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Monthly Summary August 2011

August 1st, 2011 | Posted by Casey in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary August 2011)

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS:  A real indication of the the success of our training program is the fact that the farm manager and family are able to take a vacation at the beginning of August.  This is one of the most demanding months of the season as our bodies are tired and the harvesting is at it’s peak.  Second and third year trainees get to test  their managment skills and “run the ship” for a bit.  An added challenge is one 2nd year trainee double twists his ankle.  The crew is capable and handles it well.  Thank You!  Some strong, gusty winds and 100 degree days round out the challenges faced this month.  One heavy rain (8/16) dropped .8 inches in just a few minutes!  

EQUIPTMENT 10.5hrs.: IH140 gets some field time in Veg B Mid. to help prepare this patch for bare fallow.  A run through with two center shanks flattens previously formed beds a bit.  May need to build beds up a bit before broadcasting the oats for winterkill.  Training: RC uses Kabota to clean isles of BGB’s.  MR follows with walk behind mower on top of empty beds.  Field beds are generally mowed off with the Kabota and BGB’s with the walk behind mower.  This happens before preparing a bed for planting/seeding.  Kabota used weekly to mow the perimeters of the next chicken pastures in the rotation.  Repaired loose gang with new steel tube bushing and heavy duty washer on disc harrow.  Ford used to disc Mulch SE Mid section (3 passes and clean up passes) and churn down the nutsedge.  Used Ford to disc Veg B North.    

ADMINISTRATION 31.5hrs.:  Payroll, Bills and Workmans Comp Audit.  Staff Metting to update on cover cropping plan and BGB management and prep. for final end of season plantings and winter production.  Website worked on.  Planning for winter production seed order (see special projects).  Finalized seed order (8/26) and placed order.  Field walk through fruit cluster and Madonna fields.  Checking corn, beans and squash for size and rodent damage.  Conclusion was squash is not quite big enough to harvest yet but keep an eye on it and harvest before critters start muching.  MR dealt with  Organic Certification Inspection. 

Discussion of  Limitations.  Awareness and acceptance of your limitations can help in planning.  Example:  you can’t do 20 hours of mowing with 10 hours and a broken down mower.    Here is a list written in log that can be  helpful when prioritizing tasks.  Chores-Water, Shelter, Food:      Self, Dependants, Livestock, Plants – crop care, greenhouse. 

Bank deposit.  Met with NOFA President – Discussed New Farmer Program and working with Duke Farm.  Crew member interested in leasing land for coming season and had discussion with MR about possible arrangements (cost of housing and work requirements as part of North Slope Farm crew) 

INFRASTRUCTURE 26.5hrs.:  Weekly rotation to fresh pasture for the chickens continues.  Perimeter always mowed before moving fences.  This helps with proper fence set up.  Chicken coops get a good cleaning this month and fresh bedding (hay) added.  Some trouble obtaining organic layer pellets; chickens eating organic mash/pellet mix in the meantime.  Walk-in cooler working again!  Market garden fence perimeter weed wacked and fence repaired.  Mowed around perimeter of all the hay fields to see if worthy of cutting and baling.  Old zinnia bed mowed off as well. 

GREENHOUSE:

COMPOSTING 3.5hrs.: Composted 4 BGB’s.  New 6’x6’x6′ compost pile started with plant material removed from Veg B Mid and straw in alternating layers.  Pile extended 8/27 with more weeds removed from 6 beds in Veg B Mid.

PLANTING 33hrs.: Mowed off field beds where harvesting is complete and BGB’s that will be prepared for the next seeding.  Carrot and beets direct seeded in Veg B South.  Mowed off remaining BGB’s.  4 BGB’s composted, broad forked, rototilled, raked, rolled, direct seeded with lettuce, turnips, carrots and a final rolling to secure the seed in the soil.  Preparing for winter production planting and cover crops.  Focus is on controlling weeds in tilled ground.  Pig weed- mow, cut and remove.  Nutsedge-mow, cut harrow then drag with spring tooth.  Ford used to disc Veg B North before sedding wheat and clover.  Prep. and plant five remaining field beds in Veg B South with gold beets, red beets, radishes, turnips, kale and scallions.

CROP CARE 82hrs.:  Lots of weeding in Veg B South (current main crops harvesting from) and BGB’s (2 salad mix).  Kale, chard and salad mix weeded and thinned somewhere? in market garden.  Hand weeded 6 beds Veg B Mid.  Hoed 2 beds of young salad mix and carrots in BGB’s and a row of direct seeded chard and beans in the field beds.  We also fit in another round of tomato stringing!

HARVESTING 286.5hrs.:  Kale, beets, squash, chard, green beans, tomatoes, peppers (1st 8/20), eggplant (1st 8/20), flowers, salad mix (new beds 8/25), basil, carrots.  Green bean bed abandoned early in the month due to a combination of over and under sized beans. These plants we will often let go to seed and collect dry beans for winter.   The plan for earliest planting of beets is to top them and store them for late summer or early winter sales (8/26 harvested and topped 275# from Veg B South).   

HANDLING 61hrs.: Routine washing for Hopewell, West Windsor and Summit Markets.  Sorting tomatoes is also ongoing.  600# of tomatoes sorted out and set aside for sauce.  MR picked up Tomato Sauce; 96 qts. from 600#.  Cost $345 or $3.60/qt. with 6.5# tomatoes/qt. plus time packing, drop off and pick up.  Estimated minimum value/jar $10.

MARKETING 163hrs.: Hopewell( 8/4 $751, 8/11 $563.75, 8/18 $622, 8/25 $707)  West Windsor (8/7 $1,770.50, 8/14 $2116.80, 8/20 $1,304, 8/28 $1,610) Summit (8/8 $3,000+. (Note: Blackberries require lots of time sorting.  Possible customer loss as a result.  Beautiful salad mix in field that did not make it to market this week?  Hot weather?  Or maybe crew small this week?), 8/15 $3,390, 8/29 $2,250). Farmstand set up on Thursdays with little traffic. Organized a tomato order for Nomad Pizza 40# Hierlooms and 32 pints sungolds.  Made a couple trips to Solebury Orchards to pick up a fruit order.  We resell this delicious fruit at our farmers markets. 

SPECIAL PROJECTS 17hrs.:  Serious planning begins for winter production in Farmhouse Gothic and Ralph’s House.  Winter field production under tunnels also proposed.  Speial Event:  collecting eggs for Bent Spoon.  Need 10 dozen for Friday 8/13.  New Film: Jared Fletcher delivered copies of The Farmer and the Horse to sell at markets.  Summer Conference:  Two crew members headed off to the annual NOFA Summer Conference in MA.  TOMATO SAUCE:  Ripe tomatoes are collected and stored in cooler until 600# goal reached.  They are taken to Baumans for processing.  DELIVERY:  CH offers free delivery to Rock Road residents.  Produce delivered weekly.  A couple deliveries to neighboring towns with a delivery fee.  TOMATO FIGHT: Tomato Maze cut out for tomato fight.

Monthly Summary July 2010

July 1st, 2011 | Posted by RR in Monthly Summary - (55 Comments)

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Monthly Summary –_July_, 2010

___RR__: Logs and records reviewed, and summary prepared 6/30/11

General Observations:  When I think of July, I think of sitting on the porch after a long day of with my hand wrapped around a cold drink. And I imagine that’s just what the crew did last July after a long day’s work.  With a massive heat wave and drought that brought 99-100 degree days, threatened crops and changed work hours to a 6am start up, a bit of relaxation must have been necessary.  Thankfully, however, July didn’t seem to be all that bad.  The month brought along the first exciting harvests of tomatoes, sungolds, eggplants, carrots, cucumbers, and garlic. Chickens were taken care of, equipment problems seemed minimal, the 3rd succession of crops was planted, and other issues seemed to find quick solutions.

Equipment 20 hrs: July seemed like a month with few equipment problems.  The John Deer had a bit of trouble starting one day which postponed composting and planting in a field.  MR fixed it later that day with a jump start from the Ford and the battery charger.  There was also mowing going on early this month. Maintenance was necessary for the Farmhouse and Ranch yards, waterways and for the cluster area. Field beds were also mowed down.

Administration 13 hrs:  The website had some difficulties working and delayed the posting of the July 2009 summary. (The 7/09 summary eventually got posted. Just scroll down and click on “next page” until it pops up!) Other administrative duties included payroll, bill-paying and the quarterly tax statement.  Non-financial tasks were out of the ordinary. MR gave a two hour tour to farmers from Philadelphia on 15th. On another day, someone stumbled upon the old North Slope Farm logo on the computer and had plans to revive it.

Infrastructure 38.5 hrs:  Our chickens were movin’ on up. The older girls got moved to fresh pasture. The young gals were given a new home in a bigger coop, within which, they were described as, “content and adventurous.” Heat and drought made bringing water to both groups of chickens a critical task.  The office and shoop (an equipment storage facility), including the compost toilet area, received a clean-up and it was discovered that the shoop needed a new cover.    

Greenhouse 2 hrs:  Ralph’s house (the name of one of our greenhouses) was home to the tomatoes and some garlic beds last year in July. This particular greenhouse was cleared of weeds as workers harvested garlic. The remaining tomatoes received constant trellising.

Composting 7.5 hrs:  The field we know as Veg B South had six beds composted in total in preparation for planting the 3rd succession of crops. Fruit trees such as the Asian Pears and Clem. trees also got composted.

Planting 21.5 hrs:  The 3rd succession was planted by CH, SJ and ST. Crops included the transplanting of basil, fennel, red beets and zinnias on 7/2 and gold beets on 7/6. The 4th and 5th successions of field salad were direct seeded on 7/6 and 7/28, respectively.

CropCare 134.5 hrs:  Weeding, weeding and more weeding. One bare-fallow field needed a hard weeding down the center of its beds after several passes with mechanical cultivation. Doing so was noted to promote less weedy beds for next year. Another bare-fallow field was weeded of big plants and then needed weeding of the smaller plants. Experiments regarding weeding and worker hours were conducted.  It was concluded that worker hours were less when weeds were smaller in size. It was also concluded that philosophical discussions made the work go faster.

Harvesting 312 hrs:  Last July they harvested: Kale (285 bunches), Scallions (176 bunches), Squash (396 pounds), Garlic (6 rows), Radishes (56 pounds), Zinnias (169 bunches), Tomatoes (25.5 trays), Sunflowers (39 bunches), Greenbeans (263 pounds), Field Salad (300 pounds), Sungolds (284 pints), Cucumbers (205 pounds), Carrots (184 pounds), Eggplants (64 pounds), Flowers (500 bunches).

Handling 66 hrs:  The walk-in cooler was broken! RCM had a difficult time moving crates around and finding storage. She eventually settled on using the display cooler for blueberries. Dried loose-leaf tea was packaged and the harvested garlic was cut and stored. Also, ST, RCM and SJ received a detailed flower harvesting introduction.  Fun handling observation: 17 pounds of wet salad mix becomes 12 pounds of salad mix after spinning! (5 pounds of water spun out).

Marketing 141 hrs:  Garlic, cherry tomatoes and tomatoes were sold wholesale to Nomad last July. The Farmstand was also open and its revenue for the month totaled $297.00. Each week there was any combination of chard, salad, snow peas, scallions, beans, garlic, squash, eggs, blueberries, beets, cucumbers, sungold cherry tomatoes, and other tomatoes. Other markets are West Windsor, Summit and Hopewell.

West Windsor: (7/3) $1431.75, (7/10) $1328.00, (7/17) $1763.00, (7/31) $2111.50

Summit: (7/4) $2,200.00, (7/11) $2,500.00, (7/18) $2630.00

Hopewell: (7/7) $466.00, (7/14) $530.35, (7/21) $523.50, (7/28) 723.56 (Yea for tomatoes!)            

Special Projects 9.5 hrs:  Some of the fruit trees, sadly, did not do well in the heat and had passed on.  Another special project involved discussing the future of our website.

Monthly Summary June 2010

June 14th, 2011 | Posted by Jess in Monthly Summary - (102 Comments)

Monthly Summary – June 2010

Prepared by Jess on June 14, 2011

General Observations:  This month was all about switching everything into full gear.  A lot of time spent establishing the grain fields now known as the Madonna field.  A large amount of equipment training was given to the crew because of this task. 15 consecutive days without rain in hot conditions made irrigation a huge priority and management concern. Many hours were spent preparing beds to be planted. Harvesting time doubled and more time was spent handling the produce since the second market of the season started this month.

Equipment 34hrs: 6/3 Tires had to be replaced on Spring tooth harrow; 6/5 tractor used for tillage but overheated after less than an hour of use (90° day); 6/7 muffler broke on the IH 140 from rust; 6/9 chopper was pulled out of brush to get it ready to cut hay; 6/9 IH 140 stalled while bed forming but realized the next day that it was just out of gas!; 6/13 gasoline was put in the kabota had to empty tank; 6/15 the ATV still had not been repaired and the walk in cooler’s fan motor died and replacement is needed; 6/30 attempted to replace the walk in coolers fan motor but it was the wrong size and wiring diagram was very unclear

Administration 17hrs: Registered late for Summit market, payroll, bills, organic certification forms, normal tasks

Infrastructure 36hrs: 6/3 Veg A and B harrowed and Veg B and grain fields were fallowed; 6/5 bed formed half of grain field; 6/8 significant termite damage on the farmhouse estimated $1200 to treat and foundation needs to be cleared to 2 inches; 6/10 stucco finished on seed shed; 6/15 noticed that 5 chickens were lost due to fox attacks so moved chickens closer to daily activities in hopes of eliminating losses; 6/23 installation begun around the Madonna field; lots and lots of irrigation due to drought like conditions, well was fixed, pool maintenance, mowing diversions, pathways, and under electric fence; general maintenance

Greenhouse 45hrs: 6/8 started seeding third succession; 6/10 seeding for third succession was finished; 6/19 extra basil was seeded due to poor germination, additional flowers and basil were seeded for seedling sales; 6/28 thinned swiss chard and kale for third succession, seeded squash for third succession; clearing out old seedlings, clearing out old crops, seeding for third succession, watering

Composting 11.5hrs:  6/10 compost delivered; sifting compost for seedlings, mulching tomatoes, 579 field, BGBs, and market garden

Planting 36.5hrs: 6/3 planted beets, scallions, celosia, zinna, peppers, and eggplant. Direct seeded beans turnips, radishes, squash and sunflower; 6/12 was a new moon, seeded corn, squash and beans; 6/14 grafted tomatoes were planted; 6/18 2 BGBs were seeded with field salad

Crop Care173hrs: 6/2 staking the tomatoes was finished; 6/9 tomatoes and cucumbers were trellised; 6/10 all leaf minor was picked off of the swiss chard; 6/17 finished mulching tomatoes; 6/21 greenhouse tomatoes were pruned and trellised and attempted to get cucumbers to climb on the trellis; 6/22 seven rows of tomatoes were strung; 6/22 springtooth harrowed the Madonna field; weeding (always weeding!), bed formations, prepping beds for planting, mowing

Harvesting 272hrs:  6/15 peas harvested, tracked time/yield and then established wholesale value;first week there was no chard due to infestation of leaf miner; 6/30 had to use box truck to store bulk items becaue the walk in cooler was not working; harvest time doubled this month due to the start of our second market at Summit.

First Week: salad, kale, turnips, garlic scapes, summer squash, snow peas, zinnia, feverfew

Second Week: salad, kale, chard, head lettuce, tat soi, turnips, radishes, garlic scapes, summer squash, snow peas, snap peas, zinnia, sunflowers

Third Week: salad, kale, chard, tat soi, turnips, radishes, beets, garlic scapes, summer squash, snow peas, snap peas, zinnia

Fourth Week: salad, kale, chard, tat soi, beets, turnips, garlic scapes, snow peas, snap peas, scallions, beans, zinnias, sunflowers

Handling 60hrs:  washing and bagging salad, washing produce, packing truck for market

Marketing 113hrs:

Hopewell:  6/2 $315, 6/9 $247.60, 6/16 $558.85, 6/22 $510, 6/30 $457 Total = $2,088.45  Average sales = $417.69

West Windsor:  6/5 $957.25, 6/12 $1,209, 6/19 $1,118, 6/26 $1,142 Total = $4,425.25  Average sales = $1106.56

Summit: 6/6 $1,170, 6/13 $1,500, 6/20 $1,900, 6/27 $2,000 (estimated) Total = $6,570  Average sales = $1,642.50

 Special Projects 10.5hrs: 6/11 hay was cut in the 579 field, 6/22 new batch of chicks picked up.

Weather:

First Week: Rain, hot and scattered thunder storms, hot and dry, cool and comfortable

Second Week: Cool and sunny, cool and breezy rain overnight, cloudy morning sunny warm afternoon, cool

Third Week: Great weather but a little dry, drying conditions, hot and dry, hot and dry

Fourth Week: Drought like conditions, hot and dry, very hot, little cooler still dry
New Chicks

Monthly Summary May 2010

May 18th, 2011 | Posted by Kyle in Monthly Summary - (105 Comments)

Monthly Summary – May 2010
Prepared by KG May 16th 2011
Mowing 

 General Observations: May was a very busy month. In worker hours it was the second highest of the year with a total of 1051 hours. Spring is in full swing, the vegetation around the farm is growing heartily and the weather is getting warm enough for outdoor planting to proceed as the risk of frost diminishes. With increased production comes an increased need for maintenance. Crop care, harvesting, handling and all the other elements are affected as more is being grown. May marks a shift in priority tasks, crop care and keeping on target with succession planting must take precedence while basic operations cannot be neglected. The result of this is a busier time as the farm shakes off the last of winter’s sleep and launches fully into the season’s production.

 
Administration 59hrs: The regular tasks of accounting and paying bills were attended to, as was payroll. A rainy morning was a good time for a crew meeting to discuss priorities for the month. MR reviewed by-laws and vendor regulations in preparation for a Hopewell Market Meeting. On 5/19 an accident report was made, the Hay Rake was crashed into and severely damaged by a car/truck.

 
Infrastructure 150 hrs: Lots of infrastructure work this month, by worker hours May was the heaviest of the year for infrastructure. Moving and caring for the poultry was a weekly chore with the chickens out in the field. Having the chickens in the field certainly improves their quality of life, but also exposes them to danger as was seen twice this month in fox attacks. On the 11th 7 of the ’08 chickens were lost, and on the 22nd 9 more were lost.

With everything now green and growing, maintenance of pathways and waterways became a larger task. In addition to maintaining the key arteries of the farm, beds needed to be mowed in preparation for planting.

Also in May, the pool was swept and prepared for use.

On 5/23 a problem with the farm water system was discovered, a burnt wire was found in the well pump control unit. Resetting the system frequently proved ineffective, and on 6/2 a repairman came and repaired the well. In the mean time the farmhouse water system was used to fill in as best as possible, but with some inconvenience.

Equiptment 90hrs: Lots of equipment training this month, second year interns SJ ST and RCM were trained on various equipment/practices including rototilling, tilling, disking and cultivating with a tractor.

The Kubota was serviced on 5/13, problems with the starter were troubleshot. A note in the log suggests the blades be replaced by this time next year.

JD received new application of Teflon tape which leaked at first but then held after tightening.

 
Greenhouse 69.5 hrs: With so much of the farm activity shifting to planting and crop care there was much less going on the in greenhouses this month compared to the last. By mid-month only one bed of Swiss Chard from last fall remained in Ralph’s house, the rest of the winter production was cleared.

Tomatoes were potted on and more plants seeded for seedling sales. On 5/30 the need to prepare for the seeding the next succession was mentioned in the log.

 
Composting 43hrs: Plenty of composting as field beds were being prepared for planting. BGBs and field beds being readied for planting received one trailer load per bed. Blackberries received a covering of mulch.

 
Planting 116 hrs: Lots of planting this month, with a heavy focus in the Big Garden Beds. There were two plantings of salad mix in May, as well as the planting of mixed beds of radishes with carrots and turnips with carrots. On 5/21 tomatoes were planted, in one long day of hard work all the available varieties were planted out in the field. About 100 each of Sungold, Brandywine, and Striped German as well as smaller numbers of Arbason, Crimson Sprinter, Corsalo, Cheroke Purple, and Green Zebra made it out into the field for the first time in their cowpots. On 5/25 some of the second succession was planted; Squash, Chard, and Zinnias in Veg B north.

 

Crop Care 215 hrs: With spring here and having crops out in the field weeding became a major part of the daily activity at North Slope Farm. Hand-weeding, scuffle hoeing, weed-wacking, mowing and tractor cultivating were all used to clear weeds. Strawberries were weeded and peas were trellised. A note in the log warns that “crop care could consume us all…”

 
Harvesting 129 hrs: May marked a change in harvesting as the greenhouse production came to an end and was replaced by crops from the field. Salad mix, Arugala, and Chard were harvested from the BGBs at first, with Kale left to grow larger. By the end of the month kale, garlic scapes and turnips were being harvested for market.

 
Handling 48.5hrs: Regular washing for markets, eggs washed for Bent Spoon. Strawberry plants potted on 3 to a container for sale at market along with other seedlings.

 
Market 118hrs: May 1st was the first of the Saturday markets at West Windsor, which meant now North Slope Farm was harvesting, preparing, and attending two markets a week. Seedlings helped to bolster market revenue and notes about selling out in the log indicate that overall markets this month went well. CH also set up a farm-stand file and spreadsheet to track deliveries, the farm-stand was cleaned up and display cooler turned on.

 
Special Projects 29hrs: Hay cutting in 579 field.

Cost calculations for poultry production were made comparing Winter and April feed costs to eggs produced. The cost per dozen eggs of WP was calculated to be $2.39 vs AP costs of $1.57 per dozen eggs.

 
Weather:
Week 1: May started off hot, 90* on the first of the month. By the end of the week however the weather had changed and conditions were windy and cold.
Week 2: Much colder, with some rain. Frosts overnight on the 9th and 10th caused some crop damage, loss of 50 pepinos noted in log.
Week 3: Continued cold this week, with some days of heavy rain. By the end of the week conditions were sunny and warm again.
Week 4: Warm and sunny for most of the week, conditions allowing for the tractors to get into the fields. Some heavy rainfall arrived at the end of the month, just in time to prevent the need for irrigation being used.

Monthly Summary April 2010

March 31st, 2011 | Posted by RR in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary April 2010)

Monthly Summary – April, 2010

Rita: Logs and records reviewed, and summary prepared 3/25/11 

Blooming Peach

General Observations: As a new trainee at North Slope Farm, I learned that last April was filled with all sorts of excitement. The weather was interesting as the month started with a sunny heat wave followed by a thunderstorm that led to dry, cooler days the rest of the month.  So much cooler, in fact, that there was a frost warning on the 23rd. Weather didn’t stop production, however, and among the usual tasks that accompany the start of a growing season were challenges, experiments and special projects.  From equipment repair to greenhouse issues, newly planted fruits to chicken coops, the crew was kept on their toes all month.   

Equipment 26 hrs: Minor issues with the JD tractor on the 7th resulted in the creation of a sheet of instructions regarding where to grease the zerks. The same tractor had problems toward the end of the month when it started leaking hydraulic fluid. 

On the 8th, a tire for the Kabota was repaired and put back on.

An old trailer was resurrected from weeds and given new tires. Its purpose is to carry a water tank to water remote fields.

Finally, the ATV had work done on its ignition system.

Other tractors were used to mow the Market Garden and Grain Field.

Administration 54 hrs:  Summaries for April and May of 2009 were started and finished during this month. Other administrative work included correspondence with CowPots early in the month regarding certification potential, and orders of organic corn seed and tomato grafting clips. Also, a cost estimate data for the BGBs and Top Dressing Garlic were created on the 8th.

Infrastructure 78 hrs:  The water source and system changed this month, and a fence was taken down around the compost.

Irrigation was created for many areas on the farm including the strawberry, arugula and lettuce beds, as well as the fruit cluster and the Farmhouse Gothic. Later on, the strawberries got a new supply line so it didn’t have to keep switching with that of the Gothic.

Finally, the permaculture field, once overgrown with brambles, saw an amazing transformation after being mowed on the 29th.

Greenhouse 110.5 hrs:  It was a rough month for the greenhouses. An aphid infestation overwhelmed the Red Russian Kale in Ralph’s House. Plants and planted tomatoes (Taxi, Paragon, Arbasen and crimson summer) were removed from R.H. on the 14th.

On the 23rd, snails were found to have eaten 65% of the planted tomatoes on the east bed of R.H. and those tomatoes were replaced. A possible solution to the problem would be to feed the snails beer.

Composting 47.5 hrs:  The fruit cluster, apple trees, garlic in the 579 Field, the BGBs and Veg B North all received a layer of compost.

Planting 171 hrs:  Many crops were seeded, direct seeded, transplanted and potted this month. Most notable plantings were the Chester Blackberries along the north edge of the composting area, 9 more apple trees on the South East edge of the fruit cluster.

Planting of grapes and Hardy Kiwi also garnered excitement from crew members.  

April also held the seeding of the 3rd and 4th succession of seedlings for sale at markets, planting of crops for the Kitchen Garden and the 1nd succession of veggies on the 8th.

CropCare 151 hrs:  Tea plants were weeded and peas were trellised.

Beds were prepared for arugula and lettuce. This included, mowing, forking, tilling, raking, rolling and finally seeding the field. The 579 field, which had garlic planted, was cultivated, composted and mulched. A threat of frost on the 23rd moved the outside tomatoes and flowers into a truck.

Harvesting 21.5 hrs:  Swiss chard and salad mix were harvested for market sales this month.   

Handling 2 hrs:  Chicken eggs were washed and packed on the 16th.

Marketing 53 hrs:  North Slope Farms participated at the Wednesday Farmer’s Market at Hopewell (?) during this month. Some days were better than others in regards to sales and turn out. Both factors seem to be correlated with the weather… such as less people coming to the market during a thunderstorm.

Produce continued to be delivered to local restaurants this month.

Special Projects 99 hrs:  The lucky girls had BD building and improving on their homes (chicken coops/tractors) the entire month.  And a routine for chicken chores was either created or reviewed on the 20th.

Monthly Summary – March 2010

Prepared 3/4/11 RCM

General Observations: Spring is coming.  Looking back on last year’s log reminds me of the somewhat chilly start we had: snow on the grown, freezing nights and some windy wet days.  But soon the weather began changing and warm temperatures by the afternoon kept our spirits up as the green began appearing.  Chickweed salads with the fresh tangy green were enjoyed by crewmembers.  Of course this spurt of green growth also meant there was plenty of weeding and such to start off our season and prepare for.  Fortunately, after a long winter off, the NSF crew was ready to get our hands dirty again.

Administration 126.5 hours: Numerous ’08 summaries had yet to be finished and posted on the website and the general crop plan for the current season needed to be smoothed out and seeds ordered.  A lot of time was spent in the office trying to get ready for the coming season… which on a cold wet day in March can be very pleasant when sitting next to a small heater.  There were also bills and payroll to be paid and general organization of farm business.

Infrastructure 67 hours: General repairs on the farm after the winter had to be done.  The seed shed foundation was fixed up and stuccoed, helping make the root cellar more efficient, protecting the Insulation Boards.  Loose roof panels were repaired, as was damage from the winter and a rain/wind storm to the greenhouses.  Power supply line to Greenhouse #1 was protected with Electrical Conduit.

Greenhouse 143.5 hours:  First and foremost the heated greenhouse needed to be put in order for spring use.  We began to utilize new cowpots (biodegradable) in the greenhouse for seedling sales at market as well as some of our slow-growing veggies like tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.  March was also the beginning of SEEDING!  Lots of trays were prepared for our first succession of planting and seedlings were prepared for selling at market and whole sales vendors such as Whole Earth in Princeton.  Everything from kale and swiss chard to nasturtiums and zinnias were being seeded to be ready for the coming spring.  New metal flashing sheets were placed on greenhouse cinderblock table legs to help create a slick surface to deter mice from climbing onto the tables and foraging for planted seeds.  Ralph’s House Greenhouse was also prepped for planting, beds were cleared and forked and transplanted into.  The greenhouses were very busy in March

Composting 14 hours:  Lots of sifting compost for our seedling trays. 

Planting 44.5 hours:  Began planting some perennial Fruits, strawberries, blackberries and asparagus.  Also seeded peas.

Crop Care 63 hours:  Beds needed to be prepped after the long winter, both in greenhouses and in the field.  Everything from clearing beds of weeds, broadforking, rototilling and seeding.  There were lots of beds in the tea garden and market garden that had to be cleared.  Lettuce grown in the heated greenhouse during the winter was transplanted into a bed in the unheated Ralph’s House.  Fruit trees were also pruned.

Harvesting 15 hours:

  • Week 1: lettuce and arugula from our heated greenhouse
  • Week 2: Kale from unheated greenhouse
  • Week 3: Chard and kale from unheated greenhouse
  • Week 4: Kale, chard, lettuce and tatsoi

Handling 6 hours: Cleaning products and prepping for our weekly Hopewell market.

Market 46 hours: RC was trained and drove the box truck for the first time to Hopewell Hopewell 3/3 $81, 3/17 $133, 3/24 $206.74, 3/31 $246

Special Projects 36.5 hours:  Chickens needed a new traveling coop built for the young 09 girls.  Egg washing and finding enough egg buyers in the winter (through wholesale to the Bent Spoon in Princeton).

Weather:

  • Week 1:  Snow still covering the ground but days are getting warmer with freezing nights
  • Week 2:  Beautiful, warm days with rain in the forecast
  • Week 3:  Rain Storm with some high winds, followed by warm sunny days
  • Week 4: Mild temps with rain forecasted, sounds like Spring

Monthly Summary – January and February 2010

March 4th, 2011 | Posted by miker in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary – January and February 2010)

Monthly Summary – January and February, 2010

MikeR; Logs and records reviewed, and summary prepared 3/2/11

 General Observations: The farm is in its coldest and quietest months.  RCM had the “helm” with MR and CH returning early January from their travels, only to be gone again in February for the Big Snow Storm.  Late January heavy rains, then cold weather settling in, broken up by heavy snow from 2/6 thru 2/16.  Regular logging by RCM and MR but not a huge amount of activity.  SJ and ST show up in February for Crew Meetings and some Administration…

Equipment ? hrs;  Two major snow storms to plow out off, thank you BD!.  JD noted to be running well, if engine block heater turned on for an hour pre start-up.  Concerned in 20*F temperatures about the stress on poorly lubricated joints.  Mental note – be sure winter equipment is well greased Before the cold sets in!!

Administration ? hrs;  Financial assessment is always crying out at this time of year.  Bank account starting the season with $8,000.  Paid the $6,700 due on ’09 Federal Employee taxes (should have been paid monthly over the course of the season) and 4th Quarter NJ Employee Taxes, knocking us into the danger zone for low balance!  Transferred funds from savings account.  Experience has proven that we need about $20,000 to start up the season, after all previous year bills are paid.  Ideally this ‘cash cushion’ can be held in a business savings account, used in lean times, then paid back as income exceeds payroll liability.  Access to capital funds may be one of the greatest limitations on New Agricultural Ventures.  Our Capital, or Savings account allows us to support our bare bones operations, pre market season, without the expense of a loan.  Filed annual application for permission to redeem Farmers Market WIC and Senior Citizen Checks.  MR met with Farm Family Insurance Company Agent, Chuck Nemeth, to update Liability and Auto Insurance policies.  Hosted visit from Visiting Important Person (like getting visited by a Rock Star for MR): John Jeavons.  J. Jeavons was the Keynote Speaker for the NOFA-NJ Winter Conference on January 30.  Crew Orientation 2/4, MR handed out packets and explained NSF history, goals and maps to SJ, RCM and ST.  ST and RCM are technically our 2 new Trainees, though each will be considered 2nd years (no 1st years in 2010).  2/19 another crew meeting, setting a ‘broad brush Task List.’  2/23 met with crew to tidy office, file receipts, sort and clear seed and equipment catalogs and post year end summaries from 2009.  2/25 full crew meeting, adding BD and CH to present and discuss Crop Plan for 2010 (details under Planting).

Infrastructure ? hrs:  Rain, Freezing Temperatures, heavy snow, warming days.  Getting around, tending livestock and keeping perishable items are the primary focus.  RCM suffered thru winter of poorly operating heating system in FarmHouse. MR found farm “Silver Fridge”(small) to be heating above acceptable range due to interior fan running without coolant compressor.  Freezing temps allowed for simply unplugging Fridge and adjusting temperature by exposure to or protection from outside air.  An incandescent bulb in our walk-in cooler (large), brought the temp up from less than 30*F to 35*F despite freezing outside.  These months are always a struggle, balancing the need to protect stored produce from freezing and avoiding warming during mild days.  Many nights our silver fridge was covered with a blanket, and temp, moderated by a light bulb.  Thermometers must be kept in all spaces storing perishable items to instantly assess temperature range.  2/14 was the warmest day noted, to that date, reaching 40*F. 

Greenhouse ? hrs:  RCM had full responsibility for the Greenhouse through the winter, without any real significant guidance.  Of course MR inspects one day and finds major flooding in Ralphs House.  We have experienced this before and it looks far worse than it is.  The flooding has been an item of interest too, relative to answering the questions, ‘are the beds fully saturated?’, or ‘is the flow of water too high and the surface pools before the bed is actually fully watered?’  MR was pleased because years ago he had built up the greenhouse base, and the end at risk of being too low (off level) was holding the water from the “high end.”  With a little trenching of the central pathway, the flooding was evenly distributed the length of the bed.  RCM did not seem impressed.  Our water source is from the “FarmHouse” in the winter, the farm does not have a frost safe water source, so winter water is a challenge.  The system relies on a series of connected pipes from the Farmhouse Frost Free Hydrant, out to the greenhouses.  After use, each of the pipes is disconnected, and due to the slight slope overall, the pipes gravity drain, and are empty (not blocked by frozen water) for the next day of watering.  So!  With the Big Snow, RCM had to find the pipes, and pull them thru the snow before the next watering.  2/19 Intro to soil mix: RCM, SJ, ST; in preparation for a planting of seedlings for NOFA-NJ fundraiser.  Germination of Lettuce and Kale; in 7 days, in heated greenhouse.  2/23 Intro to Greenhouse Systems Management MR, SJ, RCM, ST; Reviewed files, observed and explained heat, venting, circulation fans, fuel (propane), electric systems and operation.  Explained the adjustment and attention to thermostats and riastats (riastat controls the speed of the fan inflating the greenhouse double ‘Poly” layers).

Composting ? hrs:  No notes logged.

Planting ? hrs:  Planted another “bed” of salad in heated greenhouse at the beginning of each month in hopes of producing “House Salad” for Nomad Pizza.  Poor germination and minimal growth caused consternation.  Prime suspect factors – too little, irregular watering, irregular seed depth and/or soil media problems.  Used 100% compost, should have been OK, even vigorous growth.  Later experimentation showed similar problem, a need to find best soil media for “Tabletop, or House Greens.”  2/25 Crop Plan Presentation and discussion with full crew, MR, BD, SJ, RCM, ST and CH.  Priority of Spring Mowing to encourage natural clover growth in hay fields.  Strong interest in planting grains, “Madonna Field” designated for Moldboard plowing, opening up three new production areas for Market Garden, for 2011.  Discussed rotation of production fields in Market Garden, focusing on the concepts of Bio-intensive – “Big Garden Beds” (BGBs) and Bio-extensive – “Field Beds”.  Established extensive “Crop Plan” file to be utilized in preparing seed order and scheduling seedling orders from greenhouse and planting plans for the season.  Issues raised; How to handle Tomatoes and isolating Solenacea, and where to plant the undecided; winter squash, peas, peppers and eggplants.

CropCare ? hrs:  Tending to the living crops in the greenhouse, and tending Poultry.  Noted hard frosting of the Garlic tips on 1/29, might have been reduced with heavy mulch.

Harvesting ? hrs:  Harvested salad from heated greenhouse of 2/24 and estimated potential yield per Sq Ft of .15 pounds (2.5 oz?). 

Handling ? hrs:  Bagged teasan stored from 2009 crops, packing then for sale at the “Slow Food” February Winter Farmers Market at the Tres Piani Restaurant, at Forestal Village.

Marketing ? hrs:  “Slow Food – Winter Farmers Market” at Tres Piani,  yielded $210 for 7 worker hours.  Hopewell market coming back to life slowly, $120-170/week.  Also, weekly deliveries of our eggs to the Bent Spoon.  2/20 MR participated, in Farmer Advisory position, in West Windsor Community Farmers Market (WWCFM) Board Meeting; Topic of note in the log, ‘market management of produce sold at the market, produced on farms other than the Farmer Vendor, or “purchased produce.”  MR encouraged the market to keep an open mind regarding rules regulating this practice, to avoid unnecessary hardship on Farmers.  Ultimately, NSF’s position on “Purchased Produce” being (re)sold by a Farmer, is that all produce sold by a Market Vendor must accurately display the Origin of the Produce, including the Producing Farm Name and State.  MR’s suggestion for Market Management was that all vendors should assent to the Market Manager utilizing a commonly recognized system of stickers to indicated “purchased produce” on Farmer Vendor displays, if the farmer is unable to accurately label the distinction.  This should assist in the resolution of disputes between farmers as well as educate the consumers, and highlight those who are ‘growing their own.’

Special Projects ? hrs:  “House Greens” have been a disappointment, due to poor germination and negligible growth.  We don’t have a handle on why, exactly, the poor G&G, though growing in the winter obviously has its limitations – Low light levels, extreme Low Temps for long periods…  We kept the greenhouse above freezing, with a propane heater from Modine.  Three refills for the winter production effort at an average of $4.50/Gal, cost $1,744.  Estimated Harvesting cost was 8 worker hours @ $30/hr, cost $240.  Assign “cropcare” cost, (2.5 months, $10/week) = Labor, cost, $100.  Gross Cost Est. $2100 + 10% = $2,300 wholesale value for 4 X 120sqft.  Estimated Yield = 70#.  Wholesale Value of Winter Production House Greens :  $33/pound!!  Obviously the wholesale cost drops as you find cheaper ways to heat (as much as $450 propane was probably used later in the spring or $26/pound), use a lower wage calculation and improve the speed of harvesting.  $30/hr for harvesting is utilized to reflect the need for wholesale production to yield more profit off each worker hour, assuming the true cash cost of a worker is $15/hr, assigning a wage calculation of $30 allows the business to make money, while allowing small scale production.  This is the other extreme from our current agricultural production, which produces in massive volume, seeking profit in tiny margins, on ‘unsustainably’ cheap products.  MR worked on coppiced willows, trimming, selecting branches for growth.  Our Specialty Herb Inventory showed Spearmint, Peppermint and Anise Hyssop as remaining.  ‘Tea’ Page created in log but not nearly completed, some notes to follow:  “to date” retail price for our dried Speciality Herbs has been $62.50.  Subtract 35% from retail to yield Wholesale value: $40/pound + Handling.  This is the number MR will use to design our Handling facilities, drying, storing, packing.  Community Health thru Dried and Fresh Herbs!  ‘Getch Your Greens!’

Monthly Summary – December 2009

January 8th, 2011 | Posted by miker in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary – December 2009)

Monthly Summary – December 2009
MikeR; Logs and records reviewed, and summary prepared 1/6/11

General Observations:
RC held down the farm through the winter this year, as MR and CH packed up and headed out.  Reading the log (after the next December), it strikes me how similar the winters were.  Chicken care and monitoring greenhouses through the waves of weather – manifest in Temperature, Wind and Percipitation.
Administration: MR final clearing of office, with computer and freezable, juice and sauce, inventory transferred to farmhouse.  Regular log kept by RC.
Equipment: Monitoring and maintenance.
Infrastructure: Monitor and Maintain.  Icy rain with snowfall lead to tears in Greenhouse plastic.  Repairs are hindered by extreme conditions and difficulty of access.  Driveways and access plowed.  MR installs blower to inflate greenhouse plastic layers.  Over inflation leads to failure of greenhouse plastic attachment to greenhouse baseboard.  Repaired by BD and RC.  Building perimeters inspected for rodent access and sealed as required.
Greenhouse: Charged with the management of these spaces, RC monitored and tended lettuce crops in our heated greenhouse, and hardy greens in one unheated greenhouse.  RC was also charged with the third greenhouse which was serving as winter housing for the 2009 Chickens.  BD assisted RC during times of extreme weather and Technological difficulties.  BD also installed finishing touches to the “Roll-Up Side” mechanism on the “Farmhouse Gothic” greenhouse.  We hope to supply our winter market at Hopewell and our friends at Nomad Pizza with greenhouse grown lettuce and RC seeded lettuce on 12/16 (poor germ.).
Compost: Cold, snowy then wet weather, no activity.
Planting and Cropcare: Seeding of lettuce in heated greenhouse, and notes of “no growth” on plants in unheated greenhouse.
Harvest, Handling and Marketing: RC demonstrated real commitment to the concept of keeping local industry alive by steadfastly harvesting from a miniscule selection, gathering standard stock and serving our community at the Hopewell Community Farmers Market, each Wednesday, 2-6.  This effort had a profound effect on the Farm Managers willingness to commit future resources to Winter Production.

Monthly Summary – November 2009

January 8th, 2011 | Posted by Robin in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary – November 2009)

Monthly Summary – November 2009
RCM; Logs and records reviewed, and summary prepared 12/10

General Observations: As we rehash last November, I am reminded of my own arrival at North Slope.  My beginning marked the end of two other interns who we sadly said farewell too as they ventured westward.  Last year we were winding down and getting ready to pack it in for the winter, most workers had plans of travel in December and taking a nice long break from farming.  But for those still here there was work getting the heated greenhouse in order for winter salad production, settling the chickens in for their winter stay in a new greenhouse and preparing the farm for a little break.
Administration 31.5 hours: Monthly summary, end of the year summaries, bills for the year, payroll, meetings on plans for the end of the year/winter season, trainee meetings on goals and successes of the year, winter caretaker responsibilities meeting, 4th Quarter report to NJ.
Infrastructure 18.5 hours: Completing greenhouse covering for winter space for chickens, patching greenhouse holes and heating problems before the winter, shutting down the walk in and setting up winter storage in a smaller refrigerator unit, winterize the farm and draining the water system.
Greenhouse 12 hours: Preparing the heated greenhouse for winter seeding/production, fixing heating problems and holes in greenhouses.
Planting 22.5:
Week 2: Garlic for 2010, the start of lettuce seeding in the heated greenhouse for winter production
Week 4: Additional lettuce seeding in the heated greenhouse
Crop Care 3.5 hours: Taking down of tomato stakes, collections of irrigation parts in the field to be stored together
Harvesting 99.5 hours: crash course in harvesting for RC
Week 1: Chard, kale, field salad, scallions, salad mix
Week 2: tatsoi, kale, chard, scallions, arugula, salad mix
Week 3: Kale, chard, scallions, carrots, salad mix
Week 4: salad mix, kale, chard, carrots
Handling 20.5 hours: Washing, topping carrots, stripping teas
Marketing 61 hours:
Hopewell: 11/4 $453.41, 11/11 $389.35 , 11/18 $416.30
Summit:  11/8 $1800, 11/15 $2103, 11/22 $2,792
Special Projects 56 hours: Getting the chickens homes ready for the winter – Installing fence and BD finishing the framing on Farmhouse Gothic greenhouse.  Excellent job by BD despite taxing conditions and fabrication requirements – Thanks BD!
Weather:
Week 1:  Experienced an extreme temperature drop with a killing frost
Week 2: Much warmer with highs in the 70’s and lows in the 40s, but a front moved in bringing wind and colder temperatures
Week 3: Dry and stabilizing temperatures into friendlier conditions
Week 4: Keeping with relatively mild temperatures for the end of November, some clouds and rain move in

Monthly Summary – October 2009

January 8th, 2011 | Posted by steven in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary – October 2009)

Monthly Summary – October 2009
Steven Tomlinson; Logs and records reviewed, and summary prepared 12/10

General Observations: October started off with a cool 55 degree day.  The crew was productive with their time which reflects in the myriad of tasks completed. Fires were lit in the bunkhouse to warm the hands of the harvesters.  Kale, fennel, Swiss chard, and scallions filled the table at the markets. Many of the markets went well, with a few being slow due to weather. That always seems the case with farming in general. There were new trainee interviews and preparations to shut down the farm. Winter production was becoming a reality and talks of raised beds built with cinderblocks and lined with plastic became the objective.  The outdoor washing area was built up with plastic walls to keep the wind down.  Processing herbs for tea, from drying to bagging, became a focus for the crew.  A touch of frost came in mid October. The beginning signs of winter were showing. The momentum of the season was still in full swing which was reflected in the hours worked.
Administration 39 hrs: A Trainee Applicant visited the farm which began with an Intro to the website. The training program page was reviewed about wage rates and the value of the three year training program. Anticipated crops were discussed along with a walk through the greenhouses, market garden, office, cooler, and washing station. Bills were paid and a season summary was posted.
Infrastructure 113 hrs: The amount of time spent on infrastructure is the same amount spent at the beginning of the season. A new battery was put in the Ford tractor, the walk behind mower got a belt adjustment, and a hitch was worked on for the movable chicken house. The ATV showed signs of old age because it started having trouble starting (wait until next years post to get the full story). A new trailer was ordered and delivered.
Greenhouse 14 hrs: Weeding in the greenhouse took up the most time for the greenhouse tasks. This gave the plants the needed attention as winter approached.
Planting 35.5 hrs: Oyster mushrooms were inoculated on the eastern side of Ralph’s House. Perennials were planted in the Tea Garden.
Crop Care 44.5 hrs: The crew weeded the south edge beds of the farmhouse gothic and planted comfrey. They mulched with woodchips to be inoculated with mushrooms.
Harvesting 213 hrs: Chard, kale, scallions, salad mix, and tat soi were growing well. Flowers were harvested for bunching and the first of winter squash made it out of the garden. Hay was cut and bailed for chicken bedding and general mulching. From Veg C and D, 142 bales of hay were collected. Nomad Pizza was getting their fare share of salad and the markets yielded positive results. Herbs were harvested for tea and there was some talk about selling Echinacea roots to an herbalist.
Handling 94.5 hrs: SJ was trained the proper procedure on how to wash salad mix and all other vegetables. He washed every Friday for the entire month! BD also received training and helped out with washing scallions.
Marketing 128hrs: Selling at farmers markets in NJ and to Nomad Pizza made for a good month in sales for North Slope Farm.
Special Projects 56 hrs: Firewood was chopped to prepare for the winter. It is great to be able to use the farm’s woodlot for fuel. Mycelium Remediation “Mycoremediation” involved spreading sawdust and straw pellets on top of oily ground where the tractors are parked. Then it was watered. 2 gallons of oyster spawn was placed on sawdust and also covered with more sawdust. Moistened cardboard with more oyster spores were placed on top and then covered with mycelium slurry. More moist cardboard was placed on top. The hope for this project was to use mycelium to clean up the oil.