Greetings from the Stony Point Center Farm, where winter is not quite here yet!
We continue to enjoy mild weather here at Stony Point Center, which is just fine with all of us. Warm-ish, sunny days keep the spinach and the kale happy in the hoop houses, and the absence of severe overnight frosts make life a lot more enjoyable for chickens and farmers alike. Even though winter has not officially begun, the farm’s “off season” certainly has.
Now that I’m spending less time in the fields, I’ve had the opportunity to catch up on harvest data entry and analysis for this past season. I’m happy to report that in 2015, the Stony Point Center Farm surpassed the “10,000 pounds of food produced” threshold for the first time ever (an increase in production by about 35% compared to last year). This year we grew significantly more lettuce, spinach, carrots, squash, cucumbers, broccoli, and onions than we ever have before. And I’m confident that there is plenty of room for improvement for next year. The farm crew and I have already started creating next year’s production plan, a process I find both fun and challenging. Every year we try to identify a few areas where we feel we can make significant improvements in our production based on the kitchen’s needs while maintaining the perspective that our primary goal is to care for the land and all of the microbiological creatures found within it. In some ways, the whole process is like a puzzle, except it’s impossible to know if there is a clear, solitary answer. In the absence of a single solution, we have the privilege of exercising creative thinking and collaborative problem-solving as a way to constantly strive to improve upon previous years’ practices. Like I said--fun and challenging.
Along with engaging in next year’s production planning, my other favorite off-season activity is going to farm conferences. Last week Matt and I were able to attend the 8th annual Young Farmers Conference at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture (conveniently located just across the Hudson River from Stony Point Center). In addition to meeting other young and beginning farmers from across the United States, we were treated to lectures from experienced farmers on topics ranging from specific agricultural practices to exploring how farms can facilitate social change. Matt attended workshops on a variety of permaculture and agro-ecology techniques and I learned about cover cropping practices, small-scale no-till farming systems, and how to improve record keeping and budgeting among many other things. We both had a great time, and we’re looking forward to figuring out how we can implement what we learned at the conference into our work here.
So as we prepare to welcome winter to Stony Point Center, farming is still very much on our minds even though our work in the fields fades with the fall.
Happy Holidays to all. See you in 2016.