pot-lucks again!!!!

Hello Everyone!

(if you are skimming - my summary is that there are 2 schedules in this email - 1. pot-lucks, and 2. Farm-labor-share work days. 2 events: this friday and saturday)

Self-introduction

My name is Luciano Garofalo (I go by Looch) and the Lady of the Onions pictured below is Emily Boston. We recently moved here from Tacoma, WA, to work at Mustard Seed, learn more about food, and build community with the wonderful folks here! We had previously been working in L'Arche (www.larchethc.org), an intentional community for adults with and without developmental disabilities. I lived in and managed one of our four homes, and Emily worked on our community's organic farm.

Workday, Potluck

This Saturday, I went out and planted a good portion of this year's onions with two of our new workers, Looch and Emily, spreading compost over the tilled ground, incorporating it and shaping the beds, then planting the onion starts with 1/3 cup of water each. Our farm's been busy with a lot of other things, including pruning our grapes and raspberries, planting oat-pea mix for our soil-rejuventation phase of our rotation, and planting peas, starting seeds of our hot-season crops, and several other things I am not able to remember. At this point, the weather's warm enough that there's a lot of work that can be done, and the sooner we get stuff put in, the sooner we'll start harvesting.

Potluck this Friday: Food Policy
Friday, April 15, we'll be having our April potluck, from 6-8 PM
The location will be at 804 Douglas Ave, Ames, IA, 50010, hosted by Donna Pritzingas.
Potluck dinner will start at 6, and then our discussion at 7 will be lead by John Dean, of the Iowa Food Systems Council.
John Dean looks forward to demonstrating why small and unique farms should care about food policy! The Iowa Food Systems Council's primary objective is to nurture a strong food system throughout Iowa. The IFSC is highly involved in helping to create small councils and organizations, and providing resources to help strengthen all of these smaller connections. The potlucks are open to the public, so invite a friend!

Upcoming Workdays
Saturday, April 16:
This Saturday, the day after our potluck, we'll have a public workday on the farm from 1-5 PM. We'll probably be planting much of our broccoli family, our potatoes, and the rest of our onions. This will hopefully get a good start on finishing up our spring plantings.

Friday, April 22:
As part of their Earth Week celebration, the Wheatsfield Cooperative will be organizing a workday at our farm from 3-5PM. We'll be planting much of our greens: Arugula, mustard, chard, lettuce, as well as peas. Meet at 2:45 PM in the Wheatsfield parking lot (413 Northwestern Ave, Ames, IA, 50010) to be sure to catch the carpool.

Saturday, April 23
Meet at the farm, again from 1-5 PM. Again, we'll be planting arugula, mustard, chard, lettuce, peas, depending on what we didn't finish the day before. We'll also be planting any potatoes we haven't planted yet , and preparing beds for our warm-season crops.

Community Gardening

I've been thinking a lot about community gardening lately. This Saturday, we'll be part of a potluck and event to promote community gardening in Ames, get people involved in deciding how they want gardens to progress in Ames, and also have a seed swap to get people some seeds to start gardening. I've been interested in community gardens for a while, and have recently been thinking about our farm's relation to the idea of community gardening, since we'll be at the event to talk about our farm and meet with other people involved in community food production in Ames.

Bee disease?

So we've starting feeding both hives with syrup, in order to get them all ready to start harvesting honey. However, in feeding of them, and in expanding their openings a bit more, we've noticed some problems with the hive that was more productive last year. There's this black tar-like substance (Update: probably bee feces) on all of the wood and also in the combs, and the bees have done a very poor job of cleaning their hive: there were hundreds of dead bees left on the bottom that should have been removed from the hive. I'm hoping that both of these things were just because the bottom door was too small, or it was too cold for the bees to clean the hive, and now they should be able to clean themselves out. However, it could be a bacterial disease, which will likely kill the hive. We'll see what happens, and will be talking to our local apiarists.

Update: it appears it's nosema or some other type of dysentary. I'll still check with some kind of expert to confirm and for advice on what to do, but i don't think it's as bad as if we had foulbrood, as it's something of a common thing to happen when you don't have enough ventilation in a hive during the winter or it's too cold for the bees to defecate outside.

Potluck, workday, CSA shares

This Friday, March 18th, we'll have a potluck from 6 to 7 PM at the house of Tom Heather and Heather Brumm, at 2218 Donald St. From 7 to 8, Shari Reilly will facilitate a discussion about Benedictine spirituality and ethics, and how they relate to the environment.
Come to share good food, thoughts, and community!

The day after that, Saturday, March 19, we'll have a workday from 1 to 5 PM on the farm. We'll be preparing beds for the coming season, cleaning up our greenhouse, propagating elderberry, and more!

Finally, we're still looking for some people to buy CSA shares. Please talk to your friends and neighbors about getting a great deal on fresh veggies while helping feed people at Food at First, the Emergency Residence Project, Beyond Welfare and the many other places we donate our food. Contact Alice, 515-460-1467 or Shari, shari@staparish.net or 515-509-6851 with suggestions for new share members.

Read below for some updates on seed starting!

Spring cover crop status


Above is two parts of our farm, about two weeks ago. On the upper left, starting from the left, there's dead pepepr plant held up by white poles, followed by cover crops planted late last summer: Oats, which winter-killed, rye, which is still alive, and mustard greens, which also winter killed. On the far right and left of the photo, and in much of the left of the second photo( the rest is also dead mustard), you see soil that is largely bare. There, we planted rye as well, but planted it later, and it didn't get any rain, and so didn't germinate. We're now seeing a bit of growth, but definitely not as much as we'd like for carbon input to the soil and erosion and weed control.

Spring: Bees Alive!

On the left is when Chantal and I put the bees in the hive last spring, and the right is a picture I took a few Thursdays ago, when it was about 60F out, and the bees were flying around cleaning their hive and looking for nectar, which wasn't really there yet. Both hives survived the winter, probably because they didn't swarm during the summer, we treated them for varroa mites this fall, and the winter was relatively mild.

Community Resilience

I started some leeks this week, but besides that our farm work is still mostly planning, splitting wood, and working on the insides of the house. HOwever, we do have some great events coming up this month.

Sunday Feb 13th, 2pm at the Ames public library - a free concert by the Porch Stompers (featuring farm members nate and alice) this is also alice's birthday.

water in honduras

Alice has returned to the farm, after being away for the first half of January in Honduras, on a service trip with the Dubuque Franciscans, and then in Dubuque at a Catholic Worker craft retreat. Here are some pictures and reflections from the trip. However, there were a lot of other folks there, and a number of them have already written about it, and so I'm going to cut and paste some of their thoughts also.

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