What are your plans for the 2015 season? Tell us in the comments!
A midwinter’s daydream
Those of us who love the cold months know two things: 1) that the rush of bitingly cold air on bare skin, and the comfort of hard-won warmth under carefully planned layers, and the unique splendor of a muffled snowy landscape…those moments make it all worth it; and 2) that no one else around us wants to hear all that poetic nonsense. It’s cold, it sucks, shush.
This winter has not changed my opinion in the least, and I know it hasn’t for my many snow-bunny New England friends and family, despite 2015’s record-setting number of blizzards and feet of snow. But still, the February gloom can wear on any person. This new-to-me weeks-long cloud cover that Illinois experiences has made for some difficult mornings, and I find myself increasingly taking refuge in cup after cup of tea, including as I write this.
My dad using a hammer and chisel to try and crack the ice dams on the roof at home in Massachusetts. No ladders required! It might not look like it, but trust me, he’s having a great time in this picture.
But even unending clouds have a silver lining somewhere, and like many growers, mine is found in seed catalogs and daydreaming and strange internet searches for “illinois peanuts” and “how many too many leaves”. All of this longing and research is a perpetual motion machine that has been chugging along quietly and steadily since last summer, spitting out ideas along the way. Now, as I know that a thaw is imminent in the next two months, the excitement to realize these ideas is palpable and limited only by the dithering tail of winter.
So without further ado, here they are: my ambitions for the 2015 growing season.*
The burrito garden
I plan to grow many of the ingredients for a burrito in my 1000 square foot garden. This will include:
- Upland rice
- A variety of dry beans
- Salsa ingredients like tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and hot peppers
I will not be able to produce the necessary cheese, sour cream, vinegar (to go in the salsa), wheat and lard (to make the tortilla), and meat necessary to round it out, but I can make or find locally these remaining ingredients. With a farm of a couple acres, however, one could in fact produce all the ingredients necessary to make one’s own burrito.
So while I’m at it, I will tell you that I will be presenting at Pechakucha Night Champaign-Urbana Volume 17 at Canopy Club on March 13, on “How To Grow Your Own Burrito.” The presentation is…well, it’s what it sounds like. I will have 20 slides and 6 minutes, 40 seconds to get in all that and a plug for The Land Connection to boot. If you ever have been curious how to grow your own burrito, or simply in how fast I can speak, come on out!
The hyper-local beer
Awhile back, my friend Jeff, a brewer at Destihl here in town, jokingly texted me “yo you should grow me some wheat so I can make a Jeffeweizen”. This joke slowly took on a life of its own as we realized that there was nothing impossible about this idea. I am good at growing plants, he is good at brewing beer. I was just going to have to learn how to grow grains, and he was going to have to learn how to malt. This idea has gone far enough that I now hope to grow a half-acre of barley and wheat at Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery in the 2015 season. A lot of things have to fall in place in order for this to work but I am busily figuring out suppliers and buying plows (ok, so I bought one plow and that is all I need), and this comes at a time when The Land Connection is mulling over a series of programs related to brewing and tasting beer over the next year. It’s going to be a delicious time.
Maple street cred
Champaign-Urbana has many, many sugar maples lining its streets. There is a lot of potential/syrup out there! I had hopes to work with the city governments and with Prosperity Gardens to tap those trees, turn it into a workshop, and maybe even turn it into a boil-down event open to the community, but alas, this was a project just a bit too large and unknown for us to undertake this year. But with enough planning over the coming season (there’s plenty of time to idly strategize in the summertime, too), I think we could make this into a really cool collaboration for winter 2015-2016.
What is getting you through?
How are you readers getting through out there? What keeps you warm in the eyeball-numbing winds? What are your farm and garden plans for this year? Any wacky ideas or new varieties? Tell us in the comments!
*Ambitions subject to change, are not promises.