Tag Archives: farming

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

Crops Update: Week 12

Feeling like the movie Goodfellas this week, we’re frazzled, minding our own business, watching the sauce on the stove top, picking up nephews from the airport, ect. when you glance up and notice a helicopter hovering overhead…look closer and you’ll see there are hundreds of them silhouetted against the evening sky above the fields. Up close, they are turquoise and red, small but enormous relatively, nearly stationary and cruising along above the tractors, others are low to the ground and darting sideways from plant to plant. Yes, it’s dragonfly season, and they are everywhere in the crop fields right now! Take a walk through our trails and fields, and you might be treated to an experience similar to snorkeling through a school of fish, the dragonflies zigging past all around you at impossible angles—right at your face, then straight up and away…

Dragonfly. Photo Credit: Pamela Kelly

If you could hover above the fields like an insectoid helicopter right now, you’d see all our campers spread out over the field for Weed Out #3. You’d see volunteers from IBM planting broccoli and bringing in the last of the storage onions and us hauling basket after basket of corn, tomatoes and watermelons up to the farm stand. Today at the stand, you’ll find more   awesome Awesome-variety sweet corn and outstanding Little Baby Flower watermelons. They are the size of a candle pin bowling ball with pinkish red flesh that is both tangy and sweet and most delicious near the shell-thin rind–and is my favorite watermelon variety of the season. Tomatoes will be occasionally available this week until we expect to be inundated by the weekend. It is that sacred time of year when you can have a basil, corn, cucumber, tomato salad every night! Drizzle it with olive oil, rice vinegar, and salt. To experience the fullness of the flavor, do not cook the corn, eat it raw right off the cob, or cut it off the cob and into your salad. If you’re interested in joining the end of the Summer CSA at a prorated fee, email our CSA coordinator Veronica Gassert at vgassert@massaudubon.org. See our CSA page for more information on our Fall CSA coming up in September.

This past week, with the help of some new and returning faces, it finally felt like we had enough hands to get the job done and more! Thanks everyone for bearing down, harvesting quickly, weeding the perennial garden in the downpour, and placing the shade cloth on the greenhouse during that same storm. The placement of the shade cloth to keep direct sun off the curing onions means that we are very near the end of greenhouse seedling production for the season—only a few rounds of lettuce left to go! Harvests are in full swing, with campers once again picking beans for market and about a dozen community volunteers cutting flower stems for market bouquets. We’ve never had so many people involved with the flower harvest, and it really helped the team have a great day at market. If you or your business are interesting in volunteering and helping us in the field, please email our Volunteer Coordinator Pam Sowizral at psowizral@massaudubon.org.

Thanks to all who worked on the harvest, and thanks to Sarah, Veronica, Susie, Bodhi, and the market volunteers for doing such a great job in Somerville bringing corn, watermelons, beans and flowers to our fans.

See you in the field,

Your Farmers

Crops Update: Week 11

How about a chilled corn, fennel, cucumber and basil salad for dinner tonight? Or how about some spring onions and summer squash on the grill? All these goodies plus string beans and even the first few half-pints of husk cherries are available at the farm stand right now. The corn variety we are harvesting this week is a bi-color called Providence. It’s longer and narrower than Awesome, last week’s variety, and the taste is just as good.

While we are saying goodbye to some team members and hiring others, several farmers have been working extra hours to fill in staffing gaps. Thanks all for the additional harvest hours this past Thursday and Friday evening, especially those that started at 5 am, making the last two restaurant harvests much more manageable. Campers and their camp counselors ran Weed Out #2 this past Tuesday, doing excellent work clearing weeds in the rhubarb and celeriac patches and in a bed of string beans and dahlias. This past Saturday, ten volunteers with the Appalachian Mountain Club helped us plant over 3,000 broccoli and kale seedlings. They also brought in the last 15 crates of Bridger onions and even helped us lug them up the stairs and into the barn loft for drying. Thanks for your help, AMC!

We finished the garlic harvest last week thanks in part to help from new team members Natan Charytan and John Mark. Natan will be a junior at NYU in the fall, and John has recently moved to the area after working on food policy in NYC for the past several years. Thanks all for improvising with us as we figured out our new system for washing and clipping the garlic heads before spreading them on screens to dry. In a few weeks, we’ll taste the garlic to find out if this is a system worth replicating. This week we’ll be rescue-weeding the storage carrots and beets, transplanting storage cabbage, turnips and kohlrabi, and harvesting the first slicing tomatoes of the season. Watermelon and cantaloupe will be ready for picking any day now. With the harvests increasing in volume and duration, we are grateful to all those who are contributing now.

If you’d like to taste the local difference and get weekly orders of our sustainable produce, our CSA is perfect for you! Those interested in joining the remainder of the summer CSA for a prorated rate can email our CSA Coordinator at vgassert@massaudubon.org. Those thinking ahead and eager for root crops and our Fall CSA can register today online or at Drumlin Farm.

 

See you in the field.

Your Farmers

Crops Update: Week 10

Vampires beware! Our focus this week will be bringing in the garlic crop. We plan to use a power washer to remove dirt from the bulbs to save time on cleaning after the garlic has dried. Add our fresh garlic to your next homemade pizza night for a burst of fresh flavor!

It’s also the start of our sweet corn season with the variety “Awesome” arriving at the stand and in the CSA share this week. Evidently, the taste lives up to the name! The storage onion harvest has also begun with 90% of the early variety “Bridger” already curing in the barn. Cherry tomatoes are beginning to color on the vines, and eggplant and pepper quantities are increasing to the point where we’ll soon have them available for you. Security is in need of beefing up around the watermelon patch as the coyotes are already scratching away at the fruits to see if they’re ripe!

Campers learning about farming through hand-on projects, while helping to harvest!

Last Friday, a group of campers harvested most of the green beans we sold at Saturday’s market. Thanks Emma for leading the campers! That same day, volunteers from the community harvested more beans, some peppers, the last of the fava beans and the cut flowers for our market display. We were short-handed that day, but the unexpected help made for a successful market. Last Tuesday, the second volunteer group of the season from Athena Capital helped us plant 2,600 broccoli plants and harvest potatoes. And on Thursday, volunteers from Needham software company PTC weeded strawberries, planted lettuce and sunflowers, and harvested potatoes and green garlic. What a pleasure it was to work with all these volunteers. Thank you!

Hope to see you at our farmstand, market, picking up your CSA, or in the fields soon,

Your Farmers

 

Crops Update: Week 9

This Is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox
and which
you were
probably
saving
for breakfast
Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

-William Carlos Williams, 1883-1963

 

And while it would be very annoying to find Williams’ apology in word magnets on your fridge on the morning you were anticipating plums, working in the glaring sun today made me appreciate his words in a new way—cold relief during a heatwave! While I haven’t had any cold plums lately, last Tuesday we received the equivalent in the form of help from all the campers during Weed Out #1. The heat index on that day was 108, but the counselors kept sprinkling the kids with water, and everyone did a great job clearing weeds from the leeks (pictured below). We got a boost from hearing the kids chattering and their music playing.

On Thursday, again in the high heat, eight community volunteers helped us weed, plant cabbage and Brussels sprouts, and harvest potatoes for the first time this season. Look for Red Gold new potatoes at the farm stand and in your share. New potatoes are harvested when the plants are still alive and growing, unlike fall potatoes which are harvested after the top growth has died back and the potatoes have reached full size. New potatoes have very delicate skins that might flake off in the washing process. There’s no need to peel these tender spuds, and they are perfect in potato salad.

On Thursday evening, we seeded half our crop of fall storage carrots in anticipation of Friday’s thunderstorm. Thankfully, it rained on the seeds and the temperature came down for a few days. On Saturday, we planted the second round of watermelons with four volunteers from the community. So, we keep pushing on with help from all sides: volunteers Anne, Sheila and Francesca have been coming in early to avoid the heat and keep us on schedule with greenhouse seeding; Fred has been helping us take down pea trellises and move electric fencing to protect our first round of sweet corn. This week we’ll be harvesting string beans, cucumbers, summer squash and spring onions. Peppers and eggplant are starting to bear fruit, which means tomatoes are not far off!

If you’d like to join our Summer CSA mid-season please email CSA Coordinator Veronica Gassert at vgassert@massaudubon.org.

 

See you in the field,

Your Farmers

 

Crops Update: Week 7

Looking at rainfall totals across the state from Sunday night’s storm, Lincoln was the winner with just over two inches! Not realizing just how much rain we got, we went out to the fields Monday morning hoping to transplant the second succession of tomatoes. However, we found standing water in the middle of some fields which made it too boggy to drive on with the tractor and transplanter. We satisfied ourselves pre-harvesting peas for Tuesday’s restaurant orders and catching up on some weeding. The Farm Ecologist camp group  joined us in pulling weeds from around the new strawberry plants, which they had fun with.

Before that heavy rain, generally dry and warm conditions had favored the strawberry crop. Now we will see a decline in quantities of berries, but this week will be the peak of pea season. We are now harvesting sugar snap, shelling and snow peas, so keep an eye out for them at the stand and in your CSA share. This past Wednesday was the first distribution of the summer CSA, but it’s not too late to join! If you’re interested in registering for the CSA after it’s began, you can email our CSA Coordinator Veronica Gassert at vgassert@massaudubon.org for a pro-rated share, the summer CSA includes bountiful pickups every week until September 5.

For the first time at Drumlin Farm, half-shares are available on a weekly basis as well, so if the fear of receiving too much food has prevented you from joining in the past, we have a great solution just for you. Carrots, beets, basil, peas, chard, garlic scapes, and spinach are some of the crops we plan to harvest for this week’s share. Scapes—the flower stalks of garlic—are, to this farmer’s mind, the greatest allium on earth. They are mild in flavor compared to garlic cloves, and have the consistency of firm pasta when cooked. If you cut it the right length, you have forest green penne. Delicious! 

Snap Peas

Last week, we placed straw mulch around the first succession of tomatoes. The straw suppresses weeds, insulates the soil from drying out, and prevents mud from splashing up onto the plants during heavy rain which helps reduce instances of disease. When we plow the straw into the field in the fall, it adds organic matter to the soil—the key to holding water. Over the past two days, Sarah, Veronica and Andrew ran the first line of twine along the rows. In about four weeks, we’ll have placed another four lines of twine and reached the top of the stakes. Hopefully we’ll begin harvesting lots of tomatoes around that time.

This past Thursday, we got help weeding onions and planting leeks from Athena Capital volunteers and from a surprise group of volunteers from the media company Nielsen—the more the merrier for those two labor-intensive jobs! On Tuesday, biostatisticians from Waltham’s LLX Solutions helped us plant the third and final round of sweet corn. Thanks, all, for pitching in and supporting the farm’s work.

Your Farmers

Crops Update: Week 3

What a busy week! We’re halfway through our Spring CSA and gearing up for a bountiful Summer. We did a lot of planting and began weeding in earnest with much appreciated help from three volunteer groups. On Tuesday, thirteen volunteers from the insurance company AmWins planted our first round of broccoli and all of our peppers. Then, we ended the day by covering the broccoli to protect it from flea beetles. The next morning, we removed the cover from the first four beds of onions that we planted in the last week of April, as the onions have reached a size of maturity where they can withstand damage from the onion fly. Also, weeds had grown up so thickly in the warmth under the cover that it was difficult to even make out the onion plants!

The team did a great job hoeing between the onion rows and knocking down the majority of weeds. We were helped by twenty-one volunteers from Care.com who pulled the in-row weeds, which was a big job. Some volunteers also helped us remove the flowers from the first-year plants in our newly planted strawberry patch, while others began transplanting 4,500 leeks. The flower clippers joined the leek planters, and many stayed late to finish a bed.

Seniors from Middlesex School planted the last tray of leeks the following day, weeded two more beds of onions, and planted the next succession of basil and scallions—2,200 seedlings in all. Thanks to all the volunteers for your amazing help. With many different groups of volunteers working on different parts of the same project, your contribution allowed us to meet our goal for the week, which was to finish planting all the nightshades. Because of what we accomplished earlier in the week, we had time to plant the first succession of eggplant on Friday and tomatoes on Saturday.

While the rest of us worked with Care.com volunteers on Wednesday, Andrew Kelliher and Sarah Lang broke away to prepare a room for a meeting of area farmers. Farmers from Lexington Community Farm and Clark Farm in Carlisle gave presentations on crop planning and microgreens growing to an audience of beginning farmers, finishing with a tour of Drumlin Farm’s crop fields. Around dusk we saw five deer coming down the Drumlin and across the bobolink field. For now, they seem to be eating only cover crop but if they find the carrots, we’ll have to begin spraying Liquid Fence repellent, a natural product made from rotten eggs and garlic oil; deer hate the smell. In the week ahead, we’ll plant melons, the second round of sweet corn, and more flowers, as well as harvest cilantro and kohlrabi for the first time.

See you in the field, 

Your Farmers

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. 7

By Drumlin Farm Crops Manager Matt Celona

Strawberries Continue to Thrive
The team is picking strawberries right now for restaurant orders and for the farm stand. Some people came out during Saturday’s rain and humidity to take advantage of Strawberry Day and were rewarded with what one chef has told us are “best tasting strawberries around this season.” Last week, we had lots of strawberries ripening in the patch, and volunteers from Net App  helped us pick pints for the CSA. This is something we would not have had the people power to do on our own, so CSA members can thank Net App for the treat!

Volunteers Continue to Be Great
We are now scheduling a weeding job for each volunteer group because the weeds are really taking off with the rain and long days. Civil engineers from Green International Affiliates (one of our new Community Partners) weeded carrots, planted basil and picked sugar snap peas for Saturday’s market. Thanks for your focused work, Green International.

On Saturday, parents and children from Marathi Mandal of Boston volunteered in the field. We enjoyed weeding carrots, planting sunflowers, and harvesting peas with these volunteers.

And finally, we’re approaching the last big planting project of the year: One half-acre of pumpkins with the help of volunteers from Phillips Medisize.

Crops Team Continues to Plant and Harvest
Last week, Andrew, Josh, and Avril worked late to put the first line of twine on all the early tomatoes and planted the second succession of tomatoes. Thanks all for the extra time and effort.

We also have storage crops on our mind. We will soon transplant storage cabbage to the field and seeding carrots intended for the root cellar. Purple spring onions are just now reaching bunching size, and we will soon be harvesting the first summer squash and cucumbers of the year. Garlic scape season has ended, and the bulbs have a few more weeks to grow before we bring them into the barn.

See you in the field,

Your Farmers