Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Farm Visit

This last weekend has been a good weekend for farmers-well, socially that is. Friday there was an independent film festival called Free Range Film Festival at the Food Farm in Wrenshal, just south of Duluth, MN. Scores of films ranging from seconds to hours, serious to hilarious, were shown in their hayloft in the beautiful country. Saturday morning was a fantastic farm tour of the Food Farm (pictures below), and Saturday night was the  Young Farmers Mixer at the Spring Wind Farm, just a mile up the dirt road from our farm. It was put on by the Greenhorns, a national non-profit that supports and promotes young farmers. We feasted on delicious local produce, got to meet a lot of inspiring local, young farmers, and danced the night away square dance style in their barn. And Sunday of course was the mid-summer potluck at the SEEDS Farm! Phew, what a weekend!

Though the real reason I (Becca) went to Wrenshal was to see their root cellar. The picture below is surprisingly the only picture I got of their 28x32 root cellar. It is of their squash room. The picture looks bare now, but at the end of fall, is full of tons of squash- literally. Click here for a picture of the squash room in the fall! The squash like it dry and warm, so this insulated squash dedicated room hangs out apart from the rest of the cellar, which is cold and dry. The potatoes hang out there in bins, washed and ready for the market/CSA share throughout the winter. Carrots, beets, parshnips, rutabaga, and cabbage like humid and cold conditions, so they are tucked away in plastic bags in bins in order to keep moisture in.

The squash need a lot of ventilation-which these shelves provide!

The root cellar at the Food Farm was incredible. The limiting factor for most root cellars is getting it cool enough in the fall. To deal with this, the FF blows in cold night air once the temperature is cooler outside than inside. After the cellar is cooled, it relies on the thermal heat to keep it from freezing. The ground will stay a steady 42 degrees. Cheapest refridgeration I can think of!

.....though some crops like it cooler than 42. And some like it warmer... By blowing cold air from outside in and heating the squash room with a baseboard heater, their cellar is able to keep each room perfect for each crop. They only spend $200/year on electricity for this!

The SEEDS Farm is planning on building our own root cellar this summer, and we are realizing there is much more to building one than we thought! We're plugging away at the research, and are excited to start construction soon. The cellar will go into the hill by where the goats and chickens are now. Exact dimension are still to be determined. The construction will be part of a class we are teaching on August 20th. Our hope is to encourage a network of root cellars to be built, each dedicating a portion of their cellar to the food shelf. Our cellar will serve as a prototype, and hopefully with the accompanying business plan and detailed savings throughout the season (through extension of season), Northfield will be sprouting more root cellars soon!

Below are some pictures of the Food Farm. It is so helpful and inspiring to see how other farms work!

This tunnel was full of the most beautiful tomatoes I've laid eyes on. Each plant climbs up a string hung from the ceiling.

The tomato plants were taller than Emily! The tunnel smelt delicious-filled with tomato pollen and basil

The garlic turning. Close to ahrvest time!

Carrots growing for storage in the root cellar.

I wish our crops were this weed free!

I also wish I had one of these to help keep it weed free...


Beets! Also growing for storage in the root cellar.

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