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.

Frosty Fields Are Prepped for Winter

The past few morning at The Farm, I arrive to find that the fields are all dressed up in a sparkling and frosty coat.
This cooler weather brings with it a flurry of activity!

Frosty red cabbage.

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We have been harvesting the last crops, which include parsnips, kohlrabi, and cabbage.
Photo fo Greg and Sean harvesting parsnips

Greg and Sean harvest parsnips.

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photo of Kolhrabi

We harvested this kohlrabi on November 2, 2011.

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photo of turnip greens

Queen Scarlet Red Stem Turnip Greens sparkle in early morning light.

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We work together to remove drip tape and irrigation lines from the fields and wrap them up for next year.
photo of volunteers working

Brian, Pat, Erin, Connielyn, Chelsea and Katie carefully wrap up drip tape so that we can use it again next spring.

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photo of volunteers

Michelle, Connielyn and Chelsea brave cool temperatures to help out on Friday, November 4th.

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We had to accomplish these projects by Friday, November 4th, before our friends (and their tractors) arrived from Langwater Farm to turn the fields one last time.
photo fo disc harrow

The Disc Harrow chops up any remaining vegetation as it turns the plants into the soil.

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photo of the fields on November 4th

The fields in their final glory on the morning of November 4th.

Before the fields were turned, I made sure to mark the rows, so that we can rotate our crops next year and grow healthy crops as we are mindful about keeping our soils healthy and nutrient rich.

Marking the fields to ensure good crop rotation practices.

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Rory O’Dwyer arrived at the farm right on time, and within a couple of hours she and her John Deere and disc harrow transformed the fields!
photo of rory tilling

Rory makes the first pass with the disc harrow.

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A few hours later, Chuck Currie and Kevin O’Dwyer arrived with 2 more tractors to smooth the fields with a lighter harrow, spread winter rye seed, and incorporate the seed with the harrow.
photo of Chuck TIlling

Chuck smooths the fields before the cover crop is seeded.

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photo of Kevin seeding winter rye

Kevin spreads winter rye as a cover crop.

According to UVM Extension: “Winter rye is an excellent winter cover crop because it rapidly produces a ground cover that holds soil in place against the forces of wind and water. Rye’s deep roots help prevent compaction in annually tilled fields, and because its roots are quite extensive, rye also has a positive effect on soil tilth.”

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Rory, Kevin and Chuck completed their work in record time!

Yet again I am reminded how lucky we are to have such good neighbors. We are thankful for their help to make this first season such a success, and look forward to working together for many years to come.

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The fields are now a bit bare, but soon the winter rye will germinate and a green, protective coat will adorn the fields for the colder months.
turned and planted

The fields, looking west from Rt. 138. November 4, 2011.

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photo of germinated winter rye

Our Winter Rye. Planted November 4. Germinated and already hard at work helping with soil conservation. Photo taken on November 15, 2011.

 The quiet beauty of the winter is starting to make it’s voice heard.

Time to reflect upon this season is arriving, and plans for next season will not be far behind.

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The cooler season's morning glory.

Symmetry of the Seasons

Symmetry of the Seasons

photo of cabbage in the spring

Cabbage in the spring.

Spring.
We plant lettuce seedlings under lights,
and when we think the time is right,
we move them in the thawing earth,
and hope they will survive late frost.
Much tougher than their small leaves suggest,
They take root and grow in sun and in rain.
photo of lettuce seedlings

Lettuce seedlings under the lights.

Summer.
We harvest;
Not just lettuce.
Loads of zucchini and summer squash threaten to break our backs.
Tomatoes: so plentiful that some fall to the ground,
Never making it to the table for which they were intended.
Instead they feed the Earth that lies below.
photo of zucchini and summer squash

Zucchini and Summer Squash harvested in July.

photo of Juilet tomatoes

Juliet Tomatoes ripening on the vine in July.

photo of tomatotes

Tomatoes: So plentiful that we cannot harvest them all.

Fall.
Greens rule again.
Kohlrabi, with it’s alien appearance, with its pleasing spice
warms our cooling bodies.
We find ourselves planting and harvesting lettuce once again.
Confident now, that it will brave first frost.
Knowing now, that each plant possesses a resilient core,
And a drive to survive.
photo of kohlrabi and parsnips

Kohlrabi and Parsnips harvested on October 26th.

photo fo patrick harvesting lettuce

Patrick Brazel harvests lettuce on October 26 in the rain.

photo of today's harvest

Fall harvest: eggplant, lettuce, collard greens, kohlrabi, parsley, and kale.

Winter.
The snow starts to fall,
and the wind cuts through our layers of wool, fleece and down.
Attempts are made to erase the warmth of long summer days from our memories.
To combat the cold, we mirror the might of the smallest seedlings,
Drawing on the heat stored in our cores,
until the Sun of next season beats down.
To warm us from the outside in,
Once again.

photo of sunflower

 

11,279 Pounds and Counting!

photo of turnip harvest

Three volunteers and Scarlet Queen Red Stem Turnips weighed, washed and packed for the Old Colony YMCA.

Last week we tallied up our harvest numbers for July (3040 pounds), August (4010 pounds) and Septemeber (4229 pounds), and we amazed to find that our fields will most definitely produce over 6 tons of organic and nutritious produce this season!

photo of produce ready for delivery

A typical Friday afternoon delivery.

Farm volunteers currently arrive ready to work at least 3 days a week.

Volunteers get ready to work in the fields.

They stay busy weeding lettuce seedlings…

Volunteer weed Mesclun Mix and a variety of lettuce called "Nancy."

…harvesting veggies like leeks…

Michael help us harvest Tandora Leeks.

…and carrots…

Harvesting carrots in the foreground and planting cover crop in the field behind.

…pulling tomato stakes (remember, we did plant 1000 tomato plants!)…

Chris and Justin help out by pulling tomato stakes and stacking them up for next season in the greenhouse.

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Erin, Sean and Brendan make ready to pull more tomato stakes.

…removing black plastic and storing our drip irrigation lines for next season.

Tom pulls tomato stakes and prepares to remove plastic and drip tape.

Our turnips and scallions love this cool weather and we will happily harvest them for a couple more weeks.

Scarlet Queen Red Stem Turnips... ready to be served in a salad or sauteed up in a stir-fry.

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Greg harvests scallions for us on a cool, fall morning.

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We may leave some carrots in the ground until the end of the month to allow them to sweeten up in the chilling weather that Autumn brings.

The Harvest has been bountiful and we continue to revel in the splendor of fall at The Farm. We look forward to seeing you there soon!

Harvest Time Made Easy by Volunteers

We are still very busy bringing in the harvest at The Farm! 

photo of carrots and carnival squash

Carrots and carnival squash, freshly picked and ready for delivery.

Thanks to up to 50 weekly student and staff volunteers leek, tomatoes, carrots, kale, bok choi, kale and even sweet potatoes are filling up our harvest bins and the tables of our partners.

photo of students washing carrots

Three students, many carrots!

Last week when Beth came to pick up for My Brother’s Keeper we filled every last bit of space – even the front passenger seat – in her cargo van with our vegetables. We are happy to see veggies like winter squash, kale and leeks all being sent out together and have high hopes that they will soon be cooked together into a delicious and healthy soup.

Harvesting Leeks photo

Fall harvest of our Tandora Leeks.

photo of a leek

Many roots to grow a healthy leek. A couple of leeks to cook a flavorful dish.

We welcome students and staff to join us on Thursday mornings and Friday afternoons to ensure a plentiful and diverse mix of produce for The Table at Father Bill’s and MainSpring and the Old Colony YMCA.

photo of volunteers

Sun or showers, the volunteers are an essential ingredient to our healthy farm.

After we harvest, we weigh, wash and pack the produce… smiling all the way.

Sorting Sugar Pie Pumpkins

Volunteers Weighing and Sorting Sugar Pie Pumpkins

We were happy to welcome a few Stonehill Alumni this past Saturday and welcome all local Alums, Staff and Students to consider joining us on Friday afternoons between 2:00 PM and 5:30 PM until the frost of fall arrives.

photo of group bagging greens

Baby Bok Choi and Kale: Weighed and packed up for delivery to Old Colony YMCA.

See you soon at The Farm!

For more information on how you can volunteer at the farm please email our volunteer coordinator Erin: ecobb@students.stonehill.edu

 

11 Volunteers Harvest Over 1100 Pounds of Winter Squash and Pumpkins

photo of Alex and Nick harvesting pumpkins

Volunteers Alex Mello and Nick Howard harvest sweet and nutritious Sugar Pie Pumpkins.

On September 12th, eleven students joined me at the farm to harvest sweet Sugar Pie Pumpkins, and 4 varieties of winter squash.

photo of Nick and Sage

Sage gently tosses a pumpkin to Nick.

  We worked in small teams to pluck, pile and weigh Butternut, Delicata, Carnival and Acorn Squash.

photo fo erin and sean and pumpkins

Erin Cobb, Volunteer Coordinator, and Sean Davenport, a new recruit, have no trouble filling a wheel barrow with pumpkins.

These pumpkins and winter squash are jam packed with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium, Dietary Fiber and Manganese.

Nick and Sage

Nick and Sage bringing in the harvest.

Roasted, steamed or sauteed, these veggies are delicious, filling and nutritious and definitely signal the final days of Summer and the onset of the Fall.

pumkins in a wheel barrow

Alex gently places a pumpkin into the wheel barrow.

All tolled, we harvested 1120.22 pounds of pumpkins and winter squash. 

photo of Michelle and Jackie

Michelle Kozminski and Jackie Harrow hunt for Carnival Squash hiding among the pumpkins.

Here is the breakdown: 661.38 lbs. of Pumpkins, 216.82 lbs. of Delicata Squash, 228.79 lbs. of Carnival Squash, 64.9 lbs. of Butternut Squash, and just a few random Acorn Squashes (8.33 lbs.)

photo of some harvesters

Volunteer Farmers, Sean, Alex, Erin, Sage, Kayla and Nick, with some of the fruits of the labor.

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Thank you Erin, Brandon, Nick, Michelle, Jackie, Ryan, Sage, Sam, Sean, Alex, and Kayla for coming over to help with the harvest!  With your help we harvested over 1100 pounds of food in under 2 hours!

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photo of harvested carnival squash

Harvested Carnival Squash.

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Just this morning, Beth from My Brother’s Keeper joined me at the farm to pick up a good chunk of yesterday’s harvest. As a result, we hope the sweet smell of roasted winter squash will fill the air in 75 Brockton homes this week. 
The rest of the harvest will be delivered to our other partners within the next week or two, and can either be stored or cooked and eaten the day of delivery.

Hooray for “Into The Streets” Day!

photo of clourse clearing after the storm

Clearing skies after Hurricane Irene blew through town.

We were lucky at The Farm as Hurricane Irene whipped through the area last weekend. Sadly, many other farms in the northeast cannot say the same.  Many farms in Vermont have suffered a great deal and a number of relief funds have been set up to help them recover.  You can learn more about some of the damages and how to help here.

Our only major damage at our farm occurred out in the rows of German Cavern tomatoes, which were unable to stand up to the wind and rain.  On Monday morning, the most southern row had blown over a bit…

Weighed down by heavy fruit, some of our German Cavern tomato plants were unable to stand up to the heavy winds and rain of Hurricane Irene.

 …but thanks to our visit that afternoon from students participating in Stonehill’s “Into The Streets” (ITS) service program, even that problem was soon remedied.

photo of ITS - tomato stakes

Student volunteers participating in the college's Into the Streets program helped stand our tomato plants back up.

Student Farmer Michelle and I welcomed over 40 freshmen participating in ITS day.

Our ITS day farmers!

They helped us harvest tomatoes, summer squash, turnips and beets…

Two students spent some of their time picking Sun Gold Tomatoes at The Farm.

…wash freshly harvested produce…

Giving the freshly harvested turnips a good rinse.

…and weed four 200 foot rows of carrots.

Students help us weed many carrots!

We are happy that the students of Stonehill have returned and welcome you all to come join us as we plant, weed, harvest and deliver our organic produce. 

You can fill out the information form found under the “Volunteer” tab on this blog, email us, or stop by.

All of us weeding the carrots.

A huge thank you to all of the organizers and students who participated in ITS Day!

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See you all at the farm soon.

Committed Volunteers and Partners Help us Prepare for Hurricane Irene

photo of grey skies at the farm

Stormy skies at The Farm as we harvest before Hurricane Irene arrives this morning.

Since news of Hurricane Irene started to circulate we have been joined by numerous volunteers to help harvest all produce that is ripe for the picking. Over the past couple of days new faculty have taken time from their busy days of orientation to harvest some Striped German and German Cavern Tomatoes with us. Today longterm volunteers Marie Kelly, Lyn Feeney, and Tim Watts, and a couple of new volunteers from facilities joined me in the fields to pick any remaining Juliet, Bellstar and New Girl tomatoes before the rains began to fall.  We laid them out with care in the greenhouse to allow their morning dew to evaporate before weighing and boxing them up for our partners.

photo of tomatoes rescued

Tomatoes picked this morning by volunteers.

As the volume of tomatoes increases, we continue to deliver to The Table at Father Bill’s & MainSpring and Old Colony YMCA. We are so thankful for our partnership with My Brother’s Keeper who not only continue to pick up and share our produce with those who receive home deliveries, but also ensure that any extra produce is shared with other organizations in Brockton addressing hunger and nutrition including Catholic Charities and the Charity Guild.   In addition, we are happy to be working with the Salvation Army who have started to pick up tomatoes from us on a weekly basis.

photo of tomatoes ready for pick up

Tomatoes picked up and delivered by My Brother's Keeper.

Knowing that our tomatoes and other produce will be distributed and shared efficiently and with care incites us to pick any and all ripe produce without the concern that it will go to waste.   The willingness of these partners to ensure timely delivery of perishable produce like tomatoes is a wonderful thing to witness and displays a deep level of commitment to the people they serve.  This distribution link is often the most challenging piece in food systems work, and we enjoy working with partners who recognize this and work hard to ensure delivery from farm to table.

photo of ripe rose de berne tomatoes

One of our heirloom, and somewhat fragile tomato varities, Rose de Berne, ripen up on the windowsill.

We are committed to sharing fresh produce with our partners into October which is why you will see young greens dotting the fields when you visit us online or in person.

photo of young greens

Young beets, mustard greens, chard, and baby bok choi. Their low profile should help keep them safe during tomorrow's storm.

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So, back to Hurricane Irene.  Am I worried about the approaching storm? A bit, but I have learned a great deal this summer about the resilience of the plants growing at The Farm.  During a thunderstorm this summer I sat in my car, windshield wipers on high, and watched in horror as the wind and rain pelted and shook our tomato and pepper plants.  I wish I had known at that moment that I had little to worry about, as a few hours later the pepper plants that had tumbled over in the wind had bounced back and only a couple of tomato stakes needed to be reset.  I harvested ripe tomatoes and peppers from these plants just yesterday!

photo of turnips

Purple Top and Red Stem Scarlet QueenTurnips harvested this week.

We also have a good crop of carrots, turnips, beets, and radishes that are naturally taking cover below the surface. Our kale, lettuce, leeks, flowers, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and other high profile crops may get quite a work out tomorrow during the storm, but I will be very surprised if they don’t bounce back and appear in harvest and donation bins within a week.

farm on august 27

Lacinato Kale stands tall this morning, in the calm before the storm.

Harvesting the Colors of Summer

Colors are filling the fields and our harvest bins at The Farm.  Mornings like this it is hard to picture a more beautiful place to be. The dew dances on the leaves of our crops and the rich reds, oranges and yellows of our tomatoes, pumpkins, and sunflowers start to take on their day-lit splendor.

photo of sunflower

A Sunflower wakes up with the sun.

We are currently harvesting crops like carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and cabbage…

photo of brian ready for harvest

Brian grabs a bin to go pick cucumbers.

… and taking care of our fall seedlings that we hope will keep us harveting in the fields through October.

photo of baby lettuce

Baby lettuce in our greenhouse awaits its moment to be planted in the field.

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photo of baby kale

Young kale with its light coat of morning dew.

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photo of baby bok  choy

Baby Komatsuna (bok choi) is ready to take their place in the fields.

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Last week we dug into the weeds in our winter squash field and were pleasantly surprised to find some sugar pie pumpkins already ready for harvest and delicata, carnival and butternut squash not too far behind.

photo of pumpkins

Sugar Pie Pumpkins: some are green... some are orange!

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Delicata squash

Delicata squash: almost ready for harvest.

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photo of carnival squash

Carnival squash: just a couple more weeks!

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We are pleased by the tomatoes that are starting to come out of the fields. Some, like the Rose de Berne, are as “pretty as a peach”…

photo of rose de berne

Rose de Berne: a sweet, flavorful heirloom variety.

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photo of striped german tomato

Some of Striped German Tomatoes are ripening up!

 

photo of a 2 pound striped german tomato

This Striped German tomato weight just about 2 pounds.

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photo of german cavern tomatoes

German Cavern Tomatoes, another heirloom variety, boxed up and ready for delivery.

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We are delighted to also be providing our partners with that include greens, cabbage, peppers, radishes and carrots!

photo of chard ready for harvest

Chard: harvest ready.

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photo of cabbage

Yum! Cabbage!

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Sweet Apple Pimento and Purple Islander Bell Peppers.

Sweet Apple Pimento and Purple Islander Bell Peppers.

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photo of radishes and carrots

Rainbow Carrots and a some Red Rudolf Radishes are coming in.

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Our staff and volunteers continue to play a critical role in keeping the weeds at bay, harvesting and delivering the veggies and flowers to our partners and customers. Please join us and take home a few sweet cheery tomatoes as a reward!

photo of Brian harvesting cukes

Brian harvests the last of this season's cucumbers.

photo of delivery to MBK

Tomatoes, greens, basil and cabbage: all packed up and en route to My Brother's Keeper.

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We are looking forward to this harvesting our fall crops, including leeks, winter squash, more tomatoes, parsnips and greens.

Zinnias are still going strong.

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View of the farm looking west from the rows of Striped German Tomatoes.

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In morning dew, midday heat or in the glow of sundown, many of the colors (and fruits) of the farm are harvest ready.

photo of leeks

Leaves of the leeks in early morning light.

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bouquet of flowers

Farm Flower Bouquet