Manor Moments

Trailside Organic Farm – December 2022 Update

December 2022

What We’re Doing in the Offseason
Written by Katie Landis, Assistant Farm Manager

Nature went easy on us through the beginning of fall with mild, sunny days and cool (but not freezing!) nights. As the weather gets colder and outdoor work on the farm decreases, Ian and I will be transitioning to more indoor work.

This past year, we were fortunate to be able to use the greenhouse at Rodale’s main campus in Kutztown to grow all our seedlings. As we plan for increased production in 2023, we’re weighing the costs of using their greenhouse again or setting up an indoor growing space in the house we’ve been using to wash and pack produce. If we go the indoor route, we’ll install LED lights that will hang from the ceiling above the seedlings as they grow. These lights are specifically designed to give the plants the correct color spectrum and light intensity that they need to thrive. Greenhouse tables, referred to as benches, will be constructed to keep the plants off the floor for better airflow and drainage (and to save our backs). After we get a greenhouse of our own, most likely in 2024, both the lights and benches will be moved for use there.

Planting and harvest data we’ve collected throughout the year will be transferred into computer spreadsheets so we can get a better picture of what crops were successful and what we can skip next season. This data will be helpful in guiding us as we create a plan for 2023. This plan will tell us what crops to grow, how much of each crop we need to plant, when to start seeds for each crop, when to rototill the fields and create beds for transplanting, when to move seedlings out of the greenhouse/grow room and transplant them into the fields, when to apply supplemental fertilizer to crops and much more! We’ll also be creating workshops for residents and scheduling farm tours.

Finally, new field blocks will be measured out and flagged for use in 2023. Topsoil and broken-down leaves and will be added to increase organic matter and improve soil structure and drainage. And we’ll be watching the barn construction with excitement!