Week of August 6th – CSA Newsletter

Last week was the final week of our Summer Internship on the TC3 Farm for the students in the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems program at Tompkins Cortland. For most of them it was their third and final semester on the farm. This cohort has been an absolute pleasure to have out here and their “growth” has been amazing since they first stepped onto the farm last fall. I feel that they’ve all come a long way in their personal growth and as a learning community. For those of you on campus, if you see any of the farming students, please say thank you for all their hard work. They are a big part of what happens on the TC3 Farm, from crop planning/rotations in the winter months to planting and harvesting in the summer and everything in between. I look forward to seeing where and what they all end up doing next.

We kept very busy on the farm during the last week. In addition to our weekly harvests and trying to keep up with the weeds, we did one last big planting. We got 14 beds of fall brassicas in the ground, including cabbage, collards, cauliflower, kohlrabi and napa cabbage. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we have a long enough season and that we can keep the pests (mostly the woodchucks) at bay.

Read more

Please follow and like us:

Week of July 23rd – CSA Newsletter

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.

Read more

Please follow and like us:

Week of July 2nd – CSA Newsletter

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.

Hello! Onions, are you in there?
Oh, there you are.

(Shameless plug time.) If you want to come on out and enjoy that feeling, join us for a Farm Friday, from 10-12. 

Read more

Please follow and like us:

Week of June 18th CSA Newsletter

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.

Suckering and trellising tomatoes

Read more

Please follow and like us:

Week of November 6th – CSA Newsletter

Well, folks, we made it. The 4th season of the TC3 Farm CSA is complete. A big heartfelt thanks to all of you for supporting the farm this year! It really means a lot.

Just like last year, the weather had a huge impact on the growing season. I know I’ve mentioned this in earlier newsletters, but after experiencing an extreme drought and extreme wet weather in back to back years, I’d take the drought over the wet 10 out of 10 times. They both have their own issues but we can do more in a dry year. A wet year like this poses a whole lot of problems. First and foremost, it’s hard to get fields prepped when it’s always raining. And that throws planting schedules off or plantings get completely missed, especially with a lot of direct seeded crops, which happened plenty of times. Then there’s the weed pressure. All plants love water and the weeds are no different. Disease pressure also tends to be a little higher during a wet season. The plants rarely had time to dry out, which made them a little more susceptible to certain diseases. Pests are pests and they will always be an issue but I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen more snails or slugs than I have this season.

Even in an extremely wet year, there were a lot of positives. This was our largest CSA membership to date. We’ve almost doubled in shares since our first season in 2014. Again, thanks to you all who have been with us since the beginning and to those who have joined over the years. I also think that our new share options worked out pretty good. It’s always a little nerve-racking to think if there is enough food each week but I think we did well in that department. Even with crop failures (I’ll get to that in a bit), there was a good amount of diversity each week. I think that there were only a few weeks out of the 22 where a new item wasn’t introduced. And let’s give a little shout out to carrots and spinach. Those are two crops that we have struggled with over the years. In previous years, there may have been 1 or 2 distributions of little dinky carrots and that definitely was not the case this season. This was also the first year that we had spinach in this shares. It definitely wasn’t as often as I would have liked (or what we had planned) but it was a start.

Read more

Please follow and like us:

Week of October 30th – CSA Newsletter

Sunrise rainbow over the farm!

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.

Garlic cloves awaiting planting
Cloves going in the ground

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. 

Read more

Please follow and like us: