Well, folks, we made it. Another CSA season is in the books and I can’t thank you all enough for taking this roller coaster of a farm season with us and for supporting the TC3 Farm! Many of you have been with us since year one, while others have joined along the way and for some, this is your first season being a CSA member. We’ve come a long way since that first season when it was just myself and a roto-tiller. I had minimal help that first summer, since the degree program didn’t start until that fall. There wasn’t a barn to work out of, a cooler to store veggies in, sinks to wash in or hoophouses or a greenhouse to grow veggies in year-round. I was driving all over Dryden and Cortland, relying on the help of friends who wanted to support the farm by giving us a place to start vegetable seeds, wash and store vegetables and even a little space to grow some food. Now, after completing our 5th CSA season, the farm is starting to come into its own. There’s still a ways to go but with the support of awesome members, like you all, we can get there!
Well, folks, we are now entering the home stretch of the CSA season now that October is upon us. The leaves are beginning to change and the weather outside feels like fall. A friend and I were talking about how if we were getting the current temps in April, we would be rejoicing. But now, … Read more
Well folks, it looked like all the dancing at Grassroots worked and our rain prayers have been answered. In all my years farming, the summer’s guaranteed rain events happen during Ithaca Festival and Grassroots weekend. Now today’s rain was a little heavy at times, but beggars can’t be choosers, so I’ll take whatever we can get. And the veggies will definitely enjoy it.
For last week’s field trip, we went and visited Groundswell’s Incubator Farm. The Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming is a non-profit based out of Ithaca that is near and dear to my heart. I’m a former Farmer-Educator for them and currently sit on their board. The TC3 Farm and the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems degree at Tompkins Cortland are here today because of Groundswell. Long story short, but Groundswell created a Summer Practicum that was offered for credit through Tompkins Cortland in the summer of 2010. That first summer students decided to put on a Local Foods celebration to culminate their work. Former college president, Carl Haynes was invited and asked to say a few words. One of his comments was that it would be great to see this as a degree program one day at Tompkins Cortland. And the rest is history. If you’re not familiar with what an Incubator Farm is, it’s a farm that offers land to growers at an affordable price and often provides shared equipment and technical advice. What makes the Incubator Farm at Groundswell unique is that their target audience are those who are traditionally underrepresented in agriculture (women, persons of color and New Americans). Liz, the farm manager, gave a great tour of the different operations at the farm and some of the obscure vegetables growing there. About half of the folks farming there are Karen Burmese refugees and many of the crops that they grow are not traditionally grown in our region.
We (and the plants) survived the mini heat wave. I hope that you did, as well. I would have been a little more stressed going into the weekend but we got just over an inch of rain last Wednesday right before the temps started to rise. After a heat index over 100, the rain this evening will really help to get things popping in the coming week. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Last week was another busy one with lots of things getting crossed off on our weekly lists. With all of our big plantings behind us, we are now able to turn our attention to cultivating and weeding. The big task we started was to start to liberate our onion/leek field. After last season’s complete onion failure, I am determined to have as a successful crop as we can. We put about 6000 transplants of sweet onions, red onions, yellow storage onions, leeks and shallots in the ground this season. And they will need a lot of maintenance throughout the season. We started with an early season cultivation but as we continued to get plants in the ground and start harvesting for the season, the weeds began to thrive. So, now we’re at the point of hand-weeding. It’s not the most glorious job and definitely not the fastest, but it sure is satisfying. To be able to look down a bed and see a nice stand of plants without any competition from weeds gives everyone on the farm a tangible accomplishment.
(Shameless plug time.) If you want to come on out and enjoy that feeling, join us for a Farm Friday, from 10-12.
Ok, so it was hot out there today! But we managed to get in most of the harvest by mid-morning. Now, if you’re new to the TC3 Farm CSA, you’ll soon find out that I end up giving a lot of weather updates and how it’s affecting the season. It’s inevitable. I won’t dive too much into it this week, but I just wanted to acknowledge that. This past week, we were kept busy with more transplanting, lots of cultivating (aka, weeding with tools) and hoophouse tomato management. We are growing 25 different varieties of beefsteak, cherry and heirloom tomatoes in a fairly intensive system. All the varieties are indeterminate, which means that they will grow as tall as we let them (or season length). We keep a single “leader” and each week we go through the houses and “sucker and trellis” the 730 plants.
Well, here we are folks, the second to last CSA pickup of the 2017 season and the night before Halloween. The wind is howling this chilly night. Where I grew up the night before Halloween was known as Mischief Night. The only mischief I’m getting into these days is eating a few too many pieces of candy corn.
This past week, we checked off another item on our end of the season list. We got our garlic planted. Garlic is the one crop that we save seed to replant the following season. We sort our bulbs when we harvest them at the end of July and the largest most uniform bulbs are saved for seed.
I usually aim to plant garlic at the end of October, using Halloween as my guide. I was feeling like it would be good to get it in last week and I’m glad that I did. We got some serious rain Saturday night into this morning out on the farm. It made for a difficult harvest today, with our feet sinking in the mud. I can’t imagine it being any better later this week because of off and on rain in the forecast.