Notes from Picadilly Farm

Picadilly Farm is one of the primary growers for the multiple farm extended season CSA. Picadilly farmer, Jenny Wooster, sent us this farm report.

Dear Shareholders,

We’re halfway through May, and the first harvest is just around the corner! Sails are fully set here on the farm, with the full crew on deck and about a third of our 25 acres planted. The farm looks better than ever, as the relatively dry (but not too dry) spring has allowed for plenty of sunny-day time to spread paint, level and re-seed some of the farm roads (something we’ve wanted to do for several seasons now!), and clean up fallen timber and brush around the field edges. Now that the danger of frost has (likely) past, all of our focus will turn toward the fields, as we start in with planting the first of the cold sensitive crops in the field – first summer squash and zucchini, quickly followed by cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, melons, eggplant, peppers, and our second attempt at organic sweet corn.

Bruce and this season’s apprentices, Jenny-Q and Andy, have taken advantage of a few recent rainy days to build a second mobile chicken-coop. Our spring chicks – we’re calling them teenagers, as we have to catch them every morning and return them to the incubation box that they have clearly outgrown – will soon be out on pasture and enjoying the sunshine. The older laying hens have enjoyed the spring pasturing our marsh field, a part of the farm that it usually too wet for anything but bird nesting and a July haying. Three black lambs are grazing at the crew house, and six piglets will arrive from a Vermont farm in early June, to spend the summer here. Two of the three bee hives made it through the winter and are going strong – it’s a survival rate that we are pleased about, given the poor weather for the bees to build their honey stores last summer. Our volunteer beekeeper, Brendan, will add two new “nuke” hives in a few weeks, to bring us back up to four hives. While we raise the bees primarily for crop pollination, we do like to get a honey crop, and it looks as if we just might, maybe, hopefully, this fall. Our well-loved barn cats came through the winter well, and have been valiantly protecting the greenhouse seeds and seedlings from those pesky little four-legged predators.

We’ve just learned that our farm will receive a grant from Natural Resource Conservation Service, a part of USDA, for construction of a new high tunnel (farm-speak for greenhouse). The high tunnel grants are geared toward low energy production – solar heat, manual ventilation, and season extension for local foods. We’ll put up the new house next winter/spring, hopefully with a second one to match, filling up the open space between the current hoop houses and the distribution barn. Our plans include summer greenhouse tomatoes and winter greens growing, as early as 2011 – exciting steps for our farm.

We come into harvest season with nearly all of our CSA shares sold – a milestone for us in our fourth year on the farm. We’re growing for 200 shareholders on the farm, and 200 shareholders who received delivered boxed shares in eastern MA. Thanks to all of you for your early support! You’ve allowed your farmers peace of mind, as well as the opportunity to focus our time on growing the veggies, training our crew, and enjoying our days of planting and weeding with you in mind. Thanks also for spreading the word about the farm, and we still have about 15 shares left… so tell your friends and neighbors!

We’re looking forward to harvesting for you!

Jenny (for Bruce, Susie, Andy, Jenny-Q, Antonio, Adelina, Caitlin, Alejandro & Edgar)