happy Earth-day from Three Part Harmony Farm

raised beds – planting potatoes at the new farm, spring 2022

Happy Earth day: thank you sun, thank you rain, thank you soil, thank you planet!

What a great idea to celebrate the Earth every year. I recently listened to a story that included pieces of interviews done with two of the co-founders of Earth Day. Unsurprisingly, a white washed history that I was taught didn’t seem to include the instrumental role of Arturo Sandoval, an environmental and social justice organizer from New Mexico. A quick internet search did just find this article, in case anyone is interested in reading more.

For farmers, every day is Earth Day of course! I know that there are a lot of events and activities to participate in today and this week. But this is the busiest April that I can remember so it was all I could do today to focus on getting the farm caught up

The sunny day was quite a treat after yet another light freeze.

There are so many updates this spring from the farm:

3PH Awarded $50,000 grant from Nourish DC!
I’m not sure when the farm has had bigger news to share. I’m just so honored and thrilled – and frankly shocked! to be among a somewhat small number of businesses who received a $50,000 grant from Nourish DC and Capital Impact Partners. This is the single biggest financial investment ever made, which means we can actually buy something with this grant! The walk in cooler will get upgraded (no more tomatoes vs. lettuce fighting over temp settings, now we will have two separate zones!) and for the first time ever we will have sturdy, professional grade winter growing tunnels. Of equal significance though it is lower in the total dollar amount, there is some money in the budget to extend my staffing. A common staffing pattern for a seasonal farm is to hire workers from May – October. That’s really challenging and terrible for obvious reasons. The grant will allow me to offer extended paid work to the staff, which may mean that no one has to look for winter work when we are always the most tired.

Members of the diverse collaborators that helped usher this program to completion were able to visit the farm on April 5th (photo above, courtesy of Capital Impact Partners.) I look forward to having everyone back in a few months to see what we have accomplished!

Continuing to hone our systems!
I was able to till a few beds on Monday, right before the rain. The previous day we had painstakingly used a shovel to create raised beds at the new farm to plant potatoes. I don’t remember ever making raised beds in DC. I took the photo above when I was done preparing the beds so that I could remember what 10 years of soil building looks like. In the end, I do have raised beds. I just never used a shovel for the plot in DC.

We have done a little experimenting this year, adding on to our mostly no-till system. We have used both straw and compost applied thickly on top of beds and then put a silage tarp on top of that. The weeds die under the tarp, but then we have to use digging forks and a broadfork to loosen the bed. That time consuming task is fun and rewarding and takes way too long! At some point when I am too behind in seeding, I have to pull out the tiller to get back on track according to the calendar. We should be back on schedule with the crop plan by Monday.

A glimpse of beauty before the end of overwintered greens
We were able to send away about 20 cases of kale and collards to the Ward 8 (East of the River) Mutualaid group in March and April. I tried to keep them as long as I could. The collard green flowers are among the most beautiful. They are a totally different shade of yellow than the other brassicas.

I was admiring the long row of flowers and the many different kinds of bees buzzing all around when I noticed a clump of harlequin bugs: noooooo!!!! I am sure I squished them all though so there’s nothing to worry about.

By the way – thanks again to all of the CSA members who added a donation to your payment, and to everyone who sent checks or donated via the paypal button on the website here’s the link in case you still want to donate! 100% of those donations support the free veggie program.