Part of the Abundance Cubed Program is to focus on our own Happiness Project. I outlined goals in January and here is a summary of how I am doing.
January: Create! My creations now, are words and photos. Soon our summer crops will be ready and COOKING will be in full force creating tasty food with many raw crops. Summer is a great time for me to just snack in the fields then chop and eat later. There is always a rainbow of color and flavors to choose from. I know I am living in organic food heaven and I cherish every bite! Here are some photos I took yesterday.
February: Clarify what I want from the farm. I finally have my answer – Security. It’s not money, power, or prestige. I just want to know that I can stay here long term and use this as my home base. I love farming and feel like I am in my infancy of mastering the art of farming. I have SO MUCH more to learn and do. My focus now is to secure experienced and committed employees to help me accomplish larger goals and not have to be the only one able to do daily training for new employees and volunteers. So far my request to the universe to be surrounded by wonderful and joyful people has been working, so I know this will happen. The fun thing is I get to have conversations with my staff to figure out agreements rather than expectations about what their employment looks like. I have asked them to bring ideas to me and we can figure it out. I am excited to see what they want to do.
March: Clarify what my business partners want from the farm. These conversations have started and will be finalized soon.
April: Work on my core. OK a structured exercise program has not started and I had to be realistic – I won’t do this. Part of my reluctance is there is so much work I can do on the farm to build my core in my daily activities. Also I need time to rest my body and relax when I am inside. That is just as crucial. I spend 6-10 hours a day on my feet. Working in the summer in the hoop houses is HOT (usually between 80-110 degrees) so I don’t need to get a good sweat on, I have no choice – it just happens!
May: Define a BIG adventure!! My husband and I are enjoying weekly adventures away from the farm. It has been lovely to spend time with him! In July we will be doing a LONG road trip to Wyoming and Colorado and will spend time with both our sons. First family vacation in 7 years!!! We have agreed that we will NOT wait this long again. We will be visiting Tumbleweed Houses in Colorado Springs to check out their tiny homes. It could be a great way to travel and live all over the country.
June: Learn how to quiet my mind. I am still doing my daily 15 minutes of meditation. It’s been 6 whole months, pretty amazing for me. I am feeling calmer and more comfortable. The crazy summer season is starting, but for the first time I am not worried that we won’t be able to keep up. I decided to grow on a lot less acreage and do it much better than we have in the past. It feels right. I am confident that we will produce more crops than we ever have before. So maybe downsizing the farm was rightsizing my life?
July: Delegate! I am actively working on more delegation, more training of my staff and figuring out more ways to take time off and play. It’s looking pretty exciting!!
I hadn’t defined a goal for any month past July. So here’s my new goals to get me through the end of September.
August: Sing and Dance! I love music I love to dance yet I don’t have a single song on my iPhone. My August goal is to use the iTunes card I got for Christmas and download at least 50 songs on my phone. I want a full range of divas so I can sing at the top of my lungs, boogie woogie so my feet HAVE to dance, and anything else that makes my heart sing.
September: Figure out my next big adventure. I travel less than 25 miles a week and often don’t leave the farm for days. I know this is a repeat, but I want to keep it on my mind ALWAYS. SO many places to see and experience!!!
Recommended Viewing: I love Rhubarb and it loves me. Here’s our latest YouTube video where I show you how to harvest Rhubarb and share some of my favorite ways to eat it.
Did You Know that most farmers don’t have to report what types of chemicals they use on their crops?
My dogs LOVE to ride in the truck. In fact, you have to body block them any time you open the truck door so they don’t jump in. They sit in the back, looking out the windows and enjoying the breeze. Sometimes Roxy will refuse to leave and will just hang out, with the doors open, for over an hour.
Today was a new experience for my dogs. I needed to get the truck washed so I decided to take them both. Roxy, my fierce protector, had a completely different reaction than Lou Lou, my young and exuberant dog.
As the employees of the car wash started washing the windows and bumpers, Roxy started barking and charging the windows as if they were going to do us harm. Lou Lou tried to jump into the front seat to sit in my lap (she weighs about 65 lbs). I stopped Lou Lou from jumping over the seat, but she moved to the floor in the back, as far from the windows as possible and was peeking over the front seat to keep an eye on me. Roxy continued to bark as each new thing touched the car. First the long vertical flaps, back and forth, back and forth. Next the spinning fabric that moves into and around the truck. There were streams of water, more flaps, more spinning. Roxy still barking and on high alert. Lou Lou was still on the back seat floor boards eyes wide open, silent and not sure what reaction to have. After a few minutes we were all done. The truck rolled out the end of the car wash, I put it in gear, and pulled over to adjust my mirrors. Both dogs resumed sitting calmly on the back seat looking out the windows.
Do you ever get a little anxious or fearful when faced with something new? How do you react? One item I have addressed with my Abundance Cubed coach Noam Kostucki this year was how do I deal with fear. One of the questions he asked me explored how do I work through fear?
I spent some time processing this question and here was my response.
“Feeling the fear and pushing through it makes me more brave and willing to take more risks. It also opens up possibilities to success and failure. I feel both success and failure are opportunities to learn and grow. It doesn’t make it less scary to walk into that fear. Often I find out that I am creating unnecessary fear because I am uncomfortable and it is unknown. Being aware that fear sometimes makes me hesitate allows me to actually look at it and think about what is the worst thing that can happen and ask is it really worth being afraid.”
Answering Noam’s question made me rethink my reaction when I am anxious or fearful. I now think about these emotions, take a deep breath and process the situation. It has been amazing how quickly I am able to push through the fear and look forward to what will happen next.
So when faced with a new uncertain scenario, do you react like Roxy, in your face angry, or Lou Lou, hide and hope it goes away? Try asking yourself, how do you work through fear?
Recommended Viewing: Angie and her kids did another wonderful video for us about planting tomatoes. Liesl and Bennett get a lesson from Gina and Nydia.
Did You Know that the flower top on garlic is called a Garlic Scape? We break off these scapes so the garlic plant focuses its energy forming the bulb which gives us large garlic cloves. These scapes are tasty and delicious and can be used just like garlic. They are only available for a few weeks each year. We have been harvesting them this week so if you want to try something new and step outside your comfort zone, come by our farm stand at Brighton’s Farmer’s Market on Saturdays from 8am-1pm or at the farm on Wednesdays from 4pm-6pm.
We got new bees today. Honey bees are so crucial to our food system as one of our pollinators. Our kiwi berry flowers were blooming and the honey bees were helping us by moving from flower to flower, cross pollinating them so the berries can form. Their busy community then produces incredible honey that they share with us. Raw local honey is full of seasonal pollen and is fantastic for folks suffering from seasonal allergies.
Two weeks ago Holy Spirit Catholic Church brought over their 2nd grade class to help on the farm and they planted about 900 kale plants in 20 minutes! We also got tons of help planting this week when 16 kids and 5 adults from Cheryl Stockwell Academy came on Wednesday and spent 4 hours on the farm. The extra 80 hours of work that day allowed us to plant ½ acre of potatoes and a ¼ acre of Brussels Sprouts and Kale. We were so excited to finally get our potatoes in the ground!!! We are hoping they will come back in the fall to harvest the potatoes so they can see the final results of their hard work.
This time of year is nutzo crazy and we are constantly behind trying to plant tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, summer squash, potatoes, basil, kale, rutabaga, kohlrabi, winter squash, potatoes and so much more. Besides planting we are still harvesting lettuce daily (we planted thousands of heads this year), filling wholesale orders and doing two farmers markets a week. This is where our community makes a huge difference. We have about 60 working share members on the farm. They graciously agreed to work on the farm doing every job imaginable in exchange for our organic produce. These folks are multi generational, from 3 years old to 78, and we absolutely LOVE and DEPEND on their help. We couldn’t run this farm without them!
I am also fortunate to have awesome employees working here. THANK YOU Beth, Gina, Nydia, and Frank!!!
Recommended Viewing: Regenerate Magazine is a new publication one of my A3 coaches, Sandra Malhotra, recently started. The May/June edition had loads of insightful articles that I enjoyed. One of the articles talked about Michael Pollen’s documentary on Netflix called “Cooked”. I had a chance to watch it this week and loved all 4 episodes which explored the history of cooking with fire, water, air and earth and the communities that have flourished because of these cooking methods.
Did You know that 150 people appears to be the maximum size of a village before it splits into a smaller community? Dunbar’s number explains his theory behind this magical number of 150. At Stone Coop Farm we have chosen to keep our Community Supported Agricultural members to about 150 because we want to personally know all our members, remember their names, and know what some of their favorite produce items are that they prefer to buy.
One difficult issue farmers face with their products is the size of the item they want to sell. We planted loads of lettuce heads in our hoop houses in March and April. Lettuce can take about 60+ days to form a full beautiful head, so we were planning to have lettuce heads from late April through June. Lettuce is really happy between 50-75 degrees and when it’s hotter, they often send up flower stalks (bolt) and turn bitter. The last two weeks have been unusually warm for Michigan this time of year. It has been sunny and 80 degrees outside, but that means it is over 100 degrees in our hoop houses. Thus our lettuce has not been very happy.
In a scramble to not loose these heads and have to feed them to the chickens, we have been harvesting lettuce not only based on size, but also on whether it looks like it is about to bolt. So we have heads from the size of a softball to others the size of a beach ball! Pricing these heads and selling them has been a head scratcher, but this week I have had LOTS of conversations with my wholesale accounts and managed to develop a strategy to sell them all. HURRAY!
Ok here’s what I figured out:
This week was a great reminder that having a conversation with my customers about price can be a win-win for my farm and my customers.
Recommended Reading: It is garden planting time and the New Kitchen Garden book by Adam Caplin is full of beautiful photos, garden planning tools and tips and great seasonal recipes.
Did you know up to 75% of some farm products are wasted because the crop does not conform to a standard size or perfect appearance? For example, a Striped German heirloom tomato can weigh between 0.5 to 3 pounds!