Greetings from the team at Many Hands Peace Farm!
If you have visited the Mountain this summer then you may have noticed us hard at work in the garden, in the food forest, or with our poultry flock. Even though the Mountain has had to cut back on much of our programming this year, we welcome you to explore, learn, and play with us outdoors--on the farm and in nature where there is always something novel to experience. Keep checking our workshops and events page as we are designing our fall programming and will be updating this page soon. As always, contact us if you would like to volunteer at the farm, schedule a private tour, or collaborate to create a new workshop!
Here we would like to share some of the projects we have been digging into this year:
Expanding our flock: The MHPF, along with help from our volunteer Poultry Manager Ryan, has been busy expanding our family of feathered friends. Currently we have 69 adult chickens, 31 pullets (young chickens), and 20 new baby chicks; plus 8 adult ducks, a rowdy crowd of 18 young ducks, and 1 sturdy turkey, Theresa. We are working to improve our rainwater catchment and self-watering systems for our birds. As you may have seen on our instagram page, we have been frequently unleashing the birds to feast and frolic in the abundance of insects and wild plants surrounding the chicken yard, which allows them to supplement their feed with a more diverse diet and enjoy relative freedom.
Fooding the Forest: Thanks to generous donors, we have been able to continue transforming an acre of black locust forest into an abundant food forest. This year we have continued to plant fruit and nut-bearing trees, tend to plantings of previous years, pollard the black locusts to make sunlight available to new plantings, and utilize the resulting logs to fashion arbors with the help of our creative woodcrafter Tanner. Black locusts are nitrogen-fixing trees, so as we pollard them they continue to live and infuse nitrogen into the soil without casting the shade of a lofty canopy. A food forest takes years to establish and to begin bearing, but as they are designed to mimic natural relationships between trees, shrubs, herbs, vines, groundcovers, and roots using food, fuel, medicine, and fiber bearing plants, it will eventually become a beautiful haven beneficial to human use and wildlife alike.
Growing our Garden: Summertime is in full swing in the garden, with tomatoes ripening on the vine, corn beginning to tassel, and beanstalks reaching for the sun. Abuzz with honeybees, hummingbirds, and countless other crafty creatures, the garden is a delightful place to pass the time, especially in the mornings and evenings. We have been working hard to feed our no-till beds by mulching the soil, to battle the more persistent weeds, and to continue planting and harvesting. As the garden manager, Miranda has learned that the gardener is never truly in control of the garden, but a participant and a facilitator in the grander web of life! We leave many of our flowering wild plants to supplement our cultivated flowers as food for a diverse array of pollinators, as well as other wild plants such as chickweed and lamb’s quarters that make nutritious and delicious food for people. Currently we are cultivating kale, summer squash, winter squash, bush and pole beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, sunflowers, peppers, basil, sweet potatoes, lettuces, radishes, carrots, calendula, and marigolds. It’s already time now to begin seeding and planting for fall crops--how quickly time passes in the garden!
Honey Bees: We began the season with three new healthy hives on the farm. We have been monitoring the bees’ activity and health, checking for mites, while largely leaving the intelligent insects to their own devices. Last week one of our colonies split and swarmed into a nearby swarm-trap, which was successfully captured by our fearless farm leader Joey, and integrated as a fourth colony. Honeybees are responsible for pollinating the plants that make up much of our modern diet and are suffering alarming population declines. We feel honored to host and care for these creatures and look forward to learning from them for seasons to come!
The MHPF team is looking forward to continually improving our site, our collaboration with other community organizations, and our educational programming to help others learn more about our local ecology and ways to create a more sustainable and resilient world. Come visit us on the farm, at the Cashiers market on Wednesdays, the Highlands market on Saturdays, or simply browse our website to learn more! Thank you for joining us and we hope to grow with you soon.