One of the ironies of farming in the Northeast is that our short season is intense and busy, leaving us very little time to visit other farms during the growing season. However, our community of brilliant growers, business people, and innovators is our best resource for deriving new ideas, from financing to cultivating to storage facilities to employee management. With the Irene-truncated season of 2011, we've made an effort to get out of Burlington more than we typically can in the autumn. So instead of our usual fall conversations over carrot and beet harvests, we've put on slightly cleaner clothes, burned a little more gasoline (but less diesel) and found some great ideas on other farms. In October, we attended a twilight workshop at a CSA in Western Massachusetts called Brookfield Farm, which in many ways is the Massachusetts cousin to ICF. We saw their winter share storage facilities, learned about their distribution, got some good tips on pest management, and mingled with other farmers.
In early November, we visited High Mowing Seeds, an organic seed company in Wolcott, Vermont, from whom we buy the bulk of our seeds. But along the way, we spied a mechanized rutabega harvest at Foote Brook Farm in Johnson, Vermont.
We work closely with High Mowing to trial new varieties and rely on their high quality seeds to grow our high quality vegetables. We were treated to a long tour and conversation with founder Tom Stearns - and left utterly inspired to plant their seeds again in 2012!