Sign up for News & Updates

Season Extension at Hazzard Free Farm

On a blustery April 25th, twenty-six CRAFT members started the day at Hazzard Free Farm to learn about season extension. Hazzard Free Farm, started in 2007, is situated on a 240-acre plot in northern Illinois and consists of 10 acres in organic vegetable/herb production and 20 acres in organic grains. Farm enterprises include CSA, short-chain wholesale, and direct sales to other farmers. Owner/operator Andy Hazzard is also starting a farm incubator for farmers-in-training.

During the Field Day we focused on Hazzard Free Farm's multi-year effort to extend the growing season through hoophouse and greenhouse use. We toured three unheated hoophouses, learning about direct-seeding, transplanting, planting in raised beds and seed-saving methods specific to farming in these season-extension structures. We tasted sweet cilantro, carrots and parsnips that had overwintered in a hoophouse and saw how Andy is transitioning to heating one of the hoophouses during this long, cold spring.

Last season Hazzard Free Farm offered an early-season CSA share for the first time; with this year being much colder later, Andy talked about the farm's season-extension efforts in two very different springs. She also talked about the NRCS EQIP research grant application process, and then underscored the importance of timing and watering in season extension planning—and the fact that it is different from growing in the fields. Lastly, we toured the rest of the farm and saw the perennial leeks, garlic beds, Egyptian onions, perennial fruit crops and perennial herbs.  We finished the day with a potluck at lunch and a tour of the barnyard and chicken coop. Thanks for a great day, Hazzard Free Farm!