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Rhubarb, rhythm, and reflection

Written by Benny on May 7, 2022


It was a long winter. But there’s rhubarb pushing through the soil—giving us the longed-for color and vibrancy in the drab, wet fields.

We’re approaching our second full growing season at 3DSF and between the nascent rhubarb, the near 60-degree F days, and the starter plants poking through soil, we are feeling hopeful and eager. We hope you are too and wanted to take some time to fill you in on farm happenings.

Ironically, I’m writing from a small hotel tucked on W. 87th on New York City’s Upper West Side. I’m always surprised by the rhythm of the city—people moving above and below ground, flowing across the chaotic landscape.

It can be nerve-wracking and, at times, rude, but there’s also a grace to it. Subways rattle, cabs swerve, bicycles zip by, pedestrians walk briskly, gaze fixed ahead (or more likely these days, staring at a phone). There’s a beat to it and, even as a lifelong slow-moving Midwesterner, I get a rush taking part in it.

It has me thinking of the vastly different, familiar rhythm at home in the Upper Peninsula. The geese and ducks are back, taking refuge in the large watering holes as the farm emerges from a six-month freeze. The deer are forging new beaten-down paths through the field to the woods. We have a courageous Killdeer who laid her eggs in our driveway, who will feign a harmed wing when she sees us to lure us away from her future chicks. The cranes are crossing overhead and the grouse are drumming.

As this soundtrack unfolds, we will be planting 100 more Saskatoon trees soon in our young orchard. Last year’s 100 trees look to have mostly made it through the winter and escaped critter damage. We’re also planting new strawberry patches, and some raspberries. Dani learned to graft apple trees over the winter, and she’s looking to put that skill to use and bolster our orchard offerings.

With planting season less than a month out, we are plotting. We will grow many of our staple varieties of melons, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, corn, beans, herbs, flowers, tobaccos, squash, but we’re also going to experiment. Why not, eh?

For example, we have ginger started in the house, and we are going to give some new peppers a go. Peppers are a challenge where we live but we saved a tiny amount of Fish pepper seed last year and it’s my hope to do so again.

We’ve added a hiller/furrower and a flail mower attachment for our BCS tractor, which should make us more independent and efficient. And we added a new pup, Reo, a beagle-lab mix who is rambunctious, sweet, and has no idea she is going to be a farm dog. It’s worth noting that Louie, our mini-dachshund and centerpiece of our logo, is entering his 16th growing season with me. He’s seen things go from a small herb garden in Lansing to acres of farm in the UP.

It is an exciting time. We are grateful for the spring, longer days, and relatives returning to our farm and making it feel alive.

We are also grateful for the community support and engagement we’ve had in just one season of growing. Last year was a learning experience—and also the worst drought we’ve had in years. Despite the growing pains, we saved enough seeds to build up our future planting stores as well as share our seeds with local tribal communities and other neighbors. We’ve spoken to local folks about our work and hope our farm becomes just one piece of a local and regional movement to grow healthy food in a respectful way.

The idea of our seeds already sprouting up in schoolyard raised beds, home gardens, and farms across the county is humbling and energizes us to continue stewarding these crops and seeds.

We’ll be back with updates as the season progresses. If you are interested in our farm, our work, or our seeds, please contact us and say hello.

I’m off to go join in the rush of NYC movement for a couple more days—here’s to a happy spring and healthy baby Killdeer chicks joining our farm family.


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