Irrigating Strawberries and Fighting with Row Cover in the Wind

We are surprised by the long drawn out spring with the cold, windy and dry weather! Everything seems to be on hold and  poised ready to burst forth, just waiting for  some encouragement from weather! We are hoping to have our first CSA pick-up on Tuesday, May 8,  and have faith that it will warm up in the meantime. It has been  very dry for April and we got out the overhead irrigation to water the strawberries and our early planted garden. Friday and part of Saturday we spent removing row cover, row cultivating, hoeing, recovering with row cover and then irrigating. Working with row cover in the high winds is quite a challenge. Last Monday the wind was also quite a force to contend with, while planting our new strawberry plants for the 2013 season the apprentices thought it was quite comical to see me almost blown off my feet. I really can’t remember it ever being that windy.

Grayden, Elizabeth, Amanda, Bill and Paul

The coming week will be full of activity here on the farm. We have another batch of direct seeding to do in the garden, we also have our first outdoor transplants of onions, leeks, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, celeriac, kohlrabi, fennel, head lettuce, parsley and radicchio to go in. It is also time to start our greenhouse transplants of melons, squash and more broccoli, cabbage as well as brussels sprouts.

Hooking up at the Irrigation Pond

Our Suffolk Punch Draft horses will be busy discing and cultivating the garden area to be planted and Ken also wants to  plough the ground for the 2013 garden so we can start preparing the soil for a good crop next season. We purchased two 15 year old Suffolk x Belgian geldings that were actually  born here on the farm to help with our horse power. Unfortunately, they need some conditioning and discing will be a good way to introduce them back to working…Gena is hoping that they step up to the plate so she doesn’t have to work so hard this season.



We have been enjoying the drawn out spring weather. It’s hard to keep track of all the activities that have been taking place. Our CSA membership is full for the season. We have started a waiting list in case some spots  open up. The oats are planted after some considerable frustration with getting the proper seed after we were sent “treated” seed which as organic farmers we were unable to plant.  We purchased  a new horse drawn implement this spring called a  “cultimulcher”  for working up the ground. It prepares a lovely seed bed to plant into. It also fits perfectly between our rows of fall raspberries, which is an added bonus!

Happy Greenhouse Transplants

Our hoop houses have all been planted to head lettuce and early greens to help with the first pick-ups of the season.  We have tomatoes and peppers started in the greenhouse to be transplanted into the hoop houses once the weather is warmer.  The other transplants growing in the new greenhouse are very happy and it’s wonderful to have such a welcoming growing environment to work in. We are still adjusting the ventilation. The rock storage is helping to moderate the temperature over night, however we have still been using a wood stove for extra warmth overnight and on cool cloudy days.

Amanda Transplanting Peppers

The first seedlings have germinated under the row  cover in the main garden and we have planted  potatoes  this week as well as another round of carrots, beets,  spinach etc. in the main garden.

The end of last week we had a Draft Horse Workshop  for our apprentices and two outside participants. Our son, Grayden, came home to help teach the workshop and everyone made great strides in their teamster abilities.  Caesar enjoyed the workshop as much as anyone, following along and getting lots of attention from everyone as they waited for their turn to drive.  Of course riding on the wagon is always one of his favorite activities.


The apprentices have been busy planting hoop houses, building greenhouse benches, weeding perennial crops and turning compost piles. I have asked each of them to introduce themselves as follows:

Elizabeth Hammond



I’m Elizabeth Hammond. I grew up in Central New York, and this is my third year working on farms.  I studied Agroecology in the Pacific Northwest for a little bit, then returned to New York  State to start working. I’ve come to Orchard Hill to learn about this wonderful draft horse powered CSA, and to hopefully help out a bit. I love farming, and I hope to one day be farming with horses on my own. Maybe some raw milk. I also love cooking really big meals and making cheese. Dogs are pretty great, too.



Paul Papadatos

My name is Paul Papadatos.  I am 25 years old and this is my 5th year as a farm apprentice. I came to OHF from New York State to learn about how to farm with draft horses.  Farming is a way of life for me and I cannot imagine spending my time any other way.   I enjoy reading, eating, climbing on things, farm animals, swimming and bike riding. I hope to someday have a farm/homestead of my own.


Amanda Luchsinger

Hi! My name is Amanda Luchsinger and I was born in Toronto, but have been living in Santiago, Chile since I was 8 years old, in 1995. Back there, I studied Agronomy and currently I am finishing my thesis on ecological restoration for my degree. I have always been interested in organic production and getting the community involved in their own food production in some way, but in Chile, the opportunities for this are scarce, so when a friend of my mom’s from London introduced me to Ken and Martha and said that they received apprentices, I asked for an interview immediately back in 2009 so I could work when I finished my studies! I hope to start a CSA farm in Chile and allow more people to get involved in their own food production, opting for a better life quality and health.


Bill van Zanten

My name is Bill van Zanten.  I was born and raised in Port Stanley, not far from Orchard Hill Farm.  Some of you may know my parents and relatives who still live and work in the area.

After more than a decade of living in Western Canada while working in silviculture, forestry, and mineral exploration, I have returned home to pursue another sort of natural resource.  I am thrilled to have been selected for apprenticeship at Orchard Hill Farm and I look forward to meeting all of the CSA members.