2015: A Year of Learning, Growth and Rain!
2015 was our first season as Hart|Beet Farm, and we have accomplished much in this past year.
Here are some highlights:
This year (way back in February and March) we tapped 10 maple trees. The collected sap was cooked down over a wood fire in our homemade evaporator, The Sap'nator. We ended up with only a few gallons of syrup, and we sold it all in one day! This winter, we plan to tap 50 trees. You should plan to act fast as we expect to sell out very quickly.
This year we grew over 70 varieties of vegetables and herbs (both annuals and perennials) on roughly 1 acre of ground. We learned a great deal about which varieties we like and what grows well on our farm. We will continue to add new and interesting varieties and expand our perennial production.
We also learned what some of our challenges will be going forward. Pest control will be our biggest issue from the deer that nibble and trod to the tiniest of pests, the flea beetle, that can riddle a beautiful head of pac choi with millions of tiny holes before your eyes. We take the long-term, integrated approach to managing pests which does not include quick fixes such as pesticides, but rather focuses on redirecting wildlife, improving soil quality, encouraging natural predators, and rotating crops.
This season challenged us with extremely heavy rainfall. By our account, the entire month of June was a rainstorm. This made it difficult for us to do much in the field and stunted growth in many early season crops. Alas, this is the nature of farming. The unpredictability of mother nature, coupled with changing global weather patterns, will always keep us on our toes (or knee deep in mud!).
This year we collected many gallons of wild fruits such as black raspberry, gooseberry, blackberry, plum, and persimmon. Many of these were used to make our artisanal jams. In addition, we collected many varieties of wild mushrooms such as morel, chanterelle, chicken-of-the-woods, and oysters. We hope to make these wild edibles more available to customers in the next year.
This fall, we started a beautiful orchard which includes many varieties of apples, pears, plums, figs, and pawpaws. We planted 4 pecan trees and 17 elderberry bushes with more to come in the spring. We are looking forward to the future fruits of our labor.
While our honey bees did not produce enough honey to share this year, we enjoyed their presence among our native pollinators buzzing through the field. Next year we plan to add a second hive and collect a small quantity of honey.
We started selling our products in August at the Cuivre River Farmers Market in Troy, MO. After a few weeks, we realized that we needed to be a part of a market that had more of a focus on food and farming. In October, we joined the Lake St Louis Farmers and Artists Market at The Meadows. We are very pleased with this market and plan to continue selling there next year.
Our greenhouse project was started in April. After heavy rains and other commitments delayed our work, we have (almost!) completed our greenhouse. We will soon be installing the heater and putting on the finishing touches which means we will have a place to properly start our seeds next year.
And don't forget, we are currently accepting members for our Summer 2016 CSA. To learn more and become a member, check out our CSA page.
Thanks to our community for a great year!
Nicki, Beth, Katie, and Daryl