Now that we’ve officially kicked off The Gentleman Farmer’s produce pickup season, I’ll be back to share regular updates about farming, food and family in our Get Growing series at 365Barrington.com.
The Gentleman Farmer’s official 2015 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) season started off with a bang with the Annual Hands of Hope Barrington Country Garden & Antique Faire. We were honored to be invited to share our fields and processes, as well as our produce with the attendees, as part of the Next Door property at Hill N Dale Farm.
Those we met were able to tour one of our fields and take home a selection of that week’s harvest, which included white and purple kohlrabi, tuscan kale, beautiful green and red butter head lettuce, broccoli, spinach, and rainbow chard along with a selection of herbs. It truly is a wonder that we have had such a successful first harvest considering all of the rain we’ve experienced. The rain itself has proved to wildly grow these early spring greens, but it has also grown the weeds — mostly grasses — at a supernatural rate.
Dominic didn’t imagine that he would still be battling so mightily with the weed situation five years in as we are now finding ourselves. Before farming, I naively would have thought of weeds as no big deal — other than looking a bit messy. But now, with our operation growing and the pressure mounting to supply the demand, weed management is an essential skill which is vital to growing not only quality crops, but crops at all.
Today Dominic is in the field trying a method that uses landscape fabric. It is useful for high-value, heat loving crops such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes or melons. But can also be used on squashes and other brassicas. The fabric itself is made from a geotextile (commonly used to reduce soil erosion in civil engineering and landscape design ). It’s known to last and be re-used upwards of 7+ years. Some types of landscape fabric degrade into humus, or organic material, which enriches the soil.
Obviously weed suppression is the primary goal for using landscape fabric, but along with reducing tillage — which in turn reduces fossil fuels used to run tilling machinery — it also helps to maintain the integrity of the soil creating an evenly moisturized and temperature regulated environment which encourages happy soil life.
But enough about weeds! In addition to The Garden Walk, the weekends have been busy with our first 2015 CSA pick up and our Summer Solstice Picnic. In the truest sense of the term “Community Supported Agriculture”, it did take a community of our “Worker Bees” to help us harvest, wash and pack our 150 + boxes over a three day period in order to have our produce ready for the members’ first pick up on Friday. Our “Worker Bees” will continue to assist us in the field each week transplanting, seeding, harvesting, washing and packing as needed in exchange for a box of veggies. We could not serve and produce at this scale without them!
And completing the community supportive cycle, Dominic delivered our remaining produce to the Cuba Township Pantry on Tuesday with whom we proudly partner during our season. With a community that rallies through service to supply organic, locally grown, seasonal food to others, it’s hard not to continue to be inspired despite the weeds!
The Gentleman Farmer is looking forward to our first Barrington Farmer’s Market of the 2015 season today! Please stop by and say hello to Farmer Dominic and see for yourself the wonderful bounty grown just for you!
CSA memberships are still available! Go to gentleman-farmer.com to learn more and subscribe!
About the Author
Jessica Green and her husband Dominic run The Gentleman Farmer, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program from their family farm in Barrington Hills. You’ll find the Greens selling their freshest fruits and veggies at the Barrington Farmers Market on Thursdays each week from 2 to 7 p.m. When they’re not working on the farm, Jessica and Dominic keep busy looking after their two young boys, Henry and Oliver.
For more information about Jessica and Dominic’s efforts in local and sustainable farming, visit Gentleman-Farmer.com.