From the Farmer

Week 5 – 6/17/2015
In Your Share this Week
This week marks an ecotone, or season-tone in the vegetable season.  We are still harvesting spring planted crops like broccoli, bok choi and, next week, cabbage.  The first of the true summer crops have begun, too: cucumbers and summer squash.  Meanwhile, we’ve not yet reached the summer solstice, yet we’re experiencing days of 90 degree weather and warm nights.  Summer?  I think most of us would say yes.  It is hot, humid, the fireflies are out at night, and the big action movies are coming to theaters.
What’s in the Ground?
It’s summer and them summer veggies a-coming down the pike.  In a quick tour of the Farm you might see cucumbers, squash, melons and watermelons; spring crops broccoli and cabbage, pac choi and kohlrabi; turnips, radishes and arugula; lettuce and salad greens; tomatoes, peppers and eggplant; carrots and beets; herbs like parsley, dill, fennel and cilantro; basil, ginger, turmeric and culinary herbs; storage crops like sweet potatoes, potatoes, winter squash, garlic and onions; baby leeks and scallions, and summer oddities like Malabar spinach, okra, tomatillos and a few surprises.
Monarch Butterfly Waystations
Monarch Butterfly Waystations: it is not too late to plant.  So far this year, five Willowsford residences have prepped and planted for the butterflies, and two of them are already certified by Monarch Watch! Want to help us reach our goal of 10 waystations in the neighborhood? Order host and nectar plants for pick-up at the Farm Stand here.
Why would I do that?
Monarch butterflies are an indicator species of an ecosystem’s overall health.  They are in danger for many reasons, including loss of habitat to modern development and pesticide use.  While large conserved areas are of course important for supporting wildlife communities, islands of habitat and shelter can create corridors that are accessible to both wildlife and us as well.  Even just a small planting can support the lifecycle of many species, including the Monarch.  Here at the Farm we schedule our mowing around the lifecycle of support plants like milkweed, leave space for native species of plants to grow and farm using organic practices.  In the Farm Garden we’ve planted a registered waystation and grow many additional support plants.
Willowsford is a unique community in both concept and in neighborliness.  I think it is a fascinating experiment in how to use land; Willowsford creates a multi-functional landscape where food production and natural ecosystem services coexist with people living here.  These uses are mutually-supportive: food and conservation enhance life here, and vice versa.  I think it works – can, should – the other way, too, where we make a difference in the environment in and around our own houses.  We do this in how we landscape, what we eat, how much time we spend outside and what we do with that time. 
In many ways, Willowsford is a vessel for us to make our community into what we wish.  That is how we think of the farm and I know the HOA feels that way, too.  
We can landscape our homes in such a way to create attractive and useful islands of habitat for species that need it. A chain of islands becomes a corridor that supports larger populations.  They, in turn, will fill our lives with the hum of life: butterflies, birds, pollinators and the web of species that support them.
How would I do that?
Buy plants and plant them.  It’s not magic!  Our plant packs have both nectar plants (for the butterflies) and food plants (for the caterpillars).  One pack will plant around fifty square feet or multiple containers.
We can help!  Deb especially!
How can I learn more?
In 2014, the Willowsford Farm Stand, Monarch Waystation Number 7751, became a gathering space for Monarch butterfly enthusiasts and conservationists in and around the community. With expertise from the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, we facilitated the sale of milkweed and butterfly enclosures, distributed literature, helped residents collect and raise eggs and caterpillars, and welcomed the release of more than 45 successfully neighborhood- reared adult butterflies into the Farm Garden and migrations north and south. 
This interest in “Bringing Back the Monarch” led to an eight-month long program for 2015 dedicated to educating and facilitating Monarch restoration efforts within the community landscape. You are invited to participate in the creation, conservation and protection of Monarch habitats and populations through film screenings, waystation plantings, caterpillar and butterfly rearing, home and school garden design and installation, and educational discussions with local experts.
You can learn more on the community calendar.
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Willowsford Conservancy

41025 Willowsford Lane, Aldie, VA 20105

Phone: 571-440-2400

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Willowsford Farm Stand

23595 Founders Drive, Ashburn, VA 20148

Phone: 571-297-6900

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