News & Photos

August 23, 2017

The days are getting noticeably shorter. It’s actually kind of dark when our field crew starts at 6 a.m. After their 15 minute stretching routine it gets a little lighter but that should diminish further and we will soon have to delay their morning start time.
The harvest list is growing to include eggplant, multi-colored bell and hot peppers, Gala, McIntosh and Rubenstar apples. We are looking forward to the change in the late summer weather which usually means a switch from foggy to crisp clear mornings. 
September is generally dry and cooler but these last few days of August have brought some very moist but warm days which some of us growers call “mildew weather” due to increased instances of downy mildew and other molds which thrive in all day fog. 
Basil has been a challenge for us lately with the mildew hitting and missing patches depending on where the plants are located. As of yet there are no downy mildew resistant Italian basil varieties out there, though the lemon basil seems to fair pretty well so we are happy about that.
Flower power is in force in the form of dahlias and honestly it’s hard to keep up with them.  Their production is steady and they need picking 2 to 3 times a week to keep the plants going.
It’s tough, what with all the other crops also maxxing out. Sleep?  What is that?  Ha ha…
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August 2, 2017

The August day length is still pretty long but we are noticing the slight delay of daybreak in the early morning hours. There’s now darkness when getting ready to go out to work. Even though the days are getting shorter, the warmest days are still yet to come.
Fruit, roots, flowers and leaves are coming in fast and furious. We are now dealing with a very wide range of crops that are growing, which leaves little time to even think of other things on the list. Our lineup this next week will include, Poblano peppers, some extremely hot Cayenne peppers, some early apple varieties and the first potatoes which have been patiently waiting their turn to be dug up from the ground. 
It’s a real chore just managing the time to get to all the things that are coming on in the days, weeks and months ahead. We typically harvest leafy crops early in the morning with the hardier items later towards midday. The crop harvest schedule varies during the summer weeks depending on our orders. We aim to finish before 1 or 2 pm but sometimes heavy harvest schedules can span most of the day. When that happens it leaves less time for weeding, irrigating and keeping up on crop thinning and the thousand other things that need to get done on the farm. 
To the happy amusement of our long standing field crew, we are having some new eager young market employees putting time in the field, which is good to see, as every little bit helps. 
Happy August!
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July 19, 2017

Alternating hot and cool periods the last few weeks are allowing the full spectrum of our wide range of crops to do their thing. We are already pretty heavy into tomato season with all the dry farmed cherry tomatoes, Early Girls and heirlooms coming on. Word has it that further inland it has been so hot with temperatures into triple digits regularly that the blossoms have been falling off leading to a reduced fruit set for the various tomato crops.  Another reason to be thankful for being on the Central Coast. 
The pepper crops are promising to be heavy with lots of fruit setting in the above 50 degree nights. Meanwhile, lettuces, chicories, Cole crops, cilantro and other greens are doing great! We are even seeing some ripe plums, apricots and early apples too!
I have been thinking a lot about all the new developments effecting smaller local farmers. There is a large and growing presence of home delivery options from retailers, food kit companies and with the recent purchase of Whole Foods by Amazon, the potential for people to shop from their mobile phones without ever seeing what they are buying in person. I have my own opinions about this kind of shopping, but I do think there is value in knowing where it is coming from and seeing what you are buying. Convenience also does have its’ costs.  The more direct and efficiently food travels to the consumers, the more sustainable it is both energy-wise and financially for the growers. 
Another added pressure starting to become a reality is marijuana. Recreational and medical marijuana laws are now allowing it’s cultivation to be a much more common practice on the Central Coast. There are starting to be some unintended ramifications for farms growing food, flowers and fiber. The main impacts are putting pressure on land lease prices and impacting the already tight farm labor issues. Smaller farms that lease land in somewhat isolated areas are most at risk for negative impacts from this. There have also been some larger greenhouse operations that previously grew flowers, now converted over to marijuana with some rather ominous impacts on their neighbors, such as having armed guards now patrolling properties and reduced farm road access becoming an issue.
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July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth! May the 4th be with you moving forth into summer and into the future. I am impressed with the scope of our local communities efforts at real independence; whether it be food, fabric, energy, and most importantly, thinking. It’s something to celebrate, but it’s not just independence but the INTERdependence that connecting more closely with the sources and resources of our community we should celebrate and affirm. Our work in progress at Route 1 Farm is moving towards a much more sustainable future. It’s not something you can do alone so we are also thanking all those people we interact with.
We apologize that we’ve been lagging with the eNewsletters lately. Due to a very full workload of projects and events as well as trying to re-scale our farm plan to fit the new reality of a smaller field crew, we fell behind in publishing the eNewsletter. It’s all getting done but it’s taking all of our focus, creativity and energy to make our rather complex planting lineup happen. We did get our summer crops in pretty early and have gotten a jump on the tomatoes. We are now looking at a few dry farmed tomatoes ripening this week. First are the Sungold cherry tomatoes leading the pack with lots of clusters turning bright orange and going out to markets. There are a few Early Girls ripening here and there too. Other fruit coming on include Green Gage plums, gold raspberries, even a few Red Haven peaches are going to the Wednesday farmers’ market.
The fog is slowing down the growth of some crops such as peppers and eggplant. The plants are growing fine with many, many small green peppers being set as the fog holds in any daytime heat preventing it from escaping into the night. We are growing a pretty large variety of peppers this year. Later in the season, you can expect to see sweet bells, multiple varieties of poblanos (with several seed trials for a seed company), paprika, gold and yellow Cayenne, Corno Di Toro and jalapeños.… Read the rest

May 23, 2017

Our fields are covered in green! The plants are growing nicely and reaching for the increasing sunlight as the days are getting noticeably longer. The grasses, mostly annual and non-native species, are still green but will be turning brown over the next few weeks. There is evidence of abundant water everywhere still. The amount of growth happening is amazing and it’s not just on the farm but in the surrounding landscape of trees, bushes and vines too.
The dry farmed tomatoes are looking as if they are being irrigated but, of course, they aren’t. They are setting fruit as the nighttime temperatures are now remaining above 50°.

It is time to start staking the cherry tomatoes as they are vining out quickly. We are getting a late start in planting winter squash but there’s plenty of summer left for them to grow, ripen and come into harvest.
Right now our time is being spent keeping up on weed control, irrigating, transplanting and harvesting the ever increasing variety of crops that are in the ground.
We are looking forward to getting the Summer CSA started on Tuesday, May 30th. We are also very excited to work with the amazingly talented chefs we have lined up for our three farm dinners this summer. By the way, there’s still room at the table for the June and August dinners if you’d like to attend. You can find more information on our website under the Farm Dinners tab. Join us if you can!… Read the rest

May 9, 2017

After a brief hot spell last week we are now having a cool start to May. The cool weather crops like lettuce, spinach, kale and such, are enjoying it but the warm weather loving crops will have to be patient to get what they really want. We continue to open up new ground and plant as if summer were imminent. 
This week it’s more peppers, eggplant, squash and the usual succession of seasonal and year round items. Our seed potato order finally showed up so we are dropping those into the ground too. Varieties this year include Yellow Finn, Purple Viking, Austrian Crescents, Pink Pearl, German Butterball and Vicasso (a new multi-colored spud).
Upcoming projects on the farm include hacking back encroaching perimeter tree growth into our deer fencing and mending said fences where fallen trees have damaged it. There seems to be a lot of trees falling in our surrounding woods, due likely to abundant growth from all our rain this past winter. We believe the rainy season is done so we are looking forward to about 6 months of no rain, which is normal for these parts in a ‘typical’ year.
Besides all the crops we grow, we believe that limiting our carbon footprint is just as important. IN addition to harvesting the suns energy by growing crop plants, our 15 kWh rooftop solar photovoltaic’s electrical plant has saved over 300,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. This offsets a lot of our carbon use from delivery trucks and tractors, which although burn mostly biodiesel do contribute to carbon emissions.
We are continuously looking at our non-renewable outputs and trying to figure out a way to minimize or all together eliminate waste that goes into landfill or utilizes from non-renewable resources.… Read the rest

April 25, 2017

The verdict is in, no more rain is needed. I know it sounds weird to say that after so much drought but, after upwards of 70″ this season, it’s okay for the rain to stop now 🙂 The soil is still a little mucky a couple of inches down in many places.

We are starting to whittle away at the backlog of transplants in our greenhouse, transplanting in the drier patches here, there and everywhere. Warmer weather is fast approaching and it’s time to get going working the ground.

The time for planting squashes, beans, eggplant and all those other summer delights is here! The good news is we’ve already transplanted all 8 varieties of peppers in our driest areas, so no worries there.

Checking on the tomatoes that we put out in early March, it looks like they are growing vigorously and are starting to vine out. It won’t be long until they will need staking. I am also very happy to see the newly acquired Dahlia varieties sprouting up…I can’t wait!

Once we get all the cover crop mowed and incorporated, the big decision will be just how much to plant and whether to keep some land always fallowed or to put in a summer cover crop.

This is something that is new. The ongoing dilemma now being how many field workers we can find to help us for the growing season. Our regular core crew of 15 can do amazing things but more are needed if all 55 acres are going to be utilized to the fullest.

Hmmm, summer cover crops? It’s going to be an interesting year.… Read the rest

April 11, 2017

April showers are continuing so we are trying to find any openings between them to get into the ground to plant. So far we have had three big plant outs of lettuce, fennel, radicchio, cilantro, dill and spinach. In addition all the tomatoes and some of the peppers and onions have been planted and are starting to grow.
We have also done a single planting of parsley, carrots, basil, dahlia tubers and snapdragons, with more to follow. We are a little late planting potatoes due to shipping delays from our supplier but those should be arriving soon and the planting will happen within the next couple weeks.
The good news is we are officially done with the drought. The last three seasons were a guessing game as to whether we would make it through the season with enough water. That is not a problem this year. It’s always good to conserve and our practices during the drought have taught us to manage things better and be more frugal in how we use water in our fields.
One of the added benefits of using more drip tape irrigation is that there are less weeds, which are always a labor concern for us organic farmers who stay away from herbicides for weed control.
Once we actually have to start regular irrigation (probably not until May), it will be with a sharp eye for what really needs it and what doesn’t. Our tomatoes will not be irrigated as usual as we dry farm them and the orchards will only need minimal added water.
Speaking of orchards, the fruit set on the trees is still looking good. The task at hand is now to keep the deer out so that there is fruit for the humans 🙂… Read the rest

March 28, 2017

Welcome to Spring! It has been a long and wet winter. It is still wet with a lot of seeps and springs flowing here and there but the sun is peaking out and temperatures are rising. 

In the orchard, the plums have all but finished blooming, with white petals littering the ground like a dusting of snow. The apples and pears are just emerging while the early ripening varieties are at their peak bloom.

In the fields, there is rapid growth of the cover crops with blossoms of Phacelia, Crimson Clover and Purple Vetch popping out. The wild bees, the honey bees and the beneficial insects are loving it. 

As soon as the soil is dry enough we can begin mowing and discing the cover crops under. Up until now there has only been a few choice areas that are drained enough to open up for planting new crops. 

We have noticed some summer weeds like amaranth and purslane starting to germinate in these areas. This is a sign that it’s time to get the summer crops going, but also it means that we have to begin cultivating and hoeing in areas that we have already planted to knock back the weeds. Otherwise those weeds can swallow you up if you are only concentrating on planting. 

As  we spring forward, remember this..The future is unwritten…  … Read the rest

February 14, 2017

It’s actually surprising that we are still pulling out a fair variety of crops for our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes considering the deluges we’ve experienced. The soils have been extremely soggy, such that no more water can really soak in from additional rainfall and the water is just running off. It will take about a week, at least, until we can get into the ground again to prep more land for additional early spring planting. With more rain forecast for Wednesday night, it’s unlikely the ground will be workable before that.
Patience is something we have to practice. We are feeling restless and the greenhouses are bulging with transplants ready to go, but yes, patience, patience, patience must be practiced. Two weeks ago we did get a good round of dandelions, radicchio and Brassica transplants put into the soil and even some direct seeded crops like carrots and Asian greens.
So far the only land we have available for spring plantings are those areas left unplanted in the late fall. None of the areas that we have cover cropped over the winter have been worked in yet because they are, in addition to providing free nutrients and sequestering carbon, they are also providing invaluable erosion control for such a wet winter.

Normally by mid-February we are starting to mow and disc under cover crops, but that seems very unwise at this time as there is more rain to come and with that more potential for soil loss. Soil is not something easy to come by so we try very hard preserve the healthy soils we have and that we work so hard to build up year after year.… Read the rest