The beehive—decorated by students.
By Marianthe Bickett ’15, student farm worker
Shorter days and cooler temperatures mean we are winding down our summer growing season out at the Antioch Farm. We've had the first frost already, which hit crops in the field that we didn't cover, like tomatoes and beans that were already at the end of production. In our hoop house, we still have a few Sungold tomatoes providing us the last little taste of summer.
We were also able to harvest honey off of our bee hive at the end of last quarter, which is an accomplishment considering it was our bees’ inaugural year. Late summer and early fall are primarily times to get seeds in the ground for fall crops. We've planted about 25 beds of salad greens, mizuna, spinach, Asian greens, collards, Swiss chard, kale, beets, turnips, and radishes, which will all continue to produce through the fall. Our season-extension hoop house will allow us to harvest hardy greens through the winter. Other fall tasks involve cleaning out beds and adding to soil fertility with lots of leaf mulch and straw, and working on maintenance, construction, and organizational projects that there isn't time for during the intense growing season.
Gathering around the harvest, from left: Alexander Schlosser ’16, Forrest Humphrey ’15, IdaLease Cummings ’16, Sam Senzek ’15, and chef Issac DeLamatre.
With the chilly nights, our birds get extra straw to keep warm. Our Indian Runner ducks have even been electing to cuddle up with the chickens in the same coop to keep warm, which is a big change from their initial chicken skittishness. Our Swedish Blue duck mother hatched four ducklings, and Sam Senzak ’15 successfully hatched a fifth egg that was abandoned. She kept the little one warm and safe in her hands for the remaining hours until it was ready to break out. The ducks are now almost adult-sized. Unfortunately, we lost two to a hungry hawk, and also a couple chickens to a ground predator, possibly a raccoon. It seems as the cold weather comes and food gets scarce, our predators get a little more desperate.
A Blue Swedish mama duck with her ducklings.
We've had a lot of involvement from our enthusiastic new students. A group of fifteen students prepared beds and planted garlic, raspberries, and blackberries as part of their orientation service project, and an additional group of 30 new students toured the farm to hear about everything going on and how to get involved. We were thrilled to have Emma Louise Mutrux ’16 and Noella Nishimwe ’16 as farm volunteers for two weeks at the end of last term as a part of the Farm Experience and are excited to welcome Emma to our staff for this quarter as the campus composter. We are still adding to our staff, and looking forward to having several new faces on our farm team!