Categories
Community Summer 2014 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Growing Before Our Very Eyes

photo of Golden Nugget and Sakura Cherry Tomatoes - some of the sweet fruits of the season.
Golden Nugget and Sakura Cherry Tomatoes – some of the sweet fruits of the season.

Looking out at the fields at the end of the day today I was struck by the jungle of tomato, squash, eggplant and pepper plants that met my gaze.   Are the winter squash already ripening – the tomato seeds that we planted back in late March now giant plants busily producing delicious fruits in varying hues?

photo of potato harvest
Anna, Christine and Kayleigh harvest potatoes in July.

We are in the fields every day, harvesting, planting and weeding, but it’s easy to forget how these vibrant plants were once fragile seedlings in our propagation hoophouse.

photo of Seedlings growing along in our "propogation house" (formerly called Hoophouse #1) in August - but the view is much the same in mid-May!
Seedlings growing along in our “propogation house” (formerly called Hoophouse #1) in August – but the view is much the same in mid-May!

These seedlings grow up quickly and by mid-August THEY are the ones that dictate the rhythm of the days – for everyone knows that if you leave a productive zucchini plant unattended for even one day the fruits will double in size!

photo of Devin and I make a delivery to The Table at Father Bill's & Mainspring on August 21st.
Devin and I make a delivery to The Table at Father Bill’s & Mainspring on August 21st.

Our days are also guided not just by the speed at which the plants produce their fruits, but by our deliveries to our partners: The Easton Food Pantry (Monday), The Table at Father Bill’s and Mainspring (Thursday), and the Family Life Center (Thursday).  We visit My Brother’s Keeper a few days throughout the week, as they make deliveries to their clients at least three days per week and we like to try to pick and deliver the same day to ensure freshness and maximize nutritional benefits of the veggies for those who they reach.

photo of Devin and I make a delivery to The Table at Father Bill's & Mainspring on August 21st.
A few of visitors from the Old Colony Y visited us on August 20th to pick their own veggies.

We who have been at The Farm all summer have grown accustomed to these rhythms and the full fields, but I have heard from our students who have recently returned from their summers elsewhere that the farm that they returning to barely resembles the one that they left in late April.  It is fun and refreshing to take a look back at images throughout the season to track some of the changes and appreciate the fecundity of the plants that have quietly grown and produced delicious vegetables for us all season.

photo fo Field 2, freshly planted in June.
Field 2, freshly planted in June.

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photo of Field 2 in early August
Field 2 in early August!

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photo of Volunteers plant peas in late April.
Volunteers plant peas in late April.

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photo of Peas starting to grow up their trellises (left) in May.
Peas starting to grow up their trellises (left and center) in May.

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photo of Peas start to flower in June.
Peas start to flower in June.

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photo of Finally time to harvest the peas in late June!
Finally time to harvest the peas in late June!

It’s really incredible to think about the speed at which a zucchini or summer squash produces fruit once the plants mature – I almost feel like you could watch them grow right before your eyes.  Every once and awhile a few plants go unattended for a couple of days in a row, and the resulting zucchini are as big as our crews calves – and more cut out to become Zucchini Parmesan than a side dish of delicate grilled spears.

photo A couple of zucchini that we forgot to harvest for a day or 2!
A couple of zucchini that we forgot to harvest for a day or 2!

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photo of Straight Neck, Djuna, Cozelle, and Zephyr Summer Squash that we picked at the right time!
Straight Neck, Djuna, Cozelle, and Zephyr Summer Squash that we picked at the right time!

One of my favorite places at the moment is the propogation hoophouse where the kale, lettuce, pac choi, and chard seedlings are sharing their growing space with curing Honey Bear Acorn Squash and delicious Delicata Squash.  It illustrates the productivity of the season thus far and the promise of a green and flavorful fall.

photo oPac Choi and Broccoli seedlings share space with Honey Bear Acorn Squash and Delicata Squash.
Pac Choi and Broccoli seedlings share space with Honey Bear Acorn Squash and Delicata Squash.

Another fun place to be is our second hoophouse, constructed through a generous donation by the Class of 1964 and the Harold Brooks Foundation and Bank of America, N.A., Co-Trustee, which we are nicknaming the “growhouse.” It is already brimming with life – healthy tomatoes and freshly seeded rows of carrots and turnips – and within the next couple of months we will replace the rows of tomatoes with spinach and other cool weather crops.

photo of Cucumbers and Tomatoes in the Growhouse in mid-July.
Cucumbers and Tomatoes in the Growhouse in mid-July.

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photo of Cucumbers and Tomatoes in the Growhouse in mid-July.
Tomatoes and freshly seeded rows of turnips in the Growhouse in late August.

Every spring when I look out at our field I feel a bit like a writer staring at a blank manuscript, pen in hand, and hoping that a sudden bought of intense writer’s block does not decide to take up residence in my head.  Thankfully, without fail over the past four season, we start to plan and plant our veggies that will include peppers, tomatoes, kale, onions, eggplants, herbs, lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, flowers and potatoes his year.  Pretty soon we are harvesting, washing, packing and delivering our crops and that worry fades.

photo of Andrew and Chris washing Swiss Chard in July.
Summer Farmers Andrew and Chris washing Swiss Chard in July.

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photo of Summer Farmer Kayleigh ensures that the chard stays cool.
Summer Farmer Kayleigh ensures that the chard stays cool.

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photo of Beautiful Rainbow Chard freshly harvested in July.
Beautiful Rainbow Chard freshly harvested in July.

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photo Summer Farmer Kayleigh ensures that the chard stays cool.
The chard reaches it’s destination: The Table at Father Bill’s & Mainspring.

Once we till in the winter cover crops and plant our first rows of radishes and peas the worry starts fades and we move through the days prepping beds with compost, filling them with seedlings, and within a month or two the fields are filled once again.  And we watch in wonder as the hard work pays off and gives back much more than one could ever expect.

photo of The joy of the carrot harvest - something my summer farmers will be able to attest to!
The joy of the carrot harvest – something my summer farmers will be able to attest to!

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photo of Farm Fridays Volunteers enjoy freshly made salsa from veggies at The Farm after a couple of hours of work on August 29th. Welcome back!
Farm Fridays Volunteers enjoy freshly made salsa from veggies at The Farm after a couple of hours of work on August 29th. Welcome back!

As the cooler nights arrive, we continue to farm, planting crops that will enjoy the fall in the fields or in the “growhouse” as we start to store up images and save seeds to keep us warm in the colder months and well prepared for another bountiful season at The Farm!

photo of Students visit The Farm during their First Year Philosophy Seminar with Professor Megan Mitchell and help to save bean seeds to plant next spring.
Students visit The Farm during their First Year Philosophy Seminar with Professor Megan Mitchell and help to save bean seeds to plant next spring.

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A few small arrangements of flowers for a little summer dinner party.
The colors of summer – captured for cooler weather consumption!
Categories
Community Community Partners Summer 2013 Summer Cultivation 2013 Summer Harvest 2013 Summer Volunteers 2013 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Long (mostly) Sunny Days Yield Bountiful Fields

The fields are producing veggies and flowers galore for us this summer. We’ve already harvested and donated over 800 pounds of our organic veggies – mostly lettuce, greens like kale, collards, and chard, onions, zucchini, and summer squash.  Our yields are higher than last year, due to careful cultivation and applications of rich compost, and we expect them to really explode now that the heavier crops like cucumbers and summer squash as starting to appear.

Beth of My Brother's Keeper picks up summer squash and kale on June 27th for their clients in Brockton.
Beth Sheehan of My Brother’s Keeper picks up summer squash and kale on June 27th for their clients in Brockton.

The veggies are all finding homes with our partners: The Easton Food Pantry, My Brother’s Keeper, The Family Life Center of the Old Colony YMCA, and The Table at Father Bill’s & MainSpring.

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So far, the rain has not impacted our production in a negative way, but we are keeping an eye out for any sign of Early Blight on our tomatoes or Downy Mildew in the squash.

Raised Beds help to keep the tomatoes and eggplants dry - reducing the possible spread of diseases like Early Blight.
Raised Beds help to keep the tomatoes and eggplants dry – reducing the possible spread of diseases like Early Blight.

Raised beds are helping to keep any flooding in fields from damaging the plants.

Squash, Pepper and Zucchini Plants - healthy and starting to produce fruits and flowers.
Squash, Pepper and Zucchini Plants – healthy and starting to produce fruits and flowers.

When the sun does shine, honeybees return to the fields and love the clover that grows around the shed and greenhouse. This is MOSTLY a good thing, except for bare or flip flop clad feet of unaware farmers – namely, Farmer Manager Meigs. I managed to get 2 stings this past week, one on my right pinkie toe and the other, a few days later on the arch of my left foot. Here is what I learned:

1. Remove the stinger ASAP.

2. If you work on a farm, grab an onion, break it open and rub it on the effected area!

I was much better at these steps the second time around!

(I suppose I could also wear close-toed shoes… but that’s a bit extreme, don’t you think?)

Honeybee hard at work - beware barefooted farmers!
Honeybee hard at work – beware barefooted farmers!

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We are happy to bear witness to the changing colors of the fields – from greens to golds in the rows of summer squash, and a wide array colors in our flower beds.

Early bouquets arranged for a celebration for Father Mark Creagan in Boston in early June.
Early bouquets arranged for a celebration for Father Mark Cregan in Boston in early June.

There is something magical about the way that seemingly overnight the yellow flowers appear on the squash, cucumber and tomato plants and white and purple flowers bloom on the eggplant and potato plants.

Summer Squash ready for the picking on June 28th.
Summer Squash ready for the picking on June 28th.

The nutrients and moisture in the soil and the energy from the sun provide most of the fuel for the bounty appearing in the fields, but some of the credit also goes to my 3 hard working summer farmers, Devin, Jake, and Alphonse, and to the volunteers.

Jake and Alphonse - on the hunt for Colorado Potato Beetles.
Jake and Alphonse – on the hunt for Colorado Potato Beetles in one of the rows of eggplant.
"Harvested" Colorado Potato Beetles - before they were disposed of.
“Harvested” Colorado Potato Beetles – before they were disposed of.

On Friday afternoons, a number of students working in Admission and some of our college staff  appear on the scene to help us tackle larger projects like hilling the potatoes.

Volunteers hill 5 rows of potatoes with us on Friday afternoon.
Volunteers hill 5 rows of potatoes with us on Friday afternoon.

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Abbey, Christina, Tom, and Anthony pause for a quick smile before going back to work.
Abbey, Christina, Tom, and Anthony pause for a quick smile before going back to work.

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Our youngest volunteer this season, Liam, plays in the compost while mom, Kim Wheeler, works in the fields.
Our youngest volunteer so far this season, Liam, plays in the compost while mom, Kim Wheeler (in blue), works in the field with Lisa Gualtieri.

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Alphonse makes sure that Liam doesn't eat too much compost ;).
Alphonse makes sure that Liam doesn’t eat too much compost!

Sometimes we are lucky enough to receive an extra hand on weekdays or on a Saturday from Stonehill alums or from local groups looking to lend a hand.

Farmer Devin and Volunteer Evan Sorgi (2013) weed a row of beets.
Farmer Devin and Volunteer Evan Sorgi (2013) weed a row of beets.

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A welcome surprise visit from Nick Howard (2013) - still growing smiles!
A welcome surprise visit from Nick Howard (2013) – still growing smiles!

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Two members of a Loyola University Alumni volunteer group help us stake "Tomatoes 2".
Two members of a Loyola University Alumni volunteer group help us stake “Tomatoes 2”.

Zuri keeps busy protecting our tender greens by warding off bunnies.  She then enjoys joining us for a rest during lunch before heading out for her afternoon rounds.

The team takes lunch!
The team takes lunch!

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On my morning and afternoon strolls around the fields, it’s easy to feel like I can actually SEE the squash and cukes growing right before my eyes.

Marie helps to hill and feed the potatoes.
Marie helps to hill and feed the potatoes.

With the help of rich compost our crops and flowers are flourishing!

Devin and Jake help fill up a van from My Brother's Keeper.
Devin and Jake help fill up a van from My Brother’s Keeper.

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Flower bouquets out for delivery on campus.
Flower bouquets out for delivery on campus.

We invite you to come join us for a visit or a quick hour or two of planting, harvesting or… you guessed it… weeding!

If you would like to place a flower order, please email me and we’ll create an arrangement filled with Snapdragons, Cosmos, Zinnias, Black Eyed Susan, Sweet William, Salvia and Statice (bmeigs@stonehill.edu).

Early flower bouquets.
Early flower bouquets.
Categories
Spring 2012 Spring Cultivation 2012 Spring Harvest 2012

Summer Blooms

photo of a flower bouquet
Cosmos, snapdragons, zinnias and salvia are among the first of our flowers to bloom.

The sun and rain are working together beautifully this season.

We have already harvested over 450 pounds of produce including zucchini, summer squash, radishes, lettuce, garlic scapes, chard, kale, and collards.

photo of beth from MBK
Beth Sheehan, of My Brother’s Keeper, stopped by last week to pick up lettuce and Nasturtiums – ingredients for a fresh and nutritious salad.

Student farmers, Greg, Gabby, and Sean, enthusiastically plant, weed, harvest, make deliveries, and help lead the staff and student volunteers.  Last week volunteers Lauren, Laura and Hilary spent their Friday afternoon “hilling the potatoes” with nutrient rich compost.

Hilling the potatoes on Friday, June 15th.

In the neighboring field, more volunteers planted our second succession of zucchinis and cucumbers.

Hailey, Greg, and Joanna (from front to back) plant cucumbers on June 15th.

The Farm feels the most alive on these volunteer days – typically Friday afternoons – when the fields are filled with the energy of student and staff volunteers, the ripening vegetables, and the ever-present sun.

photo of volunteers at the farm on 6-15
The zucchini are ready for harvest in field #1 (on the left), as the second succession is planted in field #2 (on the right).

The plants respond quickly to the heat and we are now working hard to keep the tomatoes staked, strung, and supported.  In a few weeks, if all goes well, we will be harvesting cherry tomatoes!

photo of Tim staking the tomatoes
Tim Watts lends a hand staking the cherry tomatoes.

By the close of this week most of our seedlings will have found their home in the fields.  We will then strive to keep up with their needs as we weed and water them until it is time to harvest and deliver the crops to our partners.

photo of greens growing
Collard greens, kale, chard and tomatoes enjoy the warm and long days of sunlight.

In time, the harvest will turn hues of sugar snap pea green to tomato red and pumpkin orange.  For now, we enjoy the rainbow of color afforded by our flowers and invite you to order a bouquet to bring the warmth of the field into your home or office!

photo of flowers
Cosmos and snapdragons drink in the sun – a naturally beautiful arrangement!
Categories
Greenhouse Summer 2011 Summer Cultivation 2011 Summer Harvest 2011 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

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

 

 

Categories
Community Community Partners Our Vision Reflections Spring 2011 Spring Cultivation 2011 Spring Harvest 2011 Summer 2011 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

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.

 

 

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.

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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!