Time for Planting Trees

portrait by Michael Wilson

As reckless as it may seem to start a family and a farm in the same year, it was time for us to take the leap. Rich and I were counting on the proverbial advice that there is no “right time” in life. We weren’t quite sure how we would cultivate a farm business with such a young babe, one who was in the most dependent stage of her life. And so we cast our fears aside and set out to explore the quintessence of family farming.

As we didn’t get the keys to the property until early April, we very much felt in the weeds. We had a lot to do—and all at once. Not wanting to miss the opportunity to get saplings planted as a buffer around the property, I placed an order with the county’s native tree sale just in the nick of time. Rich was still working off-farm in April, so Baby May and I drove to pick up our order. With no cooler on the property where we could store the saplings and delay our planting, May and I dove into our first project on the farm with full force.

One by one, we dug holes for our trees, with May mounted in a baby carrier on my back. Of all of the tools we invested in, this baby carrier would prove to be one of the most essential on our farm.

Over three days’ time, we tucked pawpaws, hickories, highbush cranberries, sugar maples, and Norway spruce into the soil. Without a farm truck on hand as of yet, I traversed the length of the property to water in the trees in repeated trips, with a 5-gallon bucket of water in each hand and a sleeping May acting as a counterweight on my back.

May’s Grandma Mimi and her great grandparents came to the farm to help us plant the last of the trees around our farm yard just in time for a glorious, deep spring rain. Our tree project foreshadowed the nature of this first season on our farm, one built by the collected effort of our community of kin. It has taken a village to raise a child and a budding farm business.

Now, as we are nearly through our first season on Foxhole Farm and into our second season as parents, I can say that it feels as if we are really raising two kids. They are both living, breathing, evolving parts of our lives that will mature over time into creatures of their own nature. They are both in their infancy, needing more guidance and undivided attention than ever. Just as with our saplings, with regular care and watering, love and good intention, hopefully they will take root and grow into strong individuals with fruitful days to come.

Sam and Rich Wickham are among them. They founded Foxhole Farm in Brookville, OH, in April 2018, setting out to transform 27 conventionally cultivated acres into a sustainable farm growing vegetables, microgreens, herbs, and, eventually, sheep. They sell at Dayton-area markets in Centerville and Oakwood, and supply Dorothy Lane Market and a handful of nearby restaurants.