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Farming and the Local Food Scene: Gearing up for the farming season at Forty North Farm

Working as a farm-hand at Forty North Farm, there’s a wide range of tasks to complete with the goal of gearing up for the farming season. “Chores” (which are much more fun than any chores I had growing up) set the structure and boundaries for the day and include feeding, watering, and moving animals around (for example, moving the pigs around to till the soil). After chores in the morning, Keenan and Elizabeth have been focusing on preparing their land for the upcoming farming season. Questions such as “Where to build the greenhouse?”, “How many hundreds of small branches do we need to complete the wattle fence for the herb garden?” , and “How many acres of open pasture are there for possible production?” are all investigated and addressed, usually with a chorus of gobbling turkeys in the distance. These questions usually lead to other tasks that need to be completed before nightfall.

Elizabeth and I spent about four hours one day washing and sterilizing planting trays; the next day I spent three hours ordering seeds with Keenan. Keenan and I cut down a few small cedars from the forest to re-build a roost for the chicken coop. We later measured out their land to determine the acreage so we could order an appropriate amount of seeds. We seeded tiny spinach seeds into trays and later cleaned a duck’s foot that had bumblefoot (a bacterial infection that’s not very serious, and common in heavier breeds of ducks). At this point in the season, it seems like there’s time to think critically about farming logistics so that when you’re in the full-force of farming season, things are flowing smoothly. As this is the first time I’ve ever spent significant time on a farm, only time will tell if my part-time perspective is accurate.

As it’s only Keenan and Elizabeth running the farm, the opportunity for learning about all parts of the farm—business and the actual hands-in-the-soil working—is very high. My goal is to be as helpful as possible and learn as much about small, sustainable farming as I can.

Laura Stephenson is an environmental science graduate from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where she focused in environmental and community health. She is currently working as a farm hand at a small, sustainable farm in Person County, North Carolina called Forty North Farm. In April, she’ll be working full-time at another small, organic farm outside of Hillsborough, North Carolina called Maple Spring Gardens. Laura writes the Farming and the Local Food Scene series about her experiences with local farms and farmers around the Piedmont area of North Carolina.

Posted on: March 13, 2012, 6:00 am Category: Farming and the Local Food Scene Tagged with: ,

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