Monday, April 24, 2006

the many Burlingtons

This one of the views coming up the hill from Intervale, something Rachel and I do at least once a day. I have to admit I like it, it's easy to romantisize train tracks, which you see people walking in the direction of Winooski on everyday, especially if there are mountains behind it. Having the farm be part of an urban thing is pretty great - I like the idea of them merging more. And it seems like lots of technologies plus the always inventive bricoluer (jack-of-all-trades) farmer is the one to make it happen.

Talk about intensive farming, Rachel and I had dinner with Mara and Spencer Welton, who run Half Pint Farm: They do A LOT of stuff on one acre and have found amazing ways of providing themselves a sustainable wage using tools like the greenhouse, in ways I certainly hadn't thought of. I'm also happy to report that we didn't only talk about farming. Also wanted to put this in cause isn't that part of the fun of blogs: people were having dinner with you and they didn't think it would be part of the public record.

Anyways, I'm happy to report we have a South end Pick up Location, I'll put the address on here in a few days. I will be cutting up the potatoes tonight, which if you didn't know is how you get the new potatoes: each potato can be cut into at least three or four sections (each should have one eye, which will become the first root), though if you are really trying to stretch your dollar you can probably get like seven or eight cuts. Next, you throw them in the ground, a few inches deep, and wait for the plants to come up.

Those are the many Burlingtons. These two shots, Rachel and I in front of Cold frame and close-up of Stuff you may soon be eating in it, you can kinda see how we roll down the plastic tent to keep it all warm on cold nights.

letter from April 15

Below is a letter I wrote to our friend and co-worker from Quail Hill, and it details work that we did on April 15. It's funny how LONG ago we did that work, how distanced it is from what we're up to right now

(EG - we've re-potted all the tomatoes, are seeding potatoes, another round of beets this week, planting out Viola and Chamomile, planting out Kale, all the Parsley's out, all the Onions are out, as I say below I could go on I won't go on)

ps. the invitation goes!

"hi joe,

we saw chickens today - they are part of someone's farm at the intervale and we walked over to visit them while we are on our way to fetch water for our field - i think they hadn't been de-beaked and they looked happy - they're master has a big chicken house on wheels that he drives around to different parts of intervale land, then sets up a fence around the house trailer and a swath of space and lets them go at it - he then moves the house i don't know every now and then - good eggs!

we planted out beets and onions today - we tried a kinda interplanting thing - you know, we noticed that all our beets were like 4-6 per cell, tho i KNOW that i only put 2-3 seeds in per cell - i KNOW for sure! - and i remember that being a problem at QH too, like, we always blamed little jimmy who was visiting from ross school on seeding day - now we come to learn there was no little jimmy!

we also seeded bachelor buttons and phlox - i'm getting into flowers - and we are tending beds of tatsoi, napa cabbage, chinese broccoli, shinguku (chrysanthemum greens), daikon, peas, spinach, and that's all

how''s things at QH? i miss the ole farmstead - and, did you ever hear anything about the jade tree we abandoned in 703?

i could continue on with boring details of life living its life out in the greenhouse and cold frame, but i won't - we've all had enough for today, haven't we?

what else - OH! - thanks so much for the music! all is much MUCH appreciated - i like that we got the music from broken flowers but NOT the soundtrack - soundtracks are lazy - and i love the bunny wailer (?) and am searching for guys and dolls in the library for our saturday night TV date - all so beautiful

well that's all from crazy kooky new england - visit again anytime/soon!"

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Pick-ups and other share info

Sorry to say no pictures today. They sure do brighten up things, and I'll take some tomorrow, when I plan to be planting a few more (maybe the rest) of the onions, which have already had such a long journey, seeded first week of march.

But the info some people have been asking me for, and is not easy to find in the archives:

Pick up Locations and Times: Times are 3-7pm on Fridays. The place on the South end is still undetermined. If you are interested in receiving a discount for having your house/apt as the drop off, just give us a call at 881-8125, or email us at the address to you right.

Shares: Full share is $410, and accommodates four, half share is for two people, and costs $250. For more info we have brochures which I can send as an attachment to you or just thru the old mail.

Sorry for those already members and/or anyone who already knows, but a few people asked.

The pictures are coming . . . the pictures are coming

Sunday, April 16, 2006

while working . . . / dollar vs. sense

Today I was "pricing" fruit trees that I had potted up last week at my work at Gardener's Supply. Putting a price tag and the UPC code on all those fruit trees reminded me of some of the apocalyptic talk that I have hears alot of in Vermont since I got hear: what came to mind is "the mark of the beast," which I know is the lore of the more christian minded apocalypse thinking, not the mayans (whom I tend to think of as having the world turn off like a tv show in 2012, much less violently than . . .)

I must admit I'm not so much for, or believing in, the terrible end days, tho I do admit that Rachel and I came here in part cause we wanted to catch what was left of winter. They changed the USDA hardiness map (a little bible to farming folk) to reflect a ten degree rise in temps over the past ten years. That said the idea of peak oil re-assures me: doesn't it mean we will run out of it before the planet gets too hot, and it that way the earth seems self-regulating. (Note: Does nuclear option ruin this balance?). I am adding vermont's peak oil website to the sidebar for easier access.

Pricing every living tree was really reminding me of part of what I like about the CSA structure, every plant doesn't have a price attached to it. We can afford to bring you organic onions and carrots, crops that we could not compete with pricewise in a market system, but that nonetheless make up part of a balanced farm and diet.

Friday, April 14, 2006

lots going on 2

I have a feeling that is going to be the theme of many a post for quite a while. Blogger erased one version of this post so here it is again: we are planting fast and furious now, or will be. Onions, potatoes, arugala, beets, chamomile, kale, cauliflower. These are all things on deck in the cold frame. Add parsely to that list. Rachel keeps records so that we can get all our successions of the right things. Soon well be putting carrots in the ground, and seeding winter squash (even tho mice seem to like the seed as a greenhouse treat (we cover the trays til they germinate to stop them)) - out in the field I disked a little new area and redisked all of the old. This is generally called stale bedding: usually referring to letting weed seed germinate and then knocking it down. In this case it was mostly clumps of rye I was hoping to eliminate. You can see from pics in the last post that the rye too is coming on fast and furious (tho it looks much worse from a distance), which is why we will try to cover crop as much as possible in oats next year, which winterkills, leaving the fields nice and clean in the spring, but still holding the soil against erosion. That was fast and furious, huh.

NOTE ON MEMBERSHIP: two notes really. The first is that if you have been considering joining I think now is the time. Not tooting OHF's horn at all. I just think that we are riding a wave which is cresting esp. here in Burlington. People are truly interested in sustainability and as the weather also starts looking nice I am optimistic that our 25 shares will be gone a little after the beginning of the month. The second note is this: if you are considering a full share, or already have purchased one, you may add to the benefit column a potted rosemary plant of your very own to take home at some point in the season. I am going to start the cuttings this weekend, It's one of my favorite herbs (though you might hear me say that about 20 or so herbs)

Monday, April 10, 2006

here are quickly a few pics I took today at the farm. It doesn't look like its in Burlington does it? The wood box (cold frame (see older posts)) is holding chinese broccoli and totsoi and chrysanthemum greens, all babies yet:

Bonus image of Rachel in Montreal for those who haven't seen her recently, or only on a flyer.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Environmental Stuff

A while back, you'd have to look up when, I was talking about at least re-using bags for cat or dog doo - but it wasnt satisfying as you still end up throwing it in a landfill. Well, for cats at least, there is a solution: flushable litter. Arm & Hammer makes it, and Rachel and I will try it out next time we need new litter. There still seems to be some concern: what is it made of and will throwing it in your toilet be any worse than what already goes down your toilet? I am asking these questions of anyone out there to answer, though I know you (hopefully including a few of our new members) in the bloggosphere havent probably got alot more time to do chemical research than I do. What research I have done has turned up this cat littler somehow made of wheat. As one of our members is reminding me though, do we want to be growing wheat to use on kitties, even though it is organically grown . . . Obviously complicated stuff and a good reason for a picture with a cat in it.

But in the case of peak oil someone, actually lots of people, have done the research, and here is a local website that gives Vermonters some local ways to help change our energy use habits: The site is a wealth of information, probably most importantly, how to meet people likewise concerned, because once you realize how many people are willing to go the extra mile (sans gas) you might (I do) find it alot easier to start making a difference in ways that at first seem like a dream or dare. I don't think it would be Bragging to say that becoming a member of open heart farm is an important way of reducing gas consumption: the average piece of food travels 1500 miles to an american plate, either by car, boat, or plane, so any time we can make it 0-5 miles it will really bring that average down.

To all new members: Rachel or I will be calling you and sending you a receipt in a week or so. We are very excited about this season and will be posting lots of info about the season here, as it starts to really heat up.

ps Wonder Wheat isn't a good example as it is grown in Australia, but I've seen other wheat ones in stores.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Changeable Weather

They say it is going to snow tomorrow. All my sources back that up, and yet there are certainly many farmers in the area who have put their peas in the ground. Not Rachel and I, for two reasons: 1) I don't think during the next cold few days too much growing will get done by them, but much more importantly 2) since our field has not been a vegetable farm for some time (if ever) we are going to wait for our innoculant to arrive. The innoculant is a prettygood window into what organic means these days: it is a soil based bacteria, which if you don't know, and I don't guess there is any reason you would, there are lots of bacteria naturally living in the soil, healthy soil, every day. Just like they are in your gut helping you digest food (they are there too!). So the scientists or soilists or what have you, I gather, isolate some of particular strains that help peas both produce peas and fix nitrogen nodules in the ground, thereby helping whatever is next to go in that area. Once the Bacteria is introduced to a field, it can live there on its own, especially, as previously noted, in a healthy soil, which is what the Intervale soil looks like.

So how does this relate to the "organic" thing? (I get off topic pretty easiliy, huh?) It's just to say that organic doesn't mean eschewing all technology or never adding anything besides compost to the soil. It's more about finding solutions to problems that don't create new problems, and maybe even solve some problems off to the side, which general soil health has a tendency to do (ie helping the plants stave off bugs and other diseases). Conventional Farms, to show the counter example, wouldn't be adding the innoculant, and there is generally little chance the bacteria would survive in a soil that had been conventionally farmed field for long, because there is very little organic matter and almost no soil life.

Here I'm doing my yapping and the weather in Burlington has changed again, back to Sun, so I'll take advantage of it.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

To those who have received Flyers Recently

To Clear up a few details that people who have received the brochure have made evident need to be cleared up:

Method of Share Pick-up: Rachel and I will pack Boxes of vegetables, for instance, one week, an early one, will contain separate boxes of head lettuce, snap peas, radishes, spinach, tot-soi (an Asian green great for stir-frying, napa cabbage and beets. We will Drop off these vegetables at two locations, one in South Burlington, and one in North Burlington. The exact location is not yet decided. One porch could be ours, but we are hoping one lucky member will take advantage of the discount we are offering to he or she who will let the vegetables rest on their porch for a four hours. One of us from OHF will be there often, to talk about what's going on the farm, answer questions you might have, and generally carouse, but if we are not we will also clearly mark each box with amounts that each member should take. For instance, 1 pint of peas, 2 heads of lettuce, eight radishes, a bag of spinach, etc.

Exact Time of Pick-up: This will be between 3pm-7pm on Fridays starting June 9.

Any questions? If so, feel free to comment or write us at the email address at the top left side of your screen.

In other exciting farm news Rachel and I are actually happy to have a break from the sun. Besides not being ready for applying sunscreen everyday, it means the seedlings in the greenhouse don't have to be watched quite as much. We might baby ours a bit too much but after all they are young at this point. (See the pictures Below). We also don't have to go to the cold frames and check on them quite as much, if its cool and cloudy, I'll bring in a picture of them in case you haven't seen one.

Also, Spencer, an employee AND farmer at Intervale helped us "open up" our first 1/3 acre, on which will go many of the things listed above plus some longer season crops such as potatoes and lots of other stuff. Once again, Rachel has told you (in her post below) all the fun stuff and I the workaday tidbits.

Farm Auction Report

Josh and I attended our first farm auction this week, in Orwell,Vermont, a beautiful spot south of Burlington on Lake Champlain. An interesting day, and a beautiful day to walk around on a farm field full of old big-business farming equipment. Things like dumpwagons, grain drills, payloaders, disc harrows, augurs, and then a few antique carpenter's planes and even a 1800s ironing board thrown in to round things out. One interesting older (in his 70s) fellow was making funny hand gestures to the caller and making inappropriate bids (such as, starting with an obscenely low bid - 100 bucks -on a hugely brand new tractor) and bidding in increments of $25. The auction people stopped paying attention to him at some point.

We nearly placed a bid on a nice pick-up. A 1995 chevy S150 I believe, which went for $600. A steal! Quelle dommage!