This Friday, my partner Colleen, and our friend Tami, and I, harvested a lot; hardy greens, Kales, Napa, Collards, Spinach and some Swiss Chard. Yesterday I had harvested Arugula and Micro Greens. We also had a stash of Radishes from a previous harvest.
I am very particular about the Produce rinsing, so that is my Job. Fill the bulk tanks, immerse and agitate the produce, spin it dry, bulk pack it into bio bags, until we package.
Colleen and Tami returned from lunch, garbed themselves in face masks, and packed greens for about 4 hours.
All this is fairly normal, except that the whole time, we were wearing face masks. And both Moms had to get their kids connected and functioning with Virtual School in the morning and another chance to reinforce the need to “do your virtual school work!” while trying to make lunch and get a bite themselves.
Our Farmers Market has taken many steps to accommodate Social Distancing and avoiding crowds. They have posted instructions for a new entrance, allowing a line of cars to wait until being allowed into the parking area. Instructions on customer behaviors – wear a mask, don’t bring kids, don’t loiter chatting, or gather in groups, line up appropriately and don’t take a long time shopping.
Our stand is going to be bare bones – three stations – #1 place your order, #2 here’s your produce, #3 please pay by check, or exact change and Bring your own Pen!
All our produce is going to be $5, or $10 and each unit is already packed. A lot of my customers are going to be unhappy with this, “too much greens” they’ll say. Its true, I’d rather set up the usual display, lots of colors and options, allowing browsing, custom selections and enjoyment of the moment.
But this is serious – we are farmers, and we want to get the food to you. Our customers need access to food, and honestly, if major food distribution systems falter, local Farmers Markets will, all the sudden, be valued by a lot more people. We have no idea how many customers to expect, and want everyone to get a healthy dose, of the high quality, whole foods, we are bringing you. If it seems like too much greens, chop it finer, and add it to more meals. Hearty Greens will keep you Healthy!
As a manager, and as a worker, as a father and a husband, a Brother, I am stressed out, by this Covid-19 crisis. I don’t like to wear a mask, but I believe it is critical to reduce exposure between people. I am a key shopper for my family, and just as I expect the folks who serve me, to be careful of how they act, I too am very careful to protect the food chain that I provide. I already washed my hands, all the time, now I regularly am spritzing diluted bleach solution, and wiping down every time I enter and leave a public space, because if a molecule of virus gets on me, I want to weaken and remove it. Keeping myself – and my family, and my customers – free of Covid-19, is the priority now, and it takes up a lot of time, energy and emotional space.
This Virus Crisis is a wake up call – Nature is in charge here, and anything can happen. Humans have carved wide paths through the Paradise that we’ve been born into, and we are quick to call out that others are wrong and nasty. Everyday, we make decisions about how to be, whether to hoard or to share, whether to help or exclude. You can see the people wearing masks, and making space for others, and know that they are the people who are aware of others, who recognize that their actions matter, and they make up the real strength of a community, struggling with a new challenge.
See you at the market, (if you are the designated shopper), and know that (most likely) I am smiling at you, behind my mask.
Planned for the Last Wednesday Night, of each Month 6-8pm, but programming should be confirmed prior to attending.
North Slope Farm is hosting Monthly Organic Open Houses, see Calendar Page. Please register on the NOFA-NJ website by Tuesday, the day before the Open House. Zoom invitations will be emailed on Wednesday. If you want to join us, but missed the registration cut off, text your email address to Mikes cell – 609-647-9754, he’ll invite you, once the gathering starts at 6 pm.
Due to Corona Virus Social Distancing Guidelines, We are adjusting, but we hope to host outdoor gatherings, as soon as we reasonably can.
NOFA-NJ is cultivating New Jersey’s JourneyPersons, and we will be focusing on them, over the course of the 2020 Growing Season. If you are interested in the Journey Person Program, NOFA-NJ would like to support your journey.
Journey Persons are traditionally, skilled workers, with a vision of their future, open to the Lessons of Life, as grist for the Training, to become a Master Trades Person. In Partnership, NOFA NJ and North Slope Farm would like to focus resources towards Organic Farmers and Gardeners in New Jersey. Currently we are meeting with Journey Persons and Mentors, and we look forward to developments.
2020 is starting dramatically, and North Slope Farm and NOFA-NJ wish you all good fortune and long life. Stay in touch, and we’ll share as we go.
Monthly Gatherings at Farmhouse to talk about Organic Farming in New Jersey.
North Slope Farm and NOFA-NJ are hosting this event, to provide our community, a regular space, to come together. We will review Farming over the past month, check in on Journey Person Farmers Reports and Public Postings, and discuss appropriate resources and information to address current and future concerns.
NOFA-NJ is reconstructing our Journey Person Program, to Celebrate New Jersey Organic Farmers, striving to follow high standards of integrity, seeking sustainable and regenerative Agricultural Operations. The Open House will be a time for Mentors and Journey persons to get together, if possible, or connect remotely through a web based platform, that we hope to have in place by the end of 2020.
The Organic Open House is North Slope Farm’s offering to the Community, to come together, to talk about Organic Farming in NJ. The evening will start with the soul of our Intentions – organic food, and brief introductions of attendees. If a special guest, or presentation is prepared, that will be the next focus. The last hour of the evening will be directed to seeking information about how the month has been, Farming in New Jersey, and we will utilize a review of public media postings of Journey Persons and representative samples of New Jersey farmers. We will welcome stories from the field, from attendees, hopefully drawing out the stories from our Farmers, in person.
By focusing on the activity of New Jersey Farmers, we hope to focus ourselves on what is really going on, so we can talk about how to replicate successes and find solutions, to real and perceived limitations. Our success will be measured by the degree we are able to share these stories, highlight valuable resources and celebrate the success of more and more Organic farmers, in New Jersey, every Year! Watch as NOFA-NJ develops a Promotional Platform for NJ Organic Farmers, and support our efforts by becoming a supporting Member of NOFA-NJ.
It was a decent year, more detail to come!
Selected Crop Yields and Management – Season One of three year USDA / NOFA Soil Health study of Reduced Tillage
Data below will reflect the Planting dates, Begin and End Harvest Dates and total Crop Yields. The selected crops were Carrots and Napa Cabbage, in Permanent Raised Beds. Also, Summer Squash and Green Beans in Field Beds. The Raised Beds were prepared for planting by mowing, solarization and hand seeding, using a pinpoint seeder. The Field Beds were prepared using our “Favorable Furrow” method, including ripping a single furrow, filling with compost, then lightly rototilling the top 1/2 inch of soil, incorporating some soil into the surface of the compost, to create a uniform surface for planting. No additional fertilizer was added, since the soil test results indicated plenty of fertility, though high pH. The Summer Squash and Green Beans were directly seeding using a jab planter and EarthWay push seeder, respectively.
We used large clear plastic sheets to solarize the Field Beds to be furrowed, before ripping, to kill back pre-existing vegetation. The Field Beds are 200′ long and managing the large sheets of plastic was not easy. After establishing the seeded crop, we lightly harrowed, either side of the crop, twice. The second harrowing, we attempted to establish clover along the edge of the crops, and the untilled pathways, between crops. The season was very wet, then extremely dry and hot, and the ideal scenario did not work out very well. Yields of Summer Squash were low. The first succession of green beans was a crop failure due to flooding, but 2nd and 3rd successions were decent.
General Observations included the following. Late season yields of carrots were the best, with very little damage from Carrot Rust fly in the third and fourth successions. Early season establishment of carrots, without tillage was difficult, as we were relying on solarization to kill existing vegetation, and early in the season the temperatures generated wasn’t enough to kill all the vegetation. Yields from the Field beds were disappointing and poor establishment of cover crops were factors we hope to improve in the second and third years of the Project. One success of the field beds were stale beds, that were prepared as normal, then planted to Barley, as a winter kill cover crop, with untilled pathways of clover between the beds.
See CIG 2019 Photo album in FLickr
Add Crop Yields Table
First season, Three year Soil Health Grant – sub focus, IPM Scouting.
Paige Sirak, a junior at South Hunterdon Regional Highschool, and multi term, Chapter President, of the local Future Farmers of America, performed weekly insect scouting, for two months. North Slope Farm is grateful for her generous donation of time and focus, notes and photos!
The USDA Conservation Innovation Grant, awarded to NOFA’s Mass., Conn. and New Jersey is collecting data from 3 farms, from three states, on reduced tillage practices. One piece of the data collection is Insect and Pest Management (IPM) Scouting, to see if there are any obvious signs of benefit or challenges, associated with our reduced tillage practices. Meredith Melendez, of Mercer County Rutgers Cooperative Extension, visited the participating farms, in New Jersey, and reviewed the primary insect pests and problems we wanted to scout for. Meredith provided data collection forms and background information on some of the primary pests.
We choose to monitor Summer Squash, Leafy Greens and Carrots. Insects we expected to see were Squash Bugs, Cabbage Worm, Flea Beetles, Shield Bugs, and in carrots we were unsure what kind of soil nematode has always given us trouble. The details of Paige’s scouting will be posted below, but in brief, here are some conclusions. Paige identified our carrot pest to be; Carrot Rust Fly. This was exciting because our hope is that reduced tillage will yield a more robust soil predator population, and we hoped to see a reduction in Carrot Rust Fly damage as soil was left undisturbed. We believe we saw reduced damage, by the end of the season. Another interesting observation was intense insect pressure on Napa Cabbage, that didn’t end up affecting the total yield much, allowing us to avoid spraying, despite the presence of pests.