Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A breath of fresh air.

Everywhere around you, people are talking about the new year - new beginnings, new resolutions, new commitments, new possibilities...

Fresh Start Farms was born from that spirit. A departure from what was known for the promise of a better life. As these growers can tell you, it's not easy to leave behind the past and move forward, to learn a new language or new customs. It takes an incredible amount of strength not only to resettle, but to actively take hold of opportunities to grow a new life. Every day there are new challenges but these farmers have risen above adverse circumstances and are dedicated to caring for each seed of potential in their fields & in their businesses.

Winter Workshops: The winter is a perfect time to reflect on all of this. This week, farmers began the first series of workshops, trainings and classes, refining their skills and developing plans to prosper in 2012.

During the growing season, it can be hard to budget where time should be spent. At many points in the year, farmers are simultaneously responsible for harvesting crops, planting the next batch of seeds or seedlings, weeding everything in between, and finding time for markets (which still involves washing & packing produce, loading & unloading, traveling, and selling). This wheel exercise is a way to visualize how farmers anticipated dividing their time among different tasks.

Early in January, farmers are already figuring out what they want to grow, how much of each crop they want to plant, and how their field will be organized. There are a lot of factors that go into this - customer preferences (produce diversity for CSA shares and farmers' markets, produce quantity for restaurants and stores ), soil health, sunlight exposure and drainage patterns, proximity to beneficial plants and insects (learn more about companion planting), and quite simply, what the farmers want to feed their families. The exercise in these picture gives farmers the chance to play around with how much of what will grow where!

And the workshops don't end there. Add english classes, financial literacy and business planning, production and marketing trainings, etc... With so much to do, it becomes even more important that these farmers have the resources to afford pre-season expenses like seeds, tools, gas, and even building greenhouse space.

Consider supporting their efforts by purchasing a CSA share. Together we can align our new years resolutions: You want to treat yourself, your community, and your planet with more care and respect, and Fresh Start Farms growers want to continue building a stable home in Maine, to earn enough to feed their families and give their children a good life, and to grow more vibrant fields of green :)

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