Howdy folks! The start of our seventh CSA season at the TC3 Farm is finally underway. This has to be the strangest start to a farming season that I’ve experienced in my 16 years in agriculture. For those of you who are new to the TC3 Farm CSA, let me give you a brief little overview of the farm and who we are. The TC3 Farm is a small-scale diversified vegetable and fruit farm. Although we aren’t a certified organic farm, we adhere to all USDA and NOP organic standards and practices. We don’t use any synthetic or chemically-based fertilizer, pesticides, fungicides or herbicides on the farm. In fact, we don’t use any sprays on the farm, even if they are allowable in organic production. What we do is rely heavily on crop rotation, variety selection and the farm’s natural biodiversity to manage pest and disease cycles. The farm directly supports the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems degree at Tompkins Cortland CC.
Students enrolled in this degree program have 3 farming internships at the TC3 Farm, in addition to their other course work at the college. Their time on the farm has them involved in all aspects of our crop production. From helping with our crop rotation in the winter months to seeding in the greenhouse in the spring to transplanting and harvesting all summer and fall, to so much more. It’s truly an honor to be able to work with these students as they find their way within the food system.
The start of this season and my work with student interns has been anything but normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was just me on the farm from the middle of March until the end of May when our summer semester started. It was quite a balance of farm work, shifting a hands-on internship in the spring to online, my wife still working full time and juggling the needs of a kindergartener and a toddler. Oh, and it was really cold and wet for a long time. I don’t want to harp on the weather. There will be plenty of time for that as the season progresses. For awhile there, I wasn’t sure what this season was going to look like. But interns have returned for the summer, albeit a much smaller group than I normally have. I have been nothing short of impressed with their hard work in the almost 3 weeks that they have been here. The farm has been transforming at a rapid pace with close to 10,000 plants in the ground since they’ve returned. We’re a bit behind where we normally are at this time but are playing catch up as fast as we can. Our greenhouse and hoophouse crops should all be in the ground by the end of the day tomorrow and we’ve got close to a half acre planted in the field. Some highlights to look forward to (hopefully by the end of July/beginning of August) are the tomatoes. Perhaps my favorite crop to grow, this season there will be 15 varieties of herilooms, 12 varieties of cherries and 3 varieties of beefsteaks!! There are also 8 varieties of sweet peppers in the hoophouses. So lots to look forward to.
Since you all know what your getting in your shares this week, I thought I’d give you some ideas in this part of the newsletter. The hakurei turnips are a great salad turnip that can be eaten raw. Although, occasionally we like to do a quick pickle of them and add them to sandwiches. The garlic greens are immature garlic plants that we harvest early in the season. When we plant garlic in the fall, we take the “reject” cloves and plant them very close together so they don’t have the opportunity to size up. When they are harvested at this size the entire plant is edible, including the green foliage. They go perfect in eggs or you can make a pesto out of them. The baby radish mix includes daikon, black and watermelon. These were planted in our hoophouses in March and harvested in the last couple of weeks. Since they are small and tender, they can be eaten raw or lightly sauteed. Same thing with the purple top turnips. Basically, this week is all about salads. With the lettuce and carrots mixed with all these other goodies, a flavor explosion is about to happen.
Coming soon: arugula, mizuna, bok choi, mustard greens, spinach, salad radishes and strawberries!
I hope you all have a great week!