Lots of great things are happening at DUG giving us positive momentum as we quickly approach the u- and-coming grow season.  The farm is still a work in progress but more tasks are getting crossed off the “to-do list” daily.

The farm sign is currently under construction and making great progress!  My husband built it using wood from an oak tree that we had to cut down in our backyard.  Like so many of our farm projects, many people have contributed to the creation of this sign.  Once the sign is complete I'll blog about the whole process from start to finish.

I had a great week of meeting and connecting with chefs in the Des Moines metro. There is excitement toward what DUG is doing and it's always a bonus to get cell phone numbers from chefs!

I'm in the process of expanding the indoor nursery so I can get transplants started.  I was able to purchase a bulk amount of shop lights for a great deal and will be using those for starting the seeds. In an ideal world, transplants are exposed to more natural light as opposed to indoor lighting, but sadly we won’t be able to have a high tunnel this grow season.  I’m very optimistic we will have one for the 2017 season and will be able to use that for most of our transplants.  I’m learning quickly that part of farming is being able to adapt to your surroundings, and available resources, at the current time and place.

I was able to have two coffee meetings with ladies doing great things for the agricultural field in Des Moines.  Courtney Long works for the Iowa State University Community Design Lab and is also associated with the Agricultural Urbanism Toolkit.  She has been traveling the Midwest visiting various farms and is is very plugged into local food systems.  She filled me in on different programs that could be helpful for me as well as talked me through ways to design the DUG farm plot.  I also met with Jennifer Miller from Clarion Sage in Waukee.  Jennifer and I have similiar grow philosophies and it was wonderful to pick her brain and learn more about her processes.  I’m looking forward to being able to distribute her products at our farm stand.

This past Saturday I visited Black Cat Acres in Nevada, IA.  Black Cat is an organic farm and is owned by Deb and Ken Blackledge.  Deb and Ken have been farming for many years and it was nice to be able to sit down with them and talk farm.  Honestly, I wish I could have stayed longer!  I drove there because they recently began distributing Cowsmo products (from Wisconsin).  Cowsmo is a highly reputable product  and I purchased organic compost and organic seed starting medium.   Along with the compost and potting mix, I also purchased homemade gourd birdhouses that Deb and Ken built.  They are beautiful and the whole production (from gourd growth, to painting, to creating a hanging mechanism) was done by Deb and Ken.  I’m excited to be able to sell them at our farm stand because they will make great homes for some lucky birds!

On one of my days off from teaching, I was able to attend a Transplant Production class that was hosted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.  Horticulturalists and Plant Pathologists discussed topics ranging from light, water, grow environment, pests/diseases, and growing mediums.  It was a very informative class and I’m glad I was able to attend.  I had a lot of great take-away points, but something else that was exciting was that it reinforced many ideas that I was already familiar with.  It was reassuring to feel like my knowledge base about growing plant transplants has a strong foundation.

With all these great things happening these past few weeks you would think my to do list would be getting smaller, yet somehow it keeps growing!  Let’s hope my plants grow as well as my lists!

Your Urban FarmHer, Jenny

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eric and Lucas bending hoops for low tunnels (and a sneak peak at the sign)

 

The current state of our nursery.  Within the next few days both grow racks will be equipped with lights, there will have a seed germination station, as well as 1 more rack for growing.

 

Adding some color to the microgreen arsenal with Bulls Blood Beets and Red Cabbage.  Both trays are 5 days post seed sowing.

 

Black Cat Acres beautiful farm

 

Notes from the Transplant Production course

For those of you starting you own transplants, this is a very helpful chart for soil temperatures for seed germination (http://ag.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/mg/vegetable/temperature.html)