2017 was a big year for Barrett's Mill Farm! It was our first season growing vegetables on 4.5 acres of land that we lease across the street, we got a grant and Town funding to dig a 500 foot bedrock irrigation well and we became Certified Organic! We also hit a milestone by achieving a scale that we are optimistic will work for us in the long-term, both financially and in terms of quality of life. After three seasons of continuously reinvesting in the farm and rapidly building up the business, we feel like we are on much more solid footing than in past seasons. We still plan to grow incrementally over the next couple of years: we have equipment and infrastructure on our wish list, we want to add new members and hire a few more employees, and we want to continue to look at ways we can adjust our business to be more efficient, as well as ecologically sustainable. However, it all feels a little less daunting with the solid base of equipment, infrastructure, and - most importantly - people that make this farm community work.
Speaking of people - we had more members, customers, employees and volunteers than ever involved in the farm community! This year we welcomed 175 CSA members, 63 Barrett's Bucks members, 26 PYO Flower CSA members, 52 Late Fall CSA members and many walk-in customers at our farm store. A generous CSA member purchased a few CSA shares to offer as a series of 2-week trial memberships. This program was a huge success and brought many new people to the farm. We also had a total of 9 fantastic employees: Shaun, Dave P., Rebecca, Dave T., Erica, and Miranda in the fields, Alexis in the store, and Molly and Emma doing a bit of both! We are also really fortunate to have a super group of volunteers helping out in the store and field, seeding in the greenhouse, tackling all our dream construction projects, and putting a smile on our faces with their enthusiasm for the farm. Many thanks to Gretta, Paul, Susan, David, Katie, Jane and Kathy for helping to make it all happen.
In terms of crops, it was another excellent tomato year. We particularly liked the pink Damsel and orange Chef's Choice varieties that we added to our main season tomato planting - both turned out to be productive and tasty. Fall crops were another highlight including brassicas, onions, and carrots, as well as our first crop of Barrett's Mill Farm sweet potatoes. The PYO flower field also enjoyed a long picking season with it's more sheltered location and slightly later frost. Crops we'd like to improve in 2018 include melons, potatoes, edamame and popcorn. We worked hard to keep coyotes and crows out of our melons only to have our plants succumb to disease brought on by cooler and wetter weather early in the summer. There isn't much to be done about disease other than our regular crop rotations, so we will cross our fingers and hope for better luck in 2018! Potatoes are always a problem for us due to our large population of Colorado Potato Beetle. This year we are rotating the potatoes across the street in order to decrease (or at least delay) pest pressure. Edamame was a fun new crop that we tried out this year, but deer decimated the tops of the plants, reducing yields. Next year we plan to plant the edamame inside of the deer fencing! Popcorn was another fun crop we tried out in 2017. In order to increase yields, we plan to replace the colorful heirloom variety we grew with a hardier and aptly named "Robust" variety.
Plans for 2018 are well underway: seeds have been ordered, crew members hired, and 85 members have already signed up. This year we will continue to make small adjustments as well as think big about the future of the farm. We are looking forward to our fifth season - thanks for being a part of it!