Happy New Year from all of us at Simple Gifts Farm. We are proud of all that we accomplished in 2019. We would like to celebrate another season of the accomplishments that keep us on a daily, weekly and monthly schedule of guiding the everyday magic that turns seeds, soil and animals into vegetables, meat and eggs, and thence into a well-fed community. In addition, we have some accomplishments that have moved the farm forward in our ability to accomplish all of that a bit better in years to come.
Introducing our new Vegetable Operations Manager Jada Haas!
We’ve had other managers before, but they were always people who had trained in our systems and were ready to move up. This year was the first year when we hired someone specifically to be a manager and set out the position as a long-term commitment with potential to work into an ownership position. We set up the job with Jada as a “tenure-track” position in the hopes that she will stick around and commit to crow with us. Jada has brought a fierce commitment to our project and to helping our whole crew get it done and get it right, along with a great sense of humor and a positive attitude. She started in March, just as the seasonal train was leaving the station and hopped right on board. We’re excited to have a couple of months to organize the train with her before disembarking on another seasonal jouney.
Turning our farm veggies into farm-fresh food
We made some great new connections this year and were able to get more of our ephemeral farm produce processed into shelf-stable food that can be eaten all year-round. We see this as a valuable part of our mission to provide more of our community’s diet. In addition to the marinara sauce that we had made by Appalachian Naturals, we also had pesto made for us by Commonwealth Kitchen, strawberries and peppers frozen by the Franklin County CDC, and then some of the frozen strawberries made into jam by Sidehill Farm (the jam-making Sidehill Farm, not the yogurt-making Sidehill Farm.) We are excited about these new and continuing partnerships, and have some more ideas up our sleeves for next year!
New Experiments in reducing and eliminating tillage We have always had sustainability at the core of our mission, and our ivestock-integrtating, soil-building rotations are a key to promoting soil health. Organic farming practices that rely on soil health are inherently carbon positive, and but we have taken a big step further in that direction this year by working to eliminate tillage operations from some parts of our system.
New Renewable heating source
We didn’t know it was going to turn out this way when we started, but our new wood chip powered boiler was one of the biggest construction projects we have ever taken on. It’s still not actually producing any heat, but we are on track to have it turned on in the early days of the New Year. The new boiler will enable some heating efficiencies by distibuting hot water from a central heating plant, along with converting our fuel source from a fossil fuel to a renewable fuel source.