Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fixing A Hole Where The Rain Gets In

"I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in and stops my mind from wandering, where it will go. I'm filling the cracks that ran through the door and kept my mind from wandering, where it will go."

The greenhouse is an essential component of a farm. It is where the newly seeded plants are placed and where they will germinate and begin to sprout. The greenhouse provides a warm and secure environment for the newly developing plants. Though certain crops are directly seeded into the soil in prepared beds, most plants start their life in a greenhouse. In addition to protection from the elements, in the greenhouse the farmer can control how much water the plants will receive. The greenhouse provides the new plants with the warmth that enhances their growth and development. As a new farm, Z Food Farm needed a greenhouse. Over the course of a couple of weeks, and with help from Farmer Matt, David erected his greenhouse. A few pictures were presented in the previous posting. In this post are pictures showing the process of building the greenhouse.

In the previous post it was mentioned that the posts needed to be hammered into the ground. This is that process. David is using a spacing board that was sent by the manufacturer of the greenhouse. This ensures that the posts are evenly spaced.

Also mentioned previously was that the hoops came in three parts and had to be assembled. Here are the pieces of the hoops.

Here is the completed frame of the greenhouse. If you click on the picture to enlarge it you will see the cross bars running along the top, corner braces, and wood running along the bottom of the posts. This is all intended to provide support to the structure to help hold the greenhouse together.

In this picture David is digging a hole into which will be place a post. Four posts are embedded in the ground. 2x4 lumber will then be placed on top of the posts. These 2x4's provide the foundation upon which the end walls will be built. Along the ground you can see heavy duty landscaping fabric- this will suppress the growth of weeds.

Here you can see the frame one of the end walls. You can see the 2x4's along the bottom and how the top pieces are attached to the metal of the last hoop. You can also see rock that has been placed on top of the fabric. This was done to help, somewhat, level the ground.

After receiving assistance from Farmer Matt in framing one end wall, Farmer David is beginning the process of putting up the frame for the other end wall.

Having completed the second frame, the next step in the process was putting plywood onto the frame. In this picture David is using a reciprocating saw to cut off and round off the plywood. The shiny, metal object that you also see are vents that will open up when the heating unit and fan are in operation.

In this picture the end wall has been primed in preparation of being painted. Also, on the left side of the picture, about half way up you can see some wood that is running the length of the greenhouse. This will be used to help secure the plastic to the greenhouse.

And here you can see the truly green, greenhouse. You can also see the fan that will be used to help with both the heating and the cooling of the greenhouse, depending on what is needed. You can also see that the door has been put in place. In some ways getting the door situated so that it would close and stay latched was one of the more frustrating aspects of the entire process.

Here it is, one greenhouse. Actually, at this stage there are still a number of tasks yet to be completed, but you have a general sense of what the finished project looks like.

Here is a picture of the interior of the greenhouse.

In this shot David, with the help of Farmer Dean (he no longer farms, but once a farmer, always a farmer), is beginning the first of various final stages. Here he is putting on pieces of wood that will help hold the plastic on the end walls.

Putting the greenhouse up was a long and arduous process. Actually, the notion of long and arduous sums up most aspects of the life and lifestyle of a farmer. To be a farmer, in particular a small scale, independent family farmer requires commitment, dedication, and a love for what you are doing. It's been said here before, and will be said again, when you go to a farmers' market take the time to get to know the farmer you are buying from. Ask them questions about the food you are buying. And remember to thank them.

Peace, hopefulness, and healthy eating to all.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Still Doing It

"Well, I've moved into the jungle of the agriculture rumble to grow my own food. And I'll dig and plough and scrape the weeds till I succeed in seeing cabbage growing through. Now I'm a farmer, and I'm digging, digging, digging, digging, digging. Now I'm a farmer, and I'm digging, digging, digging, digging, digging".

First things first. Apologies for falling so far behind in keeping this current. Despite the fact that as of the date of this posting the farming season is close to the end, this and future posts will be presented in chronological order.

At the end of August there were some changes. Malaika, Emma, Patrick set off for college and Emily returned to high school. Their efforts, energy, humor, and presence will be missed. Replacing them on a full time basis is Mike. Jose has also joined the Gravity Hill cast and crew on a part time basis. A big welcome to both.

While a picture of Mike and Jose can be found on the official Gravity Hill website, the following picture of Mike with Valerie and David conveys the notion that it is not only postal workers for whom neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night will prevent the execution of their duties.

The following pictures are intended to give a partial sense of the ongoing process of seeding, planting, and growing. At this writing it is towards the end of October and some new planting has recently been done. However, new seeding has come to an end and nothing more will be planted. But, sit back and enjoy the scenes of summer growing.

This picture is from inside the greenhouse and you have a sense of different stages of development of various plants.

This is a picture of some plants that have 'grown up'. In short order they will be moved to the tables just outside the greenhouse. There they will be exposed to the elements so as to toughen them up in preparation of going into the ground.
This shows plants in the ground. Notice how 'clean' it is between the rows of plants. This means that Farmer David and his merry band of helpers have spent innumerable hours weeding. Let's be clear, weeding is not for the faint of heart. It is hard, time consuming, and tiresome. And during the fullness of summer done in very hot weather. Only mad dogs and farmers go out in the noon day sun.

Another picture showing the plants in the field. Some are 'out in the open', some, as shown in previous posts are protected by the white fabric that is seen in this picture. The fabric protects the plants from bugs and from the direct sun.

The plastic in this picture is intended to suppress some, operative word being 'some', of the weeds. In traditional farming pesticides and other chemicals are used to prevent bugs, weeds, and diseases. And guess what you get to put into your body when eating foods grown this way? Anyway, in organic farming you do what you can to minimize loss due to bugs, weeds, and disease. Your body will thank you.

In the October 13, 2008 issue of Newsweek magazine there was an article entitled, Best Organics for the Buck. The following link should take you to the article.
The article is brief. It does a nice job of conveying which foods people's best interests would be served by buying organically. Two websites are included that show analysis of tests done on conventionally grown produce. The information conveys which produce has high levels of pesticides (cranberries, nectarines, peaches, strawberries, sweet bell peppers, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, among others) and those that have less (bananas, citrus fruits, pineapple among others). The two websites are and

For now, happy and healthy eating.

Friday, September 12, 2008

New name, same great taste!

David's Farm has moved to, so please update your links and bookmarks! (If typing the address in manually, don't forget the hyphen!)

The new name is intended to highlight the fact that the emphasis of this blog is a father's documentation of his son's experiences as Farm Manager during the development and operation of a new organic farm. The official website for Gravity Hill Farm itself can be found at

You will be automatically redirected to the new site in 30 seconds, or you can click here to go there now.