Whenever I walk our fields, I am always astounded at the progress we’ve made in the last 2 years – but at the same time – surprised by how little appears to have changed.We are building a honey bee research facility and a cold hardy edible plant breeding program. None of that is built quickly….or for free. It can be incredibly daunting to venture into an agricultural business.
The upfront costs are enormous, everything is dependent on mother nature (from weather, to insects, to animal predation, to diseases, to whether your plants/animals live or die) and in the end there is no guarantee that a customer will be there to purchase your goods.
That is what we have been experiencing over the last 2 years. But there is good news to report!First – our prairie started to show up this year! This is huge on so many different levels! We spent thousands of dollars, said “no” to recurring farm rental income, and then watched in horror as it appeared all of our seeds had died. Patience my friends.
We needed lots of patience.
And it paid off. Our prairie not only grew but gave us our first harvest of seeds for sale! Most of the seeds we harvested this year were put back into the prairie – to shore up any weak areas and increase the forb/grass ratios. But we still had some left over to sell – and they went up for sale on eBay in early October.
Our own eCommerce section of duffymeadows.com will be getting a revamp in March to make it more accurate and user friendly. In the future, we hope that most of our sales will come through our own site. Check it out if you are looking for cold hardy plants that are edible, pollinator friendly, and/or wildlife food sources.
|Counting out seeds to be weighed to streamline future sales calculations|
We are busy improving our systems for seed collection, storage, shipment, and inventory – this will become even more important as our variety and number of sales increase.
|Organizing our seed collections|
We lost track after 160, but suffice it to say, we have have added many, many trees, shrubs, and perennials over the past two years. All of these plants will serve an economic and ecological purpose: most are important wildlife habitat plants and/or bee forage sources. Every single one of the plants listed on our eCommerce page is planted on our site or will be there soon.
Many more will be listed once they are in greater supply. We were able to increase our stock of plants by seeds and softwood cuttings this summer and look forward to a productive winter for our hardwood cuttings. The bins are all ready and waiting…
A few of these bins will be filled with cold hardy grape cuttings from the United States germaplasm repository, and we will be planting out our first Antonovka apple, Nanny berry and wild American plum seeds shortly.
|This is our very low tech – but reliably effective winter sow method for edible seeds|
All-in-all, we are quite excited with our progress. There have been setbacks for sure, and we are not currently in a position to “quit our day jobs” but maybe some day….
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