This Week at The Farm 10-14-16

10.14.2016 · Posted in The Farm at Stonehill

This Week at The Farm…

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At The Farm…

farm
A view of The Farm from the Tine Miller Meditation Area – greens in the foreground, tilled fields planted with cover crops beyond.
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The Farm at Stonehill was recently featured in an article called “Watering Brockton’s Food Desert” by Ross Muscato in Fiorente Health Desk.

https://www.fiorente.tv/watering-brocktons-food-desert/

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It is a busy time at The Farm as we continue to harvest and deliver our greens to our community partners and prep the rest of the fields for a long, rejuvenating winter’s nap.

We are still harvesting cherry tomatoes in the hoophouse, but will be replacing those prolific plants with winter hardy spinach over the next couple of weeks.

In the fields we are rolling up our irrigation equipment and getting ready to plant garlic and mulch some freshly planted June-bearing strawberries.
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Find The Farm at Stonehill on Facebook and “like us” of follow us on Instagram (#thefarmatstonehill) to stay connected to Farm happenings.

The Farm at Stonehill is a community effort and we invite you to stop by to visit and lend a hand.

Mobile Market, Fall Crops, Volunteers and more

This Week at The Farm…

At The Farm…

RA, MSM and ABS leaders

Our RA, ABS, and MSM volunteers helped out on Tuesday!

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We are welcoming RA, MSM, and ABS student leaders to help with some projects in the fields including weeding onion beds, removing black plastic, weeding raspberries, and planting greens in the hoophouse.

We are planting a late succession of squash and cukes in the field and in hoophouse 2 and caring for our kale and lettuce seedlings in hoophouse 1.

We are making the last of our flower bouquets are we start to harvest winter squash and melons in earnest.

In the Community…

Our Mobile Market was featured in the Boston Globe South!

Many thanks to Martin and Marie (our behind the scenes team!) for working with journalist at the Globe to share information about this new project of our farm with our surrounding community.

mobile market

Tim, Father Jim and Sara pause for a smile at the Mobile Market.

Father Jim visited us at our Mobile Market and chatted with some of the clients enjoying the market!

We continue to deliver veggies to our Community Partners!

delivery

Emily and Pat made our deliveries today to MBK, The Table and the Old Colony YMCA.

VOLUNTEER HOURS

Farm Fridays are Back!

Come see us tomorrow, Friday, August 26th from 3-5pm.

Veggies, Sunflowers, Campers and More…

07.14.2016 · Posted in The Farm at Stonehill

This Week at The Farm…

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Sunflowers – as far as the eye can see… it’s summertime!

At The Farm…

We are harvesting scallions, zucchini, 3 varieties of summer squash, 2 varieties of cucumbers, 2 varieties of eggplant, cherry tomatoes (from the hoophouse), basil, 4 varieties of lettuce, pac choi, new potatoes, and garlic.

We are hosting campers from Camp Shriver who are learning about compost and healthy soils.

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Evan enjoyed picking, smelling and tasting a wide variety of herbs – including mint, lemon balm, oregano and sage when he visited with his group from Camp Shriver.

We hosted about 90 science focused high school students from Brockton High School who were interested in learning more about Stonehill, our farm, and what we do.

We are so thankful for our hard working volunteers who have been putting in full days with us this week: Patrick Cahill, Celia Dolan, John Dunn, and Sara Morris – and on Fridays: Brett Smith, Danny Haffel and Vivian Senatore.

In the Community…

We are delivering our bounty to our 4 community partners and also making it available for purchase through the Mobile Market at The Brockton Neighborhood Health Center (BNHC) and The Family Center on Wednesday afternoons.

Mobile Market locations have been chosen to make our produce more available to individuals who lack access to fresh, affordable produce.  Prices are set low to increase access (ex. 50 cents per cucumber or squash) and all sales are deposited into an account that allows us to continue to run the mobile market.  Patients at BNHC will soon be provided with veggie vouchers that they can use to “buy” vegetables through a grant given to BNHC from Project Bread.  The Mobile Market is exciting, as it is serving as just one more way to distribute our organically grown produce to those who need it most.

VOLUNTEER HOURS
Please contact us if you are interested in volunteering this week: bmeigs@stonehill.edu

Jumping Through June! – Weekly Update

06.23.2016 · Posted in Summer 2016

This Week at The Farm…

 

 

The cherry tomato seedlings in the hoophouse are taller than Emily and Michelle!

The cherry tomato seedlings in the hoophouse are taller than Emily and Michelle!

At The Farm…

 

We are mulching squash and tomato beds and weeding garlic and other crops.

 

We are planting the last of our seedlings (pumpkins and butternut squash) and beans.

Planting Provider Bush Beans on June 23, 2016.

Planting Provider Bush Beans on June 23, 2016.

 

We are enjoying our new picnic table made from lumber saved from a Cypress tree that came down up near Donahue Hall last year.

 

We are welcoming our partners at the David Jon Louison Family Life Center of the Old Colony YMCA into the fields on Friday morning.

 

We are harvesting zucchini, summer squash, bunching onions, basil, Kaboku cabbage, bok choy, lettuce, kohlrabi, kale, chard, beets, sugar snap peas, and our first cucumbers from the hoophouse.

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So many greens! Emily and Katie wash and pack our veggies for our partners.

 

In the Community…

 

We are donating these veggies to our partners and offering them and a couple of additions from Langwater Farm (red bunching onions and beets – purchased through a grant from the Vela Foundation) at the Mobile Market.

 

We hosted our second Mobile Market day at the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center (63 Main St. from 3:30pm – 4:45pm) and the Trinity Baptist Church Parking lot  (1367 Main St. from 5:00pm – 6:30pm).  It was a great success!

Flowers are exploding - loving the sun and our drip irrigation.

Flowers are exploding – loving the sun and our drip irrigation.

 

Mobile Market and More – weekly update

06.16.2016 · Posted in The Farm at Stonehill

This Week at The Farm…

MobileMarketPoster-v4b

MOBILE MARKET BEGINS

We launched our Mobile Markets on June 15th at The Brockton Neighborhood Health Center (63 Main St) and the Family Center/Trinity Baptist Church parking lot (1637 Main St)!

Melissa Mardo (Market Intern), Angela Beyer (Market Manager), Tim Watts and other volunteers enjoyed a successful first market day – selling lots of greens, kohlrabi, beets, herbs, chard and a few guest veggies from Langwater Farm (spring onions and turnips).

We will continue to donate veggies to our 4 main community partners and one additional crate of seasonal goodness each week to the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center for their cooking classes at their Pleasant St. location.

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AT THE FARM

We are harvesting lots of greens and watching as our first zucchini and sugar snap peas appear in the fields.

We are taking care of our potato plants by controlling those Colorado Potato Beetles (squish!).

We are planting melons and winter squash.

rainbow

FLOWERS and SEEDLINGS

Flower Bouquets are available:

Small (10-15 stems) $5, Medium (20-25 stems) $10, and Large (35-40 stems) $15

…or another size that works best for you!

This year you can place your order via Marketplace or by sending an email to

 

bmeigs@stonehill.edu

https://secure.touchnet.net/C21449_ustores/web/index.jsp?clearPreview=true

DO YOU NEED SEEDLINGS? IF SO, PLEASE COME TO THE FARM – WE HAVE SOME FOR YOU FOR FREE (OR A DONATION IF YOU INSIST!) – OR THEY WILL MOVE ON TO OUR COMPOST PILE SHORTLY.

VOLUNTEER HOURS

Stay tuned for another email with this information for this week! Please feel free to visit anytime!

 

 

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Find The Farm at Stonehill on Facebook and “like us” of follow us on Instagram (#thefarmatstonehill) to stay connected to Farm happenings.

The Farm at Stonehill is a community effort and we invite you to stop by to visit and lend a hand.
 

Five Years and Growing Strong

02.08.2016 · Posted in Winter 2016

Zuri and I visited the farm - Friday, February 5th.

The fields are bundled in a layer of white insulation – Zuri welcomes the snow on February 5th, 2016.

It is a wintery day in Easton, and as the wind whips and snowflakes fly past the window, I fill my cup with hot tea and my head with vibrant images of our farm on warmer days.

It is hard to believe that 2015 was already our fifth season, and our production (exceeding 15,000 pounds), new programs (the Mobile Market), increase in use as a living classroom (more professors and students learning at the farm), and growing family (volunteers and community gardeners) illustrate a clear shift from “chick to fledgling” stage in our development as a farm community.

Our seed order is almost complete and plans for our next season abound, but pausing to reflect on the past five seasons, I’m amazed at how our farm continues to thrive and extend its reach into Brockton and Easton.

Bringing in a healthy garlic harvest with helpers Christine, John, Michelle and Melissa, July 2015.

Bringing in a bountiful garlic harvest with helpers Christine, John, Michelle and Melissa, July 2015.

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Tim and Alana help to polit our Mobile Market - Fall 2015.

Tim and Alana help to pilot our Mobile Market – Fall 2015.

This season we forged new relationships in the community and entered new territory when we piloted our Mobile Market this fall in the parking lot of Trinity Baptist Church and The Family Center (1367 Main St).  Starting on September 16, 2015, and for the following six weeks, we drove our farm truck to this address and set up a veggie stand.

partnering up with UMASS Nutrition services - Ratatouille

We enjoyed partnering up with UMASS Nutrition Services who prepared ratatouille from our veggies and shared the easy and healthy recipe with customers who could then purchase all of the necessary fresh ingredients from our market to make the dish.

This program, supported by a $5,000 grant from Project Bread, allows us to partner more closely with organizations like UMASS Nutrition Services and sell some of our organic produce at or below market prices directly to consumers in parts of Brockton that lack easy access to healthy, fresh produce.

Mobile Market Sprinter Van donation.

This Sprinter Van, donated by Stonehill parents Craig and Lisa Hyslip, will become our Mobile Market van during the 2016 growing season.

Thanks to a generous donation of a Sprinter Van from Craig and Lisa Hyslip, we will be able to transport our veggies to our Mobile Market locations in an environment that protects them from heat, rain, and other kinds of conditions that can impact freshness.  We are currently working with students and staff in Stonehill’s Marketing Department to create a colorful, festive logo that conveys the bounty and health the market will bring wherever it goes!  We will share market dates, locations, and times by the springtime – we are hoping to offer markets two days per week at two different locations.

1 of our 4 main partners

The Easton Food Pantry receives about one-quarter to one-third of all of the produce that we grow at The Farm. I always enjoy dropping off our veggies to Glen on Monday mornings.

As always, we will continue to donate the majority of our produce to our four main community partners: The Easton Food Pantry, My Brother’s Keeper, The David Jon Louison Center of the Old Colony YMCA and The Table at Father Bill’s & MainSpring.

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Our farm thrives because of the energy brought in by our visitors – the students and staff who volunteer, the insects that pollinate, and the classes that come to learnand the gifts of the farmnew friendships, honey made from the nectar, and knowledge learned through experiences.

some fall harvesters!

It was such a productive year – here two volunteers help to harvest produce and keep Zuri company (or course!) on a warm October afternoon.

This season, six faculty utilized The Farm as a space to teach about sustainability.  Disciplines included Philosophy, Political Science, Art, Environmental Science, Eco-spirituality and Ecology, and the farm hummed with the energy and activity that these classes brought to the fields.  In a Learning Community called The Origin of Resources: From Farm to Studio, co-taught by me and Candice Smith Corby, our students learned about sustainable food production and how to create natural pigments and dyes from some of the plants growing at The Farm.  With this course, more than any other I have had the opportunity to teach, I learned and subsequently taught about how to preserve the flavors and the beauty of the harvest.  This learning occurred in the fields in the company of Candice, our students, and through the teachings of generous guest teachers like Chef Geoff Lukas and Farmer Linda Reinhardt.

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 These relationships serve to increase my hunger for knowledge about how to sustainably grow food to increase food security, to maintain healthy, biodiverse landscapes, and to understand and celebrate the traditions that support these kinds of connections with the land.

preserving the harvest

Melissa, Madison and Tori prepare tomatoes for a “tomato conserva” under the guidance of Geoff Lukas at The Farm in September.

A relationship is growing with the land that surrounds our production fields.  We often see monarch butterflies in our fields, pausing in the flower beds before moving on to an abutting field to find their beloved milkweed.

Milkweed thrives in the fields behind The Farm - reminding us that our 1.5 acres is a part of a biodiverse mosaic of habitats.

Milkweed thrives in the fields behind The Farm – reminding us that our 1.5 acres is a part of a much larger ecosystem comprised of a biodiverse mosaic of habitats.

We have also witnessed the hue of the honey produced by our bees deepen over the course of the season.  We know this is because they tend to visit more goldenrod in the fall months.  With the long, warm fall this past season our bees were so productive that Best Bees of Boston was able to harvest and provide us with over 75 pounds of honey from our hive!

Our honey made a nice holiday gift - allowing members of the Stonehill community to enjoy the benefits of local, raw honey!

Our honey made a nice holiday gift – allowing members of the Stonehill community to enjoy the benefits of local, raw honey!

  It is our hope that the bees also enjoyed the flowers that we planted in our fields and that also served as bouquets for staff and students – as well as two brides who chose our flowers to help them celebrate on their wedding day.

wedding flowers late August 2015.

Here is one of the bride’s bouquets that we created in August!

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While productivity of our crops and activity in the fields certainly slows during the colder months of the year, I am pleased to report that spinach planted in our second hoophouse in October is thriving.  We will continue to explore other methods of season extension (utilizing more high tunnels, production of micro-greens and maintaining the TowerGarden on campus) in order to learn about the optimum conditions for sweet, nutritious crops at The Farm.

Spinach Harvest - February 1, 2016.

Jake Rafferty (2016) helped me harvest some spinach on February 1, 2016.

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10 pounds of luscious spinach from 3 rows in Hoophouse #2.

Here are the 10 pounds of luscious spinach that came from the three rows pictured above.  They were bagged and donated to My Brother’s Keeper that morning.

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I have come to believe that the success of a farm is tightly linked to the people who choose to spend time elbow deep in the dirt in many different kinds of weather.  In our fields each summer I am always impressed by my hard-working and dedicated summer crew and during the school year it is common to welcome twenty to thirty volunteers to work the fields every week.  I am so thankful for all of their hard work and also for my growing ties with other local growers like my friends at Langwater, Round the Bend, Brix Bounty, Freedom Food Farm, Tangerini’s, and Second Nature Farm. 

so many upbeat and hard working volunteers - the key to our farm's success!

so many upbeat and hard working volunteers – the key to our farm’s success!

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Shoveling out Hoophouse 2!

Madison and Emily met me at The Farm on February 5th to shovel out our hoophouses.

I feel lucky to know that students like Madison and Emily will be ready to meet me when the snow and wind abate – to shovel out the hoophouse once again – and pretty soon plant seeds for the 2016 season!

snowman with a radish nose...

Once the shoveling was done, Maddie and Emily created this little guy to watch over the fields for us until warmer days returns!

Over the past five seasons, I have come to learn that these students, the faculty and staff who teach and volunteer at the farm, the folks who receive the produce we grow, and the other local farmers and farming networks ARE The Farm at Stonehill.  

I have learned so much from you all and I cannot wait to see where we go from here!

 

Season Five Arrives – Our Community Thrives!

After one of the snowiest winters on record, the promised and long-awaited spring arrived.  As the last of the ice and snow melted away in early April, I looked out at the fields and tried to envision what our fifth season would offer.

Zuri enjoys a sunny spring day at The Farm on April 15th - the fields finally in view after feet of snow melt away.

Zuri enjoys a sunny spring day at The Farm on April 15th – the fields finally in view after feet of snow melt away.

Every year, the fields wake up and transform – via the help of volunteers and now, our summer farmers – into neat, and colorful rows of vegetables and flowers – but what will this year bring?

Tulips brightened up The Farm early on as we await the reds of tomatoes, the yellows of summer squash, and the deep green of cucumbers.

Tulips brightened up The Farm early on as we await the reds of tomatoes, the yellows of summer squash, and the deep green of cucumbers.

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As our fifth season begins, I am keenly aware of all of the people who lend a hand at The Farm and I am filled with gratitude for their enthusiastic support!  Here are just a few key relationships that I’d like to highlight as our fifth season shifts into high gear:

For farming advice or to get help with soil tillage I know that I can always turn to our friends at Langwater Farm.

All it takes is a quick call up the street to Kevin or Kate O’Dwyer to set up visits from members of their crew to either arrange for some chisel plowing to help maintain soil health, or to lay plastic beds for full season crops like tomatoes and flowers.

Jim Lawrence from Langwater Farm chisel plows our field on April 23rd.

Jim Lawrence from Langwater Farm chisel plows our field on April 23rd.

It is important to vary the depth of tillage in our fields in order to avoid creating “hard pan” conditions at 6 inches – the depth that our rototiller reaches.

The tines of the Chisel Plow go down about 12-14 inches.

The tines of the Chisel Plow go down about 12-14 inches.

The plastic mulch is laid with a line of drip tape which helps us provide a consistent amount of moisture to crops like tomatoes, peppers, onions, flowers, eggplants, cucumbers, zucchini, and summer squash.  These beds have been especially important this summer with the warm and dry conditions we have been experiencing.

Justin Clark of Langwater Farm works with me on May 4th to lay out plastic mulch beds.

Justin Clark of Langwater Farm works with me on May 4th to lay out plastic mulch beds.

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Spring is a time of new life, and it is always exciting to welcome the youngest members of our community to The Farm.  Since the first season at The Farm, we have worked very closely with Beth Collins at My Brother’s Keeper to distribute our produce via their 84 weekly home deliveries.  As our first greens started to come out of Hoophouse #2 this spring, Beth visited us with her son Teddy to chat about how we can continue to grow desirable and delicious vegetables for the clients of My Brother’s Keeper.

Beth and Teddy Collins visit The Farm on April 28th to discuss production and delivery goals for the season.

Beth and Teddy Collins visit The Farm on April 28th to discuss production and delivery goals for the season.

Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and pumpkins are some of the most popular veggies, and we look forward to donating them as the season unfolds.

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The Farm also serves as a living classroom for faculty and students at Stonehill College.  Some of these projects have been growing with us for years – you might remember posts about Father Steve Wilbricht’s grapes for his Sacraments course, and the honeybee project led by Devin Ingersoll (2014) and Jess Lantos (2014).

father steve grapes2

Father Steve Wilbricht visits on May 20th to prune and feed his Concord and Niagara grapes.

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Our bees survived the winter and are more productive than ever!

Our bees survived the winter and are more productive than ever! The folks from Best Bees of Boston visit us monthly to give us updates on their productivity and health.

This spring, a number of students worked on independent research projects with me at The Farm to see projects they had started last summer or during the their sustainable agriculture course in the fall to fruition.  They ranged from permaculture gardens at The Farm and on campus to biochar plots, from edible forest gardens to calculating real food in our dining commons, and from studies on soil health to towergardens.  The energy that these students bring to their projects at The Farm is inspiring and is what keeps us strong, vibrant, and productive!  Here are images from just a few of the projects to give you a sense of the positive energy that the students bring to their work – a key ingredient to their success.

PERMACULTURE

Christine Moodie (2015) and Zuri planting strawberries in the on campus permacutlure garden near Amesbury.

Christine Moodie (2015) and Zuri planting strawberries in the on campus permacutlure garden near Amesbury.

Christine plants Garden of Eden Pole Beans in a Three Sisters Plot in the permaculture garden at The Farm.

Christine plants Garden of Eden Pole Beans in a Three Sisters Plot in the permaculture garden at The Farm.

BIOCHAR

Colin Walker (2015) (left) gets a hand from Melissa Mardo (2017) setting up his biochar test plots.

Colin Walker (2015) (left) gets a hand from Melissa Mardo (2017) setting up his biochar test plots.

EDIBLE FOREST GARDEN

Hayley Bibaud (2017) plants a peach tree in the edible forest garden she created in the northeast corner of The Farm.

Hayley Bibaud (2017) plants a peach tree in the edible forest garden she created in the northeast corner of The Farm.

TOWER GARDEN

e and a towergarden

Ellen Edgerton (2017) and Abby Bongaarts (2015) offer a smoothie making workshop at in the Atrium at Shields with kale produced on the Tower Garden.

REAL FOOD – FOOD TRUTH

Melissa Mardo (2017), also serving as a summer farmer this season, started to calculate how much Real Food (local, sustainably, fairly traded or humanely raised) food Stonehill currently purchases (second from right in the back row).

Melissa Mardo (2017), also serving as a summer farmer this season, started to calculate how much Real Food (local, sustainably, fairly traded or humanely raised) food Stonehill currently purchases (second from right in the back row).

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Another important relationship to highlight is that of our farm as a home to biodiversity – including native pollinators, toads, honeybees from our Best Bees of Boston hive, and our killdeer families.  We strive to create a farm that is as an agroecosystem an ecosystem under sustainable agricultural management that is both an ecosystem unto itself and connected to the surrounding ecosystem.  As such, I am always thrilled to see the killdeer come back every year and to watch them produce healthy broods.  This year we think our pair is so pleased with our farm as a home that they are having 2 broods – 4 nestlings hatched on May 11th, and there are currently 3 eggs in a row of onions.

A killdeer parent actively protects her eggs in early May.

A killdeer parent actively protects her eggs in early May.

Happy bees - hard at work on

Happy bees – hard at work on May 6th.

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Last, but definitely not least, our student and staff volunteers make our farm what it is – one that grows  both vegetables and community.  Whether we are planting potatoes or delivering seedlings to community or school gardens in Brockton, it is more common than not for our crew to offer up a smile or two as they work.

Anna Tallmadge (2015) helps to hoe a row for potatoes on May 1st.

Anna Tallmadge (2015) helps to hoe a row for potatoes on May 1st.

Devin preps a few trays of seedlings to support some community gardens in Broctkon.

Devin preps a few trays of seedlings to support some community gardens in Broctkon.

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As we enter our fifth season, I am looking forward to seeing all of the places that these strong and positive relationships can take us!

The fields are filling up with seedlings! Chris Landfield, one of our summer farmers, pauses to take it in with me after staking a couple of rows of sugar snap peas on May 27th.

The fields are filling up with seedlings! Chris Landfield (2016), one of our summer farmers, pauses to take it in with me after staking a couple of rows of sugar snap peas on May 27th.

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Three new born killdeer chicks start out life at The Farm at Stonehill.

Three newly hatched Killdeer chicks start out life at The Farm at Stonehill.

Heirloom (and Spring) Fever

02.24.2015 · Posted in The Farm at Stonehill

The fields at The Farm on February 19th.

The fields at The Farm on February 19th.

Guest Post: Devin Ingersoll, Farm Outreach Coordinator

As the snow continues to fall, the Farm staff and volunteers are getting rather antsy to start planting. This Friday we are hoping to start our first trays of flowers and even plant lettuce directly into the soil of our new hoophouse! Even though it is much too cold outside, we have been very busy ordering seeds, planning our crop rotation, and shoveling the sides of the hoop houses after each storm so that they don’t collapse under all the weight of this snow.

Zuri and I inspect the sides of the hoophouse after a light snowfall.

Zuri and I inspect the sides of the hoophouse after a light snowfall.

As we order seeds, we choose heirloom organic seeds to plant whenever cost allows.   Seed selection is critical to success come harvest time, and as farmers we can also play a role in investing in diverse and organic varieties.  There are hundreds of varieties out there but some are more important in terms of diversity and sustainability than others.  We aim to sow seeds that increase genetic diversity and the health of our soil.

Farm Fields, June of 2014

Farm Fields, June of 2014

Our ancestors were intimately tied to the landscape around them because it was the difference between life and death. If a field or crop failed, it meant drastic changes in diet for the upcoming winter. Every year seeds were planted, cared for, and the mature vegetable/fruit harvested for consumption. Before the age of seed catalogs or supermarkets, farmers themselves selected their best plants for seed the next year. For hundreds of years, this artificial selection led to thousands of varieties (strains) of crops being grown all across the world. Each variety with traits specific to the micro-climate of the region it was grown in. The best varieties were passed down from generation to generation, increasing the genetic pool and biodiversity even further.

As industrialization swept the nation in the early 20th century, the farm landscape in America began to drastically change. Farmers began to operate under the mantra of “get big or get out”. Farms increased in size and farmers decreased in number. The larger seed companies began to sell new hybrid varieties developed through cutting edge research. Hybrids are a cross between two related but distinct varieties chosen for a particular trait like durability, or disease resistance. If a farmer plants a seed from a hybrid, the resulting plants will actually look like the parent generation with only one of the two desired traits the hybrid offers – meaning a farmer cannot save the seed from a hybrid for the next growing season and expect it to look or taste exactly like that year’s harvest.  Instead, farmers must purchase the hybrid seed from the large seed companies to keep growing plants with both desired traits.

New England Sugar Pie Pumpkins - one of the Heirloom, Non-GMO, Organic seeds that we purchase from High Mowing Organic Seed Company.

New England Sugar Pie Pumpkins – one of the Heirloom, Non-GMO, Organic seeds that we purchase from High Mowing Organic Seed Company.

It became less and less likely to find the open-pollinated varieties that could be saved from season to season in seed catalogs or in farmer fields. Home gardeners did still use open pollinated varieties and selected for traits the farmer did not value; these open-pollinated seeds, saved beginning prior to 1940, are termed “heirlooms”.

As the small seed companies consolidated in the 20th century, many varieties of seed ceased to exist. For instance in the 1800’s farmers in the US cultivated 7,100 distinctly named varieties of apples, today 6,800 of these are extinct. Heirloom vegetables perform one major function for the human race. These heirlooms preserve genetic diversity, therefore adding to biodiversity in the region.

Jack Harland, a respected scientist, explained that crop diversity is a “genetic resource that stands between us and catastrophic starvation on a scale we cannot imagine.” Here at The Farm at Stonehill, we aim to preserve the genetic diversity of our heritage by growing heirloom varieties and saving seed to plant the coming year.   As climate change begins to negatively impact the environment around us, the genetic diversity stored in seeds may again mean the difference between life and death. A farmer suffering from droughts due to climate change may still be able to put food on the table by planting just one of the thousands of potato varieties available. However, if humans do not grow, save, and grow again all of the genetically diverse cultivars, we are gambling with the future of the ecosystem that supports us, and our own survival.

That is why The Farm at Stonehill aims to grow as many heirloom varieties as possible given the amount of land and resources we have. Just some of the organic heirloom varieties we grow to distribute to our four community partners are pictured below.

 

brandywine tomato

Brandywine Tomato: An Amish heirloom dating back to 1885 and is generally considered the world’s best tasting tomato.

Red Acre Cabbage

Red Acre Cabbage: Along the Mediterranean coastline wild cabbage grows rampant. Red Acre was introduced to the US sometime before the 1930s and is sold by the Hudson Valley Seed Library.

 

Dino/Lacinato Kale: Originating in the 18th century from the Tuscany region of Italy, it was commercially introduced to the US in the 1980s by Renee Shepard.

Dino/Lacinato Kale: Originating in the 18th century from the Tuscany region of Italy, it was commercially introduced to the US in the 1980s by Renee Shepard.

 

 

Watch below a great Ted talk on the importance of genetic diversity and the biggest seed vault in the world:

 

Information on heirloom variety history taken from resources below:

http://www.victoryseeds.com/kale_lacinato.html

http://www.webgrower.com/information/case_for_heirlooms.html

 

The Fall: Blessings, Visitors and Projects Abound

It has been a productive and delicious fall at The Farm!  Thanks to a crew of dedicated volunteers and students studying Sustainable Agriculture and Permaculture our farm is far from sleepy.

photo of farm visitors on nov 11

Ryan, now enrolled at the Coast Guard, visits us and Stonehill friends Jeremy and Marc at The Farm on November 11th.

Though we do not have as many active projects out in the fields these days, Devin and I can often be found checking on our crops in the hoophouses or walking Zuri on the land.

photo zuri is still working hard - on nov 11th looking for field mice

Zuri is never takes a day off – pictured here searching for mice in our spools of drip tape.

On October 24th, we hosted the Blessing of Hoophouse #2 to thank the Class of 1964 for their gift, which covered construction costs of the structure.  This hoophouse is truly a blessing to us – as it has already allowed us to extend the growing season of crops like cherry tomatoes and currently houses spinach and other hardy greens.

pic of Andrew and Colin, farmers and members of the Class of 2015 join in to thank the Class of 1964 for their class gift of Hoophouse #2.

Andrew and Colin, farmers and members of the Class of 2015 join in to thank the Class of 1964 for their class gift of Hoophouse #2.

Members of the Class of 1964 were present on October 24th to witness Father Jim Lies’s blessing of the hoophouse and to hear Devin speak about the benefits of structures like hoophouses.  We are excited about the addition of this growing structure!

photo of Kim and Devin help out at the Blessing of Hoophouse #2 as we thank the class of 1964 for their support - oct 24th.

Kim and Devin help out at the Blessing of Hoophouse #2 as we thank the class of 1964 for their support on October 24th.

This second hoophouse, measuring 30′ x 48′, dwarfs our original (and still very much beloved 18′ x 48′ hoophouse) offers a nutrient rich floor where we will plant cucumbers and tomatoes earlier that we can in the fields next season.  Thus, this structure will help us to make more delicious produce available to our partners for more months of the year!

photo of A view of the farm from the northeast corner on November 13th.

A view of the farm from the northeast corner on November 13th.

The fields are still producing a few hearty greens like kale, baby broccoli and carrots, but most of the land has a nice coat of cover crops like hairy vetch and oats to help fix nitrogen and add organic material to the soils,  respectively.

photo of Yum - local salad on November 15th

Salad from our fields on November 15th.

One of my favorite crops – High Mowing Mesclun Mix – was still producing flavorful greens in mid-November, which I dressed up with our own carrots and a few chunks of Honey Crisp apples from Brookdale Fruit Farm to create a refreshing salad.

photo of Check out the root nodules on the hairy vetch plants - containing a bacteria called rhyzobium that helps to fix nitrogen.

Check out the root nodules on the hairy vetch – containing rhizobium bacteria that fixes nitrogen in our soil to make it available to our crops next spring.

In the hoophouses you can see that a number of crops have already benefited from the slightly warmer temperatures the plastic walls offer.

2 oct 20th

Tomatoes harvested on October 20th from Hoophouse #2.

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photo of Spinach growing along in Hoophouse #2 on November 10th.

Spinach growing along in Hoophouse #2 in December.

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Though our harvests are lighter, we are keeping busy working on projects like building a herb spiral in our permaculture garden on campus – next to Amesbury in the Senior courts – and planting perennials like pear and peach trees, raspberries and blackberries, and hardy kiwis on campus and at The Farm!

picture oDevin, Sean and Christine "harvest" rocks from a pile of field stones at Langwater Farm.

Devin, Sean and Colin “harvest” rocks from a pile of field stones at Langwater Farm.

Langwater Farm was kind enough to allow us to take a few field stones from their pile next to their rt. 138 fields for our herb spiral project.

photo of Christine Moodie arranges the first stones in the herb spiral.

Christine Moodie, Class of 2015, arranges the first stones in the herb spiral.

Projects like this are fun because they offer our students the opportunity to work on farm projects on the main campus.  It is our hope that this garden will serve to produce vegetables and fruit for our campus community and raise awareness about The Farm and how they can get become (or stay) involved.

photo oJeremy, Danielle G., Sean, Christine and Danielle W. - all members of the Sustainable Agriculture class - pitch in to construct our herb spiral on campus.

Jeremy, Danielle G., Sean, Christine and Danielle W. – all members of the Sustainable Agriculture class – pitch in to construct our herb spiral on campus.

The fall/winter is a good time to build growing structures like the herb spirals and is also an excellent time to plan our permaculture gardens and to plant a number of perennials.

photo of Sean (left) and Christine (right), 2 students participating in a Permaculture Directed Study this fall join me and Devin (center) at Massasoit College where we were given a number of perennials including raspberries, mint, and jerusalem artichokes.

Sean (left) and Christine (right), 2 students participating in a Permaculture Directed Study this fall join me and Devin (center) at Massasoit College where we were given a number of perennials including raspberries, mint, and Jerusalem artichokes by Melanie, Professor of Environmental Sciences and manager of campus permaculture and native garden plots.

We spent some time in November planting Dwarf Chojuro Asian Pear and Dwarf Gala Peach Trees, Auburn Homestead Chestnut Trees, 3 different varieties of Blackberries, Koralle Ligonberries, and Issai Hardy Kiwi from Stark Brothers and Raspberries, Mint, and Jerusalem Artichokes from our partners at Massasoit College on campus…

photo of Christine plants a Asian Pear Tree on campus.

Christine plants a Chojuro Asian Pear Tree on campus.

…at The Farm…

photo of Christine plants a Homestead Auburn Chestnut tree at The Farm.

Christine plants a Homestead Auburn Chestnut tree at The Farm.

…in our Apple Orchard…

photo of Devin and Christine plant a couple of pear trees out in our apple orchard.

Devin and Christine plant a couple of Chojuro Asian Pear trees out in our apple orchard.

…and in our permaculture garden at The Farm.

photo of Christine and Devin plant a number of blackberries in our permaculture garden at The Farm.

Christine and Devin plant a number of blackberries in our permaculture garden at The Farm.

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Other projects include getting to know our Best Bees bee keepers. Devin and I visited them at their headquarters in Boston to learn how to extract honey and get the inside scoop on their research projects.

photo of Alia, a beekeeper with Best Bees harvests some honey from our hive on October 29th.

Alia, a beekeeper with Best Bees, holds up a frame with honey they can harvest for us from our hive October 29th.

We were overjoyed to learn that our bees had been productive enough to share some of their bounty with us!

photo of extracting honey #1

First you have to take off the protective wax covering up the honey.

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photo of Devin spinning out some honey!

Then you have to extract it by spinning it – Devin tries this out!

The results are beautiful and delicious!

photo of our honey in a jar

YUM!

We are happy to report that our honey flew of the shelves during a find raiser.  We sold 3 oz jars for $10/jar and all of it was purchased within one day of posting an advertisement on our Facebook and sharing an email about the honey with our Stonehill community.  We hope to be able to share more of this amber treat with more folks next year.

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Meanwhile, back at the ranch – well, Farmhouse – we are cooking up a new program called The Farmhouse Writing Fellows Program. Farmhouse Writing Fellows will be given dedicated writing space on the second floor of the Farmhouse to work on scholarly or pedagogical projects for the semester.

Five Faculty will be joining us this spring: Rachel Hirst, George Piggford, Megan Mitchell, Corey Dolgon, and Candice Smith-Corby.  We will be hosting Farmhouse Conversations every other Friday so that our fellows can share a bit about their work with the community.  We will share invitations via our weekly “This Week at The Farm” community emails and via our Facebook page and we hope to see you there!

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You might be wondering where this mystical farmhouse is located! Don’t worry, we made a sign so that you will be sure to find us!

photo of first we had to choose the wood and sketch out the word

First we had to choose the wood and sketch out the letters.

I knew just the place to create such a sign: my parent’s home in Millerton, NY.  First we chose the right piece of cherry, before sketching out the letters, and then used a router to carve out the word and the little shovel icon.

photo of Jono Meigs, wood worker extraordinaire teaches me how to use the router.

Jono Meigs, wood worker extraordinaire, teaches me how to use the router.

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photo of i tried it out..

Almost done!

After a few hours of work we had our sign!

photo of we had our sign

My Dad and I proudly display our sign!

Now you can find it hanging at the entrance of our Farmhouse: 411 Washington St.

photo of our sign

Our sign hanging up at the entrance to our farm offices and home to the Farmhouse Writing Fellow Program.

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We look forward to your next visit to see us at The Farm or at The Farmhouse as we chip away at our long list of winter projects and order up seeds for our next growing season – which will start earlier now, thanks to Hoophouse #2!

photo of i tried it out..

Local sunset near Wheaton farm – one of our favorite places to walk with Zuri after a long day at The Farm.

Sending you warm wishes for a restful and rejuvenating holiday season!

~Bridget & Zuri

Guest Post: From Student to Service Corps – The Transition

10.22.2014 · Posted in The Farm at Stonehill

Many of you may have seen me face over at the Farm, delivering flowers, or leading groups of students on tours and wondered – didn’t she graduate? And yes, I did.

Devin Raking in hoophouse

Me (Devin Ingersoll ’14) raking up plant residue in Hoophouse #2.

However, now I am participating in the year- long Stonehill Service Corps program in Brockton serving as the Farm’s Outreach Coordinator. I don’t know specifically why I became interested in a year of service last spring but what I do know now is that I can’t imagine doing anything else.   I have a long history with the Farm since I started volunteering through the Food Justice LC in the Fall of 2011. Since then I have been a summer farmer, interned during the academic year for Bridget, completed a directed study centered on food security, culminating in a thesis focused on urban agriculture and food insecurity in Brockton. The Outreach Coordinator position allows me to combine the knowledge I have attained so far to further deepen the Farm’s mission of providing residents access to healthy affordable produce. Following the four tenets of the Stonehill Service Corps I also live in community with nine other Corps members, live simply on a small stipend, practice forms of spirituality, and serve the community through my work at the Farm.

The 2014-2015 Stonehill Service Corps Brockton Members

Every day is different in my role as Outreach Coordinator. Sometimes I am out in the field harvesting, leading volunteer groups, delivering veggies to our partners, or assisting Bridget with planning for the next season. Other days I am deepening the Farm’s mission and presence in the city itself through an after-school garden program at the Arnone Elementary School and cooking classes to residents of the Old Colony YMCA Family Life Center using Farm produce. The Farm is also working with one of our current partners, Father Bill’s Mainspring, to revitalize six raised garden beds in Perkins Park. I could not be more excited about this project and while in its beginning stages, it offers the Farm a chance to grow food within city limits with and for residents.

Saving seeds with volunteers

Saving seeds with volunteers

Beds to be revitalized in Perkins Park

Beds to be revitalized in Perkins Park.

Delivering to The Table at Father Bill's Mainspring

Delivering to The Table at Father Bill’s Mainspring with Bridget.

 

I know my time here is limited, as my year of service will end in June, but I hope next year the Corps member who fills my position will find as much joy in farming, teaching, and cooking that I do.

To contact Devin directly email dingersoll@stonehill.edu.