Farm Report

Guest column by Marianthe Bickett ’15, student farm worker

Late summer at the farm has been primarily about reaping the benefits of all of our hard work in the last few months. Every harvest we bring in pounds of Sungold, black cherry and Brandywine tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, and green beans. We also have a steady supply of okra, cucumbers, fresh basil and parsley, and we are starting to get spaghetti and butternut squash. We've been digging out tasty purple and red new potatoes row by row, and we have our garlic harvest drying on the racks in our shed. It’s such a joy to come to meals every day and see dishes made with the fresh vegetables that we harvested just that morning. My favorites are the green beans, which our new chef Daniel Lawrence enjoys preparing fried with lots of garlic. Delicious!

Green beans growing on poles
Rattlesnake green beans climbing up bamboo teepees.

Also on the farm are several exciting farm babies. We got a pair of Swedish blue ducks in June and the mother is sitting on a brood of ten eggs as we speak. And at the end of July, farm manager, Kat Christen, became a mother as well to an adorable daughter Annabelle! While she attends to her young one, Sam Senzek ’15 and I are doing our best to fill her shoes.

Swedish blue duck with eggs
Swedish blue duck sitting on her eggs.

We have help from our dedicated farm interns, Alexander Schlosser and Idalease May, who will join us officially as students in the fall. They have been hard at work since Sam and I ended full-time co-ops and we are so grateful to have them out at the farm with us. We also have help from student workers Adam Abraham ’15 and Forrest Humphrey ’15, and especially without Kat around it has been nice to have a bigger crew to care for our birds and plants.

Our 30 Buff Orpington meat chickens are growing quickly, and our sixteen Indian Runner ducks have feathered out nicely and some have beautiful bits of turquoise on them. Though they started out very skittish, they have slowly been adjusting to us and have calmed down considerably. Our new flock of laying hens are reaching maturity and should begin laying soon, while our old flock has kept steadily providing pastured eggs for us.

Indian runner ducks
Indian runner ducks.

In the garden, the dry conditions mean we have to do a lot of watering, but it seems like the temperatures are finally cooling down which we are all thankful for. Other than braving the heat, we've also been combating pests, which has been an interesting learning experience.

Seemingly out of nowhere, giant tomato hornworms appeared on our tomatoes, enjoying our juicy harvest. They are stubborn pests and hand-picking them off the tomatoes seems to be the best plan of attack, which our chickens enjoy as they get to eat the fat caterpillars once we get them off the plants.

A red cabbage growing
The first red cabbage.

Thankfully the worms have only infested our crop in the greenhouse, which has already provided us with a bountiful harvest, and haven't populated our tomatoes in the field. Companion planting wisdom says that planting marigolds next to tomato plants is good to ward off these pests, and we didn't have any planted in the greenhouse, so perhaps this was a good test study!

Our first green pepper
One of the first green peppers.

Two other new students, Emma Mutrux and Noella Nishimwe, will join us as farm volunteers for two weeks at the end of summer quarter. And we are quite excited to welcome all the new students in the fall and share the farm with them!