Last Friday, our Growing Community class took a field trip to Forestdale Farms where we spoke with Rylan, the owner, about his farm.
(A look inside one of the greenhouses, Forestdale Farm)
On the property there were two greenhouses; a large and small one. The greenhouses create a lot of condensation, this is due to the temperature rises and the water is then condensed within. Due to the high heat, Rylan keeps the flaps and windows open during late season (Summer) to prevent the plants from dying. In early season, (Fall/Winter) the doors stay closed so the plants do not die from frost.
Easiest to grow: Greens in early season, tomatoes in late season
In the big greenhouse the beds are raised with 16 inches of soil. Since gophers and rabbits like to eat the plants, wires are added to the bottom, the walls of the beds are also tall so they cannot climb over them. Drip irrigation runs throughout the beds. The water is supplied by the tanks on the sides of the greenhouse that run through pipes.
The little greenhouse is fairly the same process. However, Rylan likes to start his seeding inside the smaller greenhouse. He does this by planting seeds into small pots. Then, when the plants are big enough and the weather is right, he then moves them into the garden.
Within the little greenhouse fish-filled tanks are installed to act as a fertilizer. Little fathead minnows are placed into the tanks that connect to the beds to supply ammonium nitrate. Since plants are in need of nitrogen, the fish help to fulfill those needs. They also aid to decrease insect larvae within the water, this system is called hydroponics.
100% of water used on the farm comes from rainwater harvesting, which waters the plants through a pumping system. When it rains, water fills the tanks that are on the sides of the greenhouses. Before it rains, Rylan will pump out the existing water in order to make room for the incoming rainwater. He pumps water from tanks into the retention pond and vise versa. The pond is the central source of water and is used for the drip irrigation system, that can be turned on and off.
From this field trip, we saw that Rylan is heavily dependent on rainwater to water his farm. We also saw how the different Flagstaff seasons affect the farm in different ways.