Some friends of mine reported on tomato plants still yielding fruit in the warmer climate of downtown Philadelphia.
We have been able to continue grazing our 9 sheep on stockpiled pasture, then on a patch of rich green vetch and rye cover crop, now on the fall brassica field with intersown oats.
In walks I've noticed some plants bursting into bloom or at least flirting with bud break - forsythia, lilac, cherries. This extended fall has us musing about future fall plantings, how we might try to extend our season and gamble for warmer growing Novembers and Decembers. These plots and schemes will be aided by the soon arrival of the kit for our new high tunnels. We have ordered 2 small movable high tunnels, meant to create protected, dry and hot conditions for summer crops like peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and ginger. They will also protect fall and winter crops as we explore growing in the "Persephone" season, the winter half of the year when the sunlight is under 10 hours per day and only the hardy plants are invited to try their luck.
The phrase Persephone season comes from a grower inspirational to us, Eliot Coleman, who farms the ruggedly chilly Main landscape all through the winter and has discovered some simple secrets to bounty in the most brutal of cold times. Persephone is the daughter of Demeter, goddess of grains and crops in Greek Mythology. The story goes that one day Hades steals young Persephone away because she is so beautiful, taking her to the underworld away from her sweet mother's sunshine-filled world. Demeter's grief brings darkness and winter to the land. Crops die, people are hungry, days are short and cold. Persephone is able finally to return to her mother after many months and her mother's joy brings sunny, warm spring. Because she has eaten food in the underworld however, she must return each year to be Hades' queen for several months and the world must experience winter. People learn to store their crops, to prepare for winter and lean times and darker days.
Has Demeter made a special deal this year to gain us more green and warmth? Is this a sign of winters to come? No sure answers are to be found, but we do hope the proper cold for winter hibernation will arrive eventually, even as the light strengthens and lengthens.
We are in the final stretch of preparing to order our seeds for 2016. And we are excited to announce that CSA shares for 2016 are now available, with a few changes to our CSA set up. Instead of our boxed share of the past, our members will pick up their shares on the farm from a market-style set up. Crops will be presented for members to select and there will be much more choice. We will still keep our Fox Box and Lion's Share designations for larger and smaller size shares. Fox Box members will get to select 6-8 items depending on the week and Lion's Share members will pick 9-12. We will also be planting a pick-your-own herb and flower garden adjacent to our pack shed, a dream we've had for a while!!! We hope you will join us this season and we welcome a visit so you can learn more about Broad Wing Farm. Happy Solstice & may your holiday be full of light and love.