Friday, April 29, 2011

Look what's growing...

With the warmer weather we have been having this week, things here on the farm are growing! And that is definitely what we want. We have been weeding quite a bit because, along with the crops, weeds are growing too. So here's a look at some of the things that are getting bigger everyday...
The Walla-Walla onions are looking much bigger than when we transplanted them. In the next few days, we will be weeding in the holes of the black plastic to keep the crop itself as healthy as possible.

The cover crop on this field is growing along with the leaves on the trees in the distance. Cover crops increase the fertility of the soil of fields that are not currently planted with a vegetable crop. They are also referred to as a green manure. When we finally plant our crop in these fields, the soil is richer in many ways and, therefore, produces a higher quality and quantity of vegetables. Cover cropping is a hugely important aspect of our farming methods.

Our garlic is growing. We planted this garlic in the fall. It overwinters and comes back up during the spring to allow for a summer harvest. We always look forward to the garlic harvest. It one of the crew's favorite times of year!

 Lisa has been laying the black plastic for the beds in which we will plant next year's strawberries. We just picked up 9500 new strawberry plants (or crowns) from Nourse Nursery in Deerfield, MA. We are excited to get them into the ground, which is a long process, and to keep them healthy and weed-free this year so they will be a pleasure to pick from next year.

We (and our lovely vegetable friends) look forward to more warm, spring weather! And we love seeing the trees begin to leaf out! So beautiful.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The First Harvest (A Retrospective)

Harvesting spinach
I wanted to write about our first tiny harvest on Friday. I know it's a little odd to be giving an update days later, but what can you do: we've been real busy.

Anyway, harvesting the first greens on Friday was a joy. We harvested spinach, bok choi, and salad mix (baby lettuce, mizuna, and arugula). We harvested all of these greens for the CSA Egg Day that we held on Saturday. CSA members came to the farm for a sneak preview of what they will see in their shares when the season starts in just THREE WEEKS. We are already counting down the days until the CSA begins.

Baby lettuce up close and personal.
The first CSA pick-up is Tuesday the 17th at the Bennington Farmers' Market, Friday the 20th and Saturday the 21st at The Farm. And Bennington Farmers' Market begins even sooner. The first day of that market is May 7th!

Working in the spring can be a little difficult because we do not spend very much time harvesting. The pace of work is very different without time in the week allocated to harvest. We are so focused on getting things in the ground and keeping them healthy in the first stages of their life that we almost forget that very soon harvesting will be an entire day's affair. We love those days.
Happy harvesters!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Beans and Grain

Pushing the grain up with a tractor.

On Friday, Bill and Lisa installed a new grain bin for the farm. It was quite a feat to get it up and attached to the barn, but it looks beautiful. It is such an awesome new addition to the farm because it allows us to get organic Vermont-local chicken feed delivered from Whitman's Feed Store in North Bennington. In the past, we have had to drive to New York to pick up a similar product. The grain bin is a proper storage unit for grain in that it allows no moisture to permeate and has a handy fullel at the bottom. The chickens are happy and so are we!
And it's up. Doesn't it look awesome?!

Winnowing dry beans from the chafe.
We have been focusing our efforts at shelling dry beans this week. We grow five types of dry beans: Cannelini, Vermont Cranberry, Red Kidney, Soldier, and Painter beans. The crop is planted at the same time as green beans, however we allow them to dry in the field and mature longer. We harvest them in late September into drying racks and store them in the loft of a barn to allow proper air circulation. We thresh them by hand to separate the beans from the chafe, the dry organic matter attached to the beans, and winnow them in front of a fan to separate the last pieces from the yummy beans. It is exciting to us to have such a hardy and storage-worthy crop to sell to our customers and to provide our CSA members.

Lauren with cleaned Soldier Beans.
We still can't wait for some sun, but we are being patient and getting things accomplished nonetheless!

Friday, April 22, 2011

A New Greenhouse

Getting the first layer of plastic ready to pull over.
 It was a calm and cold early morning in Pownal. A crew of farmers and dogs gathered. Together, we put up a new greenhouse for Mighty Food Farm, a much needed piece of infrastructure judging from how packed the other ones are. It looks so nice.
Plastic successfully going over.

First layer of plastic successfully on. How nice, Douglas!

Two layers of plastic secured. Beautiful new greenhouse. Hooray!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Blustery Spring (feels like fall) Day

Clover keeps us all going despite the cold!

It's been a blustery, wet, and cold week at Mighty Food Farm. We transplanted some Brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage) into the ground on Tuesday when it was slightly sleeting. Our fingers were definitely chilly to say the least. We felt horrible to have to put them into the ground in such cold conditions but we covered them with row cover and hoped for the best, knowing they are quite hardy. We really can't let this cold stop us!! We have just too many plants ready to get planted. We are hoping to get more vegetables in the ground tomorrow when we have some warmer, drier, and sunnier weather. Hope the weatherman is right!

Kelly transplanting tomatoes into 4" pots.

We all keep saying that it feels like fall! But we know it isn't... We are spending lots of time in the seeding room and completing other tasks which are in preparation for the season. It it were fall, days would be spent cleaning up the fields and getting them into storage. We are glad we still have the whole summer to look forward to (if it would just get here already).

Today we transplanted several varieties of tomatoes into bigger pots so they will become well-established and healthy before we nestle them into the ground. As I was handling the Brandywine variety, my mouth was nearly watering with fantasies of Caprese Salad... We also seeded salad mix, Brassicas for spring successions, 6-packs for bedding plant sales at The Farmers' Market, and lots of spinach. Yum!

Lisa testing the charge of a fence.

We are also putting up electric fences in anticipation of hungry local deer. We want to make sure that as soon as we get plants into the ground, they are protected from our four-legged friends.

Gearing up for a harvest tomorrow in preparation for our CSA Egg Days. We will be harvesting bok choi, spinach, salad mix, and some ramps from the property. We are so excited to get some green things to the people!

Hope for sun!!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sowing the Seed For a New Season...

And it is spring again here at Mighty Food Farm!

A beautiful newly plowed field. Nice job Lisa!
A buzz of activity surrounds the seeding room, the greenhouse and (we're very excited to say) a few of our fields as well. The harmonies of the spring peepers is the best soundtrack we could hope for. It is the lovely music of the coming of green.

We are also brainstorming and making intentions for the beginning of the season, as all farmers do with the excitement of the new season to inspire them. One of our intentions is this right here.... A NEW BLOG! Included will be pictures, updates, hopefully some funny stories, recipes and anything else y'all want. Let us know how you like it. We're excited to have you all along for the crazy ride of producing the highest quality food we can!

Leeks waiting to go into the ground.
We began putting swiss chard in the ground last Friday, after the fields dried out from all that rain at the beginning of the week. As we nestled those rainbow colored babies into the ground, we tried to give them our best encouragement. "You're brave little ones," we told them. They may be the first plants to get down and dirty in the soil early in the spring, but this week we gave them friends. We planted bok choi, komatsuna, kales, collards, spinach, lettuce, and lettuce mix. Yesterday, we began the long process of planting our onions.

Ben and Douglas on the transplanter.

Lisa and us farm crew members have been incredibly excited about planting. Not only do we all love riding the transplanter and the efficiency it lends to our planting, but we are tired of storage crops!!! (I mean we all love winter squash, potatoes, beets, etc., etc. but we all need a little variety in our lives. Too much of a good thing....) We want GREENS and fresh food and the sooner we get everything in the ground, the sooner we can all eat it!! So that's what's on our minds at the moment

This is lettuce growing in our high tunnel. It should be ready soon!