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Second Year Summary: Planting Focus

Posted by Kyle in Planting | Training - (Comments Off on Second Year Summary: Planting Focus)

Prepared by KG on 2/25/2013

Second Year Element Summary – Planting 2012

In our second year at NSF, as part of the training program, interns are encouraged to choose a work element as a focus for the season. I chose planting because I wanted to get a thorough understanding of what is ultimately the main goal of farming; growing food. One of the motivations driving me to farm is the desire to see all aspects of the production process, to see my role in it, and to be able to take satisfaction from producing a product from start to finish. Within the farm’s system the planting element especially encompasses that scope, from planning, through production, to the final product at the end of it.

Planningplanning planting 2012

The first task for the season was to create a crop plan. The crop plan lays out a rough schedule for the course of the season and helps to keep the farm on track as the pressure mounts. My plan was based off previous crop plans, especially Steve’s (ST) from 2011 for which much documentation was available, modified by having additional land in cultivation and the analysis of the 2011 season. Following NSF’s system of succession planting and incorporating our crop rotation I created a plan that had 6 main field successions plus a field tomato planting. In addition I planned to have regular salad seedings in the BGBs every two weeks, as well as carrots, radishes, turnips, and other greens as the season suited.

 

Once I had this rough plan I could start doing some calculations for the seed order. Thanks to Rita (RR) for doing an inventory of the seed the farm had in stock, making sure we didn’t order more of something we already had too much of. Figuring out the right quantities to order could be tricky at times as there isn’t really a standardized unit of measurement for seed, even within a single seed catalog you can find some seed measured by weight and others by count and we use 3-4 sources for our seed. A rule of thumb we often used was after all the calculations, double the amount to be safe. Our initial order was around 2,000 dollars, which got us through most of the season. The season’s total was around 3,000 dollars for seed.

One of the perks of taking on the planting element is selecting varieties. NSF has a cohort of tried and true crops and varieties that need to find there way into the crop plan, but there is some room for experimentation. I was happy with both the leeks and the Napa cabbage which were added to the plan this past season. The leek seems to be a good candidate to replace the scallion as an allium we can offer; for us scallions are a drain in labor hours for harvesting and handling that the market price doesn’t reflect. Leeks on the other hand require less time to prepare for market. I’m excited to try leeks again using a technique I saw Elliot Coleman present at the NOFA-NJ winter conference that doesn’t require hilling, simply by transplanting the seedlings in deep holes the same effect is achieved. The Napa cabbage was another hit, we got a decent yield even during heat waves, but they really shined later in fall when we got some real giants and more cabbage then we knew what to do with.

Planting

Once the plan is made and the seeds have arrived the growing can begin. Our first official day of the season was March 6th, and by the 8th peas were being seeded. More peas were seeded in the field on 3/21 as was our first BGB succession and the first succession of field vegetables were transplanted out on 4/6, which was all right on time according to the plan! For the most part I feel like things went fairly smoothly, although the plan changed as the season progressed. In my memory the weather on a whole was not as wet as 2011 and we faced fewer delays due to wet fields.

The exception to this might have been our field tomato planting. We tried a new method on NSF for tomatos this past season, inspired by the practice of no-till farming we sought to use a minimal tillage technique. In place of the standard practice of preparing field beds we cut furrows through the cover cropped field, filled the furrows with compost, and transplanted directly into that. In this manner we only tilled the soil where the transplants would go, leaving as much of the field’s soil biology as undisturbed as we could. Unfortunately we used a shank that was more aggressive than we need and ended up with trenches deeper than we needed. Then in the first weeks following the transplanting we got a bit more rain than we would have liked and the furrows in our heavy clay soil held water like troughs. The result was transplant shock and nearly all of our tomatoes turned a very unhealthy looking yellow. The prospect of our field tomato succession failing was frightening as tomatoes are a huge part of our market revenue, so it wasn’t long before panic set in. I sought to plant more tomatoes, but by June it’s a bit late to start new tomato seedlings. Luckily RR had a small but diverse selection left over from her seedling sales at market. We planted tomatoes everywhere we could, both Ralphs House and Farm House Gothic, some pilfered beds from the 579 flower field, and even a small space on the fringe of the farm which hadn’t been used in some time. In the end the original tomatoes bounced back after a few weeks of dryer weather and some compost tea delivered via our new mobile water tank w/ PTO pump. The delay in growth cost us, we were a few weeks late in hitting our tomato stride, but after experiencing all those yellowing adolescent plants it was a relief just to have tomatoes producing at all.

 

The vegetable succession went more smoothly. Successions 1-3 did well and were on time. We did abandon some scallions to the weeds in the 2nd. In our 2nd and 3rd succession the kale and chard held on well past what was planned, letting us supplement the later successions. We had the idea to mow off some of the old chard above the root, MR let me try it, and the results weren’t too bad. For the 5 minutes it took to mow we got some re-growth we were able to harvest for a few more weeks. The cabbage in the 3rd succession provided some yield, even as it battled the heat of the summer. The 4th succession went a bit less smoothly, much of the direct seeded crop failed to get good germination and we were short on the transplants. This led to some lighter than ideal harvests some weeks, but with the supplemental crops from 2nd and 3rd succession we did our best to get our harvests.  A bitter-sweet windfall we got to harvest some purslane from the 4th succession field where beets had failed to germinate. We lingered in the 4th succession field, extending its use by reseeding in the beds were crops had failed. As a result we ended up planting only 5 successions total. In the 5th succession we had a lot of space for direct seeding, after my experience direct seeding the 4th succession with poor results I was anxious to try again. One weekend in mid-September I went out with a bucket of seed and the old 4-point seeder which has fallen out of favor at NSF, in what I presumed to be futile gesture, did seed 10 beds in various greens, radishes, and turnips. I remember it took me quite a while to set up the irrigation afterwards. Within a couple of weeks the field was filled with green in nice straight rows, everything was germinating! Totally bucking my expectation, the direct seeding worked better than I could have asked for. I was very proud of that final succession.

For the Big Garden Beds I wanted to really solidify salad production and they key to doing that at NSF is planting 2 beds of salad every two weeks. We ended up doing 13 successions of plantings this past season. Space in the BGBs got cramped at some points so it will be nice bringing the new BGBs into production this coming season. I felt like we did a good job of keeping on track with our salad successions as far as planting every two weeks throughout the season. We had salad at points when no one else at WWCFM did and only really missed one seeding date in late July/Early August. Really nailing down germination would be a big thing for BGB production. We also had a good amount of carrots especially late season, we kept up planting to take us into winter.

CONCLUSION

I learned a lot in this past year focusing on the planting element, this summary barely scratches the surface of the experience I had and gained. Above all, it was certainly enjoyable and fulfilling to work on an element which spans so much of the farm’s activities. By taking on the planting element I got a preview of what managing a small farm entails, and got to take a shot at doing a lot of it and learning through practice. I look forward to my third year here at North Slope and to continuing to hone and develop my skills as a farmer.

Monthly Summary – October 2011

Posted by Beau Young in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary – October 2011)

Monthly Summary – October 2011

Logs reviewed and summary prepared by BY September 27th, 2012

Fall Chores

General Observations:

Rainy conditions from late summer rolled into October leaving behind saturated conditions. First week saw clear skies but that led to continued rain through the second week. Mid month saw the planting of the BGB’s with fennel, scallions, kale and beets as well as winter cover crops. Special projects included a newly built loft in the seed shed and harvesting throughout the month included tomatoes, carrots, salad mix, arugula, tot soi, scallions, peppers, tea and parsley. The month came to a close with an unprecedented snow storm that dropped about twelve inches of snow and took the power out for three days as a result of snow covered tree branches falling on power lines.

Equipment 37 hrs:

Most of these hours were dedicated to trying to fix the Kabota which was difficult to start at the beginning of the month and by the third week it wouldn’t start at all.  The crew backblew the fuel line, bled air successfully, but it still would not work.

Administration 97 hrs:

Normal payroll duties and filing of 3rd quarter payroll tax returns. $30,000 balance in bank account seems to indicate above break even cash position and potential exists for full payment of 2011 liabilities. Crew worked on element focus for next year and created new map folder. End of month crew meeting to discuss remainder of season and markets also took place. Plan discussed regarding the coming cold weather strategy to cover beds with plastic and remay.

Infrastructure 92 hrs:

Chickens moved to new locations along with other normal chores. Identified need to find winter housing for chickens and the 2011’s are getting too big for their coop. Location still unidentified at end of month, but future logs indicate the 2011’s ended up spending the winter in the farmhouse gothic. Cleaning and stowing equipment for winter was part of normal cold weather preparation. The power went out in the farmhouse due to snow storm for two and a half days. The basement flooded and was pumped out with a gas powered water pump.

Greenhouse 16 hrs:

I assume winter production seedlings were tended to but no log entries to verify that.

Composting 12 hrs:

Cleaned piles and received horse manure and shavings from Charlie Gilbert on 10/6 and one load of piled on heavy base of woodchips. On 10/18 the crew composted garlic beds plus seven others, nine total beds composted.

Planting 69 hrs:

On 10/11 the crew weed wacked, broad forked and fertilized BGB’s in order to plant fennel, scallions, kale & beets. Planted winter cover crop-triticale rye, hairy vetch and Austrian winter pea at five times recommended rate due to late seeding and rough manner of seeding including disking to cover the seed and forecast of lots of rain. Germinated well, chickens began eating it but figured it was ok as a result of the heavy seeding. End of month saw the preparation of field beds for garlic, 3 beds planted on 10/25. The crew forked the old basil bed in corner garden, seeding with spinach to overwinter, saw good germination 30 days later.

Crop Care 102 hrs:

10 Entries for irrigation during the month, mostly Ralphs house and Farmhouse Gothic. On10/5 hoed new salad mix in the west beds and on 10/6 hand weeded the BGB’s. Cleaned up tomato fields starting mid month. Set up rebar and remay on beds in preparation for cold days ahead.

Harvesting 119 hrs:

Harvested carrots, salad mix, arugula, tot soi and scallions and parsley throughout the month. Tomatoes harvested until mid month then cleanup of tomato fields began. Tea was harvested successfully and included Hyssop, Comfrey and Nettle. On 10/12, 220 pounds of winter squash was harvested: Butternut, Acorn, Delicate and Kabotcha from one fifth acre. The assessment is this would mean a price of $18 per pound to meet $20,000 per acre requirement. Farm manager is reluctant to sell the squash and would prefer to utilize it on the farm. Recognized a need for a solid assignment of the true value in order to determine if it can be considered a “cash crop”

Handling 96 hrs:

Normal handling of salad mix, kale, chard and carrots took place. The crew came up with the “swirling bucket” technique for washing carrots, presumably to make cold weather washing more bearable.

Marketing 207 hrs:

West Windsor: 10/1- $1,588,  10/8 – $1,247,  10/15 – $1,429,  10/22 – $1,226, 10/29 – $724.25 Average sales for month=$1,243

Summit: 10/2 – $3,370,  10/9 – $2,500,  10/16 – $2,865, 10/23 – $2,780, 10/30 – $565  Average sales for month= $2,416

Hopewell: 10/5 – $616.50, 10/12 – $393, 10/19 – $240, 10/26 – $476.50 Average sales for month= $431.50

Total October 2011 Market Income: $20,020.25

NOFA NJ requested veggies for their winter conference, no word on whether any were delivered.

There was some discussion of viability of Hopewell market through November considering low customer base and high rent.

Special Projects 58 hrs:

Cutting Hay in Veg D led to getting stuck as soil was too wet to pull implement. On 10/10 39 hay bales were harvested. Lots of wood splitting for the farmhouse, and a new loft was built in the seed shed. Total cost was $560 and completed with 10 worker hours.

Weather:

Week 1: lots of rain, saturated conditions.

Week 2: Heavy rain

Week 3: Dropping temperatures but clear skies.

Week 4: First frost and a Halloween blizzard to end the month.

Monthly Summary July 2011

Posted by miker in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary July 2011)

Monthly Summary– July 2011

Logs reviewed and summary prepared by MR, July 10, 2012

General Observations:  Just over an inch of rain is recorded for this month, with a Heat Wave noted by mid month.  Lightening storms chased the crew from the fields at least twice but the brief showers simply increased the humidity.  Early in the month we were appreciative of the mild heat and weather as tales of Woe registered from the South and West – both Drought and severe Flooding.  During the heatwave hours were adjusted to harvest earlier and break early, though Infrastructure and Handling continued on until their responsibilities were completed.  It is a busy month, catching up with large weeds, trying to get final planting for fall production in and harvesting the newly yielding crops of Tomatoes.

Equipment 40 hrs:  Mostly the Kabota, mowing, also Ford 4600 rototilling and mowing, JD2240 Chisel and Moldboard Plowing, and the IH140 bedforming.  3 hours of the Walk Behind tiller and 1 hour of weedwacking noted.  Sad signs of aging equipment reared their head, the JD Loader blew its seals on one of the Cylinders which had to be rebuilt by Everitts Equipment in Ringoes.  The Kabota also lost its muffler but a replacement was quickly retrieved from the Kabota Dealer in Titusville; Mid-State Equipment Co.

Administration 43 hrs:  This months expense for payroll was $6,000, for 7 employees, (2 part-time).  2nd Quarter Employee wages (April-June) was $20,386 compared to Market earnings by Mid July of $39,541.  So this is the time period where financially the farm starts to tread water.  To get to this point the farm has “borrowed” $30,000 from Savings, which it pays back slowly over the course of the season.  Training time focused on BD and Primary Tillage, as well as discussions of the responsibilities of a third year Trainee.  Each Trainee must post summaries of their intended focus and a summary at the end of the Season.  Notes and photos taken during the season are critical to a meaningful summary, as well as beneficial to all, in understanding the activity of others.  Also of note, Black Bird Meadows (@ NSF) began harvesting crops that were sold to North Slope and resold at our Markets, initiating the practice of providing market outlet for individual “Agricultural Ventures” on the farm, undertaken by Trainees and Contract Farmers.  The Farm Manager is responsible for maintaining cooperation and synergy with these ventures and it was great to have ST take on the opportunity.  ST (Black Bird Meadows) also hosted the Chef/Owner of Sprig and Vine,New Hope,PA, for a farm visit as they discussed the coming harvest and delivery schedule.

Infrastructure 98 hrs: KG and RR were given review training of the finer details of moving the Chicken coops – Please see – “Pastured Poultry -Factors to consider”.  Primary Tillage was a significant focus, providing trainees (mostly BD, but also CH and ST) with multiple opportunities to Chisel Plow, Rototill, Moldboard Plow and Disc as well as bedforming with the smaller tractor.  Fields Veg C south and Mid were plowed and disced and Veg B mid and north were plowed and rototilled.  CH noted that her first round using the ‘Cut Harrow’ (disc) she did not allow it to go deep enough and might not have been nearly as effective in churning under weeds as it should have been.  A second round of Harrowing at a deeper depth was required.  Veg B south had been previously plowed and this month was bedformed 4 times, over the course of the month,  to maintain “stale seedbeds” with the last pass to incorporate the summer cover crop seed of SunHemp and Oats.  McGearys Organic Fertilizer was also purchased from Rosedale Mills,Pennington,NJ.  It was stored in the Barn, elevated on pallets, with a plastic vapor barrier below and plastic sheeting to cover.  (*by next season, the unused fertilizer became a major food source for rodents – requiring alternative storage, alternative fertilizer or immediate spreading).

Greenhouse 14 hrs:  The last of the greenhouse seedlings were planted out by the end of the month.  Activity in this Element was weeding and mulching Yardlong Beans and Cucumbers in Ralphs House and Much trellising of Greenhouse Tomatoes in the Farmhouse Gothic.  Trellising and Pruning of the Greenhouse Tomatoes was a weekly task at minimum.  Irrigation was also critical.  ST was monitoring the Farmhouse Gothic, using the soil moisture sensors.  ST noted the reading from 34 (“Irrigate”), then 1.5 hrs of irrigation to a reading of 4 (“saturated”).  Missing from the notes was how long from a reading of Saturated back to “good”?  We have a history of letting the Greenhouse crops get too dry, then flooding them.  About an hour every two days would probably be best, but hard to sustain with lots of other water use to coordinate.
Greenhouse Tomatoes
Composting 16 hrs: 26 cubic yards of Compost spread on 12 Field Beds and 9 cyds on 6 BGB’s.

Planting 59 hrs:  7/2 seeded Flowers (10 beds), 7/6 seeded 4 varieties of Winter Squash using Minimum Tillage and Mulching Strategy, 7/20 Seeded Lettuce into Big Garden Beds (BGB), 7/27 Transplanted last of the Greenhouse Seedlings to MulchField SEsouth (beets, scallions, chard and kale), 7/28 direct seeded summer Squash and beans in Mulch SEs, 7/28 seeded Bolero Carrots in BGBs.  Also seeded Sun Hemp and Oats into fallow field VegBs and lightly cultivated then rolled with ATV and Roller.  A crop Failure of the Hakurai Turnips was noted due to Overseeding.  The pinpoint seeder that we use was set to allow multiple seeds per divot on the axle, it was determined the appropriate setting is to singulate the seeds, ie one seed per divot on the seeder axle.

Crop Care 188 hrs:  Irrigation was the watch word for the month with 34 specific entries in the Log, or more than one zone being irrigated every day.  On average we can irrigate 15: 100’ drip tubes, or 16: 200’ drip tapes, for up to 4 hours, in the BGB/Field Zones or 1.5 hours per zone in the Greenhouses.  Weeding of BGBs and care and cleanup of the Kale/Chard/Beet beds.  Cleanup of spring beds- hoops and bags from remay tunnels long overdue.  And of course; Trellising of Tomatoes!  Additional attention to Tomatoes included Trampling and Rolling the vegetative growth between the Tomato beds.  It was noted that a roller/Crimper that could be pulled by the ATV would be a nice, low tech method of managing fallow beds without the use of a mower or the requirement of bare soil tillage.  However it is done, controlling the growth between the Tomato Beds requires a solid strategy – enough space for mower or alternative control!  Hardcore cleanup of BGB edges and pathways also noted.  Machetes or serrated long knives are nice for cleaning edges of crops on top of the BGBs pre harvesting/weeding (field salad, carrots).

Harvesting 417 hrs:  Basil 101 bn, Beans 156 lbs, Beets 400 lbs, Carrots 525 lbs, Chard 375 bn, Eggs 75 doz, Field Salad 335 lbs, Flowers 134 bn, Garlic 72 lbs, Kale 135 bn, Parsley 115 bn, Radishes 33 lbs, Scallions 245 bn, Strawberries 12 pints, Squash 640 lbs, Tomatoes 1,520 lbs.  The first tomatoes were 7/7 – 3 pints cherry tomatoes and 1/5 tray of Greenhouse Tomatoes.  Bulk of the yield was at the end of the month.  We moved the old box truck to its place by the Tomatoes, to be used as a shady harvest/sorting area.  Green Bean harvest was assessed as approximately 100 #’s main picking per bed or 50#/100’ (half of what Rodale’s Garden Problem Solver, p18, estimates) – Assumming 50 of our beds per acre – 5,000 #’s per acre, if we want to gross $20,000/acre, our bean crop value should be a minimum of $4/# wholesale, or $6-$8/# retail!  Increasing the yield must be accomplished to reduce unit cost.  Carrots were also noted as yielding  135-160# per BGB.  Assumming 40 BGB’s per acre; 6,000#; (1/4 the estimated yield of Rodale); Wholesale value should be $3/#.  Ideally we should work towards an increased yield up to 300 #/ BGB to get our cost value more in line with market value – currently at $2.50/# retail (1.25# wholesale value).

Handling 136 hrs:  The Crew rotating thru the washing station, no one expressing particular interest.  Scallions has become a major ‘to do’, usually leading to a shady spot designated for stripping and bunching.  One day the notes express some pleasure at “cleaning scallions poolside”!  Quote from Farm Manager, “As tomatoes come on, with Flowers and Fruit, the cooler and AirConditioned Office are FULL.  Our time is Fully Required, how these elements are managed can ‘make’ or ‘break’ the operation.  There can be little or no waste, Freshness and Quality Must be maintained and old produce Cleared Out!”  Discussion focused on maintaining a system of what produce is just harvested vs ripe and ready for market.  In particular, the Tomatoes are harvested with two levels of ripeness and they must be kept separate in storage to ensure the ripe ones go to market and ripening ones move forward for next market, without extra handling (confusion).

Marketing 161 hrs:  First week markets were noted as being “off” from last year $500 down at WWCFM and $1,140 down at Summit.  By mid month we are making runs to Solebury Orchards for their Peaches, then nectarines and apricots, to add to the blueberries.  We also purchase weekly deliveries of Organic Blueberries via Zone 7 – produce distributor.  By the end of the month Cherry Grove Organic Farm decided the Hopewell Market did not yield enough sales to continue, which helped increase our sales just in time for Tomato season.  The Hopewell Market was always marginally viable for multiple growers, a basic problem for small town Farmers Markets – how to bring in a diversity of producers when the demand is low.  RCM noted a check of Bio-Bag inventory and confirmed that our usual supplier, DinPak.com still appears to be the best – Copy of invoice filed in Marketing Element Folder.  Biodegradable Produce bags cost .10 each, and bags with handles cost .14 each, plus shipping!  Non Biodegradable produce bags cost about .01 per bag. North Slope takes a major financial hit to provide our customers with Ecologically Responsible packaging; no doubt we will be rewarded in heaven.

Hopewell– $442, $575, $886, $933; Total: $2,836

WWCFM–  $875, $1,100, $1,920. $1,920, $2,485; Total: $8,300

Summit $1,361, $2,088, $2,935, 3,000, $3,360; Total: $12,744

Total July 2011 Market Income: $23,880

Special Projects 24 hrs:  In cooperation with NOFA-NJ, we planted SunHemp, a trial species introduced by the NRCS for a potentially high Biomass, nitrogen fixing, summer cover crop.  We seeded a field section with Sun Hemp and oats, intending late summer nitrogen fixing and weed suppression, followed by “Winter Kill” then Spring Planting next season.  Also of note, Black Bird Meadows began to harvest more Napa Cabbage than the Sprig and Vine needed andNorth Slope was able to provide an additional market outlet.  The discussion focused on pricing – to encourage the farmer (ST) to set their wholesale value, whichNorth Slope pays then marks up for resale at our markets.  ST started with market research and established a wholesale market rate of .85/#.  His cabbages averaged 1.5# or $1.28/Cabbage.  NSF estimated a good Retail Rate of $3/Cabbage and offered to pay $1.5/Cabbage wholesale.  This process builds on our Marketing assumption that the wholesale rate ought to allow as much as a doubling in price from Farmer’s price to retail sale.  ST also noted in log, “Started Kabota [to mow special project field] and muffler fell off.”  Ah, the trials and tribulations of shared equipment, it was noisy but at least it cut the grass!

Weather:  Hot and Dry with T-storms threatening towards end of Month.

Week 1: mildly hot and dry.

Week 2: 90*F, hot then .8” long drizzly rain (very much needed).  Then another .3”.

Week 3: Heat Wave – 105*F.

Week 4: High temps, some showers and increased Humidity to finish the month.

Monthly Summary May 2011

Posted by Kyle in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary May 2011)

Monthly Summary – May 2011

Prepared by KG May 3, 2012

crops hardening off

crops hardening off in the hoop house

General Observations: This May, like 2010, was the second highest in terms of worker hours. That means a busy month. Added to the planting of BGBs and field succession plantings in May are the planting of our field tomatoes and flower successions. On top of all this the warm and wet weather is causing and explosion of growth both of crops and weeds, meaning more time must be spend on crop care and infrastructure keeping the crops ahead of the weeds and maintaining mowed pathways and access to crops. On 5/2 the groundhog who had been eating the seedlings on tables by the farmstand was finally captured! It was dispatched and making an effort to not waste the groundhog, stew was made. The stew was delicious, but the groundhog meat was less than enjoyable… Casey added his thoughts on the season so far to the log on 5/9. There was a power outage in the area on 5/26 that prevented some irrigation.

Administration 51 hrs: On 5/16 KG completed the May 2010 monthly summary. A rainy day on 5/17 was a good time for a staff meeting. A task list was generated; the greenhouse would need compost sifted and planned to start seeding the 4th succession, under the planting element the need to trelise grafted tomatoes in the farmhouse gothic was highlighted and 6/15 was planned for as the 3rd succession planting date. Preparation of the next successions field was also discussed. Various tasks related to cropcare were also outlined, including storing remay for the season and trellising of peas and tomatoes. On 5/24 there is a note in the log about sorting through email and creating a system of folders to keep the email better organized. There was also a note about calculating income/expenses to date. Also the regular admin duties of payroll and bill payment were performed throughout the month.

Infrastructure 68 hrs: Some of the various infrastructure work this month included a mowing of pathways and access lanes on 5/9, setting up a submain and drip-tape for the 579 Flower Field on 5/13, an intro to the weedwacker on 5/17 for first year trainees JR, RR, and KG followed by RR weedwacking around the electric fence line and posts, and the final cleaning of the farmhouse pool by RCM on 5/24. Also on 5/9 a note in the log about irrigation observes that 20 BGB drip tubes (4 beds) on full yields the ideal pressure of 12-14 PSI on average.

Equipment 57 hrs:

JD– 10     Ford– 9     IH140– 2     Kabuta– 17     Walkin Mower- 2     BCS– 4     Weedwacker– 13

On 5/2 the JD received an oil change and oil filter replacement. On 5/9 a metal plate was fabricated to allow the Walkin mower’s handle bar height to be adjustable, a note in the log reports making the operation of the mower “a little easier…”

 

planting grafted tomatoes

Planting grafted tomatoes in cleared and composed circles cut in the salad mix in the Farmhouse Gothic

Greenhouse 64 hrs:On 5/1 20 flats of basil were seeded for Nomad Pizza, a note in the log declares the greenhouses to be full and tight. On 5/4 tomato grafting was completed. See this link for more information about how our grafted tomatoes did in 2011. Between 5/14 and 5/17 the third vegi succession was seeded. On 5/17, while seeding the forth succession of seedlings for sale, the seeding shed“Quilting Circle” was established and songs were written and sung.

Composting 68 hrs: In addition to compost sifted for the greenhouse, several applications were made to field beds. On 5/10 8 beds in VEG B mid, 5/12 Tomato field beds (Maddona North) were prepared- “rip, compost, rip, till, plant”, and on 5/13 7 beds in the 579 field were composted.

Planting 127 hrs: May is a busy month for planting because in addition to the regular BGBs and a field succession planting, our tomatoes are planted into the field. 5/3 was a full planting day; direct seeding (DS) of 2 beds of salad and 2 beds of carrots into the BGBs in the AM followed by transplanting (TP) of squash, beets, and chard in the PM. On 5/6 kale and scallion TPs made it out into the field. 5/9 saw 8 apple trees added to the fruit cluster. 5/12 and 5/13 saw the grafted tomato TPs planted in the farmhouse gothic as well as 1 row of sungold tomatos planted in the field. Also on 5/13 4 beds worth of Zinnea TPs were planted in the 579 field. On 5/15 CH and MR finished replacement planting in the fruit cluster, replacing trees that had been lost over the winter. 5/26 was tomato planting day, our field tomatoes were TPed out into the field! On 5/27 some direct seeding of beans, turnips, and beets brought the 2nd vegi succession planting to completion.

Crop Care 351 hrs: Many worker hours went into crop care last May as the warm and wet weather brought with it vigorous weed growth. On 5/5 the BGBs were mowed and maintained. 5/10 saw the peas trellised. On 5/11 and 5/12 a straw mulch was laid around the strawberry plants in anticipation of fruiting, the straw acts as a weed suppressant as well as a barrier keeping the fruit out of the dirt, cleaner and easier to spot when harvesting. On 5/18 grass was cut away from the garlic to keep it from becoming overwhelmed and on 5/19 hand weeding of the BGBs took place, a note in the log calculated 5 worker hours per bed. 5/23 and 5/24 saw the asparagus beds weeded and on 5/25 BGBs and 3 field beds were scuffle hoed. Finally on 5/31 trellising of the grafted greenhouse tomatoes began.

Harvesting 214 hrs: In May last year NSF had the following crops available: Field salad, arugula, tatsoi, spinach, swiss chard, kale, fennel, radishes, peas, spring garlic from the 579 field, and for the first time available at market, our very own strawberries!

On 5/24 in the log there are extensive notes on strawberry harvesting, establishing a protocol for harvesting every 4 days ripe and 3/4ths ripe strawberries, sorting into pint and quart containers on tomato trays and topping these containers off once at market to ensure full containers overflowing with unblemished fruit for our customers to enjoy. The notes also include some detailed information comparing variety yields and fruit size.

Handling 69 hrs: On 5/5 the walk-in cooler was turned back on in preparation for the start of the WWCFM, the previous harvest having been frozen by a malfunction. Throughout the month washing took place, Wednesday morning and Friday afternoon of our crops harvested for our Hopewell and WWCFM markets.

Market 127 hrs: Our first Saturday market of the season began this month, NSF’s 8th season at WWCFM. A note on the weather says it was a “beautiful day for first market” A 5/21 note relating to marketing said we had sold out of everything, and maxed out our weekly harvest for everything except for salad.

Hopewell5/4 $338.50, 5/11 $499.25, 5/18 $394.50, 5/25 $504.00

WWCFM- 5/7 $915, 5/14 $929, 5/21 $1025, 5/26 $1040

Total May 2011 Market Income: $5645.25

Special Projects 38 hrs: On 5/2 Veg C north was plowed by ST for his special project “Blackbird Meadows” the goal of which was to supply a variety of fresh produce on a weekly basis tailored to meet the needs of the local New Hope restaurant “Sprig and Vine”. The end of May saw hay baling, collection and storage of hay bales in the seed shed for later use.

Weather:  No mention of any frost at night in the log.

Week 1: Sunny and beautiful weather, transitioning to storms and then back to sun by week’s end.

Week 2: Sunny, getting dry. Irrigation needed by the end of the week.

Week 3: “Rainy weather settling in” followed by “SATURATED” later in the week. Sunny day on the 21st.

Week 4: Rain returns after a break on the 21st. 40% chance all week delays hay cutting, but finally sunny and hot weather arriving on the 27th allows for haying before going to seed.

Monthly Summary – March 2011

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Monthly Summary – March 2011

Prepared 3/13/12 TNH

General Observations: From the log the weather appeared to be what one would expect, remaining cold with some rain and snow at times. Despite that it seems to have been a busy and productive start to the season.

Administration 204 hours: Lots of meeting and discussion of the season to come, establishing plans, tasks and goals. In addition there a good deal of introduction and demonstration of different farming elements for interns. Efforts to find a consistent measure for recording crop data. 

Infrastructure 112 hours: General winter repair, clean up, and organization was begun. Chicken chores were done regularly in addition to some work done on their coops. Casey’s Sandbox was shored up. Electric fence was repaired. Cut rebar for hoops to cover strawberries. Fence was extended to included market garden. Gate was built for Madonna Field, fence was tightened, and a failed post was replaced. The Hens were collected after a fence post had fallen.

Greenhouse 125 hours: Introduction and review of green house systems. Seed inventory, seeding and planting to field dates were all discussed. A few rat holes needed to be filled on either side of green house. Heat mats were turned on (3/10) for herbs and flowers. Small beds were moved out and replaced with larger ones. Attention was given to weeding, preparation, and watering of green house beds.  First group planting on the 3rd. Parsley, chard, kale, scallions, and squash were seeded. Tomatoes for greenhouse and tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant for seedling sale were all seeded. Squash was eaten and measures were taken to prevent recurrence. Tomatoes were potted for green house and for sale.

Composting 6 hours: Sifted as needed.   

Planting 2 hours: Peas were inoculated and planted in Ralph’s House. An attempt was made to “frost seed” clover.

Crop Care 259 hours: Lots of weeding and preparation of beds in Farmhouse Gothic, Ralph’s house, tea garden and strawberries. Remay was cleared from fields and rated on reusability. Field tunnels were tightened, strawberries were covered with Remay and trenches were dug to help drain fields.  Asparagus was cut back. Demonstration and Pruning of fruit trees. Attempts to “rat proof” Ralphs house with small chicken wire tunnels and the heated green house by fixing flashing around cinderblock bed supports.
flashing on table legs

Harvesting 33 hours: Week 1:

Week 2: Lettuce, spinach, tat soi, turnips

Week 3: Salad mix, kale, tat soi, turnips           

Week4: Arugula, spinach, kale, turnips

In addition to limited harvesting we had Tomato sauce and eggs available at market. 

Handling 18 hours: Products were cleaned and preparation forHopewell market.

Market 45 hours:Hopewell 3/9 $257.25, 3/16 $248, 3/23 $210.50, 3/29 $255.50

Special Projects 30 hours: Agricultural venture called Blackbird Meadows headed by third year intern. Primary special project efforts remained focused on the chickens.

Weather: Week 1: Cold, sunny, mostly clear skies. End of the week = heavy rain / flooding 

Week 2: Freezing nights. Sunny and clear to cold and cloudy with rain

Week 3:  Overcast and cold, some rain.

Week 4: Wind, rain, cold and snow.

Crop Plan Intro 2011 & Third Year Summmary

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Crop Plan Intro 2011 & Third Year Summary

Field Map
Prepared by ST on 10/6/11

The goal of producing the Crop Plan for NSF is to create documents that will aid in planting vegetables for three farmers markets. The plan will be based on the 2010 plan which gave us a good record of what and when vegetables were grown. This information also aids in our crop rotation plan. In 2011 new fields were opened up from fallow ground and new employees were added to the farm crew. Creating simple maps that include important information of the plan is vital for accurate record keeping. Calculating the amount of beds to be planted and where and when they would be planted is where I started.

Producing the crop plan will provide me an intimate relationship with crop varieties and quantities needed to run a successful small farm operation. In years past I have been involved with greenhouse production, crop care, planting, and marketing. My desire to create the crop plan has come from the dream to one day own a farm (or mange one) in the future. Deciding how much to plant, where to plant, and when to plant can be produced on paper; however the variability of the season always plays a factor. I have read many books on the subject (Eliot Coleman and John Jeavons being a huge influence) but actually implementing the plan in reality is the experiential learning I am searching for. This past season we experimented with winter production and extending the season. The results of that special project can be found on this website under “Special Projects”. This taught me that with perseverance and dedication good results will show however there are always realistic barriers in the way.

DSCF0284
Grafted tomatoes in a hoop house will be another minor focus. Last year I experimented with this process with moderate success. This year I was determined to prove this method was valid and had the opportunity to grow in the farmhouse gothic hoop house, which had prime conditions for sunlight, size, and the ability to trellis the plants to 14 feet tall. The goal is to track worker hours and yield which will give us hard numbers to base its feasibility.

I love the local food industry, organic farming, and how they are all connected. Last winter I decided to take a part time job at a restaurant in New Hope, PA called Sprig and Vine. I worked as a dishwasher to understand the back of the house operations. During my work there I was able to form a relationship with the chef. It was not glamorous work but we had lively conversations about unique vegetables and local farming. Through talking with the chef and pouring over seed catalogs while working on the crop plan I had a eureka moment; growing vegetables for one local restaurant on a half acre. I discussed with MR and he provided guidance and support to “rent” a half acre from North Slope Farm. Alongside working on the crop plan for NSF I also created a plan for my own agricultural enterprise Blackbird Meadows.

Summary

This season had its challenges with unfavorable weather. The spring was very wet which led to a delay in being able to plow the ground. During the middle of the season we experienced very little rain with high temperatures. The end of the season went out with a bang as hurricane Irene and tropical storm Lee left most of the Northeast flooded. Some of our crops got damaged and it ended the high yields on our tomatoes. The rain did not stop through September which left our fields fully saturated and we ended up with the same challenges as the beginning of the season. The crop plan was written during the winter without the knowledge of what the weather would be like. Dates for seeding in the greenhouse and out in the field would be our guideline to stay on track to supply for three farmers markets.

North Slope Farm has big garden beds, field beds, two hoop houses, and a heated greenhouse. The BigGarden Beds are 4 foot wide by 100 foot long. They are raised beds that get prepared with heavy compost application, broad forked by hand, and then roto tilled with a walk behind tractor. We build the soil with these techniques and they have proved useful by having good drainage and high germination rates. We generally plant lettuce, arugula, spinach, tat soi, and carrots in these beds. Sometimes quick crops such as radishes and turnips are also planted. We seed across the bed for easier hoeing and a higher intensity of crops. Our field beds are about 220 feet long and about 16 rows across. This equates to fields that are divided up into plots under a half acre. Each succession we plant takes up one of those plots. This allows for proper management for crop rotations. The hoop houses are used to extend the season. This year we planted grafted tomatoes in one hoop house and used the other hoop house to start the season with vegetables planted in the winter and to grow yardlong beans during the summer. Our heated greenhouse is for our seedlings for sale and to transplant out in the field.

We plant by phases of the moon. There is a lot of mysticism that surrounds this method but to me it has a very sobering effect on how to plan for the year. During the new moon we plant direct seeded crops in the greenhouse for transplants or out in the field (green beans, radish, turnips, carrots, lettuce, etc.). During the full moon we transplant our seedlings out in the field. Since the moon has an effect on gravity it is believed that the new moon keeps water closer to the surface due to lack of gravitational pull (which helps germination of direct seeded crops) and draws water down to the roots of transplanted crops during the full moon. These theories are being practicesed  more indepthly through Biodynamics.

The plan for the field needed to be changed at the start of the season. The wet spring forced us to plant field crops into the big garden beds. We practiced intercropping kale with radishes and swiss chard with turnips. A month later we were able to get into the field to continue our original plan. Some seeding gaps in the plan reflect low yields and not enough vegetables for the market. We have determined that planting lettuce in our big garden beds will give us a constant supply of lettuce for the market, almost not having enough some weeks. There was a gap in planting lettuce by a month and a half. We felt the missed lettuce as did the customers at the market! Our 5th succession was also behind. We kept the 5th succession in the crop plan open to interpretation as the season went on. This proved ineffective because it produced another gap in seeding which left us short on supply around late august. The dates of seeded vegetables can be seen in the harvest summary. It is important to write out the full plan even if it changes to keep everyone on track. During July it is very busy. Tomatoes require a lot of attention and the farm is buzzing with activity. This is the time that following a plan drawn out during the slow winter months would provide beneficial guidance for the farm.

The grafted tomatoes were successful. We had tomatoes early, they were efficient to harvest, and produced a good yield for such a small space. For more information check the hoop house tomato post on this website.

Blackbird Meadows taught me a lot this year. I produced for one restaurant mostly by myself. I had about ¼ acre in production while the rest was in cover crop of clover, oats, and oilseed radish. I formed 25 beds on the half acre plot and planted vegetables in every other row. The other rows were planted in cover crop. This was an experiment that yielded mixed results. The downside was more management to the cover crops that did not produce income. The positive side resulted in weed suppression and hopefully better fertility and soil for next year. Working on the field after work at NSF and almost every weekend proved to me that agriculture is my passion. I was able to grow crops I was interested in (Chinese cabbage, baby carrots, head lettuce) and understand the weekly demands of a restaurant. This helped me fully realize the importance of a crop plan for projecting yields and keeping a steady supply of vegetables throughout the season. Blackbird Meadows ended early due to running out of space and challenging weather at the end of the season. I feel it was successful in truly understanding what it takes to run a small farm. I produced a website and documented everything I grew and harvested. This was a great addition to my resume and gave me the confidence to seek opportunities that will help me grow as a farmer.

Important Dates:

3/4 – Seedlings first started in Heated Greenhouse

3/4 – Seeding for grated Tomatoes

4/6 – Planting for peas direct seeded in field

5/3 – First succession of carrots

6/1 – Missed opportunity to plant lettuce

6/29 – Crop failure for Radish and turnips (too hot)

7/1 – Missed opportunity for 5th succession transplants

7/6 – Winter Squash direct seeded

7/8 – First tomato harvest from Hoop House

8/23 – Last succession of transplants for the field

– Arugula amd Tat soi direct seeded in big garden beds

Monthly Summary October 2010

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                              2010_1028AJ

General Observations:  Winter is coming!!  That is what was on everyone’s mind this month.  All three markets that north slope attended were still in full swing and therefore produce needed to be available.  With temperatures dropping crop health was a concern.  Measures were taken to regulate crop temperatures in the field and all of the greenhouses were prepped and planted for winter production.  With winter coming clean up around the farm and creating proper storage spaces were also high on the task list for the crew. 

Equipment 16 hrs: With winter coming the crew focused on necessary repairs and finding appropriate areas to store equipment.  Started setting up “have–a-heart” traps in greenhouses to catch and remove groundhogs that were destroying green house crops.

Administration 54 hrs: There were a lot of administrative completed this moth with winter and the end of the season approaching. 10/1 crew meeting was held to discuss midseason check in, plan for third year interns and setting priorities.  Manager met with each of the third years to further discuss their specific focuses. 10/5 Crew was given overview of what tasks needed to be prioritized for the month; work that needed to be done to prepare for winter production, tasks that still needed to be completed in both the greenhouses and fields, taking down tomato stakes and strings, weeding strawberries and blackberries, covering crops, equipment clean up and storage for coming winter months.  The usual administrative tasks, payroll, accounting and bills were attended to as always.

Infrastructure 55hrs: Weekly chicken chores, moving coops, cleaning coops and adding new bedding. 10/13 mowing 579 diversions and field perimeters.  10/19 Old chicken pasture was mowed. 10/27 Started mowing the BGB not in production.  Seed shed cleaned.

Greenhouse 10.5 hrs: Winter production seedlings were moved into the greenhouse and tables rearraged to accommodate trays.   The green house gothic was seeded on the 6th for winter production.

Composting 0 hrs:  Received a load of fresh compost on 10/1.

Planting 15.5 hrs: 10/6 greenhouse gothic was seeded for winter production 10/21 transplanted rudbeckia in tea garden 10/22 finished planting perennials in the tea garden. 10/25 turnips and radishes were transplanted into the hoop house for winter production.

Crop Care 113 hrs: Weeding as always!  This month all of the crop care was focused on prepping for winter production.  See “special projects” for further details.

Harvesting 293 hrs:  Chard, kale, beets, turnips, salad mix, green beans, arugula, tatsoi, last of the flowers (sunflowers, zinnas, and marigolds), tomato production decreased as the month progressed but still able to consistently harvest from both the field and the greenhouse. 10/6 crew was unable to harvest kale for Hopewell market due to rain damage. 10/15 Low yield of salad due to slower regowth, arugula showing cold damage.

Handling 68.5 hrs:  Regular washing in preparation for the three markets NSF attends.

 Marketing 109.5 hrs:

 Hopewell10/6 – $464, 10/13 – $467, 10/20 – $399.50,  10/27 – $295   Average sales for month = $406.38

West Windsor10/9 – $1,422, 10/16 – $1,022 , 10/23 – $960 , 10/30 – $1068   Average sales for month = $1118

Summit: 10/10 – $2,080, 10/17 -$1900, 10/24 – $1780 , 10/31 – $1940   Average sales for month: $1925

Total October Market Income: $13,797.50

Special Projects 56.5hrs:  This month most of the crew’s efforts went into preparing for winter production. The crews intent for winter production was “to extend the growing season of greens, lettuce, and roots to serve our existing markets; Hopewell Farmers Market, Nomad Pizza, and Zone 7.”  10/5 all of the seedlings for winter production were moved to the green house due to cooler weather. 10/8 Remey was brought out to cover 2 rows of chard, and beets and one row of kale.  The crew determined that a single row of remey measuring 72″ was the easiest to manage. 10/13 Rebar was cut in 12 foot lengths and covered in recycled drip tube to span over BGBs.  Each tunnel was covered with an outer skin of 6 mil plastic (13′ wide x 50′ long). 10/14 5 field tunnels at 40′ were covered and anchored with sand bags. 10/15 Strong winds pulled tunnel edges loose.  Crew decided to shovel divots to set sand bags in to prevent bags from slipping on sloped edges of the beds.  More sandbags were placed on beds to better secure plastic.  The total remay coverage was WP tunnels (40′): 2 tatsoi, 1 arugula, 1 spinach, and 1 new planting of arugula. BGB with plastic: 4 salad mix (2 unharvested beds and 2 regrowth).  Field beds with Remay: 2 chard, 2 beets, and 1 kale.  10/21 The crew observed temperature changes in the low tunnels.  Opened one of the beds all day and recovered at 4pm found that temperatures reached 80°F.  Left one of the beds closed all day temperature reached 100°F.  Conclusion was that the low tunnels must be opened during the day and closed at night. 10/27 Crew observed that there was substantially more growth on the covered crops compared those that were left uncovered.  An inner layer of remay was added under the plastic to the 4 beds of salad mix in anticipation of cooler weather.  The addition of the remay was to help reduce temperature fluctuation. 10/28 The 2010 chickens were given a treat, 4 cups of first sprouted grain. 10/29 remey was placed over turnips and radishes in Veg B south.

Weather:

Week 1 – Storms, cold, rainy and wet

Week 2 – mild temperatures, good growing conditions, late in the week strong winds came through

Week 3 – strong winds with gale warnings, cold, scattered showers throughout the week

Week 4 – warmer than average temperatures (70°F +) at beginning of the week, windy, temperatures dropping towards the end of the week, cold frosty nights

Total rainfall for the month 6.25 inches

Monthly Summary August 2011

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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 – December 2009

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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 – September 2009

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Monthly Summary, September 2009

Robin prepared 1/2011

As I review September notes from our previous season (2009) I am reminded of nightmares of tomato blight, my first visit to NSF and of course the satisfying feeling of starting to see an end to the season.  Now, instead of continuously plowing ahead September is a time to get some of the last of the crops in for the fall season.  It’s also the time to get greenhouses together for any winter production.  Of course, to help celebrate this time of year is the beloved NSF Tomato fight, held every beginning to mid September.  It’s an exciting month with beautiful weather, definitely one of my favorites.

Equipment 24hrs.: repaired chopper, upkeep on mower 

Administration 32hrs: pay roll, bills, accounting
Infrastructure 54hrs: Chicken shelter, weed whacking, irrigation work, fence work

Greenhouse 33hrs.: seeded trays of basil for sale, prep of greenhouse for late fall/winter production 

Composting 26hrs.: Weeded compost pile, prepped and seeded into compost bed for later fall crops, making compost tea (and spreading to field beds)   
Planting 45hrs.: (in compost pile): squash, fennel, scallions, and beets. seeded tatsoi in BGBs and cover crops in field , in Ralph’s House planted kale, beets, fennel, chard and seeded arugula

Crop Care 143hrs: Weeding, scuffle hoeing, cleaning up string and drip tape from tomato patch, mowing

Harvesting 160Hrs:

       First week: chard, kale, sunflowers, pears, tomatoes, salad mix, hay

       Second week: chard, kale, tomatoes, flowers, hay

       Third week: chard, kale, flowers, radishes, hay

       Fourth week: kale, chard, radishes, salad mix, flowers, horseradish, teas

Handling 64hrs: washing, bagging, bunching, cleaning garlic

Marketing 119hrs.:

       Hopewell:9/1 $756 9/9:$399, 9/16 $358, 9/23 $600, 9/30 $647

       West Windsor:9/4 $1200, 9/12 $950, 9/26 $1400

       Summit:9/5 $1910, 9/13 $1900, 9/27 $1600

Special Projects 23hrs: chicken shelter, talks of moving creation support, pit dug for clay oven, mushroom growing-spreading spores, splitting wood
Weather: First week: Clear weather, sunny and cool nights

Second week: clear and sunny, cool with rain at the end of the week

Third week: Sun and clouds, warm days with cold front moving in

Forth week: cloudy, server thunderstorm during the week, followed by sun