Monthly Archives: April 2017

UNM Sustainability Expo

Earlier this month, Sunflower River was invited to participate in the University of New Mexico’s 9th annual Sustainability Expo, a one-day sustainability fair put on by the Sustainability Studies Department. It’s part educational fair, part farmer’s market, with local farms and other vendors selling plants, produce, food, and handmade crafts, and booths demonstrating everything from solar power, to recycling methods, to backyard chickens.

We’re known to sell eggs on campus — I routinely have a few dozen of our tasty farm-fresh eggs at my university office, so that people can drop in and buy them.

$5/dozen, y’all. cage free, farm fresh. drop on by!

UNM is in the center of town, and convenient to more people than the farm itself is, and as i keep regular office hours, this makes it mostly simple. So the organizers asked if we would have a booth selling eggs at the expo. And I decided it was worth doing. I took a day off work, figured out a bunch of farm products to sell, made labels, made a banner for our table, and started saving eggs.

Here’s 20 dozen eggs and two gallons of dried tomatoes, bagged into quarter-pound bags. We still have some — $5/bag, if you’re interested! They’re amazingly flavorful.

The entire farm helped prep the night before. Picking veggies, sorting and weighing them, getting them into coolers.

Here’s Dharma and Jenny weighing spinach

fresh green lettuce:

our project supervisor:

Getting set up was almost an adventure, it was such a busy hour. You can’t park anywhere near the expo, as it’s on a pedestrian mall in the center of campus, so you have to drive in, unload, convince somebody to watch your stuff (yay for the super awesome student volunteers who put up the canopy while i was parking!), go park, run back, and then set up your booth before the fair officially opens — but with substantial distractions on all sides as everybody else is setting up, volunteers are running all over making things go, and students are wandering through anyway because it’s in a pedestrian mall in the center of campus. Whew. Once set-up was done, the day was no less fast-paced, but much better organized.

And me at the booth the next day.

(photo credit Cal McManus)

My friend Cal came out to help me run the booth most of the day, and Terra dropped by for a while as well. We sold over 20 dozen eggs, and about a cooler and a half full of greens — all the spinach, most of the bok choy, and some of the lettuce. About half the dried tomatoes. All in all it was a successful day — fast paced, energetic, and entertaining. And exhausting! A lot more people signed up for our farm sales mailing list, and I connected with a lot of other farmers doing interesting projects around the Valley, such as the folks at Grow the Future and FoodCorps.

Pack out was pack-in in reverse, basically a mad-house, only now a tired one. Cal had had to leave earlier, so I asked another friend, Amy, who was running a booth across the way, to watch my stuff while I got the car. It took forever to get back in, with the lines of cars, traffic-control on campus, and all the foot traffic. But once in, it took very little time to load up and get off campus, in spite of the intense heavy traffic.

When we reckoned up how many people-hours went into organizing and running the booth, the day’s profits came out to $6/hour. As fun as the actual vending was, that’s a lot of work for not much. Plus it completely wore me out for two days afterwards. it’s a good thing I don’t do this for a living! Mad props to those who do! For now, I’m grateful for my excellent office job, and while I’ll happily do this event again next year, I won’t be signing up for a grower’s market anytime soon.

bees!

many years ago, we had a friend keeping bees on our back property, but for a number of reasons, they didn’t make it through the winter, and the hive either swarmed or died out — without one of us steadily involved back there, it’s hard to say. the hive had been laying around in the field ever since, awaiting the day we decided to keep bees again.

that day has arrived. Terra is keeping bees at Sunflower River — using the old langstroth hive that was in the back acreage, with some new parts that Rev built, since the old ones had fallen apart a bit in their years sitting around in the weather.

A couple weeks ago, we drove down to Bosque Farms and picked up a very loud box containing three pounds of bees. We took it out to the field, and Terra installed the bees in the hive.


Note the remaining piece of the old hive on the left. We cleaned all of that up that day.

Bee installation. Did you know they just pour out of the box in giant clumps? It was pretty intense.

An instagram video of the bee installation can be found here.

Several bees got tangled in my hair, so I had to retreat from my photographic vantage point near the action.

Terra and our HelpX intern Michael placing the frames in the hive, post-bee-installation.

We’re supplying them with sugar water and a little bowl of drinking water while they get themselves settled and established. An experienced local beekeeper Terra talked to suggests that feeding sugar water all summer in their first year is wise, as the weather can be unpredictable and it’s very dry here, so we will do that. We definitely want to give them every opportunity to succeed. We’re interested in harvesting honey & wax in future years, but also in the preservation of honeybees as a species. We’ve been planting pollinator-friendly flowering plants for years; now we’ve got our own honeybees to go with!

here’s Terra’s bee blog, for a much more detailed ongoing update!