Categories
Community Spring 2011 Spring Cultivation 2011 Spring Harvest 2011 Spring Seedlings 2011 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

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!

 

 

Categories
Green Cabbage: From Seed to Table Spring 2011 Spring Cultivation 2011 Spring Harvest 2011 Spring Seedlings 2011 The Farm at Stonehill

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.
Categories
Community Our Vision Spring 2011 Spring Cultivation 2011 Spring Seedlings 2011 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

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.

 

Categories
Community Green Cabbage: From Seed to Table Our Vision Spring 2011 Spring Harvest 2011 Spring Seedlings 2011 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

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.

 

 

Categories
Reflections Spring 2011 Spring Seedlings 2011 The Farm at Stonehill

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.

 

Categories
Our Vision Spring 2011 Spring Seedlings 2011 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer Welcome

Blessing of The Fields

photo of items used in the Blessing if the field
A Shovel, a Stole, Marigolds and Holy Water used in the Blessing if the Fields

 

The Blessing of the Fields, led by Stonehill College President and Reverend Marc Cregan, included music performed by a student choir, a reading from the Gospel of Marc, poetry by Robert Frost and Mary Oliver, and a history of the all important shovel.

The shovel, which is already an essential tool at the farm and connects us to the history of the college and the Ames Family.  Oliver Ames founded his world-famous shovel company in North Easton in 1803. A century later, his great grandson, Frederick Lothrop Ames (1876-1921), built the mansion and 600-acre estate that would become Stonehill College.

paul daponte in the church
VP of Mission and Professor of Religious Studies Paul Daponte joyfully welcomes members of the community to The Farm.

Prof. Daponte first conceived of the idea to start a farm at Stonehill College in response to participating in an “Into the Streets” day of service last spring in Brockton.  On that day, he was made aware of “food desert” conditions in the neighboring town of Brockton. Less than one year later, his idea to start a farm at the college has come to fruition and The Farm at Stonehill is starting to grow produce to help address these conditions.

photo of the group that came to the blessing
We gathered in the greenhouse for readings, prayers and the blessing.

We were happy to receive students, faculty, staff and members of the nearby community to the farm for the event.  I look forward to seeing all of our attendees back on the farm to enjoy the space as they help to plant, cultivate and harvest the crops.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

– Mary Oliver

Forsythia and the cross: Signs of spring and prayer for fields of plenty this season.

 

Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year. 
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

 

 

 

 

 

– Robert Frost

Categories
Spring 2011 Spring Seedlings 2011 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Earth Day at The Farm!

Greenhouse construction continues with help from a Stonehill College family on Earth Day 2011.

photo of Bruce, Trent and Brian Switzer at the Farm.
Bruce (Stonehill Alumnus, Class of '81), Trent (future Stonehill student?) and Brian Switzer (Class of 2013) help out on Earth Day.


While I am a big proponent of the idea that “Earth Day is Every Day,” I have to admit that on April 22nd each year I am filled with additional urge to spend the day outside where my senses can pick up on Spring’s arrival.

This year, the weather was perfect for celebrating spring as we recommenced work on our greenhouse project.

~~~

Photo of Bridget in greenhouse - bows up!
Bows up in just about and hour, and suddenly I am standing in our future greenhouse!


The morning begins sleepily.

Pale, grey skies steadily brighten to blue.

A warming sun and a gentle breeze by noon.

At day’s end Mare’s tails lightly streak the sky.

Hinting at showers to come and the greens of spring to follow.

 

 

~~~

Chuck and I had the bows up within the first hour and then set to work attaching the purlins to stabilize the structure.

photo of blue skies and purlins
Bows and purlins against a blue sky streaked with "Mare's Tails" (Cirrus clouds).

Around noon, Brian Switzer (Class of 2013) arrived at the farm to assist and set to work tightening the many bolts on the frame and then helped us prep the edges of the greenhouse to install the baseboards.

Photo of Brian and Chuck working on Baseboards
Brian and Chuck prep the southern edge of the greenhouse for the baseboards.

 

An hour or so later, Brian’s father and Stonehill Alum, Dave (Class of 1981) and his younger brother Trent arrived on the scene. They worked together to excavate along the edges of the structure to make way for our baseboards, made from Eastern White Pine, grown in the USA and purchased from Fenandes, our local hardware store.

Photo of Dave, Trent and Brian digging the trench
Dave, Trent and Brian Switzer prepare the northern edge of the greenhouse for the baseboards.

They also dug trenches along the outside edges of the greenhouse to make way for drainage pipe to minimize greenhouse flooding when heavy rains fall.

~~~

By day’s end the bows were up, purlins set, and baseboards in!  One step closer to completion.

Photo of Greenhouse end of Day 3
Day 3: Bows, Purlins and Baseboards in place.

I am looking forward to filling the space with our green seedlings and when they are strong enough and the weather has warmed a bit, out into the fields where they will set about their work producing delicious vegetables.

photo of pepper seedlings
"Islander"bell pepper seedlings growing and awaiting their time to move into the greenhouse and then into the fields.

They will draw on nutrients in the soil, light from the sun, and water from the earth and sky, and in due time play a role in feeding those same soils with organic matter to grow healthy soils and future harvests.

Categories
Spring 2011 Spring Seedlings 2011 The Farm at Stonehill

Greenhouse Construction Commences

There is nothing quite like building something from the ground up.  You plan, you order parts, you organize your materials, you read the instruction manual (if there is one), you make a plan, you assemble a team, and then the day comes when you start to build.

Photo of Chuck setting the first corner post
Day 1: Chuck Currie, our greenhouse contractor, runs a line between corner posts on the west end of the greenhouse to help set the all important first corner post.

 

With indispensable help from Chuck Currie, a seasoned organic grower and experienced greenhouse installer, those parts are starting to fall – or be pounded – into place and our 18’x48′ greenhouse is starting to take shape.

 

A hand holds a leveling tool above some gravel
This simple tool, a line level, helped us set the height of each of our 26 ground posts.

 

photo of Chuck Currie and our first wooden ground post
Day 1: Chuck stands astride our first set ground post… only 25 more to go!

 

photo of 12 posts in, end of day 1
End of Day 1: 12 posts in, 14 to go…

Chuck and I took turns swinging sledge hammers to pound the ground posts 24 inches into the ground.  By the end of Day 1, we had set 12 of the 26 posts. These ground posts, set 4 feet apart, will hold the bows that will form the skeleton of the greenhouse.  This spacing should provide the structural strength necessary for the greenhouse to hold up to the ice, snow and winds that can come with winters in New England.

 

 

We were back at The Farm bright and early the next morning to set the remaining ground posts and assemble the bows.

photo of 26 ground posts in the ground
Day 2: 26 ground posts in by mid-day.

 

photo of assembled greenhouse bows
Day 2: 13 bows assembled and ready to go up tomorrow.

 

After assembling the bows, we decided to let the wind – blowing a steady 15 to 20 mph with gusts close to 30 mph- guide our work and found other projects to fill the rest of the day.

Tomorrow we’ll be back, and the greenhouse will be one step closer to a haven for the seedlings that will grow to produce tomatoes, cucumbers, and countless other nutritious vegetables that we hope will help to alleviate some of the food desert conditions just miles away.

Categories
Spring 2011 Spring Seedlings 2011 The Farm at Stonehill

Seeds Want To Grow

 

Seeds come in all shapes and sizes. Some, like mint, are as fine as dust, while some, like marigolds, look like miniature magic wands.  Regardless of size and shape:

“Drop a seed in the ground and it wants to grow!”

I read this wonderful truth a few months ago in The New Organic Grower by Eliot Coleman, and suddenly felt much more at ease about the rapidly approaching growing season.  After all, if the seeds WANT to grow, then all we have to do is provide them with the right amount of light, warmth, nutrients, and moisture, and surely they will take root and we will be rewarded with healthy, delicious vegetables and beautiful flowers!

A tray of bell pepper seedlings beginning to grow

 

And yet, the question remains:

How much of each of these elements do different plants need to thrive?

A small tomato seed peeks out of a slot in the tray
A tomato seed on a bed of Fort Vee Potting Mix from Vermont Compost Company.

There are many answers to this question that we can find print, in conversations with friends in the farming community, or through our own careful observations.

A few marigold seedlings show off their leafy stems
Strong, little Marigold seedling (April 8, 2011).

 

We listen, we water, we transplant, we wait, and we watch quietly as the seeds do the bulk of the work and grow into strong little seedlings.

peppers photo up close
Bell pepper seedlings (April 14, 2011).

 

The marigolds in the tray now grow larger as time has passed
Marigolds (April 13, 2011).
Categories
Spring 2011 Spring Seedlings 2011 Volunteer

Many hands…

March 29, 2011

Today my first volunteers joined me to help transplant Rainbow Lacinato Kale, Red Russian Kale, and Early Wonder Beets.

Morgan and Brian were natural farmers as they prepared the trays and moved the sprouts from 128 cell trays to 50 cell trays.  The next home for these seedlings will be in the less protected field across the street in just a couple of weeks.  It is hard to picture these young plants weathering the wild weather that New England has to offer – as I write this snow falls outside my window – but I have a feeling that this Kale will be just fine.

 

brian and morgan transplanting 1 3.31 close up
Volunteers Brian and Morgan share the task of transplanting nutritious Rainbow Lacinato and Red Russian Kale!

 

It’s true what they say: “Many Hands Make Light Work!”

 

brian and morgan transplanting 3.31 picture of the volunteers
Brian Switzer and Morgan Buckley transplanting Kale as part of their Learning Community course.

 

April 7, 2011

Today Ariel, Brian, Morgan and I transplanted Red and Green Wave Mustard Greens…

photo of Morgan and Ariel Transplanting Mustard Greens
Morgan and Ariel transplanting Green Wave Mustard Greens.

 

…and Green Bib Lettuce…

Photo of Transplanting Green Bib Lettuce
Transplanting Green Bib Lettuce.

 

…before joining forces with Associate Director of Grounds, Paul Ricci, to stake out the site for…

photo of Brian, Morgan and Ariel stake out Greenhouse site
Brian, Morgan and Ariel stake out Greenhouse site.

…our 18′ x 48′ Eastpoint Rimol Greenhouse that arrived today.

Photo of Greenhouse Kit in the Truck
Rimol Greenhouse Kit arrives April 7, 2011.

 

Our seedlings are happily growing under lights put up by Carpenter John and Electrician Rick from Facilities Management…

photo of Seedlings in Basement of Holy Cross
Brian transplants Mustard Greens amidst thousands of vegetable and flower seedlings.

 

…but when the time comes they will be moved out to the greenhouse located in the site just across the street!

photo of Greenhouse Site
The site for the greenhouse prepared by Dick Murray located in our field just south of The Clock Farm on Route 138.

Come join us!

Simply Click on the “Volunteer” Tab above on this blog, fill out the form, and we’ll be in touch.