Winter Farm Update

Winter Farm Update

Happy New Year, school farmily! Here’s hoping you enjoyed a restful break and are continuing to honor those winter urges to slow down, rest, and turn inward. This season invites quiet and reflection, and while we are still growing delicious foods on the farm, we’re engaging in those tasks that are more deliberate, leisurely, and communal.

Winter is a great time to give all the dormant beds a healthy dose of nutrients, so we’re collecting and breaking down what seems to be an endless supply of cardboard boxes and laying them down on top of the bare soil. Next, we wet down the cardboard and top it off with rich compost, then cover it all with dried leaves we gather from the gravel on the farm. It’s a great system for using what we have on hand–upcycled cardboard, finished compost from our cafeteria composting program, and leaves that drop from the farm trees in the fall–to close the loop on several waste streams. If all goes well, these beds will have the support they need through the winter and be ready for seeds in the spring.

Speaking of seeds, students across both campuses are working to save, sort, store, and eat some of our seeds from the summer. We have seeds from our okra, cowpeas, Cherokee Trail of Tears pole beans, and lima beans, as well as marigolds, cosmos, zinnias, and sunflowers. Farmer Z and I have been working to develop a simple system for the more complex seed saving (think juicy fruits like watermelon and tomatoes) so that the students can take part next year. The practice of opening dried pods or breaking up flowers’ seed heads is an ancient and important one, and it’s such a joy to sit in the warm sun and talk as we work. We discuss the science and cycles of it all, of course, but we also share stories about whatever the act stirs in us. We get to know each other a little better, to learn about one another’s families and home gardens, and to practice the arts of listening deeply and keeping the peace.

The work in the greenhouse at the elementary campus continues, as it’s rarely too cold to prohibit sowing and transplanting things here in Atlanta. Everything grows more slowly, to be sure, but we have measures in place to support plants in a freeze so we just keep going and growing. This is also the ideal time of year to shore up trellising for our fruit vines and bushes, as well as give all our fruits a nice pruning, and to add more woody perennials to our greenspaces. If you would like to take part in some of this winter farm work, feel free to join us this Saturday, Jan. 6, between 1pm-3pm at the middle campus farm (the entrance gate is on the Emerson St. side of campus). We’ll be working rain or shine, and we have all the equipment you’ll need! Please let me know if you have questions: nlupo@atlncs.org OR 404.771.0402.