My parents bought our land as a defunct farmstead in 1994, complete with overgrown fields, falling down barns, and a stone house without floorboards; it seemed a like a pipe dream to be anything but a hokey relic. Our fate, and that of the property was then defined in a single moment. While standing on a hill next to the barns, my parents looked over amid their discussion to see me (2 years old at the time) running through a field of tall alfalfa in the waning afternoon sun. The sight of happiness in the fields of green and gold allowed them to realize the importance of open land. So they bought it and the work began. After years of countless projects the farmstead has changed from broken to beautiful.
Now it is time to create the next generation of Star Bright Farm. Where to Start: Our goals are set high and hopeful. Eventually Star Bright will grow fruit and herbs for a range of value added farm products. Besides the crops, we want to open our barn doors to host collaborative community gatherings. The march towards that vision begins this year with a single field. This field is an old, weedy alfalfa patch, which I am working the field in preparation of 1000 Organic Lavender plants. These will be planted in long raised beds laid along "Keyline" contours; this farming strategy conserves water, passively irrigates and prevent erosion. The rows are now plowed and await further preparation. Our goal is to get the field ready and plants in the ground before Memorial Day this spring. Your support in this campaign will help speed things up by us purchasing the following:
• 1000 Lavender plantlings (from Carousel Lavender Farm in PA) - $3,500
• 40 Mature Lavender plants (for propagating our own varieties) - $1,500
• BCS Walk Behind tractor (for low impact field management) with rotary plow and rototiller attachments ~$7,000
• Soil Amendments (Mineral Lime, Compost, Limestone, mulch) to raise soil PH - $1,500
• Orchard Drip Tube & Fittings (water conserving irrigation) - $500.00 •
Hand Tools (Broadforks, Weed Cultivators) - $500.00
These are our equipment needs for just this first field, but it will take much more to cultivate our other goals
Lavender is a stately perennial flower that thrives for a long number of years; meaning that once planted, the soil will remain undisturbed. The untilled soil accumulates organic matter (humus) and beneficial organisms as the cut flower stems decompose above. In contrast to annual cropping, a field of perennials improves over time. Lavender’s hearty flowering cycles are not just beautiful to human eyes; their long stalks of purple petals are a favorite of honey bees. Since honey is the key food for bees, an abundant source of nectar allows hives to build a healthy stockpile to survive cold winters The lavender you help fund will be used in making:
• Infused Bitters (known as cocktail bitters, but also great flavors for cooking!)
• Distilled Concentrates for Flavoring (great for Lattes, Baked Goods, Linen and kitchen sprays, pest deterrance)
Community is Critical:
Other than healthy farming, a strong community is the other pillar of a thriving sustainable food system. We want Star Bright farm to become a collaborative space to gather and connect with what we eat. We will use the old barns my parents spent years improving to share food culture via farm workshops, lectures and barn dinners catered by local chefs. Gatherings and workshops will focus on an aspect of the farm cycle; be it seasonality, crop varieties or growing practices. As we transition into a new generation of farming in America, it is important to involve those who have not chosen this livelihood to be a part of the rural community. The Success of this first field will be shared at harvest with our first lavender dinner event
We would like to grow a diverse range of climatically adapted fruits and vegetables, focusing on perennial plants to limit tillage and other land disturbance. Lavender is the start, but the goal is to grow much more. Later this year, and in future seasons, the list of crops and preserves will grow to include a lot more, products like: blueberry, mulberry, blackberry preserves ; sun-dried tomatoes, black walnut Bitters and quite a bit more.
All future fields will be planted and managed with the same approach to conservation agriculture; our means to providing for the natural resources that provide to us. This start will help us realize those aspirations of sustainability
Thank you for your time and support
Risks and challenges
Seasonal Weather is a big challenge, as it puts pressure on the biological clock of planting crops at the right time. We really would like to get plants in the ground by May 1st, so that the last spring rains alleviate irrigation pressure. We will be growing these plants this year, but weather and field preparedness might push us to wait until a bit later in the season. If we cannot get lavender in the ground by Mid May, we might have to keep the seedlings in a greenhouse until the fall.
- (31 days)