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Farming at Branch Mill Organic Farm and Retreat Center

From the Arroyo Grande Creek Watershed April 25, 2018: Moon is "rising" and will be full this Sunday morning! Lots of dynamic energy right now so stay balanced ! :)

Starting from the ground up!

Hello everyone! This is the first official newsletter from Angie and Beto. We are following our dream of growing nutrient dense organic food and we are excited to share the journey with you! We want to start by saying thanks to the community at Branch Mill Organic Farm and Retreat Center for welcoming us in, and helping us plant the seeds of our dreams! Thanks also to everyone who was involved in the Cal Poly FEED program, which gave us farm business management bearings, lots of soil science, and practical small farm strategies.

And a big thanks to Slow Money SLO for investing in local quality food!

The CSA Way

To buy produce directly from us, sign up for a CSA Membership, your produce box will be your weekly “share.” CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. (Here’s some food for thought). When we hear those words, we think “relationship” -- a direct relationship between YOU and the FARM, because the more you know about where your food comes from, the more educated you are about what’s going into your body and the healthier you can be! We think it should be delicious, nutritious, organic, and grown in accordance with the natural rhythms of nature. Now of course, nature includes bugs, birds, weather and weeds, and these challenges make farming somewhat risky, but a CSA model asks consumers to help bare that risk with the farmers. In return we promise to be transparent about our farming techniques. We like to share food and knowledge, So be on the lookout for upcoming workshops and educational farm tours.

What’s planted: Squint at these pictures and you’ll see cucumbers and zucchini, beans, onions, beets, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, aubergine (aka eggplant), chard, kale, spinach, basil, lettuce, ginger, and turmeric!

What we’ll be harvesting and when: Because of crop losses of our earliest greenhouse plantings (before the greenhouse was fully operational), overwhelming slug damage to our beans, and cold soil slowing down our carrot germination, we are expecting our first harvests of mostly greens beginning mid to late May- with squash coming quickly after that. Our CSA shares will be available for pickup/delivery, and the our birst CSA season will begin!


In the Field: Soil and water

Previous to our cultivation, this field was used for growing mostly peppers under plastic row cover. Because the soil under the plastic was deprived of natural rain water & air, the plants are having trouble getting the the nutrients they need from the soil. We are hand-tilling the soil- aerating and tilthing new growing beds. Scroll down to the “SCIENCE!” section to read a bit more about soil and plant nutrition. Our most mature plants, fava beans are hosting a lot of aphids and we are witnessing a HUGE bloom of ladybugs- some mature adults and many more in larval and pupa stages.

In the Coop: The ducklings grew so fast! They are growing their wing feathers right now- very pretty. Pictures next newsletter and soon delicious eggs :D

In the Greenhouse: Sunlight and Air

With help from our landlords and local electricians are excited to have our greenhouse operational for the first time in a decade! When Wally and Ruth bought Branch Mill Organic Farm & Retreat Center it was a dilapidated tomato farm with 7 greenhouses. They saved the only one with good bones and now we’re growing in it!

On the Computer: Our website is up and running, and you can even sign up for a CSA membership now! In the Credit Union: So many thanks to our Slow Money SLO lending circle who worked with us to finance our dream farm business. After graduating last December from Cal Poly’s Farmer Education & Experiential Development program as CERTIFIED Farm Managers, we reached out to Jeff and the folks at Slow Money, who generously offered us critical loans to fund our operation. Three cheers for investments in a local food system! Slow Money SLO is hosting a May 8 spotlight on local food business in SLO at Whalebird Kombucha. We’ll also be there so come say hi :)

Event details on the web and facebook

There’s always events happening at Branch Mill Organic Farm & Retreat Center so click here!

SCIENCE! (With Angie)

Not long ago I was teaching 3rd graders about soil science. Specifically we talked about how plants get their nutrients from the soil. An unhealthy plant could be suffering from lack of nutrients either because the nutrients aren't there or because he nutrients are unavailable to the plant. Soil pH can be a useful indicator. Think back to your chemistry class, pH (the power of hydrogen!) is a scale of acidity and alkalinity numbered 1 to 14. Orange juice is a 3 on the acid side soda is a number 9 alkaline, and water is (usually) a neutral 7. Most plants prefer the “Goldilocks zone”, around 6 or 7 where the most nutrients are available. We found that our soil in the field was at 8, which is too alkaline for our crops. (In my brief research I found asparagus to be the most tolerant). We are exploring options for balancing with advice from local organic soil consultants. ~

Thanks again for joining us on this journey! In graditude and wonder for the world around us, Angie and Beto Moon Phase Farmers angie@moonphasefarmers.com beto@moonphasefarmers.com


Los Osos, California

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