We started off our week by learning how to sharpen and utilize some of our farm tools, scissors, and my kitchen knives! I was surprised how excited and eager our Farm Skills Team became after I explained the angle and pressure needed to get the best edge. Everyone wanted in on the action. The team then went out to try out their newly sharpened “Russian Weeders” in the Napa cabbage beds.
Holly had never used a broadfork, so I asked Lee, who is an expert at using this tool, to demonstrate. Along with David, they broadforked and prepped a couple of our flower gardens. I am so looking forward to getting plants in the ground and out of the greenhouse–I think the plants are, too.
Sivi had asked me to teach her how to drive our electric mower. It was a learning experience for both of us! Only one blueberry bush was taken out.
Carrie had Clare’s 3rd grade class from the Waldorf school tackle the weeds in the future flower plot, and they learned how to use the taproot weeders to remove hundreds of dandelions. Their day ended with a farm snack of hakurei salad turnips. This group of children are over the top with enthusiasm at the farm. Trying and enjoying this “new to them” vegetable was fun to watch.
Thursday morning we had a record low temperature of 27 and widespread frost. We lost an entire plot of covered pumpkins, some uncovered chard took a hit, and the two outside beds of our tunnel tomatoes were toast.
Well, luckily we had a backup plan. The Waldorf 4th graders came prepared with their water bottles and took out the pumpkin plants they had planted just a week ago. We had another variety of pumpkin ready, so they replanted those in record time. Now we have to secure more seeds for those Long Island Pie pumpkins I was so eager to try.
We always plant more than we need when it comes to seedlings, so we had some very robust tomato replacements that I asked Carrie and Zoey to show off for the farm report. 🙂
We were also able to replace most of the chard. This week’s MOFGA newsletter had some really good practical advice for dealing with frost damage on plants. Trimming off damaged leaves is now on our to-do board.
After the damage from the frost was assessed on Thursday morning, we welcomed a group of enthusiastic young women who are all members of Brunswick High School’s Interact Club, along with several teachers and one of their Rotary sponsors. This productive, focused team spent the morning weeding more dandelions and sheet mulching beneath some irrigation lines and under the sides of one of our new tunnels, which will hopefully prevent a grass jungle from forming under the plastic sides.
Friday was a bit crazy!
We welcomed a homeschool group of about 30. We divided them into two groups. Genevieve and I got the little ones who, with lots of help from their moms, planted pumpkins. It was really winter squash, but I thought they could relate to the word pumpkin better. They worked so hard and really tried to do their best not to walk on the beds. At the end of planting, when interest was waning, I asked if anyone wanted a “farm snack”? Well, all you have to do is use the word snack, and you have everyone’s attention. So here I am again pushing those sweet hakurei salad turnips. Not everyone was as excited as this little one, but I believe I did win over a few converts.
Carrie and Carol took on the second group and accomplished planting 5 types of tomatoes, including our cherry tomato “snack bar”. (The word snack seems to keep popping up in my reports.) Carol set up the distancing of plants and that enabled them to plant over 260 tomatoes. I invited everyone to stop back in August for a tomato tasting. One of the moms said, “you mean you would have us back?” Of course! We love teaching and empowering children.
The Fixers were also with us on Friday getting things in place for Saturday’s tunnel skinning project. I want to mention that this group of volunteers have put in long hours and two weekends to help us get this project completed. They have all been patient teachers with those of us who are tool challenged, and I appreciate the experiences they are sharing with the Farm Skills Team. We would be lost without them. To witness a team effort with people of different ages and skill sets working together with patience and purpose is another form of empowerment.
I want to personally thank each member of our Fix-It Team for all the above reasons. There are also two members who I want to mention who are always there quietly working and problem solving–John Hayes and Diana Lapp. Thank you both for all your insight and humor. John Hayes and his wife Carol were there in 2017 to help John, Patty, and me plant our very first garlic. Wow that seems like a long time and many tunnels ago!
Diana and her sister quietly showed up one Saturday. It was during Covid, so I did not get to see their smiles for almost two years, but now I do!
Saturday was a big day for us finishing the replacement tunnels. Along with the Fixers, thanks to Peg, Randy, Michelle, Jamie, and David for coming out to help skin the two tunnels. It was a good time! Here are some photos from our Saturday.
Shannon and Andrew–thanks for tackling that hedgerow weeding project. Carrie will be pleased.
So back to empowerment. It started with me witnessing our team learning how to sharpen tools. This word stayed with me throughout the week as I witnessed and was involved in many other forms of empowerment. I feel very lucky to be part of all this.
Has anyone else noticed how lush the flowering trees are this year?
Let’s get some plants in the ground!