Red Planet Farm Going Solar

crescent-moon-and-venus

The first phase of our project is wrapping up, and at the day’s end Venus was lit up as bright as the crescent moon.

trench-for-water-line

That morning trenches were dug for the frost-free water line (HOORAY!) and the electric cables.

coozie-in-place

Holes were dug and what Matt calls “coozies” were placed for the poles that will hold the solar array.

poles-are-in

Once the poles were secure, they had to stop and wait for the work to be inspected. I can’t wait to see what it will look like with the panels up there.

There’s so much to look forward to here at the farm, and we are incredibly lucky to be working with landowners as committed as we are to building community, creating partnerships and decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels. As our farm has grown over the years I sometimes felt that we were losing our focus on these aspects of our work. Since we moved to this location, it feels like our commitment is renewed.

We had some friends visit who hadn’t seen the farm yet, and they were so amazed that this farm was able to stay as intact as it is, and its surrounding woods, right on the edge of Providence. It re-inspires me to think about that. I hope this year to have more folks visiting us, coming up on the Woonasquatucket Bike Path, whenever possible. And more field trips, and work days, and parties. The farm is already special. Now I hope to make it beautiful.

But oh boy it’s a muddy mess today.

 

 

Early Spring Shares are now available

Matt wasn’t sure we should do the Early Spring CSA this year. We’ve been working really hard for the past year and a half, due to the big move. But we had a delicious break around Christmas and the New Year. And we love growing in the cold months.

january sunset.JPG

It’s the new moon, the Imbolc Moon. Which means we are at the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Time to prepare for the return of the light. Which we are doing quite literally.

excavator is ready.JPG

Joe Notorantonio is back with the excavator. And those orange marks on the ground are where the posts for our solar array will go. Before that is built, we have to have trenches dug to bury the electrical wires. Going forward, the farm’s heating and cooling and ventilation will all be solar powered!

While that work is paid for with the solar grant we received, we are also finishing some very expensive work on the water lines and putting in an abatement meter. During the serious drought we had last summer, when our irrigation pond was emptied out, we were using city water to keep the plants from dying. Of course none of that water went into the sewer system. But Narragansett Bay got paid as if it did. We can’t let another season of that happen. Installing this meter is not a small project.

I can’t say enough how grateful we are for our CSA members. I wrote about how we needed members to pay for their 2017 shares as early as possible and you have been doing that. I asked if there were any graphic designers interested in helping us develop a logo and was flooded with responses from people willing to trade their skills for vegetables. I don’t want every post I write to always be asking for your help, but I guess that’s where we’re at these days! Jeez, thank you for even reading this!

So join our Early Spring CSA as soon as you can. This CSA has always filled up fast. But it also will help us make sure that we can get all the work done this winter that will make the rest of the year run smoothly, and the farm become truly sustainable.

 

 

Happy Winter Solstice!

We wish you all health and happiness on the longest night of the year.

We took a break from harvesting this week, to have a chance to rest, and get ready for family celebrations. Also to reflect, and start planning the year ahead. I’m taking some big, deep breaths. So much was built, so much was planted, we had not enough help, so many weeds, so little rain. But we got through it, and will be better off next year. Our irrigation pond was so filled with muck from years of neglect, we had to have it dug out. An expense we hadn’t planned on, but it was worth it. Since then, Matt has been taking stones from the field and piling them up near the outlet.

It’s looking nearly ready for skating on now.farm-pond

And as the sun returns we will be using it to power our high tunnel and greenhouse fans and a new cooling shed for our vegetables. We were one of 3 farms to receive grants from the Rhode Island Farm Energy Program; a link to a nice ProJo article about that is here.

Here’s the sun today, barely shining through the clouds, almost done with us at 3:30 pm.winter-solstice

I’m home, getting ready to make a fire and burn off this year’s struggles. Then make wishes for the days ahead. I hope to hear from you. If you plan to join our 2017 CSA, join as early as you can! Info about that is here. Pricing this year is an effort to encourage you early birds! And folks who are interested in buying shares as a gift for the holidays.

If you are interested in a work trade, or want to share with me some of your favorite vegetables (as we are starting to get our seed catalogs now)  shoot me an email at redplanetvegetables@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

Join us to plant garlic and TULIPS

The weather is still looking pretty good for working outside next week. We have to plant the beautiful garlic we grew last year from Earthcare Farm’s seed.  Look how pretty it was last spring!

garlic

We also have a big bag of organic tulip bulbs from Wicked Tulips!

Come out to the farm next Tuesday, December 6

We’ll start after noon, and will have a fire going and some snacks.  For more details, or if you want to let me know if you can come, email me at redplanetvegetables@gmail.com

Enjoying the winter

The days are so short right now we often end up working in the dark. Matt took a photo of row cover glowing under our namesake star, Mars.

mars-over-red-planet

While he’s out at the farm, I’m home thinking about how the season has gone, and how it’s getting better and better at our new location. And also about the holidays coming up. We have updated the info about our Main Season CSA in case you are thinking about buying someone a share as a gift, or if you want to give us the gift of paying early!

Early birds get to pay 2016 prices; that’s true for you and for us. The earlier we get our supply orders and seed orders in, the better the pricing and the selection. And the better prepared we can be to have the most amazing year ever.

Just last week Matt installed a woodstove in our washroom, and cut out a doorway from there to our little greenhouse. This means we hopefully will not have to buy propane to keep our seedlings warm in the new year. And it means we have a warm room to wash our winter vegetables! Here’s a bit of what our members received yesterday: early-winter-week-2

We are so grateful for the support and friendship of our CSA members.

Early Winter CSA starts November 21

Phew! The start date is almost here, and I’ve been kind of out of my mind lately, but I need to talk to you about this Early Winter CSA.

It’s the 12th, and we haven’t had too many frosts. We’re still picking peppers and cherry tomatoes out of our high tunnels. At the same time, we are cleaning out beds and seeding radishes and greens where the big tomatoes had been. The little bitty greenhouse has flats of brassicas and herbs that need to be transplanted. Out in the field, we have turnips, carrots, hardy herbs, kale, chard, lettuce and arugula, and a bunch of other things. These all need to be covered like this:

row-cover

So! 2 things. Did you want to join us for 6 weeks of produce starting 11/21 and going into the start of 2017? We have a few openings so read about it here and get in touch as soon as possible! And if this rather warm and beautiful fall weather makes you want to play outside, consider coming out to the farm this week to help us get things safely under cover. Contact me at redplantvegetables@gmail.com. I will be out there Sunday, Monday Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.

 

Testimonial

We still have space in our main season CSA, as we are trying to build it back up after the big move.  I have to admit that I haven’t really known what to do to promote the CSA. One thing that feels really good is seeing former members come back to us, but I rarely think to ask their reasons.  This week I got such a sweet message, I want to share it.

I’m writing to see if your still selling shares. I moved farther from the providence area and changed my csa to something more local, but guess what? I honestly missed your produce! Your purple potatoes, herbs and the variety of vegetables you offer was superb.