Archive for July, 2009

garlic harvest and news of blight

July 26, 2009

 

vina and the harvest

vina and the harvest

The garlic harvest is in! 

Four different varieties:  

Town Farm’s own, 

A red variety from our farmer friend Nancy at Hampshire College,

An Extra Hardy German, 

and a Red Russian from Johnny’s seed catalog.  

Garlic is a really fun crop to grow because it’s one of the few crops from which most farmers save their own seeds. 

Garlic seed (yes, the seed is the actual clove!) is planted in the fall so that it can over-winter.  The side-buds of the garlic clove begin to develop in the winter and the warmer spring days encourage the buds to become cloves. 

The garlic plant sends up a shoot in the early summer, and eventually a flower bud that we harvest as scapes (they’re delicious) to send the plants energy back down into the development of the bulb. 

Come late July up here in Western Mass, the tips of the garlic greens begin to brown which means it’s time to pull up the plants.  

load it up

load it up

Fork around the bulbs, pull them out, bunch them and hang them in a dry, well-circulated space so that they can cure for a few months to be able to store better.  You can eat the garlic fresh, but it won’t keep as long as when it’s cured.

Once the garlic is cured, we cut the bulbs off of the dried stems.  Some of the heads are for distribution, some for our own storage, and some are for seed for next season. 

Ideally, you save the biggest cloves for seed to play our role in continuing the evolution of the crop to produce large heads. 

Then, once again, come late fall, we’ll stick the cloves in the ground for next years crop. 

 

hanging in the barn

hanging in the barn

Happy garlic-ing. 

On a sadder note, there’s lots of talk about tomato blight in these parts. 

As the rain continuous so seriously this season, the potential for disease and fungus increases, and Northeast farmers are beginning to experience the results. 

 

save us from the blight

save us from the blight

Late tomato blight is a fungus whose spores live in the soil and develop in overly wet conditions.  Once a crop is infected with the blight, it can spread rapidly by air or by human/animal contact from one crop or field to another. 

For organic farmers, there’s not a whole lot that can be done about the blight, especially once it is detected.  Unfortunately, many farmers are finding the blight on their tomatoes and are having to plow in their entire tomato crops in hopes of keeping the disease as isolated as possible. 

I just heard yesterday that the farm I worked at last season, Food Bank/Mountainview Farm had to plow in four acres of tomatoes. 

Pretty devastating.  So much work and no fruits of labor. 

It’s particularly devastating for farmer’s market farmers because tomatoes can be one of the most highly profitable crops. 

We have detected some signs of blight in one of our fields, but as of yet, it is not spreading rampantly. 

We’ll see. 

There was an interesting article in the NY times about the blight: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/18/nyregion/18tomatoes.html

garden magic

garden magic

To continue on a more positive note it is always super fun to share in on my friends’ excitement about processing some of the abundance of food we’re currently in the midst of.

One of my friends converted his front yard into a garden and is growing vegetables for the first time in his life. 

I went over to his house last night and watched him discover all sorts of magical unfoldings in his garden. 

He had a couple of friends over to make sauerkraut and pickles from his garden’s vegetables and vegetables from Town Farm.  We also made a couple of delicious fresh salads. 

Summer fun vegetable processing party Northampton style.  

 

makes cuts kraut

makes cuts kraut

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pickles!

July 12, 2009

 

first canning of the season!  yum

first canning of the season! yum

tour des fields

July 11, 2009

 

lorraine's field (the field that we've mostly been harvesting from so far)

lorraine's field (the field that we've mostly been harvesting from so far)

 

home garden (pick your own and perennials)

home garden (pick your own and perennials)

 

maria's field (most of our late summer and early fall crops)

maria's field (most of our late summer and early fall crops)

small town

July 8, 2009

 

yes, folks, that's more rain

yes, folks, that's more rain

Just had a very wet bicycle trailer-hauling ride home from the market. 

There was a huge down pour.  Ben and I got soaked. 

It’s incredible that it’s raining so much.  It seems like there shouldn’t be any rain left up there in that sky. 

Anyhow, amazingly, all of our vegetables are still growing beautifully.

Lots of vibrant, happy greens and herbs.  Cucumbers coming in, summer squash and zuchinni, cabbages, carrots and beets… 

There are even green tomatoes on our tomato plants. 

'The Chard Whisperer'

'The Chard Whisperer'

We’ve really gotten into the flow of harvest now.  Three days a week we harvest for a good four hours in the morning.  Out in the field, picking greens, digging carrots, bunch beets.  We have each organically taken on particular harvesting tasks which has allowed us to move more efficiently.

For example, Danya harvests chard almost every harvest.  This way, she is able to manage the chard patch; taking care of the plants along the way, picking up where she left off after the last harvest so as not to over and under-pick certain areas.  She know the patch so well, that I don’t even pretend like I know anything about chard at this point.  I rarely even step into the patch.  In fact, we have come to call Danya, ‘The Chard Whisperer.’  Feel free to thank her for her love of the chard patch if you happen to run into her at the farm.   

Our CSA is going well.  We have about eighty shareholders who come on one of two days a week.  They pre-paid for their weekly share of vegetables at the beginning of the season and come fill up a bagful of fresh produce every week. 

So far, we have been able to offer a new vegetable every week.  This last week was carrots. 

It’s nice to see how much people love coming to the farm to get their veggies, hang out with the goats, chickens and ducks, and talk with whoever is working in the share room about farm and life.

CSA barn

CSA barn

I appreciate all of the connections that are formed through the CSA model:  eater to farmer, farmer to eater, eater to farm, community members interacting through their shared commitment to support local agriculture, etc. 

Another market that we are working with at Town Farm is a wholesale account with a local breakfast/lunch joint called ‘The Green Bean.’ 

We provide them with lettuce and kale twice or three times a week. 

This is also a fun relationship of many connections.  Danya and I make fun of each other about how there’s a slight bit of competition around who gets to drop off the produce to the restaurant.  There’s something deeply satisfying about harvesting a bunch of greens, boxing them up, loading them up on a bike trailer, riding through town, bringing them in to a crowded kitchen bustling kitchen, and handing them off to new friends to prepare them for our community. 

Sometimes, we don’t even have to drop them off because one of the main cooks at the café lives in our neighborhood and he’ll just stop by before work to pick up the lettuce. 

Yes, Northampton has a lot of small town-ness to it.  

ducks on parade

ducks on parade