Week of September 25th – CSA Newsletter

Ok, so it’s September 25th. Fall is officially here and we just had our best stretch of weather all season by a long shot. These are strange times, my friends. I am definitely not complaining but we sure could have used some of these dry, warm days back in July. Aah, the life of a farmer. Loves being outside but never truly content with the weather.

Last week was a big week of visitors to the TC3 Farm. There were 3 different classes from Tompkins Cortland (2 English and 1 Environmental Science) and a group from New Roots High School. All in all, it was around 50 students out for a visit. It’s always great to have folks out for a visit and expose them to what we do at the TC3 Farm and all the hard work that the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems do during their internship. In the very least, I hope that we get folks thinking about where their food comes from and how their food choices can impact the local food system.

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Week of August 28th – CSA Newsletter

Welcome to the CSA members who are starting pickups for the Fall Only share!

This past week marked the start of a new semester and that means a new “crop” of students who are doing their internship at the TC3 Farm. The start of the fall semester is always an interesting time because I am in full on farm mode going 101 mph and then I have to come to a screeching halt to get new students up to speed. I appreciate the new energy on the farm but it always takes a little time for folks to get acclimated. But the work doesn’t stop and these fine young folks will get thrown into the deep end of the pool. Let’s hope they don’t sink ;). We spent the first class doing an in-depth farm walk to familiarize themselves with the farm. This week, it’s back to the grind of harvesting and field work.

A big thank you to the folks who came out to the farm over the weekend to help us do a little weeding. We had a great turnout and got through a bunch of beds.

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Week of August 21st – CSA Newsletter

The sun rising over the farm

How are we just a couple of weeks away from September? This season is rolling right by. Here we are at week 11, halfway through our CSA season.

This past week we said goodbye to our student workers through Challenge’s Summer Youth Employment Program. They were a great group who were absolute troopers. Working on a farm is challenging. Your outside in all sorts of weather, your body is in weird positions for long periods of time and you do a lot of the same tasks over and over (I’m looking at you weeding). But these young folks persevered. Always doing what was asked of them with great enthusiasm. They will surely be missed.

Last week I ran into a CSA member who has a Fall Only share. They said, “Todd, what’s up with the woodchucks this year?” I just smiled and said that they haven’t been an issue this season. For those of you who are new to the TC3 Farm CSA or those who may have forgotten about the Great Woodchuck Battle of 2016, last year’s damage due to woodchucks was one of the worst I have seen in my years of farming. This relief in pressure is most likely two-fold. First, there has been a significant amount of rain this year (have you noticed?). This means that there are plenty of lush plants that are not our vegetables for them to munch on. Secondly, and this is just a theory but it makes sense to me, is that we dispatched such a large number of those little suckers, um, I mean, beautiful little creatures, that we actually knocked back the population for the time being. There has been some damage to some of our crops that a woodchuck could be the culprit of but it also may be from a rabbit as well. Anyhow, the update for 2017 is that there is no significant damage due to woodchucks.

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Week of August 14th – CSA Newsletter

It was a somewhat quiet week on the farm last week. The Sustainable Farming and Food Systems students are done with their Summer Internship, although we had a couple of students who came out because they missed the farm so much :)! I even took a long weekend to enjoy a camping trip with my family. And even though taking a 3.5 year old on her first camping trip is exhausting, it was a much needed break from the grind of a farm season. We still have our youth workers through the end of this week, so we plugged away at as many projects as we could get through. We took a break from a lot of the ongoing hand weeding and focused some of our energy on some lingering housekeeping. The barn and classroom got a great cleaning and we got mostly caught up on a project that is usually done in the late fall, sanitizing our seedling trays. “Why do we sanitize our trays?” I’m glad that you asked. Even though our plants don’t spend a lot of time in their trays, we want to make sure that we aren’t harboring any diseases that may linger into the next season. It’s not the most glamorous job but it’s an important one. Another glamour-free job that we started to tackle last week was moving rocks. The joke around hear (any many of my friends) is that the best crop on the farm are rocks. Some of the rocks in our fields (ok, most of them), make transplanting, direct seeding, weeding and even harvesting a real pain. We move them out of the fields into big piles at the end of our beds, always thinking that we’ll get to moving them. Well, that usually doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. This past week we moved about 2-3 tons into our massive rock pile. My estimates is that we’ve pulled about 20 tons of rocks out of our fields since we started farming this land. So, if you were looking for some rocks for a project around the house, just let me know:) 

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Praying Mantis Student Video

Praying Mantis Student Video Post by Jake This video of a praying mantis was captured by Sustainable Farming and Food Systems Student Jake at the TC3 Farm. Jake describes some of the characteristics of this fascinating beneficial insect, and the video captures some of it’s interesting behaviors. Problems viewing the video? Visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JkJnL_ssdA&feature=youtu.be Please follow and … Read more

TC3 Farm Plant Identification Tour – Student Post

A Plant Identification Tour of the TC3 Farm – Learning Common “Weeds” – Student Post by Make

Today’s post is a plant identification tour of the TC3 Farm. All the species we will discuss today are potentially “weeds” on the farm. But what is a weed? A weed is simply a plant that is growing where it is not wanted (even a single tomato plant growing in a field of squash can be identified as a weed). The plants being discussed here are all things that grow on the TC3 Farm and can sometimes be found where we don’t want them. Gardeners and farmers alike know all too well the main problem with weeds: competition with their cultivated crops which reduces yields.

Here are some things to think about as you learn to identify your weeds. There are other attributes weeds possess that often get ignored. Weeds can be used for sustenance as mentioned in an earlier post (http://tc3farm.com/index.php/2017/06/19/harvesting-wild-plants-at-the-tc3-farm/). Weeds can be medicinal and are used in traditional medicine. Specific weeds under certain conditions can be used productively in a sustainable manner to properly manage your soil and environment (add organic matter, habitat for beneficial insects, encourage healthy soil biota). Other weeds need to be suppressed because they can harbor certain pests and ultimately leave you open to crop failures.

Horsenettle
Horsenettle

The first weed in our plant identification tour is known by the common name Horsenettle (Solanum carolinense). It is an herbaceous perennial flowering plant that belongs to the Solanaceae or Nightshade family. All parts of the plant are toxic to human health when ingested and can lead to death (its fruit which can resemble tomatoes are the most toxic). The most identifiable characteristic are its spines on the stem and underside of its larger leaves. Each fruit contains around 60 seeds. It flowers throughout the summer, from April to October. The plant can spread through seed and rhizomes (sexually and vegetatively). This plant can harbor and sustain Colorado Potato Beetles (Leptinotarsa decemlineata), Eggplant Flea Beetle (Epitrix fuscula), and Tobacco Hornworm (Manduca sexta) just to mention a few. Leaving the Horsenettle unchecked can lead to lower crop yields for Potatoes, Tomatoes, and Eggplants. Hint: The plant should be removed preferably with gloves as to avoid the stinging spines which can become embedded in your skin.

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