rochester farm

The thing Greg did 200 times last Tuesday

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The first day of spring was this week and we are feeling it, BIG TIME.  We had our first batch of baby chicks arrive this week and we've been spending lots of time tidying (Marie Kondo style) so that we're ready to take on the busy season ahead. 

One of our biggest accomplishments this week was building another high tunnel (unheated greenhouse) for this year's ginger crop.  Constructing a high tunnel is no easy feat. It involves bending lots of metal poles (200 bends to be exact), driving big posts into the ground with a sledge hammer and then assembling the house. But, thanks to Greg's hard work, except the plastic that will go overtop, we now have a second high tunnel designated to ginger. 

If you're as in love with our ginger as we are, you're probably hoping that the fact that we have two ginger houses now means we're scaling up and planting even more ginger this year...but this is not the case.  

Sure, we'd love to grow in both houses and double our ginger production this year. But when Stonecrop was just a dream - a little idea that Greg and I had and talked about before bed when we were dreaming about our future - we knew that our farm would be certified organic and that no matter what we grow, we know we are still responsible for upholding those organic principles and being good stewards of our land.  

As any organic farmer will tell you, the quality of the food produced on the farm hinges on the health of the soil. For us, this means that we need to rotate the location of our ginger and turmeric plantings (from one house to the other) regularly so that we can keep the soils healthier, the nutrients high, and the pest pressure low. This is part of the rationale for all the rotational grazing we do with our livestock, too!

Organic farming takes a little more time than spraying with chemicals or keeping our animals in barns, and more infrastructure (thus the second high tunnel) but the results sure are glorious.  

Your Farmers, 
Jenney and Greg

3 Biggest Mistakes in Our First Year of Business

When we started our business back in 2014, we had tons of heart and Greg had plenty of farming experience...but between the two of us we had absolutely NO business experience.  As a result, we made some serious rookie mistakes in our first year of business. 

Here are our Top 3:

1.  We tried to please everyone. 
You want to come over on a Friday night to pick up eggs? Sure. Want to come by early Sunday morning to see piglets? Absolutely. Tour the farm? Of course! Day or night, weekday or weekend. We kept the doors open to everyone and tried to meet everyone's expectations. While we loved saying YES and seeing our friends and new customers happy (we REALLY did!), it meant that we had to say NO to something else. And because we were stretched so thin in the start-up phase of our business, the things we said no to were usually the reeealllly important stuff like self care and nurturing our marriage.  If we looked a little crazed back then, this is why! 

2. We wanted to fit in and be like everyone else. 
You know that nagging voice that tells you that you need to emulate someone that you think is successful, in order to make it? We had this going on BIG TIME during those first few years. For example, we knew other farms with big restaurant deals, so we thought we needed to have this, too. We noticed that a lot of farms farms sell their stuff at multiple farmers markets, so we thought we needed to get on this train. We were searching for an identity by mimicking someone else's. It took us a couple of years to realize that the energy we spent trying to be like other businesses we admired, actually worked against us. In truth, it stifled our creativity and our self expression.  Oops!  When we started to really dig deep explore what WE actually wanted for our business and our lives, EVERYTHING shifted.  

3. We almost never took days off. 
You know when you love something so much that it feels like you have an endless amount of energy to pursue it? This was us (and still is). We woke up early, stayed up late, worked through meals, and pushed our bodies and minds to the limit during those first couple of years. This intense drive meant that we almost never took real days off during the main farming season. Our bodies gave us some subtle clues that we were overdoing it, but we didn't listen. That is...until Greg lost sensation in his left foot and was referred to a neurosurgeon for possible back surgery for a pinched nerve (fortunately this was unnecessary and it healed on its own).  From that point forward, we made a point to schedule days off every week so that we can rest and do things away from the farm. 

We have compassion for our rookie mistakes because we know that they got us where we are today. But, we are striving for more. Our farm's purpose is to produce exceptional food to improve the health of our community, to practice humane animal husbandry,  and to educate our community about organic farming, but we also need to keep our bodies, our minds and our relationships healthy. We are sooooo happy that we've made so much progress in these areas this year and are always looking at ways to improve even more next year.  

Thanks for sticking with us through the growing pains! 

Your farmers, 
Jenney and Greg

The D Word

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When you're a livestock farmer, you get pretty comfortable with life and death.

The life part is almost always a ton of fun. It doesn't get more exciting than watching a litter of piglets be born or seeing a new batch of day-old chicks arrive in the mail. They are fragile and the work can be tiring, but watching animals grow and helping them thrive is one of the greatest joys we experience here on the farm. 

Death is the thing nobody ever wants talk about, but is an inevitability on a livestock farm. We are always aware that our animals will die and that their bodies and all the energy within them will go on and nourish our community. Losing an animal before it's time is difficult, though, and this is where we've been this week. 

Our boar "Boris" who you might have met at one of our farm tours or seen on our social media had some serious health issues develop, and under the recommendation of our Vet, we had to put him down this week. Burying our boar was difficult and not without conflict, tears and grief. But the experience validated what we've always known deep down inside....that as farmers, we have a special bond with our animals and that it's okay to love them and miss them when they're gone. While some might see this as a weakness, we think it is one of our greatest strengths.  

The deep respect and love we have for our animals serves as a guiding principle on the farm. It helps us do right by the animals every day, even in tough situations like these. We are compassionate, humane livestock farmers. It is who we are, it is what we stand for, and it is part of the legacy we are building here at Stonecrop Farm.

What would the world look like if all farmers cared about their animals this way?
 
Your farmers, 
Greg and Jenney

A perfect pair: a livestock farmer and a vegetarian

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Last week, we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary!

Every year on our anniversary, we spend a little time looking through our wedding photos and re-reading our vows. It's a little thing that has become an important tradition, giving us an opportunity to reflect on the year and remember what is most important to us in life. 

Looking back on our wedding this week, we realized that while our vows were different in a lot of ways - Greg talked about the pillars of our love and I cracked jokes about how I was rethinking my vegetarianism - one thing that was the same across both was the promise to support each other in achieving our biggest dreams.  

This farm is by far, our biggest and craziest dream yet. Becoming farmers and life-partners has taught us so much about love and life and we can't wait to see what another 5 years will bring! 

Your Farmers, 
Greg and Jenney

PS- Any marriage/relationship advice you'd like to share? Hit reply to this email and share them with us. We love hearing from you!  

PPS- I know you're wondering if it's true... and I really was a vegetarian for over 15 yrs before I married Greg!

We have a "situation" here on the farm...

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You know that one spot in your house that drives you nuts every time you think about it? It's the place you put all the random stuff you don't know what to do with. It houses all the things that you probably should have donated or just put in the trash years ago but somehow, you've deluded yourself into thinking that it might come in handy someday.

As you probably already know by now, we are pretty tidy people. We keep our house and our farm pretty organized but...it's time to admit that we have a "situation" on our hands.

We have a section of our farm, that is about a quarter acre in size, (cringe!), that is packed with farm stuff that has been accumulating for the past 3+ years. We have an old chicken coop, a manure spreader, two antique grain-drills that are in disrepair, and lots of construction materials from the barn projects and hoop houses...I could go on. 

What we've realized more fully this year is that there is a cost to keeping this stuff, even if it's just the time and mental energy that we spend thinking about it!  So, we are turning over a new leaf.

We are working to purge the farm this fall of the stuff that we no longer need and are working on finding the right spot for the items that are rarely used but we need to hold onto for one reason or another. 

It's a big job that always finds its way to the bottom of the to-do list  But, we are looking forward to having the mental relief of knowing that this little section of the farm is as clear and purposeful and vibrant as the rest of our farm. 

Anyone else up for a fall cleaning challenge in their own home this year?  

Your Farmers, 
Greg and Jenney

PS-Thanks for another great ginger and turmeric season! We are sold out for the seasons. Please share your favorite ginger/turmeric recipes with us and if you post to social media, don't forget to tag us so we can see your creative cooking masterpieces!  We love seeing you enjoy the food we grow!