Minds on Soils and Seeds

Our attention this week has turned to seeds, plants and soils — and it hasn’t been the sudden onset Spring that sent us that direction, but it does have an impact.

Somehow like Japanese fans or origami, but for seeds

New Tools

We have a fun new tool/system on the farm for seeding (and most importantly) transplanting some of our crops.  The Paper Pot Transplanter!  Ok, that doesn’t sound all that exciting, but it is ingenious in its simplicity.  Liva & Mari were intrigued as soon as they learned of it last year, but we couldn’t quite justify the expense.  But, as we considered labor hours into transplanting, especially crops like onions, and the opportunity to share the tool with Jillian Abraham of Small Step Farm (or on facebook) in Waitsfield (and Roxbury), we took the plunge.


Why are we so excited?  “It is unlike any standard transplanter used in the US or Europe. It has no motor and is pulled by hand. It allows a single person to transplant as many as 264 plants in less than a minute. This is accomplished while standing upright and eliminates the countless hours spent kneeling, crawling, or stooping.”

Nearly sounds like an “As seen on TV” product doesn’t it?  But wait, there’s more.  The Japanese developed it, it is simple untreated paper and the chain of these cells gets pulled out and transplanted.  Really, you just have to see the video to believe it.   It’ll be several weeks before we get the transplanting part underway here, but we’ll get a video of Liva in action!  But shallots, leeks and onions are in the paper chain sells — thinking of spring.

Cross Cultural Challenges


Now, if we could only read Japanese.  We think the green smiley face indicates some really helpful tip!


Yes, we do often think of compost.  But yesterday Tessa & Mari made the first turn of the season. Turning the pig(lets) bedded pack of shavings, hay and poop into the chickens space to help it move more quickly towards new soil and also to make a clean space for the goat kids.

Heat is already there and the chickens are very entertained, helping pick away at the HUGE

Happy Hens helping make compost

mound now sitting in the middle of the hoophouse.  It is so satisfying and exciting to see the process of soil building happen up close.   From one perspective, one might just see waste.  But because we intentionally layered our pigs organically fed poop and urine with wood chips and hay and a little chicken poop, the forces of nature are breaking those individual items down and recombining them into very fertile soil.  Once ready, it will go on our crop and pasture fields to allow them to grow healthier plants to feed us all again.  Wow!

If you too are wowed, you may wish to join us at the upcoming 3rd Annual Compost Cabaret!  It will benefit Highfields Center for Composting and takes place Saturday, March 24th at the Barre Labor Hall.  Highfields Composting is dedicated to advancing regenerative food systems in Vermont by reasserting the ecological cycling of nutrients and carbon, as well as cash and goodwill, in the local foodsheds.  The opportunity our organic wastes present for low input, sustainable agriculture are incredible, a timely subject with the recycling bill (which includes composting food waste) in the legislature.