Tuesday, March 27, 2012

 Meet one of our rabbits!  We have two does (females), a mother and her daughter (this one here).
 This relic is our former shed, chicken coop AND rabbit hutch!  (I would go on and include a picture of our new ones (each is its own entity now) if my computer/camera connection would work more than one time ever.)
We took cuttings of raspberries and gooseberries and planted them in the ground.  Since they have no roots we have to make sure that they get plenty of water and not too much sun.  Once the roots develop in the individual cuttings we will relocate them to sunnier areas in order to increase productivity.  This method of planting is also known as propagation.
Some perennial flowers such as these daffodils are coming up and will serve as an early pollen source for bees that will later pollenate our flowers and allow them to turn into fruit, such as with the raspberries and gooseberries.
We did not have a market for all of our leeks last year, so some were composted.  This one never got deep into the compost pile, so it never got hot enough for the bacteria to digest and disintegrate it, so we replanted it, mostly just for kicks!
Taking advantage of the warm weather last week, we dried our laundry outside.
Andrew Lyons and Shane present to the EcoHouse sustainable agriculture class on the importance of bats in ecosystems and how to improve habitat for them.  Bats commonly predate upon pests of crops and in some cases even serve as pollinators.  They made and displayed a bat house which we will later post near our farm to attract bat colonies!  They also remarked that bats have an undeserved bad reputation for the few and far between cases where they bother people or spread rabies.
Andrew Brown gave his presentation on integrated pest management. He noted that having a diverse crop tends to mitigate pest outbreaks.  Biological pest control is the occurrence of "beneficial" organisms preying upon pests.  For example, some wasps consume caterpillars that eat our plants' leaves!  Just don't bother them and they won't sting you.
... And here we are having our weekly Sunday dinner meeting.  After enjoying our food and celebrating each other's company, we get into business and organize ourselves so we can sustain the farm's productivity and our livelihood.  Special credit to Julia for being our guiding farm manager.  Well, that's all for now.  Signing off -- Trevor

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fedco Bulk Order: March 13th

We spent the better part of the afternoon helping to unload and organize Fedco bulk orders in Belchertown, MA.  In exchange for the hours we worked helping to unload pallets of soil amendments, potting soil, garden supplies, and cover crop seeds we got to take home the Fedco bulk order we filled out in January!!  Under the guidance of Cathleen O'Keefe, bulk order coordinator for NOFA Massachusetts, a productive day was shared by all of us as we managed to unload all the Fedco supplies and even put together individual orders to make for a more organized pick up day.  All of the work was done in 68 degree weather. Mind you I am talking about March 13th in Massachusetts…….. Thanks global warming:/

Playing the waiting game....

A pallet arrives!

And another.........

....Ooo look at that! Another pallet

.............And one more!


Looks of sheer determination

Look of sheer...... ummm hmmm

Time for a respite....

......and a photo shoot! Cheers to a job well done by everybody!

-Tanner

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Recent News on the Farm~

1. Overwintering Crops- Towards the end of the growing season, we decided to plant some things to have an early crop come springtime.  Now that spring has (almost) sprung, our winter greens are looking pretty good!  We planted a mesclun mix, spinach and Asian Greens.  Unfortunately, the Asian greens did not fare too well...BUT, our spinach and mesclun look great!  Once the weather gets a bit warmer and the days a bit longer, we are going to have a nice early picking of greens!

 Mesclun Mix is coming up strong!
Spinach!

2. Invasive Control- In these winter days when there is not an excessive amount of work to do outside on the farm, we have decided to start taking control of the invasive problem nearby.  Invasive species can cause a whole mess of problems from taking over native vegetation, changing soil characteristics and local ecosystems to even aiding in harboring diseases!  That said, along our fences and throughout the surrounding are laden with invasive plants.  The prevalent species include Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora), and Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii).  We have recently received two good pairs of loppers and several smaller hand clippers.  Thus, the invasives are slowly getting knocked down, one by one!
 Multiflora rose along our fence.....goodbye!

Japanese Barberry...may be a nice color in the fall, but it's also been linked with an increasing occurrence of Lyme disease.  Here's a link to a news article that talks about the research done by the CT Agricultural Experiment Station 
L_IMG_fig3.jpg
Autumn Olive...another CT invasive.

3. NOFA Conference- As Laura mentioned in the previous post, we at the farm just participated in the 2012 Winter NOFA Conference held at Manchester Community College.  Although a long and exhausting day, we sure did learn a lot, eat great food, and met some really inspiring people!  First, there was an awesome keynote!  Jeffrey Smith, a bestselling author and leading spokesperson on the health dangers of GMOs touched on the politics of Genetically Modified Foods and where we are in the United States with addressing this hot topic.  Smith talked about many different stories from around the world relating to the risks of consuming GMOs, and why in other countries, these crops are strictly banned.  Between the organic community/environmental advocates, politicians and the Biotech industry, this is a highly debated topic these days.  Without a doubt, GM crops do have many benefits like being disease resistant, especially resilient, and being able to grow outside of desirable environments, for example.  There is great potential to help millions of people gain access to food because of a crop that has been modified to grow in a not so suitable climate.  On the other hand, there is no saying whether being able to tweak the genes of plants to solve problems is better than disrupting the natural processes which have evolved over millions of years.  Consequently, the debate continues.
Jeffrey Smiths first book, a best seller on GMOs

Right now however, Connecticut is on the lines of passing a bill that would label products containing GM crops.  Many feel that we as consumers have a right to know what is in our food (I can't argue with that!).  If this topic is something you feel strongly about, now is the time to contact your representative and tell them how you feel about Genetically Modified Crops.  If the proposed bill does end up being passed, CT will be the first state to have a labeling law of this nature!

Back to the conference:  Each of us attended really great workshops relating to a whole variety of topics.  Personally, I went to three excellent workshops and met some great farmers from around the state.  I sat in on a talk/demonstration by Paul Trubey, owner of Beltane Farm in Lebanon, CT.  I learned about raising dairy goats and making cheese (very cool!).  The second workshop was called 'Mushroom Growing on a Small Scale' with Jim Peppin and Carol Brzozowy, two mushroom farmers out of Lebanon, CT (they mainly do shiitake and oyster mushrooms!).  Lastly, Brianne Casadei of Terra Firma Farm talked about raising pasture laying hens (her farm raises thousands of chickens for both meat and eggs).  All three of these farms are open to the public for educational purposes and hopefully (well I am hoping) to do some farm visits in the near future!  More detailed descriptions and pictures to go along with the workshops are coming.  Stay tuned!

All in all, the conference was a huge success, and we will all be taking what we learned there into future endeavors on the farm!
  
That's all for now folks!
-Lyons