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Lettuce Rejoice! December 16, 2021- To the Future (And Beyond)

Posted on December 10th, 2021 by Tamara McMullen

December 16, 2021

The Lettuce Rejoice!

Firmly Rooted Farm's Newsletter for their Veggie Loving Farm-ily

Our hearts hold layers and layers of thanks, just like this “heart-shaped” onion

On the Farm: To the Future (And Beyond)

Hello again my veggie loving friends,

This coming week is the last winter share! Gratitude is our mantra, and especially important for us to remember at this time of year. Every customer makes a difference in our little lives, and we are beyond grateful to serve you very wonderful people. Thank you, thank you, thank you for eating with us this season. I have had a delectable time exploring food, farming, and friendship with each and everyone one of you.

As we settle down for a “long winter's nap”, we will not dream of sugar plum fairies, but plans for the future. A farm is an everchanging ecosystem, and Tamara and Brian are always focused on guiding this farm into a truly dynamic sustainable ecosystem. This past summer we began to dig a pond, and next summer we will finish the pond habitat. This will provide habitat for organisms that will enhance the gardens and the worker's joy; you can never have enough biodiversity.

Firmly Rooted will also be planting a small orchard next year! Again, you can never have enough biodiversity and fruit trees will act as great offerings for pollinator species. Additionally, to maximize production on our small and limited plot at Firmly Rooted, we will be partnering with another local certified organic farm to produce a few crops that require more space and time. We successfully did this for potatoes this year, and we will expand this partnering for more vegetables. One of Firmly Rooted’s biggest constraints is space, and our specialty is in higher turnover crops such as greens. But we have friends who have the space to grow for us and the specialization in other crops. We are developing a mutually beneficial relationship while ensuring that we offer our customers lots of vegetable options.

In past newsletters, I’ve talked quite a bit about improving the fertility created with on-farm resources. In the coming years, Firmly Rooted is going to scale up the amount of compost we create on the property. But not all compost serves the same function and it’s quite fascinating the diverse world of compost production. I’ve previously discussed vermicomposting, a nutrient-dense form of composting using red-wiggler worms. We are also exploring building a Johnson-Su bioreactor on-farm, another type of composting but which is quite different and relies on a completely different focus on the function of soil microbes and how microbes work with soil and plants. Most compost-making and compost applications focus on adding volumes of compost based on the nutrient values of the compost. In many situations, the nutrient requirements of growing crops, especially vegetables result in applications in the range of tonnes per acre. The Johnson-Su bioreactor is a slow, cold aerobic composting method that takes up to a year to finish without turning and creates a compost rich in microbial life. This compost can be used to re-inoculate the soil with microbes that can enhance the functions of nutrient cycling within the soil itself. The compost produced by the Johnson-Su bioreactor only needs to be applied to the soil in small amounts or used as seed treatments. The effects are long-lasting for soil health, as the microbial life continues to live in the soil, improving nutrient cycling and thus on-farm fertility. Luckily, it’s not too hard to build a Johnson-Su bioreactor yourself, meaning this will be a new project to undertake in the new year! Never a dull moment.

Firmly Rooted also wants to continue improving our services that help you grow your own food at home. We wish to empower folks to provide their own sustenance and revel in the glory of growing food. We’re going to expand our ability to offer at-home veggie production education and expand our offerings of food plants for sale in the spring, such as fruit bushes, herbs, and veggies. Additionally, to help you improve your pollinator habitat, we’ll be offering more native flowers for sale. All of this will come together in our first ever on-farm event and seedling sale! Likely occurring on Victoria Day weekend. Come out to visit the farm if you’ve never had the chance and get to know your farmers!

Thank you again for a great season, for sharing the love of food, and for continuing to support local! We hope to see you again sometime in the new year!

Kitchen Corner

Kale and Swiss Chard pair together to make this wonderfully filling and comforting gratin. Get your carb fix while indulging in the nutrient-packed deliciousness that is leafy greens! I’m sure it would make an excellent side dish at any Christmas gathering!

Kitchen Clean-Up

Use your credits folks! They expire after this coming week. Consider stocking up on the essentials like garlic or potatoes. Also, we will launch sales for the spring share in the new year, but existing members will be the first to know. But until then we hope to take a much-needed break but will be in touch when there are veggies to buy.

Finally, a reminder that Eat Local Huron is relaunching, with sales having opened on the 8th and the next delivery day being the 15th. The crew at ELH have been overwhelmed with the community support they’ve received and can’t wait to get back to delivering delicious local fare around the countryside. They are adding new producers and products all the time!

That’s all for now folks, happy eating until next time!

Farmer Erika