Organic Apples & Ballerina Princesses

I visited Old Frog Pond Farm in Harvard this weekend with friends Kristin, Linnea and Kai. Today I’ll be making apple pies.

The OFPF web site says they are the only certified pick-your-own orchard in Massachusetts. This is a sweet little orchard.

Here’s a picture of Linnea in ’07, adorned with a dandelion tiarra. She still likes dandelions, but no longer wishes to be a farmer, much to my chagrin. Her current career goal is to be a ballerina princess.

Favorite CSA photos

Remember the rock picking, way too much rain and rabbits, and early spring row cover? How about fava beans, cherry tomatoes, peppers, and the rows and rows of lettuce? I’ve pulled together a slideshow of some of my favorite pictures from 2008 (there might be a couple of ’07 pics included). Many of these photos were taken by Kathy Martin. Liz also made good use of her cell phone’s camera during the season. I’m pretty sure I’m responsible for all the poorly composed and out of focus photos. (One of my winter projects is to learn to take good farm photos!)

Dirty Girl Farm and Healthy Soil

Or maybe I should write, “dirty vegetable farm”, ‘tho we girls did get pretty dirty during the harvest. The lettuce we harvested this morning for the CSA had more soil on it than usual. The much needed rain earlier this week — about an inch on the farm — came down hard, and it splashed a lot of soil onto the lettuce. I dunked the lettuce and gently sprayed it and dunked it again, but I think some of my shareholders took home something more precious than fresh veggies today: healthy soil.

Speaking of healthy soil, in year three of my growing food on this acre, the earthworms have returned. During my first two years, the rare earthworm sightings created excitement and always led to conversations about their absence. Some growers I spoke with suggested that the conventional fertilizer long used on this land may have created a caustic environment for the worms. Others wondered if the deposits of grass clippings from local landscapers may have contained chemicals that were not earthworm-friendly. I’m not sure if either of these hypotheses is true. But after two years of organic fertilizer and a heavy application of composted manure, there are earthworms everywhere!

CSA distributions begin!

The spinach is pretty much begging to be picked; the arugula, too. Bok choy, kale, and lettuce are all ready for someone’s plate. I wish the beets, carrots, kohlrabi, summer turnips and scallions were ready. I thought about postponing the first distribution until some of the root crops could make an appearance.

“Hmmmm,” I asked myself. “If I were a shareholder, what would I want?”

The first CSA distribution is this Thursday. It will be a small, very green share. A nice little taste of spring to start the season. I may throw in a woodchuck or two if I find any during the Thursday harvest.

First Harvest

Yesterday, May 9, was our first harvest. It was a very satisfying experience. Liz and I harvested two small orders for Formaggio Kitchen and Kitchen on Common. Sending this first harvest of bok choy and kale out into the world with Julio (FK) and Joh (KC), two guys who really appreciate local produce, added to the pleasure of the harvest.

It was a slow harvest. We knew we would be. After all, it was the first harvest of the season. We’ve a few more small harvests planned for next week and we have lots of ideas about how to be more efficient and quick. Better planning, organization, technique and caffiene all have a place in our plan. I expect we will be up to speed by the time the CSA harvests start (it’s looking like the week of May 19!). I estimate that we’ll need to spend a total of 32 hours per week harvesting this spring. That should leave enough time for planting, weeding, maintaining equipment and all the other things that need doing each week, including enjoying and celebrating the harvest.

Volunteer Work Day

A dozen shareholders and friends worked with me on Saturday morning. We did a little bit of everything: moving rocks, clearing brush, seeding the next crops of lettuce, spinach, beets, summer squash, and hunting for woodchucks. It was really nice to have so much enthusiastic help! Here are a few photos taken on Saturday, courtesy of Skippy’s mom.

seeding lettuce in the field

lettuce spinach rows