We are well into spring on the farm. Warm temperatures have resulted in an impressive amount of snow melt. So much so that there are flood warnings in the county, and flooded roads. Here on the farm managing the flow of water has been a daily challenge as well. The Spring Creek tributary that runs down into the farm powers our growing season, but is running at a high flow right now, creating some flooding in various areas. This requires daily attention to the diversion of the flow of water and the paths the water finds across the farm to avoid harm to our fruit trees, perennials, and annual growing beds.
The staff of farm hands has begun their season of work as well. It's exciting to see new and returning faces amid the flurry of early season activity. Days are often spent planting seeds, tending the seedlings, managing the beds in our hoop houses and transplanting plants. As we end the open-burn season in Routt County we are also taking advantage of the opportunity to make biochar before the ground dries out and presents a fire hazard. Biochar refers to black carbon, made through the high-temperature pyrolysis of biomass on the farm. "Black carbon is the name of the range of solid residual products resulting from the chemical and/or thermal conversion of any carbon containing material (e.g., fossil fuels and biomass)" (Jones et al., 1997). The primary purpose of biochar creation is carbon sequestration. This process locks in the carbon sequestered by the trees through the process of photosynthesis and prevents it from returning to the atmosphere from where it came. This is one of a whole range of permaculture design practices employed on the farm to sequester carbon. Pictured below is the kiln we use on the farm to create the environment in which pyrolysis can occur. "Pyrolysis is the heating of an organic material, such as biomass, in the absence of oxygen ... usually conducted at or above 500 °C..."
In the kitchen we have begun to prepare for the summer as well. Our farm-to-table CSA dinners begin in June and we are very excited. Our 'Chef's Table' dinners have concluded until next fall and we are still open to requests for private dining. The first products of the season have begun to come in from the field. These include lettuces and spicy salad greens, as well as radishes and turnips. These are complemented by the items we get from our subtropical greenhouse such as garlic chives, lemon blossoms, chard, kale and collards. We've started batches of kimchi and are hoping to re-build our supply of fermented and preserved vegetables following the inconvenient failure of our walk-in cooler.
We've had our first farm staff lunch of the season, and so we begin our summer of feeding staff and guests on the farm. It feels great! We hope you can join us for a workshop or lunch or CSA dinner before the summer is over. Reservations for CSA dinners can be made here: https://elkstonefarm.com/event/2023-csa-farm-to-table-dinners/
We have also had the opportunity to make fresh batches of cookies and crackers which are now available at the Community Agriculture Alliance storefront downtown. We love the http://caamarket.org/ !