I always loved that quirky “Mind The Gap” sign on the London subway system. But if you’re visiting the farm over the next few days, you’ll need to be mindful of quite a few gaps.
Leonard has spent the last few weeks installing 2,000 feet of pipeline. Digging trenches that are four to five feet deep in places took two excavators three days. He is backfilling the trenches as fast as he can, but with so much planting and mulching to be done, there are gaps along some of the more familiar pathways.
Why all the digging and piping? Water. Leonard has noted before that, unlike farms in California, Upper Meadows Farm is usually well supplied with rain. But there are times when Mother Nature doesn’t oblige, and that can delay or damage the crops. In the past, Leonard has run miles of hose, lay flat supply (think fire hose) and irrigation tape (think a flat hose with holes in it), but it wasn’t enough. Though better than waiting for the rain, that didn’t move water far enough into the areas of the farm where he wanted the cows to graze or planted crops.
So, Leonard applied for a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program. EQIP’s mission is to balance environmental quality with agricultural production, and covers between 75% and 90% of a project’s cost. In early May, the Obama administration chose EQIP as the vehicle for making $50 million in additional funding available to organic farmers across the country.
The trenches will be filled soon, but the blue-handled pumps at the edges of the fields will be another reminder of all the work that must get done for us to get our vegetables. Len said, “Almost $20,000 went into this system and all I have to show for it is seven blue-handled hydrants. Of course now we have water that flows uphill. Seriously though, the hours it will save in watering stock and the increase in productivity for these fields should pay for itself over and over again!”