Although the winter weather seems to be lingering, there are also signs of spring all around. The snow has melted, the crocuses are blooming, the grass is turning green, and we are getting down to work in the Bethany garden. As four of us embark on the adventure of navigating this growing season together, we have all remarked on how far the program has come in the three years since it began. The commitment, hard work, and skill of the new growers who participated in the program in the previous two years is apparent in the way the soil has been built up, in the infrastructure that has been put in place, and in the tremendous community support for the program. We are also grateful for the vision, leadership, and knowledge that the program mentors (Jen and David Greenberg) and the Sisters of St. Martha have shown in creating this opportunity to support aspiring farmers. As we begin this season, we want to acknowledge the thought and work that have gone into getting the gardens to where they are and express our thanks for this opportunity. We hope to continue to build the soil and the program over the coming year.
After getting together in late March to sign the Memorandum of Understanding with the Sisters of St. Martha, we continued the process of crop planning (and seed ordering) by distance until Mathieu arrived in Antigonish on April 10th. The following weekend we had our first in-person meeting with the whole team. Werner and Mathieu had put the plastic down on the hoop house earlier in the week, and although snow had fallen in the meantime, inside it was warm and humid. We talked about record keeping and managing finances, and got an orientation to some of the tools and equipment we have access to through the Bethany apprenticeship. Rather than a large tractor, the Bethany program uses a BCS walk behind tractor which offers a big advantage in terms of being able to work the land earlier in the spring. A BCS is also much less expensive, uses less fuel and has less of an impact on the soil. The Bethany BCS has several attachments such as a mower, tiller, and power harrow. Other tools we will be using (typical of intensive market gardening) include a Jang seeder, flame weeder, broad fork and wheel hoe.
Later in the week, we got together again to build a heat table in the seedling greenhouse and to plant the hoop house. Things may be a bit muddy but we are thrilled to be putting some seeds in the ground and are looking forward to some early greens!
This season, with more land in production and with more hands at work, we are planning to attend two weekly markets (in Antigonish on Saturdays and Mabou on Sundays). We also hope to supply some local restaurants and the “Our Food Store” weekly food bags. In addition, we will be offering a limited number of weekly veggie box deliveries in Antigonish and Mabou. If you are interested in signing up for a weekly veggie delivery, please get in touch at email@example.com.
We look forward to seeing you at the market!