Summer 2007. I will never forget the speed with which our neglected acres came to life. Bit by bit, Farmer Bob plowed and nurtured the soil transforming it from impassible and soggy brambles to productive fields. Our first harvest was in a corner near the white fence field where beautiful rows of tomatoes thrived. An unexpected miracle. The rest of the veggies that year were planted in a borrowed field across the road. Every Sunday morning, I drove upstate to harvest tomatoes, loading the car with whatever would fit. It was heaven and set the stage for what was to follow.
What happened in seven years?
40,000 feet of drainage pipe
Thousands of feet of irrigation lines
The purchase of farm equipment- lots!
Construction of 3 year-round greenhouses
Implementation of radiant heat for greenhouses
Creation of heat system using discarded catering cooking oil
Construction of a barn with washroom, pack room, workshop, storage
Construction of field house for The Sylvia Center programs
Establishment of The Sylvia Center Children's Garden
Crafting of countless tools and farm implements and equipment
Construction of mobile chicken coup
Thoughtful tending of the soil
Creation of farm roads
Construction of farm perimeter fence
Things with wheels: farm trucks, tractors, golf carts, bicycles
Building animal areas
Establishing rotation system; experimenting with crops
CSA program; 25-->800 members
How did it happen?
Bob Walker, Farm Manager. And The Sylvia Center team.
Bob said yes to joining the Katchkie Farm project without really understanding what lay ahead. And in the 7 years of his stewardship, the most amazing things have happened. There is no formula for establishing a farm - it is an art, an experiment, a test of creativity/stamina/knowledge/passion. As plans were drawn (by Bob), they were scrutinized (by Bob), revised (by Bob), contemplated again and again (by Bob) and then finally, implemented (by Bob). The most fertile workshop room in the country belongs to Bob. The biggest heart in the county belongs to Bob Walker.
As season #7 gets underway, I recognize how much I have learned and how truly blessed we are with the abundance, love, community and spirit that has emerged from the dream of Katchkie Farm and the gardens & programs of The Sylvia Center.