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Community Partners Fall 2012 Fall Cultivation 2012 Fall Harvest 2012 Fall Volunteers 2012 Our Vision The Farm at Stonehill

Generosity Fuels The Farm

As the fall arrives, we are filled with thanks for all of the help we receive via the hands of volunteers and donations from foundations or individuals to make the farm a warm, inviting, productive, and restorative space.

photo of volunteers
Jess and a number of volunteers help weed the carrots, which we plan to harvest in October. Photo by Burke Oppenheim

This a wonderful time of the year at the farm, as we harvest a wide variety of veggies including green beans, pumpkins, peppers, onions, basil, tomatoes, turnips, butternut squash and eggplant, as we weed crops like carrots, and as we plant fall greens, like lettuce and kale.

photo of volunteer board
Volunteer tasks on September 7, 2012.

“Farm Friday” volunteer hours have been busy and festive as 20 to 30 students appear and happily get to work.  Thank you volunteers!  We look forward to seeing new and returning farmers every week.

photo of students harvesting
Jess and Lauren pick beans as other students harvest butternut squash and pumpkins.

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This  summer we were delighted to receive generous support from the the Harold Brooks Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Co-Trustee.  This $15,000 grant will support our operation and help us involve more students, grow more vegetables for our partners, and increase awareness around food desert and food access issues in our nearby communities.

“The Harold Brooks Foundation provides assistance to causes/organizations that help the largest possible number of residents of Massachusetts’ South Shore communities, especially those that support the basic human needs of South Shore residents. The Foundation supports nonprofit organizations that have the greatest impact on improving the human condition and/or that provide the neediest South Shore residents with “tools” that will help them restore their lives. The Foundation focuses on five key areas: Education; Food, Agriculture, & Nutrition; Health; Housing & Shelter; and Mental Health.”

We are so thankful for this gift and look forward to sharing how these funds support our efforts through this blog and in person when we visit with our donors!

photo of Joey and a pumpkin
Joey harvests a Tom Fox pumpkin, which will surely bring a smile to the faces of our partners’ clients.

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This summer we also received a thoughtful and generous gift from David Miller, General Manager of Dining Services here at Stonehill.  He and co-workers of his father donated funds for a space for reflection in loving memory of his wife, Tina Miller.  The words “strength” and “courage”, engraved on 2 of the 3 benches, were chosen by David and his daughters because of the strength and courage that Tina displayed as she lived with and battled breast cancer for three years.  She never let the cancer define her or how she lived her life.

photo of loving memory bench
One of three benches donated in loving memory of Tina Miller at The Farm.

We will be planting blueberry bushes in this area within the next few months, as Tina enjoyed going blueberry picking each year.

photo of courage bench
Courage: as we support all who face cancer and other challenges in our lives.

We at the farm feel privileged to serve as a space for good works and quiet reflection and celebration of all components of our environment. Thank you to David Miller for choosing us as a space where Tina’s life can me honored!

photo of strength bench
We all need a place to restore our strength, and hope that many will use these benches as a place to do so!

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three benches photo
All three benches, soon to be planted with blueberry bushes.

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These granite benches were quarried in Vermont and purchased through Swenson Granite Works.  They were engraved with precision and care by Michael Cedrone.

photo of Michael engraving
Michael Cedrone works on the “Gift of the Class of 2011” bench located at the meditation garden.

It was fun to have the opportunity to watch Michael at his craft.  He engraved the bench given by the Class of 2011 in the Meditation Garden (above) and the benches to honor the life of Tina Miller.

photo of Michael working
Michael performs the finishing touches on one of the engraved ribbons.

Zuri enjoyed watching Michael at his craft (and chewing on a nearby stick) as well!

photo of michael's work
Zuri keeps Michael company as he works on the benches.

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photo of tina miller bench
A beautiful bench for all to enjoy.

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Many thanks to all of our generous farm supporters!

We welcome you to visit anytime and enjoy the farm as we grow together.

 

Categories
Apple Orchard Spring 2012 Spring Cultivation 2012 Summer 2012 Summer Cultivation 2012 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Simplicity of Summery Spring

  Seedlings start small, but it doesn’t take long before they start to drink in the light, nutrients and water that allow them to take root and grow.

photo of students planting peppers
Bell pepper seedlings move from their cozy trays in the hoop house into the warm soils of the fields with the help of student farmers Dan, Sean, Greg, and Gabby (from left to right) on May 24, 2012.

Some days we focus so much on the tasks at hand – a common occurrence in most any walk of life – and fail to really see how quickly each crop, and the farm as a whole, is changing right before our eyes.

Students sit and stand on either side of a bed covered in biodegradable plastic, working together to poke holes and plant seedlings from trays
Students Gabby, Erin, Rich, Sean, Sheriden and Mike (from left to right) plant Celosia Flowers in late April. Photo taken by George Rizer for “The Boston Globe”.

A few evenings ago I returned to the farm just before sundown to stroll through the fields and take a good look at the crops.

Here is what I found.

photo of summer squash
A Zephyr Summer Squash plant leans into the light.

The summer squash and zucchini dance in earnest with the last of the daylight and lean into each ray emanating from the west.

Lettuce (left bed) and Zephyr Summer Squash (right bed) drink in the sun.

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The apple trees sway in the day’s final rays as a light, early evening breeze rustles their first flush of foliage.

photo of apple tree
A Crimson Crisp apple tree is adjusting well to its new home at The Farm.

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Our sweet corn, truly grass-like at this stage, appears fragile and uncertain, but stands tall and whispers of how it will grow to tower above my head one day.

photo of corn on May 23
Five rows of Sweet Corn settling in for the season.

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There is a simplicity to these early days of warm, sunny weather.

The weeds are not quite capable of challenge.

There is a palpable sense of anticipation in the fields of the bounty and beauty of the productive jungle-like world that will appear – seemingly overnight – as summer takes hold. 

For now we enjoy the simplicity of the early days of the season, and know that it is only a matter of time – hours filling easily with planting and cultivating the fields – before all of the crops will share their sun-kissed flavors with our growing community.

photo of the farm on May 23
The Farm on May 23, 2012.

 

Categories
Greenhouse Spring 2012 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer Winter 2011

Season 2012 Begins – Time to Start Planting!

Photo of Brian and Sean
Brian and Sean plant our first seeds (onions!) of the season. (February 24, 2012)

The 2012 growing season has begun!

On February 24, Brian and Sean joined me in the basement of the Sem to plant our first seeds, which included 4 varieties of onions (Alisa Craig, Candy, Cortland and White Pearl Drop) and Snapdragons.  These two were quick studies, and with ease they prepped trays and set to work planting the small seeds.

photo of germinated onions
Candy Onions – up and looking for light in the greenhouse! (February 29, 2012)

It didn’t take long (5 days) before little green sprouts started to pop up into view. We moved them out into the greenhouse to ensure good light quality as they grow!

photo of Molly and Brian planting seeds in the Sem.
Molly joins me and Brian to plant another round of seeds. (March 2, 2012)

It didn’t take long for word to spread, and more farm volunteers arrived ready to work on Friday.  We planted lettuce, spinach, chard, and a couple of more flower varieties including Statice and Celosia.

first volunteers!
Brian, Sean, Molly, Brianne, Erin and Dianna… ready to farm! (March 2, 2012)

 The snowy morning at the farm did not diminish our enthusiasm as we moved the onions and greens that have already germinated out into the greenhouse.

photo of volunteers in the greenhouse
Brianne, Molly, Dianna, and Erin enjoy our greenhouse, heated by the sun, after moving trays up from the basement of The Sem. (March 2, 2012)

It will not be long before we are all out in the fields surrounded by the greens of spring, the vibrant rainbow of summer, and the deeper hues of the fall.

photo of snowy greenhouse March 2, 2012
March came in like a lion with some ice and snow.         (March 2, 2012)

For now we plant and water, watch and plan, as the days become longer and the temperatures begin to climb.

photo of statice sprouts
Statice Flower Sprouts (March 5, 2012).

Before we know it, these fields covered in the crystals of winter, will be filled with vibrant colors that only the longer, warmer days of the spring, summer and fall can bring.

Volunteers hours will begin in earnest after Spring Break. 

If you would like to receive emails about when you can volunteer please email Erin: ecobb@students.stonehill.edu or send us a message using the Volunteer Tab above.

Categories
Community Green Cabbage: From Seed to Table Greenhouse Summer 2011 Summer Cultivation 2011 Summer Harvest 2011 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Tomatoes: The Perfect (Summer) Gift!

Tomatoes are the perfect gift.

Some of them “come in small packages”…

photo of juliet tomatoes
Juliet tomatoes – a sweet small plum tomato variety – growing at The Farm.

… and other, larger varieties, sweetly satisfy the saying that “Good things come to those who wait!”

photo of green German Cavern Tomatoes
One of our large heirloom variety of tomatoes, German Cavern, green and soon to be orange with red stripes.

We have three sweet, delicious varieties of cherry tomatoes – Sun Gold, Be My Baby, and Red Pearl – that we are currently harvesting and 7 larger varieties that will be coming out of the fields and appearing on the tables of our partners very soon.

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In July we harvested and delivered over 3,000 pounds of fresh vegetables to our partners in Brockton from our fields. We are excited to see what  August brings!

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We have had some extra help from volunteer groups over the past few weeks including student leaders from the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA).

photo of MIAA Volunteers
Happy volunteers from MIAA! They had so much fun that they are coming back next week with more helpers.

They helped weed beans and flowers to ensure healthy harvests of those two crops, and also picked a few veggies for us including cucumbers and zucchini.

photo of pickling cuke
National Pickling Cucumber – one of the types of veggies that MIAA volunteers helped us harvest.

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There are many other mid-season veggies and even fruits that are coming out of the fields these days.

They include Islander (Purple) Peppers…

photo of purple pepper
Islander Bell Pepper

… Apple Pimento Peppers …

Photo of apple pimento pepper
Sweet Apple Pimento Pepper

… “Luscious” and “Brocade” bi-color Sweet Corn …

photo of sweet corn
Luscious Sweet Corn

… and after many months: Green Cabbage.  These seeds were among our first planted on March 17, 2011 in the basement of the Holy Cross Center.  One more step – to the table – for this crop, and we’ll have tracked its entire progression from seed to table!

photo of green cabbage, ready for harvest
Green Cabbage, Storage No. 4, ready for harvest!

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This past week we also harvests 4 varieties of potatoes including Yukon Gold, Purple, Kennebec, and Dark Red Norland.  It was a lot of work, but rewarding as we weighed our harvest and learned that we had pulled just over 150 pounds from a 125 foot row that day!

photo of potato harvest
Farm Staff Brian and Ryan, one of our volunteers, harvest potatoes.

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It is hard to believe that many veggies, like lettuce, fall root crops, fall broccoli, baby bok choy and others are just starting to grow into healthy, field worthy seedlings in our greenhouse.  We will continue to monitor them and plant them when the time comes to ensure a continued, and plentiful harvest into October.

photo of seedlings
Baby Bok Choy, Kale, and other fall greens getting started in the greenhouse.

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We are excited to also be pulling sweet, refreshing, Watermelon from the fields over the next couple of weeks to share some fresh, summer treat with our partners at Father Bill’s and Mainspring, the Old Colony YMCA and My Brother’s Keeper.

photo of watermelon
Baby watermelon almost ready for harvest.
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!

 

 

Categories
Reflections Spring 2011 Spring Seedlings 2011 The Farm at Stonehill

Witnessing Spring

To be a farmer in the spring is to be presented with an endless list of projects and the opportunity to witness countless  moments of beauty.

photo of Peach Blossoms at Brookdale Fruit Farm
Peach Blossoms at Brookdale Fruit Farm in Hollis, NH (May 7, 2011).

 

 

Passing thundershowers duel with gusty breezes and warm sun rays. The seedlings respond to all of these cues and grow.

 

photo of Mesclun Mix seedlings
Mesclun seedlings thrive out in the elements and await their day to be planted in the field.

 

Sun rays warm the fields in the magic light of sundown and paint the Farm in the springtime.  The palate is full of shades that highlight the new life growing there: yellow-greens, soft yellows and light blues – tentative and seemingly shy.  I watch each day as they deepen and develop a necessary toughness to weather life in the field.

photo of beets and mustard Greens
Beets and Mustard Greens growing and toughening as their green color deepens.

 

We plan, we build, we plant and before we know it the sun is going down on another day that has been filled with important and endless decisions that will help us to create a growing, living world at The Farm.

photo fo sky in the spring
Cirrocumulus clouds fill part of the sky as sundown’s magic light warms the field.

 

Categories
Spring 2011 Spring Seedlings 2011 The Farm at Stonehill

Greenhouse Construction Commences

There is nothing quite like building something from the ground up.  You plan, you order parts, you organize your materials, you read the instruction manual (if there is one), you make a plan, you assemble a team, and then the day comes when you start to build.

Photo of Chuck setting the first corner post
Day 1: Chuck Currie, our greenhouse contractor, runs a line between corner posts on the west end of the greenhouse to help set the all important first corner post.

 

With indispensable help from Chuck Currie, a seasoned organic grower and experienced greenhouse installer, those parts are starting to fall – or be pounded – into place and our 18’x48′ greenhouse is starting to take shape.

 

A hand holds a leveling tool above some gravel
This simple tool, a line level, helped us set the height of each of our 26 ground posts.

 

photo of Chuck Currie and our first wooden ground post
Day 1: Chuck stands astride our first set ground post… only 25 more to go!

 

photo of 12 posts in, end of day 1
End of Day 1: 12 posts in, 14 to go…

Chuck and I took turns swinging sledge hammers to pound the ground posts 24 inches into the ground.  By the end of Day 1, we had set 12 of the 26 posts. These ground posts, set 4 feet apart, will hold the bows that will form the skeleton of the greenhouse.  This spacing should provide the structural strength necessary for the greenhouse to hold up to the ice, snow and winds that can come with winters in New England.

 

 

We were back at The Farm bright and early the next morning to set the remaining ground posts and assemble the bows.

photo of 26 ground posts in the ground
Day 2: 26 ground posts in by mid-day.

 

photo of assembled greenhouse bows
Day 2: 13 bows assembled and ready to go up tomorrow.

 

After assembling the bows, we decided to let the wind – blowing a steady 15 to 20 mph with gusts close to 30 mph- guide our work and found other projects to fill the rest of the day.

Tomorrow we’ll be back, and the greenhouse will be one step closer to a haven for the seedlings that will grow to produce tomatoes, cucumbers, and countless other nutritious vegetables that we hope will help to alleviate some of the food desert conditions just miles away.

Categories
Spring 2011 Spring Seedlings 2011 The Farm at Stonehill

Seeds Want To Grow

 

Seeds come in all shapes and sizes. Some, like mint, are as fine as dust, while some, like marigolds, look like miniature magic wands.  Regardless of size and shape:

“Drop a seed in the ground and it wants to grow!”

I read this wonderful truth a few months ago in The New Organic Grower by Eliot Coleman, and suddenly felt much more at ease about the rapidly approaching growing season.  After all, if the seeds WANT to grow, then all we have to do is provide them with the right amount of light, warmth, nutrients, and moisture, and surely they will take root and we will be rewarded with healthy, delicious vegetables and beautiful flowers!

A tray of bell pepper seedlings beginning to grow

 

And yet, the question remains:

How much of each of these elements do different plants need to thrive?

A small tomato seed peeks out of a slot in the tray
A tomato seed on a bed of Fort Vee Potting Mix from Vermont Compost Company.

There are many answers to this question that we can find print, in conversations with friends in the farming community, or through our own careful observations.

A few marigold seedlings show off their leafy stems
Strong, little Marigold seedling (April 8, 2011).

 

We listen, we water, we transplant, we wait, and we watch quietly as the seeds do the bulk of the work and grow into strong little seedlings.

peppers photo up close
Bell pepper seedlings (April 14, 2011).

 

The marigolds in the tray now grow larger as time has passed
Marigolds (April 13, 2011).