From July 19th, 2011

Being the Farmer is Tough (The Farm Weekly Update)

It probably doesn’t come to any great surprise that the weather continues to be the biggest challenge at The Farm; however, we are continuing to manage through it as best as possible.  This was a busy week at The Farm and we had the opportunity to accomplish a couple very important milestones.

The Farm Weekly Update

Weather Update

The weather conditions are affecting small farmers all over Northwest Arkansas, and we had the opportunity to share a little of the impact on The Farm with 40/29 News.

40/29 TV Report: Rain Doesn’t Help Farmers

University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Services Update

We also had the opportunity to collect some information from one of The Farm’s closest advisers, Mark Bray of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Services.  We would encourage you to take a few minutes to read his update that we posted on the Cobblestone Project Farm website earlier this week.  He shares some statistics of historical weather patterns to show just how extreme this season has become.

Feast or Famine…Flooding or Droughts (by Mark Bray)

Harvest & Hunger Relief

On the positive side of things we continue to harvest significant amounts of produce from The Farm as we irrigate like crazy to try and keep summer crops on schedule.

This week we harvested 673 pounds of food from The Farm with 296 pounds going to local hunger relief via the Samaritan Community Center.  This brings our season to date harvest to 3,755 pounds with 41% of the total harvest being given to local hunger relief in Northwest Arkansas.

While we are a little behind on donations to hunger relief, the good news is we have approximately 2,000 lbs of food in the ground that just needs to be harvested and delivered to local hunger relief  partners.  We had planned on doing that Saturday; however, with the intense heat, we did not have the volunteers necessary to harvest the food.  We fully expect to harvest this food during this week and that should bring our hunger relief donations back in line.

Poultry Project Update

We made some significant progress this week in upgrading our poultry house to use solar powered lights to provide the 17 hours of light needed each day to gain maximum egg production.  A huge thank you to Flint Richter of the Rocky Grove Sun Company (love that name) for installing all of the equipment on the houses.  He was able to ensure we continue to have a zero-impact poultry project in place saving us money on electricity, and allowing us to increase egg production that we can then provide to our hunger relief efforts.    This is an incredible example of how our sustainability and hunger relief platforms are empowering each other.  Thanks Flint!

This week we also were able to retrofit some of the existing hen houses to combine them into a large house that will allow us to almost double the number of hens we have at The Farm.  Obviously, this should also double the number of eggs the hens are able to produce.  In order to ensure the houses were retrofitted correctly, we were able to partner with Seven Hills Homeless Center’s Job Assistance Program to hire two skilled carpenter’s (pictured at right with Gary).

Here’s a quick video of Carolina (our University of Arkansas Student Project Adviser) explaining all that we were able to accomplish.

Community Involvement

And, of course, nothing would be happening at The Farm without all of the incredible people who come out each week to lend their hands and backs to do all the crop maintenance, irrigation, planting, and harvesting.  These are some incredible people who work tirelessly every week out of the abundance of their desire to serve Northwest Arkansas.

We had an opportunity to meet Jerry and Krista Clark who moved to Northwest Arkansas from San Diego, plugged in to New Heights Church, and made it a top priority to engage in serving this community and their new home.  Here is a little of their story.

Week after week the students of Fellowship Bible Church’s Collegiate Student Ministry continue to come out to The Farm and work tirelessly to meet the demands of The Farm.  We can not express how grateful we are for their continued week after week investment.  It’s this type of consistency that allows us to plan efficiently the week’s work, and have peace of mind that our efforts will not be in vain.  Here’s a quick video of them from last week.

As you can see if was a crazy busy week and we desperately need some relief from the heat and lack of rain.  We will continue to tirelessly work the fields and leave the heat and rain to the One who is truly in control of the harvest.

Thanks Northwest Arkansas Community and if you would like more information on ways you can plug into The Farm, please visit our posted volunteer opportunities or email TheFarm@CobblestoneProject.org.

Until next week!