ROCKINGHAM, Vt. – The Pansy Festival will be held at Singing River Farm in Rockingham on Saturday, May 6 from noon to 3 p.m. This free community celebration of spring will happen rain or shine because pansies love both. An Earth Day teach-in will also be part of the festival this year.
“Just as pansies are deeply rooted in the soil, so farms must be rooted in community,” said Laurel Green, who with Steve Crofter, owns the farm hosting the festival.
“We believe that our true security is to be found in relationships. So, we have created the Pansy Festival as a place for neighbors to talk and play together, leading to deeper friendships across the divides of class and politics. Diversity is key to environmental health and also to resilient human community. Everyone is welcome here.”
Pansies are a colorful harbinger of spring. Singing River Farm’s field-grown pansies are nurtured to grow as nature intends with strong, large root systems. This is the big difference between field-grown and commercially raised hothouse pansies sold in cell pack trays. Laurel saves her own seeds to start the pansies growing during the summer. In the fall she transplants seedlings from nursery beds to growing beds. The pansies overwinter under a thin blanket of pine needle mulch. As the days lengthen in the spring, each pansy plant really puts on a burst of growth and begins blooming. Field-grown pansies of many colors will be available for sale at the festival.
At the Pansy Festival the farm is extending Earth Day this year. Global climate change has affected this region in a number of ways. Spring comes earlier and the fall lingers much longer, even after there may be a killing frost in late September or early October. Another effect is that rainfall, which used to be spread evenly throughout the year, now alternates between drought and longer inundations in our region.
Singing River Farm was directly affected by climate change in 2016. Each year Laurel and Steve plant enough flint corn to use as a staple grain crop for themselves with some extra to sell. Last summer they planted their field of Roy’s Calais Abenaki Flint Corn at the traditional time in early June. The seeds began to grow but then withered because of the June drought and the entire crop was lost. Since then Laurel and Steve have extended the irrigation system to include the cornfield and hope for a successful crop in 2017.
They have also created ways to slow torrential rainfalls so that the water sinks into the soil to replenish the aquifer. They constructed water catchment swales in several key places on the property to passively manage the excess water that typically runs off other properties and contributes to the muddy flows during flooding of the Williams River. They have developed over 3,000 square feet of no-till raised production beds. The increased soil carbon and healthy soil food web in these beds allows heavy rainfall to penetrate the earth easily and be absorbed.
In the past year they built a passive solar high tunnel to grow flowers, herbs and vegetables. This allows them to control the amount and timing of water on plants and prevents flood and wind damage. It also is a protection from frosts, thereby extending the growing season.
This year they are featuring an Earth Day Teach-In to learn how climate change is already affecting our region. Several area organizations will be present to share information, sell related materials, and help you take local actions to deal with climate change.
For more information, call the farm at 802-275-4646, facebook.com/Singing-River-Farm-616669548476381/