Updated: Mar 4
Written by Mariana Garcia Jimenez
Greetings from the friends at the field site on the CASFS Farm. This winter has been incredible! We wanted to share some snapshots of what we’ve been working on.
In early December, we harvested persimmons with the help of our garden friends. Of course all the birds enjoyed their sweetness! Brent taught us how to do plant outs in the hoop houses with beets, carrots, kale, broccoli, and cauliflower. The hoop houses are hoop shaped outdoor greenhouses basically and they keep the crops warm and toasty during the winter frost. We removed drip tape from where it originally was in the orchards with the anticipation of rain.
At the end of January, a storm hit Santa Cruz as strong winds came from the north and began to rip off the plastic from the hoop houses. This wind also caused the plastic to be taken off before it ripped, bending the metal poles that created the dome shape. As it continued to rain, mustard, weeds, and gophers had all joined us in the hoop houses.
We learned about how laborious it is to plant strawberries. The process included laying down drip tape and covering the beds with green plastic that kept the strawberries warm. In California, strawberries have been especially commodified in the valleys and wherever there is this plastic and cheap labor. As we sit with the idea of how backbreaking it is to do this, we feel gratitude. At the same time, we continue to be enraged about how farm workers are treated across all of Turtle Island. This made me think about a chapter from the book Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmer where she speaks about the gifts of strawberries. It is quite a beautiful story about the author’s interaction with strawberries as a child and its reciprocity. I definitely recommend this book for those who haven’t read it!
While looking at the orchards, especially the plum orchard, an abundance of blackberry ran around the tree trunks. The way that blackberries grow is fascinating. Although they are in the way for us to weed whip and lay back down to drip tape for irrigating the trees, they are rooted so well and are very expansive. It is quite a sight!
In addition, we have been learning a lot from Orin who works in the farm orchards at the Chadwick Garden. Orin taught us about the art of pruning and how geometry and balance is necessary in an open center of a tree. Noting that it is crucial to prune and train trees when they are still young, it is all about how much sun you allow the tree to receive in order to bear fruit! Recently, we planted some trees and then removed some so that they could be propagated elsewhere. With random gusts of heat throughout the Winter, some trees had some small apples and buds appearing.
Much of the other fields are filled with cover crop but that is soon to change as we are excited to see what Spring will bring!
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