Monday, September 29, 2008

Pins and Needles

For those of you who have been following our search for a new farm all summer long, we hope to have at least some news for you soon.  We have found a property that we are very interested in that we know would make a wonderful home for our farm.   We have been told that this week our loan application goes before the Committee that Reviews Loan Applications at ShoreBank Pacific over in Ilwaco, and we should get the thumbs up or down from them then.  We are just a wee bit nervous and distracted as a result, feeling ourselves to be walking around on pins and needles.  A lot of planets have to align still for this all to work out, but we know that there are many fingers being crossed and prayers being said on our behalf this week, and we are so grateful to all of you, our friends, family and loyal customers, for believing in us, and for encouraging us to keep moving forwards in our quest to find our farm a new location.

As you can imagine, this is perhaps not the ideal time to be small-scale self-employed farmers with modest cash flow looking for financing to purchase a piece of property to start a new farm on!    I've never really felt a very strong connection to what happens on Wall Street, but it is hard not to feel rather challenged by the timing of our national financial meltdown.  I know we are a good risk, that we are hard working and dedicated, that our ideas are sound and that we will do whatever it takes to make our farm a success.   We have been overwhelmed by the support of our local community for our plans, and know that the interest in locally grown food, flowers and plant starts is only going to grow stronger in the coming years.  Even if our application were to get the thumbs down this week, (banks seem to be rather nervous when they see the word 'farm' ) we will not let it stop us from continuing to figure out a way to make this whole thing work.  However, it would be so much nicer, and help reduce our stress levels tremendously, if the answer is 'yes'.

In the meantime, I thought I would share some thoughts and pictures of our summer season, such as it was.  As soon as we  have any news to tell, we will tell you here.

It has been a long, strange summer here on Ostman Farm.  A soggy, cold spring flowed seamlessly into a foggy, damp summer. All of our flowers bloomed about a month late.  Some, like the dahlias, seemed to explode into bloom to make up for lost time, and others, like the snapdragons, grumbled about the cold and the damp all summer long, succumbed to rust, and eventually just gave up.  It was a great year for lettuce and kale, and a terrible year for tomatoes and basil.  It seemed like every time the sweet pea trellis was loaded with blooms, it would rain on them.  Wet sweet peas have a texture not unlike soggy tissues, although they still smell heavenly.  Sadly, we probably composted more sweet peas than we sold this year.

The sweet peas on one of their better days this year- 
the scent hovering around the trellis was amazing.

Of course, now that it is officially fall, we are finally having a few days that feel like summer, but you can feel it in the air- rain is coming, the light has changed to that autumn golden tone that casts long shadows and seems to disappear too early.   We keep seeing huge flocks of geese overhead, honking and flapping their way south.  I've tried shouting 'Stop!  Come Back!" but it doesn't work.  I suppose I can't blame them, but it does feel a bit like desertion.

Eddie thoughtfully uses his own body weight to make sure the catnip 
doesn't escape before it is bundled up to dry.

All the catnip has been harvested for the season, and Eddie the Cat is looking forward to testing another batch of cat toys this winter.  I'm working on making fall wreaths- our flower harvest was late and smaller than usual, but I still have more than enough to work with to keep me busy.

Our market seasons are winding up- the Manzanita Farmer's Market ended a couple of weeks ago (another great season there, thanks Manzanitia!), and this is the last week for the Cannon Beach Farmer's Market-  it was a fabulous inaugural season for this little market.   Wonderful volunteers, a super good market manager, enthusiastic local support and some of the best vendors we've had the honor to share a market with made it one of our favourite ways to spend a Tuesday afternoon.  It was a challenging market for us, because there were strict limitations on what we could, and more importantly could not, sell.  Everything at the market had to be edible, meaning we couldn't sell any cut flowers, which make up of the back bone of our mid-summer income.  However, the market management made it possible for us to sell some flower arrangements, as long as everything in the arrangement was edible.  Edible bouquets!  It was a weekly test of my plant knowledge, and pushed me to branch out into parts of the garden that I hadn't been cutting from much, which I think made for even better bouquets.  I ended up using lots of fresh herbs in the arrangements, as well as many flowers that I wouldn't have thought of ever eating before this.  I don't know how many of the bouquets ended up being consumed, but I do know that one customer came back to tell me about the dinner party that they gave where all the guests cheerfully dismantled the bouquet to decorate their salads.

Just add a dash of oil and vinegar....

As much as it was a fun challenge, I still hope they relent next year and allow for cut flower sales, as most of the customers we spoke to missed  being able to buy bunches of fresh flowers at the market, and I hated not being able to bring all of our glorious dahlias and sunflowers to share with the folks of Cannon Beach.

This coming Sunday is the final Astoria Sunday Market as well, which has had a challenging year.  It seems to have been the market hardest hit by the downturn in the economy, with gas prices keeping many vendors and shoppers at home more during the summer.  Our farm still had a great overall season there for most of the summer.  There was a strong surge of interest in growing food crops, and we hope to be able to offer even more vegetable plant starts next year, as this does not seem like a flash in the pan trend.  It was great to see so many people who have never grown vegetables before coming by, asking questions and then taking their plants home to give it a try.  The last few weeks have brought many customers back by our booth to give reports on their gardens- there were some tomato success stories, although most people's tomatoes struggled with the cool damp weather.  The lettuce people were ecstatic with their salad gardens, and I think we managed to cure a few people of their aversion to kale and chard.

We keep saying "Next year we will..." and then pausing, because we are still not quite sure what next year will look like for our farm.  But I know that we will somehow show up at the market with vegetable plant starts, at the very least, because we've gotten far too many people hooked on our tomato and lettuce plants now, and I fear that if we don't show up with a huge selection we will be drummed out of town.

So we are making tentative plans for next year, and keeping our fingers crossed, and hoping that we will have good news to share with you all soon.  

Thanks again for all the kind words of support- it is a wonderful feeling to know that so many people believe in what we are doing, and want us to find a way to continue.  We promise we will.

1 comment:

  1. great pictures! i especially like the last one with the cat.