Expanding Wash Area

Those of you who have done a working share in the last couple of years may have noticed that we have been expanding into the back yard with additional washing stations when we wash produce before a pick-up. The clay ground can become quite muddy…as a result we have decided to dig out some of the clay and add some more crushed stone. Jesse and Sheri have done a majority of the work, although Caesar tried to take some credit in the picture of them resting from their labours!

Aylmer Youth Group visit

Last Saturday we had a youth group from St. Paul’s church in Aylmer come to visit the farm and see how we grow our early vegetables. They toured the greenhouse, hot bed, hoop houses and barn. Sheri showed them how to plant a few beans to take home and start indoors. It was a cold day and they were very happy to step inside the greenhouse and hoop houses.

We have been continuing to plant and care for our early seedlings. Our work horses have already done the first cultivation in the garden. We were busy taking the row cover off and putting it back on again after. It is quite a job, but really makes a difference in bringing those young early plants along. We have also planted a new block of raspberries and strawberries for the future and next week we plan to plant out our onions, leeks and potatoes.

The apprentices have been learning to drive the draft horses and have all tried their hands at plowing. We are having a draft horse workshop the last part of this week and Nora and Jesse will be taking part. A young German girl was planning to arrive at the farm last Saturday to stay until early July. She is now planning to come on April 26th due to the canceled air travel from the volcano!

We have 7 shares still available so if you know someone who is interested in joining there is still room.

Sheri weaving rug for Bunkhouse
We welcomed the rain during the past week. Our early garden was already planted and I was starting to worry that we were going to have to start irrigating in April! Ken and our working horses had also planted some Red Fife wheat, a variety of heritage wheat for our bakers to try. The rain will help everything off to a good start.

After having most of the winter off, it doesn’t hurt for a work horse to have some cooler weather and a bit of a rest. It can be hard on heavy horses when the weather becomes extremely warm early in the spring before they are accustomed to it and they are back in working condition.

Nora weaving rug for Bunkhouse

Having had some unsuccessful attempts looking for an area rug for the Bunkhouse I decided that a good rainy day activity was to weave a rag rug. The project met with considerable enthusiasm from the apprentices. The project is coming along well and we are getting excited to see it off the loom. Jesse took some time off weaving to cook supper. Today Nora and Jesse are off at a farm auction sale bidding on a grain bin and an irrigation pipe wagon. We are anxious to see if they end up getting anything. Yesterday, when Ken and the apprentices went over to look over the items for auction, Nora thought that the massive combines looked like “Transformers”. Over the years we have purchased many items at auctions and hopefully it will be a good learning experience for them.

Jesse cooking super

Nora and Jesse bonding with Caesar

Our two full season apprentice, Nora and Jesse, have arrived for the 2010 season. We are happy to have the much needed help and are excited to have the bunkhouse ready for occupancy!

Hello there, my name is Nora and I am a new full season apprentice on the ‘Hill. I am from Rockville, Maryland originally, and pretend to be Canadian when I get the chance. I have worked on and off organic CSA farms since 2005, in far out places such as Michigan, Maryland, New York and Ontario. Halfway through last season, which I spent at the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, a great mission-based non-profit farm in the Hudson Valley, it dawned on me that I really and truly wanted to farm for a living, and I needed to learn how to farm with horses. Maciej, a friend of mine and former apprentice, said Orchard Hill was just the horse’s feathers, and so here I am! I’m still trying to hone in on what my farming dream is, but I think it contains these adjectives and nouns: cooperative, draft power, friends, grains, direct, family, justice, beans, democracy, seeds, and songs. I’m looking for ways to farm during the day, and to help build more just and beautiful community-based food systems at night. Thanks in advance for welcoming me into yours!

Hello, my name is Jesse and I am currently an apprentice at Orchard Hill Farm. Originally, I am from Sarnia (Chemical Valley) and am, to be frank, enjoying my time away. Although I have no previous farming experience, I have come quick to realize I’ve chosen (and been chosen) to be part of a farm that is nearly wise itself.

This week Sheri Fleischauer arrived for the month of April. We look forward to getting to know Sheri and perhaps finding some time to for her to teach us some of her basket making skills.  She is from another Ontario organic farm and has already proven to be a great addition to the crew here.

Sheri, Jesse and Nora transplanting lettuce in the Hoop House

Ken breaking the team in for the season with Caesar supervising