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Greentree Naturals Newsletter Winter 2016

We celebrated Winter Solstice with great enthusiasm as it marks the beginning of the winter season and the time of year that we can have more relaxed days. We both endeavor to enjoy this down time to appreciate the peace and quiet of long winter nights and having the freedom to take zero days as we wish. If you read our Fall 2015 Newsletter, I talk about our new dedication to resting up and doing less whenever the opportunity allows by celebrating zero days of rest and relaxation. We enjoyed our five days at the hot springs, which has now become our tradition for the end of the season, and are planning on a return trip before the planting season gets going this spring.

Of course, there is plenty to do here on the farm, no matter what the season is. The continued construction on the big greenhouse has been a steady process and mostly a project that Thom is working on his own. Getting the subterranean heating and cooling system in was a major undertaking, and now set in place, we are working on battening down the hatches (so to speak) to make the system more functional. Circulating the natural warmth of the earth's temperature ten foot down seems to be enough to keep the snow sliding off of the greenhouse structure, which is a great benefit. It's not warm enough for seedlings to grow, however, so he is installing a wood stove for heat back up to use later when we start our seedling production. Thom is working on getting the electrical wiring done so he can hard wire the germination and growing chambers into place. As soon as the ground is unfrozen, we will move forward with getting the water system going. One step at a time, and every step is so exciting!

I look forward to having a new growing space to start seedlings in this spring. We typically start all of our seedlings in a 14'x14' greenhouse that is attached to the house. This has been perfect for getting the seedlings growing, but somewhat limiting to what I can grow for the small space. Over the years, I have adapted to how to best utilize timing and space to grow seedlings to a certain size, then move them out to a hoop house early in the season to grow up into the next size pot before hardening them off and moving them out into the gardens for transplanting into the ground. Adaptability is the key here, and while it has worked well, it takes more time moving plants around again and again. I am really looking forward to being able to seed and grow vegetable starts up to a proper size without having to keep moving them from place to place due to limitations of growing space. By the time we can't do this anymore, we will have a well set up farming situation ready for the next generation to come in and take over. Seeding will begin the middle of March.

Our seeds for the 2016 growing season arrived this week, so to add to the list of things to do, I will start working on a seeding calendar and scheduling meetings with our wholesale and retail markets to determine needs for the growing season. We make every effort to know who is going to be buying our vegetables before we plant, which is the closest thing we can manage for a secure market place. It takes a bit of planning to make this a successful small farm enterprise. We are grateful to have a dedicated group of local eaters/supporters for our continued CSA program, and fine dining establishments that like to include us on their menu along with the local natural foods store, who have been Greentree Naturals buyers since they opened back in 1997.

My winter work is keeping me busy with the first year of a three year contract working with University of Idaho small farms program developing, presenting, and facilitating a series of all day workshops titled "Starting Your Sustainable Idaho Small Farm". This is a collaborative effort across the state working with UI Extension and Rural Roots, two of my favorite Idaho organizations. It has been quite an undertaking as it is being presented in 8 locations via webinar, which means a lot of coordinating with different time zones and agendas. We have 170 students signed up across the state, with 26 registered here in Sandpoint.  

Technology has become an integral piece of doing work with the university; conference calls now are all video, so gone are the days of pj's and uncombed hair for a phone call. It cracks me up every time we have a video conference call to find myself primping and putting on lipstick in preparation. These workshops include presenters from across the state on live webinars. When the technology is working, it's an excellent way to collaborate with agencies and farmers from a multitude of locations. When the technology is not working due to internet disruption or a glitch in the signal, it's not so great. Sandpoint is a rural location with lots of trees, wind, snow, and different things that can easily disrupt the internet connection. Personally, I'd prefer having workshops with people in person, right in the room and not have so much technology involved. Thankfully, I have plenty of amazing team members who know what they are doing to help make things go more smoothly.

If you want to keep up with what's happening on the farm, visit us on facebook! There is a link to Greentree Naturals facebook page on our website . Good health to you!

Thom and the Big Greenhouse


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