Everything's still covered in snow here in Keene Valley, but we've had enough dripping, melting and bare ground sightings to know that Spring will come eventually. We're taking the opportunity to finish up some major infrastructure projects and get ourselves organized before the season gets busy and there are plants to tend to, bugs to encourage, bugs to fight off and veggies to sell.
The most exciting project this month has been the building of our small but mighty walk-in cooler. Steve has been busy with the cooler for the past two weeks and it is almost finished (!). The cooler is located in part of the old 'sheep barn' on the farm which is actually an old dairy barn. We chose a spot that will provide easy access from our processing area and also truck access when loading for markets and deliveries. The sheep barn was neither square nor level so Steve had to use all his magic carpenter powers to build a square and level box within this barn. He built 2 x 4 framing, layered on OSB, two layers of insulation, and a layer of plastic paneling to create a well-sealed cooler that will be food safe and washable on the inside and water and rodent-proof on the outside. We are using some smart farmer technology called a Cool-Bot to cool rather than a traditional compressor to cool our veggies. The Cool-Bot connects to a window air conditioner and overrides the thermostat, allowing it to cool down to 33 F. Cool-Bots are more energy efficient than compressors, less expensive and easier to maintain for regular people like us.
March has also brought the first harvest of shoots and the planting of beds in the greenhouse with spinach, radishes, salad greens, green onions and spinach. We've been busy preparing for our first employees, selling market shares to the community, cleaning indoors spaces, ordering supplies and PLANNING. Next up: installation of deer fencing around the new field and last minute blueberry pruning. It may be hard to imagine right now, but soon, the snow will melt and we'll be out in the field planting, watering, and holding the weeds at bay.