no. 41: year 1 in review!

Some of you already know that we are away from the farm for a 6-week break, a chance to spend time with family and friends all around the northeast, including a return to the farm in Poughkeepsie and a bit of time in Boston, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and eventually Philadelphia. I had looked forward to sitting down early on and reviewing Hexagon’s first year, but with all of the moving about it has not happened until now, December 31, a perfectly appropriate date to look back on the year.

Here is a look at the current state of the farm:

  • We have occupied the farm/property since the end of November, 2017.

  • We finished our market season on October 27. Neither of us arrived with any market experience, but we enjoyed the experience and exceeded our goals re: sales and customer interactions. We will be at the Midtown Farmers Market again in 2019.

  • Work is currently underway in the creation of a cooperative CSA-type plan serving the Menomonie area and Twin Cities. We are excited to supply produce and work through the first CSA season in 2019!

  • In terms of acreage we are still very small, but are expanding the growing area with very minimal powered equipment usage. We learned much in 2018 about market-scale companion planting and effective bed preparation.

Oh! The farmers are also now married, as of July.

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  • Our intended creation of studio spaces and guest living space has not begun, but we hope to move forward with this in 2019. It was immensely helpful this first year to get a sense of the labor required to simply keep the fields and property in decent shape! This required much of our time, energy, and attention over the past 12 months.

  • We continue to work toward resilience on the farm and throughout the farmstead, including heating with wood harvested on the farm, managing grass/producing hay and straw with a scythe, mulching everywhere, and establishing perennial food and energy crops.

The extended time away from Wisconsin has been restful and full of warm gatherings, and it has me quite energized for our return and the time to get back into it all. Here are a few more highlights of 2018 as I contemplate the season and review photos:

  • A greenhouse was built during the very snowy and cold winter/spring. We learned a lot from the initial structure and will be finishing the greenhouse rebuild shortly after returning to the farm

  • Spring snow and cold was quite the patience-tester: we seeded trays in the house, hauled seedlings to and from the house daily, and were on constant alert whenever snow was falling, given the weakness of our greenhouse structure.

  • The alpaca/sheep/goose shed was converted to our wash/pack/storage space, involving much forking of manure and bedding and plenty of deep cleaning. We received much valuable help in this from Nick’s parents, including construction of an 8x8 cooler in the shed.

  • We learned more and more about the farm over the course of the year, including the layout and condition of the well system and electrical supply. Knowing almost nothing about wells made this especially entertaining.

  • Our growing system was slowly refined, and we felt good about our careful method of caring for important crops like tomatoes and cucumbers, which we were very proud of at market.

That is all for this year. Happy New Year!

And thanks for reading.

Expect more updates once we return and get back to work in mid-January!

-ppppp