I'm Abby, Featherstone's field production coordinator, and I'm writing to update you on our new high tunnels and our winter greens production in them here at the farm! As you may know, we constructed our first high tunnels this past summer. This has been a very exciting new chapter for all of us at Featherstone as we think about the future and how growing in a protected space can help us with both season extension and increased yields on certain crops during the main growing season.
As the leader of production here at the farm (my team is in charge of planning for and growing all the crops you see in your box each week), these tunnels have brought a lot of exciting new changes and challenges for me and my team of crop managers. While I've been working in organic vegetable production for almost 12 years, this is my first time planning and managing high tunnel crops. So, when we purchased these tunnels on auction last winter, I knew I had my work cut out for me as I began to research and plan how we would best utilize this prime real estate. While the tunnels were being constructed, I spent a lot of time visiting and talking to farmers to learn about their experiences with growing in high tunnels as well as researching best practices for winter growing in Minnesota. But one of the best ways to learn is to just jump in and start experimenting. And SO, this winter’s crop plan was largely about experimenting with different plantings of spinach to see which would be most successful for us.
One of our high tunnels which houses spinach for this winter.
We have 5 120’ beds in each tunnel with four wire cables extending the length of each house to hold up a large piece of frost protection blanket. Each house has 3 beds of spinach that we planted at different dates, some on plastic and some on bare ground. This will be for January and February CSA boxes.
Another of our tunnels with more winter spinach.
Our experiences and observations this winter will have a big influence on how and what we plant next winter. Our goal is to grow as much high quality fresh crop as possible for you, our CSA members, for as late into the winter as possible and we are already learning a lot. Looking to the future, we will have more greens for your boxes in years to come.
Along with all this variety trailing, I’ve also been experimenting with different beneficial insects to control aphids in the house and will very soon be thinking ahead to plan out how to grow the best tomato crop in there this summer. Thanks for supporting us as members of our winter CSA program. I’m excited to continue learning and expanding our winter production to provide more and more fresh crops to get us through the cold Minnesota winters!
We hope you all enjoy the fruits of our new adventure this winter and we look forward to supplying you with greens in the new year!
Happy Holidays and good eating to you all!
Field Production Coordinator