Crops Update: Week 19

The rain from hurricane Florence reached us (and sank us!) this morning while we were harvesting for Saturday’s Moon Over Drumlin—our annual farm-to-table fundraiser gala where various local chefs prepare delectable plates using our produce, eggs, and meat. If you’re planning to attend the event, get ready to be wowed by the flavors and the spectacle! The Crops team is especially excited that volunteer Anne Patterson will be receiving the Jonathan Leavy Award in recognition of her outstanding volunteer work in the fields and in the greenhouse over the years. It’s difficult to measure or put into words all that Anne has given to Drumlin—she’s part of the team, and she stands alone doing her own thing year-round, in all weather, bringing others here, teaching and delighting them with stories and brain-melting explanations of “simple” mathematical concepts. Over time, Anne has taught me to introduce her to others not as a “retired mathematician,” but as the voluntary farmer she most certainly is. Thank you, Anne.

Even though we’re continuing to pick tomatoes and beans, this past week we finally began the fall harvest thanks to three volunteer groups. On Tuesday, volunteers from the publisher Elsevier (who, Anne informed them, published her mother’s book on math!) harvested ornamental gourds. We sold some of those gourds this past Saturday here at the farm during the Fall Harvest Celebration and also at market.

Gourds for sale at the market.

Thanks Elsevier, and thanks to volunteers Susan Vecchi and Meg Ashforth, who staffed the Pick-Your-Own tent during the harvest celebration and helped visitors pick cherry tomatoes and flowers. This past Thursday morning, focused freshmen from Lexington Christian Academy weeded celeriac and rhubarb before crating up tons of winter squash.

Volunteers unloading gourds

A special thanks to the Lexington chaperones, who, for the second year in a row, worked hard and helped us load all those heavy crates onto the trucks. On Thursday afternoon, half the coders from NetApp harvested string beans for market, while the other half clipped and crated butternut squash. All but two of the NetApp volunteers had volunteered with us the previous year. They were so happy to be back that they stayed late to unload the squash into the greenhouse. Thanks to all those who helped with the fall harvest this past week! We have more winter squash to harvest before we begin work on the pumpkin patch, and then sweet potatoes are next on our list. Lots to do before the first frost!

To register for our Fall CSA, please contact our CSA Coordintor at vgassert@massaudubon.org or 781-259-2200.

See you in the field.

Your Farmers

Crops Update: Week 18

Any chance we can trellis the earth to keep it from leaning further away from the sun? Because we need more daylight hours to bring in the fall crops!

On the positive side, sales are strong, and we are spending the majority of our time harvesting tomatoes, beans and greens. Andrew delivered produce to Somerville Schools for the first time this year on Monday. Everything we send to Somerville goes into the salad bars at ten different schools, and this week students will enjoy Drumlin carrots, cherry tomatoes, radish, arugula, bok choi, and tat soi. Emma and Maggie recently met with the cafeteria team at the Cambridge schools to talk about our growing practices and preview the produce they’ll be receiving from us. The next few Mondays before first frost will be very busy adding these school harvests to our normal restaurant pre-harvests. Yesterday, we got help with this from volunteer Anne Patterson who, on her own, picked lots of purple and yellow beans. Thanks Anne!

Visit our stand at the farmer’s market in Union Square in Somerville.

This past Thursday, energy data analysts from ENGIE Insight helped us pick beans and potatoes for Saturday’s market. Their help gave us a big head start, and we finished Friday’s market harvest with a few minutes of daylight to spare. This was a big achievement because we were without the help of the students who have normally been harvesting with us on Friday afternoons, but who have now returned to school. The Crops Team then did an outstanding job selling the produce to the busy community in Union Square on Saturday, pictured above. Back at the farm, the rest of the team worked with 30 Concord Academy freshmen weeding and harvesting winter squash (pictured below). Thanks to the helpful work from these students, we’ll distribute acorn squash in tomorrow’s first fall CSA share. There are still a few spots open for our Pick-Your-Own, Fruit Share, and full and half shares open in our Fall CSA, so register today if you haven’t already. Those that sign up after the first distribution can also join, receiving a prorated rate for the remainder of the season’s distributions.

Acorn squash available at this week’s CSA share.

While we’re hustling veggies out of the fields, we’re also plowing and seeding cover crops on vacated areas. Last night’s soaking rain means we should soon see oats and rye sprouting in the fields. So while fall colors are coming into the trees, the fields will be greening-up again. If you haven’t been out to the fields all season, this Saturday is a good time to visit as we are opening some beds to the public for picking as part of Drumlin Farm’s Fall Harvest Celebration.

Hope to see you out there!

Your Farmers

 

Crops Update: Week 17

Thank you to John, Andrew, and Sarah for working on Labor Day, pre-harvesting peppers and beans in preparation for today’s big restaurant run (the team is still loading the truck as I write this with 16 stops to make before the day is done!). And thanks to the rest of the team for working late on Friday to finish the harvest in advance of Saturday’s market—one of the most successful since 2005! A special thanks to CSA work share Nancy Allen who helped me cut sunflowers in near total darkness. The low light helped us appreciate what’s so great about a variety of sunflowers called Sunfill—they’re meant to be green!

Green Sunfill Sunflower

Now that vacations are ending, people are back in town and apparently hungry for fresh produce! If this describes you, know that we have all the summer favorites at the stand today—watermelons, cantaloupe, and tomatoes. We’ll have the melons for only a few more days, so come and get them! If you’ve been shopping at the stand on weekends, you’ve probably run into one of our three regular stand volunteers: Caroline Cook, Linda Conrad, and Elizabeth Kloss. They do great work restocking the display, sharing cooking tips, and making it a pleasure to shop there. Thanks all for your consistent help at the stand!

Tomorrow is the last summer CSA distribution of the season. The following Wednesday marks the start of our fall CSA program. It’s not too late to sign up for the fall CSA, and we’ve re-designed the program so that members now receive late summer crops such as tomatoes and peppers, as well as the fall staples: winter squash, potatoes, onions, Brussels sprouts, and more.

Volunteers from Brandeis University

We’ll soon turn our attention to bringing in the winter squash, but over the weekend, incoming freshmen from Brandeis University helped us pick string beans, tomatoes, and potatoes, while also doing some weeding. Students from as far away as China, San Diego, Chicago and Atlanta, loved harvesting, grumbled about weeding (that’s normal!), and all in all gave us some much needed help. Thank you!

See you in the field,

Your Farmers

Crops Update: Week 16

“Now listen to me very carefully. Don’t put the candle back! With all of your might, shove against the other side of the bookcase…Is that perfectly clear?” And so, in the voice of Grover squished under a brick, young Doctor Frankenstein (it’s pronounced Fronkensteen) posits an elegant solution to that tricky pickle occasionally encountered by mad scientists and farmers alike—what to do when you find yourself violently wedged between a castle wall and a secret rotating bookcase! In a manner of speaking, that’s where we found ourselves this past Tuesday when the delivery truck got a flat, Sarah expertly steered into the Rt. 2 breakdown lane, and she and Susie were stranded there with thirteen more stops left to make, the clock ticking and the chefs awaiting the arrival of their produce. Sarah immediately contacted the chefs letting them know of the delay, while back at the farm, Andrew and volunteer Fred Costanza quickly headed out in the minivan to meet up with the truck. While waiting for the mechanic to arrive, the four loaded as many crates as would fit into the van, and Susie and Andrew continued the delivery run. Once the tire was changed, Sarah and Fred went on to the remaining restaurants. Thanks all for staying calm, improvising, providing excellent customer service, and working late to finish the job, i.e., shoving against the other side of the bookcase to free yourselves. Well done!

And while that scene was unfolding on our smartphones, the home team was preparing for the arrival of volunteers from 128 Technology—designers of routers. Half the group had helped us dig sweet potatoes last fall, and this time we picked tomatoes and dug potatoes for the following day’s CSA distribution (pictured above). We finished the day weeding several beds of fall leeks.

On Friday, community volunteers once again helped with the market harvest and flower cutting, so much so that we also found time to rescue two beds of beets from weeds. A special thanks to volunteer Sheila Vince who has been weeding the beet beds often, making it feasible for a group of us to tackle the job. On Saturday afternoon, twenty incoming Tufts freshmen spent the afternoon in the fields as part of their day of environmental community service. Together we harvested beans and cherry tomatoes, before planting lettuce (pictured below) and weeding the sweet potato patch. Thanks to the crew and all the volunteers who helped us through this busy week.

With all these warm days, tomatoes continue to ripen, and we are now harvesting from both the first and second plantings. Tomato quality and flavor are outstanding, so please take advantage of the great selection we’ll have at the stand all week. We’re also harvesting the second round of cantaloupes and watermelons, the perfect accompaniment to this late summer heat wave! The Summer CSA season is almost over, but right behind that comes the fall, filled with roots crops and more. Save for your spot today before they run out!

See you in the field.

Your Farmers

Back to School with Drumlin Farm

Pencils? Check.

Binders? Check.

Index Cards? Check.

Screech Owl? ….Check!

Education is at the heart of Mass Audubon and Drumlin Farm’s mission to protect the nature of Massachusetts and inspire the next generation. Unique in its position as both a working farm and a wildlife sanctuary, Drumlin Farm has delivered environmental education programs to hundreds of thousands of elementary, middle, and high school students in Massachusetts. Our teacher naturalists work with students to help them develop an appreciation for native plants and animals and their habitats, as well as the relationships of these ecological communities to our agricultural practices. Now that summer camp season is over, it’s time to get back to school and apply that love for the outdoors and natural life to the classroom.

Drumlin Farm Comes to Your School

Drumlin Farm’s Outreach Program brings our teacher naturalists to your school classroom, or guided exploration of your schoolyard or natural areas nearby. Programs may include bringing native wildlife into the classroom or guided exploration of nature areas near your school. Keeping a class’s attention is a breeze when there’s a broad-winged hawk on the presenter’s arm!

Visit Drumlin Farm with Your Class

Our on-site programs offer opportunities to investigate the ecology of New England habitats and the adaptations of animals and plants that live here. During guided explorations of Drumlin Farm’s forests, wetlands, and fields, students ask questions, investigate, collect data, and share conclusions. While students are out exploring, they have opportunities to use scientific tools, make observations, and experience real science in the field.

Homeschool Programs

Maybe back-to-school for you means back to the home classroom. We coordinate customizable Homeschool Programs for our local homeschoolers to encourage children to interact with the environment through nature exploration and science-based learning, as well as with each other through group building and games.

Afterschool Programs

End the school day with dynamic and inquiry-based engagement at our afterschool enrichment experiences. Students learn about field science, local habitats, and wildlife. Individual and series programs are available and may include nature-based crafts, games, literature, storytelling, journaling, and other activities. Students won’t want to leave school when ending with these fun activities!

Our 4-H Programs also provides an opportunity for kids to become more healthy, connected, balanced, and empowered through hands-on activities with farm and nature themes. 4-H participants practice public speaking, participate in service projects, and cook healthy snacks with farm fresh ingredients.

Professional Development for Teachers

Drumlin Farm offers professional development opportunities for teachers at your site and at our wildlife sanctuary. Workshops are designed to give teachers the tools they need in the classroom to create and lead their own inspiring lessons. In our workshops, we use local habitats and native species to explore ecological principals, cross-cutting science concepts, and core earth and life science ideas, as well as how to teach these lessons in the classroom through a hands-on, and inquiry driven approach. We are a DOE-approved PDP provider and offer year-round science education courses to classroom teachers.

 

We invite you to get involved and join the best part of back-to-school. Balance out the homework loads with hands-on experiences in the settings student learn about in science class. The 2018-19 school year is gearing up to be the best year yet with Drumlin Farm!

 

Crops Update: Week 15

We got lucky on Saturday: it only started pouring after the end of the farmers’ market. With that, customers were able to come out and bought up every last watermelon and cantaloupe! Thanks to the crew and volunteers who pitched in during Friday’s hot and humid market harvest. We would have been out there until dark had we not had extra help picking beans, peppers, tomatoes, and flowers.

But oh, that Saturday rain! We were determined to stay dry, and had both trucks parked close to where we were weeding so we could take shelter in a storm. When the skies opened up, I was already sitting in the driver’s seat expecting volunteers and crew to run for cover, as we had discussed. But no! Some casually put on rain jackets, and all worked on as the field turned white with the splash back from the pelting drops. The petulant words of replicant Pris in the movie Bladerunner crossed my mind—“Then we’re stupid and we’ll die!”—as I flopped into a puddle and started working alongside these determined and unstoppable humans. Instantly soaked through and accepting that fact, I noticed the warmth of the ground and how it heated the water pooling there. Then, when the rain stopped falling, I heard it continue to pour nearby. At first I thought the storm was slowly moving away; then I realized that the roaring sound was water filtering and falling through the leaves and pine needles of the trees in the woods at the edge of the field. I wish I had timed how long that lasted, but it was minutes not seconds, and I was reminded of the value of woods and unpaved ground, and how it wasn’t a love of food that brought me to farming, but a sense of alignment with what Thoreau wrote in his great essay “Walking”: “In Wildness is the preservation of the world.”

The possibility of preservation can arise through the communities that form around open spaces, farms, rivers and beaches. It was volunteering on a family farm in Iowa that changed my direction. And thankfully, Louise Hatheway foresaw the need to preserve Drumlin Farm as a gathering place for those drawn to agriculture and nature.

Weeding Sweet Potatoes.

On Saturday, despite our soggy selves, six community volunteers and three farmers together harvested 800 pounds of spaghetti squash! And on Thursday, teacher-naturalist Sally Farrow once again welcomed Lowell high schoolers in the Spindle City Corps to the farm (pictured). These teens have spent the summer working for the park service. While here, they helped us weed, and they also spent time with the Wildlife Care and Livestock staff. Thanks, all, for making Drumlin Farm a magical meeting place where lives cross and are transformed.

See you in the field,

Your Farmers

Our Fall CSA begins in just 3 weeks! Register today to secure your share of fresh local produce throughout fall.

 

 

Local Business Lends a Hand

Drumlin Farm is a lively and active place, filled with big and small jobs throughout the farm completed by staff, program participants, and volunteers. As a nonprofit, we rely heavily on the generosity of local volunteers who donate time, and funds, to maintain our crops, care for our animals, handle operational tasks, and more.

Last week, employees from Green International Affiliates, a civil and structural engineering firm based in Westford, visited the farm to learn more about what we do and lend a hand in the fields. As a corporate member of our Community Partners Program, Green International employees receive memberships and passes to Drumlin Farm and opportunities to get more involved.

Sandy introduces Drumlin Farm’s screech owl to the volunteers.

Their visit started off with a presentation by our educator Sandy and animal ambassador Screech Owl. Sandy introduced the small owl to the group and told them the remarkable story of its recovery. This owl was hit by a truck and lost vision in one eye, which deemed it non-releasable to the wild. Screech Owls can be found throughout Massachusetts, and have exceptional camouflage. This one has been a great help as an animal ambassador, teaching children and adults all about owl habits, life cycles, and ecological services.

The volunteers were present for a special treat when the owl coughed up a pellet right in the middle of Sandy’s talk! Owls produce pellets as part of their digestion cycle and by studying them we can see what the animal has been eating.

This lucky group got to see an owl pellet in the making.

After the owl visit it was off to the field to meet Matt, our Crops Manager. Matt provided a brief history of Drumlin Farm, including notable visits from Henry David Thoreau and a long tradition of using the land for agriculture and cropland, which makes our soil remarkably fertile.

 

Matt explains to volunteers how they can help with weeding.

Next, it was time to get down to work! Today, we needed to weed out the strawberry rows. Matt explained how weeds can take over an area if not properly removed and how to distinguish between them and smaller strawberry plants. Rain began to set in, but it was a cool break from the humid heat of the day and our volunteers grabbed a basket and got right to work. At the end of the day, the team weeded strawberries, planted 600 summer squash and 700 lettuce seedlings, and helped harvest tomatoes for the following day’s CSA distribution. Thanks to all at Green International for their help in furthering our mission to protect the nature of Massachusetts.

Despite some rain, our volunteers welcomed the cool-down and started getting their hands dirty.

Our Community Partners Program allows local businesses to give the gift of membership to their employees, as well as providing opportunities like those last week to get out of the office together, and work towards making our communities and environments more sustainable.

Volunteers walking the fields that have been used for cropland since America’s settlement.

Thanks again to Green International Affiliates and all of our volunteers that continue to donate time and resources to the bettering of Massachusetts and the planet. See you next time!

Crops Update: Week 14

“For the rain it raineth every day.” And we need it to stoppeth already before we contract trench foot kneeling in all these muddy puddles in our undrying boots! It’s wet and humid out there, and the fields are sodden, making it impossible to work the soil for seeding greens and fall cover crops. Cultivating by tractor or hoe is also impossible, so we’re inching along, pulling weeds out of the muck. But so far, the crops are thriving (along with the weeds), and we haven’t seen the foliar diseases often associated with wet weather: alternaria, and blight and downy mildew. Tomato ripening is speeding up, and today at the stand you’ll find heirlooms and cherries, and a super sale on specialty melons Snow Leopard and Sun Jewel.

Rain and flooding impacted the last two Somerville markets causing a mid-market closure on August 4 and keeping attendance low again on August 11. Thanks to the Crops team for continuing their good work at market despite dreary conditions.

Andrew preparing watermelons for market.

After Andrew finished loading watermelons onto the pickup truck in preparation for market, a two person team—a sprayer and a melon-turner—dance around the bed of the truck blasting mud from each fruit. Then, we drive the pickup to market that way, and the team bucket brigades the watermelons directly onto the display. Now we need some dry weather so people can come out and enjoy these delicious fruits! We also need dry weather to get back to spraying certified organic products for pest control. These pesticides need to remain on the leaves for several hours so that the target pest can ingest them. That won’t happen if a shower comes along and rinses them off. Right now, we’re most concerned about cabbage loopers on brassicas and bean beetles on string beans.

Cambridge Institute hard at work.

Two volunteer groups gave us a boost last week and managed to avoid getting rained on. On Tuesday, civil engineers from Green International weeded strawberries, planted squash and lettuce and helped harvest tomatoes for the following day’s CSA distribution. On Thursday, 40 employees of the Cambridge Innovation Institute picked beans and tomatoes, weeded leeks and harvested orange kabocha winter squash. Thanks all for the much-needed help!

If we don’t turn into pillars of mold, we’ll see you in the field.

Your Farmers

Date Ideas for Drumlin Farm Love Birds

Try something different with your budding romance or long term partner with these one-of-a-kind date ideas! There’s always something new and fun to discover at Drumlin Farm, start your own adventure together today…

Upgrade Your Romantic Strolls

There’s so man opportunities to make the most of your time outdoors at Drumlin Farm. Step your romantic stroll game up a notch by joining us on one of our guided walks! Our regular Naturalist Walks explore the sanctuary and cover all things natural that we happen to come across. Or get a little more specific by focusing your time on one feature, like at our Fungi Field Walk. Love birds that love birding won’t want to miss out on Thursday Morning Bird Walks either!

Spice It Up in the Kitchen

Don’t spend your night sitting on the couch watching Chopped again, learn new kitchen techniques and start cooking together! Cooking is a fun way to plan together, bond, and create delicious treats from the heart. Make personalized jams and jellies for your breakfasts or as a mid-afternoon snack at our Jams and Preserves program or create long lasting food to compliment your long lasting love at Pickling & Canning on September 29. Does your partner love Kimchi? If so we bet they’d love the homemade version! Treat them to an experience learning about these time-tested kitchen skills and and taste-tested delicacies.

See the Farm via Hayride

When was the last time you traveled by hayride? Love makes us act like kids again, and our Hayrides are the perfect throwback to simpler times. Take a load off your feet and enjoy our rustic limo ride around the farm site-seeing. Hayrides depart from the Red Barn (weather permitting) every 15 minutes and you can pick up tickets at the admissions window for $2.50/person–a romantic cruise without breaking the bank! 

Dance Together at Our Summer Music Series Concert

Enjoy sweet tunes, a beautiful sunset, a packed picnic, and an ice cream at our last of the season Summer Music Series concert to see local band Say Darling! Relax on the grass and enjoy the music together, or get moving and dance the night away–shoes optional!

Get Away

As beautiful as Lincoln is, sometimes you just want to get away. Take a trip with your sweetheart on a variety of birding and nature-filled trips with Drumlin Farm. Take a day trip birding Plum Island or walk the beach looking for shorebirds in Rhode Island. Make it an overnight trip to Cape Cod or the Atlantic Flyway for even more adventure!

A Fun Errand: Grocery Shop at the Farmstand

Wholesome ingredients make for love-filled meals; treat yourselves to a date night in made with restaurant quality ingredients from our open-air farmstand. Turn a boring errand like shopping for groceries into a relaxing, grounding experience with your partner. You’ll find quality humane meat you won’t see at your grocery store, and a variety of summer produce like watermelon, carrots, cucumbers, rainbow chard, and more. Bring your ingredients home to cook a delicious meal for two!

Take in the View from the Top of the Drumlin

Did you know, on a clear day, you can see Wachusett Mountain in Princeton from the top of the Drumlin? The view from the top of our name-sake glacial formation is incredible at any time of day. At sunset warm colors paint the sky, and at sunrise morning bird activity fills the air. Reach the summit and soak in the view at your next visit. How romantic!

The drumlin at sunset.

Discover Hidden Trails

Just when you think you’ve seen all of Drumlin Farm, you stumble on another side path less traveled by. Many smaller trails and rest areas are tucked away throughout the farm, waiting for you. Grab your favorite hiking buddy and bring a field guide and magnifying glass to discover something new!

Visit the Animals

Have you ever seen an owl turn it’s head all the way around in real life? Have you ever seen a red fox up close? Do you know how different countries around the world imitate chicken noises? Our animal exhibits aren’t just for kids, and you’re guaranteed to learn something new together. Take a picture with our friendly cows, measure your arm span compared to a vultures wings, and feel the fluffy wool of our adorable sheep and lambs. Stroll the farm yard and visit our animal ambassadors on a unique date like no other!

Bonus: Remember Your Trip with a Gift from the The Audubon Shop

The Mass Audubon Shop, located at Drumlin Farm, is filled with gifts for nature lovers and more. Pick up a bird feeder for your home, a plush animal for your bed, or a beautiful piece of jewelry inspired by the natural world. Every time you look at it or use your souvenir you’ll think of your special date day at Drumlin Farm and the memories made with your loved one!

 

Crops Update: Week 13

Ever seen a professionally groomed poodle metamorphose into a Neanderthal with a pronounced under bite? How about a presidential toupee served on a bed of angry marbles at sunset? No? Then I’m guessing you haven’t been out watching the shape-shifting clouds recently! Some years we remember as the year of the healthy tree, or the abundant rabbit, 100,000 fireflies, or the waterfall of eggplant, but with all these magnificent thunderstorms passing through, it’s definitely the year of the storm cloud, with theatres of transformation occurring at the cauliflowered edges.

Of course, with all this heat and water, this is also the year of the weeds—in particular amaranth and purslane. Last Tuesday morning, the Drumlin Farm campers and counselors did great work during the final Weed Out of the season. Check out these weedy scenes from before and after the campers arrive and thanks all for rescuing that round of brassicas.

Before weed out, note the greenery growing in between the rows.

Campers receiving instruction and learning about weeds and crops.

Post camper-weed out. Looks amazing!

That same afternoon, 30 internet security coders from IBM helped us finish 2018’s onion harvest. They also planted kale and broccoli, and weeded a quarter acre of strawberries. Thanks, IBM volunteers, for your outstanding work! On Thursday of last week, 5 volunteers from the 1369 Coffeehouse returned for the fourth year to harvest the shallot crop, weed beets and melons, and harvest string beans for Saturday’s market. Thank you!

IBM helping with the final onion harvest.

With all the onions and garlic harvested and curing in the barn and the greenhouse, we can focus our attention on the tomato and melon harvest. Pink Berkeley Tie Dye, Indigo Cherry Drop and Sunrise Bumblebee are some of the new tomato varieties we’re trialing this year. Cantaloupe will be available all week, with Sun Jewel and Snow Leopard honeydews appearing as they ripen. Although fall is most definitely not in the air, we will begin harvesting spaghetti squash and orange kabocha winter squash later this week, hopefully before the deer decide to start taking bites out of them. Adirondack Red is the potato variety available at the stand and in the CSA share this week. It has red skin and pink flesh and is the perfect oblong shape for cutting into spears and roasting, enjoy!

If you, your group or club, or you place of work would like to come and help in the fields with us, please email Pam Sowizral; if you’d like to learn more about our CSA and the upcoming opportunities to incorporate our produce into your meals, visit our web page.

See you in the field,

Your Farmers