Categories
Community Fall 2013 Fall Harvest 2013 Greenhouse The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Thanksgiving for a Fruitful Season!

A turnip green wrapped up in a light coat of frost.
A turnip green wrapped up in a light coat of frost.

As the chilling wind races around the fields, stirring up fallen leaves along the edges, rushing between our spindly apple trees, and bending the recently sprouted cover crops with ease it is clear that our third growing season is coming to a close.

Here are a few fast facts about The Farm that tell some of the story of how productive the 2013 Season has been and how many people are responsible for our bountiful harvest.

2013 Harvest: 12,416.5 pounds of over 35 different kinds of veggies – our biggest and most diverse harvest yet!

2013 Donations: These vegetables were donated to our partners: My Brother’s Keeper, the Easton Food Pantry, The Old Colony YMCA’s Family Life Center, and The Table at Father Bill’s & MainSpring.

2013 Volunteers: Over 500 hours contributed by over 250 individuals.

Classes Held at The Farm: Over 18 different classes, including creative writing, photography, mentoring through art, environmental science, religious studies, and first year experience classes used the farm as an outdoor learning space to help deepen certain lessons and provide context for others.

2013 Flower Sales: $2,100.00

Zuri approves of this year's harvest!
Zuri approves of this year’s harvest!

As Thanksgiving approaches, we have so much to be thankful for, from the natural elements that create an environment that supports healthy and productive plants to our summer staff and year-round volunteers who join us to make the work of planting, feeding the soil with compost, weeding, harvesting, and finally, delivering our crops both easier and much more fun.

protecting apple trees
Members of the Food Politics Learning Community help to protect our young apple trees from rodents that might attempt to snack on saplings in the colder months.

Looking back on this season, I see a different farm than the one we started in February of 2011.  The same generous and hopeful spirit, originally found in Professor Paul Daponte’s vision for the farm – to grow organic and healthy food with and for our neighbors in need and raise awareness about food deserts – is thriving!

A group of students helps to plant garlic on October 28th.
A group of students helps to plant garlic on October 28th.

However, I think that it was in this third season that the dust started to settle and the work of The Farm began to thrive, not just on it’s 2 acre plot next to The David Ames Clock Farm/Facilities Management, but also in the classrooms and in the creation of new student groups like “Food Truth” across the street on the main campus.  There are times, I must admit, when I hear people talking about The Farm, and Food Truth – a student organization that works to promote Real Food on campus – who I have not yet had the pleasure of getting to know.  It is exciting to see The Farm becoming more integrated into the campus culture!

Food Truth held a Banana Split To Commit event on Food Day, October 24th. In this photo, students sign a petition asking for more "real food" on campus as they await their turn to make a banana split comprised of local, organic, fairly traded, or humanely produced items.
Food Truth held a Banana Split To Commit event on Food Day, October 24th. In this photo, students sign a petition asking for more “real food” on campus as they await their turn to make a banana split comprised of local, organic, fairly traded, or humanely produced items.

Still housed under the Mission Division and now under the guidance of Father Jim Lies, The Farm is truly a place of community where new volunteers are now welcomed not just by me and Zuri, but by students who have been working at The Farm for almost their entire Stonehill career!

Three of the students who have, much to my delight, made The Farm a second home during their time at Stonehill. Gabby Gobiel (2014), Breanne Penkala (2015), and Sean Davenport (2015).
Three of the students who have, much to my delight, made The Farm a second home during their time at Stonehill. Gabby Gobiel (2014), Breanne Penkala (2015), and Sean Davenport (2015).

Despite the freezing temperatures and frost filled mornings, the work of the farm is far from complete.  We are experimenting with growing some mustard greens, spinach and a few lettuce varieties in our hoop house.  Following the lead of some friends at Langwater Farm, we flipped a few of our seedling tables over, filled them with a rich mix of compost and soil and planted our the seedlings.

Three volunteers help to plant greens on Halloween!
Three volunteers help to plant greens on Halloween!

We also find that we have time to clean the shed, the hoop house, and clean up the tines on our amazing rototiller that does such important work for us all season long.

I heard a clanking as the tiller spun through the soil and crawled under to discover a few wires had gotten tangled in the tines.
I heard a clanking as the tiller spun through the soil and crawled under to discover a few wires had gotten tangled in the tines.

The other place to pour our energy is into helping our community learn how to compost!

If you don't know how to compost, simply read the signs above the bins or ask a friend!
If you don’t know how to compost, simply read the signs above the bins or ask a friend.

Members of the Food Politics LC will join me and our TA, Breanne, to help point out what to compost – fruit, veggie, sandwich and salad scraps – and what not to compost – plastic utensils, paper boats, cereal cups as with our new campaign: “You Know How To Compost, Right!?”

The scraps from the Commons kitchen and from the tri bins near the tray return area are added to this pile daily where they are mixed with leaves and become nutritious compost.
The scraps from the Commons kitchen and from the tri bins near the tray return area are added to this pile daily where they are mixed with leaves and become nutritious compost.

Sometimes we find items in the compost pile that simply don’t belong! Help us to keep our operation clean, productive and functional so that we can grow more nutritious crops in the years to come.

These plastic bottles were pulled out of the compost pile at The Farm the other day.
These plastic bottles were pulled out of the compost pile at The Farm the other day.

Course projects are also involving the farm and our mission. For example, a group in the Climate Change Learning Community is putting a proposal together to suggest that an herb spiral garden be constructed on the main campus.  If installed it will serve as a way for students to have access to fresh, flavorful herbs for meals they prepare and allow more students to learn more about the work of The Farm.

Six students taking the Climate Change Learning Community met me and Zuri outside of the Chapel of Mary last week to discuss where to construct and herb spiral.
Six students taking the Climate Change Learning Community met me and Zuri outside of the Chapel of Mary last week to discuss possible locations for an herb spiral on campus.

Longer nights and shorter days also provide time to meet with our partners to learn which crops to grow next year and strategize about ways to involve more classes and volunteers with the work of the farm in Season 2014!

Our third season draws to a close, but winter projects abound, and Season #4 is just around the corner - you know that summer's coming soon!
Our third season draws to a close, but winter projects abound, and Season #4 is just around the corner – you know that summer’s coming soon!
Categories
Fall 2011 Fall Harvest 2011 Fall Projects 2011 Fall Volunteers 2011 Reflections The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer Winter 2011

Frosty Fields Are Prepped for Winter

The past few morning at The Farm, I arrive to find that the fields are all dressed up in a sparkling and frosty coat.
This cooler weather brings with it a flurry of activity!
Frosty red cabbage.

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We have been harvesting the last crops, which include parsnips, kohlrabi, and cabbage.
Photo fo Greg and Sean harvesting parsnips
Greg and Sean harvest parsnips.

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photo of Kolhrabi
We harvested this kohlrabi on November 2, 2011.

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photo of turnip greens
Queen Scarlet Red Stem Turnip Greens sparkle in early morning light.

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We work together to remove drip tape and irrigation lines from the fields and wrap them up for next year.
photo of volunteers working
Brian, Pat, Erin, Connielyn, Chelsea and Katie carefully wrap up drip tape so that we can use it again next spring.

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photo of volunteers
Michelle, Connielyn and Chelsea brave cool temperatures to help out on Friday, November 4th.

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We had to accomplish these projects by Friday, November 4th, before our friends (and their tractors) arrived from Langwater Farm to turn the fields one last time.
photo fo disc harrow
The Disc Harrow chops up any remaining vegetation as it turns the plants into the soil.

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photo of the fields on November 4th
The fields in their final glory on the morning of November 4th.
Before the fields were turned, I made sure to mark the rows, so that we can rotate our crops next year and grow healthy crops as we are mindful about keeping our soils healthy and nutrient rich.
Marking the fields to ensure good crop rotation practices.

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Rory O’Dwyer arrived at the farm right on time, and within a couple of hours she and her John Deere and disc harrow transformed the fields!
photo of rory tilling
Rory makes the first pass with the disc harrow.

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A few hours later, Chuck Currie and Kevin O’Dwyer arrived with 2 more tractors to smooth the fields with a lighter harrow, spread winter rye seed, and incorporate the seed with the harrow.
photo of Chuck TIlling
Chuck smooths the fields before the cover crop is seeded.

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photo of Kevin seeding winter rye
Kevin spreads winter rye as a cover crop.
According to UVM Extension: “Winter rye is an excellent winter cover crop because it rapidly produces a ground cover that holds soil in place against the forces of wind and water. Rye’s deep roots help prevent compaction in annually tilled fields, and because its roots are quite extensive, rye also has a positive effect on soil tilth.”

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Rory, Kevin and Chuck completed their work in record time!

Yet again I am reminded how lucky we are to have such good neighbors. We are thankful for their help to make this first season such a success, and look forward to working together for many years to come.

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The fields are now a bit bare, but soon the winter rye will germinate and a green, protective coat will adorn the fields for the colder months.
turned and planted
The fields, looking west from Rt. 138. November 4, 2011.

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photo of germinated winter rye
Our Winter Rye. Planted November 4. Germinated and already hard at work helping with soil conservation. Photo taken on November 15, 2011.

 The quiet beauty of the winter is starting to make it’s voice heard.

Time to reflect upon this season is arriving, and plans for next season will not be far behind.

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The cooler season's morning glory.
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