Farm Notes: Strong Fences Make Strong Farms

By Susan Paykin, Farm Manager

Spring projects continue on the farm this week. While the allia wait to be joined in the greenhouse by their fellow brassica and solanum friends in the coming weeks, we farmers turn our attention to infrastructure - the tools, equipment, buildings and structure we use to transform this fertile land into a farm. 

First onion seedling of the season.

A crucial piece of infrastructure on any vegetable farm is a deer fence. Especially in the Northeast, nothing can be grown without it. Deer pose a tremendous threat. They are notorious veggie lovers, able to demolish hundreds of bed feet of plants - thousands of dollars - in a single sitting. Deer are active at night so if they get into a field, they could stay there for hours, as long as there are no humans around. 

Landscape fabric will help control weeds underneath the fence.

The fields at Common Ground have been fenced in for years, but the line was in desparate need of repair. We've spent the past week cleaning, mulching and repairing the outward-facing line -- what you see first when you visit the farm. We removed layers of old wire and netting, pulled out the 10' fence stakes, removed the netting, then mowed weeds and nasty invasive vines with the tractor. We then layed down landscape fabric to help control the weed re-growth directly beneath and beside the fence. Finally the netting went back up, and we tied everything taught and secure. 

Erika putting on the final touches.

The tasks were frustrating at times. Repetive. Cold. Not at all farm-sexy. But this project was also extremely gratifying.  I'm very proud of the way that the fence looks now, and confident in its structural integrity. Most of all, I'm proud of the team work that made accomplishing this project possible. Each section of the fence helped make the fence line as a whole stronger. I view our team in the same way.

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