Tag Archives: sustainable farming

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

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

 

Partner Spotlight: Tenuta di Spannocchia

Two years I ago in May, I spent a delicious week in Italy with a group of Drumlin Farm travelers, reveling in the sights, (bird) sounds, and tastes of Tuscany. The time was made all the more special by being hosted by a wonderful Drumlin Farm partner, Tenuta di Spannocchia, a sustainable farm focused on education and outdoor experiences which shares much in common with our Drumlin Farm philosophy here in Massachusetts.

Spannocchia has spent the past two decades working to preserve respect for nature and traditional farming practices in the Tuscan region. Nestled in the center of a 1,100-acre nature preserve, the property boats a medieval castello and villa and nine recently renovated farmhouses (previously run by tenant farmers) dotting the countryside. The property was in disrepair in the early 1990’s until the Cinelli family sought to restore the buildings and make it an active working farm again.

Renata exploring the property’s fields

Spannocchia preserves an ancient form of life in Tuscany that is based on community, respect for tradition and a responsible use of resources. Through our shared values of conservation, stewardship and dedication to educating future generations, Mass Audubon forged a partnership with Spannocchia that included hosting our week on the property, with tours to explore and experience its farming and ecological practices. Learning at Spannocchia is part of the vacation experience. Visitors are invited to participate in a number of tours to learn about new gardening practices, beekeeping, and their organic wine and olive oil production. Our group was delighted to find that many of the same sustainable practices that we rely on at Drumlin Farm are rooted in the ways that Italian farmers had been working the Tuscan farmland for centuries.

Another thing Drumlin Farm and Tenuta Di Spannocchia have in common – pigs!

Italian pigs saying hi! Perhaps they can still pick up a hint of Drumlin Farm…

This year also marks the 25th anniversary of their internship program. Young people from around the world have come to Spannocchia to experience Italy’s farm culture and be exposed to sustainable agriculture. Interns have become ambassadors of conservation and continue to employ the practices they learned at Spannocchia in their communities, professions and daily lives.

It wouldn’t be a proper trip to Italy without homemade pasta!

Delizioso!

As at Drumlin Farm, some of my fondest memories of Spannocchia revolve around community – staying in the classic farmhouse bed & breakfast rooms, participating in their excellent cooking and farming programs, enjoying family style meals with ingredients fresh from the garden, and exploring the streets of nearby Siena. Even if you missed our tour group, you can spend a week soaking in farm life in Italy through their rental program. Look for me enjoying a drink on the terrace at sunset, since I know I will be back there soon!

Renata Pomponi

Sanctuary Director