Tag Archives: crops

Crops Update: Week 2

The Spring CSA is in full swing this week, as our shareholders enjoy a plethora of crisp greens and hearty root vegetables. The rain that fell this past Saturday and Sunday will help germinate the seventh round of greens, seeded weekly, and the fourth round of beets and spinach, seeded every two weeks. The potatoes we planted on May 3rd are up, and today we’ll drag the rake over that acre for the third time to stir up the soil and kill small weeds. We’re beginning to harvest head lettuce, dinosaur kale, spring turnips, scallions and dandelion greens. And we’re looking forward to the start of strawberry and pea season, still several weeks away. As the harvests get bigger and longer, part-time fieldworkers will be joining the team this week. We’ll have an updated team picture to share next time.  

On Thursday of last week, four volunteers from the tech company Cisco Systems helped us transplant the first cauliflower and cabbage of the year and the second round of celery. In the middle of the job, the tractor tire went flat, so the volunteers switched gears by jumping into the garlic patch to help pull weeds there. We normally don’t have to weed in the garlic patch since we mulch it with straw, but unfortunately, this batch of straw has lots of seed in it. Thankfully, it’s just cover crop seed, and the “weeds” pull up fairly easily. Earlier that day, Food and Farm Educator Emma Scudder led several groups of Nashua seventh graders in that weeding job. Emma received help organizing the students from amazing Crops Interns Hannah Zar and Lilly Bomberg—both high school seniors. Thanks to all for their important and much needed help! Teachers, there is more work to do battling weeds in the garlic patch, so please let us know if you need a chore or volunteer hours for your classes or groups.

In the wash station, thanks to volunteer Fred Costanza, we have a new screen for cleaning bunched roots (pictured below). It’s a great design because it makes use of the existing structure for support, has no center post on which to bump your feet and knees, the majority of the materials are plastic and metal to better withstand being wet from rinsing, and the height of the screen can be adjusted to match the size of the person spraying the roots. The tarp keeps the sprayer’s legs dry. Thanks Fred! 

Spring CSA shareholders will be picking up their share today at the farmstand 12-6 pm. Registration is open for our Summer CSA, where you’ll enjoy the height of growing season and a large variety of fresh fruits and vegetables grown at Drumlin Farm.

See you in the field,

Your Farmers

Planting the Seeds for CSA 2018

Drumlin Farm’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program is the heart of our farm operation and how we most closely connect our customers to the food they enjoy and the land where it’s grown.The CSA model was introduced as way to provide consumers direct access to farms, while insulating farmers against unpredictable growing conditions. Customers could make an up-front investment in a “share” of the harvest, and then come to the farm each week to collect their “return”, with abundant quantities in a favorable growing year, less in a difficult one. With the recent proliferation of farmers’ markets, farm stands, and grocery home-delivery options, one may reasonably ask, “Given all my options, why would I still choose to join a farm-based CSA?” The answer is: “For the same reasons you choose to take a walk outside as opposed to on a treadmill–you like what you experience out there!”

Enjoy the fresh air, warm sun, and a little dirt under your nails dirt under your nails at Boycle Field.

At Drumlin Farm, our fields are open to the public, maintained so that our work is legible even if we’re not there to explain what’s happening. We want you to be able to track the development of your carrots from seed to harvestable root and your peas from shoots to pods hanging from the trellis. And beyond the fields, there’s even more to engage with at Drumlin: cooking classes for kids and adults, yoga classes, summer concerts and summer camp, guided hikes, daily drop-in activities, wooded trails, ponds, hilltop views, livestock barns, and wildlife displays, including our most recent additions, a young red fox and a reclusive porcupine.

The CSA is just one of the many paths that leads into our vibrant community farm and wildlife sanctuary. Through this path, shareholders can truly connect  to the seasons and to the health of Drumlin’s land and surrounding ecosystems. Historically, that CSA path has also been something of a yellow brick road with returns on initial investment averaging 20%!

Some improvements we’ve made to our CSA programs for 2018 include the availability of half shares and a reconfiguration of the distributions to better align with members’ schedules. Our Spring, Summer, and Fall CSA registration is now open, with many options for work shares, pick-your-own shares, half shares, flower, and fruit shares. We look forward to meeting you in the fields!

 

Crops Update: Vol. 25

Last Farm Stand of the Season!

Yesterday we harvested from all fields for the last farm stand of the year. If you drop by Drumlin today you’ll be greeted by a colorful assortment of carrots, beets, radish, collards, kale and chard along with lettuce, cabbage, squash, potatoes and onions, and bags of spinach and arugula at the stand.

 

Thanks to all who have shopped with us throughout the season. And thanks to the volunteers and staff who kept the stand up and running and conducted Know Your Food programs (complete with samples) all season long!

Fall CSA Spots Available

If you want access to fresh Drumlin veggies year-round, it’s not too late to sign up for the Fall CSA. The program runs throughout month of November with the first pickup today. Get in touch with Farmer Sarah Lang if you want to join.

Root Veggies for Winter

We still have three more Saturday markets to attend in Somerville, as well as a Winter CSA and regular deliveries to our restaurant and school partners through spring. That in mind, we’ve moved more than ten thousand pounds of potatoes into the root cellar and have just begun bringing in the carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips, celeriac, storage radish and rutabaga.

Your Farmers

Crops Update: Vol. 23

Pounds of Potatoes to Somerville Schools

This week we delivered baking potatoes to Somerville Schools for the first time—around 1,800 individual potatoes, or 720 pounds, to be exact! We chose the Désirée variety because of its prized flavor and interesting appearance: smooth, pink skin and yellow flesh.

Josh and Andrew started digging the potatoes on Saturday with Drumlin’s 4-H program participants and two community volunteers. (We were so grateful the 4-H group chose to trek all the way to the outermost field to help us!) Working together, Josh and Sarah finished the job on Sunday afternoon before the rain arrived.

Volunteers helping out on the farm

It Takes a Village to Make it to Market

Late last week volunteers from Burlington’s 128 Technology and Wilmington’s Securadyne Systems helped us prepare for Saturday’s market in Union Square, harvesting sweet potatoes, baking potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant.

Demand for these veggies and our tomatoes remains high, even though ripening is happening more slowly now with the longer nights. It really helped to have many people combing over the plants to find the cherry tomatoes and miniature eggplants hiding under dense foliage.

Thanks all who helped make this past weekend’s market a success!

Your Farmers

Drumlin Farm Crops Update Vol. 6

Heatwave #1

Looks like the first heat wave of the year has arrived. It’s 95 in the field where volunteers Anne and Shelia are crawling along over the hot soil thinning beets—amazing! The heat will push the strawberries and peas along, and we’ve moved Strawberry Day to June 24 because not enough of the berries will be ready by this weekend. We do plan to pick strawberries for the first time tomorrow morning and bring them up to the stand.

Google Volunteers Planting Dahlias

This past week we got lots of great help from three large groups. On Thursday, volunteers from Google planted dahlias. Their company made a donation to help us purchase the plants from a nursery. After planting the dahlias, the volunteers thoroughly weeded four beds of celery and celeriac. Thanks for the help!

Thanks, Camp Counselors!

On Friday morning, Zach and Emma brought the camp counselors to the field to learn about our crops program and to get trained for the upcoming “Weedouts”—the mornings when campers get dirty and pull weeds. Thanks counselors for making camp a rewarding first connection to Drumlin for so many kids and families, and thanks for pulling those weeds in the radicchio and peas!

Storm Volunteers

On Friday afternoon, Care.com brought volunteers to the field just in time to plant the sweet potato slips. A thunderstorm passed through, but the gang brushed it off and happily set 2,500 plants in about an hour. Thanks for all your great work and for the donation!

Summer CSA Countdown

The summer CSA opens this week just as many new crops are about to come in. We are close to our first harvest of chard, beets, carrots and garlic scapes. We’re excited to see what’s ready come Wednesday morning. If you’re interested in grabbing a last-minute share, visit massaudubon.org/drumlincsa.

Your Farmers

Drumlin Farm Crops Update Vol. 2

by Crops Manager Matt Celona

April Showers vs. Last Summer’s Drought

Of late, several people have asked how many inches of rain we’ve been getting in all these storms. “Thankfully, enough,” I tell them. Enough for us to think about things other than putting out the rain gauge to measure our rising level of anxiety as precipitation dwindles! Let’s not do that again until we have to. And what did all our worrying during last year’s drought amount to? The crops that could thrive in the drought did so, while other crops suffered. We had done our best by way of caring for the soil, fallowing fields and building soil organic matter, and we continue our commitment to this system.

Chickens on the Move

Thanks to the efforts of Livestock Manager Caroline and her assistant Alyssa, we’ve now introduced chickens into our fallowing plan so as to further improve the soil. You’ll see two mobile chicken tractors in the resting field near the entrance to Boyce. Our hens are eating insects and helping limit pest pressure while also processing the clover we planted there two seasons ago. Hopefully sheep will follow hens in the field and further enliven the soil.

Greens, Greens, and More Greens

So while we’re not worrying about water, we are thinking a lot about how to get the greens to grow faster in this cool weather so as to supply chefs, the Union Square Farmers Market in Somerville and our new spring CSA program.  Early lettuce and spinach are on the cusp of being ready for harvest, so this past Saturday, Josh, Will and I hand-weeded to make future harvests more efficient.

While we were killing weeds on Saturday, Sarah, Laura, and Avril were killing it at market. Nice work market team! Last year, Sarah introduced the market loyalty program for Somerville patrons. It’s a version of CSA where a customer commits money up front in return for a discount on produce and flowers. Sarah also experimented with bringing lots of greenhouse-grown microgreens to that first market, and they were a big hit.

Killdeer in the Field

In birding news, we’ve marked two killdeer nests that really good parent birds brought to our attention. In both cases, a parent aggressively marched toward the approaching tractor instead of just leaping up at the crucial final moment, as is more often the case. Two days after noting the nests, we saw six hatchlings scurrying around. We assume that must be the result of an additional two nests because we’ve never seen more than four eggs in one nest. But we have no idea where they came from. The parents are still sitting on the two nests they helped us identify.

Perhaps by next week, the mystery will be solved.

See you in the field,

Your Farmers

Summer Crops Update: August 30

Crops Updates are written by Drumlin Farm Crops Manager Matt Celona

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Mighty Crops
It’s surprising that any plants are thriving under these hot and dry conditions. But the soil retains some moisture, and we’ve had a great melon and tomato season. We are reaching the end of our sweet corn harvest. We have white corn available at the stand today and perhaps for a few days more. We’re also beginning to harvest our last watermelon variety of the season—little baby flower. It’s red-fleshed and meant to be small or personal-sized. You can find a bunch at the farm stand.

The Greenhouse
During last Friday’s quick shower of .15 inches, we sheltered in the greenhouse and seeded the next round of lettuce while waiting it out. Lettuce and bok choi are the only crops we’re still starting in the greenhouse at this point in the season. The greenhouse is now primarily a place of storage for winter squash, pumpkins and sweet potatoes. Feel free to step inside and take a look during your next visit.

Keeping Up with Demand
Mid-August through September is the busiest time at Union Square Farmers Market. People are back from vacation and eager to buy all the summer favorites. Each Saturday, we mount an intricate and large display under three tents, including a whole table devoted to cut flowers. Farmers Sarah, Jessica, Katie, Cara, and Erin have been doing a great job keeping up with long lines of customers on some scorching days on the pavement in the city. Thanks to you all and to the market volunteers for doing such a good job representing the farm and Mass Audubon!

See you in the field,
Your Farmers

Summer Crops Update: July 6

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Cauliflower from the greenhouse ready for transplant!

Weed-Out #1: In the Books
Camp Weed-Out #1 was in full swing on Tuesday! Campers are whisking weeds out of beds of broccoli, leeks, and fennel. Food and Farm Educator, Emma Scudder, and crops team members Cara and Katie are working with the counselors to direct the hundreds of kids. Fantastic job, all! Now that we’ve had about an inch of rain over the past ten days, weeds and crops will be growing faster, and the Weed-Out comes at just the right time.

The Importance of Hand-Weeding
We’re engaged in a long-term effort to reduce the size of the weed seed-bank in the soil. The bigger the seed-bank, the more difficult it is to establish direct-seeded crops like beets, carrots, and mesclun mix: You prepare a bed and seed it, only to find that weeds are germinating in a carpet ahead of your crop! This sometimes happens at Drumlin Farm, but the problem would be much worse if we didn’t devote lots of time to hand-weeding, hoeing, and tractor cultivation.

Straw: It Does a Tomato Good
Last week, volunteer groups helped us spread straw in the tomato patch, which will suppress weeds, help keep moisture in the soil, and prevent mud from splashing onto the lower leaves during heavy rain. The mud can spread plant pathogens into the tomato canopy. Straw is also an important part of our soil management practices. We’re always looking for ways to build soil organic matter, and plowing in straw at the end of the season is one way to do that. It’s the organic matter in the soil that traps moisture and helps our crops survive droughts.

Until Next Year, Peas and Strawberries (and Hello, Potatoes!)
Peas and strawberries are finished for the season. The spinosad spray for Colorado potato beetle, which we applied last week, was only minimally effective, so we’ll see reduction in the harvest as a result of foliar damage to the plants. On Monday, the crops team mowed a few beds of potatoes to prepare them for harvest. “New” potatoes come early in the season, often from plants that haven’t reached full maturity. The skin on these potatoes is very delicate, and sometimes flaky, because it hasn’t had time to toughen in the period between when the plant dies back and harvest occurs. We’ll have potatoes at the stand by the weekend!

See you in the field,

Your Farmers