Time for a farm update. There really hasn’t been time to sit down and fill you in on the details of this farming season until now. Sorry about that. We’ve a little breathing room right now, thanks to our fantastic farm crew, equipment that mostly works and Mother Nature. It is that time of the farming season when the harvests increase in diversity and bounty, the weeds have been wrangled (or are past wrangling) and your farmers have a chance to reflect.
There have been many bright spots in the season so far. Most involve people or weeds. And of course, tasty vegetables! First up is our team of talented and committed apprentices and volunteers. Apprentices Tim, Henry and Hadley are excellent student farmers. They ask thoughtful questions, soak up the answers, and then take the time to explore topics by reading, visiting other farms, asking more questions. They are fun, and sometimes silly and just quite wonderful to have around! Our regular volunteers, Paula, Laurie, Dave, and Bill take care of so many important details. Hard to imagine how’d we get it all done without their cheerful help.
Bright spots involving weeds? Let me just say, Bezzerides, duck sweeps and two foot steel knives on a toolbar. The weed control in our vining crops (winter squash, sweet potatoes, watermelon) is fantastic this season. Two foot long steel knives on a toolbar, pulled behind our tractor, skim the soil surface under the vines and take out most of the weeds. Sweet! Bezzeride cultivators, mounted on our red Cub tractor, throw soil at the base of sweet corn, carrots, leeks, beans, cilantro, and more, smothering weeds in the row. Yes, in the row, where it’s toughest to get at those little buggers. We’ll never have to hand weed another one of these crops again! Duck sweeps are flat cultivators mounted on a Cub tractor that we pull ever so slowly through rows of lettuce and salad mix, greatly reducing the time we spend hoeing these crops. A special bonus, duck sweeps do a great job killing grass weeds!
There have been more than a few challenges this season. Most involve weeds and equipment. Moraine Farm is lightly equipped with the farming equipment we need to manage the diversity of crops we grow. When a piece of equipment fails, or four pieces of equipment as happened in June, growing food and being excellent land stewards gets pretty tough. Our disk harrow broke in June and all three of our cultivating tractors were out of commission during a crucial period of time. Other big challenges occurred – our overhead and underground irrigation systems were compromised – but it was the loss of useable equipment that really put us to the test. There have been many consequences, some you may have noticed (we lost most of our beets and Swiss chard to grassy weeds) and some you might not be aware of (an almost complete lack of summer cover crops).
We’ve just about recovered, with most of the weeds under control now. Our popcorn crop is so weedy we may need to plow it under. Or perhaps a flash mob of eager weeders will show up. (Wish I knew how to arrange that!)
Lots of bright spots on the horizon. Tomatoes are looking good! Fall carrots (yum!) have been seeded. We’re planting broccoli and cauliflower today! Our 4th Annual Moraine Farm Fall Festival is being planned and will be even more fun this year than last! We are just about ready to launch our Food Access fundraising campaign, this year with some fun raffle prizes for those who donate. The star-gazing event in June was so successful we are doing it again with the Beverly Public Library in September.
Thank you for your support this season! The pleasure you take in the veggies we’ve grown for you means so much to us! Your words of encouragement, especially on the hottest and most humid days imaginable, really do lift our spirits. You guys are terrific and it is our pleasure to grow food for you and your families.