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…
…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.
Student Farmer Michelle and I welcomed over 40 freshmen participating in ITS day.
They helped us harvest tomatoes, summer squash, turnips and beets…
…wash freshly harvested produce…
…and weed four 200 foot rows of 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.
A huge thank you to all of the organizers and students who participated in ITS Day!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
We are currently harvesting crops like carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and cabbage…
… and taking care of our fall seedlings that we hope will keep us harveting in the fields through October.
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.
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”…
We are delighted to also be providing our partners with that include greens, cabbage, peppers, radishes and carrots!
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!
We are looking forward to this harvesting our fall crops, including leeks, winter squash, more tomatoes, parsnips and greens.
In morning dew, midday heat or in the glow of sundown, many of the colors (and fruits) of the farm are harvest ready.
… and other, larger varieties, sweetly satisfy the saying that “Good things come to those who wait!”
We have three sweet, delicious varieties of cherry tomatoes – Sun Gold, Be My Baby, and Red Pearl – that we are currently harvesting and 7 larger varieties that will be coming out of the fields and appearing on the tables of our partners very soon.
In July we harvested and delivered over 3,000 pounds of fresh vegetables to our partners in Brockton from our fields. We are excited to see what August brings!
We have had some extra help from volunteer groups over the past few weeks including student leaders from the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA).
They helped weed beans and flowers to ensure healthy harvests of those two crops, and also picked a few veggies for us including cucumbers and zucchini.
There are many other mid-season veggies and even fruits that are coming out of the fields these days.
They include Islander (Purple) Peppers…
… Apple Pimento Peppers …
… “Luscious” and “Brocade” bi-color Sweet Corn …
… and after many months: Green Cabbage. These seeds were among our first planted on March 17, 2011 in the basement of the Holy Cross Center. One more step – to the table – for this crop, and we’ll have tracked its entire progression from seed to table!
This past week we also harvests 4 varieties of potatoes including Yukon Gold, Purple, Kennebec, and Dark Red Norland. It was a lot of work, but rewarding as we weighed our harvest and learned that we had pulled just over 150 pounds from a 125 foot row that day!
It is hard to believe that many veggies, like lettuce, fall root crops, fall broccoli, baby bok choy and others are just starting to grow into healthy, field worthy seedlings in our greenhouse. We will continue to monitor them and plant them when the time comes to ensure a continued, and plentiful harvest into October.
We are excited to also be pulling sweet, refreshing, Watermelon from the fields over the next couple of weeks to share some fresh, summer treat with our partners at Father Bill’s and Mainspring, the Old Colony YMCA and My Brother’s Keeper.
On a day like today, when temperatures are hovering around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it is hard to believe that just a couple of weeks ago the fields were literally full of water and the mercury hovered only in the mid 60’s.
The fields are responding to the rain from a couple of weeks ago and the heat of the past few days. Our harvest crates are overflowing with zucchini, cucumbers, and summer squash.
Just the other day we harvested over 200 lbs of cucumbers over the course of a couple of hours. We are pulling over 100 pounds of cucumbers, 50 to 75 pounds of zucchini, and many heads of lettuce, bunches of turnips, kale and chard from the fields every day.
We have had to schedule extra deliveries and pick ups with our partners because we are running out space in our large refrigerator to keep the produce cool!
Sometimes it is hard to keep up with the crops…
… but we have a feeling this zucchini will find a good home in a casserole, soup or zucchini bread in the kitchens of the Salvation Army.
The flowers, including cosmos, zinnias, snapdragons, sweet william, celosia, and marigolds also love the sun and their bright colors brighten the fields and lure important pollinators into the fields.
If you are interested in ordering a bouquet for your office, please contact us we will get back to you shortly.
We are excited to see some of our mid-season crops ripening and starting to come out of the fields including Orient Express Eggplant and Purple Islander Peppers.
Many hands play a part in caring for these veggies in the field and bringing in the harvest. Last week my parents, Jane and Jonathan Meigs, joined me to harvest peas and adorn our new shed with cheerful window boxes.
Some of the projects, like stringing our tomatoes, cover me in pollen and leave my hands a bit swollen and sore…
…but the beautiful crops that result and the smiles on the faces of our staff at Stonehill, the volunteers, and our partners (and some trusty hand balm) help them heal up quickly and make ready for another day in the fields.
Soon we will be harvesting Sweet Corn, Green Beans and Tomatoes!
Come visit us to see the bounty for yourself and help us with the harvest.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!