We are past the winter solstice. As the days grow longer the growth of the young arugula, spinach and lettuce in High & Dry Farm’s hoop houses speeds up. Spring is still far off, but we can dream.
This year we have harvested at least 5 pounds of delicious wild field mushrooms (Agaricus tempestris).
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 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.
When High and Dry Farm recently received its initial inspection for organic certification, the inspector was blown away by the power of this system. A standard part of such inspections is for the inspector to point to a recent sale of a farm product, and demand that the farmer show records demonstrating that the product in question was indeed grown on the farm and was grown using organic methods. The inspector pointed to a sale of 10 lbs of fennel. Using the data base, within 60 seconds, I was able to show that the fennel in question was planted in the greenhouse, on a specific date, using seeds purchased on a specific date from Johnny’s Seeds, and the database provided an image of the seed package and of the purchase receipt. I showed records indicating that the plants were transplanted into Bed D of plot #2 on a specific date and harvested on a specific date, and I showed records indicating that the bed in question had been amended on a specific date with organic fertilizers, showing images of the receipts for the fertilizer purchases.
We am now making this database system, Organic Farmer 2.0, 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 2.0 database to your Airtable account here. Detailed instructions for use of Organic Farmer 2.0 can be found here.
After it’s summer crop of tomatoes and peppers, the new hoophouse has been seeded for its winter crop of carrots, spinach, and hakurei turnips. This winter crop is always risky business because germination takes weeks and nothing really grows significantly until day length increases to 10 hours, which happens in the middle of February.
One of our farm’s biggest sellers, to restaurants and at the Farmer’s Market, is salad mix.
The new hoop house is complete, and it survived the weight of 2′ of wet snow without damage. Although the weather continues to be exceptionally cold (Feb. temperatures have averaged 10 degrees below normal below normal) we have begun transplanting lettuce and hakurei turnip plants. These should be ready for harvest in late April, to be replaced by pepper, eggplant, and tomato plants.
We have a new logo. Whaddaya think?
This year I will be selling hops for the first time. Over the next several weeks I will be supplying green hops to the Snotown Brewery. Pictured is the Kent Golding variety, usually the first hop flower to mature. Technically, the Golding variety can be called “Kent Golding” if it is grown in Kent, but hey, Kent, Washington is just 40 miles a way. Fun fact, Kent, Washington was so-named because it was a major hop-growing area from 1870-1891.