The Herb Spiral Is In!

Today we constructed the herb spiral in our meditation garden at the farm.  This has been something that I have been wanting to build and plant for years, so I was very excited to have the opportunity to spend the day with stones, gravel, sand, compost, and a good helper: student and farmer Greg (Class of 2014).

photo of meditation garden

This meditation garden space was donated to the farm by the Class of 2011!

Herb spirals are a permaculture* design and offer a good way to grow a diverse array of herbs in a small space that is easy to water and harvest.

Using field stones from Langwater Farm, compost from Clover Valley Stables, sand, and gravel, and cardboard we went to work – a good project for a day with 90+ degree temperatures in the fields.

photo of gravel in spiral on cardboard

Starting out: You will need cardboard, stones, creativity, patience, and enthusiasm.

We started the project by laying cardboard on the ground and sketching out a spiral.  We gave the cardboard a good soaking to help boost microbial activity in the sod that lay beneath it and slow weeds from growing in among the rocks. We then started to build the spiral stone wall in a clockwise fashion to mimic the natural way that water drains down a pipe in the northern hemisphere.  The gravel went in first to help stabilize the spiral rock wall, and help the water escape in the event of a heavy rainfall.

photo of garden with sand layer

Next Step: Then came the sand.

After the gravel layer was in, we added a couple of inches of sand.  The sand and the gravel both help with drainage and help to maintain heat in the soil.

Next Step: Filling the spiral with nutrient rich compost.

Next we filled the spiral with a healthy planting mix of horse manure based compost.

Next, it was time to plant our herbs!

Our sage and oregano are in and awaiting company of rosemary, mint, chives, and thyme.

As the rocks warm, they will help to dehumidify the soil and the extended edge, wrapping in on itself, provides a wide diversity of conditions.  We will plant herbs like rosemary, sage, and oregano near the top of the spiral as they require less moisture, and plant mint and other moisture loving herbs near the bottom of the structure.

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We still have some important plantings to do around the garden, – perhaps some vibirnums and native grasses – but it is starting to feel more and more like a good space for quiet contemplation or a lively class discussion!

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*“Permaculture design emphasizes patterns of landscape, function, and species assemblies. It asks the question, “Where does this element go? How can it be placed for the maximum benefit of the system?” To answer this question, the central concept of permaculture is maximizing useful connections between components and synergy of the final design.

The focus of permaculture, therefore, is not on each separate element, but rather on the relationships created among elements by the way they are placed together; the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts.

~~~

For more information on how to build an herb spiral please visit this site.

For the Love of Potatoes

This post was written by one of our summer farmers, Sean Davenport, who loves his potatoes!

photo of potato harvest

Yellow Finn, German Butterball, Red Gold, Kennebec, Katahdin, and Purple Viking Potatoes harvested and awaiting delivery in the shed.

“What I say is that, if a fellow really likes potatoes, he must be a decent sort of fellow.”

– A.A. Milne

photo of potata and plant

A German Butterball Potato emerges from the soil.

The potato is not just your average vegetable. It is, in fact, an extraordinary one. Due to our nation’s obsession with fatty foods, the potato, through the form of French fries, has become the most commonly consumed vegetable in the United States. But who can blame us? French fries are so good!

photo of the group harvesting potatoes

The Sander family, Greg, and Sean search through the soil to find the tubers hiding just below the surface.

Besides fries, potatoes can be prepared in a plethora of delicious ways ways. Roasted potatoes happen to be my favorite style, especially with some onion tossed in. This past week my mom made roasted potatoes twice, using potatoes fresh from the Farm – red golds and German butterballs. The mashed potato remains another popular American preparation, symbolic of the traditional family dinner. Baked potatoes are absolutely amazing too, with or without sour cream.

photo of potato in hand

Potatoes come in all shapes and sizes!

For a fancier affair, try potatoes au gratin – thinly sliced potatoes layered with melted cheese. Home fries are served with almost every meal ordered in an American diner, and potato skins are a staple bar food (and perhaps my favorite appetizer of all). Potatoes are also versatile in how you can use them. Bake them into potato rolls, or make some latkes. Even try a little Italian and whip up some gnocchi.

photo of purple viking potatoes

Potatoes also come in an array of colors: purple, blue, yellow, red, pink, and browns. Purple Viking potatoes pictured here.

No matter how you prepare a potato, it is going to be delicious. I love potatoes. No matter where I go I know that I can find comfort in eating this most glorious of vegetables. – Sean Davenport (Class of 2015)

photo of harvest dog

Zuri helped with the harvest too!

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Do you know potatoes?

 

  • Potatoes were first cultivated 7,000 years ago (but evidence shows they were growing in the wild up to 13,000 years ago) by the Incas in Peru.*
  • According to Dr. Hector Flores, “the most probable place of origin of potatoes is located between the south of Peru and the northeast of Bolivia. The archaeological remains date from 400 B.C. and have been found on the shores of Lake Titicaca…. There are many expressions of the extended use of the potato in the pre-Inca cultures from the Peruvian Andes, as you can see in the Nazca and Chimu pottery.”*
  • When the European diet expanded to include potatoes, not only were farmers able to produce much more food, they also gained protection against the catastrophe of a grain crop failure and periodic population checks caused by famine.*
  • Highly nutritious potatoes also helped mitigate the effects of such diseases as scurvy, tuberculosis, measles and dysentery.*
  • Potatoes became a staple in the Irish diet by 1800.*
  • By the early 1840s, almost one-half of the Irish population had become entirely dependent upon the potato, specifically on just one or two high-yielding varieties.*
  • Potatoes are the leading vegetable crop in the USA and comprise 29% of our vegetable consumption – about 130 pounds per person every year.**
  • More than 1/2 of the annual consumption is processed rather than fresh (ex. fast food french fries or potato chips).**
  • Potatoes are the most important vegetable crop in the USA.**
  • Potatoes are only topped by wheat flour in importance in the American diet.**
  • Potatoes are rich in minerals, vitamins, calories, and protein, and very low in fat.**
  • As well as providing starch, an essential component of the diet, potatoes are rich in Vitamin C, high in Potassium and an excellent source of fiber. In fact, potatoes alone supply every vital nutrient except calcium, Vitamin A and Vitamin D.*

Sources:

*Chapman, Jeff. “The Impact of The Potato” in History Magazine.

**Blatt, Harvey. 2008. “America’s Food: What You Don’t Know About What You Eat”.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Pages 185-6.

~~~

And now a few words from Tom Paxton, an American singer songwriter who playfully shares all of the ways to prepare potatoes in his song below.

“Don’t Slay the Potato”

By, Tom Paxton

How can you do it? It’s heartless, it’s cruel.
It’s murder, cold-blooded, it’s gross.
To slay a poor vegetable just for your stew
Or to serve with some cheese sauce on toast.
Have you no decency? Have you no shame?
Have you no conscience, you cad,
To rip that poor vegetable out of the earth
Away from its poor mom and dad?

CHORUS:
Oh, no, don’t slay that potato!
Let us be merciful, please.
Don’t boil it or fry it, don’t even freeze-dry it.
Don’t slice it or flake it.
For God’s sake, don’t bake it!
Don’t shed the poor blood
Of this poor helpless spud.
That’s the worst kind of thing you could do.
Oh, no, don’t slay that potato
What never done nothing to you!

Why not try picking on something your size
Instead of some carrot or bean?
The peas are all trembling there in their pod
Just because you’re so vicious and mean.
How would you like to be grabbed by your hair
And ruthlessly yanked from your bed
And have done to you God knows what horrible things,
To be eaten with full-fiber bread?
(CHORUS)

It’s no bed of roses, this vegetable life.
You’re basically stuck in the mud.
You don’t get around much. You don’t see the sights
When you’re a carrot or celery or spud.
You’re helpless when somebody’s flea-bitten dog
Takes a notion to pause for relief.
Then somebody picks you and cleans you and eats you
And causes you nothing but grief.
(CHORUS)

There ought to be some way of saving our skins.
They ought to be passing a law.
Just show anybody a cute little lamb
And they’ll all stand around and go “Aw!”
Well, potatoes are ugly. Potatoes are plain.
We’re wrinkled and lumpy to boot.
But give me a break, kid. Do you mean to say
That you’ll eat us because we’re not cute?

Oh, no, don’t slay that potato!
Let us be merciful, please.
Don’t boil it or fry it, don’t even freeze-dry it.
Don’t slice it or flake it.
For God’s sake, don’t bake it!
Don’t shed the poor blood
Of this poor helpless spud.
That’s the worst kind of thing you could do.
Oh, no, don’t slay that potato
What never done nothing to you!

Natural Fireworks

photo of bouquet

Rainbow colored bouquets are lighting up the sky at the farm.

It is already the 4th of July, and the warm summer days are working well with intermittent thunderstorms and rainfall to produce lots of delicious vegetables and beautiful flowers.

photo of produce at the easton food pantry

Volunteers arrange produce from our fields and Langwater Farm at The Easton Food Pantry on Monday, July 2nd.

It is exciting to see the colors of the fields filling the shelves at The Easton Food Pantry and My Brother’s Keeper.  This past Monday some of our offerings included summer squash, zucchini and snap peas.

photo of harvested veggies

Veggies harvested and delivered on July 3rd to The Old Colony YMCA.

Yesterday we harvested our most diverse crop yet – including Farao Cabbage, Early Wonder Beets, Zephyr Summer Squash, Raven Zucchini, Sugar Snap Peas, Bright Light Rainbow Chard, Pearl Drop Onions, Northern Pickling Cucumbers, Genovese Basil, Santo Cilantro and Evergreen Bunching Onions – and delivered them by noon to The Family Center at The Old Colony YMCA.

photo of zuri, Gabby and Greb planting squash

Zuri attempts to dig a hole for pumpkin seedlings – or maybe fill them back in (!) – as Gabby and Greg apply compost.

There have been some other changes at the farm lately, including the addition of a new farm hand: Zuri.  Zuri – which means “beautiful” in Swahili – is a 6 month old lab mix, who I adopted last Monday from Forever Homes Shelter in Medfield, MA. While her 4 legs make it difficult for her to help harvest, plant and weed our crops, her company has been great for our farm spirit!

photo of volunteers weeding onions

A crew of volunteers weed a bed of onions last Friday, June 29th as Zuri stays cool in the shade.

Zuri splits her time between finding shade and sticking close by. Harvesting Pearl Drop Onions was exciting, as it brought some of the cooler soil to the surface and created a nice place to lie down in the field.

photo of zuri with harvested onions

Zuri and some recently harvested Pearl Drop Onions.

By the end of the day she’s pretty tuckered out, and happy to find a place in the field to rest next to the newly planted pumpkin seedlings.

photo of zuri with irrigation and squashes

Catching some z’s as we put the finishing touches on drip irrigation for the pumpkin seedlings.

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In other news, the college welcomed the class of 2016 to campus last week for orientation.  Sean, Gabby, Greg and I worked with Facilities Management to ensure that the incoming class understands how to compost on campus.

photo of me with Gabby and compost bucket

Gabby and I taped signs to the garbage, recycling and compost bins during orientation last week.

We welcome the incoming class and invite them to help us to strengthen our composting efforts in the Dining Commons and at The Sem.

photo of Sean with bins set up

THIS is what good waste management practices look like!

With the help of this organic material we will continue to feed our soils and grow more nutritious crops for our partners and flowers for our community!

Cosmos, calendulas, zinnias, snapdragons, straw flowers, and savia come together to create a summery arrangement.

 

Summer Blooms

photo of a flower bouquet

Cosmos, snapdragons, zinnias and salvia are among the first of our flowers to bloom.

The sun and rain are working together beautifully this season.

We have already harvested over 450 pounds of produce including zucchini, summer squash, radishes, lettuce, garlic scapes, chard, kale, and collards.

photo of beth from MBK

Beth Sheehan, of My Brother’s Keeper, stopped by last week to pick up lettuce and Nasturtiums – ingredients for a fresh and nutritious salad.

Student farmers, Greg, Gabby, and Sean, enthusiastically plant, weed, harvest, make deliveries, and help lead the staff and student volunteers.  Last week volunteers Lauren, Laura and Hilary spent their Friday afternoon “hilling the potatoes” with nutrient rich compost.

Hilling the potatoes on Friday, June 15th.

In the neighboring field, more volunteers planted our second succession of zucchinis and cucumbers.

Hailey, Greg, and Joanna (from front to back) plant cucumbers on June 15th.

The Farm feels the most alive on these volunteer days – typically Friday afternoons – when the fields are filled with the energy of student and staff volunteers, the ripening vegetables, and the ever-present sun.

photo of volunteers at the farm on 6-15

The zucchini are ready for harvest in field #1 (on the left), as the second succession is planted in field #2 (on the right).

The plants respond quickly to the heat and we are now working hard to keep the tomatoes staked, strung, and supported.  In a few weeks, if all goes well, we will be harvesting cherry tomatoes!

photo of Tim staking the tomatoes

Tim Watts lends a hand staking the cherry tomatoes.

By the close of this week most of our seedlings will have found their home in the fields.  We will then strive to keep up with their needs as we weed and water them until it is time to harvest and deliver the crops to our partners.

photo of greens growing

Collard greens, kale, chard and tomatoes enjoy the warm and long days of sunlight.

In time, the harvest will turn hues of sugar snap pea green to tomato red and pumpkin orange.  For now, we enjoy the rainbow of color afforded by our flowers and invite you to order a bouquet to bring the warmth of the field into your home or office!

photo of flowers

Cosmos and snapdragons drink in the sun – a naturally beautiful arrangement!

Simplicity of Summery Spring

  Seedlings start small, but it doesn’t take long before they start to drink in the light, nutrients and water that allow them to take root and grow.

photo of students planting peppers

Bell pepper seedlings move from their cozy trays in the hoop house into the warm soils of the fields with the help of student farmers Dan, Sean, Greg, and Gabby (from left to right) on May 24, 2012.

Some days we focus so much on the tasks at hand – a common occurrence in most any walk of life – and fail to really see how quickly each crop, and the farm as a whole, is changing right before our eyes.

photo of students planting celosia

Students Gabby, Erin, Rich, Sean, Sheriden and Mike (from left to right) plant Celosia Flowers in late April. Photo taken by George Rizer for "The Boston Globe".

A few evenings ago I returned to the farm just before sundown to stroll through the fields and take a good look at the crops.

Here is what I found.

photo of summer squash

A Zephyr Summer Squash plant leans into the light.

The summer squash and zucchini dance in earnest with the last of the daylight and lean into each ray emanating from the west.

Lettuce (left bed) and Zephyr Summer Squash (right bed) drink in the sun.

~~~

The apple trees sway in the day’s final rays as a light, early evening breeze rustles their first flush of foliage.

photo of apple tree

A Crimson Crisp apple tree is adjusting well to its new home at The Farm.

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Our sweet corn, truly grass-like at this stage, appears fragile and uncertain, but stands tall and whispers of how it will grow to tower above my head one day.

photo of corn on May 23

Five rows of Sweet Corn settling in for the season.

~~~

There is a simplicity to these early days of warm, sunny weather.

The weeds are not quite capable of challenge.

There is a palpable sense of anticipation in the fields of the bounty and beauty of the productive jungle-like world that will appear – seemingly overnight – as summer takes hold. 

For now we enjoy the simplicity of the early days of the season, and know that it is only a matter of time – hours filling easily with planting and cultivating the fields – before all of the crops will share their sun-kissed flavors with our growing community.

photo of the farm on May 23

The Farm on May 23, 2012.

 

Students Fill the Fields Rain or Shine

The Farm is bubbling with new life this spring.

The greenhouse is filling with colorful seedlings and student volunteers visit regularly to care for them and ensure that they are getting planted out in the field as soon as possible.

photo of colorful seedlings in the greenhouse

Cabbage, kale, beet, celosia, spinach, and nasturtium seedlings fill the tables in the greenhouse and drink in the mid-April sun.

As you may recall, just over 1 month ago we were experiencing summer-like temperatures and a warm, dry spell, very uncharacteristic of a typical New England Spring.

photo of Bryan and Sean planting onions

Bryan and Sean plant onions in windy, dry weather in the middle of April.

During volunteer hours in early April we were often decked out in our summer best.

photo of volunteers planting fields

Kristen, Andrea, Meaghan, Andrew, Dan, Nick, Maranda, Andrew and Kiera, plant lettuce seedlings and prep more beds with compost to add organic and nutrient rich content to the soil.

Over the past couple of weeks, the weather has shifted a bit and we have been lucky to receive some rain for our newly planted crops.  Between showers we have planted flowers including celosia, snapdragons, salvia, and statice, and vegetables including cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, beets, onions, potatoes, mustard greens, and even some early zucchinis and summer squash out in the field.

Much of this work has been carried out by student volunteers either during volunteer hours or even during class time.

photo of Hannah and Dan

Hannah and Dan - covered in dust and still smiling!

~~~

On the last day of classes, Thursday, May 3rd, I invited students in my class (Environmental Science and the Food Justice LC which I teach with Prof. Sue Mooney) to spend their last Environmental Science class with me at The Farm.

The students weathered the misty, cool weather and got a lot done!

~~~

The early arrivals got right to work harvesting Mesclun Mix and Arugula for My Brother’s Keeper, which was picked up and delivered that day.

photo of Mike harvesting lettuce

Mike helps with our first harvest of the season.

~~~

photo of students with first harvest

Kate, Alyssa, Mike and Kriten display the first harvest of the 2012 season. These greens were picked up by My Brother's Keeper moments later and delivered that day.

~~~

photo of greens

Students harvested, washed and packed 3 pounds of this delicious Mesclun Mix and Arugula for My Brother's Keeper.

 ~~~

The rest of the class kept busy planting winter squash seeds in trays in the greenhouse, beet and red mustard green seedlings and potatoes in the fields, and prepping the beds covered in black plastic mulch for zucchini and summer squash seedlings.

photo of students planting beet seedlings

Becca, Stephanie, Hannah and Emily plant Early Wonder Beet seedlings.

~~~

photo of Catie, Alexa and Jill planting potatotes

Catie, Alexa and Jill plant Red Gold Potatoes.

~~~

photo of Adriana and Sydney planting potatoes

Adriana and Sydney get ready to plant German Butterball Potatoes.

~~~

photo of group planting potatoes

Potato planters: Catie, Adriana, Sydney, Jillian, Alexa, Rosemarie, Sarah and Nick.

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photo of Food Justice LC

33 Members of the Food Justice LC gather for a group shot after planting, weeding, and harvesting on the last day of classes.

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Volunteers are helping The Farm grow in leaps and bounds.

Thanks to their help, we have already filled twenty-three 125′ beds with a wide variety of early season vegetables and some flowers.  We have even started to harvest some of our greens and made small deliveries to My Brother’s Keeper and the Easton Food Pantry.

The steady stream of student volunteers is allowing us to reach more people with fresh, healthy, nutritious and organic vegetables sooner than expected.

~~~

Over the course of the season I look forward to welcoming new and returning students and staff to help with planting, cultivating and harvesting our crops. 

One day – in 3 years or so – we’ll have new jobs like harvesting apples. For now I am happy to see the young trees coming to life out in the field.

Photo of apple tree

Our apple trees are settling into their new home with us.

Planting the Legacy Orchard

PHOTO of box trees arrived in

Our 35 trees arrive!

 On April 11th, 35 trees arrived from Adam’s County Nursery in Aspers, PA.  These trees were purchased with some of the funds generously donated by the Class of 2011.  We have chosen 4 varieties of apple trees to start our orchard including the heirloom, Pippin, and 3 scab-resistant varieties: Crimson Crisp, Initial, and Querina.  It is our hope that within 3 years these trees will be producing a good amount of local, organic, and delicious fruit for our community partners in Brockton.  The fruit of each variety will ripen at different times over the course of the growing season, providing us with a nice, long apple harvest season.

The instructions from the nursery were the following: keep roots moist, store the box in a cool and dry area, and plant within 2 weeks – at the most! These tasks were easily accomplished with the help of over 50 volunteers. Helpers included students from my Environmental Science class, Professor Corey Dolgon’s Introduction to Sociology class, Professor Tom Balf’s Environmental Science class, and other new and returning students and staff volunteers who joined us during “volunteer hours” on Thursdays and Fridays.

photo of Sheridan and Brian staking out orchard

Sheriden and Brian help with orchard layout.

After assessing our farm’s current footprint, we decided to establish the orchard in the southwest corner of our field.  On April 13th, Sheriden and Brian arrived a bit earlier than the rest of the day’s volunteers and helped me place a stake where each hole would need to be dug.   The trees have been grafted onto a semi-dwarf stock, so the trees will only grow to be about 8 to 10 feet high and 8 feet wide.  This will allow for easy picking – we hope the deer don’t think so too!

phtoto fo volunteers digging holes

A large groups of volunteers makes quick work of digging holes for the apple trees.

 A couple of hours after Brian, Sheriden and I laid out the orchard, a large group of volunteers joined us and quickly dug holes where each stake had been placed.  We even had enough time that afternoon to plant the first 10 trees, and chose the Crimson Crisp variety to be the first to go in the ground.

Photo fo Nick, Tom, Me and Tim planting a Crimson Crisp.

Nick, Tommy, Tim and I plant a Crimson Crisp apple tree together.

The trees seemed to utter sighs of relief as they went from their cramped, dark quarters in the box into the warm soil and compost.  Each tree received 5 gallons of water to help them weather the unseasonably warm, dry days.

~~~

We waited for the warmest days of the following week to pass before planting the remaining trees on April 19th and 20th.

On Thursday afternoon Sean Vermette, the college’s painter, and his two children, Maeve and Will joined us to ensure that one of the Querina apple trees settled nicely into it’s new home.

photo of Sean, Will and Maeve

Sean Vermette and his kids Will and Maeve help us plant a Querina Apple Tree.

Sean held the tree in place while Will and Maeve filled the hole in with soil and compost.

photo of Sean and his kids planting

Will and Maeve - hard at work!

I have a feeling that Will and Maeve will be visiting from time to time to check on the progress of their little tree. I hope they will not be too disappointed by the long wait for their tree’s first apples!

photo of Sean and Maeve

Sean and Maeve work together to plant their tree.

That same afternoon, students from Prof. Tom Balf’s class planted the 9 remaining Querina Apple Trees after learning a little bit about cover crops, crop rotation, drip irrigation and other sustainable farming practices.

photo of Sean, Tom and another student

Prof. Tom Balf (center) plants a tree with 2 of his students.

Many of these students were new to the farm, and I was impressed by their careful and efficient work. I look forward to welcoming them back anytime!

photo of 3 students of Prof Balf.

Three of Prof. Balf's students experience the joy of planting an apple tree.

After planting the trees, these students made quick work of delivering 5 gallons of water to each tree. We will be setting up drip irrigation over the next couple of weeks for each tree to get them through the hottest months of the summer.

photo fo students watering a tree

The incredibly important task of watering the newly planted trees!

It’s hard not to smile as you see the orchard going in.

photo of happy planters

Three students and I enjoy the beautiful, sunny planting weather.

The last few trees were planted on April 20th – well within the 2 week window suggested by Adam’s County Nursery.

photo of Joe Katie and group plant second to last tree

Joe Favazza and Katie Conboy plant one of the last trees!

Under bright blue and sunny skies, Joe Favazza, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs & Dean of the Faculty, and Katie Conboy, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, joined students Sarah, Erin, Dan, Tim and me to plant the last couple of Pippin apple trees.

photo of planted orchard

All of the tree are in!

It will take a couple of years until the trees bear fruit, but we are already reaping the benefits of growing an orchard as a community. 

A big thank you to the Class of 2011 for donating the trees, and to the students and staff who helped perform orchard layout, dig the holes, plant the trees, apply the compost, and water the trees.

Please visit often to nurture the orchard and watch it grow.

The Magic of Farming in the Spring

After our brief waltz with summer temperatures, the more seasonal cool nights and blustery, sunny days of early spring have returned.

photo of seedlings in the greenhouse

Our tables are filling up with tough little seedlings.

The seedlings in the greenhouse are holding up well despite the colder temperatures.  Every evening, if it looks like the temperatures will dip into the 30’s, we cover up the seedlings with a thin sheet of row cover to protect them from cold damage.

Some of the seedlings are growing so well that they need to be transplanted into larger “homes” so that their roots can find the moisture and nutrients that they need to grow.

Rosemarie, Sarah, and Breanne - hard at work transplanting greens during volunteer hours on Friday, March 30.

Thanks to the careful work of volunteers, these Mesclun Mix Greens and Arugula are thriving.

photo of transplanted  greens

Greens growing strong after 1 week in their new homes!

~~~

Despite the cooler days, volunteers are still filling the fields, and jumping right in to plant seeds in The Sem, transplant seedlings in the greenhouse, and plant  seeds in the field.

volunteers planting seeds

Kyle, Dave and Tommy, plant seeds in the basement of The Sem.

 ~~~

photo of Volunteers prep first bed

A team of volunteers prep our first bed of the season with ease.

Last week, on March 30th, 18 volunteers arrived at The Farm and got right to work prepping and “pre-weeding”. Before I knew it, the first bed was masterfully prepared and the group was ready to plant two varieties of radish: Rudolf and Pink Beauty.

With this many helping hands, hundreds of seeds are sown in minutes!

~~~

The “magic” of this time of year comes during these bustling times of group activity, and also in the unexpected moments of quiet reflection.

These come early in the morning when the frost is still melting away…

Morning Frost

…and in the early evening when we tuck the seedlings in to protect them from the cold nights.

photo of seedlings tucked in

Onions, cabbage, lettuce, kale and flowers - all tucked in for the night.

Under the cover of night, the seedlings withstand the cold and greet us the next day a little bit stronger, and one day closer to their time to grow to their full potential in the field. 

These seedlings are embracing the sunlight of each day, modeling “Carpe Diem” in a whole new way!

photo of onion seedlings

A sea of onion seedlings - strong after a good night's rest - greet the morning.

~~~

Outside of the greenhouse, the soils are warming under consistent sunny skies and temperatures in the 50’s. As a result, today was a perfect day to plant peas.

photo of peas

Peas in hand - ready to grow.

I prepped the soil with a rototiller, a rake and a hoe and planted the peas in 2 straight rows, with a string to guide my work.

photo of peas planted

Peas are planted 1 month ahead of our first pea planting in 2011.

We now have 2 beds planted – many more to come!

~~~

I am looking forward to planting our onion and lettuce seedlings next week with the help of our volunteers!

In The Sem we continue to plant our seeds. 

In the greenhouse, you’ll see kale, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, collards, dill, cilantro, parsley, and other greens growing in all shapes and sizes.

At The Farm, the perennials are waking up from their winter’s nap, and will be there to greet you!

Photo of new growth on raspberry canes

New growth on raspberry canes planted last spring.

That Summer Feeling… in Mid-March!

photo of Garlic on March 23

Garlic's up in the field!

Spring is here!

It is hard to believe that it is only March 23rd! The plants in the field and in the trays are responding well as they drink in the warm rays and grow towards the sun.

photo of greens

Mesclun Mix Seedlings

 

photo of arugula and onions

Astro Arugula and Candy Onion seedlings drink in the sun in the greenhouse.

 

photo of celosia

Celosia seedlings.

It is a bit strange, to say the least, to have temperatures in the high 70’s and low 80’s in March!

What does this mean about the health of our planet? 

Weather forecasts look to be dropping to more seasonal highs in the 50’s next week, which is a bit of a relief. As much as I enjoy the “summer feeling,” March is a bit early for that to be kicking in already!

Erin, Gabbie and Dan seed zinnias in the greenhouse.

With some luck, the warm weather will allow our seedlings to grow well and hopefully be able to offer our produce to our partners in Brockton much earlier this second season. This year we will deliver produce to The Easton Food Pantry, Father Bill’s and MainSpring, My Brother’s Keeper and the Old Colony YMCA weekly.


Under warm and sunny skies, we quickly got to work at The Farm. 

“Getting to work” was made easier thanks to our new, 2002 Chevy Silverado farm truck…

photo of new farm truck

At the wheel of our new farm truck!

…new greenhouse tables built by Mark Larson, one of the college’s talented carpenters…

photo of greenhouse

Our new greenhouse tables, ready for seedlings!

…and good farming neighbors!

On March 22nd around 6:30PM, Rory O’Dwyer from Langwater Farm arrived with their John Deere tractor and a chisel plow to turn our first field.

photo of Rory tilling

First turn of the fields: March 22

  It only took her a little over 1 hour to work her magic, and turn in some of the winter rye that we planted in the fall.

photo of fields on March 22 pre till

Our front field covered with our cover crop: winter rye.

The very next day, under clear skies and 70 degree weather, over 15 volunteers joined me to do some early weeding in the perennial beds!

First they signed in…

photo of volunteer log

Our Volunteer Log

…then the weeding began in the perennial beds…

volunteers photo

Erin, Sean, Bryan and Dan were just 4 of the over 15 volunteers who helped out at the farm today!

 

photo of volunteers weeding raspberries

Ryan, Michelle and a couple of volunteers weed the raspberries.

 

…planting commenced in window boxes on our shed…

photo of Margaret and Dan

Margaret and Dan plant Morning Glories, Sweet Peas and Zinnias in our shed window boxes.

 

…and planting seeds continued in the greenhouse (and later in the Sem basement).

photo of Bryan w water

Bryan gets ready to bottom water some newly planted seeds.

 

There was even a moment or two to enjoy a snack from the field!

Nick and Tim kale snack photo

Nick and Tim pause for a bite of kale that overwintered in the fields.

We welcome you to join us this season by following us online or working with us in the fields.“Like us” on Facebook by clicking here to keep on top of happenings at The Farm. 

photo of Michell with logbook

Don't forget to sign in!

Happy Spring! Happy Farming!

 

Season 2012 Begins – Time to Start Planting!

Photo of Brian and Sean

Brian and Sean plant our first seeds (onions!) of the season. (February 24, 2012)

The 2012 growing season has begun!

On February 24, Brian and Sean joined me in the basement of the Sem to plant our first seeds, which included 4 varieties of onions (Alisa Craig, Candy, Cortland and White Pearl Drop) and Snapdragons.  These two were quick studies, and with ease they prepped trays and set to work planting the small seeds.

photo of germinated onions

Candy Onions - up and looking for light in the greenhouse! (February 29, 2012)

It didn’t take long (5 days) before little green sprouts started to pop up into view. We moved them out into the greenhouse to ensure good light quality as they grow!

photo of Molly and Brian planting seeds in the Sem.

Molly joins me and Brian to plant another round of seeds. (March 2, 2012)

It didn’t take long for word to spread, and more farm volunteers arrived ready to work on Friday.  We planted lettuce, spinach, chard, and a couple of more flower varieties including Statice and Celosia.

first volunteers!

Brian, Sean, Molly, Brianne, Erin and Dianna... ready to farm! (March 2, 2012)

 The snowy morning at the farm did not diminish our enthusiasm as we moved the onions and greens that have already germinated out into the greenhouse.

photo of volunteers in the greenhouse

Brianne, Molly, Dianna, and Erin enjoy our greenhouse, heated by the sun, after moving trays up from the basement of The Sem. (March 2, 2012)

It will not be long before we are all out in the fields surrounded by the greens of spring, the vibrant rainbow of summer, and the deeper hues of the fall.

photo of snowy greenhouse March 2, 2012

March came in like a lion with some ice and snow. (March 2, 2012)

For now we plant and water, watch and plan, as the days become longer and the temperatures begin to climb.

photo of statice sprouts

Statice Flower Sprouts (March 5, 2012).

Before we know it, these fields covered in the crystals of winter, will be filled with vibrant colors that only the longer, warmer days of the spring, summer and fall can bring.

Volunteers hours will begin in earnest after Spring Break. 

If you would like to receive emails about when you can volunteer please email Erin: ecobb@students.stonehill.edu or send us a message using the Volunteer Tab above.