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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
Community Fall 2013 Fall Cultivation 2013 Fall Harvest 2013 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Students Make Light Work of Fall Harvest

My calendar tells me that it still summer, yet the start of classes and the ripening winter squash in the field indicate that the fall is upon us!

photo of I work with some of the volunteers who joined us at The Farm this Friday to help bring in our first round of Butternut and Spaghetti Squash.
I join some of the volunteers in our field of winter squash this Friday to help bring in our first round of Butternut and Spaghetti Squash.

We have been lucky to host a number of groups during this busy time of the year who enthusiastically jump right in to help harvest ripe vegetables at their peak.

Farmers Gabby, Breanne and Sean with Rocky Ford Melon Smiles.
Farmers Gabby, Breanne and Sean display their Rocky Ford Melon Smiles.

Some of the groups include students and staff participating the Resident Assistant and Moreau Student Minister day of service, freshmen involved in the Into The Streets day of service, students enrolled in The Food Politics Learning Community, and students and staff volunteering during “Farm Fridays” – offered every Friday from 2:30-5:00pm, weather permitting.

Photo of student harvesting veggies
Summer Farmer Alphonse picks tomatoes with RAs and Moreau Student Ministers.

It is a busy time of year and I am happy to have the help with the harvest, while Zuri is very pleased to bask in the attention of her admirers.

Conner and Tom, take a break from their work in the fields to visit with Zuri.
Conner and Tom, take a break from their work in the fields to visit with Zuri.

Some of the crops we are currently harvesting include 9 different varieties of tomatoes, 2 varieties of eggplant, 2 varieties of sweet peppers, 3 varieties of hot peppers, 4 varieties of winter squash.

photo of Rose de Berne tomatoes
Rose de Berne Tomatoes – my favorite heirloom variety.

Our community partners at My Brother’s Keeper, The Easton Food Pantry, The Table an Father Bill’s and MainSpring, and The Family Life Center of the Old Colony YMCA tell us that everything is being enjoyed in countless ways – salsas, sauces, salads, and pasta dishes to name a few dishes.

Tomatoes - sorted and boxed up for delivery.
Tomatoes – sorted and boxed up for delivery.

~~~

Some of the veggies picked by the RAs and Moreau Student Ministers went to The Easton Food Pantry.
Some of the veggies picked by the RAs and Moreau Student Ministers went to The Easton Food Pantry.

~~~

To date we have harvested and delivered over 8,500 pounds of organic produce – and some of the heavier and nutrient packed crops such as winter squash and sweet potatoes are just starting to come in.

Candy and Red Baron Onions cure in the hoop house.
Candy and Red Baron Onions cure in the hoophouse.

Our onions and winter squash are curing up well in the hoophouse next to trays filled with spinach and lettuce seedlings for fall production.  I love walking into the hoophouse this time of year and seeing the fruits of season long care and labor lined up next to young plants that are only just beginning to make the move out to the fields where they will grow to their full potential.

photo ofGreens growing on the left and harvested Spaghetti and Waltham Butternut Squash curing on the right.
Greens growing on the left and harvested Spaghetti and Waltham Butternut Squash curing on the right.

This past Farm Friday, on August 30th, Breanne Penkala (2015), a seasoned farmer and the TA for the Food Politics Learning Community suggested that we make salsa at The Farm to invite our farm volunteers to literally enjoy some of the fruits of their labor.

photo of chefs
Chris and Chanel jumped right in and got to work chopping up the tomatoes, cilantro, habanero and jalapeno peppers, garlic, and onions for the salsa party.

The chefs prepared hot and mild versions to please the palates of all present. The mild version also included diced pieces of Rocky Ford Melon – an heirloom musk melon variety – also grown at The Farm.

Father Jim, VP for Mission, joined us to sample the salsa!
Father Jim, VP for Mission, joined us to sample the salsa!

The Fiesta during Farm Fridays was a huge success – over 35 volunteers came over to help with the harvest – and I’m looking forward to doing more events like this to reward the many helpers who make light work of harvesting hundreds, if not thousands of pounds of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, winter squash, and greens with us!

photo of Some of the volunteers who came out for our first Farm Friday to help harvest veggies and to enjoy farm fresh salsa!
Some of the volunteers who came out for our first Farm Friday to help harvest veggies and to enjoy farm fresh salsa!

We will continue to harvest a wide range of veggies as we weed and cultivate fall crops for the next couple of months. We look forward to seeing you in the fields!

photo of flowers
Flower bouquets lined up and awaiting delivery to customers on the main campus.
Categories
Community Community Partners Summer 2011 Summer Cultivation 2011 Summer Harvest 2011 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Committed Volunteers and Partners Help us Prepare for Hurricane Irene

photo of grey skies at the farm
Stormy skies at The Farm as we harvest before Hurricane Irene arrives this morning.

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.

photo of tomatoes rescued
Tomatoes picked this morning by volunteers.

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.

photo of tomatoes ready for pick up
Tomatoes picked up and delivered by My Brother's Keeper.

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.

photo of ripe rose de berne tomatoes
One of our heirloom, and somewhat fragile tomato varities, Rose de Berne, ripen up on the windowsill.

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.

photo of young greens
Young beets, mustard greens, chard, and baby bok choi. Their low profile should help keep them safe during tomorrow's storm.

~~~

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!

photo of turnips
Purple Top and Red Stem Scarlet QueenTurnips harvested this week.

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.

farm on august 27
Lacinato Kale stands tall this morning, in the calm before the storm.
Categories
Community Green Cabbage: From Seed to Table Our Vision Spring 2011 Spring Harvest 2011 Spring Seedlings 2011 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Lettuce (Let Us) Plant and Harvest

photo of sarah and janine planting
Seniors Sarah and Janine plant red cabbage.

 

The farm is growing in leaps and bounds thanks to help from our community at Stonehill College.  Before the rain of last week Seniors Sarah Bolasevich and Janine DiLorenzo joined me in the fields to plant out red cabbage.  Their help and company provided the ingredients for a fun and productive afternoon.

Photo of Sarah and Janine - yoga at the farm.
Yoga poses and planting cabbage go hand in hand at The Farm.

 

That same week I was joined by Lyn Feeney from the Mission Division, and we planted out beets that were first seeded in the basement of Holy Cross Center on St. Patrick’s Day.

 

Photo of Beets planted out under the row cover
Beets planted with Lyn’s help.

 

The very next day, my friend Dave Kelly, an Easton native, spent his Saturday afternoon with me prepping beds and planting out mustard greens.

photo dave kelly planting red mustard greens
Dave prepares a bed with rich compost for red mustard greens.

The rain started to fall the very next day and did not let up for a week, but the greens were safely in the ground thanks to all of my helpers!

photo of cabbage up close under row cover
The green cabbage enjoys the cool weather.

~~~~~

Under grey skies last week, Senior LucyRose Moller joined me to harvest our first batch of lettuce for The Table at Father Bill’s & MainSpring.

photo of mesclun greens
Mesclun greens for The Table at Father Bills & MainSpring.

 

Green Romaine, Red Butterhead and Red Leaf Lettuce for Father Bill's & MainSpring.
Green Romaine, Red Butterhead and Red Leaf Lettuce for The Table at Father Bill’s & MainSpring.

The colors of the mustard greens, tatsoi, and other mesclun greens filled us with joy as we filled our bushel baskets.

Photo of LucyRose with Romaine Lettuce row
LucyRose celebrates as we harvest mesclun greens, romaine and red leaf lettuce.

 

photo of Bridget with first mesclun green harvest
I love lettuce!

 

photo of LucyRose with our first harvest of Mesclun Greens
LucyRose with our first batch of Mesclun Greens.

 

On the morning of Thursday, March 19th, we made our first delivery to Father Bill’s and MainSpring in Brockton, MA just 4 miles from Stonehill campus.  We delivered a variety of Mesclun Greens and Romaine, Red Leaf and Butterhead Lettuce to add local flavor and nutrients to the salad served at the first official lunch meal provided by The Table since they moved over to Father Bill’s from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

 

photo of Kathy, Craig, Dori and Tom at Father Bill's
Kathy, Craig, Dori and Tom happily accept our first gift of Mesclun Greens in the kitchen at Father Bill’s & MainSpring.

 

This was the first of what we plan to be MANY deliveries of fresh vegetables grown by the Stonehill College commumity for our neighbors.