New Year

I was back home in Hawaii for the past 10 days and didn’t have a chance to update this blog as to the status of the greenhouse and Ruffner Valley Urban Farm in general. First and foremost we’ve officially s The good news is the greenhouse is done! It’s certainly a step down from professional grade but it has proven sturdy and effective thus far. We’ve started some of our seedlings inside and currently they are coming up without any problems. I’ve attached pictures of the greenhouse as well as the seedlings we’ve started.

The whole property is about to go through some pretty major renovations. We hired an electrician to come in and get power back up in the small building by Plot C. We plan on building a small walk-in cooler to store our produce so it will last longer before market. It was a matter of debate whether a walk-in cooler would be worth the expense when just starting out. There are a lot of costs associated with the cooler beyond just materials; we had to purchase a heavy duty A/C unit (18,000 BTU) and we also have to pay for the power to run it. However, we’ve heard from numerous sources that the initial investment is worth it. If you don’t have a cooler most of your produce has to be harvested the day before market. This means you will spend all Friday (assuming market is on Saturday) harvesting and probably won’t even get all the produce you have available. On top of that you have to spend time packaging for market which likely means working late into the night Friday and then getting up early for market on Saturday. With this in mind we think building a cooler would be a valuable experience from both a financial and learning perspective.

Honda of Birmingham has also generously provided ~50 volunteers to come in and clear the land this MLK Day. They will mostly be helping to clear the tremendous amount of brush we’ve accumulated while reconstructing this plot. They will also be helping to rebuild the small pavilion by the community gardens.

There’s so much going on and yet there remains a lot of work to be done before our first season in Spring 2014. The next step for us is building a water entrapment system involving 5-55gallon rain barrels that will all be connected. We’ve done the math on the rooftop and in theory it should collect ~576 gallons of water over the month of March. This estimate seems astronomically high to me but math has proved me wrong many times before and I hope for that to be the case in this situation. After that it’ll be time to till and physically make the beds for our crops. Can’t believe it’s almost that time again.

Should be a very exciting 2014 for Ruffner Mountain Urban Farm. I will update as I am available.

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