Spring is here, spring is here!!  Since that is the case, please don’t judge me when you see me in person and I constantly have dirt under my fingernails; that is a constant battle that I tend to lose.

Our hoop house will look similiar to this

Great news, we have received word from the NRCS that we are accepted into their High Tunnel Initiative program, and will receive a grant to install a high tunnel!  If you’re not familiar with a high tunnel (also known as a hoop house) just think of it as an unheated greenhouse.  This is a game-changer for the farm!  Having this structure will allow for me to grow in a more controlled environment and I’m so excited to get this puppy installed.  High Tunnels are great because they allow me to regulate the growing environment so much more than in the field.  The high tunnel will also allow me to extend the growing season so you will be able to enjoy DUG greens both earlier in the spring and later in the fall!  

We ordered the structure a few weeks ago and hope to get in installed by early May.  We will be working with Practical Farmers of Iowa to host a “barn-raising” event for the high tunnel build.  We ordered our high tunnel from a company in Ohio called Tunnel Vision Hoops, and Todd (a co-owner of the company) will come out and help us with the install.  If you are interested in being a part of the construction of the high tunnel please let me know.

A huge shout out to Steve Darcy from Quality Cut Lawn Care.  He did such great work getting the land ready for the high tunnel.  We brought in 10 loads of soil and he graded the land and also installed a swale that should help control some areas where we had pooling water last season.  51st Street does not have curbs/sewers so a lot of the water run off from the road ended up pooling next to our farm driveway. We are optimistic this dirt work will help to alleviate our standing water issues.  If you are in need of lawn care and or landscape services I highly recommend Quality Cut Lawn Care.

As the weather is getting nicer I have been enjoying getting to work in the field.  I've been able to get about ⅓ of my beds prepped and ready for planting.  When I prep beds it involves applying compost, broad forking the soil to increase airflow and loosen up compaction, using a landscape rake to get the beds shaped properly, and finally going over the beds with a roller to get a firm/flat seed bed.  My goal is to get as many beds prepped ahead of time which will make planting go so much quicker.  I’m also hoping to re-tarp most of the plot next week.  I have found the tarps to do a great job with weed control.

Transplanted lettuces all tucked in.

On Tuesday I was able to transplant my first seeds of the season!  The unexpected part was that most of the time I was transplanting it was snowing!  I got in the field early that morning to try to get a jump start on what (I thought) was going to be rain, which instead turned into beautiful massive snowflakes.  The snow was actually kind of nice because I was still able to transplant and it helped to gently water in the baby plants into their new home.  The snow melted about 90 minutes later and the new lettuce and kale transplants are doing great.  

My basement nursery is continuing to see a lot of seed starting action!  Microgreen production continues to increase.  I recently picked up an account with La Mie Elevate and am thrilled to be working with them.  If you haven’t checked out their new location (on the skywalk in the Ruan Building) you must make it a to-do.  The atmosphere is great and the food never disappoints.  

Lettuces hardening off in preperation for transplanting.

Along with microgreen production, I also have lettuces, kale, swiss chard, edible flowers, tomatoes, and peppers happily growing.  Today I plan to start more lettuces to get transplanted out in about a month.

In honor of national puppy day, Monroe spent the day with me at the farm.

Next week I will start to direct seeds some more plants out in the plot.  Spinach, mustard greens, radish, turnips, baby kale, and arugula are all expected to be planted early next week.  Each week the beds will continue to get more and more things planted.

Earlier this week we had our hearing with Polk County and our application for a Conditional Use Permit on at the farm was accepted!   One of our main objectives with getting the Conditional Use Permit is that it will allow us to install permanent signage at the farm.  The Conditional Use Permit will also open the doors for us to be able to host events at the farm, so that is great news!  We had record responses of support from those of you in the community and that means so much to us...THANK YOU!

Within the next few weeks we will be focusing on revamping the FarmStand and getting it ready-to-roll for opening weekend (Mother’s Day weekend).  Yesterday we got a new 2-door glass front fridge.  I envision this new fridge being stocked full with DUG greens!  Eric will start building new and improved displays.  The new displays are being built using wood from the trees we took down on the farm last season.  We had it milled and it’s been curing under a deck for almost a year.  It should be good to go soon and I love that we are able to repurpose that wood in this manner.  In about 6 weeks the FarmStand will be transformed from the off-season poker night spot to your destination to purchase fresh, seasonal produce!

If you missed our recent feature blog on Made in DSM be sure to check it here.  The boys at Made in DSM are wonderful and I love their mission of, “Wanting to remind people why Des Moines matters. By collaborating with other great designers, companies, and start-ups we plan on showing what’s great about Des Moines, Iowa."  The questions they ask people are great and I love how unique they.  Reading their blogs really allows you to better get to know that person.  I recommend getting on their mailing list so stay current on their blog updates

Cheers!

Your Urban FarmHer, Jenny