This is the sixth spring that I have depended on the fact that pushing a seed into the earth will yield me food later. Each year I decide to step outside and sow the hard work required to grow vegetables in the coming year. Although much work has already been done before February 15th in the form of making garden beds and compost, spreading the latter, cover cropping, and amending the soil–that always feels like the date that tests me. It’s the day I have to go out in the bleak of winter and have the faith that if I work hard, food will grow. Even in year six, it’s always so hard to believe–for the formerly fat lady who was told that food came from the grocery store, not from the ground. But… I go out anyway. I stepped out on February 15th 2016 and pushed five rows of peas under snow covered ground.
Snow peas in the kitchen garden 2/15/2016
Even though it is totally not worth the time, I start checking on them on February 16th, every day. Then March 1 comes and it’s time to put a ton more energy and time into sowing the carrots, spinach, other greens and to start a second round of seedlings…. even though the peas haven’t popped yet. By early March–I’m always having this intense back and forth inner monologue between total faith they will burst through the surface and certain doom that my plants will never, ever, ever, ever grow.
It was just so hard to wrap my mind around at first–not just all of the many garden skills I needed to learn, but also just plain ol’ getting connected to where my food came from. What it looked like in its rawest form, where it lived and how it was grown or raised. All the work that was required to get it on my plate… from seed to storage and everything in between. What it means to be the one to grow it. To take on growing it if I can. To know what I should be willing to pay a more experienced organic farmer than I to buy it, if I can’t. (Thanks Pitch Pine Farm for all the delicious cabbage last year, it was so great I should have also given you a tip!! historically, I still don’t grow it well. And that’s okay, seeing yours lets me know I will one day!!)
Then, last week–just like my heart knew they would… them peas popped up, strong, green, and with the promise of spring.
kitchen a frame lasagna bed 3/8/2016
For the sixth year, I stood there in total amazement as I looked around and realized that almost every seed I sowed out in my new zone one kitchen gardens was now a baby plant. I was surrounded! In a good way! Bright green wee little plants danced in the warm air we experienced this week, full of promise. Promise of spring salads, the freezer getting filled with new cooking greens, and the awesome new apprentices can start to incorporate a whole new selection of veggies into their delicious curries soon.
kitchen lasagna bed 3/12/2016
So many folks reach out to us and ask where to start with a garden…or ask, aren’t we going to have a class on that?! Maybe one day when we have way more experience–but for now I only have two options for ‘em…. come out and volunteer for vegetables and we are happy to let them pick our brains while they sow some seeds. Or…I tell ‘em they can do like we did–go stick a nonGMO squash seed in some no spray soil and just see what happens. Sure, there ends up being a lot more to it than that–but for us, that was a great place to start and is exactly what we did six springs ago. Every year you dig a little deeper and learn a little more…. but that is always right where is starts. Seed, meet soil. Farmer, add water, care and a hopeful heart. You’ll both grow, I can promise you that.
the seeds seem to love my spiral straw bale kitchen garden beds, they all blew up this week! 3/14/2016
My friends, in this farmer’s humble opinion, we are in for a tumultuous and incredibly tense time ahead between now and November. In my awesome home state of North Carolina–I expect that will really ramp up today as we step in to cast our ballots for what we believe in (well, except for those of us who were so busy farming they thought they had to do it already last week or would run out of time to). I already made my choice last week, so I won’t have to vote for anything else but vegetables for the next six months. Obviously–I participate where need be, but prefer plant talk to political speak. However, my hopeful heart feels the weight of what might be to come with our people–I worry we will forget ourselves, go up against each other and hurt one another.
But, I tell you what I’ve never cussed someone out over… and that’s carrots. I’ve never had the inclination to slap someone over how they sowed spinach. In fact, coming together over helping each other get better at growing cabbage or figuring out how to ferment it seems to have the opposite effect in my experience! It don’t matter what side of the row you are on when you are working in the garden–you just dig it… together. At least on our farm, the garden seems to be a place where community can be created and connections between folks can grow. That’s the real power of them peas–is making their people grow into better, more connected, capable, community minded humans. And for this farmer, that’s what I want to focus on. Creating a space, for that to take place. Being an example of what can happen to your body and your self care when you choose to grow more of your own food. And holding hope in my heart that it inspires some more folks in my community to sow some seeds of their own, and see what will grow. So…
Beginning in a mere four days–nineteen amazing folks from Transylvania County and two rockstar permaculture experiential educators will be out here every other weekend until June. Patricia Allison (Medicine Wheel Collective at Earthaven Eco-Village) and Matthew Kip (The Foraging Family) with special guest natural building teacher Kelley Adair (Natural by Design) will be increasing our skill sets as they teach the nineteen of us how to create and implement a permaculture design that maximizes the output, capability, and impact of this 9.87 acres that makes up Eight Owls Farmstead. We are doing it so that we can provide more and easier to manage with just us two organically grown education, experiences, products and food. The Forager and I have spent the last three and a half years doing the dirty work and heavy lifting–tearing down the broken pieces of this foreclosure turned farm, clearing the land and building the soil we would need to grow many a vegetable. We did it because we want to make a difference in our own lives and community a lot more than we wanted to make a dollar, although granted–hopefully selling some produce this year will do a little of the latter too! I simply cannot wait to see what grows in our nest in 2016. We sure hope you are excited to see what grows too, and give us a hoot to come out, visit for awhile and talk vegetables.
If you haven’t been to the farm in awhile, or have never been at all–give us a call! (828-884-OWLS) We reopened on March 1st and do homestead tours on a donation basis (5/per person suggested donation) on Friday mornings and Saturday afternoons (You do have to have an appointment to visit the farm! Unauthorized visitors will be fed to the herding pup!) If Panther Mountain feels too far out or too steep for you to scale, never fear–we will traverse the 8.8 miles down 64 to get to the Transylvania Farmers Market and will come to you every other weekend starting in late April. We sure would love to see you there.