Greentree Naturals Newsletter Winter 2019
Writing this annual "newsletter" provides a good time for reflecting back on past months. We consider ourselves most fortunate to have had this opportunity in life to follow our dreams side by side. Our farms success comes from both of us giving our best each and every day, and loving what we are doing. There are always more things to do than there are daylight hours, yet we persevere and manage to do what needs to be done to keep the farm a thriving enterprise. We are a good team and I am forever grateful we found each other 31 years ago!
This spring, Thom and our good friend Dave built a pole shed that became our permanent structure for our Farm Stand. The neighborhood showed their support and enthusiasm for being able to shop right here on the farm. We are only open one day a week during the peak of the harvest season. On Thursdays at 3pm, the cars start rolling in! We have walkie-talkies, so if I run out of anything, I can call Thom and he will harvest it fresh and bring it out to the Farm Stand. Customers love that! By the end of the summer, it was becoming a community event, neighbors meeting neighbors for the first time, which is exactly what we hoped would happen!
After so many years of selling at the farmers market, the Farm Stand has been a welcome change; so much so that I have officially "retired" from the farmers market after 28 years of selling there! I will not miss the weekly packing up the van, unloading, setting up at market, tearing down, loading up again, only to unload upon return to the farm. We still have to move produce around, but much less labor intensive to keep it right here on the farm! We will continue growing produce for our Farm Stand, CSA's, restaurants and the local natural foods store. I haven't had Saturdays free during the summertime in 28 years. Of course, I immediately have utilized Saturdays for on-farm workshops every other week.
To keep with the entrepreneurial spirit of the farm, we entered into a contract agreement to grow an assortment of open pollinated seeds for a Snake River Seed Cooperative out of Boise. This year, we provided seed for an heirloom, cold hardy melon and two varieties of sweet peppers. Next year we will include beets, broccoli, cabbage, kale, and snow peas in addition to repeating the crops we provided for them this year. We've been seed savers for ourselves forever, but this is quite a bit different in that we have to have a minimum of 30 plants per variety for genetic diversity. We love everything about saving seeds, plus it's a new income opportunity for us! Growing a perennial crop for seed is a bit of a quandary as it really depends on what the winter weather is like. If we get a deep freeze without snow, we may lose the seed crop, and at this point and time, all we can do is wait and see what springtime brings for success overwintering those crops.
>Another new thing for us is we hosted 36 honey bee hives for a bee keeper in exchange for a case of fresh honey this summer. This brought some 600,000 honey bees to the farm, which improved pollination with all of our crops. The bee hives get relocated to California Almond orchards in winter and will return to us in the spring. This seems like a win/win agreement! We are a little concerned about the unknown effect of that many honey bees on our native bee populations, and are currently looking for a research partner with graduate or undergraduate students at UI or WSU to investigate further. A University of Idaho graduate student had a research project here on the farm this summer assessing soil fertility inputs and how they influence yields of carrots and beets. This will be repeated in 2019 and is funded through the Organic Farming Research Foundation. We love the enthusiasm that comes with university students! *You can read all about this project on our On-Farm Research page!
I finished a three year contract working with Rural Roots and University of Idaho and look forward to seeing my work become a university publication. I taught assorted sustainable agriculture workshops for UI on-line and in-person, our summertime organic gardening series, and assorted workshops to local and regional garden clubs. We hosted several farm tours and had many visitors come through the gardens this summer.
We wish you a heart filled with love and gratitude, good health, a joyful journey, and all good things in the New Year!