By Sarah Merfeld, Phase II Fellow
Our greenhouse is filling up, days are getting longer, and the first succession of snap peas have been planted in the field -- all signs point to spring! The farm team is feeling joyous working outside with the increasingly warmer breezes and sunshine. Here’s a snap shot of what we’ve been up to and what is to come.
The Riparian Buffer
One large project we are tackling this spring is planting the grant-funded riparian buffer zone alongside the existing one acre farm. The riparian buffer will aid in the effort to protect our watershed. We will be planting 300 native trees and shrubs as well as 3,000 native herbaceous perennials and grasses this spring. The entire area that we will be planting into has been sheet mulched, using cardboard and wood chips, to suppress weeds and help build healthy soil specifically for perennial plants.
Before we can get all of these plants in the ground, we had to build a fence to protect them from our neighboring deer and other critters. We are nearing completion of a 300 foot long and 7.5 feet tall fence made with a fine mesh that will protect these native plants without obstructing them view. It’s a win-win!
We have begun starting seeds for our annual vegetable production! Currently in the greenhouse we have onions and bok choy starts. We start these plants indoors in order to get a jump start on the growing season. When the weather warms up, these plants and many more will be transplanted into the field.
This season the students at the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind are seeding all of the plant starts that we will use at the farm. They have already sown 2,000 onions and 500 bok choy plants. The farm has been collaborating intimately with the students since it began three years ago and we are very excited about the students taking on such an important new role this season!
Here’s a picture of the snap peas that the high school students planted this week in the production garden!
More to come from the AMI Urban Farm as the season progresses!