"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
Meet the newest member of our community, Julian.
This was the hottest summer ever, in my opinion, anyway. I gave birth to my son in August and have since then been spending the 4th trimester relaxing, reflecting, and enjoying our time of bonding. This postpartum period has introduced intense emotions of love and devotion, that which I've never experienced before. It has also conjured up great sadness. Bringing such innocence into this broken world has felt irresponsible and careless. But, as my friend and doula put it, more healthy humans is what this world needs. His existence is a drop in the pond but the ripple created extends outward and affects every other molecule that is touched.
I'm sorry, Julian, for bringing you into a world wrought with so many problems. But, I can show you a place where beauty and productivity coexist. I can show you the good that comes from collaboration.
The trees we plant benefit his future as the climate crisis continues. The edible perennials are for his nourishment in the years to come. The diversity we cultivate is for his resiliency. And the spaces we rewild are his to find the magic within.
I can only do so much as one human to improve the injustices that exist. I can't fix all the broken systems. But each of us individually (it's more fun to work together!) can all do something that would contribute towards positive shifts. As I learn to navigate this new version of my old life, I'm energized to return to this Purposeful Work we do here to build community and heal people and land while growing nourishing food, not only for the benefit of all creatures, but for my son's future.
FALL CSA TIME IS HERE!
We are now taking signups for our Fall Meat CSA! It is 3 monthly pickups starting in November and ending in mid-January. You can pick up here at the farm, in Lancaster, at the Horn Farm Center, or in Dillsburg. And, there are some new share options including lamb and mutton shares, bones, organs, fats, and odd bits.
Give us a call or send us an email with orders or questions. And you can find more details about each share on our website. Thanks!
FALL CSA PRICES
FULL LAMB - $165 (5 lbs per share)
HALF LAMB - $100 (3 lbs per share)
MUTTON - $110 (4 lbs per share)
BONES - $20
ORGANS - $20
FULL PORK - $130 (5 lbs per share)
HALF PORK - $80 (3 lbs per share)
SAUSAGE - $65 (3 lbs per share)
BONES - $15
FAT - $12
ODDS AND ENDS - $20
FULL BEEF - $130 (5 lbs per share)
GROUND - $65 (3 lbs per share)
BONES - $20
FAT - $10
BIOCHAR, SOIL HEALTH, AND CLIMATE
The Amazon basin contains some of the most lush forests in the world. Yet despite the incredible density of life that exists there, the soils of the Amazon rainforest are surprisingly thin. If the tree cover is removed, the exposed soils quickly bake in the intense sun and erode away in the heavy thunderstorms, leaving behind dry hardpan that few plants can grow in. However, scattered throughout the Amazon are patches of deep, black soils known as terra preta. These unusual patches of fertility are much less prone to erosion than the surrounding soils and can stand up to the slash-and-burn agriculture commonly practiced there. Terra preta soils allow crops to be produced for longer on the same piece of land and allow the forest to regenerate once the farmers move on. These soils are not naturally occurring; they were created by the human civilizations that existed there before the arrival of Europeans. What is the secret to these amazing soils? Biochar.
Biochar is charcoal that is used for soil fertility. It is produced from some type of biomass, usually crop residue, wood, animal manure, or other organic waste materials. Anyone who has checked the fire pit in the morning after an evening spent around a campfire is familiar with charcoal. It is the lightweight, black pieces of half-burnt wood left behind in the ash. Charcoal is created by heating biomass in a low oxygen environment. The organic matter is partially combusted, and what remains is charcoal. Very little carbon is burnt off in this process; most of it is retained in the biochar.
What makes biochar so special is its incredibly high level of porosity. A tiny piece of biochar has thousands of microscopic nooks and crannies which are perfect for grabbing and holding onto minerals and nutrients. This property creates immense benefits when biochar is applied to soils. Fertilizer that isn’t directly taken up by crops is grabbed and held by biochar, preventing nutrient run-off into waterways. The nutrients that are held by the biochar can then be utilized by crops as they grow, reducing the amount of fertilizer that needs to be applied. The little crevices will also hold water, slowing stormwater run-off and holding moisture in the soil for longer periods. This increases the drought resistance of crops, which is becoming increasingly important as rainfall patterns are altered by climate change. In addition, the carbon in biochar is very stable; some the biochar in the terra preta soils of the Amazon is over a thousand years old. If the process is done properly, the use of biochar can sequester carbon in soils for hundreds to thousands of years.
On the first brisk morning of our fall season, a lively group of people descended upon the farm with one thing in mind: to learn the secrets of biochar from Gary Gilmore. Gary is a PA State forester who has a passion for charcoal which began at childhood. That passion lead him to become a blacksmith as and adult, then, as a forester later in life, it all came back full circle. Needless to say, he is our local authority on biochar.
We discussed the history of biochar use by Native peoples, the history of charcoal as fuel , the chemistry and process of how to make it, selective sustainable forestry practices for acquiring material, the health benefits for both humans and animals as a dietary supplement, and just how easy it is to make! If you have a fire pit or wood stove, you can make it! We also learned about the importance of including biochar in agriculture and other earth works as soil amendments, and how that applies in regenerative farming systems like ours.
Along with the simple two barrel kiln demonstration, Gary also brought other delightful hand made contraptions to show case that either made or burned charcoal as fuel. His small indoor wood stove was outfitted for creating charcoal within a couple hours while producing heat (demonstrated as he roasted chestnuts on the stove top!). The grand finale came with the firing up of an electric generator, typically ran on gasoline, that was powered off of a wood gasifier burning charcoal. As we all "ooooo"ed and "aaawwww"ed, he hooked up an electric chainsaw to the generator so he could cut fresh logs for the purpose of making more biochar!
Saturday, October 26 - Open Farm Day and Yoga!
Free outdoor Yoga class with Emily from 9:00 to 9:45, followed by Open Farm Day from 10:00 to 4:00. Come join us for the day to explore our permaculture-focused farm. Farm tours will be held at 10:00 and 2:00, and will offer an opportunity to see our Scottish Highland cattle and calves, Katahdin sheep, Idaho Pastured Pigs, laying hens of several breeds, along with our Shiitake mushroom yard and the rest of the farm. (There is a golf cart available for anyone with mobility challenges.) We are also planting lots more trees this fall, so join in to plant a tree or two anytime all day!
Saturday, November 9 -Riparian Buffer Tree Planting
Come join us anytime between 9:00 and 3:00 to help fill in our Riparian Buffer with more trees and shrubs! We will be planting tulip poplar, tupelo, river birch, hackberry and more, continuing to diversify the wild life habitat along Little Chiques creek. Thanks to Chesapeake Bay Foundations Keystone 10 Million Trees Project for facilitating the regeneration of the Susquehanna river valley! Join us for soup and bread if you are helping to plant over the lunch hour! Remember to bring boots, work clothes that can get dirty, gloves, and a water bottle. Please bring your favorite shovel if you have one as our supply is limited.
Saturday, November 23 - Tree Planting pt 2
Come along and join us in planting willow trees in a low section of our pasture. Together we will add to the riparian buffer and create a coppice patch, or copse (trees that are managed for wood by pruning without killing the tree)! Again, join us for soup and bread if you plan to be here over the lunch hour, and bring appropriate clothing and items listed above.