First Winter Update

The past month’s been quite busy. Here’s a rundown of what’s been going on since the new year.

Pilot CSA

Some of you may have noticed the addition of a new page here at Lillklobb Permaculture: the Pilot Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program. This Pilot CSA (kumppanuusmaatalous) is thoroughly explained there, but suffice to say- if you’ve been following the farm’s development, you’ll know I’m planning a 1000m2 intensive market garden. That market garden is meant to be the driving economic force that feeds surplus revenue into the other farm systems- the future forest garden, pastured chickens, development of outdoor spaces etc.

Of all the permaculture design principles, “start small” is one of my favorites. Small is by definition a relative word. By itself, it doesn’t mean much; which is why I also like to work in threes. When you’ve got a range of options, you can see what small really is.

In this case, I ran the numbers on the market garden and began asking questions. Asking questions is basically what permaculture design is all about: pointedly getting to the bottom of things, necessitating a defensible answer or at least an admission of “I don’t know.”

So, why a Pilot CSA Program? The most simple answer is: because there is a lot I don’t know. Pilot programs are by their very nature exploratory. It is an admission of experimentation on behalf of those running it and, thus, anyone who chooses to join such a program knows they are taking on more risk than is typical.

Now, CSA’s aren’t new. Not by a long shot, though still relatively new in Finland. So it isn’t necessarily the model that is being tested here, but the application of the model to a farm that hasn’t seen a growing season in over 30 years managed by a young new farmer on a bootstrapping budget.

By limiting the number of members and total share value presold, I’m able to create the atmosphere of a full scale CSA- the drive to provide for my members, logistical planning, communication patterns, and some of the fiscal security too. A smaller pilot program is an excellent way to apply just enough pressure, just enough reward, and build something from the ground up.

A small CSA like this is also a wonderful new revenue stream. Diverse outlets to different kinds of customers are extremely important in the long run and, being honest here- nothing feels much better than knowing your customers trust you enough to preorder food from fields that aren’t production ready.

Which brings me to the next bit of news:

Partnering with ravintola Copas y Tapas

Since the moment Espoo became interested in allowing this farm to go forward, Copas y Tapas in Helsinki has been patiently waiting for the farm to begin. I’ve gotten to know some of the staff there over the past year and can say that it’ll take me the next 10 years to learn even half of the ways Lillklobb can begin to match their creativity.

This past winter we’ve been planning the crops for the market garden together, along with sharing the vision for the whole farm. Copas y Tapas’ need for produce scales well with what I’ll be able to provide from Lillklobb. At the same time, the sheer diversity of produce they are interested in buying allows me to cultivate my own desire for almost mad biodiversity on the farm. What’s also really exciting about this partnership is that their creative exploration of food will certainly affect the way in which my other customers see the farm too.

Together, we’ll be able to influence local food culture in ways that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

Heading into spring

Ok, maybe it is a little early to think of spring. After all, February is still young and March is definitely winter here. If I’m lucky, the beds can be made in March and some experimental transplanting begins in April. So that means as soon as my seed order arrives, I’ll be starting leeks, kale, cold hardy lettuce, and a few other crops indoors.

There’s still one thing that stands in the way of all that: those piles of branches around the property. Yeah, those ugly things. Stacks of rounds don’t look so bad, but the branches are really bothering me. I had a great crew put together to chip everything this Saturday, but it turns out (after some back and forth with the manufacturer) that even a 14,000 euro professional chipper shouldn’t shred frozen branches.

So, the branches will have to wait for a slightly warmer day. Then everything can begin outside in earnest. Can’t wait to finally get my greenhouse up and get rolling!

Anyway, the rest of February is going to be spent getting in the rest of supplies, looking to round out the CSA membership roll, starting seeds, and then hitting the ground running every single day in March that temperatures allow.

Why is it still the 9th?

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