Over the past two weeks, we’ve harvested our first beets and carrots, transplanted hundreds of basil starts, greeted our first zucchini flower, and we’re now counting down the days ’til we can enjoy our first heirloom tomatoes. Though the farm is in full bloom, we’re also aware that this year is one of transition for the knoll.
Jay Leshinsky, the farm’s former manager and our wise vegetable whisperer, reviewed soil tests with us last week. The results show that past ten years of full-capacity farming have taken a toll on our soil’s fertility, depleting mineral levels and depositing too much green matter. Simply put, the farm needs a rest.
Consequently, we’ve had to re-think our fall planting schedule. Several beds, especially our oldest ones, will not be cultivated this year. Less planting means less harvesting, but we’re still excited for the “Year of Regeneration” that awaits us; the simple, biological realities that we’re facing provide us with a great opportunity to shift our perspective on what farming means. We’ll have more freedom to experiment with smaller plantings of new crops, like sweet corn for Weybridge House. We’ll have more flexibility in our schedules for new projects, like designing menus with farm produce and building a bike-powered salad spinner. And we’ll have more time to visit with other local producers, like our friends at Elmer Farm, Lincoln Peak, Shelburne Farms, and Golden Russet.
In recent conversations about Regeneration, we’ve found ourselves returning to MCOF’s founding principle, “slow the plough.” Like all farmers do, we hope our plantings will yield healthy harvests, but maximizing output is not our only goal. We strive to see our work holistically; the knoll is also a place where we harvest experience. Where we cultivate community. Where we plant visions and watch ideas take root. Where we work on Mother Nature’s timing, not our own.
So here’s what we’re pondering: what does it mean to be stewards of the land? And how can we preserve this place- and this experience- for future generations? We’re excited to see where the conversation takes us.