What a wild ride so far this spring. If I could distill all of my big and small decisions from a farm season more and more I would find all I think about is weather. Its always been the great unknowable for any farmer but for the past few seasons, especially in the spring, mother nature has gone manic. So much of running a farm relies on general predictability. It takes a lettuce seed 5-7 days to germinate and another 3-4 weeks in the greenhouse before we can plant it out and another 45-50 days in the field before we can harvest it as a full head. If the lettuce stopped following these dates or stopped and started growing erratically we would have a very hard time keeping salad greens in your share week after week.
Spring has always been the most erratic season. The sun gets higher and the days get longer, slowly pushing the cold out of the ground and allowing the air above to stay warm even when the sun goes down. This process of warming the greatest insulator (the soil) is a battle and all of that warm and cold energy mixes into volatile expression of wind and air pressure, pulling in weather from Canada one day and Alabama the next. Our snowstorm this past week is a perfect example. The crew was in t-shirts on Monday and we all huddled in the greenhouse on Tuesday watching the snow pile on in disbelief.
Luckily we have a really great crew this year. Kristin and Corrine have returned and with their experience here are hitting the ground running. We have two top-notch apprentices, Hannah and Virginia, and hourly staff including Anne who has been with us for a several weeks already and Emma due to start next week. With a team like this we can do anything!
The biggest change for us in the past six months has been the absence of our sheep. Selling the flock has given us more time for family and a quieter winter. But we miss them. The barns are quiet (parked tractors do not bleat and require no daily care). We also miss seeing our friend and partner in the sheep business Tom Settlemire. We moved Tom’s flock to this farm back in 2005 and began ten years together raising healthy, happy lambs on the farm’s pastures. Tom mentored me in the process of raising animals and shared a lifetime of knowledge along with his daily good cheer and enthusiasm for everything agricultural. He just returned from some snowbird travel out west and we hope we get to see him even when there isn’t work to do (or better yet, create some work for him to do).
We have been busy the past month partnering with many local food producers to bring a smorgasbord of possible farm share add-ons. In addition to organic eggs and Maine mushrooms we also have artisan bread from Standard Baking in Portland, organic yogurt from Wholesome Homestead in Winthrop, Maine. We are still working on a cheese share which we hope to have ready for sign-up next week. All of these Maine products are, in our opinion, outstanding and they pair up with our produce to make summer meals even more of a celebration. For more info on these add-on shares and to sign up follow this link.
Let the Sun Shine
In the next month we hope to break ground on our next big step in farm sustainability. The front pasture will soon hold enough solar panels to meet close to 100% of the farm’s electrical need. We have been working on this effort since last summer along with a group of committed friends of the farm. Our solar array will be a net-metering solar farm, producing energy every time the sun shines and dumping that power back on the grid, producing a credit against our electric bill. We were able to make this work using the economy of scale, teaming up with several other Brunswick residents and building solar array that is large enough to support the power needs of not just the farm but seven other households. Our part of the investment in the array will be paid for over the next 10-12 years and was made possible through some creative financing and generous donations. Soon the sun will not only grown your produce but help keep it cool by pumping water to our washing station and running our coolers!
Crystal Spring Farm Camp has a few spaces available for all sessions! If you know any interested families please send them our way!
Kids get their hands in the dirt and participate in many stages of growing vegetables and caring for farm animals. We also play games, cook, create art, and explore the trails and woods. See the farm camp webpage for more info.