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Happy sloppy snow day from East Henderson Farm!

Posted 3/5/2018 12:19pm by Joshua Reinitz.

Howdy!  We wanted to say thanks for joining our farm last year, and give you an update on how our current farming season is progressing (yes, we are already farming!).  School is cancelled today, its simply nasty windy outside, but the CSA work has already begun.  

We really appreciate your membership last year, and want to encourage you to join soon if you intend to do so, as we have scaled back a bit this year to develop some other farm enterprises and aren't able to take as many CSA memberships.  And if this isn't the right year for you to join the farm, we wanted to let you know how we are doing and thank you again for your support!!!  We appreciate your support and interest in a different and more sustainable food system.  The link to renew for 2018 is http://www.easthendersonfarm.com/members/types

First of all, it is now the beginning of maple syrup season.  We've tapped about 1/2 of our trees, and I plan on going out this afternoon during the snow to do some more.  We purchased a new evaporator stove this year and are excited to put it to use.  We are expecting a good syrup year, as we have good snow cover that insulated the ground from warming up too fast, and the snow supplies the trees with the moisture needed to make sap.  Here's hoping for many gallons of good syrup!

Next is the seed ordering and greenhouse work.  We have put many hours into spreadsheets and seed catalogs in the past few weeks and have ordered our first seeds that will be started soon in the greenhouse.  We generally get the greenhouse ready to plant by March 10, when we need to start onions and leeks, herbs, and a few early Brassicas (like Kale and Brussels Sprouts).  I expect to start the first plants this weekend.  it begins!!

I am making a trip to Wisconsin on Wednesday to pick up our organic potting soil directly from the source (an organic dairy farm where they turn the manure into compost to start plants).  I am going with my neighbor Dan, who is starting a CSA farm this year right across the road from us!!  I am looking forward to building community with them, sharing resources and farming tips, and helping each other out.   We each need 2 tons of potting soil, so we are carpooling and sharing fuel to make it happen.  

Some of you may know I recently took part in a delegation to Oaxaca, Mexico.  I went with 13 Midwestern organic farmers and food business owners to learn about rural communities and agricultural systems of Oaxaca, and learn about how to change federal policy in the US to be more fair to Latin America.  This trip was a partnership between two amazing non-profits, the Land Stewardship Project, and Witness for Peace.  It was a completely transformative experience, both personally and professionally.  It has motivated me even more to help change our farming systems and federal policy in America to be more sustainable and equitable to all people and all life in Nature.  

One major takeaway from our trip to Mexico was growing in polyculture, rather than monoculture.  Our natural world does not operate by growing one thing in one place.  Every natural system requires diversity to be resilient, and different plant complement each other and help feed each other.  the fertility comes from decaying plants, nitrogen-fixing legumes, along with animal manures.  Modern agriculture does not do this, it plants one field of one thing and bring in synthetic fertilizers produced with fossil fuels.  This can't be the future of humanity because it is not sustainable long-term, and its primary goal is profit, not healthy food.

Every farming village we went to in Mexico implemented a system called Milpa.  This is the practice of growing corn, beans, and squash together in polyculture.  The corn stalks provide the trellis for the beans to climb.  The beans fix nitrogen into the soil to fertilize the corn.  The squash plants vine out with their wide leaves and cover the ground to suppress weeds.  All of these crops yield a complete diet - corn, beans, squash.  And it is all organic.  You might recognize this as what our indigenous Americans called the "three sisters".  These crops and this practice had its origins in Mexico and Central America and migrated up to our lands through the trading routes of our indigenous people.  Amazing.

Seeing this practice in person, along with knowing it is how agriculture was done in the Midwest prior to European settlement, has inspired me to try it this year.  I will be testing plots of corn, beans, and squash grown together in our fields.  I have selected some popcorn and miling corn varieties, dry bean varieties, and winter squash for this.  The corn and dry beans aren't things we've offered in our CSA, but I want to start.  

Well, that's what your CSA farmers have been up to!  Please consider signing up soon if you intend to do so, even if you can't pay right away.  We have introduced a sliding scale fee system this year, and anything you can pay within the range is good by us.  And please call me at (612) 756-3971 if you have questions, want to talk farming, or just say hi!  

take care, and thanks again!!!

Josh Reinitz

East Henderson Farm LLC

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