Notes from the Field: CSA Week 3

tractorToday is the summer solstice: the longest day of the year. Summer on the farm is an exhilaratingly busy and productive time, when every task you get done is satisfyingly crucial. It’s exciting for us to see the fields change as the days and weeks go by, and sometimes I even measure time in crop progress. “By the time that fennel is ready,” I’ll think to myself, “it’ll be time to weed those onions.” Farming brings an intense awareness of the seasons, of the shifts in weather and the passage of time. For me, it’s a welcome imperative to give every day my full attention. My hope is that by being a part of Land’s Sake farm, and by eating an ever-changing array of local vegetables, you and your families also feel connected to the cycle of the season and the land on which you live. Remember that you’re always welcome to walk around the farm, see behind the scenes, and ask questions of the farmers if you’re curious.

With the CSA going into its third week, our routine is now well established. Mornings on CSA days are spent harvesting: we start at 7 a.m. sharp and race against the sun in order to get all the produce into the tent in time for pickup. In the afternoons, and on non-harvest days, we plant the crops for future weeks, stake and tie tomatoes and peas, weed, manage irrigation, do all manner of tractor work, and juggle the dozens of assorted chores essential to the smooth running of the farm. Our hardworking crew is kept going by laughing conversations in the field, popsicles, iced coffee, and snacks grabbed right from the ground.

As those of you who have come to pick your own strawberries already know, the strawberry patch has been very productive this year. In farming, some of the most important work is the kind that pays off a few years down the road, and the success of this year’s strawberries is due to the hard work and foresight of Melanie Hardy, the previous farm manager, and the investments in the future that she made. All of us at Land’s Sake are extremely grateful to last year’s crew for these delicious berries!

Next week you’ll be seeing new crops, including some favourites like cucumbers, summer squash, and scallions, plus some lesser known gems like kohlrabi and the special salad greens escarole, frisee, and radicchio. You’ll start to see the flower garden take shape at the front of the farm, too!

-Paulette

Notes from the Field: CSA Week 2

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After a very cold wet and cloudy start to the season we are finally seeing some seasonable temperatures. All the cool weather crops have been enjoying the weather and we have been making extensive use of floating row cover. Although it is extremely labor intensive, it pays off with earlier crops with little-to-no insect damage. Our kale, arugula, and bok choi are some notable examples of its benefits. Our first plantings of lettuce are astonishingly large and delicious. The cooler temps and many cloudy days have also benefited the spinach as it was ready far earlier than expected; had we seen more sun it would likely have bolted.
Though we had a long, cold, and dark winter, the longest days of year are finally here. Everything is growing at an amazing pace and the warm weather crops are perking up. However, with all this rain followed by warm sunny days, weeds are exploding too, which means a lot of time with our new cultivating tractor. At this time of year, though, despite the weeds, it’s very exciting to see new crops every week. Some things still slow from the cold spring, but peas are looking great and there should be picking soon! In other exciting news, the flower garden is filling in and our small strawberry field is looking great. We’re very excited to offer members-only pick-your-own this year. You’ll be getting emails from Amanda at the farm stand, who is handling pick your own berries. They’re $5 a pint and you’ll hear from us in the morning of days we open the fields for picking.I have one last thought for this week: our crew has been amazing. They’re a very dedicated hardworking bunch who have really stepped up to the challenge. I’m so glad that we’re all here, working to bring you amazing local produce.
-Erik

Planting for the Future

photoIn the 10 days since we started on Earth Day, our dedicated farm staff here at Land’s Sake has planted 49,500 seedlings, not even including the seeds in the ground for veggies like carrots, hakurei turnips, peas, arugula, tokyo bakana, tatsoi, and radishes. That’s a huge number of vegetables! Seeing the seedlings go off in trucks from the green houses at the Melone House office to the farm is very exciting; it’s an affirmation that the season is really underway (after a long winter) and that in a few short weeks, we’ll be doing what we’re here to do: bringing people together and feeding them good, clean, local veggies. seedlings table

It’s also a visual reminder of what we do outside the fields. Moving these seedlings from the warm, safe green house to the fields where they will grow to feed the community is, in many ways, a conceit for everything we do. Continue reading

A Change of Seasons: Goodbyes and Hellos

farmers line kickRegardless of what the groundhog may have said, the last few weeks of regular snowstorms have given a strong impression that winter is still with us. And yet, the territorial song of cardinals and the warming February sun make clear that spring is inevitably on its way.

And with it come some important transitions for Land’s Sake. At the end of February, we bid a fond goodbye to Melanie Hardy, our farm manager for the past 5 years. Melanie has been instrumental it making the farm what it is today, and she has invested a tremendous amount of herself in this place. We all – staff, members, shareholders & customers – owe her great thanks for what she has accomplished. I will miss her hard work and her passionate commitment to good food, beautiful vegetables, and the people of Land’s Sake. She goes with good wishes from all of us, and we hope she will remain connected to Land’s Sake long into the future.

Farmer Erik BaumAt the same time, we are pleased to welcome back Erik Baum as our new farm manager. Continue reading

What Inspires You?

Holly Ameden, Land’s Sake Board Presidentnwsltr_May11_grazingtendrils

For me, the answer begins with my family. Watching my three sons, twin eight-year-olds and a five-year-old, go out in the world with their curiosity and energy to experience new things and meet new people – this inspires me. I see their energy in action at Land’s Sake as they go on school field trips and use their five senses, as we pick up our weekly CSA share at the farm and roam the flower field, and as we learn what ripe tomatillos look like in the “pick your own” fields. The boys climb the trees, visit the rabbits and chickens, and tell me about the herbs and vegetables growing in the educational garden. When I pick them up from a February vacation program at Land’s Sake, the boys tell me how they collected sap, how maple trees work, and how syrup is made. This spring, I can’t wait to hear what they have to say when I pick them up from their “Afterschool Explorers” program.Continue reading

Salute to Summer

While it’s not quite Fall, the air has certainly turned brisk and Summertime fun has been replaced with Back-to-School excitement.  Here at Land’s Sake, we particularly notice the change of seasons as weeks of Green Power give-way to After School Programs, and constant harvesting and weeding in the heat segues into harvesting and storing the bounty of Fall.  Thank you to all who have made for such a wonderful Summer season; we look forward to what Fall has in store for us and say ‘farewell’ with 10 of our favorite Summer moments.

Enjoy!

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Summer on the Farm: Growing Community

Tuesday was a classic day at the farm. The final group of this season’s Green Power students were busily working in the front garden, helping to harvest and keep our fields looking great. Land’s Sake farmers were busily washing and packing the day’s harvest and setting out berries and tomatoes for sale at the farmstand. CSA customers were literally queued up, ready to claim their share of the vegetables that were all beautifully and carefully laid out under the CSA tent. Students from the Blue Hills Boys & Girls Club romped about the garden and the fields, learning about goats and compost, green vegetables and natural systems. It was Land’s Sake at its summertime best.

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New Faces on the Farm

As the vegetables in the fields grow, Land’s Sake’s staff of farmers and educators increase too, bringing with them their passion for completing the rigorous work it takes to fulfill our mission and reach our seasonal goals.  Each member of our team has been inspired in some way to heed the call to return to the land, that inspiration is contagious and is truly the engine that continues to drive us towards success.  Land’s Sake is a very special place for a multitude of reasons.  High on the list is our dedicated staff and the energy that they brings with them, we are immensely grateful to have such an amazing and devoted crew.  Please join the Land’s Sake community in welcoming: Laura Eppstein, Nicole Gelb and Brett Maley among the new faces on the farm this season.

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My First Woodchuck

I’m not sure of how I managed to find myself in this position after 15 years of working in gardens and on farms, but until now, I’ve somehow escaped having to bear witness to the wrath of the woodchuck.  For years, when customers asked for my advice about how to deal with the voracious vegetarians in their gardens, I’d stare at them blankly.  I swear, visions of some wild and cartoony monster (not unlike the Warner Brothers’ Tasmanian devil) tearing up a garden would float through my head.  When I have read farmers’ humorously epic accounts of increasingly desperate attempts to rid their farms of a woodchuck family, I’ve found myself feeling blessed to have worked on farms where I’d never encountered the endlessly hungry beasts. To be honest, until last year I’d never actually seen a woodchuck (besides in photos), and when I finally did, I had to laugh at the clumsy, large, wriggling thing that scampered across our office’s parking lot. How could that do so much damage?

Well, you can believe that I was humbled when I checked our really large planting of spring broccoli this week and found that 50% of the plants had been eaten down to what can only be described as broccoli nubbins.  I scanned the fence, a three layer wall of mesh and lightly electrified wire that for the past three years has been impenetrable to our other least favorite large pest, deer, and saw no breaks.  No deer prints around the plants either. My heart sank a little–we were dealing with something that we couldn’t stop with our magical deer fence. Or row cover. Or organic pesticide.

As it usually happens, feelings of pest-damage induced despair turned into an adrenaline rush within a minute or two.  On the advice of another farmer, I immediately purchased a Havahart trap at the hardware store and grabbed the stinkiest cantaloupe at the grocery store. The idea is that the sweet stench of the cantaloupe is irresistible bait for the woodchuck.

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