|Urban agriculture leader Karen Washington visited |
our incubator site in late April.
Ahhh -- Finally the onset of lasting warm weather. It's not only a critical time of year for established farmers, it’s also an important season for assessing new farmland. At the site of Groundswell's Farm Enterprise Incubator, we've been busy measuring and mapping, reading the biological communities, taking soil samples, analyzing hydrology and digging test holes for ponds. We have been fortunate to have the guidance of some great resource people in this process.
David Werier, a botanical consultant and an instructor in Groundswell’s Sustainable Farming Certificate Program this year, gave us a sense of how to think about the various types of vegetation and micro-ecosystems as we plan the site to interact with them. We’ve found that the very different stages of succession across the site will offer opportunities to diversify the type of enterprises that are incubated, to preserve habitat for wildlife and beneficial insects, and create transitional spaces that we bring into production slowly.
Recently we have made a lot of progress in identifying potential water sources at the site, and found that digging a new farm pond is a strong possibility. With the help of Phil Snyder, a consultant who has worked on several pond projects at EcoVillage, we have accurately identified the major flows through the site. We've mapped out several locations that would be able to catch a sufficient amount of water to supply the Incubator enterprises. After getting a bit smarter about the levels of regulation that can be involved, I was beginning to get concerned that some of the potential sites might not work, but thankfully we have been getting a positive response from the Town of Ithaca Planning Department, the New York State DEC, and the Army Corp of Engineers. We will be returning to them with more detailed design plans soon, and I will post a new Incubator Update on our website with any news about the Incubator farm pond.