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Late-May News from the Farm

Posted 5/26/2010 8:42pm by OONA COY & BEN JAMES.


Hey shareholders, family and friends,

There's been a dry spell of newsletters and rain. With all this super warm May weather, irrigation needs and weeds and transplanting schedules have been sped up and time for writing has been pushed to the late evening hours. As you can probably tell from the emails you've gotten about the Tuesday Market, we've been living our lives half as market managers and half as farmers and half as parents. It's a lot of halves.

We're happy to say that next week will be the first week of pickups for the season. We'll have beautiful head lettuce, arugula, turchardnips, radishes, broccoli raab, chard, scallions and spinach, so get ready to eat your greens. And maybe some other surprises. We will send out another email reminding shareholders which day is your pickup day with a few guidelines about visiting our farm. We will also have items in our farm store for sale next week. Ben will be making shaved ices for $1 apiece (1/2 the market price). Thanks to all of you that have come to the Tuesday Market already – it's so nice to see familiar faces and meet new shareholders.

In the world of the USDA, beginning farmers are those that have been farming for under 10 years, which we've been totally understanding this spring as we continue to set up and revise and recreate our farm systems. We now have four fields in four different locations with all kinds of different micro-climates and irrigation systems to construct – luckily, they're all within ½ mile of the farm and Ben is, by his nature, a problem solver. Our fields are affectionately called by the first names of the owners or previous owners (Ed's, Jim's, Maria's, and Lorraine's). If you'd like to take a driving, biking or walking tour sometime, we can direct you to most of them. At Lorraine's, we have a well that we can pretty easily irrigate from. For the others we have to fill up a 1000 gallon tank on the trailer behind the tractor along with a portable pump and let the water flow through our lines of drip irrigation tape for hours. The modern drip irrigation technology was developed by an Israeli as a way to efficiently bring water to the desert – here's a short wikipedia history of drip irrigation. The only downside is all the plastic it involves. 

Water is what we're all thinking about right now – drinking enough to not get dehydrated in the fields, swimming occasionally to wash off the sweat and dirt, giving enough to the plants in the greenhouse and out in the fields and the animals so that they can grow. Hot, dry weather always makes me think about parts of the world where water is extremely precious and people walk all day to get it for their families. It flows out of our tap here and our kids play with it in the sinks and bathtubs and sprinklers. And it's still very possible that come July, we'll be overwhelmed with thunderstorms and asking for just a little break to control the weeds and fungus.

Our four-year-old Silas is really starting to feel a sense of ownership in the farm this year. We're looking forward to the moment when contributing to work catches up with that feeling, but, for now, we're amazed by how much he's tracking everything that's going on. Over the weekend, a neighbosilas & chickr was helping with some tractor work and came by to ask if he could till in the cover crop of rye a second time over at "the field by the airport." Silas chimed right in and said, "That's Jim Demos' field." He's also been very excited about the all the baby animals around – goat kids, chicks, turkey poults, ducklings (more about these another time). Wiley, now 6 months, spends poultmost of his time tracking his big brother and putting things in his mouth. This morning, while I watered the greenhouse, he was sitting in a sea of clover slobbering on leaves and flowers.

We, at last, have a full crew working out in the fields. David DiLorenzo started in early May after graduating from Umass, and Ari Baum-Hommes started this week after finishing up at Mt. Holyoke. Ari worked with us for about a month a couple of years ago when we had 15 shareholders and we were just about to start the Tuesday Market, so it's a measure of how much our farm has changed to have her back again. Weeding a row of anything or transplanting anything just seems to go faster when there are three or four people chatting, singing, and working together. We're lucky to have them all here.

Here's a recipe for our new favorite thirst quenching natural gatorade for you to try – some local ingredients, some not.

1 pint water, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, juice of half a lemon, a pinch of salt. Yum.

school visitschool visitrobins' eggsrobin chicks


Kindergardeners from the Bridge Street School visited the farm a few weeks ago, a robin's nest underwent a serious renovation, and today we took a break from the heat to eat lunch & jump in the Mill River. From left: Olivia, Ari, David, Silas Laura, Wiley, Oona