Grateful for, thankful to . .

Hello all,
Nate here on this prime summer day saying wow we are feeling so blessed with the help we've had in the last few months and more getting started on some big new projects to improve our farm in this second full year of land ownership and expanded property. Mustard Seed owns 10.5 acres now and we are figuring out how we can use it to best serve the community and mother nature. This post is intended to summarize, with a few hopefully interesting details, the projects that we are well on the way with and who/how they will benefit. A big thanks to everyone who has helped out in a myriad of ways, including financial donation, emotional support, logistic support, CSA membership and physical work.

Pond-wise, we have water and the beginnings of new life in what was the old gully draining to Squaw Creek. A good clay composition to the subsoil led to our pond builder saying it was one of the best sites he's worked on, for which we were feeling grateful and lucky. The water from runoff and tile drainage into the gully should now have more time to settle out and prevent the loss of as many nutrients from the watershed above it, including row crop fields to our east, into the creek. Iowa's nutrient reduction strategy depends on voluntary efforts such as this, which we're more than happy to contribute to. We're also looking forward to a pond's benefits of increasing natural habitat and diversity on the farm. Already we've seen frogs, bats, dragonflies, water striders, and other critters moving in, along with ducks and herons starting to check it out!

Treeplanting-wise, we have planted close to a hundred trees this year with a so-far 90+% survival rate. Benefits from these trees will include fruit and nut production for human food, windbreaks, pollination, wildlife food and habitat, erosion control, shade, oxygen and more! Trees are really great. They do, though, take continued work and care to ensure these benefits, so they will be keeping us on our toes for a while. A big shout out to Trees-forever for helping us with a grant for this planting project. Some of the trees include burr oaks, chestnuts, hazelnuts, paw-paws, cherries and plums.
here's some winter squash with young trees and brand new trees in the background inside their protective tubes:

Basement-wise, three walls are up and drainage is good and, though we slowed down on our progress with the busy-ness that summer brings on a vegetable farm, plans are in store for getting our fourth and hardest wall next to the house built soon. Once that last wall is up, it'll be time for ceiling and stairs, and the sunroom addition on top. Thankfully we didn't need a storm shelter this season so far anyway, though we still have the old well pit we'll squeeze into if needed. We are getting excited as we learn more about food preservation in that we'll have a cool place to store more through the seasons soon.

Farm-to-clinic wise, our first year of providing lower-cost CSA shares to folks in need of good fresh local food has gone well so far. Not all exactly according to plan, but thats to be expected in a pilot program like this. We've been learning together how to make it work better. Overall we feel like our food is getting shared and appreciated, for which we're grateful. Many people are pitching in on this - thanks to all. The CSA newsletters also now include nutrition information especially relating to health challenges like diabetes and HIV. Hopefully this project can continue into the future and be even more effective. After the early influx of greens, mid season is bringing more familiar and easier to use and store foods like potatoes, carrots and green beans in the boxes.

we also have a few smaller accomplishments. we finally got a window installed in the red shed for better air flow (thanks to nicholas' new improved carpentry skills visiting the farm last week). Alice finished her tile countertop with handmade tiles from new Hampshire, handmade tiles by herself, and some big tiles from the habitat re-store.