Locally grown vegetables in the middle of winter? You bet!
This blog post is a follow up to an earlier post highlighting the facility and efforts of a local, aquaponic farm: Grow Local (Click here to read our first Grow Local post).While our earlier post discussed the summer season, we thought our readers would be interested to know that Grow Local continues thrive despite the brutal winter conditions we have seen in Wisconsin. Alex Fehrenbach, one of three owners of Grow Local, has provided us with the following update:
An Update from Grow Local
Sowing, pruning, and harvesting: the basic stuff of farming. If only it were that easy to get greens that look like this in January.
While these tasks still occupy our time at Grow Local, growing fresh greens in the dead of Wisconsin’s winter dictates a greater range of tasks. Our greenhouse is home to a 7,000 gallon aquaponic system that houses 2,500 bluegill and nearly 6,000 heads of lettuce. In order to ensure the health of the system as a whole, which in turn produces high quality lettuce, we must keep the aquaponic system’s water between 65 and 75 degrees. This is no small task considering our ‘greenhouse’ is little more than steel ribs and two layers of poly-ethylene plastic. We heat the system’s water, and on really cold nights the air, with a wood-burning stove. Our trusty stove has quite the appetite on particularly cold nights, which requires us to stay up late and get up early to maintain the temperature in the system.
By the middle of December it was clear that we were going to burn through our wood stores that we had built up all summer long. So we began working with our neighbors to manage their woodlot by removing downed trees and dead standing wood. It has been an immensely exciting task, as there is nothing quite like taking down an 80 year old maple tree within inches of where you planned to drop it, and a sometimes terrifying task, when the top half of a rotten tree breaks off 50 feet above and crashes only inches from your head. But, tasks like these have kept the fish eating, the lettuce growing and the three of us more humble than ever, so we wouldn’t wish to have it any other way.
For continued updates follow us at facebook.com/thelocalgrow or growlocal.us.