becoming good friends, have together worked through many of the ins and outs of composting.  Composting the bedding and manure from our cows isn’t quite as jazzy as a new flour mill, but it is a very important component of the fertility and nutrient plan for our farm.

Cows produce a lot of manure—up to 80 pounds a day of combined manure and urine per each 1,000 pound, “standard” cow.   We estimate that our herd of varied ages equals about 80, 1,000 pound, standard cows.  We store that excrement in our barn for a little over 5 months each year, along with hay that we bed the cows with.  The hay also soaks up, and covers up, all that manure and urine!   We collect it all winter long, continually re-bedding on top of the same pile.

So what does the material—a mixture of bedding straw, manure, and urine—weigh when we let the cows out of the barn in April?   Well, we have a variety of sizes of bovine, some mature, some adolescent, and some small calves.   Converting all those sizes into a total number of “standard” 1,000 pound animals is a bit of an estimate, but we think we hold each year in our barn the equivalent of 110 “standard” 1,000 pound animals.

So except for one other factor—the weight of the bedding which we will consider in a minute—it’s now simply multiplying 80 pounds/animal/day times 110, and then times 150 days (five months).  So it looks like we get 8,800 pounds of manure and urine a day (80 x 110), or 1,320,000 pounds (8,800 x 150) every winter!

But that’s not the whole story.  We use about 50 bales of straw, three times each week to bed the cows.  That’s 150 bales per week.  The bales weigh 65 pounds each, for a total weekly weight of 9,750 pounds.  Figuring there to be 21 weeks in 5 months, our total bedding weight is 204,750 pounds (27 x 9,750).

So the total weight of the whole mess of manure, urine, and bedding when the cows leave the barn is 1,320,000 pounds (manure plus urine) plus 204,750 pounds bedding, or 1,524,750 pounds total.  That is a lot of material.  And all of it has to be moved by one of us, run through a manure spreader to break it up into small pieces, and stacked into piles on top of perforated pipes through which air is forced to allow full microbial breakdown of the material.

Interestingly (for those of us into composting), if we figure the nitrogen content of the manure to be one percent on average, then our 1,320,000 pounds of manure has 13,200 pounds of nitrogen.

If we assume that straw is about 75% carbon, then our 204,750 pounds of bedding contains 153,562 pounds of carbon.  But animal manure also contains about 15% carbon, so from the manure we pick up another 198,000 pounds of carbon.  So the total carbon in the manure and straw mixed in our barn is 351,562 (204,750 + 198,000).

Composting experts tell us that to create quality compost a compost pile needs to have a Carbon/Nitrogen (C/N) ratio between 20:1 and 30:1, with the absolute best being around 25:1.  The ratio of our pile of straw and manure mixed is 351,562 pounds carbon to 13,200 pounds of nitrogen; or 351,562/13,200, which equates to a C/N ratio of 26.1:1.

There is a sense in which I find this absolutely astounding.  How is it that by throwing a bunch of straw and manure together, we come up with almost exactly the C/N that compost gurus say is the optimum for composting?

Well, I don’t think it’s an accident.  But I know for sure I didn’t plan this out in advance (though I’d like to say I did).  There is an explanation, I think, but I will save it for another update.  I hope you all can stand the suspense.  Maybe some of you have explanations?  If so, let me know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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