“Knee High by the 4th of July”

photo of Bridget in the corn on July 12

Our sweet corn on July 12, 2011.

When asked if I thought we’d have corn that was “Knee high by the 4th of July,” I smiled to myself and set a quiet goal to do just that.  I am happy to share with you that the 4th saw our corn at the height of my knee and it has now grown to hip level.

Corn knee high

Our Sweet Corn, "Knee High" on the 4th of July.

At the same time, I also started to wonder about this famous saying.  Where did this phrase originate, who’s knees are we talking about, and does it apply to our region and to our farm?  I did a little bit of research and learned that this phrase originated in the midwest and growers there believed that a corn crop will turn out well if it is at least knee high in early July because this indicates that the initial growing conditions were good, the crop is off to a good start and it will continue to thrive and yield a good crop. In the end of the day, it seems that perhaps the health rather than the height of the corn by early July is most important, and if a crop is given good initial growing conditions and is tended with care, healthy plants and good yields are likely to result.  Even so, I was happy to be able to stand next to our corn on the 4th of July and have it’s healthy leaves gently brush my knees.

photo of cucumbers and tomatoes

Cucumbers and Tomatoes continue to grow and are starting to fruit.

Some of the important work on the farm can seem to be the least glamorous, but can be satisfying and is most definitely incredibly important: WEEDING! I was happy to welcome a number of students participating in SURE (Stonehill Undergraduate Research Experience) this summer last week for a couple of hours. They energetically worked in groups to free our Rainbow Chard from the clutches of weeds and clear some rows to make way for new sets of seedlings.

SURE Students on July 12

SURE Students pitch in at The Farm after a full day at their jobs on campus.

Back in March we started to plant our seeds, and over the past four months Brian, Michelle and I have carefully tended to seedlings until they grew into mature plants bearing fruit.  We are now harvesting 2 varieties of zucchini, summer squash, 3 varieties of cucumbers, lettuce, 2 varieties of turnips, sugar snap peas, some herbs and some spring onions.

photo of sugar snap pea

Our Sugar Snap Peas are ready for harvest.

 

photo of red baron Spring onion, scallions and lettuce

Bunching Onions, Red Baron Spring Onions and Deer Tongue Lettuce with our fields behind.

photo of Deer tongue lettuce

Deer Tongue Lettuce almost ready for harvest.

We are also starting to pick flowers including Cosmos, Zinnias, Snapdragons, Celosia and Marigolds.  We are harvesting these flowers, arranging them in bouquets and they are up for sale (50 cents/stem) on campus.  Shoot us an email if you’d like to decorate your office with some colors from the fields!

photo of Cosmos about to bloom

Cosmos about to bloom.

photo of pink cosmos

Pink cosmos in full bloom.

photo of red cosmos

Blooming Cosmos fills the field with summer color.

photo of a 20 stem bouquet

"20 stem" bouquet

 

Early Summer Bounty: Roots, Leaves, Petals, & Fruits for The Table

With the help of healthy soils, mild spring weather, and a growing crew of energetic volunteers, our crops are thriving and a diversifying harvest continues to come out of the field.

photo of red express cabbage heading up!

Our Red Cabbage is getting closer to it's harvest date.

 

Tim at the farm

Even though Tim works full-time on the Facilities Management team he finds a few hours every day to help out at The Farm.

 

 

Each week we are collecting more kinds of roots…

photo of radishes up close

Radishes, fresh from the field, & pre-rinse and delivery to My Brother's Keeper.

 

photo of green onions

Evergreen Bunching Onions

 

leaves…

photo of Bright Lights

Bright Lights Swiss Chard

 

Photo of Beet Greens

Early Wonder Beet Greens

 

petals…

photo of Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums spice up a mesclun salad mix.

 

photo of zinnias

Zinnias are some of our flowers! Many more to come.

 

and fruits…

photo of zucchini and summer squash

Zephyr Summer Squash and Dundoo Zucchini

 

from our fields…

photo of Brian Harvesting

Brian harvests kale for The Table at Father Bill's and MainSpring on a cool, late spring morning.

 

…for our partners.

 

We aim to deliver enough fresh produce to this year’s 3 partners each week to provide at least 1 portion of produce  to the individuals or families they serve.  1 portion could equate to 1/3 to 1/2 lb of kale or swiss chard, 5 beets, 2 to 3 zucchini or summer squash, or a large head of lettuce.

 

We are currently harvesting 75 portions for My Brother’s Keeper, 30 portions for the Old Colony YMCA and do one large bulk delivery for The Table at Father Bill’s and MainSpring to enrich the nutritious meals the serve up every day to over 150 people.

 

field from NE corner

Summer color is starting to grow at The Farm.

 

Come visit us soon and watch the yellow-greens of spring turn deepen to shades that only the long, warm days of summer can bring.

 

 

The Class of 2011 Helps Us Grow!

06.17.2011 · Posted in The Farm at Stonehill

photo of Farm Manager with "gift check" from Class of 2011

The Farm will grow thanks to the Class of 2011. Thank you!

This year the Class of 2011 chose to give their Legacy Gift to The Farm at Stonehill.  Thanks to their gift we have already purchased a scale to weigh our produce and a large salad spinner to wash and dry the greens, and will be installing a washing station, planting a reflection garden, and starting our apple orchard soon.

photo of our shed with senior gift check

The site of the produce washing station.

We will be installing a sink on the northern side of our farm shed over then next month.

 

Photo of delivery on June 16th with scale

Today's delivery to The Table at Father Bill's and MainSpring.

The scale helps us keep track our production and donations of fresh produce to The Table at Father Bill’s & MainSpring, My Brother’s Keeper and the Old Colony YMCA.

The produce scale and salad spinner, funded by the Class of 2011, are already in use. Thanks to this gift, we know that today we donated over 20 lbs of red leaf lettuce, 10 lbs of 2 varieties of kale, 38 beets and 1/2 lb of Mesclun greens to The Table at Father Bill’s & MainSpring.

 

photo of beets on the washing area

Beets! All washed and ready for delivery.

 

We are lucky to have the support of the graduating Class of 2011 and look forward to welcoming them to The Farm at Stonehill whenever they visit the college in the years to come!

Harvesting and Planting Together

 

It’s the time of year when we start to harvest more varieties of veggies, like beets, and start to see the signs of other bounty to come.

photo of zucchini blossom

Squash Blossom: beautiful indicator of delicious zucchini to come!

 

On Friday, June 10, Brian and I started the day by harvesting over 40 pounds of Early Wonder red beets…

Photo of Early Wonder Beets

Our first beets, washed and ready for delivery to The Table.

 

…Lacinato Kale, Red Russian Kale, Mesclun Greens, Rainbow Chard, Arugula, and a few heads of lettuce for our community partners.

Photo of harvest on June 10, 2011

Harvest on June 10, 2011.

~~~

Later that day we were joined by a number of volunteers who helped us plant seedlings of Deer Tongue Lettuce and Rainbow “Bright Lights” Chard.

photo of seedlings in the greenhouse

Deer Tongue Lettuce seedlings get their last drink in the greenhouse just before we plant them in the field.

 

Marie Kelly (Class of 2000 and Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations), her husband Chris, and their son Ian helped us plant lettuce and stake the tomatoes.

Photo of Marie and Ian Kelly

Marie and her son Ian planting lettuce on Friday, June 10, 2011.

 

photo of Ian with Stakes for tomatoes

Ian helps his dad, Chris, stake the tomatoes.

 

photo of Chris staking tomatoes

Chris stakes the tomatoes to help support them as they grow.

 

On Friday, we were also joined by Janine DiLorenzo (Class of 2011) and her pup Wilson for most of the day. Janine helped Ian prepare spots for the lettuce and Wilson kept a close eye on the spacing between plants for us.

Photo of Ian, Janine and Wilson planting lettuce.

Ian, Janine and Wilson planting lettuce on June 10, 2011.

 

photo of Ian, Janine, and Wilson

Ian, Janine and Wilson pause to show me their healthy lettuce seedlings.

 

That very same day, Nick Howard (Class of 2013) was present to lend a hand to summer farmer Michelle.

photo of Nick and Michelle

Michelle hands Nick some lettuce seedlings to fill up the bed prepared by Tim Watts.

 

We had quite a happy farming crew and at the end of the day we all took a good look at the newest addition to the farm: our storage shed!

photo of our group in the shed entrance

Michelle, Janine, Wilson, Bridget, Nick, Ian and Marie stand in the entrance to our new shed.

 

We welcome you to join us at the farm as we feed the soil with compost, plant, weed, harvest, and continue to grow!

 

 

Sweet Corn, Snap Peas, & Cabbage, Oh My!

Photo of the farm on June 5, 2011

The fields at The Farm at Stonehill are filling up!

This is an amazing time of year at farms in our region. The fields are filling up with seedlings of all shapes and sizes thanks to the hard work our farm staff, Michelle and Brian, and our growing community of volunteers at Stonehill.  We are also lucky to have the help of our friends at Langwater Farm, who used their tractor to turn the soil for us again a couple of weeks ago and quickly prepped 10 beds with black plastic last week for our tomatoes, cucumbers, flowers and summer squash.

photo of romaine lettuce harvested

Harvested crisp and nutritious Green Romaine Lettuce.

The days are long and we are in the fields for most hours of daylight planting, weeding, watering and harvesting.  Some of the seeds that we planted back in March, like the lettuce, arugula, mustard greens, kale and beets, have matured and already been delivered to our partners and the people they serve.

photo of young-cabbage-3.22.jpg

Our Green Cabbage seedlings on May 22, 2011.

photo of Green Cabbage on June 5, 2011

The very same Green Cabbage, planted on March 17, 2011, is starting to head up!

Other early crops, like the green cabbage, continue to draw nutrients from the soil and energy from the sun to reach their full potential.  I have been tracking the growth of these green cabbages from day one, and it is astounding to see how much they have grown over the past couple of months.

photo of peas on May 24, 2011

Sugar Snap Peas on May 24, 2011.

 

photo of peas climbing the trellis

Sugar Snap Peas on June 5, 2011.

Our Sugar Snap Peas are starting to climb the trellis we set up for them on May 24th.

Photo of bell pepper seedling

Bell pepper transplant gets its first drink in the field.

Seedlings of warm weather crops like tomatoes, eggplants and summer squash are moving out into the fields from the more controlled environment of the greenhouse.

Just this past Saturday, with the help of Tim Watts, from the Facilities Management Department, and Nick Howard (Class of 2013) we planted 400 feet of two varieties of Sweet Corn, “Brocade” and “Luscious”, in 5 row blocks.  As we worked we discussed the importance of smiles.  The farm is growing these too! We think you’ll agree when you visit us and join us in our work.

 

photo of sweet corn on June 4th

Sweet corn lines the southern edge of the field.

Check back in with us in early July to see if our corn is “Knee High By the 4th of July!”.

photo of farm on May 31, 2011

The fields glow as the sun goes down on another day at The Farm.

Busy Bees Help Us Grow The Farm

photo of first 7 rows at The Farm

The Farm, 7 rows strong, in mid-May.

 

It is hard to remember that just a week ago we hadn’t seen the sun in days and the heat of summer seemed like nothing but wishful thinking.   As the sun returned last week, we were happy to receive help from members of our community including Paul Daponte, Father Pinto, Lyn Feeney, Joe Miller, and Father Steve who helped us plant carrots and radishes, and ready the fields for over 400 tomato seedlings.

 

Photo of Paul Daponte Planting Radishes and Carrots

Paul DaPonte helps us plant radishes and carrots.

 

photo of Father Pinto prepping a bed

Father Pinto hard at work prepping a bed for tomatoes.

 

photo of michelle and lyn laying plastic

Miichelle and Lyn secure our biodegradable black plastic for tomato and pepper cultivation.

 

photo of Joe planting tomatoes

Joe helps us make a dent in our planting out some of our first round of tomato seedlings.

 

photo of Father Steve and Michelle hard at work!

Father Steve and Michelle deliver nutrient rich compost to help our tomato seedlings grow strong.

 

I have two students helping me grow the farm this summer, Brian Switzer and Michelle Kozminski.  With the help of their constant, hard work and the energetic visits of our volunteers we saw the farm grow from 7 to 16 rows last week!  Thank you to all of our busy bees!

photos of tomatoes as far as the eye can see

5 rows of over 400 tomato seedling planted last week with the help of our volunteers.

 

As we plant, we also continue to harvest and share our bounty with member of our community at Father Bill’s & MainSpring, The Old Colony YMCA, and My Brother’s Keeper.

Photo of Lettuce ready for delivery
Lettuce, ready for delivery!

 

Paul Ricci, The Associate Director of Grounds, and many members of his team have supported The Farm from Day 1. We are happy to have them as our neighbors at The Clock Farm.

photo of Paul Ricci and Lettuce

Paul Ricci holds a bountiful basket of Green Romaine Lettuce bound for The Table at Father Bill's & MainSpring.

 

Photo of Brian with the Lettuce in the Kitchen of The Table at Father Bill's & MainSpring.

Brian delivers the lettuce to the Kitchen of The Table at Father Bill's & MainSpring.

 

photo of Art with red leaf lettuce at The Table

One of the head Chefs at The Table, Art, happily receives 15 heads of red leaf lettuce to prepare a fresh salad that day.

 

From The Field at The Farm to The Table. We are already looking forward to our next harvest and delivery.

 

Lettuce (Let Us) Plant and Harvest

photo of sarah and janine planting

Seniors Sarah and Janine plant red cabbage.

 

The farm is growing in leaps and bounds thanks to help from our community at Stonehill College.  Before the rain of last week Seniors Sarah Bolasevich and Janine DiLorenzo joined me in the fields to plant out red cabbage.  Their help and company provided the ingredients for a fun and productive afternoon.

Photo of Sarah and Janine - yoga at the farm.

Yoga poses and planting cabbage go hand in hand at The Farm.

 

That same week I was joined by Lyn Feeney from the Mission Division, and we planted out beets that were first seeded in the basement of Holy Cross Center on St. Patrick’s Day.

 

Photo of Beets planted out under the row cover

Beets planted with Lyn's help.

 

The very next day, my friend Dave Kelly, an Easton native, spent his Saturday afternoon with me prepping beds and planting out mustard greens.

photo dave kelly planting red mustard greens

Dave prepares a bed with rich compost for red mustard greens.

The rain started to fall the very next day and did not let up for a week, but the greens were safely in the ground thanks to all of my helpers!

photo of cabbage up close under row cover

The green cabbage enjoys the cool weather.

~~~~~

Under grey skies last week, Senior LucyRose Moller joined me to harvest our first batch of lettuce for The Table at Father Bill’s & MainSpring.

 

photo of mesclun greens

Mesclun greens for The Table at Father Bills & MainSpring.

 

Green Romaine, Red Butterhead and Red Leaf Lettuce for Father Bill's & MainSpring.

Green Romaine, Red Butterhead and Red Leaf Lettuce for The Table at Father Bill's & MainSpring.

The colors of the mustard greens, tatsoi, and other mesclun greens filled us with joy as we filled our bushel baskets.

 

Photo of LucyRose with Romaine Lettuce row

LucyRose celebrates as we harvest mesclun greens, romaine and red leaf lettuce.

 

photo of Bridget with first mesclun green harvest

I love lettuce!

 

photo of LucyRose with our first harvest of Mesclun Greens

LucyRose with our first batch of Mesclun Greens.

 

On the morning of Thursday, March 19th, we made our first delivery to Father Bill’s and MainSpring in Brockton, MA just 4 miles from Stonehill campus.  We delivered a variety of Mesclun Greens and Romaine, Red Leaf and Butterhead Lettuce to add local flavor and nutrients to the salad served at the first official lunch meal provided by The Table since they moved over to Father Bill’s from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

 

photo of Kathy, Craig, Dori and Tom at Father Bill's

Kathy, Craig, Dori and Tom happily accept our first gift of Mesclun Greens in the kitchen at Father Bill's & MainSpring.

 

This was the first of what we plan to be MANY deliveries of fresh vegetables grown by the Stonehill College commumity for our neighbors.

 

 

Witnessing Spring

To be a farmer in the spring is to be presented with an endless list of projects and the opportunity to witness countless  moments of beauty.

photo of Peach Blossoms at Brookdale Fruit Farm

Peach Blossoms at Brookdale Fruit Farm in Hollis, NH (May 7, 2011).

 

 

Passing thundershowers duel with gusty breezes and warm sun rays. The seedlings respond to all of these cues and grow.

 

photo of Mesclun Mix seedlings

Mesclun seedlings thrive out in the elements and await their day to be planted in the field.

 

Sun rays warm the fields in the magic light of sundown and paint the Farm in the springtime.  The palate is full of shades that highlight the new life growing there: yellow-greens, soft yellows and light blues – tentative and seemingly shy.  I watch each day as they deepen and develop a necessary toughness to weather life in the field.

photo of beets and mustard Greens
Beets and Mustard Greens growing and toughening as their green color deepens.

 

We plan, we build, we plant and before we know it the sun is going down on another day that has been filled with important and endless decisions that will help us to create a growing, living world at The Farm.

photo fo sky in the spring
Cirrocumulus clouds fill part of the sky as sundown’s magic light warms the field.

 

The Most Beautiful Greenhouse

In under two weeks the greenhouse is up and running!

photo of chuck and Bridget standing in front of the greenhouse
Chuck and I stand in front of the completed greenhouse!

 

 

On May 2, 2011 we completed the greenhouse with help from 4 of Facilities Management’s finest: Paul, Bob, Tim and Shamus.

 

We rolled out the plastic, hoisted it over the frame and stretched it tight to create a space for all of our seedlings to grow.

 

 

Photo of Tim and the greenhouse

Greenhouse plastic rolled out beside Tim.

 

photo of plastic going up with bob

Bob helps us pull the plastic up and over the greenhouse frame.

 

bob and paul hold the plastic in place as we stretch it

Bob and Paul hold the plastic in place as we attach it to the frame.

 

photo of Shamus and plastic stretched against the frame

Shamus holds plastic in place... Almost done!

 

Photo of the greenhouse.. profile

All done and ready for use!

 

The very next day, Ken helped me move our seedlings over from across the street. They were happy to come out into the well lit, warm space after weeks under lights in the basement of Holy Cross Center.

 

photo of cucumbers, zucchini, peppers and tomato seedlings in the greenhouse

The cucumber, zucchini, summer squash, bell pepper and tomato seedlings were happy to move up into the greenhouse.

 

Come visit us anytime. We think you’ll agree that it is the most beautiful, and well-built greenhouse you have every seen!

Thank you Chuck for all of your hard work and leadership on this project.

Photo of Greenhouse under a rainbow!

Our greenhouse glows under a rainbow a few days later as it protects the seedlings from passing showers and thunderstorms.