Spring flew swiftly by, and summer came; and if the village had been beautiful at first, it was now in the full glow and luxuriance of its richness. The great trees, which had looked shrunken and bare in the earlier months, had now burst into strong life and health; and stretching forth their green arms over the thirsty ground, converted open and naked spots into choice nooks, where was a deep and pleasant shade from which to look upon the wide prospect, steeped in sunshine, which lay stretched out beyond. The earth had donned her mantle of brightest green; and shed her richest perfumes abroad. It was the prime and vigour of the year; all things were glad and flourishing."
Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
Summer is the time of beautiful sunrises and sunsets
In our last newsletter in April we talked about the first signs of spring growth that were hinting at the promises of summer. The summer Solstice has just passed, and we are now well into this hot and wet summer and new life and growth abound! We have 17 new lambs, 5 calves, 13 piglets, and 50+ chicks. Our cows and sheep are loving the lush pasture grass, the sows, boar and piglets are happily foraging, and the chicks are moved out of the barn and feeding in the abundant green growth. All of the trees that were planted at the two April tree plantings have had a great start with the plentiful sun and rain. And the vegetable garden looks great with no need to worry about watering!
We were very grateful for all of those who helped to plant hawthorn trees to form a living hedge and riparian buffer trees to create more habitat and erosion control in our pasture and on the bank of the Little Chiques Creek. We continue to enjoy the increasing wildlife, and our latest new species sighting was a woodcock on the pasture in late June. In addition to our own farm events like the tree plantings, we were happy to host a two-day Tractor Safety and Maintenance for women, sponsored by PA-WAGN (Pennsylvania Women in Agriculture Network) and taught by Shane LaBrake, tractor guru extraordinaire!
Interns Erica and Rachel have settled in to the farm routines, and have been a welcome addition to the life of the farm community. With more hands we are accomplishing more than ever, yet still have many more ideas than we can put into practice! We hope that your lives are also full of good work, good play, and more ideas than you have time to explore! - Kay
We are expanding our farm store to make it more easy to stop by and purchase meats, mushrooms and eggs. We have added a new freezer so we can stock all of our normal cuts as well as odd cuts of lamb/mutton, beef, and pork. Stop by 8am-7pm on Monday-Saturday, Sunday is appointment only. Thanks!
We continue to have a bounty of Shiitake mushrooms so please contact us if you would like to buy these wonderful forest-grown delights. $7 for a 1/2 lb of the best mushrooms you've ever tasted!
You can just saute them in oil and butter too :)
Our goal as farmers utilizing permaculture techniques is always to create ecologically sound and resilient agricultural/natural systems that have multiple yields. We don't want a fruit tree to only produce fruit, but to also provide wildlife habitat, build topsoil, form beneficial relationships with herbs and fungi and wildflowers, and be beautiful too. So with each system on the farm we are looking to diversify the roles and components because the more relationships, connections, and yields in a natural system, the more likely it can withstand extremes of weather (seems pretty common these days) and other stresses.
Our sheep have grazed with our cows to help add fertility to the silvopasture, eat the weeds and forages cows don't prefer, and produce lamb as a byproduct of their diligent digestion and rumination of plants. We have seen their love of "weeds" firsthand and were wondering what other functions they could play on the farm. So, we have been experimenting with sheep in our small tree orchard, across the road in the chestnut and hazel patch (hog heaven pastures), and soon they will venture into the woods in the areas we planted riparian trees this spring to restore the woodland ecology by grazing invasive multi-flora rose. Its been a joy to see how they have mowed, pruned and weeded these systems so far and how much they are enjoying it. You can feel the calmer energy in the flock as they happily munch together with their heads down and their tails wagging (yes sheep wag their tails sometimes). And, by grazing these new areas we have effectively added 6 free acres of suitable sheep pasture, fertilized and weeded these tree plantings (the trees are protected by tree tubes), added diversity to the sheep's diet which helps growth and protects against disease, and broken the parasite cycle that can plague sheep by doubling the amount of time before they graze the same area! It is another wonderful example of how the health of sheep, the land, and people are tied together as what is right for one of them in a natural system will be right for all three. - Harrison
Sheep busy in the orchard weeds
FOOD AND JUSTICE
It is estimated that at least 6 out of 10 of our country’s farm workers are undocumented (Southern Poverty Law Center). So in this edition we would like to highlight Shut Down Berks Coalition, a group of organizations and individuals whos mission is to close the Berks County Family Detention Center, one of 3 ICE immigrant detention centers in PA.
Quoted from theirwebsite: "In 2019 the Berks County Detention Center (BCRC) will be entering its fifth year in operation as a immigrant family prison. That is five years of human rights abuses, due process violations, disregard of Pennsylvania and Federal law and the immoral and unjust treatment of immigrant families. The Shut Down Berks Coalition will continue to fight until this inhumane prison is shut down and family detention is put to an end in Pennsylvania. Governor Tom Wolf, Lt. Governor John Fetterman and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services have the power to issue an Emergency Removal Order (ERO) on the Berks County Detention Center, an action that would ensure the facility can no longer be used as a prison. It is not only their moral obligation to keep families out of this prison but their legal responsibility."
Shut Down Berks Coalition has been very busy since their beginning utilizing a wide variety of tactics including organizing vigils, call-in days, rallies, and non-violent direct actions. They are currently on tour screening a short film documentary, "Las Madres de Berks". The film shares the testimonials of four mothers who have spent 2 years detained at BCRC with their children. The next two viewings are at the Lancaster public library,July 20th, and Susquehanna Art Museum in Harrisburg, July 21st. Both will be followed with a talk back on how to get involved. To see their full list of events check out their website or facebook page.
We acknowledge that we live in a Nation of immigrants, refugees, and people brought here against their will, who have settled on colonized, stolen land among the traumatized survivors. To deny sanctuary to anyone fleeing from violence is morally wrong. Denying immigration to anyone not of Anglo/European descent is racist. No one is illegal. - Jono
August 10 - Open Farm Day - 9:30am - 4pm
Visit us for a day of sharing about the farm. There will be a farm tour at 10am and also at 2pm with lots of time in between to ask questions and learn more about our little regenerative farm. Its also just a great time to relax on the farm. Farm products will be for sale as well. Hope to see you there!
September TBA - Biochar Workshop with Gary Gilmore
Gary has spent years as a forester making and exploring the various uses of charcoal and biochar for farms, cooking fuel, water filtration, and restoration. Come learn with Gary in a hands-on workshop of how to make charcoal using various low-tech methods and then turn it into biochar (charcoal mixed with nutrients) to be used for soil fertility, carbon sequestration, livestock health, water filtration, cooking fuel, mitigating odors, or a humanure composting system. Details and a date will be announced soon. Here is a video of one of Gary's setups in action. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiFHXg9o2wo
"Being naturalized to place means to live as if this is the land that feeds you, as if these are the streams from which you drink, that build your body and fill your spirit... To become naturalized is to live as if your children's future matters, to take care of the land as if our lives and the lives of all our relatives depend on it. Because they do."
~Robin Wall Kimmerer, "Braiding Sweetgrass"
Spring means calves are soon to be born!
While spring always brings change, transitions, and new beginnings for the growing season, this year in particular seems to have us welcoming more into our lives than normal. We are excited to welcome our first ever interns Rachel and Erica to the farm this season. We are hoping to teach and show many aspects of regenerative agriculture and living in community with them as we also learn from the skills and experiences they bring to our farm. And it is always good to have more helping hands as our list of tasks and farming systems grows. We also are focusing on new areas of cultivation and stewardship on the farm this year that we haven't had the time or designs to create yet. Particularly, we are hoping to spend a great deal more effort on healing our riparian woodlands through invasive species removal and planting more diverse native trees and shrubs; building an outdoor kitchen for cooking with wood from the farm and also an earth-sheltered greenhouse that will provide year-round growing space; and working with new organizations, groups and people to help foster connections to our local ecology and the beautiful world that we live in. The projects and task lists abound!
One of those recent community connections was an ecological design course taught by our good friends Ben Weiss, Robyn Mello, and Wilson Alvarez that used our farm as a teaching ground this past Sunday for their 30 students. It was a wonderful day for everyone to learn from each other about different farming systems as well as how to look at the whole farm landscape from an ecological perspective. We met many new faces of people interested in these topics whom we hope to see again and collaborate with in the future. It is becoming more apparent to us that spending the time to make these human relationships flourish is often what is needed to find better and more creative ways to make our natural landscapes flourish too. We can learn so much from each other. I hope you can make the time amidst the spring bustle to build deeper and more growth-oriented and collaborative relationships in your lives whether it is with people, animals or trees.
Eggs - We have so many tasty pasture-raised chicken eggs available for sale at the farm now till June when our CSA starts so come and get them! $5/dozen
Summer CSA Shares Available - Our Summer CSA offers egg, shiitake mushroom, and grass-fed meat shares beginning in June and running through the end of October. Egg and mushroom shares are weekly or biweekly pickups whereas meat shares are every 4 weeks. You can choose any combination of the different shares and buy multiple shares if you would like. Click here for pricing and more info. The pickup locations are here on the farm, at the Horn Farm Center in York County, or at our Mulberry Street drop-off point in Lancaster City. Call 717-967-4012 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to order. If you are picking up at the Horn Farm Center, we encourage you to also join theHorn Farm Center Vegetable CSA near York so that you can get vegetables, eggs, mushrooms and meat all in one place (same pickup time). Thanks!
Looking for Logs
We're still looking for logs to make next years mushroom harvest. Do you have a small woodlot that needs thinned? A tree that needs to come down this spring? We can provide some tree felling and sustainable forestry services, or simply come pick up wood that's already been felled. We can use oak, sugar maple, beech, and sweetgum. Trees need to be freshly cut and free of disease and rot. We need wood that is 4-8" in diameter cut to 3 ft lengths to make mushroom logs, but we can take other sizes for firewood if some of it falls in the appropriate range. Call 717-693-3381.
Pigs are powerful creatures full of energy and an unending desire to move and use their bodies everyday. Those bodies are essentially a sturdy, muscular tank with a nasal excavator at the front end. When a group of pigs gets to rooting and foraging for worms, roots, and grubs there will be soil flying in all directions. Knowing this, we decided to employ our pigs for some excavation work. We needed more space for corn and beans to feed ourselves through the winter as well as a place to plant tree seedlings en masse for planting out later. So, we decided to over winter our pigs on areas of lawn so that the pigs could spend all winter rooting up the sod, trampling hay into the ground we fed, and spreading their manure (as pigs do). What we are left with is no sod, fertile ground, and a little bit of work to loosen the soil back up for planting. This is one of the small ways we work with the natural tendencies of our livestock to fulfill a goal of ours while also making our livestock that much happier.
The grass returns!
FOOD AND JUSTICE
We try to include this section in each newsletter because it gives us an opportunity to talk about what is important to us here at the farm and to share the good work being done by others. We have highlighted organizations like Soul Fire Farm, a Black-led farm in New York state, and La Via Campesina, a movement supporting small farmers all over the world.
We want to bring it a little closer to home this time by sharing a bit about an organization that is trying to offer support to local people facing difficult times right in our own backyard. Community Place on Washington in Elizabethtown is a newly opened social service hub, housed in a renovated building that was once a school and a church. Within the building is the Community Cupboard food pantry, Elizabethtown Community Housing and Outreach Services (ECHOS), Elizabethtown Area Communites That Care (EACTC) offices, Community Action Program "Parents as Teachers" office, Barshinger Financial Counseling office and the Winter Shelter, which provides overnight housing in the colder months for those who are homeless. The building is owned by United Churches Elizabethtown Area (UCEA) which runs the Community Cupboard, Meals on Wheels and the clothing bank. Renovations are in process to tear down an old garage and build a new clothing bank. Campaigns are ongoing to build another building that would house five temporary low cost apartments, expanded ECHOS offices and Hope Within dental clinic. (Hope Within is a local non-profit medical clinic.)
According to Beth DeGoede, administrative assistant at Community Place, "if you talk to any Winter Shelter volunteers, they would tell you that the shelter is too crowded! There is really not enough room for the guests that we currently have. There are twice as many guests this year as last year. (NO, Mr. Trump, the economy is not doing well for everyone!) Also, Hope Within has been given all of the equipment needed to run a dental clinic (there is NO dental care for low-income individuals in northwest Lancaster County), they just need the space to put it."
We are glad there are local people working to create a more fair and just community and we agree especially with this statement from the mission and vision page of their website;" We believe we are all made stronger when we help each other."
Find more about what they do, and how to help at their website
April is tree planting party time. Come join in and help us establish a living fence and/or riparian buffers this month. Bring: proper boots, work gloves, sun hat, water bottle and weather appropriate clothes. Some shovels provided but bring your own if you have a favorite. Participants will get fed a hearty lunch and have time to wander the farm grounds. Details below!
Living fence planting party- April 6th, 9am-3pm Hedges were once, and still are in some places, a common land management practice delineating pastures amongst the commons. Our hedge will grow to be hog tight, provide medicinal hawthorn berries, create wildlife habitat and serve as a wind break.
Riparian buffer planting party- April 20th, 9am-4pm
Come join in and help us plant 300 riparian trees in collaboration with Chesapeake Bay Foundations Keystone 10 Million Tree Project. We'll be planting native species of sycamore, black willow, redbud, river birch, arrow wood, elderberry and tulip poplar.
Riparian buffers are important watershed ecosystems that filter sediments and contaminants from agricultural run off, prevent stream bank erosion, provide wildlife corridors and many other aquatic ecological functions. We'll be establishing riparian buffers on at least 4 sites along our section of Little Chiques creek, some intended to be multifunctional and some to be semi-wild spaces, all with the intention of encouraging a pasture to forested stream connection.