So, Season Three. The big building project this year is the straw bale studio workshop, led by a seasoned professional and attended by 11 folks - most from nearby and a few from out of state. To get the registrations for the workshop, we learned about marketing and outreach. Another outreach project is to sell more of our produce. We have arranged to sell our mushrooms at the Just Roots stand at the Greenfield Farmers Market - Yeah! – and want to get a little farmstand rolling here for our eggs, shrooms and berries plus veggies from farmer friends. We have become very fond of meeting and working with work-exchange folks and will continue to do that this season. With them, we will take care of the berries and more baby nut trees; build a trellis for kiwis; improve the sheep rotation system; and of course, harvest eggs, berries and ‘shrooms for our new sales venues. Lastly, our woods have also entered the radar: in March, we completed a forest management plan and this summer will be planning the first partial, sustainable harvest (for the next winter), to make room for shifting the forest towards more nut trees and woody silvo-pasture.
It is a lot, but it feels like we are growing at the right pace. We can keep track of what is going on, and work at a hard, not insane pace. There are a million mistakes, but generally, with every new thing we do, we start small. While mistakes are exceedingly common, so far, none have been catastrophic, and we learn from them.
This pace is a privilege and a luxury for which we are immensely grateful. It is possible because one of us has a full-time job that pays enough for both of us to live on plus the start-up farm expenses, leaving the other one (me) to devote all her time to this food forest. We can balance starting up as teeny tiny potatoes while we learn and grow, without the requirement to be financially independent. Someday, I will make a running seasonal overview of how much we spent on the farm and how much our sales were. Hopefully over time, our sales will go up and all the building and start-up planting costs will go down and we’ll grow towards a system that is productive and provides a small livelihood.