Categories
Apple Orchard Spring 2012 Spring Cultivation 2012 Summer 2012 Summer Cultivation 2012 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

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.

Students sit and stand on either side of a bed covered in biodegradable plastic, working together to poke holes and plant seedlings from trays
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.

~~~

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.

 

Categories
Community Spring 2012 Spring Cultivation 2012 Spring Harvest 2012 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

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.

~~~

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.

~~~

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.
Categories
Community Community Partners Greenhouse Our Vision Spring 2012 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

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!

 

Categories
Greenhouse Spring 2012 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer Winter 2011

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.

Categories
Community Spring Cultivation 2011 Summer 2011 Summer Cultivation 2011 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

“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