Spring, the way I see it, is best enjoyed naked. When the first flowers burst through the soil, or explode out of their buds, they often appear in an instantaneous blaze of color, and with no--or at least quite simple--leaves.
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Welcome to this week's bee-log! Last time we focused on the gentlemen who frequent our property, this time let's take a look at the girls, all ~50,000 of them (not counting Fuzzy)!
I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Farm Beginnings Collaborative meeting last week in Portland. Maine with our Executive Director, Cara Cummings. Farm Beginnings Collaborative is the national alliance of regional groups who are offering Farm Beginnings programs. The Collaborative is growing and now includes ten organizations with programs serving beginning farmers in 13 states. The Land Connection was one of the founding organizations of this collaborative back in 2004.
We're entering our critical third season at the Champaign Farmers' Market. Critical third season is a phrase I'll be using a lot in the coming weeks and months. Research shows that farmers' markets who make it through 3 seasons are far more likely to succeed and truly become a part of the community.
The 2016-17 Central Illinois Farm Beginnings class has concluded their classroom sessions! Congratulations to our students who made it through 63 hours of rigorous learning on topics ranging from enterprise budgets to legal liability management to whole farm planning. Starting in October, our students traveled from up to three hours away to learn from fellow farmers and industry experts. It was such a pleasure to get to know the students, help guide them through writing their business plans, and listen to the evolution of their ideas in their final presentations.
I am not a winter person.
At our house, I prefer to keep a certain level of formality with the local wildlife. So we have Mr. Possum, Mr. Toad, Mr. Earthworm, and so on. I'm not sure why there isn't any female wildlife nearby, but somehow it just works out that way. To keep the gender balance fair, the bees are referred to as "the girls."
All of this unseasonable, 70 degree weather has me thinking of spring and farmers’ market season. While going outside and planting seeds in all my garden beds already might not be the smartest thing to do, I am surely dreaming of the delicious seasonal produce coming in the year ahead. One of the main things I’m thinking about is which CSA (community supported agriculture) share I will invest in this year.
Last week, Cara issued her radish challenge, and over the weekend I wholeheartedly accepted. I picked up some gorgeous misato radishes from Blue Moon Farm in Urbana, and pulled out my new woodland creature and barnyard animal cookie cutters (from an unorthodox approach to Christmas cookie season over the holidays).
Excitement fills the air! Farmers are gathering from across the region to discuss organic grains and how we grow this industry. I, personally, am brimming with anticipation of meeting the amazing farmers who are dedicated to growing organic grains in Illinois and Indiana. It takes a special person to commit to transitioning to organic production. It can be a lonely and confusing endeavor.