34. Anniversary

All the beds at the new house have officially been prepped for planting.

This week marked one year living in Roanoke. I am proud to say I use my phone’s GPS function less than once a week now. The amount of time I’ve spent on recreation has lacked, but I’ve still managed to find some of the best trout fishing in the state of Virginia, which goes a long way toward making this Colorado guy feel at home.

Renewals for the business name, the website domain, and the liability insurance are all coming due lately and there’s really no question whether I’ll sign up for another year. I’m doubling down on this year’s successes. We’re breaking new ground, building new infrastructure, and making new relationships in the local food industry.

Fall greens have germinated well at Wise Avenue, and weed pressure has been manageable.

I’m looking forward to having some time to relax a little bit. In the winter, maybe I’ll go back to what most would consider a normal work week for a couple months. But I have even more excitement about the time that the winter schedule will afford to make the big picture evaluations, design new projects, and decide what will be grown in the next season. I’ve done a good job of establishing a weekly rhythm to the farm work, which is something that attracted me to the market garden in the first place. I’ll be even more comfortable when the yearly rhythm starts to fall into place. I love systems, and I’m ready to systematize the hell out of this new business of mine!

All too often I end up writing this blog about lessons learned. But at this milestone, it feels only right to look back at some of the biggies:

Spicy apple chutney was a winner at the harvest festival!

  • Groundhogs are of the devil. They treat every day as if it’s a holiday feast, and if your salad greens are on the menu, they’ll eat you out of house and home.

  • I traded the occasional deep cold of the Colorado winter for the sporadic super-soaking weather patterns of southwest Virginia. To date we’ve seen over 50 inches of rain in Roanoke; that’s a number that would take three average years to reach in Denver.

  • Customers appreciate the extra effort that goes into making value added products. Granola, pickles, chutneys, dilly beans: all things jarred have been stellar sellers in year one.

  • It’s okay to say no when it seems like everyone wants you to say yes. Much of GVH’s early success is grounded not just in my choices of what good ideas to pursue, but more importantly in dropping the bad ideas at the right time.

  • The customer base at the farmers market is not a monolith. People of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds come to the market looking for calories, often along with conversation. I love the conversations, and the calories generate an income to keep my business running. The sense of community I feel as a market gardener is everything I thought it could be and more.

For me, when I dare to start something new, there’s always a bit of expectation of failure lurking in the corner. An exit plan is always part of a path toward success. But I’m delighted to say that at this point, I don’t pay the exit plan any mind. It’s full steam ahead toward a flourishing and productive year two!

Farming this close to the softball field means we have to keep an ear out for the crack of the bat