In Defense of Meat

I’ve been talking about meat eating vs. veganism and how we make these choices with a lot of different people lately. I think this piece reflects my views in a lot of ways. Please join the conversation!

Deep Roots Farm

This article isn’t meant to convert vegetarians or vegans into paleo fanatics, but merely to help people take off their blinders and take a little more responsibility for the food they eat. And for the record, I bought an avocado AND an artichoke today that were both grown in California so I am by no means eating a perfect diet. I would guestimate that about 75% of my calories are local, but I am human, aka not perfect, after all.

A few weeks ago I attended a two-day soil workshop hosted by a pretty brilliant farmer down the road from me. In those two days I was transported back in time to Chemistry class, not my favorite. But this time, I was spellbound. Soil! What a complex and miraculous substance! We talked about physical structure, cation exchange, nutrient cycle, and plant health. As we were talking about nutrients and how to get them…

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Red Planet Main Season CSA: Sign-up Time.

There are still memberships available, so we hope you will help us get our work done joining the Main Season CSA today! We are plunging into the main planting season for all those delicious crops that will show up in your CSA shares this Summer and Fall. Now is when we start the long Spring project of fixing stuff, preparing beds, applying soil amendments, seeding and transplanting, all of which will set the stage for a great harvest all year long.

To do this complicated annual project the right way and offer the best possible produce each season, timing is critical. As you all know, we grow 40+ different kinds of vegetables; each one requires a different planting schedule and unique care and feeding. The farm relies on the awesome support of our CSA members to pay for all the labor and materials we need to help our farm thrive, so your membership payment in the Spring really does mean the difference between good harvest and a great one in the Summer and Fall.

Please pitch in and help the farm out this week by joining the main season CSA, so we can continue to cover our costs and get our work done well and in time for the upcoming season. Paying now really does make for more bountiful and higher quality produce, because we farmers have the resources we need to do our work properly. Here’s the sign-up page where you can download a mail-in form OR join via Paypal: https://redplanetvegetables.com/csa-2017/

And if anyone’s interested, here’s a random sampling from our Spring shopping list, a few of the many ingredients that go into the business of farming at Red Planet:

  • 225 lbs of seed potatoes
  • 3 tons of Texas peanut meal (natural source of nitrogen and potassium for our soil)
  • New seals and packing for the tractor’s hydraulic system
  • 3-400 lbs of propane to supplement our woodstove in the greenhouse
  • 25 lbs of beans and peas
  • 3000 feet of drip tape (maybe we can beat the drought this year…)
  • 40 yards of gravel to improve our muddy parking areas
  • 300 Asparagus roots
  • 2 tons of potting mix
  • New mower blades

 

Matt’s Wood Duck Box

Did you ever watch the PBS Duckumentary? We were totally charmed by these guys:

woodducks.jpg

So when Matt found out he could build a wood duck box and we had a spot they might really like he got right on it.

wood duck box

This is down by the irrigation pond, a really nice walk any time of year.  At the same time that we are working to build healthy soil and grow beautiful vegetables at the new farm, we also are working to make this amazing spot right outside of Providence into a fun place to explore nature. Get in touch if you’d like to find out more about what we’re doing.

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