2016 challenged the farm in so many ways. Poor fertility in the chicken breeding stock I had chose, signficant challenges with the bees, including a case of nosema that wiped out one of our early spring packages and weather issues that frustrated almost every attempt to plant our seed garlic meant that we continually planned and replanned our work.
2016 also showed us some amazing things. First, we achieved farm status for our lovely Rozehaven, something we had wanted since moving here. We are lucky our little plot is in the Agricultural Land Reserve so that aided us some. We credit our success with the variety of things we do on the farm to bring in revenue and support the revenue producing plans. Between garlic, Coucous de Malines chickens, and all products of the hive (honey, bees, etc) we are fairly diverse in our work. We also over-seeded our property with extra forage crops (mostly Dutch white clover) to ensure bee forage during dearth periods. Over all our plan has a variety meant to protect us against single crop/stock failure. 2016 proved that we also need to factor in total crop/stock failure potentials.
Garlic Fest in Merville in August 2016 was probably our single biggest AHA moment. The crowds were impressive and the collective growing potential of all the participating farmers was overwhelmed. We all realized that the market for fresh, local, and varied garlic is immense. At Rozehaven, we had planned to plant more seed to ensure we could meet some of the demand but early rains in August that seemlessly made way for snow in December meant that we could only plant in two of our prepared beds and likely will now keep all our garlic for seed in 2017. We shall see.
So 2017 is off with a bang, more snow, pretty heavy rains and lots and lots of planning on our parts. Maybe we are getting to be smarter farmers, but we now have multiple plans for the variety of things we have experienced. Only time will tell if they will be enough.
In the short term, we live in hope and have the support of the farmers and people of our communities to get us through. Here’s to 2017 — may it be a year of learning.