Agriculture is Blooming!
In March, two lambs were born to Carla, the ewe who shares the Imani Field pasture with Bridget, the two-year-old Dexter cow, and flocks of Muscovy ducks and Rhode Island Red chickens. Imani Field managers Lee Warren and Mihaly Bartalos are leasing the quarter-acre field just downhill from their Village Terraces neighborhood. Bridget is now pregnant, and will have her calf in October. Lee and Mihaly have just brought in Janey, another young Dexter cow, who’s also pregnant and expected to have her calf in October. You’ll often find Bridget, Janey, and Carla snuggled in a companionable group. Dexters are sometimes called “permaculture cows” because they’re smaller than normal and don’t need as much hay or pasture area as full-sized cows.
Yellowroot Farm in the Hut Hamlet is up and running again, with seedings for what will become lush and vibrant biodynamic vegetables. (See “Yellowroot CSA Begins Second Year”)
In late April, Cailen Campbell’s goats, April and Luna, had their kids, and now moms and kids are sharing a pen in front of the Tribal Condo in the Hut Hamlet. Cailen, Lee, and Mihaly rotate the grazing of their animals at various sites around Earthaven, including the Village Green, the fallow side of Yellowroot Farm, and the “New Lumberyard” site near Gateway Field.
Recently a crew of loggers and farmers, including Brian Love, Mike Odel, Chris Farmer, Mihaly, Cailen, and work exchangers Galen Ballantine, Drew Hoffman, and Bruce Johnston, further cleared the New Lumberyard site and prepared it for grazing. The logs from the trees that were felled were milled as lumber for the Pokeberry Hill duplex at Village Terraces (see “New Buildings”), and the stumps were left in the ground. The pasture was fertilized with organic fertilizers and planted in perennial grasses and clovers. This one-acre site (called the “New Lumberyard” because it once was going to be a lumberyard), is ideal for grazing rather than crop cultivation because it’s on a slope and too steep for a tractor, has stumps, and is north-facing.
Last spring, Brian Love and Chris Farmer (known as “Farmer”) started their four-acre integrated-agriculture project, Gateway Field, by clearing four acres of forest, adding organic soil amendments, and growing and tilling under two “green manure” cover crops. Their next step is a grass rotational pasturage system with Icelandic sheep, and probably endangered heirloom breed turkeys and chickens. This requires a sturdy fence to protect livestock and provide a fixed point for attaching lightweight moveable fencing for when the animals are sequentially moved around the field in the rotational grazing system. This spring, with the help of Mike, Bruce, Galen, and others, Brian and Farmer built a 2220 ft fence around their field, using woven wire fencing attached to charred locust posts every 15 feet. They’ll soon add two electrified wires around the perimeter to complete the fence, and, perhaps as early as November, will bring in their small herd of sheep.
Last fall, Michaeljon Drouin and Andy Bosley converted an existing pond along Rosy Branch Road, just uphill from the hydro station, into a trout pond. They built up the dam so the pond would hold more water, and ran more water into it from nearby Rosy Branch Creek. “Trout need cool, aerated water to survive,” Andy says, “and raising the water level and increasing the pond size meant we could grow more trout in the pond.” In late March of this year Michaeljon and Andy stocked the pond with 200 3-to-5-inch rainbow trout purchased from a regional trout breeder. “By April some of the largest trout sited were already 7 to 8 inches long!” Andy reports. The plan is to begin harvesting the trout when the biggest ones are about 12 inches long, perhaps by mid-July. The trout will be sold to Earthaven members and neighbors, and Michaeljon and Andy will experiment with making smoked fish for longer-term preservation.
Michaeljon and Andy are currently arranging with the Forestry and Agriculture committee to create a second larger pond downhill from the first, in order to expand their aquaculture operation.