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2023: Year Six - Small Steps vs. Big Leap

Looking back at the year of 2023, it's a little disconcerting because, unlike previous years, we did not have a grand project that we focused on. This year we apparently dialed our ambition back and focused instead on a.) the continuation of our previous initiatives and b.) capitalizing on more modest opportunities that we discovered.


So it took a little bit of adjustment to do our "year in review" exercise and acknowledge that these small wins are still good, and incremental effort can also spell success. Being strategically conservative is perhaps less flashy, but still made for a satisfying year. That said, we also have to acknowledge a few "fails" last year that gave us some good lessons and in some cases have left us still somewhat perplexed.



Continuing Efforts

Here are a few of the projects we did that focused on building upon existing efforts:

  • Farm store got a new sign (technically at the end of last year)

  • New (used) cooler inside the store

  • Upgrades for the shop structure, including more electricity, new windows upstairs and a fresh paint job

  • Completed our first full growing season in the tunnel house

  • Two more wonderful "woofers" - Dorinda and Molly

  • Cherry trees starting to mature and provided a nice harvest

  • Retaining wall stone work and steps



Capitalizing on New Opportunities

Thankfully, we also discovered modest levels of accomplishment with a few new efforts, such as:

  • Awarded an Oregon Food Bank Grant which provided $3960 for fresh produce delivered to the South Benton Food Pantry

  • New Vendors - Artist Emily Poole, Chris Adams, Bill from Wee Little Forge, and Heather from Seedling Stiches

  • New dried fruit varieties including melon and persimmon

  • Elderberry harvest and processing

  • New spice product collaboration - Rockhound Chili from our rock collector and expert Chuck

  • Product barcodes in the farm store, which was more work up front but supposedly helped with check out time and record keeping



Learning From a Few "Fails"

Not everything works perfectly at Lilliputopia, I'm afraid. Sometimes we have setbacks that will give us a good lesson, and sometimes they just open a line of inquiry that we hope to solve in the future.


For instance:



We are starting to get good peaches, but many of trees just spontaneously died during the growing season. We don't spray them and we've heard they are challenging in this area without constant treatment.


 


Eliza with help from our friend Shephard attempted to use nematodes to control coddling moth on the apples, with little apparent affect. We suspect that the moths are flying in from other locally infested trees, and so we will try to use hormone traps this season.


 


We participated in the revival of the Monroe Farmers Market in 2023. And though it seemed to start well, there were setbacks. A few months in, the market started losing vendors — and also customers — as the afternoons starting heating up. Eventually, when the remaining vendors experimented with a new market day/time on Saturday in the morning, we could only participate in spirit as it conflicted with the farm store hours. So we had to bow out as well, leaving the remaining die-hard vendors to languish. Hopefully the remaining vendors will be able find the right day and location to cultivate a strong market in Monroe. We continue to support their efforts any way we can.


 

Lilliputopia: The Early Years

We put together a photo book to compile many of the memories of the past few years. Not a product for sale, it's more of a memento and conversation piece — a little scrapbook to help us encapsulate this fun early period in the formation of a tiny farm. Stop by the store and flip through it!



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