Cultivate Kansas City's Newsletter - June 2015
Field Notes from the Gibbs Road Farm
By Josh Smith, farm manager
One of the wonders of farming is the way a field can transform completely between seasons, within just a few weeks. When the last newsletter published, our fields were bare, resting from last year’s crops, and no rows were planted except for the hardy over-wintered garlic and protected beds under our hoop houses
Now, our fields are full and growing strong.
During the first months of a year, before the spring equinox, we spend time starting seedlings, preparing fields, and growing a strong crew. Everything is focused on the upcoming season and getting the farm ready to burst into bloom with spring. It may look like nothing is happening during those first couple months. People sometimes even ask me, “So what does a farmer do in winter?” But just like in life, the most important work is hidden and unrecognized. Without the indoor seeding, soil’s underground recovery, without farmers’ mental and strategic preparation, there would be no eruption of life in spring.
Inside the greenhouse, we have tended around more than 20,000 pounds worth of produce from tiny seeds to strong plants that are ready for our outdoor fields.
Under the ground, the soil has been recharged with nutrients from microbes, which are awakening after the last freeze and thaw cycle. We’ve had some amazing storms between the warming sunny days and lightning has even provided nitrogen to support new growing plants. Because we’ve experienced limited recurring frost since April, the plants we put in the ground have been able to grow relatively risk-free, and that’s led to an abundant spring harvest.
With our field crew, we’ve been learning to work well together and support each other. We’ve discovered each person’s strengths, and have been learning from each other. Having built ourselves up as a strong team, we’re ready for the rigors of the season and the heat of the summer work hours.
Take a look at these photographs – one from March 13 and one from April 29. See how quickly the fields have burst into life! That kind of growth and health doesn’t happen by accident. Besides the work we’ve put in to prepare and plan, the soil has had to rest for its new crops and the greenhouses have had to nurture thousands of baby plants while we waited for nature to create the right outdoor growth conditions. We’re excited to now be seeing the hidden work of winter come into harvest!