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
And just like that, we’ve hit September. It’s crazy how fast the farm season can go by. It seems like last week we were deciding where the season’s crops were going to be planted. September always is a crazy time on the farm because the summer crops are still cranking at a good pace but some of the fall/winter crops are ready to be harvested or will be soon. The end of the season is in sight, although it seems so far away. This time of the year is a mix of harvest/planting/cleanup projects. But this is Upstate New York, and we know that the first frost will be here before we know it. I actually had a very realistic dream (more like a nightmare) over the weekend that I woke up to a light frost and I never closed down the sides to the hoophouses. The result was that all the tomatoes and peppers growing in them had bitten the dust. It took me a few minutes but I was relieved when I realized that wasn’t the case.
The past week was a great one with all the new student interns. We spend a lot of time harvesting for their first few weeks before diving into some of the other farm tasks. I think that this is a great time of the year to expose folks to the basics of harvesting because there is so much to do. I really stress to them the importance of harvest and post-harvest handling of the vegetables that we grow. The proper harvesting techniques, times of day that we harvest certain crops, sorting and washing of crops and proper storage of vegetables. These are all extremely important so that you and all of our other customers can have the highest quality vegetables.
Welcome back to all my Tompkins Cortland colleagues. I hope you all had a great first week with the hustle and bustle of students back on campus. The new semester means a new “crop” of student interns on the farm. And if the first couple of classes are any indication, it looks like a terrific group that will be spending time with me on the farm. Most of the interns this semester are new students enrolled in the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems degree at the college but we always seem to attract students from other degree programs. This semester there are a few students from the Culinary Arts program. I’m always excited when there are students who care enough about where their food comes from and want to learn some aspects of agriculture. I get especially jazzed when Culinary Arts students are on the farm. I think that it can have a huge impact on their experience at Tompkins Cortland when they can have the hands on experience that ties in the production side of things with the food that ends up in the kitchen and eventually on our plates. I believe this is the fifth semester in a row that I have had at least one student from the Culinary Arts program.
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.
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.