We have had another hot, steamy week full of lots of beautiful produce. We started off the week with a big CSA harvest, and on Monday we went to another CRAFT apprentice gathering. This one took place at 4 Corners Farm in Newbury. 4 Corners has been around since the early eighties, and the family farm now grows almost everything. They have a 25-head Jersey dairy, a very unmanaged beef herd of Scottish Highland cattle, chickens, pigs, potatoes, popcorn, and lots of summer vegetables. It was very cool to discuss how the broad diversity of the farm fits together; the farmer who showed us around admitted that the dairy sometimes lost money, but the nutrients in the cow manure were ‘priceless’. Their broad offerings have also made their roadside farmstand very successful. They are bolstered by the fact that the farm is right along route 5, but the fact that you can drive up and buy everything you need for dinner has made the farmstand the source of over 80% of their business. 4 Corners grows a lot of strawberries and tomatoes, so it was interesting to see their approach to two very labor-intensive, high-value crops. In both cases, they use a ton of plastic and control the plants environment very carefully, but it tends to reduce the need for weeding and spraying.
Tuesday, we processed the last round of broiler chickens for a while. Tim and Suzanne schedule a break in chick shipments so that there are no meat birds to slaughter during late July and early August, which are two of the busiest months for harvesting and weed control.
Wednesday was an exciting day for two reasons. First, we harvested blueberries for the first time!
The other exciting first was that this week Brian went to the Hanover Farmer’s Market and managed the stand for the second half of market. The market, which is on the town green (on the edge of Dartmouth College campus) from 3-6 in the afternoon, is definitely a smaller market for our farm, but because it is so central to town it has a fun energy and a constant flow of people. The difference though, is that many folks come to the Hanover market to hang out, listen to music, and eat tasty prepared foods, not to buy veggies for the week. At the Norwich market, we have a lot of regular customers, and its easier to do a steady business, but in Hanover, we mostly sold blueberries and tomatoes, which are both better for fresh eating and have great visual appeal. Either way, it was really exciting for him to be entrusted to manage the stand for two hours, take down everything and drive the van home alone, and it was cool to visit Hanover for the first time.
On Thursday, Brian’s Aunt Laurel, cousins Jack and Isa, and Laurel’s dad came by for a visit! We gave them a tour of the farm, Jack intentionally shocked himself on the electric fence, and Isa helped Sidney put the truck cap on. We also repainted the ropes that we use for spacing during transplanting, which was sorely overdue, and released the sweet potatoes from some horrible weed pressure. I have harvested sweet potatoes on many farm before in the fall, but I’d never actually seen them grow, so I was surprised to learn that they look like an ivy vine. Sweet potatoes are in the same genus as morning glories, whereas potatoes are a nightshade (Genus Solanum)… same with tomatoes, eggplants, tomatillos, and peppers.
On Thursday night we went back to Heartwood-Fable Farm for another Feast & Field event, only this time, there were about 300 people there. It was the debut of the Art on the Farm event that involves about a dozen or so installation pieces out in the fields. Lily O’Hara, who just started working at Luna Bleu, collaborated on a giant birch wood and birch bark dragon that was stunning when it caught orange light of the setting sun. We got ice cream, met up with Lily, and danced the night away.
On Friday, we did our usual market harvest, which has been growing in every dimension (weight, volume, color, diversity) each week. Brian, Lily, Karen, and I spent a mere 40 minutes in the tomatoes and hauled out a whopping 365 pounds! (Not including cherry tomatoes!) Suffice it to say that CSA shareholders are well fed in the month of July.
Over the weekend, we went up to Warren, Vt for the Yestermorrow Design/Build School’s 35th anniversary and met up with many of Brian’s friends from the semester program he spent there this past fall, including my roommate Mary Kate from Hampshire. We had a blast!
On August 8th, I am going to be turning 21! To celebrate, Brian and I are riding in the Harpoon Point to Point, a bicycle charity ride that serves as the biggest fundraiser for the Vermont Foodbank. We will each ride 25 miles through beautiful rural Vermont and attend the party at the Harpoon Brewery afterwards on my first day of legal drinking!
I would appreciate it if you could give to the Vermont Foodbank on behalf of my birthday, here is to the link to our team donation page: