Farm Olympics

-Erika Rumbley

As farmers, we’re perennially balancing the past, present and future. Each day we watch the results of our actions unfold and make mental notes of adjustments for next season. This August, this means watching our plants come-of-age with plenty of heat and little rain. Many of you have been asking, ‘How’s the drought?’

The truth is that drought has its benefits:
·      Dry weather is excellent for weeding and our crew has kept morale astoundingly high as they hoe up and down rows all across the farm.
·      Looks like we’re growing our best tomato crop yet! Gorgeous red slicers, sweet cherries and delicious, quirky heirlooms are staking out more and more real estate in the farm stand these days.
·      Popular wisdom tells us that melons grown in dry conditions are small and sweet. After cracking open a few delicious cantaloupe in the beds of farm trucks this week, I can attest!
·      Jim gets even more of a work-out than usual hauling irrigation supplies from field to field!
We’re doing our best to build resilient farm systems at Langwater. These ‘stressful’ bouts are what we’ve been training for! Welcome to the ‘Farm Olympics’, folks! By stewarding soil rich in organic matter (from our own compost and a blend of cover crops), rotating our crops, growing healthy seedlings and training a strong crew, we’ve been working towards these hot, bountiful days of August. Wish us luck as we compete & haul in all those tomatoes. Enjoy those tomato sandwiches…

Longest Days, Shifting Landscapes

-Erika Rumbley

The Langwater landscape is shifting as we enjoy the longest days of the year. Until recently, the farm was a patchwork of tall, lush cover crops- grasses and legumes that farmers plant to cover and build soil between plantings. At Langwater, we work extra hard to incorporate cover crops into our crop rotations because we take soil stewardship seriously. The benefits are huge! Here’s a couple: preventing erosion, providing habitat for pollinators, increasing organic matter. Some cover crops even draw nutrients and micro-nutrients up from the deep. Powerful plants!

Spring was a magnificent procession from the deep green of rye and winter wheat into the wild, lavender masses of vetch. Before cover crops produce viable seed, they are mowed, chopped and incorporated into the soil to make way for the next planting. Right now, this shift is in full swing as we transplant the last rounds of summer crops <pepper, eggplant, melon> and the first fall seedlings <Brussels sprouts!>

As we enjoy these long, sunny days, we’re hustling out in the field to keep up. Not only do our fruits, vegetables and flowers flourish with abundant sun, the weeds are taking off as well. Stay tuned to future newsletters where we’ll tackle the art and strategy of keeping the weeds at bay on an organic farm. In the meantime, take a look at those shifting fields! It’s a gorgeous time of year and the abundance is only beginning.


Winter Mercy

-Erika Rumbley
20160119_112811I write to you from the glowing, empty greenhouse.
Winter at Langwater Farm is surprisingly bustling. Each week we haul thousands of pounds of vegetables out of storage and harvest greens. Beets are washed, sweet potatoes graded and winter squash polished. It’s also the season of planning and digging through our memories. We gather in the barn around a table littered with spreadsheets to learn from the past. Let’s grow more of that fabulous, popular cabbage. Let’s try that new technique for growing flowers between rows of Brussels sprouts. Its not just about growing practices. We set resolutions and make proclamations. We will keep our knives sharp. We will work hard, communicate clearly and believe in each other’s best intentions. 
The farmer’s winter is driven forward by the irresistible belief that this season will be different. Our ideas and ideals will find easy embodiment when the snow thaws. We will re-enact our successes and find solutions to our shortcomings. It’s a new growing season and we’ll carry all the lessons of past growing seasons with us. They will help us see clearly.

In a few weeks, we will heat this greenhouse and fill this space with new life. For now, I’m overcome by a sense of hope in the face of this cleared out space. Oh, the mercy of a fresh start! May you all find ways to start anew as the spring approaches.