The farm is in full swing now, with the recent rain and heat spurring lots of growth.
The crew accomplished a tremendous amount of weeding this last week, thanks to large groups of workers on Thursday (11 people) and Friday (13 people) – and a flat tire on the tractor that turned the focus away from pulling up tarps (and preparing the ground underneath for planting) and towards more weeding. Julie reports that the entire west and pond fields have been weeded, the back of north field is done, and the asparagus has been unearthed from an overgrown patch that “looked like a pollinator garden”.
This week also saw the beginning of a campaign against the Colorado Potato Beetle. The larva and adults feed on the foliage of potatoes (and other related crops) and can defoliate a planting to a destructive extent if left unchecked. At this point, Julie notes that most potatoes are looking good, though she noted with a laugh that “a few don’t have very bright futures”. At Many Hands, these pesky bugs are managed by knocking the insects into buckets of water, and providing lots of support to the plants in the form of more frequent nutritional sprays to maximize their potential for good health (plants have received three or four foliar feeds, up from their usual once a week feed). Insecticide is not applied. This approach of managing crop health – a focus on good soil health, setting up the conditions for maximum plant health and nutrition, and allowing the health and vigor of the plants to be their best defense against pests and disease – mirrors the approach that Julie takes to her own health. She centers on nutrition, doing work that she believes in, laughing a lot, and surrounding herself with good company as key tactics in building a strong immune system and ensuring continued good health.
Elsewhere in the vegetable fields, the team also planted three beds of brassicas (one bed of cabbage, two of broccoli) and put carrots in a now-spent bed of lettuce. Holes in the collard and kale beds (where some plants didn’t make it) were filled with new transplants.
In staff news, Leo ended his three-and-a-half month sojourn with us and has headed back to France. Julie and the crew saw him off with a celebratory supper on Saturday. Leo has been a helpful, positive-spirited, kind and thoughtful presence on the farm and he will be missed! He came to the farm with an interest in creating a farm on his family land, and is thinking seriously about doing so once he’s home. We also welcomed AJ to the farm this week, who has come to us with a desire to dig in to the important wok of raising good food right now. Welcome, AJ!