Quote of the Moment

May 27, 2011

 

The stars, Earth, stones, life of all kinds, form a whole in relation to each other and so close is this relationship that we cannot understand a stone without some understanding of the great sun. No matter what we touch, an atom or a cell, we cannot explain it without knowledge of the Universe. The laws governing the universe can be made interesting and wonderful to children, more interesting than things in themselves, and they begin to ask:

What am I?

What is the task of humanity in this wonderful universe?

-Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential

 

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Welcome to a new season,

The 2011 growing season is under way and the past two months have been very busy for Tashi, Mael, Will, Jeramy, and myself.  In mid-march, Mael returned to the farm from his travels in Europe and India ready for another season.  The firsts seedlings were well on their way by the beginning of march.  We started out with onions, parsley, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kales, nasteriums, collards and chard.  The seedlings were started under high spectrum fluorescent lights at Tom and Cathy Torrico’s house.  Space became an issue very quickly and we expanded from two to seven lights and another location Brian’s Torrico’s house.  Thanks for the basement space and watering help.  Even with all the new lights, space became an issue when we germinated our second round of brassicas (broccoli, collards, cabbage, etc).  This was due to slightly colder than normal march temperatures, which delayed the use of the greenhouse and outdoor planting by almost two weeks.  Now everything is in full force with the tomatoes reaching for the ceiling and the peppers getting bushier everyday.

While this season’s seedlings have been growing in their plush accommodations, we have been working in several ways to prepare for planting, harvesting, and selling our produce;

Field and Crop Planning

This process started with deciding which seeds to buy for the 2011 season.  From here we hit the drawing board placing the crops on the field and determining what needed to be done to plant them and what they needed to flourish.  This process may sound simple but it takes a number of different calculations to determine how much space and/or transplants/seeds are needed for a given vegetable.  This also involves companion planting (planting beneficial crops together, ex. parsley and tomatoes), crop rotation (most crops do not do well grown in the same spot year after year, this involves using green manures to improve the soil with organic plant matter), and taking into account given soil conditions.  The crop plan also depends on the weather conditions, and has to be adjusted to unseasonal weather.  This has been the case this year.

Preparing the Fields

This year our main fields are located:  Intersection of Lime Kiln and West Sheffield Road (Barn in the middle of the field) Sheffield, MA, 1347 Route 7 Sheffield, MA, 63 west st. Mt. Washington, MA, and we have another site we’re working on in Hartsville.

Our goal this year, as it was last year, is to use as little oil in the field as possible.  With this in mind, We began turning the Lime Kiln site a few days after the snows had faded in the third week of March. Mael, Tashi, Chris Obrian, and myself all put in time in May turning the field by hand one shovel at a time.  The field has a great layer of topsoil, in most areas it has been relatively easy (compared with the clay in the other field) to remove the sod from the soil and place the majority of it in piles for the compost.  By April 1st we had prepared areas for the most of the first round of brassicas.  These were planted in the 1st week of April.  The first peas, lettuces, spinach, and Asian greens, were also seeded that week.  We then seeded carrots, radish, turnips, and beets at the beginning of the next week.  Since, we have also started to plant different herbs, onions, and more of what we started with.

The second weekend in April we used my Cousin Mike Seward’s Tractor to plow the parts of the field that we would not be able to turn by hand.  We did a light till on the Lime Kiln field just tearing up the grass and dicing it up.  From there it takes less time to remove the grass and we can use spading forks to loosen the soil.  We are trying to mulch (leaves, card board) the remaining un-tilled parts which will be turned by hand for summer crops.  We tilled ten feet on both sides of the route 7 field to try and expand a little but the rest was left because it was tilled last year.

Since mid-april planting has been in full force with more of the cold weather crops going in, as well as our first potatoes and thousands of more onions

Building Farm Boxes

In March, we had Will Conklin mill wood for vegetable boxes.  Will headed up this project and we used woodshop space that he rents in Great Barrington to make the box.  In three days we put together 28 boxes, using joinery instead of nails to put the boxes together.

Route 7 Farm stand

Will has been heading up this project.  We are building a timber frame farmstand.  We spent the last month and a half harvesting logs.  Thanks to our friend Brian Heck, we were able to get good access to some great white cider and hemlock trees.  The first day another friend Cal Turner, a professional tree worker, helped us take down 4 trees with his chainsaw.  The next weekend Will, Brian and myself took down the last trees using the axe.  We cut the trees into 10 and 8 foot pieces and brought them to Will Conklin’s wood mill in Sheffield, MA.  Will and myself added some trees we had taken down over a year ago to the mix and we had our building.  Will Conklin milled the wood on the 16th of April.  Two of the beams were two large to load onto the truck and bring to Conklins, so Will Levin and Tashiana Colston will be milling them by hand, old school.  They will be making mortise and tenon joints using traditional tools.  We hope to be ready to raise it up in early June on our Route 7 site.  We’ll let everyone know well in advance so all that want to can help out.  We’ll also be working on an earthen oven which we will be inviting people to help out with.

Sign Making

Tashi and our friend Sydney have been working on making beautiful signs for our field and farmers market display.  If anyone has any paint left over that they are looking to get rid of we can always use more.

Branding: Logo

Tashi created a new logo for our egg containers using linoleum prints that she carved.  She is currently working on an official Farm logo which will be a simple variation of the original done in Linoleum print.

New Faces arriving

This coming Saturday a new farmer will be joining our ranks,  Jasper KosokoffHe will be coming to us from Portland, Oregon and is excited to be a part o our community and learn more about farming.

We were also just visited by Zeydoc, a friend of Wills from timber-framing school, who will be returning for a month or two this summer.

Volunteer Days

Starting this Saturday the 7th of May we will be welcoming CSA members the opportunity to work at the farm.  We will be doing this every Saturday throughout the month of May.  This Saturday from 10 to 4, we will be working on our field located at the intersection of Lime Kiln Road and West Sheffield Road (the driveway is just west of the intersection next to the first telephone pole) in Sheffield, MA.  If you need more specific directions please call.

If anyone would like to volunteer or just visit the different farm sites on other days they are more then welcome and can arrange that by phone or email or just stop in if you see us.

1st CSA Harvest

The First CSA baskets will be distributed either the the 28th of May or the 4th of June.  We will update you as soon as possible with the what to expect in your baskets.

Farmers Market’s

We decided that we would stay as local as possible with our produce and sell at the Sheffield Farmer’s Market Fridays 3-7pm starting May 27th, bring a blanket, music will be played and their will be plenty of food to enjoy, the Nutrition center market wednesday 3-6 and the new CHP market Thursday afternoons.  Our Farm stand locations will be: farm stand on at 4 Cross road Mt. Washington, MA and our new farmstand at our field on 1347 Rte. 7 Sheffield, MA.

The weather is improving everyday and the plants grow faster and we are working nonstop to get the farm ready for the season.  We are able to do this because you decided to join in the rewards and struggles of agricultural production.  We thank you for your support in growing CCF.