Categories
Winter 2016

Five Years and Growing Strong

Zuri and I visited the farm - Friday, February 5th.
The fields are bundled in a layer of white insulation – Zuri welcomes the snow on February 5th, 2016.

It is a wintery day in Easton, and as the wind whips and snowflakes fly past the window, I fill my cup with hot tea and my head with vibrant images of our farm on warmer days.

It is hard to believe that 2015 was already our fifth season, and our production (exceeding 15,000 pounds), new programs (the Mobile Market), increase in use as a living classroom (more professors and students learning at the farm), and growing family (volunteers and community gardeners) illustrate a clear shift from “chick to fledgling” stage in our development as a farm community.

Our seed order is almost complete and plans for our next season abound, but pausing to reflect on the past five seasons, I’m amazed at how our farm continues to thrive and extend its reach into Brockton and Easton.

Bringing in a healthy garlic harvest with helpers Christine, John, Michelle and Melissa, July 2015.
Bringing in a bountiful garlic harvest with helpers Christine, John, Michelle and Melissa, July 2015.

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Tim and Alana help to polit our Mobile Market - Fall 2015.
Tim and Alana help to pilot our Mobile Market – Fall 2015.

This season we forged new relationships in the community and entered new territory when we piloted our Mobile Market this fall in the parking lot of Trinity Baptist Church and The Family Center (1367 Main St).  Starting on September 16, 2015, and for the following six weeks, we drove our farm truck to this address and set up a veggie stand.

partnering up with UMASS Nutrition services - Ratatouille
We enjoyed partnering up with UMASS Nutrition Services who prepared ratatouille from our veggies and shared the easy and healthy recipe with customers who could then purchase all of the necessary fresh ingredients from our market to make the dish.

This program, supported by a $5,000 grant from Project Bread, allows us to partner more closely with organizations like UMASS Nutrition Services and sell some of our organic produce at or below market prices directly to consumers in parts of Brockton that lack easy access to healthy, fresh produce.

Mobile Market Sprinter Van donation.
This Sprinter Van, donated by Stonehill parents Craig and Lisa Hyslip, will become our Mobile Market van during the 2016 growing season.

Thanks to a generous donation of a Sprinter Van from Craig and Lisa Hyslip, we will be able to transport our veggies to our Mobile Market locations in an environment that protects them from heat, rain, and other kinds of conditions that can impact freshness.  We are currently working with students and staff in Stonehill’s Marketing Department to create a colorful, festive logo that conveys the bounty and health the market will bring wherever it goes!  We will share market dates, locations, and times by the springtime – we are hoping to offer markets two days per week at two different locations.

1 of our 4 main partners
The Easton Food Pantry receives about one-quarter to one-third of all of the produce that we grow at The Farm. I always enjoy dropping off our veggies to Glen on Monday mornings.

As always, we will continue to donate the majority of our produce to our four main community partners: The Easton Food Pantry, My Brother’s Keeper, The David Jon Louison Center of the Old Colony YMCA and The Table at Father Bill’s & MainSpring.

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Our farm thrives because of the energy brought in by our visitors – the students and staff who volunteer, the insects that pollinate, and the classes that come to learnand the gifts of the farmnew friendships, honey made from the nectar, and knowledge learned through experiences.

some fall harvesters!
It was such a productive year – here two volunteers help to harvest produce and keep Zuri company (or course!) on a warm October afternoon.

This season, six faculty utilized The Farm as a space to teach about sustainability.  Disciplines included Philosophy, Political Science, Art, Environmental Science, Eco-spirituality and Ecology, and the farm hummed with the energy and activity that these classes brought to the fields.  In a Learning Community called The Origin of Resources: From Farm to Studio, co-taught by me and Candice Smith Corby, our students learned about sustainable food production and how to create natural pigments and dyes from some of the plants growing at The Farm.  With this course, more than any other I have had the opportunity to teach, I learned and subsequently taught about how to preserve the flavors and the beauty of the harvest.  This learning occurred in the fields in the company of Candice, our students, and through the teachings of generous guest teachers like Chef Geoff Lukas and Farmer Linda Reinhardt.

~~~

 These relationships serve to increase my hunger for knowledge about how to sustainably grow food to increase food security, to maintain healthy, biodiverse landscapes, and to understand and celebrate the traditions that support these kinds of connections with the land.

preserving the harvest
Melissa, Madison and Tori prepare tomatoes for a “tomato conserva” under the guidance of Geoff Lukas at The Farm in September.

A relationship is growing with the land that surrounds our production fields.  We often see monarch butterflies in our fields, pausing in the flower beds before moving on to an abutting field to find their beloved milkweed.

Milkweed thrives in the fields behind The Farm - reminding us that our 1.5 acres is a part of a biodiverse mosaic of habitats.
Milkweed thrives in the fields behind The Farm – reminding us that our 1.5 acres is a part of a much larger ecosystem comprised of a biodiverse mosaic of habitats.

We have also witnessed the hue of the honey produced by our bees deepen over the course of the season.  We know this is because they tend to visit more goldenrod in the fall months.  With the long, warm fall this past season our bees were so productive that Best Bees of Boston was able to harvest and provide us with over 75 pounds of honey from our hive!

Our honey made a nice holiday gift - allowing members of the Stonehill community to enjoy the benefits of local, raw honey!
Our honey made a nice holiday gift – allowing members of the Stonehill community to enjoy the benefits of local, raw honey!

  It is our hope that the bees also enjoyed the flowers that we planted in our fields and that also served as bouquets for staff and students – as well as two brides who chose our flowers to help them celebrate on their wedding day.

wedding flowers late August 2015.
Here is one of the bride’s bouquets that we created in August!

~~~

While productivity of our crops and activity in the fields certainly slows during the colder months of the year, I am pleased to report that spinach planted in our second hoophouse in October is thriving.  We will continue to explore other methods of season extension (utilizing more high tunnels, production of micro-greens and maintaining the TowerGarden on campus) in order to learn about the optimum conditions for sweet, nutritious crops at The Farm.

Spinach Harvest - February 1, 2016.
Jake Rafferty (2016) helped me harvest some spinach on February 1, 2016.

~~~

10 pounds of luscious spinach from 3 rows in Hoophouse #2.
Here are the 10 pounds of luscious spinach that came from the three rows pictured above.  They were bagged and donated to My Brother’s Keeper that morning.

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I have come to believe that the success of a farm is tightly linked to the people who choose to spend time elbow deep in the dirt in many different kinds of weather.  In our fields each summer I am always impressed by my hard-working and dedicated summer crew and during the school year it is common to welcome twenty to thirty volunteers to work the fields every week.  I am so thankful for all of their hard work and also for my growing ties with other local growers like my friends at Langwater, Round the Bend, Brix Bounty, Freedom Food Farm, Tangerini’s, and Second Nature Farm. 

so many upbeat and hard working volunteers - the key to our farm's success!
so many upbeat and hard working volunteers – the key to our farm’s success!

~~~

Shoveling out Hoophouse 2!
Madison and Emily met me at The Farm on February 5th to shovel out our hoophouses.

I feel lucky to know that students like Madison and Emily will be ready to meet me when the snow and wind abate – to shovel out the hoophouse once again – and pretty soon plant seeds for the 2016 season!

snowman with a radish nose...
Once the shoveling was done, Maddie and Emily created this little guy to watch over the fields for us until warmer days returns!

Over the past five seasons, I have come to learn that these students, the faculty and staff who teach and volunteer at the farm, the folks who receive the produce we grow, and the other local farmers and farming networks ARE The Farm at Stonehill.  

I have learned so much from you all and I cannot wait to see where we go from here!

 

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

Long (mostly) Sunny Days Yield Bountiful Fields

The fields are producing veggies and flowers galore for us this summer. We’ve already harvested and donated over 800 pounds of our organic veggies – mostly lettuce, greens like kale, collards, and chard, onions, zucchini, and summer squash.  Our yields are higher than last year, due to careful cultivation and applications of rich compost, and we expect them to really explode now that the heavier crops like cucumbers and summer squash as starting to appear.

Beth of My Brother's Keeper picks up summer squash and kale on June 27th for their clients in Brockton.
Beth Sheehan of My Brother’s Keeper picks up summer squash and kale on June 27th for their clients in Brockton.

The veggies are all finding homes with our partners: The Easton Food Pantry, My Brother’s Keeper, The Family Life Center of the Old Colony YMCA, and The Table at Father Bill’s & MainSpring.

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So far, the rain has not impacted our production in a negative way, but we are keeping an eye out for any sign of Early Blight on our tomatoes or Downy Mildew in the squash.

Raised Beds help to keep the tomatoes and eggplants dry - reducing the possible spread of diseases like Early Blight.
Raised Beds help to keep the tomatoes and eggplants dry – reducing the possible spread of diseases like Early Blight.

Raised beds are helping to keep any flooding in fields from damaging the plants.

Squash, Pepper and Zucchini Plants - healthy and starting to produce fruits and flowers.
Squash, Pepper and Zucchini Plants – healthy and starting to produce fruits and flowers.

When the sun does shine, honeybees return to the fields and love the clover that grows around the shed and greenhouse. This is MOSTLY a good thing, except for bare or flip flop clad feet of unaware farmers – namely, Farmer Manager Meigs. I managed to get 2 stings this past week, one on my right pinkie toe and the other, a few days later on the arch of my left foot. Here is what I learned:

1. Remove the stinger ASAP.

2. If you work on a farm, grab an onion, break it open and rub it on the effected area!

I was much better at these steps the second time around!

(I suppose I could also wear close-toed shoes… but that’s a bit extreme, don’t you think?)

Honeybee hard at work - beware barefooted farmers!
Honeybee hard at work – beware barefooted farmers!

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We are happy to bear witness to the changing colors of the fields – from greens to golds in the rows of summer squash, and a wide array colors in our flower beds.

Early bouquets arranged for a celebration for Father Mark Creagan in Boston in early June.
Early bouquets arranged for a celebration for Father Mark Cregan in Boston in early June.

There is something magical about the way that seemingly overnight the yellow flowers appear on the squash, cucumber and tomato plants and white and purple flowers bloom on the eggplant and potato plants.

Summer Squash ready for the picking on June 28th.
Summer Squash ready for the picking on June 28th.

The nutrients and moisture in the soil and the energy from the sun provide most of the fuel for the bounty appearing in the fields, but some of the credit also goes to my 3 hard working summer farmers, Devin, Jake, and Alphonse, and to the volunteers.

Jake and Alphonse - on the hunt for Colorado Potato Beetles.
Jake and Alphonse – on the hunt for Colorado Potato Beetles in one of the rows of eggplant.
"Harvested" Colorado Potato Beetles - before they were disposed of.
“Harvested” Colorado Potato Beetles – before they were disposed of.

On Friday afternoons, a number of students working in Admission and some of our college staff  appear on the scene to help us tackle larger projects like hilling the potatoes.

Volunteers hill 5 rows of potatoes with us on Friday afternoon.
Volunteers hill 5 rows of potatoes with us on Friday afternoon.

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Abbey, Christina, Tom, and Anthony pause for a quick smile before going back to work.
Abbey, Christina, Tom, and Anthony pause for a quick smile before going back to work.

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Our youngest volunteer this season, Liam, plays in the compost while mom, Kim Wheeler, works in the fields.
Our youngest volunteer so far this season, Liam, plays in the compost while mom, Kim Wheeler (in blue), works in the field with Lisa Gualtieri.

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Alphonse makes sure that Liam doesn't eat too much compost ;).
Alphonse makes sure that Liam doesn’t eat too much compost!

Sometimes we are lucky enough to receive an extra hand on weekdays or on a Saturday from Stonehill alums or from local groups looking to lend a hand.

Farmer Devin and Volunteer Evan Sorgi (2013) weed a row of beets.
Farmer Devin and Volunteer Evan Sorgi (2013) weed a row of beets.

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A welcome surprise visit from Nick Howard (2013) - still growing smiles!
A welcome surprise visit from Nick Howard (2013) – still growing smiles!

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Two members of a Loyola University Alumni volunteer group help us stake "Tomatoes 2".
Two members of a Loyola University Alumni volunteer group help us stake “Tomatoes 2”.

Zuri keeps busy protecting our tender greens by warding off bunnies.  She then enjoys joining us for a rest during lunch before heading out for her afternoon rounds.

The team takes lunch!
The team takes lunch!

~~~

On my morning and afternoon strolls around the fields, it’s easy to feel like I can actually SEE the squash and cukes growing right before my eyes.

Marie helps to hill and feed the potatoes.
Marie helps to hill and feed the potatoes.

With the help of rich compost our crops and flowers are flourishing!

Devin and Jake help fill up a van from My Brother's Keeper.
Devin and Jake help fill up a van from My Brother’s Keeper.

~~~

Flower bouquets out for delivery on campus.
Flower bouquets out for delivery on campus.

We invite you to come join us for a visit or a quick hour or two of planting, harvesting or… you guessed it… weeding!

If you would like to place a flower order, please email me and we’ll create an arrangement filled with Snapdragons, Cosmos, Zinnias, Black Eyed Susan, Sweet William, Salvia and Statice (bmeigs@stonehill.edu).

Early flower bouquets.
Early flower bouquets.
Categories
Community Spring 2013 Spring Cultivation 2013 Spring Harvest 2013 Spring Projects 2013 Spring Volunteers 2013 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Springing into Summer

It doesn’t seem like so long ago that our fields were filled with snow and the brilliant greens of spring seemed improbable, if not impossible.

Ben, Ian and Jake Kelly harvest our first radishes!
Ben, Ian and Jake Kelly harvest our first radishes!

Thankfully, the seasons always change in New England, and with the warmer days – filled with planting, weeding and harvesting – the ice and snow are now the distant memories!

Our fields are filling with hundreds of veggie, flower and fruit seedlings.
Our fields are filling with hundreds of veggie, flower and fruit seedlings.

In the weeks that led up to Commencement, temperatures soared into the 70’s and 80’s, making for some excellent weather to cultivate the crops.

Students help to weed and thin a row of beets.
Students help to weed and thin a row of beets.
thinning beets
Thinning and weeding a row a beets.

Volunteers of all ages have already pitched in this season to help make for what we believe will be our most productive season yet!

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Sometimes they work in pairs…

Andrew and David Rogers plant Snapdragons on Friday, May 17th.
Andrew and David Rogers plant Snapdragons on Friday, May 17th.

…go it solo…

Hunter weeds a row of Hakurei Turnips in the week leading up to his graduation from Stonehill.
Hunter weeds a row of Hakurei Turnips in the week leading up to his graduation from Stonehill.

…or work as a boisterous and energetic team.

A team of Res Life Staff provide invaluable help planting rows and rows of tomato seedlings on May 20th.
A team of staff from Residence Life provide invaluable help planting rows and rows of tomato seedlings on May 20th.

In addition to the human power, our tractor is also responsible for doing some of the heavy lifting.  So far, we have used our Kubota L5030 and Kuhn rototiller to turn the fields and make strategic compost deliveries.

The initial turn of Field #2 on April 22nd.
The initial turn of Field #2 on April 22nd.

We continue to work with Langwater Farm to get help laying black plastic for our full season crops, such as the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, sweet potatoes and the flowers.

Justin of Langwater Farm lays black plastic for some of our crops.
Justin of Langwater Farm lays black plastic.

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At the start and the end to each day, Zuri and I have taken to walking the fields to note our crops’ progress, observe changes of the season and note any issues – such as leaks in the irrigation or insect pressure.

Zuri looks on as Killdeer nesting in our fields dart about.
Zuri looks on as Killdeer, attempting to nest in our fields, dart about.
Killdeer like to nest in open fields like our. Here, a family enjoys a field near San Francisco, CA.
Killdeer like to nest in open fields like our. Here, a family enjoys a field in Ontario, Canada.

On these walks we make discoveries like our first flower in bloom…

Zinnia in bloom on May 22nd.
Zinnia in bloom on May 22nd.

… Bok Choi ready to be harvested …

A variety of Bok Choi called Mei Qing Choi is ready to be picked and delivered!
A variety of Bok Choi called Mei Qing Choi is ready to be picked and delivered!

…and where to harvest the Mesclun Mix on that particular day – as it is planted in a number of places throughout the fields.

Mesclun Mix, washed, dried and about to be packed for our partners at My Brother's Keeper.
Mesclun Mix, washed, dried and about to be packed for our partners at My Brother’s Keeper.

All of time that we spend weeding carrots…

Alphonse Riang, one of three part-time summer farmers weeds a row of carrots.
Alphonse Riang, one of our three summer student farmers, weeds a row of carrots.

…and thinning beets…

Jake Gillis, another essential student farmer, weeds beets.
Jake Gillis, another essential student farmer, weeds beets.

…is time well spent, and results in a bountiful harvest that is already starting to appear on the tables of the clients served by our partners: My Brother’s Keeper, The Family Center at The Old Colony YMCA, The Table at Father Bill’s and MainSpring, and The Easton Food Pantry.

Jake and Alphonse wash and pack greens.
Jake and Alphonse wash and pack greens.

~~~

While many projects at the farm happen in the good company of volunteers and summer staff, I still find myself with an hour or two most days to work on projects in contemplative solitude. Sometimes I occupy my mind, puzzling over complex issues and projects: How can I improve the irrigation system? How can I manage the moths that are munching on some of the leaves on our apple trees?

A Plato Zucchini seedling enjoys it's new home in the field.
A Plato Zucchini seedling enjoys it’s new home in the field.

Other times I opt to work my body and rest my mind and simply plant! I fall into the blessed rhythm of it all. I bend and bow, stretch and squat, and kneel and crouch – and look back every so often to take note of the beauty of the rows as they fill.  It is during these moments when I become awestruck by the fortitude and beauty of the vegetables quietly growing around me. If I listen carefully imagine that I can hear exclaim in joy as they extend their roots into the soil and strecth their stems and leaves to drink in the sun.

Sugar Snap Peas climb the trellis.
Sugar Snap Peas climb the trellis carefully constructed by volunteers weeks before.

Like the farmers that plant them, the seedlings extend their reach, bend to the elements, drink in the sun and rain, and grow.

~~~

Zuri and I will walk the fields and continue to report back on all of the activities in our fields that are already springing into Summer!

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
Community Community Partners Greenhouse Our Vision Spring 2012 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

That Summer Feeling… in Mid-March!

photo of Garlic on March 23
Garlic’s up in the field!

Spring is here!

It is hard to believe that it is only March 23rd! The plants in the field and in the trays are responding well as they drink in the warm rays and grow towards the sun.

photo of greens
Mesclun Mix Seedlings

 

photo of arugula and onions
Astro Arugula and Candy Onion seedlings drink in the sun in the greenhouse.

 

photo of celosia
Celosia seedlings.

It is a bit strange, to say the least, to have temperatures in the high 70’s and low 80’s in March!

What does this mean about the health of our planet? 

Weather forecasts look to be dropping to more seasonal highs in the 50’s next week, which is a bit of a relief. As much as I enjoy the “summer feeling,” March is a bit early for that to be kicking in already!

Erin, Gabbie and Dan seed zinnias in the greenhouse.

With some luck, the warm weather will allow our seedlings to grow well and hopefully be able to offer our produce to our partners in Brockton much earlier this second season. This year we will deliver produce to The Easton Food Pantry, Father Bill’s and MainSpring, My Brother’s Keeper and the Old Colony YMCA weekly.


Under warm and sunny skies, we quickly got to work at The Farm. 

“Getting to work” was made easier thanks to our new, 2002 Chevy Silverado farm truck…

photo of new farm truck
At the wheel of our new farm truck!

…new greenhouse tables built by Mark Larson, one of the college’s talented carpenters…

photo of greenhouse
Our new greenhouse tables, ready for seedlings!

…and good farming neighbors!

On March 22nd around 6:30PM, Rory O’Dwyer from Langwater Farm arrived with their John Deere tractor and a chisel plow to turn our first field.

photo of Rory tilling
First turn of the fields: March 22

  It only took her a little over 1 hour to work her magic, and turn in some of the winter rye that we planted in the fall.

photo of fields on March 22 pre till
Our front field covered with our cover crop: winter rye.

The very next day, under clear skies and 70 degree weather, over 15 volunteers joined me to do some early weeding in the perennial beds!

First they signed in…

photo of volunteer log
Our Volunteer Log

…then the weeding began in the perennial beds…

volunteers photo
Erin, Sean, Bryan and Dan were just 4 of the over 15 volunteers who helped out at the farm today!

 

photo of volunteers weeding raspberries
Ryan, Michelle and a couple of volunteers weed the raspberries.

 

…planting commenced in window boxes on our shed…

photo of Margaret and Dan
Margaret and Dan plant Morning Glories, Sweet Peas and Zinnias in our shed window boxes.

 

…and planting seeds continued in the greenhouse (and later in the Sem basement).

photo of Bryan w water
Bryan gets ready to bottom water some newly planted seeds.

 

There was even a moment or two to enjoy a snack from the field!

Nick and Tim kale snack photo
Nick and Tim pause for a bite of kale that overwintered in the fields.

We welcome you to join us this season by following us online or working with us in the fields.“Like us” on Facebook by clicking here to keep on top of happenings at The Farm. 

photo of Michell with logbook
Don’t forget to sign in!

Happy Spring! Happy Farming!

 

Categories
Community Partners Fall 2011 Fall Harvest 2011 Fall Projects 2011 Fall Volunteers 2011 Our Vision The Farm at Stonehill

11,279 Pounds and Counting!

photo of turnip harvest
Three volunteers and Scarlet Queen Red Stem Turnips weighed, washed and packed for the Old Colony YMCA.

Last week we tallied up our harvest numbers for July (3040 pounds), August (4010 pounds) and Septemeber (4229 pounds), and we amazed to find that our fields will most definitely produce over 6 tons of organic and nutritious produce this season!

photo of produce ready for delivery
A typical Friday afternoon delivery.

Farm volunteers currently arrive ready to work at least 3 days a week.

Volunteers get ready to work in the fields.

They stay busy weeding lettuce seedlings…

Volunteer weed Mesclun Mix and a variety of lettuce called "Nancy."

…harvesting veggies like leeks…

Michael help us harvest Tandora Leeks.

…and carrots…

Harvesting carrots in the foreground and planting cover crop in the field behind.

…pulling tomato stakes (remember, we did plant 1000 tomato plants!)…

Chris and Justin help out by pulling tomato stakes and stacking them up for next season in the greenhouse.

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Erin, Sean and Brendan make ready to pull more tomato stakes.

…removing black plastic and storing our drip irrigation lines for next season.

Tom pulls tomato stakes and prepares to remove plastic and drip tape.

Our turnips and scallions love this cool weather and we will happily harvest them for a couple more weeks.

Scarlet Queen Red Stem Turnips... ready to be served in a salad or sauteed up in a stir-fry.

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Greg harvests scallions for us on a cool, fall morning.

~~~

We may leave some carrots in the ground until the end of the month to allow them to sweeten up in the chilling weather that Autumn brings.

The Harvest has been bountiful and we continue to revel in the splendor of fall at The Farm. We look forward to seeing you there soon!

Categories
Community Community Partners Fall 2011 Fall Harvest 2011 Fall Projects 2011 Fall Volunteers 2011 Our Vision Summer Harvest 2011 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Harvest Time Made Easy by Volunteers

We are still very busy bringing in the harvest at The Farm! 

photo of carrots and carnival squash
Carrots and carnival squash, freshly picked and ready for delivery.

Thanks to up to 50 weekly student and staff volunteers leek, tomatoes, carrots, kale, bok choi, kale and even sweet potatoes are filling up our harvest bins and the tables of our partners.

photo of students washing carrots
Three students, many carrots!

Last week when Beth came to pick up for My Brother’s Keeper we filled every last bit of space – even the front passenger seat – in her cargo van with our vegetables. We are happy to see veggies like winter squash, kale and leeks all being sent out together and have high hopes that they will soon be cooked together into a delicious and healthy soup.

Harvesting Leeks photo
Fall harvest of our Tandora Leeks.
photo of a leek
Many roots to grow a healthy leek. A couple of leeks to cook a flavorful dish.

We welcome students and staff to join us on Thursday mornings and Friday afternoons to ensure a plentiful and diverse mix of produce for The Table at Father Bill’s and MainSpring and the Old Colony YMCA.

photo of volunteers
Sun or showers, the volunteers are an essential ingredient to our healthy farm.

After we harvest, we weigh, wash and pack the produce… smiling all the way.

Sorting Sugar Pie Pumpkins
Volunteers Weighing and Sorting Sugar Pie Pumpkins

We were happy to welcome a few Stonehill Alumni this past Saturday and welcome all local Alums, Staff and Students to consider joining us on Friday afternoons between 2:00 PM and 5:30 PM until the frost of fall arrives.

photo of group bagging greens
Baby Bok Choi and Kale: Weighed and packed up for delivery to Old Colony YMCA.

See you soon at The Farm!

For more information on how you can volunteer at the farm please email our volunteer coordinator Erin: ecobb@students.stonehill.edu

 

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.

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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 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 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.