I have a NEW Farm!

It’s been a beautiful, flowery filled three years farming flowers no-till at The Collin’s Farm in Davis. Now, I’m on to new land and new opportunities. It’s been a process of learning to let go, accept, and just continue growing.

In August, 2018, I was gently told that I could no longer continue farming where I was at for the following year. This news was not entirely unexpected, but it came much sooner than I imagined.

The owners of The Collin’s Farm have the opportunity to build their forever home on their property. This is something they’ve dreamed about for decades! They made the tough decision to ask all of the farmers on site to kindly transition to new locations so they could enjoy more privacy and their homestead for years to come. This is very honorable, and I have no ill feelings. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I am eternally grateful for their generosity and support of me farming there these past three years.

Still, this news was hard to stomach and it has been a process of letting go these past several months. For the last three years, I’ve grown flowers using no-till farming methods at The Collin’s Farm in Davis on approx. a quarter of an acre. This was the first place I truly dove in and experimented with no-till farming. I was able to build up my soil beautifully these past few years and really see the difference! I grew hundreds of varieties of flowers. I supplied countless local community members with bouquets, arranged weddings, and more with the flowers grown at my farm. I supported the pollinators and invertebrates. I taught my son the basics of farming and to have reverence for the soil and plants. I gave him an outdoor playground and the opportunity to see me work towards my passions. I learned so much through experimentation and about myself as a farmer. For all of this, I am so incredibly grateful. 

Photo by Elissa Kennedy

Photo by Elissa Kennedy

This farm was more than just a farm. It was a sanctuary for both my son and I. As we navigated our family separation and several moves, the farm was our constant. It was a place we could both feel reprieve and marvel in joy and beauty. It never failed to lift our spirits. This was the hardest thing to let go of. 

I had to trust, just trust, that I would find a new perfect spot to farm. 

In October 2018, I moved to a new place in Winters where Nalin and I could live AND farm. It was a dream come true. Admittedly, I signed a lease for this new place, which is WAY more than I can honestly afford each month, BUT it was one of those experiences where I walked around and knew, in my bones, that I needed to be here. I had been searching for months and this place was my full YES! It was everything I needed and dreamed of. Of course it was more per month than I could afford, but this is where my work of trusting comes in. I need, and will, trust that I can make this work for this is absolutely the place I need to be. 

My home is a modest sized studio apartment called a “Casita”. It’s perfect. I have a flat area where I can farm, literally a walk down a small slope from my house. I’m going to farm the same size as I was at The Collin’s Farm. My new plot is 120 feet by 70 feet which is approx. ¼ acre.  There is a greenhouse right outside the door of my Casita that I can use to my hearts desire. I already found a place to compost right outside my home, and my landlord made a huge terraced garden that will be exclusively for vegetables. I’ll be managing a mini vegetable farm in addition to my flowers! My partner helped me find a high quality stand up floral cooler, which will be clutch once I start harvesting buckets of blooms! 

Overall, my new place is more than I could have dreamed of. It’s gorgeous, peaceful, and full of opportunity. 

I’m really excited to take what I’ve learned over the last three years and The Collin’s Farm and apply it here, to my brand new farm. In fact, I’ve been feeling inspired since I am starting a brand new no-till farm from scratch, to share a video series on YouTube sharing my exact methods. Perhaps you would like to follow along and see how I plan to take bare, fallow clay soil and turn it into a thriving flower farm without taking any tillage equipment to it!

So far, I have a cover crop that is growing and competing with the grasses. I sowed daikon radish, crimson clover, vetch, and California medic. The idea is to add nitrogen with the legumes and for the daikon root to break up the clay a bit. I didn’t sow any grasses because I knew the grass pressure would be high around here.  Meanwhile the cover crop grows, my partner has been helping me to build a fence around my plot to keep the turkeys out. There are so many here and they’re real pests!! In March/early April sometime, my partner and I will have sheep grazing on the covercrop and grasses. Their manure will leave me with amazing nitrogen nuggets and I will then cover sections in landscape fabric for “occultation”. It’s a method that allows for decomposition and weed suppression before planting. I’ll then plant out thousands of summer plants that I will have started from seed in the greenhouse here. So that’s the plan at least!

Meanwhile, this winter, I have been busy pulling up landscape fabric, netting, T-posts, bamboo stakes, and irrigation from my old farm. I am also digging up and potting up countless perennials and planning on transitioning them to the new farm. It’s a big process!

I’m enjoying the process of moving, of transitioning and letting go while embracing the new. I know it’ll be a while till I can really build up the soil beautifully here, but I cam committed to starting and sharing the process. 

Thank you for following along and for your support as I navigate these new stages in business! 

Sincerely,

Katie