Thursday, September 3, 2009

Update from Kayam Farm at Pearlstone

By Jakir Manela, Kayam Farm Director

This update from Jakir Manela shares some of his thoughts about the season so far at the Kayam Farm. Kayam hosts one Hazon’s CSA sites. Kayam is part of the Pearlstone Retreat Center located right outside of Baltimore, Maryland. To learn more about Pearlstone and the farm at Kayam visit:

The third season of Kayam farm is going really well so far, at least in my opinion! Our CSA increased in size 250% from last year, from 11 members to 25 members this year. That was a big jump in demand, and in production, for us to accommodate, but we’ve done it! In fact, next year we expect to increase our CSA membership to 36 members (double chai, baby!). The large demand from our CSA consumes most of our produce, so one predictable consequence of that big jump is that we do not have much produce for farmers markets or the Pearlstone kitchen. Even though that is regrettable, we saw it coming and still went for a bigger CSA, because that is our best income source and because it's a great way to build community around Kayam.

More big news from Kayam- this season we established our animal husbandry operation, welcoming ten chickens and five goats to the Kayam family. All of our animals are doing well -- we are harvesting eggs every day, and we plan to shecht (kosher slaughter) 3 of the goats this November (they are all males, we use them mainly to eat invasive species, like a lawn mower but cuter and more edible).

The Kayam 2009 pest of the year award goes rabbits. The weed of the year, for the third year in a row (every year so far) is bermuda grass, an awful invincible crabgrass that seems to laugh at us no matter how much we weed. Many experts have urged me to spray herbicide, but we are exploring other methods of controlling weeds organically, mainly by planting into lots of black plastic mulch (big carbon footprint) and/or by taking some of the weediest plots out of production next season in order to grow cover crops for a year and till regularly, in hopes that the following season will be kindler, gentler, and more weed-free.

Next season we will start growing in our other 2 acre plot, which we have not cultivated during our first three years. That land had been conventionally farmed with GMO, pesticide sprayed corn/soy/wheat for more than 30 years, so we have planted cover crops there for the past two years. Next year we will grow many more crops there, in addition to what we have already on our primary 2.5 acre farm. So in general, LOTS GOING ON! It has been a very exciting and eventful season!

Want to visit Pearlstone? They welcome visitors to schedule a visit anytime. Looking for a Jewish Rosh HaShanah retreat in the Northeast? Hazon is sponsoring a communal Rosh Hashanah celebration this year at the Retreat Center. Learn more at their website:

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