Categories
Community Summer 2014 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

Growing Before Our Very Eyes

photo of Golden Nugget and Sakura Cherry Tomatoes - some of the sweet fruits of the season.
Golden Nugget and Sakura Cherry Tomatoes – some of the sweet fruits of the season.

Looking out at the fields at the end of the day today I was struck by the jungle of tomato, squash, eggplant and pepper plants that met my gaze.   Are the winter squash already ripening – the tomato seeds that we planted back in late March now giant plants busily producing delicious fruits in varying hues?

photo of potato harvest
Anna, Christine and Kayleigh harvest potatoes in July.

We are in the fields every day, harvesting, planting and weeding, but it’s easy to forget how these vibrant plants were once fragile seedlings in our propagation hoophouse.

photo of Seedlings growing along in our "propogation house" (formerly called Hoophouse #1) in August - but the view is much the same in mid-May!
Seedlings growing along in our “propogation house” (formerly called Hoophouse #1) in August – but the view is much the same in mid-May!

These seedlings grow up quickly and by mid-August THEY are the ones that dictate the rhythm of the days – for everyone knows that if you leave a productive zucchini plant unattended for even one day the fruits will double in size!

photo of Devin and I make a delivery to The Table at Father Bill's & Mainspring on August 21st.
Devin and I make a delivery to The Table at Father Bill’s & Mainspring on August 21st.

Our days are also guided not just by the speed at which the plants produce their fruits, but by our deliveries to our partners: The Easton Food Pantry (Monday), The Table at Father Bill’s and Mainspring (Thursday), and the Family Life Center (Thursday).  We visit My Brother’s Keeper a few days throughout the week, as they make deliveries to their clients at least three days per week and we like to try to pick and deliver the same day to ensure freshness and maximize nutritional benefits of the veggies for those who they reach.

photo of Devin and I make a delivery to The Table at Father Bill's & Mainspring on August 21st.
A few of visitors from the Old Colony Y visited us on August 20th to pick their own veggies.

We who have been at The Farm all summer have grown accustomed to these rhythms and the full fields, but I have heard from our students who have recently returned from their summers elsewhere that the farm that they returning to barely resembles the one that they left in late April.  It is fun and refreshing to take a look back at images throughout the season to track some of the changes and appreciate the fecundity of the plants that have quietly grown and produced delicious vegetables for us all season.

photo fo Field 2, freshly planted in June.
Field 2, freshly planted in June.

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photo of Field 2 in early August
Field 2 in early August!

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photo of Volunteers plant peas in late April.
Volunteers plant peas in late April.

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photo of Peas starting to grow up their trellises (left) in May.
Peas starting to grow up their trellises (left and center) in May.

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photo of Peas start to flower in June.
Peas start to flower in June.

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photo of Finally time to harvest the peas in late June!
Finally time to harvest the peas in late June!

It’s really incredible to think about the speed at which a zucchini or summer squash produces fruit once the plants mature – I almost feel like you could watch them grow right before your eyes.  Every once and awhile a few plants go unattended for a couple of days in a row, and the resulting zucchini are as big as our crews calves – and more cut out to become Zucchini Parmesan than a side dish of delicate grilled spears.

photo A couple of zucchini that we forgot to harvest for a day or 2!
A couple of zucchini that we forgot to harvest for a day or 2!

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photo of Straight Neck, Djuna, Cozelle, and Zephyr Summer Squash that we picked at the right time!
Straight Neck, Djuna, Cozelle, and Zephyr Summer Squash that we picked at the right time!

One of my favorite places at the moment is the propogation hoophouse where the kale, lettuce, pac choi, and chard seedlings are sharing their growing space with curing Honey Bear Acorn Squash and delicious Delicata Squash.  It illustrates the productivity of the season thus far and the promise of a green and flavorful fall.

photo oPac Choi and Broccoli seedlings share space with Honey Bear Acorn Squash and Delicata Squash.
Pac Choi and Broccoli seedlings share space with Honey Bear Acorn Squash and Delicata Squash.

Another fun place to be is our second hoophouse, constructed through a generous donation by the Class of 1964 and the Harold Brooks Foundation and Bank of America, N.A., Co-Trustee, which we are nicknaming the “growhouse.” It is already brimming with life – healthy tomatoes and freshly seeded rows of carrots and turnips – and within the next couple of months we will replace the rows of tomatoes with spinach and other cool weather crops.

photo of Cucumbers and Tomatoes in the Growhouse in mid-July.
Cucumbers and Tomatoes in the Growhouse in mid-July.

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photo of Cucumbers and Tomatoes in the Growhouse in mid-July.
Tomatoes and freshly seeded rows of turnips in the Growhouse in late August.

Every spring when I look out at our field I feel a bit like a writer staring at a blank manuscript, pen in hand, and hoping that a sudden bought of intense writer’s block does not decide to take up residence in my head.  Thankfully, without fail over the past four season, we start to plan and plant our veggies that will include peppers, tomatoes, kale, onions, eggplants, herbs, lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, flowers and potatoes his year.  Pretty soon we are harvesting, washing, packing and delivering our crops and that worry fades.

photo of Andrew and Chris washing Swiss Chard in July.
Summer Farmers Andrew and Chris washing Swiss Chard in July.

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photo of Summer Farmer Kayleigh ensures that the chard stays cool.
Summer Farmer Kayleigh ensures that the chard stays cool.

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photo of Beautiful Rainbow Chard freshly harvested in July.
Beautiful Rainbow Chard freshly harvested in July.

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photo Summer Farmer Kayleigh ensures that the chard stays cool.
The chard reaches it’s destination: The Table at Father Bill’s & Mainspring.

Once we till in the winter cover crops and plant our first rows of radishes and peas the worry starts fades and we move through the days prepping beds with compost, filling them with seedlings, and within a month or two the fields are filled once again.  And we watch in wonder as the hard work pays off and gives back much more than one could ever expect.

photo of The joy of the carrot harvest - something my summer farmers will be able to attest to!
The joy of the carrot harvest – something my summer farmers will be able to attest to!

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photo of Farm Fridays Volunteers enjoy freshly made salsa from veggies at The Farm after a couple of hours of work on August 29th. Welcome back!
Farm Fridays Volunteers enjoy freshly made salsa from veggies at The Farm after a couple of hours of work on August 29th. Welcome back!

As the cooler nights arrive, we continue to farm, planting crops that will enjoy the fall in the fields or in the “growhouse” as we start to store up images and save seeds to keep us warm in the colder months and well prepared for another bountiful season at The Farm!

photo of Students visit The Farm during their First Year Philosophy Seminar with Professor Megan Mitchell and help to save bean seeds to plant next spring.
Students visit The Farm during their First Year Philosophy Seminar with Professor Megan Mitchell and help to save bean seeds to plant next spring.

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A few small arrangements of flowers for a little summer dinner party.
The colors of summer – captured for cooler weather consumption!
Categories
Greenhouse Reflections Spring 2012 Spring Cultivation 2012 The Farm at Stonehill Volunteer

The Magic of Farming in the Spring

After our brief waltz with summer temperatures, the more seasonal cool nights and blustery, sunny days of early spring have returned.

photo of seedlings in the greenhouse
Our tables are filling up with tough little seedlings.

The seedlings in the greenhouse are holding up well despite the colder temperatures.  Every evening, if it looks like the temperatures will dip into the 30’s, we cover up the seedlings with a thin sheet of row cover to protect them from cold damage.

Some of the seedlings are growing so well that they need to be transplanted into larger “homes” so that their roots can find the moisture and nutrients that they need to grow.

Rosemarie, Sarah, and Breanne – hard at work transplanting greens during volunteer hours on Friday, March 30.

Thanks to the careful work of volunteers, these Mesclun Mix Greens and Arugula are thriving.

photo of transplanted greens
Greens growing strong after 1 week in their new homes!

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Despite the cooler days, volunteers are still filling the fields, and jumping right in to plant seeds in The Sem, transplant seedlings in the greenhouse, and plant  seeds in the field.

volunteers planting seeds
Kyle, Dave and Tommy, plant seeds in the basement of The Sem.

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photo of Volunteers prep first bed
A team of volunteers prep our first bed of the season with ease.

Last week, on March 30th, 18 volunteers arrived at The Farm and got right to work prepping and “pre-weeding”. Before I knew it, the first bed was masterfully prepared and the group was ready to plant two varieties of radish: Rudolf and Pink Beauty.

With this many helping hands, hundreds of seeds are sown in minutes!

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The “magic” of this time of year comes during these bustling times of group activity, and also in the unexpected moments of quiet reflection.

These come early in the morning when the frost is still melting away…

Morning Frost

…and in the early evening when we tuck the seedlings in to protect them from the cold nights.

photo of seedlings tucked in
Onions, cabbage, lettuce, kale and flowers – all tucked in for the night.

Under the cover of night, the seedlings withstand the cold and greet us the next day a little bit stronger, and one day closer to their time to grow to their full potential in the field. 

These seedlings are embracing the sunlight of each day, modeling “Carpe Diem” in a whole new way!

photo of onion seedlings
A sea of onion seedlings – strong after a good night’s rest – greet the morning.

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Outside of the greenhouse, the soils are warming under consistent sunny skies and temperatures in the 50’s. As a result, today was a perfect day to plant peas.

photo of peas
Peas in hand – ready to grow.

I prepped the soil with a rototiller, a rake and a hoe and planted the peas in 2 straight rows, with a string to guide my work.

photo of peas planted
Peas are planted 1 month ahead of our first pea planting in 2011.

We now have 2 beds planted – many more to come!

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I am looking forward to planting our onion and lettuce seedlings next week with the help of our volunteers!

In The Sem we continue to plant our seeds. 

In the greenhouse, you’ll see kale, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, collards, dill, cilantro, parsley, and other greens growing in all shapes and sizes.

At The Farm, the perennials are waking up from their winter’s nap, and will be there to greet you!

Photo of new growth on raspberry canes
New growth on raspberry canes planted last spring.
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.