Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Finding Dollar$ Workshop

Errands always make me feel productive.  This morning I bustled around to several different stores for some pre-Christmas shopping.  I'm particularly budget-concious this season and felt overwhelmed at the amount of "crap" available to purchase, but was nonetheless excited to partake in the holiday spirit.

My favorite errands were the ones that were free.  No surprise there.  I dropped off the soil samples from Full Heart Farm (I can't help but smile at how official that sounds) at the CT Agriculture Experiment Station.  The scientists there will analyze any soil samples for CT residents at no charge.  They look at soil nutrient levels, organic matter, and a slew of other factors that can tell you about the quality of your soil.  You can also note a particular crop you are interested in growing (ie. blueberries, sweet corn, pumpkins) and they will make recommendations for soil amendments (ie fertilizer, lime, compost) to help improve your production.  It's a really wonderful service.

After dropping off my soil samples, I headed down the street to the Yale Farm - a small student run farm right in the middle of New Haven (perhaps not geographically, but that's how it feels to me).  Earlier in the spring I had sold the university a half-dozen of my best and brightest pullets (ivy league, teenage-chicks) to raise as egg-layers.  They were a huge hit and quickly became an important part of the farm.  At the end of the summer, when I was looking to move to Mystic and needed to downside my flock, they graciously adopted 5 more of my girls.

Even though they are just chickens, I have been wondering since that night I dropped the chickens off if I had made the right decision.  I needed to make more space at home and make things easier for K, the chicken babysitter, but it was difficult to choose who would leave.  Yesterday any residual guilt was lifted.  Buckeye, Stripes, RoadRunner, Barrington, and Rosie had adjusted beautifully and looked SO happy.  At the Yale Farm they have the constant attention of visitors, lots of tasty dining hall leftovers, and plenty of space to explore the gardens from their movable coop.  The farmers there are so happy to have them and I couldn't be more happy that they have a good home.

In the afternoon (to help offset my morning shopping spree) I attended a workshop offered by UConn Extension and the CT Women in Agriculture Network on Finding Dollar$ in Tough Times.  The workshop outlined the basics of loans, grants, and cost-share programs.  Though there wasn't a lot of new information, it was nice to attend with a specific farm (and therefore specific funding needs) in mind.  Attending the class also gives me the opportunity for one-on-one mentorship on a grant or loan project, which I'll certainly need to take advantage of this winter!

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