Greentree Naturals Newsletter Winter 2020
There were many times throughout the summer months that we found ourselves sitting on the deck overlooking the gardens with a great sense of contentment. We move through the changing seasons a bit more slowly than we used to but we are happy to be able to follow our passion for growing good certified organic food for ourselves and our community.
There is a natural rhythm to working in the gardens and it all begins with planting seeds in March. Now that we have the big greenhouse fully functional, we have an amazing amount of space to start and grow our seedlings for the farm and for sale. What a gift this has been for us! The greenhouse becomes a retreat from the piles of winter snow when we start seeding. We have two 55 gallon worm bins in the greenhouse that provide us with fertilizer for the seedlings. Growing worms has become an integral part of our farming and has helped us become more sustainable in the process. According to our organic inspector, we are the only certified organic farm utilizing worm composting.
This spring Diane developed a "School Garden Resource Handbook" for educators & garden leaders, with the idea of it becoming a pilot project. This Handbook was distributed to several community gardens in Sandpoint as well as to every school garden. It is really amazing that our little town of twelve thousand people has a garden plot at every schoolyard now! Looking at ways to make it easier for all the volunteers to be able to actively engage with the children at the garden sites, which is what the handbook is all about. The purpose of teaching children about gardening at school is founded on the hope that they will become enthusiastic about growing food and take that enthusiasm home with them to their parents and encourage their parents to grow some of their own food.
We celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary this year! How great is that?! We celebrated by taking a trip to the coast of Oregon. We took the train to Portland, which was delightful other than departure being late night and return arrival at 2:30a.m. We rented a car in Portland and drove to a lovely little AirB&B halfway between Seaside and Astoria. The weather was pretty darned good for early December on the Oregon coast! We took our raingear but were happy to not have to use it. We enjoyed daily seafood and long walks on the beach. This was the first real vacation we have taken in 12+ years and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
Thom celebrated his 70th birthday last February. He continues to be the workhorse on the farm and together, we manage to keep things growing and looking pretty good for weekly farm walks. Thom never ceases to amaze me with his strength and ability to do all that he does. I love this life we've created!
This was the first time in 28 years that I didn't sell at the farmers market. I definitely don't miss having to pack up the van, drive into town, unload at market, set it up, sell for four hours, tear it down, pack it up, take it home and unload again! The Farm Stand has taken the place of that and is so much easier and equally lucrative. We still have weekly deliveries in town to our wholesale and retail customers one day a week. Our Farm Stand is only open on Thursday from 3 to 5:30. During Farm Stand hours, we invite visitors to have a walk-about in the gardens. I encourage folks to take a closer look at where their food comes from and those that do become loyal customers. It's been a huge success and we are most grateful to have the community support. I wasn't sure what the transition from the farmers market would be like, but it has proven to be pretty wonderful. We are getting to know neighbors and enjoying spending more time on the farm. We keep walkie-talkies so if I run out of something, I can call Thom to bring it to the Farm Stand. People love getting corn that was just picked! It doesn't get any fresher!
We hosted 26 honey bee hives here this year, which increased pollination and yields of most of our crops. With an average of 20,000 bees per hive, this is a LOT of bees buzzing around! Diane has been working with a Washington State University professor to develop an on-farm research project to take a closer look at how the honey bee population might have an effect on the native bee populations. We are hopeful of the project getting funding for graduate students to come here and do the research.
Thom's sister Jo passed away in June. He had a whirlwind trip to Michigan and got to see lots of family he hadn't seen in years. Since we were at the peak of the planting season on the farm, he didn't spend much time there.
Diane received an award from University of Idaho for "Outstanding Farmer Leader", which was a nice surprise presented at a conference last March. It is nice to be shown appreciation and acknowledgement from my peers. Teaching and mentoring future farmers and home gardeners is a passion and I am grateful to have the opportunity to share.
We continue to provide a place for on-farm research for university graduate students. This summer we had entomology scholars from Iran and Africa collecting insect samples. We provide a unique ecosystem as one of the oldest certified organic farms in the region. We always learn so much from these research projects and really enjoy having diversity on the farm!
We wish you a heart filled with love and gratitude, good health, a joyful journey, and all good things in the New Year!