Thursday, February 28, 2013

Aneta Community Orchard and Garden (Part 2)

This is a continuation of yesterday's post which explained the start of the 
Aneta Community Orchard and Garden.
Not all of the work that goes into planting an orchard happens at the planting site. 
 Bill taught us how to take cuttings from existing hardy fruit trees and start new trees. A volunteer researched patents on trees to be sure that we were using native varieties or those without patents. We then proceeded to cut tender branch tips from trees in order for them to take root and produce more trees.
The cuttings were placed into soil and transported.
This is a misting chamber. The proper humidity and temperature should help the cuttings root. 
Those who attended this work day were inspired by the success we witnessed in this orchard and learned many lessons from our patient teacher, Bill.
Pop cans are placed on top of steel fence posts to hold netting up without poking or slipping down. This tip was gleaned from a road trip that the group took to an another community garden.  Gardens are a great place to recycle.
 On another work day we potted root stock. A hardy apple tree had been cut down. Although it was mostly dead above ground, there were still live roots. It sent root shoots out into the surrounding ground and little trees popped through the ground.
The trees were carefully removed from the ground preserving as much root as possible. 
 The trees were potted by volunteers.
The pots were taken home and tended by volunteers.
 After each tree establisheded in the pot, it was transplanted into the orchard.
  The little trees are spending the Winter under the snow at the Aneta Community Orchard and Garden. These will be used as root stock for grafting.
 There is always something to learn at the Aneta Community Orchard and Garden located near the road to GriggsDakota. More tomorrow...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Aneta Community Orchard and Garden Project (Part 1)

 In our rich agricultural area, it is important to remember that people sometimes have difficulty putting food on the table. Families live from paycheck to paycheck. The elderly struggle to afford nutritious fruits and vegetables. Schools and nursing homes work to provide produce to those who dine at their tables. 
It seemed like a good idea from the start: Plant and nurture an orchard and garden that would benefit everyone in our community.
Plans began, as many things do, around a table with a cup of coffee. It would take land, expertise, time energy, money, water...
At first, it was simply dreams, with lists, notes, plans and sketches. Bill has a Master's degree from the University of Minnesota in Horticulture. He has years of experience as a truck gardener and organic farmer. Janice has recently completed the Master Gardener course through the extension service. We carefully applied for a grant to start the project.
The Aneta Specialty Crop Group was awarded a grant by the state to plan and plant an orchard. Soon we were taking soil samples and exploring site options.The Aneta Community Orchard and Garden was underway.
The city of Aneta offered land just North of its platted lots which proved to be suitable. Local farmers and city residents worked together to break the sod, deep rip, fertilize and prepare the chosen site for planting.
We are fortunate to have qualified experts in our midst, with horticulture and gardening expertise.
With enthusiastic participation from many in the community, and several more pots of coffee plus a little lunch to fortify us, the experts were able to devise a workable plan for the 
Aneta Community Orchard and Garden.
We learned that while our region is not traditionally an orchard spot, with proper protection from wind, deer, rodents, and other pests, it is possible to grow fruit and nut trees in our climate. Research, especially that done through our land grant universities in Minnesota and the Dakotas has greatly increased the chances of success for fruit to appear on trees planted in this area.
In addition to the trees we could plant grapes, asparagus, berries and other sustainable perennials that would help feed families, the elderly, children in schools, anyone, everyone. We will make garden plots available at minimum cost to anyone interested in raising a garden.  The project could help assure that no one anywhere in the GriggsDakota area goes hungry. 
More on the project tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hay for the Cattle

Under the blue sky of Summer Cattleman Jim prepared for the Winter by making hay and baling straw wherever we could. 
Now it is paying off. There is plenty of hay in GriggsDakota.
Cattle need to be fed every day. 
Cattle are usually docile as long as they are not too hungry. 
They hear the tractor nearby fetching their hay bales, but the cattle are content to stand by and wait for what they know will be delivered.  Calving has not begun. 
Each day brings us closer to new calves. That will be a sure sign of Spring, in spite of the snow.
Cattleman Jim loads one bale on the front and one on the back, then slowly makes his way back on the snowy trail to the pen.
 There seems to be rejoicing among the girls as the tractor and bales enters their midst. 
Every single day, until the earth turns green in GriggsDakota.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Winter Weary? Imagine the Fun

Are you weary of winter? Sometimes on dreary days in GriggsDakota, it seem like a long time since the season changed to cold and white.
We decided that we should have a picnic in GriggsDakota. Farmer Fred began to assemble the table that was waiting for the sunshine of Spring. 
The Farm Inspector and the Ag Analyst provided the sunshine on a recent cold Winter day. 
They also were willing to put together a picnic for us. 
The Ag Analyst found picnic plates. 
 The Farm Inspector went to the kitchen and scrounged up ingredients for a fruit salad.
She assured me that her Nana had taught her how to make fruit salad. 
Soon we were enjoying a picnic and talking about Summertime. 
We found that the picnic table, placed in another room on another day, was like visiting another favorite spot where we could enjoy a picnic lunch. Winter doesn't seem too bad after a trip in our imagination to a warm Summer day.
We know that the Springtime sun is on its way. 
And we can recall and anticipate the joys of Summer in GriggsDakota.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Mission Complete: Seed Soybeans Are On Their Way

 Although the temperatures have remained wintery, the sun is stronger.
 It reminds us to continue preparing for Spring.
Snow from the bin sites must be moved away to ensure that more snow won't compound the problem as the wind blows 
There are seed soybeans in bins at two bin sites, so Jake patiently cleared the snow away. It is time these beans are taken to an elevator, cleaned and delivered to other farms in anticipation of a new season. 
 Seasons change with a push and in a rush. GriggsDakota has a short growing season, so preparations 2013 are done in the Winter.
It has been so cold this week that some trucks had trouble with their fuel gelling. When number two diesel fuel gets too cold, it turns from liquid to gel, which keeps it from flowing to the engine. The choices are to add a preventative treatment or use number one diesel fuel. 
Some of the driver's had problems, but as usual diligence paid off. The trucks lined up as they waited for their load. 
We use a grain vacuum rather than an auger to move the seed beans. The beans must be kept whole and undamaged in order to sprout. 
They moved the vac from one bin to the next until all the soybean bins were empty. 
As the crew prepares to vacuum the last bin in the cold Winter weather, there is the feeling of accomplishment. The seed soybeans are on the road to Spring planting season as they travel down the road from GriggsDakota.