Hi Folks! As Cole Porter wrote and Ella Fitzgerald beautifully sang — It’s too darn hot! “I’d like to sup with my baby tonight, refill the cup with my baby tonight, but it’s too darn hot”. I guess the worst is over –- for now. The temps will gradually moderate as we go through the week and we have a couple of good shots at some rain. We did receive some of the wet stuff last Wednesday night, which was fortunate because the moist soil has helped the crops to bear the heat. The summer crops like the tomatoes, peppers, squash, and melons accept the heat with aplomb but it’s hard on the lettuces, peas, and the brassicas. (more…)
Hello Everyone! So I guess I should have known better than to have believed the weatherman. I postponed the farm visit based on a forecast of rain and thunderstorm through most of the weekend. We received virtually no precipitation except for a few moments of drizzle and two brief showers — both of which occurred when I ventured out on my seeding tractor to try and get some planting done! (more…)
Hi Everyone! So, it was another reasonably good week weather-wise here on the farm. Temperatures have been mild (at least until today), and we had a midnight deluge on Wednesday night. A slow steady rain is always better than a downpour, and this one only gave us about a quarter of an inch, but it was helpful for getting some seeds up and for watering the brassicas and the root crops. As we head into late June and July the rain often starts to diminish and we start worrying about a drought. Many of the summer crops are watered with drip irrigation. For other crops we have overhead sprinklers, but it is a lot of extra work for us. We just seeded some okra and lima beans and I am in the process of planting the winter squash and pumpkins so a little rain will be much appreciated. (more…)
Hello Everyone, I am happy to report that the weather has been uncharacteristically cooperative this past week. The temperatures have been moderate and we have had several nice gentle overnight rains. I think that there are few people other than farmers who can find such joy in a nice rain; perhaps an Englishman away from home and missing his native climate. (more…)
Hi Folks, I hope you had a pleasant Memorial Day weekend. I apologize that I have not been able to get a farm update out to you until now. It has been a very difficult spring for us here at the farm. I am sure that most of you noticed that winter hung around well into April this year. We still had snow flurries flying on April 13! As a result we were unable to begin planting until Mid- April; about 2 weeks later that normal for some crops. In addition, the cold soil caused poor emergence in some of the early direct seeded crops, such as peas. We worked diligently to get caught up with our spring planting and had largely succeeded. We were then a bit behind on setting out some of the warm weather crops. We were getting caught up on these when we had a week of rain, including a strong storm which ripped the plastic off one of our high tunnel greenhouses and knocked power out for three days! We are now back on track and continue to work hard to ensure a bountiful season. (more…)
Agriculture is one of the largest sectors contributing to environmental deterioration and energy consumption that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Our industrialized food system and the long distance transportation of our fruits and vegetables needs to change. But while agriculture is a part of the problem it also has the potential to be a big part of the solution.
When I first became interested in organic farming it was because I believed we needed to learn to grow food without the use of toxic chemicals that not only poison the consumer but also proliferate in the environment and pose a threat to other species. As time went by I came to believe that organic Ag had a role to play in the battle against climate change by maintaining high levels of organic material, i.e. carbon and keeping it out of the atmosphere. High organic matter has many benefits to the soil; better water retention, less compaction and slowly released nutrients to name just a few.
Research over the past several decades has now demonstrated what organic enthusiasts have believed for years is true – that the soil is a living entity; a microbiological ecosystem. A healthy, balanced soil produces healthy plants and when the system is disrupted, bad actors (bacteria, fungi etc.) take over causing disease. In conventional farming this then leads to use of more toxic chemicals to control the disease and further degradation of the ecosystem. This is very similar to the understanding that we have come to have regarding the microflora of our gut and it’s relation to human health. The implication for the carbon cycle is that this soil food web ties up lots of carbon in the bodies of the microbes (and larger animals like earthworms) and keeps it out of the atmosphere.
The Rodale Institute has been researching the carbon cycle for decades and is convinced that transition to organic farming practices and proper grazing of animals can not only account for current carbon emissions but actually begin to reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere. A new paradigm for farming has emerged and has been dubbed Regenerative Agriculture. Through cover cropping, re-mineralization, composting and reduced tillage we can restore our soils and begin to mitigate the deleterious effects of CO2 and other greenhouse gases on the atmosphere.
This is what we will be moving towards here at Circle Brook Farm. It is not easy; it requires new equipment, more fallow time for the fields, additional expenses for cover crop seed and rock dusts and most of all the courage to abandon tried and true practices and risk failure by implementing new planting systems. For these practices to be implemented on a wide scale local organic farmers need the support of consumers.
If you are already a CSA member I thank you and if you are still reading this lengthy tome I thank you for that as well. If you are thinking of joining the CSA program I hope you will. But if you cannot, please seek out local organic produce at a farmer’s market or demand it at your local grocery store. Please do not buy over packaged meal kits that don’t contain local produce. Please help to spread the message. Word of mouth is the most powerful advertising we have. Please take the time to speak with your family and friends about the importance of eating local and organic and share the message on social media. For your health and the health of the planet!
Best, Farmer John
Hi Folks, thank you again for your support this season. I am very thankful for the tremendous participation in the stock up share program and to those who purchased shares for donation. I have been very worried that I would finish out the season in debt but, thanks to your help, I will be able to pay off my debts and hopefully have money to pay the mortgage through January. (more…)
Hello Everyone! So, we have arrived at the end of another CSA season; a sad time for many of you and perhaps a relief for some of you as well. I know that it sometimes a challenge to put to good use all of the produce you receive in your share each week. We try to give a good value but sometimes we overwhelm. We have tried our best to provide variety and quality, and I believe for the most part we were successful. In any growing season, there are challenges and disappointments; this year it was with the tomatoes and, to some extent, the melons. Both of these were the result of a wet summer. For next season, we will be constructing more high tunnel greenhouses to grow tomatoes where they are protected from wet conditions. We have a few of these now and were continuing to harvest a few tomatoes each week for market but never enough to ship to members, at least until last week when we suddenly had a preponderance of ripe fruit. We sent a few out to several groups and will be attempting to cover the rest this week. (more…)