Upon arrival at the farm this morning, we found the farm store in disarray. Melons had been tossed out of the large bin (outside) and onto the ground, the cash register and scales had been slid across the counter, the cooler doors were ajar, and baskets, bags, and almost everything else were all over the place.
A quick inventory showed nothing to be missing, which ruled out theft. Assuming we had been vandalized, we proceeded to clean up.
Manager Robert, being the thorough man he is, and a lover of mysteries, went for a wider assessment of the area. Imagine his surprise when he noticed the large billboard at the edge of the farm on I-95 had been ripped away, including the framework!
Chuckling to himself, he informed us we had been victims of the greatest trickster of all… Mother Nature! We do not yet know what time the rogue wind (microburst?) occured, but video surveillance has thus far confirmed it was sometime after dark.
I am curious as to how the wind managed to toss melons out of the bin and open the cooler doors (which are sliders), but am happy not to have been a fly on the wall!
Chef Jessica and her crew visited us recently and filmed a segment about the farm. She was delightful. You can view the segment by clicking on the strawberry icon here:
Certified disease free strawberry plugs from Luc Lareault Nursery had been ordered several months prior, to be delivered in a refrigerated tractor trailer.
The truck with the strawberries arrived a couple of hours ahead of schedule. We scrambled for all the hands we could get, and unloaded over 24,000 plants in the pouring rain. The driver was very young, and unsure of where our order stopped and the next one began. Consequently, we RE-loaded quite a few plants in the pouring rain.
We wanted to get the plugs into their planters as quickly as possible. Flea market and farm owner John Alexon, his wife, and his daughter helped, along with farm and flea market staff and management. When the work was done, it was a site to behold, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
The irrigation/nutrient system was turned on, and we were off and running!
The next few weeks were spent tweaking the irrigation, and seeding thousands of planters with lettuce, chard, kale, and herbs. A fence was erected, and the “barn” evolved into what would soon be a farm store.
(To be continued)
BerryStacks Farm was built during July and August of 2011, on the grounds of the Saint Augustine Flea Market. The vision for the farm came from owner John Alexon, who came up with the idea as a way to introduce more foot traffic to the flea market. Little did he know…
We had a lot of visitors during the construction phase. Flea market customers, vendors, and travelers on I-95 popped in every weekend with a million questions. We answered them all to the best of our collective abilities. This was a challenge, since we had barely entered the learning curve from standard growing to hydroponics.
One of the up sides to all the questions was that it forced us to do our homework. We are grateful to everyone who stopped in and asked, “What is ‘hydroponics’“?…or “What can you grow here”?…or “how does the irrigation system work”?
The weather was beyond hot, and the guys had to work hard to stay hydrated. Day’s end would provide just enough time and energy left to swallow some supper before collapsing into a coma-like sleep, which never seemed enough.
Week after week they toiled, setting stacks into place, hauling bags of medium, and saturating it before using it to fill the planters. At last, one week before the strawberry plugs were due to arrive, the work was done!
(T0 be continued)