The Crop Report Week 38 | Saving the World
- Sep 23, 2021
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We are saving the world on the flower farm! Sound intense? It is. This week, we began planting the first crops in our new woody field, which is being installed in partnership with the Natural Resource and Conservation Services carbon sequestration program. The purpose of this grant-funded program is to pull carbon emissions out of the air via long-term plantings that are native to the area and improve the organic matter in the soil. This means our woody field is comprised of shrubs and bushes that will, over time, give back to the environment. You can learn more about the carbon sequestration program here.
This program was not designed with a flower farm in mind but actually works perfectly with our business model. It is the epitome of sustainability because it focuses on improving the environment with native plant species. It also helps us fulfill a component that was missing on our farm: long-lasting hardy shrubs, greenery, and blooms. When I began this program with my NRCS technician and the Department of Forestry, they were fascinated by how well our farm fit and allowed me to bring them my very long list of dream woody crops. From that initial list, they helped me identify the species that fit within the program guidelines. I created a plan for site prep, installation, maintenance, and care, and my team and reps collaborated on the best timeline. It’s so great to see our plan being executed!
When the NRCS and forestry department assessed the site, they determined the minimum number of plantings required for the program. Of course, in true Jess fashion and with no maximum, I tripled it. Ever tried to fit 15lbs in a 5lbs sack? It’s tough, but we're working through it. A few crops will find homes outside of the woody field, and I’m making peace with the fact that my eyes are bigger than my farm sometimes.
With so many other farm tasks pulling the priority rank, the thought of planting this field had the team and me a bit stressed out. My head farmer, Sonja, quickly laid fabric rows within the areas my husband and I flagged, but we knew the planting would suck some time we just didn’t have.
Harleigh to the rescue! Harleigh started working on the farm many years ago as summer help, but is now with us full-time putting together orders at the design table. But like a lot of us around here, she is multifaceted, and has a deep passion for forestry and natural resources. She has volunteered on large tree planting installations and spent significant time exploring our natural environment.
Once word got out that we were struggling to cover the woody field install, Harleigh piped up to offer her services in getting the project started. I couldn’t be more grateful for a team that leads the charge and always helps where they can.
Harleigh is now busy pulling orders in the morning and digging holes in the afternoon. It’s a lot, but she hasn’t complained once! I’ve been helping her by identifying the next crop to go in, setting up our field template for documenting, and making sure the sprinkler moves around to hydrate her new babies.
We have big dreams for this woody field once it’s complete. It will take a few years to mature enough to harvest and grab carbon as the program intends, but today, we start digging the holes to change the world. One shrub at a time.