Categories
Community Summer 2017 The Farm at Stonehill

Gianna – The Mindful Gardener

Gianna Desrochers was one of our hardworking summer farmers this season! She shares here about the highlights of her summer – and why you should grow some veggies with us or on your own.

The biggest thing I learned from working on the farm is how much work is put into growing produce.

A woman with orange flowers from the field in her hair sits next to the white dog to relax in the fields
Gianna, decked with flowers from the field, relaxes with Zuri after a long a few hours of planting and weeding.

Personally, I didn’t think much about how that plump, red tomato made it’s way on the grocery store’s shelves nor how much labor it took just to make it possible to be grown.

A hand shows off three bright red tomatoes harvested from hoophouse 2
Beautiful tomatoes from Hoophouse 2 – definitely worth the effort!

You start by making a hospitable environment for the seed, which means starting with fertile soil. This soil is put into seeding trays and the seeds then pushed into it, and are then watered until germination occurs. When the seedlings become strong enough to be grown in the crop beds, they are carefully taken out of the seeding trays and planted in the soil.

A woman holds the first round of harvested zucchini in between rows of crops
Gianna helping to harvest our first round of zucchini in July.

We made sure that the plants that need regular watering had drip tape in the soil of each of the rows, and we would patch them if a leak sprung out. These seedlings are checked on a daily basis, where we make sure they’re all happy in their new home.

A panorama shows off the many long and populated rows of growing green crops
Creating these beautiful and productive fields take a lot of time and effort!

Daily weeding of these areas is also necessary because the weeds would overwhelm the seedlings and would lead to competition of resources. When one area of weeding was finished, another area would be ready to be weeded, making it a never-ending cycle. I found this work to be difficult and time-consuming, especially on the hot summer days. I would have never realized this amount of work that is put into produce unless I personally experienced it, like I did here on the farm.

 

My favorite part of working on the farm was harvesting the produce we had successfully grown. I find it so rewarding to be able to see what we have worked so hard to get all season by harvesting. I also get to examine the plants, checking for any possible disease or pest issues, knowing that if I have a problem or a question, Bridget would be able to give me a great answer.  I loved learning about the wildflowers and weeds that grew around the farm. Bridget would answer my constant questioning of what’s what from everything I found around the farm, whether it was a weed or a bug I found on one of the crops.

Two yellow baskets are full of leafy green crops, wrapped and packed for delivery
Some of our crops all packed up and ready for deliver – after weeks of care in the fields.

I really enjoyed working on the Farm at Stonehill because of the huge amount of things I have learned, varying from the mindfulness on how that tomato has made its way onto the supermarket’s shelves and all the knowledge of the plants we tended or grew freely on the farm.

It’s an experience that I ask everyone to try themselves because it really makes you think more about our food system and how that tomato really made its way into your grocery basket.

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.

~~~

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.

~~~

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

~~~

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

~~~

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.

~~~

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

~~~

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.

~~~

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.

~~~

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.

~~~

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.

~~~

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.”

~~~

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.

~~~

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.

~~~

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.

~~~

The cooler season's morning glory.