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Ready for sun and "wading" it out...

Posted 4/18/2017 11:51am by Melanie & Kevin Cunningham.

Dear friends and farm-ily,

Over half full and filling fast... How wonderful to be writing this with bright, warm sun beaming through my office windows!  With spring in the air, we've been receiving CSA commitment forms at a furious pace.  If you are serious about a CSA share for the season ahead, we encourage you to act now!    

Rainbow over the garden this spring.

Still soggy… This extra wet spring - or long lingering winter - just doesn't want to quit, and it's certainly been the wettest, coolest spring we've ever experienced as farmers.  We've had to put our carefully laid plans aside and tackle other farm projects as the weather permits.  Our propagation greenhouse has never been fuller, and we are fastidiously watching the weather, ready to jump on garden work when the conditions are right.  Although the rain is wonderful in many ways and a blessing to be sure, a lot of us local farmers are feeling a little anxious about our spring planting dates.  The Saturday Arcata market, which goes year round now, is very light on veggies and probably will remain so later into this season.  As for the start of the CSA, for the last 7 years, we’ve always been able to start the first week of June, but this year may be different.  It's still too early to call, but know that we guarantee 22 weeks of produce, even if that takes us into November.  The abundance of summer will be ever more delicious given the long winter, and we look forward to growing food for you and your families again this season.

Hopeful flowers on the strawberries.

Bring on the high tunnels!  This winter, Melanie applied for a federally funded grant through our local Natural Resources Conservation District (NRCS) and was awarded over $20,000 for two, 30’ x 96’ high tunnels.  These investments will be a game changer, enabling us to triple our winter production and reliably plant earlier in the spring.  We have a three year contract, but will strive to construct both by the end of 2017.  We plan on using the high tunnel space to grow more summer tomatoes for our CSA members as well.  Unfortunately the high demands of the cannabis industry have our supplier quite backlogged, so we aren’t able to get ours until mid-June.  We do look forward to the potential and increased value these investments offer the community and our CSA members.  And if we have another record-breaking wet winter ahead of us, we will be well poised and ready.

The oxen went viral... We've all heard of things going "viral" on social media.  Well, on April 4th we got to experience it with one of our posts, and I have to say, it's exciting!!  Our apprentice, Daniel, filmed our twice weekly layer move, where we use the oxen to pull our chicken coop on skids.  This super cool video has reached over 30,000 people and been shared 134 times!!  If you missed it, it's worth skimming through our Facebook posts for this gem, shared on April 4th.  Raw oxen power fully demonstrated on our mixed power farm!

Our hearty crew BBQing on a cold spring afternoon.

New crew… Our apprentices have arrived and successfully completed their first two weeks of an 8 month season.  This year's crew hails from all parts of California.  Jackie and Daniel, pictured below on the right, are returning from last season, and you may remember meeting them at Garberville and Fortuna markets.  Matt and Sage, pictured on the left, are new this year and learning quickly.  Spencer, our first oxen apprentice, was with us over the winter but has returned back to Massachusetts to start his own project there.  We are lucky to have these fine, enthusiastic future farmers in our midsts.

Baby animals… The spring brought 20 new lambs and 9 new calves to the farm. The abundant rain has been really wonderful for our pastures, and our livestock are flourishing on the green and the grubs.  We started a new layer flock over the winter, and our 300 hens are just starting to lay.  Their eggs boast a rich, golden yolk full of healthy omega-3's, due to their diet of grass, grubs and bugs.  Our first rounds of broilers and pigs are fattening up quickly on the combo of organic feed, skim milk, and pasture grubbin’.  

Whether you plan on re-joining the share or not, we hope you stay in touch.  You can do that by going to our website -  http://shakeforkcommunityfarm.com/ - and signing up for our general mailing list, or by following our farm on Facebook.  Kevin and I both have Instagram feeds - @shakeforkcommunityfarm is mine, and @westcoastoxen is his - for more insight into the day to day of life, love, and work at Shakefork Community Farm.

Happy spring, from your farmers,

Melanie, Kevin, and Clyde, and the Shakefork Community Farm crew

Farmer Clyde is undaunted by stormy weather.Farmer Clyde's play is undaunted by the stormy weather.