The first three weeks: hoops and snow

Posted by on Apr 18, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments


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The first three weeks: hoops and snow

In my observations of farming internships like this one, some days tend to go slow, but weeks, without fail, go fast. We, the interns and the board, have seeds planted and broadcasted, seedlings potted into soil blocks, sprouts emerging, low tunnel hoops erected, people excited for harvest, and ideas, so many ideas, about how to grow food successfully here in La Veta. We have written them into our plans and will experiment with different methods; for example, on a snowy day, we seeded indoors by attaching the seeds to a stretch of paper towels using a flour-water mixture and spreading it out on the bed the next day. That area of seeding was more efficient and we got to spend our indoors time wisely; now we wait and see if they grow well. We also want to use our toilet paper rolls as seeders, but with the slow decomposition rate here, this may not work so well (the cardboard won’t break down). Each day has brought its own unique set of challenges, especially with this cold, snowy weather, the climate in general, and becoming a cohesive team. Regardless, whenever we are around our plants, future vegetables for the basket program and market, we transmit positive energies.

I think I can safely say that we have all fallen in love with the town of La Veta. The dirt roads, the mule deer, the astonishment every time you look up (the tremendous views), the hypothesis that the pet population beats the human population, and last and certainly best, the people themselves. They are so talented, artistic, visionary. This is a transition town, after all, meaning we are trying to build resilience in the face of climate change issues. Much wisdom resides here, through stories and experiences, and we hope to renew the interest in local food. Several folks already garden; we get advice all the time on how to deal with the wind and deer. I literally just went to the bakery and discussed low tunnel techniques with Sharon, who gardens at 8800 feet. However, many buy their groceries from the one supermarket in town. So far, La Veta has welcomed us remarkably, and we hope to return the favor.

The snow has come like clockwork; we have gotten at least a few inches every week around midweek, including this (forth) week! As I write this post, I have Christmas music playing because it seems only appropriate. Nevermind the fact that it’s April 23rd. Besides the snow, we have been eating, sleeping, dreaming in hoops. We are constructing low tunnel season extension hoop house beds using strong greenhouse plastic, bent metal conduits for hoops, and rebar to plug in the hoops. The trick is getting them to stand up to the wind. We have been clipping the sides of the plastic to the hoops, but are still perfecting the design, with doors, rollable sides, and of course, adaptation and improvisation for now.

Without further ado, here is my take on the beginnings of the Wahatoya Community Initiatives Farm to Table Internship in photos:

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One of the garden plots before we started laying it out with tape measures, rebar, and twine. Stay tuned for the finished product.

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We planted 4000 seeds using soil blocks. I enjoyed making the soil blocks, although it took some elbow grease and lots of water. They reduce the amount of plastic needed to propagate seedlings.

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We were in the local newspaper. I believe any young person who enters into the La Veta community will probably show up in the paper, so don’t get too excited. But pretty much everyone we meet has heard about us, the program, and seems energized that we are here.

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A view of the straw bale potato garden, the hoops, and an old apple tree at Kerstin’s (pronounced SHEER-ston) plot. Kerstin’s compost is the best in town–it’s got the poop of multiple animals, including horses and sheep.

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Seeding tomatoes, bak choi, broccoli, etc. into soil blocks. We are getting the technique down.

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We are inoculating our seeds with mycelium (the white powdery substance), a network of fungi that colonizes and benefits plant roots (not a perfect definition–sorry!). A high school student from La Veta is doing amazing work on mycoremediation, using mycelium to clean up drilling waste and such. We get our mycelium through him! The book Mycelium Running is on my list, don’t worry.

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Preparing seed potatoes for planting. We are healing the wounds of the cut potatoes by dipping them in our wood ash from last night’s fire. These are Yukon Golds, but we have a colorful assortment, too.

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Remember that photo of the empty garden plot? Here it is again, with low tunnels. And under the snow, there are baby vegetables emerging. Today we put on the doors; at each end we can remove the door hoop, so that in the summer when it gets hot, we can efficiently open the tunnels to air flow.

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