Sunday, April 8, 2012

Spring Report from the Kettle Bluffs

Dust off the cob webs, do some deep cleansing breathes, fire up the Kettle and let's go!

The winter that never even really happened is already a distant memory. From days of over heating, starting the summer tan and running around in tank tops in late March,
to hoodies, hats and windburn this past week, Spring 2012 has already been a wild ride.
Every thing is in motion at Black Kettle Farm.
The greenhouse is overflowing with gorgeous babies. We've got onions galore; from classic storage, to zesty scallions, crowd pleasing cippolinis, heirloom reds, and new to the crop list.......any guesses???? SHALLOTS. Glorious, glorious greens are also up and at 'em these days. Kale, collards, rainbow chard, tat soi, bok choi, the list of goodness continues into napa cabbage, tons of varieties of lettuce, parsley and another new addition to your summer feasts -
fennel. YUM.

While the greenhouse is an oasis and the perfect place to kick off the experience of being a Black Kettle veggie, the fields are looking just as splendid as we cruise into the growing season. With absolutely unprecedented earliness, the Ford was fired up, the plow tickered with (a new bolt here, smacked with the sledge hammer a few times there and grease all around), prayers and blessings were said and under perfectly clear skies and a real feisty wind, the first field was opened up, signifying that there is really no turning back now. The healthy cover crop of winter rye was flipped right
back into the soil to break down, feed the worms, pump up the good bacteria and create a healthy, happy and nutrient rich piece of ground in which to grow our food.

This time last year, the anxiety was running deep. The stress and trauma of a cold, wet and generally wretched spring making absolutely every thing related to the field way behind schedule, making me wonder if growing vegetables was an option at all, coupled with the stress and trauma of my first Kettle season on the new farm still linger in the collective consciousness. But memories of standing water, mud and gray skies have faded and the reality of a dry field in early April have been the cause of some super fast change o' plans for the Kettle and sections of the field that were untouchable for months last season have just been opened up and activated. A major chunk of the farm was placed in a full season cover crop of soil building oats and clover in 2011 to rest up for veggies to come. The gorgeous sea of green was sown in early summer to flourish in the heat, mowed mid-season to allow for further re-growth and then nibbled and fertilized in the fall by a neighbor friend's flock of Icelandic sheep. All steps making for a dynamic and rich and totally revitalized space to grow the bulk of the Kettle chow this season.
Way ahead of schedule, the majority of this well rested and ready to go field got hit
by the plow this past week, with worms galore it awaits the final touch of the fertility love up, a big shipment of local compost to accentuate all that has been stewing over the last year. After walking by it for a full year and exercising major farmer patience, it is such a thrill to be able use this new field. It is a testament to the slow process of sustainable agriculture and land stewardship. It takes a minute, or a year, but the long term results of building soil ecology and just straight up giving a space a break can never be replicated in a bag of granulated fertilizer.
It feels great to be out and about and in the field so early in the season, but truth be told, I am not the only one who is loving what this weather has to offer. Some major jerk, who I can only assume is a deer, has been topping the garlic plants. This is new to me and further truth that deer will absolutely and no doubt eat anything and every thing and we are just never, ever safe from them. So to go with the theme of things being super early this year, even though there are no other veggies out there, the solar deer fence is up, protecting the garlic and sending a message to vermin that the good times are over, go frolic somewheres else. The fence is helpful, but generally the energetic forcefield is the best method of pest and anything less then good vibes prevention, so fire it up! Bubble over the Kettle garlic.

The deer can surely ski-daddle, but the Kettle friends just keep on comin'! Rock star Assistant Manager and winter time globe trotter Shannon Gilpatrick is about to touch down in the Maine-Land and get right back to it with plenty of tales of southeast asian adventures, from Bali to Bangkok, this chick has had a good run, can't wait to work with her again. Joining the Kettle ranks this year is Apprentice Samantha Rocray, a Lyman native, artist, barista, music lover, and Portland dweller with one season of farming in New England under her belt and ready to take it higher and learn more about every thing from seed to harvest to CSA connections to tractor work. The dream team was been assembled, the hardworking veggie crew, four piglets on the way to land here in early May, the feline force of Steve and Mean Kitty and well, YOU!
Local veggie lovers, farm enthusiasts, small business supporters, and super fabulous souls of this world we need you to make it all happen! CSA members new and old, the Kettle loves you and wants to share the abundance of this already fantastic growing season. If you been a CSA member in the past, RENEW! If you are curious about the BKF CSA, JOIN. CSA will positively impact your life.

19 weeks of gorgeous, fresh produce, mid June through October, $500 with super manageable payment plans, contact the farm for membership details - 207-499-1093,

Spring has sprung! Let the good times, great veggies and klanging Kettles roll!