Monday, February 15, 2010

Meet Fennario

For those of you just getting to know Fennario, we wanted to tell you some more about it and show you some pictures we took yesterday!

So the farm is located in Madison county, about 7 miles out on Little Pine Rd. off of 25/70, towards Hot Springs (yay!) The road goes back back back into the blue ridge mountains and there's just a few houses past the farm. The field runs east to west, which means we'll get precious sunshine all day long on our field. This is pretty amazing because of the geography. All around are very high mountains and that makes for sketchy growing. Most vegetable plants require lots of sunshine, like 12 hours a day, and any of you who have tried to grow in half-day shaded lots know what kind of challenge it is to grow plants with limited sunlight. So our challenge will be shade! Gabe is working on this. He plans to build a shed down by the garden: to keep our tools in, to put the produce in to keep it cool while we continue, and for us to rest in during the hottest part of the day. It is much easier to address the need for shade rather than the need for sun. We are so blessed!

There is a stream that runs beside the field on the north side. This is great because we might need to irrigate the field and we have a water source. We don't have a pump, or any of the lines to run the water into the field, but we've got water and it's easier to get water from a stream into a field rather than get a stream by the field! See how blessed we are?!

The field will be divided into 2 parts: a wholesale side and a garden side. We are planning on growing mostly squashes in the wholesale side. We need to be able to make some money, mostly to keep ourselves going with this farming thing. You wouldn't believe how expensive farming is! Even with the master of thrift, Gabe, at the helm! I hear folks in the Piedmont mention the triple bottom line of sustainability all the time. For those who aren't familiar with this, the triple bottom line of sustainability is: economic, social, and environmental. In order to truly be a sustainable farm, we need to be sure it sustains itself within these three parameters. Economic being one of them, we need to make sure we continue a flow of income that allows us to farm in the future (pay the lease on the land, buy seeds and fertilizer, etc.) but also pays us for working it. Environmentally concerned, we are going to employ certified organic practices to sustain the land and the ecological health all around the land. The socially sustainable bottom line is complex, but we are constantly reaching out to our community of friends and family to have you be a part of this in any way you want to be.

We want to extend some thanks to some of you who have been absolutely instrumental in making this possible. First, our parents: John Chester and Evelyn Hamilton and Susan and Bob Mennel. Their support and belief has been so welcome and amazing. It is one thing to work so hard to bring a dream to life, but it is another to have so many loving people celebrate and support you as you do it. They say it takes a village to raise a child, I think it takes a village to raise a farm!

We also want to thank our friends. We got our first CSA subscription from Bill! Thanks so much, Bill! I wonder if you have any idea how much your support and encouragement mean to us?! CSA's for those of you who don't know about them, are a way for farmers to offset the huge costs associated with early season planting. Each spring farmers have to pay out lots of cash for seeds, cover crop seeds, fertilizer, equipment, the list goes on and on. Once the cash starts flowing its no problem, but at this stage of the season the cash has flowed out and out and ain't coming in for awhile! Thank you Bill!!! I know you're going to be so happy and full from all the yummy produce, herbs, and flowers you get as part of your CSA. So a CSA is Community Supported Agriculture. Basically what it entails is a subscriber, like Bill, buys into the farm in the spring giving the farmer some cash flow to buy all the necessary things. Throughout the growing season, usually about 20 weeks, the CSA subscriber receives fresh produce weekly. Since this is our first year on this land we don't want to commit to too many subscriptions. We figure we could safely supply about 5 shares this year, not knowing how the land will produce. So we might accept a few more but we plan on selling the excess from our garden plot to restaurants, people who just want a bag of veggies every now and then, and some other markets.

We'd love to answer any questions you have about the farm! Please let us know what you are curious about. There is so much to tell you!

We are going to make every effort to keep this updated with pictures and stories so stay tuned!

Happy Valentines day and Happy Chinese New Year! It's the year of the Tiger which is very auspicious for our beginnings on this farm. Tiger gives you the courage to embark on new ventures.

Love and Light and Happy Growing!

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