"What do you do in the winter since you can’t farm?” This is the most common question we get as vegetable farmers in Maine. Sure our growing season is short with a frost-free period between the end of May and the middle of September. Zone four, I believe it is called.
With highs in the single digits in Dover-Foxcroft in February this week, I wish I could show you pictures of us on the beaches of the Caribbean taking the winter off…
I love the timing of Thanksgiving. In the course of our year as farmers, we begin in the winter with planning the coming season, purchasing seeds and supplies, and repairing building and equipment infrastructure. The first seeds go in the ground in May. And then we’re off to the races.
"We'll be there on Friday at 8am to start setting up," they said. And they weren't kidding! Just as our employees got here to start work that morning, several more cars rolled into the farm drive. Soon after I could hear sounds of persistant banging on metal. Sounds like they're working on the railroad, I thought to myself. Clink, clink, clink... and I looked out of the window to see a white party tent being erected between our large hoophouse and the PYO flower garden.
This spring has a very different rhythm for me. Of course, at the farm, things are going just as planned. The big list of “things to do” for April has been whittled right down. All of our seeds have arrived on the farm and the first few of them like peppers, tomatoes and leeks are already showing their little faces. The seed potatoes are piling up in our living room, presprouting prior to planting. This week more lettuce heads will be sown. The hoophouse has been rototilled again in preparation for planting those tomato seedlings in May. Oh, and how
I love doing this. As you know I'm the one who takes most of the photos around the farm. Its my self-appointed job to take a photo of every farm share that we put together during the Summer CSA. Every week I whisk around repeating, "I've got to take the share photo," which I usually do admist a rush to get everything ready for the pickups. I've been doing this since my obsession with photography took hold in 2013.
Spring is the time when I wake up way before my alarm.
Spring is the time when the color green takes over my world.
Spring is the time of optimism for another good growing season.
Spring is the time of endless energy for projects.
And most of all, spring is the time of planting at Ripley Farm!
By the first of June, we’ve planted over 50% of our fields to this year’s crop of organic veggies. Here’s photos of the seeds, plants, and people who have put them in over the past 5 weeks (a lot has changed over that time for sure!):
At the end of April 2009, Gene and I thrust our fingers into the cool spring soil for the first time on our own farm. Planting our very first vegetables as Ripley Farm rushed an exhilaration through our bodies and souls.
We were following our calling to be stewards of the land, producing healthy, organic vegetables to feed Central Maine. Less than a year into marriage, we had signed a lease in the fall of 2008 to rent our first farmland in Troy, in Waldo County. We were living our dream together.