It was a beautiful, albeit windy and chilly, spring afternoon when John and I met our new friend Val from Corn, Beans, Pigs, and Kids at Red Granite Farm.
A few months ago I 'met' Nicole on Facebook. She commented on one of our photos and said that we should come out to her farm for a tour.
I did a little light recon, and realized she and her husband, Steve, have a good thing happening at Red Granite Farm. We waiting until the snow melted and headed about 2 hours west of our urban homestead for a farm tour, meeting blogger buddy Val and farmer Nicole for the first (and not last) time.
The 'light recon' we did mostly came in the form of stalking their Facebook page and website, where we learned about their backgrounds in agriculture, and a little about what to expect at the farm. Let's just say, when we arrived, our expectations were more than met!
For instance, Nicole and Steve have about 200 Red Star laying hens, which supply an Ames bakery with 50 dozen eggs a week, as well as a food truck that frequents the ISU campus. Just like our ladies at home on the urban farm, Nicole's girls were nosey and were greeting us with chatter when they heard us approaching.
This year Nicole will sell produce and plants at Ames farmer's markets like she's done since about 2006, but for the beginning of the season this year (which starts the first weekend in May) she'll be keeping the sales exclusive to their farm location. The sales area is close to the highway and easily accessible for pop-in shopping.
The barn is also prepped for 'junkers' who want to browse local vendors who are selling all sorts of treasures during the plant sales.
(By now, it's clear that Nicole can't do it all by herself, and Steve has his own responsibilities at ISU's compost facility. She shared that they hire a part-time horticulture intern from ISU, and that person helps with farmer's market sales, planting and harvesting, and other Red Granite Farm obligations.)
The Red Granite Farm high tunnel greenhouse, while empty, was super warm and ready for tomatoes and peppers.
This greenhouse was HUGE, and will be planted with the seedlings from their smaller vegetable greenhouse that's also located on the farm.
This is where Nicole does the most of her work: At her 'standing desk' in the perennial greenhouse. The second of the three on their farm.
The perennial greenhouse was also warm, thanks to a heater that kept it around 78*. There are already hundreds of lush plants, showcasing Nicole's hard work after only a few weeks of transplanting.
The vegetable greenhouse was the smallest of the three, but where my heart pitter-pattered at the sight of all the seedlings.
Many of these seedlings will find a home in the high tunnel greenhouse or outside in the garden. The produce will be sold on the farm and at farmer's markets in Ames.
The gutter lettuce? Well, that's exclusively for the family. And I don't blame her one bit.
While we were touring the farm, the UPS man made a delivery of some perennials. As Nicole opened the boxes to peek inside, it was clear that her heart belongs right here.
At her home at Red Granite Farm.
AMAZON DISCLOSURE: The owner of this website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for bloggers and sites to earn advertising fees by promoting and linking to Amazon properties. Rest assured that I only link to products that I use, recommend, or covet :) Clicking on or purchasing something I have recommended from Amazon does NOT increase or impact your cost in any way.