It’s official. We’re now sharecroppers/land-sharers/what-have-you. Yesterday we walked the property for several hours with Jonathan, a young experienced organic farmer looking for somewhere to put down roots, literally. In exchange for the use of our land, he’ll help out with grounds-keeping and property stuff 5 hours a week .
We’ve actually had the idea to do this for some time, but the right moment hadn’t really presented itself. Where we call home is situated on 12 acres, down a dirt road. While much of the property is made up of a wooded mountainside, there is a 1 1/2 acre parcel that can be farmed. Inspired recently by British chef/teacher/gardener/t.v. personality extraordinaire Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his campaign for landshare in the U.K., I posted an a.d. with a local agricultural non-profit and began the search for the perfect person.
Here’s the greenhouse Jonathan will be using in its current state. The previous owners ran an organic herb and edible flower farm out of here (in addition to another 2 greenhouses up closer to our home).
He’s planning on putting up new plastic sometime around the end of February and installing a pump in the creek running adjacent to the greenhouse. Tomatoes will be grown indoors and peppers will be grown in the field, in addition to other crops.
I couldn’t be more thrilled. With no money being exchanged, he gets a place to toil the soil while I have a real live farmer to direct all my questions about soil composition and irrigation and tomato hornworms at.
This box of citrus delights greeted me at the post office yesterday. Thanks to my Pop for mailing me the hefty package and thanks to my step-mom, Gail, for doing the picking. I usually pilfer with permission a whole mess of kumquats from my dad’s neighbor’s tree (got that?) in Florida when I visit during the holidays. I didn’t make it down this year, though, and dad and Gail very, very generously complied with my request to send me some in exchange for a jar of something. That something, I’ve decided, will be kumquat marmalade, the recipe for which will also be featured in my book on Canning and Preserving, (shameless publicity alert!) due out in print March 2010. Last year, I candied the kumquats I picked off and topped a ricotta cheesecake with them. Delish!
I was doing some research on Victory Gardens for the Canning & Preserving book and came across this inspiring video. The before and after photos of the White House are so telling.
The chickens weren’t too sure about all this white stuff. They refused to move out from their patch of dirt. This is the first significant accumulation (don’t laugh, Northerners!) we’ve had this season. It’s at about 1/2 inch and still coming down. Perfect for holing up indoors by the wood stove, creating recipes, drinking hot beverages, and welcoming in the next president!