Farm News

Community

One of the essential principles of sustainability is the concept of community. Without a diverse circle of gifted and talented friends, it is difficult to sustain much of anything. That’s why pressing apple cider is a traditional fall past time at April Joy Farm, as there is no better way to build community than working together to accomplish a big task at hand. Making cider gives us a chance to pause and reflect on the community we help support and the community we are nurturing in growth. We are proud that our neighbor to the south, Bob Correll in Elmira, Oregon handmade the beautiful, functional press we use each year, and that our cider containers are made by Anderson’s Dairy, a longtime neighbor just up the road in Battle Ground. It is human hands, working together, that build presses, plant apple trees, and bottle the sweet juice.

Building a true community may be the most sustainable thing any of us can ever do.

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Giving Hands

Mother Nature doesn’t believe in waste, and neither do we. At April Joy Farm we make sure every last bit of our produce is delivered to the hands of those who appreciate it. That’s why we donate food to Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a Ridgefield community food bank.  Sustained entirely by volunteers, this grassroots organization was founded two decades ago by Pat Jones, (April’s Mother), and a cadre of community members who believe that everyone has something to give. April Joy Farm gratefully contributes produce to support our neighbors.

No one should go to bed hungry.

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Cover Crops

Fall Cover Crops are an integral part of improving the soil we farm at April Joy Farm Rye, vetch, clovers, triticale and peas are commonly planted from mid-Sept. through October to sprout and grow all winter long. In the spring time, this “green manure” is cut and turned into the soil, improving tilth, and providing nutrients to the soil we rely on. Cover crops prevent winter soil erosion, suppress weeds and reduce insect pests and diseases. Legumes have the added benefit of fixing nitrogen in the soil.

We feed the soil, the soil feeds us.

It’s a nice partnership.

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Changing Seasons

Changing seasons require changing gears, shifting to new farm chores and patterns of work. At April Joy Farm, we rely on change to keep us engaged and moving forward, and we rely on the changing seasons to allow us time for reflection and planning. We spend the winter season vetting our processes, fixing and improving farm equipment, cleaning, organizing and preparing for the change that will carry us into a bright Spring day.

Sustainable farming is capable of feeding us all, in more ways than one.

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Painted Mountain Corn

At April Joy Farm, we believe that diversity and sustainability go hand in hand. That’s why we love to plant heirloom and rare varieties of seed. The Painted Mountain corn shown above contains every shade of color known to corn, making it one of the most genetically diverse varieties available. Used for harvest decorations as well as eaten fresh, the purple, red, gold and orange kernels nourish both the eyes and stomachs of eager samplers.

Diversity and sustainability are incredible partners.

We think the combination is delicious for the soul.

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Varieties of Salmon Nation

Nootka Rose, Lorz Italian, Inchelium Red. These garlic varieties each have a story which is linked to the history of the Pacific Northwest. Inchelium Red garlic came from the Colville Indian Reservation. Lorz Italian was brought to the Columbia basin from Italy before 1900. Nootka Rose is from the San Juan Islands. Each story of how a garlic strain has survived hundreds of years in our particular region is compelling. What is required? The right variety, the right people, the right place. At April Joy Farm, we believe food traditions represent an important opportunity to help us reconnect with our meal choices in a more positive and sustaining way. That’s why we seek out pacific northwest heirlooms, sometimes obscure varieties that deserve a revival. As Gary Paul Nabhan, Editor of Renewing Salmon Nation’s Food Traditions writes, “We should not forget what has nourished our ancestors in the past; culinary Alzheimer’s is not a disease that will help shape a more humane and healthful future for ourselves and other creatures on this planet.”

Beautiful, healthy food with an intriguing story can certainly nourish our imagination.

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Preservation

Food preservation is a science and an art at April Joy Farm. Each year, we work hard to prepare and store healthy, beautiful, sincere food that will last all winter. No matter how busy the summer and fall chores become, there will always be days devoted to putting the canner, dehydrator and pressure cooker to good use. The resultant food is not sold, rather it feeds the Farmer and her family all winter, an act of sustainability in and of itself. Most delightful of all, winter meals shared with friends and neighbors allow the food conversation to continue year round. It is preservation that teaches us what real ketchup tastes like, (without corn syrup), how cheerful golden peaches can warm the soul come dark December, and ultimate gratitude for the immensity of labor required to bring food to the dinner table, year round.

With food as the medium, preservation is a portrait of sustainability.

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Foster, Encourage, Nurture

At April Joy Farm, we like the words: foster, encourage, and nurture. That’s why you’ll see blue bird and native bee boxes in our table grape vineyard, fallen snags left for woodland creatures, and open fields fallow in pasture grasses for Blue Herons, Coyotes and Red Tailed Hawks.

The word monoculture just isn’t in our vocabulary.

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Whipple Creek

A tributary of Whipple Creek meanders through April Joy Farm. In 2007 we began the work of restoring a small swale that feeds this creek. We planted natives like Red Osier Dogwood, Cascara, Douglas Spirea, Red Alder and Mock Orange which provide habitat for wildlife and help filter surface water.

We want downstream to be a very good place to live.

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Miracle Workers

At April Joy Farm, there is one tireless class of workers to whom we owe a special debt of gratitude.  Our pollinators are miracle workers!  According to the Xerces Society, there are approximately 4,000 species of native bees in the U.S., enough to pollinate many of our agricultural crops IF nearby natural habitat is left intact.  For example, native pollinators have been shown to triple the production of cherry tomatoes in California.  Likewise, a Xerces Fact Sheet on Native Pollinators states, “In the absence of rented honey bees, canola growers in Alberta, Canada, make more money from their fields if 30 percent of the land is left in natural habitat, rather than planting it all. This natural habitat supports populations of native bees close to fields and increases bee visits and seed set in adjacent crops.”  At April Joy Farm Farm, we purposefully leave lanes unmowed, put up nesting sites in our vineyard, avoid disturbing adjacent canyon habitat, and safeguard native plants that bloom early and late in the season to provide the very best working conditions a pollinator could hope for.

It’s our way of paying good wages for good work, so to speak.

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