Making progress. The site has been leveled and forms put into place to pour a concrete foundation. Our trusty farm truck has hauled big loads of construction materials. The base and 4 walls for the walk-in cooler have been constructed and await assembling on the concrete foundation when it is complete.
This was our first experiment in dry (non-irrigated) farming. And what a test it was! This was one of the driest summers in recorded history, with a total of 0.7″ inch of rain-fall July through September. Yet a single 100′ row produced 150 lbs of winter squash! The key, I expect, was that we had one of the wettest Junes in history, creating a reserve of soil moisture that lasted all summer.
Our request to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, for a Local Food System Infrastructure Grant in the amount of $26,416.00 was awarded in full. This will allow us to upgrade our vegetable wash station and install a walk-in cooler for food storage.
In northern (or southern) latitudes, vegetable growth virtually ceases when day-length becomes less than ten hours. Days are shorter than ten hours for at least a few days any place on the globe above latitude 30 or below latitude -30. This includes almost all the United States except the most southern parts of Texas, Louisiana and Florida. The calendar months during which there are fewer than ten hours between sunrise and sunset have been dubbed the “Persephone period” by Eliot Coleman. Although plants grow little during the Persephone period, mature plants may remain healthy. Thus, winter harvest of many salad greens is possible if they are planted in Fall, allowing enough time for them to reach maturity before the beginning of Persephone.
Johnny’s Select Seeds has published a chart that helps chose, depending on the date at which Persephone begins at your latitude, the best Fall planting date for various salad greens to allow winter harvest. However, the chart is awkward to use. Based on this chart, I have created a free database that automatically calculates the best Fall planting dates for your location. To use it, sign up for a free Airtable account here. Once you have signed up, download a copy of the Fall Planting for Winter Harvest to your Airtable account here.
Fresh vegetables are now available from High & Dry Farm’s new farmstand. Vegetables should be pre-ordered, with payment by credit card here, and then picked up the following day at our farmstand at
32814 120th St. SE, Sultan, WA 98294
Maintaining organic certification requires keeping complete, extensive and detailed records about all aspects of farm work, and requires keeping copies of receipts for all purchases of seeds, fertilizers, etc. Even market gardeners that do not seek organic certification must maintain extensive records to be compliant with food safety laws as codified in the FSMA. As I am an intrinsically disorganized person, I have created a relational database to facilitate keeping and maintaining the required records. The database is now on its third iteration of improvement. The beauty of the database is that it runs in the cloud on Airtable, which allows access by smartphone from the field, as well as via web browser from a laptop or desktop computer.
Annual recertification of an organic farm requires an inspection that typically takes two to three hours, with most of this time devoted to auditing farm records. During High & Dry Farm’s most recent certification inspection, Airtable allowed me to power through the audit, which was completed within one hour, with no significant issues reported.
We am now making this database system, Organic Farmer 3.0, available to farmers completely without charge. Sign up for a free Airtable account here. Once you have signed up, download a copy of the Organic Farmer 3.0 database to your Airtable account here. Detailed instructions for use of Organic Farmer 3.0 can be found here.
I can’t decide whether foraging food or growing food is more satisfying. Our horse pastures sprout meadow mushrooms this time of year, and this year the crop has been huuuuuuge.
A few of these will become a side-dish for steak tonight. The rest go into our dehydrator.