From Greenhouse to Field: Organization is key

By Nick Cox
Over the past weeks, the students of the Student Organic Farm Planning, Growing, and Marketing class have been planting seeds in the greenhouse.  These seeds will spend their first month or two in the greenhouse, developing into strong seedlings that will then be transplanted into the ground out on the farm.  The benefits of beginning the season this way are numerous and include giving the plants a head start on the weeds and eventually giving an earlier harvest.  Sounds simple enough, but when considering that an entire 2+ acre farm is being condensed into little plastic trays holding indiscernible varieties of a multitude of plants filling a 30’ x 40’ or so greenhouse, the issue of organization becomes paramount. 

            Organization is a huge part of farming.  From ordering seeds to harvesting crops, each aspect of farming must include a coherent organization in order to operate efficiently, profitably, and sustainably.  On every farm, labor can often be scare.  Simple organizational steps such as correctly labeling seedlings in the greenhouse or being consistent with the names of tasks and field locations can ensure that labor is used efficiently.  Failure to do so can result in confused workers spending time on unnecessary tasks, or the planting of the wrong plants in the wrong spots, and can ultimately translate into increased costs and possibly decreased income. Cornercopia has the rare benefit of an adequate labor force, particularly while class is in session.  Organization is still extremely important to use a large labor force to its full extent, and to prevent wasting time while tasks remain incomplete.  A recent lack of organization among us classmates resulted in the planting of about 500 more tomatoes in the greenhouse than we needed.  Such excess work (and potential waste) can be spared with organization.

            In the coming weeks and months, the plants filling up that small greenhouse will fill up an entire 2+ acre farm.  The measures that have been taken to map out crops in the field and to consistently label seedlings in the greenhouse should make the move from greenhouse to field a smooth one.

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