Categories
Community Reflections Summer 2013 Summer Cultivation 2013 Summer Harvest 2013 Summer Volunteers 2013 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Productive Plants Weather New England’s Heat and Rain

photo of sunset
Another beautiful and dramatic summer sun sets on a another full and productive day in the fields.

I never cease to be amazed, enthralled, and at times worried by weather patterns that visit us here in New England during the busy growing season.  Farmers in our region typically say that hot, dry weather is much more desirable than cool, wet conditions.  This is because we can usually get water to the crops that need it the most during dry spells – be it through pressure-fed drip irrigation or, if need be, a hose with a water wand – however, we cannot keep the fields dry when heavy clouds pass through and leave puddles in their wake.

Thus far, our plants have not suffered terribly from the heat or from the rain. In fact, quite the opposite is occurring on our 1.5 acre vegetable and flower farm!

photo of summer Straight Neck Summer Squash, Galine Eggplants, and Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes.
Straight Neck Summer Squash, Galine Eggplants, and Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes.

Thanks to hard working summer farmers, Devin, Alphonse, and Jake, our many volunteers and volunteer groups – including individuals participating in Camp Shriver, BostonWise!, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s New England Leadership Conference, an Old Colony YMCA Day Camp: Rise Up!, and students from Whitman-Hanson High School – and our Kubota tractor and Kuhn Rototiller, the plants in our fields are producing beautiful and delicious fruits and flowers!

Camp Shriver participants take a break with Zuri after harvesting over 7 pounds of Green Beans for us!
Camp Shriver participants take a break with Zuri after harvesting over 7 pounds of Green Beans for us!

This year we have harvested over 3,500 pounds of produce thus far – over 1,000 pounds more produce than last year at this time!  Crops include 4 varieties of kale, 5 varieties of lettuce, summer squash, 2 varieties of zucchini, 5 varieties of onions, a number of different kinds of tomatoes (over 1,000 plants are growing away), 5 kinds of potatoes, green beans, sugar snap peas, herbs – including basil, cilantro, dill, and parsley, 2 varieties of eggplants, 2 varieties of cucumbers – one day we harvested over 160 pounds of them, and a number of different kinds of root vegetables.

An organic variety of kale called Ripbor is producing well for us this year!
An organic variety of kale called Ripbor is producing well for us this year!

We couldn’t accomplish all of this without the hard work of volunteers who join us each year from groups like the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s New England Leadership Conference.

An excellent group of volunteers participating in the New England Leadership Conference helped us weed our winter squash and harvest our first row of potatoes on a day with 95 degree heat - no complaints!
An excellent group of volunteers participating in the New England Leadership Conference helped us weed our winter squash and harvest our first row of potatoes on a day with 95 degree heat – no complaints!

In addition, some of the successes of our farm are directly related to the generosity of organizations like the Harold Brooks Foundation who provide funding for important farm equipment like our tractor and rototiller. 

We are excited to share that this support continues!  Just last week, Marie Kelly, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, informed us that we have been awarded a $15,000 grant from The Harold Brooks Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Co-Trustee for the second year in a row!  We are very thankful for this support and plan to utilize these funds to sustainably produce more vegetables in the fields and increase the number of individuals who participate in and benefit from our central mission: to educate about and to address food desert conditions in our region.

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Please enjoy some of the colorful images captured in the fields over the past few weeks!

photo of A flower on one of our tomato plants - soon to become a sweet, flavorful fruit!
A flower on one of our tomato plants – soon to become a sweet, flavorful fruit!

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photo of An organic plum tomato variety called Granadero is producing beautiful fruit - soon to become red and delicious!
An organic plum tomato variety called Granadero is producing beautiful fruit – soon to become red and delicious!

I enjoy arriving at the farm each day a few minutes bit before the crew to walk the fields with Zuri and plan how we will spend the day – harvesting, cultivating (AKA weeding!), or planting seeds of fall successions of vegetables such as cabbage, kale, lettuce, spinach, carrots, or beets.

Once the students are hard at work harvesting the vegetables, I often find myself in the rows of flowers fulfilling orders for bouquets.

photo of A beautiful variety of Black Eyed Susan - "Cherry Brandy" - adds a sophisticated flare to the bouquets.
A beautiful variety of Black Eyed Susan – “Cherry Brandy” – adds a sophisticated flare to the bouquets.

Surrounded by Black Eyed Susans, Zinnias, Snapdragons, Salvia, Sweet William, Strawflowers, Love in a Mist, and Sunflowers, I snip long stems and hum along with the bees who are busying themselves collecting nectar – pollinating as they go.

photo of A honeybee makes her approach to a radiant zinnia.
A honeybee makes her approach to a radiant zinnia.

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photo of A honeybee - hard at work!
A honeybee – hard at work!

Sometimes the flowers have other exotic looking visitors…

photo of A dragonfly
A dragonfly takes a rest on one of the zinnias.

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The flowers double as our the sole on farm revenue generator, and also attract beneficial insects and their predators, and fill our fields with a cheerful array of colors.

Sweet William - the prettiest smelling perfume in the field!
Sweet William – bearer of the prettiest smelling perfume in the field!

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photo of salvia
Salvia – a honeybee’s heaven on earth!

The fields continue to produce and we zip around like busy bees, attempting to collect and share all of their bounty!

We reap the rewards of the hard work in the fields when we deliver the produce to our partners who often exclaim and smile when they see the diverse and colorful veggies arrive.

Fields of plenty - quietly producing!
Fields of plenty – quietly producing!

We are so very thankful for the opportunity to work with excellent partners at My Brother’s Keeper, The Table at Father Bill’s & MainSpring, The Family Life Center of The Old Colony YMCA, and The Easton Food Pantry, and for the support we receive from volunteers and organizations like The Harold Brooks Foundation to ensure that this work continues!

Categories
Summer 2012 Summer Harvest 2012 Summer Volunteers 2012 The Farm at Stonehill

Beautiful Summer Bounty!

Hard working summer farmers, volunteers, and  warm summer days have helped us grow delicious and plentiful vegetables and herbs for our partners. We thought you would enjoy a few images of this season’s bounty.

photo of black krim tomato
A delicious Black Krim Tomato.

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photo of harvest cortland onions
Hundreds of Cortland Onions curing in the greenhouse.

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photo of butternut squash
Sweet Waltham Butternut Squash.

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photo of delicata squash
Delicious Delicata Squash… ready to be sauteed and devoured!

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photo rows of tomatoes
Hundreds of feet of tomato plants producing flavorful, sweet tomatoes.

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photo of a smiling Black Krim tomtato
This smirking Black Krim Tomato made all of us smile.

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photo of tomatoes on the vine
Big Beef Tomatoes ready for the picking!

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photo of eggplant in the field
A Galine Globe Eggplant ready to be harvested.

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photo of redwing onions
Stunning Redwing Onions.

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photo of volunteers
Volunteers bring in some of the pumpkins on August 31, 2012.

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photo of Gabby, Greg and Bryan
Gabby, Greg and Bryan bring in pumpkins.. smiling all the way!

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photo of Baby Pam pumpkins
Baby Pam Pumpkins – perfect for pumpkin pie or a nice curry dish – curing in the greenhouse.

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photo of truck with veggies for a delivery
Off to the Easton Food Pantry and My Brother’s Keeper!
Categories
Community Community Partners Our Vision Summer 2012 Summer Cultivation 2012 Summer Harvest 2012 Summer Volunteers 2012 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Natural Fireworks

photo of bouquet
Rainbow colored bouquets are lighting up the sky at the farm.

It is already the 4th of July, and the warm summer days are working well with intermittent thunderstorms and rainfall to produce lots of delicious vegetables and beautiful flowers.

photo of produce at the easton food pantry
Volunteers arrange produce from our fields and Langwater Farm at The Easton Food Pantry on Monday, July 2nd.

It is exciting to see the colors of the fields filling the shelves at The Easton Food Pantry and My Brother’s Keeper.  This past Monday some of our offerings included summer squash, zucchini and snap peas.

photo of harvested veggies
Veggies harvested and delivered on July 3rd to The Old Colony YMCA.

Yesterday we harvested our most diverse crop yet – including Farao Cabbage, Early Wonder Beets, Zephyr Summer Squash, Raven Zucchini, Sugar Snap Peas, Bright Light Rainbow Chard, Pearl Drop Onions, Northern Pickling Cucumbers, Genovese Basil, Santo Cilantro and Evergreen Bunching Onions – and delivered them by noon to The Family Center at The Old Colony YMCA.

photo of zuri, Gabby and Greb planting squash
Zuri attempts to dig a hole for pumpkin seedlings – or maybe fill them back in (!) – as Gabby and Greg apply compost.

There have been some other changes at the farm lately, including the addition of a new farm hand: Zuri.  Zuri – which means “beautiful” in Swahili – is a 6 month old lab mix, who I adopted last Monday from Forever Homes Shelter in Medfield, MA. While her 4 legs make it difficult for her to help harvest, plant and weed our crops, her company has been great for our farm spirit!

photo of volunteers weeding onions
A crew of volunteers weed a bed of onions last Friday, June 29th as Zuri stays cool in the shade.

Zuri splits her time between finding shade and sticking close by. Harvesting Pearl Drop Onions was exciting, as it brought some of the cooler soil to the surface and created a nice place to lie down in the field.

photo of zuri with harvested onions
Zuri and some recently harvested Pearl Drop Onions.

By the end of the day she’s pretty tuckered out, and happy to find a place in the field to rest next to the newly planted pumpkin seedlings.

photo of zuri with irrigation and squashes
Catching some z’s as we put the finishing touches on drip irrigation for the pumpkin seedlings.

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In other news, the college welcomed the class of 2016 to campus last week for orientation.  Sean, Gabby, Greg and I worked with Facilities Management to ensure that the incoming class understands how to compost on campus.

photo of me with Gabby and compost bucket
Gabby and I taped signs to the garbage, recycling and compost bins during orientation last week.

We welcome the incoming class and invite them to help us to strengthen our composting efforts in the Dining Commons and at The Sem.

photo of Sean with bins set up
THIS is what good waste management practices look like!

With the help of this organic material we will continue to feed our soils and grow more nutritious crops for our partners and flowers for our community!

Cosmos, calendulas, zinnias, snapdragons, straw flowers, and savia come together to create a summery arrangement.

 

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
Community Summer 2011 Summer Cultivation 2011 Summer Harvest 2011 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Summer Heat

Photo of our first tomatoes
Our first tomatoes, Red Pearl Red Grapes, are starting to turn red in the fields.

 

Summertime.. and the living is… busy!

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.

fields with rain on July 8th
On July 8th, some of our tomato beds sat just above the waterline.

 

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!

photo of fields
Zucchini, cucumber and tomato plants.

 

Sometimes it is hard to keep up with the crops…

 

Photo of Michelle with massive zucchini
Michelle and a Raven Zucchini that hid from us for a couple of days... perfect for zucchini bread or a family favorite: Zucchini Parmesan.

 

… 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.

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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.

 

photo of flowers in the field
Flowers in the field love the sun!

 

flowers on july 19 - bouquets
Bouquets ready for delivery on July 19, 2011.

 

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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.

 

photo fo eggplant and peppers
Purple Veggies: Orient Express Eggplant and Islander Purple Peppers

 

photo of purple peppers
Islander Purple Peppers in the glow of sunset.

 

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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.

 

mom and window box
My Mom, Jane, creates a beautiful window box to dress up our new shed.

 

photo of dad with peas
My Dad, Jono, harvested a few pounds of Sugar Snap Peas which were later donated to families at the Old Colony YMCA in Brockton.

 

Some of the projects, like stringing our tomatoes, cover me in pollen and leave my hands a bit swollen and sore…

 

 

photo of hand
Farming hand after an afternoon of stringing tomatoes... already rinsed once!

 

…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!

 

corn ear
An ear of sweet corn... ready for harvest soon!

 

green beans
Almost time to harvest our green beans!

 

Come visit us to see the bounty for yourself and help us with the harvest.

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