Horn Farm Happenings – October 16, 2020

It’s Fall on the Farm! – Update from Field Manager, Andrew Horn

2020 Regenerative Farmer Trainees (left to right) Darby, Max, and Julia cleaning and sorting the last of this year’s pepper harvest

What a year it has been. With everything that has happened, I am thankful for how mild of a growing season it has actually been (in terms of weather). We definitely felt the heat during the hottest parts of the year and the late spring frost made things challenging early. However, because of consistent rains, our diverse cropping plans and our resilient, adaptable field management style we were able to maintain success throughout the growing season.

We are so grateful that our three Regenerative Farmer Trainee’s (Julia, Max, and Darby) stuck with us through the pandemic. As part of their hands-on learning experience, they were able to help us provide vegetables to our 25 CSA share holders every Tuesday since June. Their hard work and commitment to learning has impressed us all year. Now, with only two weeks of pickups left and the cooler weather settling in, we are shifting gears from cultivation and harvesting to clean up, cover crops, reflection and redesign.

This week, we decided to cut all our pepper plants, even though some were still green and they were still producing flowers. The remaining pepper harvest will keep in the cooler for the next two weeks. Clearing the bed allows us to hand seed & scratch in a winter rye cover crop. Winter rye grows slowly but it continues to photosynthesize throughout the winter. Come springtime, its growth will quicken and the rye will most likely be ready to produce seed in June. This cover crop is not for everyone as it takes up space in the spring and requires much different management than most. If you are interested in covering your gardens beds with winter rye, I recommend you test it out on a small bed you will not be planting into in the first half of the year. On the farm, we will “chop & drop” the rye right before it seeds and allow the above-ground biomass to decompose in place.

truck filled with sweet potatoes

Horn Farm’s sweet potato harvest

Fall carrot harvest before washing

We had an amazing sweet potato yield this year!  Now they are all are out of the ground and curing in the greenhouse or in bins ready to go out for the CSA.

We also started harvesting our fall crop of carrots, and although a good rain helps to soften the soil for digging, I have to point out how important it is to have compost (ideally made on site!) ready to apply back to the bed so we can replace what was lost! Each and every carrot carries with it a bit of soil (and nutrients and minerals) that, when removed and washed, can not be replaced. Sure, we could buy compost, but as we strive to be truly regenerative, we want to make sure we are limiting our external inputs. And, in my opinion, making your own compost is so much more rewarding!

If you want to learn more about how to do this yourself at home, consider attending our final 2020 Backyard Composting workshop on Tuesday, October 20th from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM.  I will be sharing the basics and tips on the best practices for how you can turn food and garden waste into a rich soil amendment. You can register online to attend. Hope to see you there!

As for the Horn Farm team, we are all stoked to travel off-site next Friday, October 23rd to visit our friends at Rising Locust Farm.  The trainees will have a chance to see a different farm with completely different systems. Some of you have enjoyed their meat, eggs and mushrooms all season long. We look forward to seeing their regenerative operation up close and personal, especially their outdoor shiitake mushroom grow!

One of the last tasks we have planned for the fall is planting garlic. We have chosen two beds which are already half prepped for us – because we had just dug our sweet potatoes! This is a great example of useful crop rotations. The well-forked bed is perfect for the garlic which appreciates the loose structured soil.

Last, but certainly not least, a big shout out to all the volunteers and supporters of the farm! Thanks for riding this wave with us and please, please, please, continue sharing your love with us as we make the transition into 2021.

Cheers! – Andrew Horn, Field Manager at the Horn Farm Center

Call for Volunteers – Join Us on Thursdays

bed preparation at the farm

Want to spend some time on the farm working and learning with Field Manager, Andrew Horn? Join us every Thursday until November 12th for special Volunteer Open House from 10am-6pm. We could use your help cleaning up for the fall and preparing for the winter months. We will spend some time getting to know each other, discussing what’s happening in the fields and on the farm, plus there will be plenty of opportunity to get your hands dirty!

Some of our end-of-season farm activities include:

  • Planting Garlic Beds
  • Clearing, Composting, Forking, Mulching BioIntensive Beds
  • Clearing, Composting, Forking, Mulching Annual Growing Beds
  • Mulching around Perennial Trees
  • Removing all Ground Pack and Irrigation Lines
  • Cleaning up and winterizing the Horn Farm greenhouses

Interested in joining us? Sign-up to volunteer for Volunteer Thursdays!

Horn Farm Center is Hiring!

Do you have a wealth of skills and a heart to change the world from the ground up? Consider joining the Horn Farm team! We are now hiring for TWO part-time positions:

  • An Executive Assistant who will help to support the mission of the organization by managing our administrative systems and keeping our team activities organized! 
  • A Community Education & Outreach Coordinator who will help to strengthen the role of the Horn Farm Center as a leader in the field of regenerative agriculture though education and outreach! 

YOU might be just the professional we are looking for! Click here to learn more about the latest employment opportunity at the Horn Farm Center.


Last Chance for Backyard Composting Workshop This Year!

Interested in learning how to compost at home? Join us on Tuesday, October 20, 2020 from 4:30-6:30PM for a comprehensive learning event focused on the essential components of turning food and yard waste into a healthy garden soil amendment. This will be the LAST Backyard Composting workshop we offer at the Horn Farm Center this year. Don’t miss it! Participants will leave with their own 12 foot roll of welded wire that can be set up and utilized immediately, a composting brochure that highlights details that were covered in the class, and hopefully an appreciation for the natural process called decomposition!

Upcoming Events:

Saturday, October 17: WildLands: Advanced Primitive Hunting Techniques (sold out!)
Tuesday October 20: Backyard Composting
Thursday, October 22: Fall on the Farm: Volunteer Thursdays
Thursday, October 29: Fall on the Farm: Volunteer Thursdays
Thursday, November 5: Fall on the Farm: Volunteer Thursdays
Saturday, November 7: The Living Landscape
Thursday, November 12: Fall on the Farm: Volunteer Thursdays
Sunday, December 6: The Living Landscape

See you at the farm!

York County has moved into the green phase for dealing with COVID-19, so we are resuming some on farm classes with modifications. Classes will be held outside and are limited to 10 participants per class. If more than one class occurs on the same day, start times will be staggered to reduce the number of individuals arriving at the same time. Multiple hand sanitizer stations are available. We will adjust as needed as time passes and things change. Participants are required to bring a mask and wear when proper physical distancing cannot be maintained. Except for family members physical distancing of 6 feet must be maintained.