Fall farm planning means time to take stock of what we accomplished this year and what we’d like to do next year. We’ve begun thinking through our one, three, and five-year goals for Seven Oaks Farm. Lots of exciting ideas – now we have to see what we can achieve.
Fall Farm Planning: Time to Dream
Fall farm planning here means a walk through the woods. Our woods have become tangled in downed trees and thickets of thorny briars since we moved here 11 years ago. This past fall, storms Florence and Michael pulled down many trees, leaving the old work roads through the woods impassable.
John and I (accompanied by Whitey and Shy Boy, two of our seven cats) strolled through the woods. We’re dreaming of expanding the farm. Taking down some of the loblolly pine, which we knew had to be harvested eventually. Adding more heirloom apple trees with a second fruit tree orchard and maybe some nut trees.
We’re busy reading articles in the Farm Bureau magazine to learn what other Virginia farmers are growing. I’m hunting through Cooperative Extension publications research everything from growing American ginseng to, of all things, mushroom growing. Yes, mushrooms! That’s my latest obsession: can I grow edible mushrooms in the basement? In the garage?
I’m looking through kits on Amazon, reading articles online, and tentatively tasting varieties purchased from the supermarket. Which ones do I like? What might I be able to grow?
Meanwhile, the hunt goes on for a small scale timber broker who won’t blink at harvesting just two acres and thinning the remaining ten or so. We don’t want to take everything out through clear-cutting. My heart breaks at what that might do to our land and to the wildlife that lives here. The silly possum who steals pineapple cores from the compost pile has just as much right to a bit of peace and quiet as I do to a new orchard.
Fall is our time for daydreaming and planning. I’m busy mapping out the raised beds again. I’m looking into growing more heirloom vegetables and unusual herbs and fruit, perhaps with an eye towards direct sales from our farm or selling at the farmer’s market. Meanwhile, I watch the mail eagerly for my favorite catalogs: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed, Strictly Medicinal Herbs.
The wind chimes are put away, the hoses hung up in the shed, the morning glories taken off the trellis and the birdbath drained and on the workbench for repainting. Now is the time for fall farm planning, for walks through the woods and a bit of daydreaming about what our next decade will hold.
Jeanne Grunert is a certified Virginia Master Gardener and the author of several gardening books. Her garden articles, photographs, and interviews have been featured in The Herb Companion, Virginia Gardener, and Cultivate, the magazine of the National Farm Bureau. She is the founder of The Christian Herbalists group and a popular local lecturer on culinary herbs and herbs for health, raised bed gardening, and horticulture therapy.