Tenacity: How We’re Breaking Ground at the New Farm

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Spring has brought a blend of great progress and heartbreaking setbacks. Not only has the weather been some of the worst on record, the process of moving a farm is exponentially difficult. Going into 2018, I knew that this year will likely be the toughest I’ve lived thus far, so back in January I taped the word TENACITY onto my desk and repeat it as a mantra. Tenacity is defined as “the quality or fact of being very determined; determination; the quality or fact of continuing to exist; persistence.” Persistence, determination and tenacity – combined with proper planning and intentionality – are the only way to keep making forward progress. Being your own cheerleader and taking inspiration in even the smallest places is survival 101 for an entrepreneur and especially for a farmer. So even though progress is slow at the new farm, progress is indeed being made. The Foundation: Prepping the Soil + Laying Out Fields Knowing that we wanted to begin planing at the new farm early in 2018, with a goal of fully moving the farming operation by mid-summer, the preparations began long before breaking ground. We planted all of our fall crops like ranunculus, tulips, anemone and cool flowers like snapdragons, bupleurum and foxglove at the old farm in Candler where we’ve been farming for the past several years. I initially hoped to fall plant (2017) at the new farm, but accepted the fact that this would mean rushing through soil prep and rushing typically leads to mistakes or poor overall quality. So I made the decision to fall plant at the old farm and to begin planting on our new land for the 2018 calendar year. Last July I had a soil test completed through the NC Extension Office and discovered that the soil had a slightly low pH (very standard for Western North Carolina). After mapping out the field locations, which entailed lots of measuring and remeasuring, I slowly begin breaking ground with our new tractor. After finally accomplishing a loamy tilled field, I applied the recommend amount of lime to balance the pH levels as well as some organic fertilizer (also applied based on recommendations from the soil report). I incorporated this into the soil and then sowed a cover crop mixture of oats, winter peas and rye. While ideally all of our fields would be the same dimensions, that is just not practical for the shape of our farm – I’m trying to maximize every foot of flat ground so we have 4 fields of different sizes. Once the soil warmed and dried out enough, I tilled under the cover crop and the fields were ready to go for spring planting. We laid landscape fabric and began tucking plants into the ground. We do not direct sow any seeds because of the high weed/grass pressure. Typically lay drip tape for irrigation under the landscape fabric, however this year we will lay it on top of the fabric once it becomes necessary […]