This was our biggest year yet! We had more participants, more volunteers, more garden beds, and grew more food than we ever had before. We made a lot of improvements to the way we run the farm, manage volunteers, and distribute food.
What challenges did or does your project face?
This was another challenging weather year, though instead of 2016’s heat and drought, we had persistently cool and wet weather. In particular, this resulted in a lot of pathogen pressure on the crops we grow in our hoop house. In addition, we suffered from increased vandalism this year: crops and trees were destroyed, tools and equipment were stolen, and fencing and structures were damaged.
How are you working to overcome them?
Each year we improve our horticultural practices to buffer against climate instability and pathogens: drip irrigation, better spacing and companion planting, mulching and composting. We had a really tremendous community response to the latest and worst vandalism, raising over $5,000 to repair the damage. This event reminds us that there’s always more we can do to be better and more engaged neighbors, which will hopefully forestall future vandalism. We’re also working on some physical security measures to deter vandalism.
What did you or your project learn this season that might be useful to others as well?
Building relationships with people who don’t participate in the garden is just as important as effectively managing the garden internally.