Friday, October 18, 2013

Saying 'goodbye' to Dahlia

It is with a somewhat heavy heart that I write this post... This evening, after only 20 hours listed on craigslist, I sold my dear truck. The truck that hauled too much manure, that moved me from NY to NH to VT, the truck that everyone loved, the truck that gave me 'farmer cred'. She is going to live on a goat farm where she can spend her days rusting, sputtering, and leaking gasoline from her front fuel tank... I can't help but sing "Norma Jean" as I write this. We love you, Dahlia.

her first outing - canoeing on the Wallkill

first trip to NH - horse manure in Conway
moving (hillbilly style) from NY to NH
Unpacking @ The Community School 'love shack'
conquering the TCS compost pile
helping get rid of a tiller (she was straight NO-TILL for life!)
first pigs! Hamlet, Sassafras, + Kevin Bacon
Rachel driving (BIG LOVE loves Dahlia!)
DIY rust repair: spray foam, trace paper, Bondo
Pallets @ College of Saint Joseph
fencing at CSJ
A toast, "To Dahlia!"

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Oct 2 Harvest

Greens abound!
The cool weather of fall is perfect for greens... now that we are on the 'other side' of summer, the garden looks a little like spring - mesclun, spinach, peas, carrots, and radishes. 
 Freshly harvested mesclun loaded up with some radishes in my 'delivery cart' headed across campus to the dining hall!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Under The Rug

This past summer, I was given the opportunity to redesign the dining hall at CSJ. It was a blast to put on my architect hat for a bit. I will have to gather up before + after photos of the space for another post. 

** But for this post, let's go back outside and see how I used the old carpeting from the dining hall in the garden! **

With the help of some Provider Program scholars, I laid out the rolls of old (10 years +) carpeting to cover and kill the grass beneath - the 'no till/reuse/make-do way'! The carpet sat for about 4 weeks, getting rained on, and sunned on, collecting grass clippings, attracting various critters - smelling pretty gross, actually... 
Meanwhile, underneath the carpet, worms and bugs and microbes were doing wonderful things as the grass (starved of sunlight and rain) died. 

When we rolled back the carpet, I was delighted to see bare earth, bugs, and WORM CASTINGS (see tracks?!). 

I quickly mulched the patch with bark mulch from the maintenance crew to keep the fresh earth out of sunlight. The next step is to apply lime (the bark is acidic and so is the soil) then compost, then let it rest all winter for spring planting!

Friday, September 13, 2013

1...2...3... Harvest!

I have already had THREE harvests from the Provider Patch. 
Last Friday was the first - the overnight low was 36, but the tender little greens were perky and ready for pickin' by 730. The dining hall got 4 lbs of mesclun - which, reports showed, were gobbled up by enthusiastic professors and students, alike! 
3 1/2 more pounds were picked this past Monday, and 5 pounds today... Although on Monday I was in shorts and a T-shirt (as opposed to a winter hat + a hoodie!) and today required a full rain suit... I LOVE my work :o)

I also snagged some radishes from the ground and walked around campus offering them to students and staff as a way to advertise the farm... what colorful, tasty, fun snacks!

Friday, August 30, 2013

piles of pallets - piles of compost

Over the past two weeks, I collected pallets from various sources (and had help from a very nice - albeit flirtatious -  Veteran at the dump!)
With help from some students last Friday, some of those pallets were deconstructed then re-constructed into a compost bin!
Don't worry, that little pile is going to grow BIG once we start composting in the dining hall. And to aid in that effort, I designed a couple of posters:

August re-cap

I did claim on July 7th that I was "back at it"... and I am!!! I will try to catch up to the present - a LOT has changed. 

As stated, Pat and I surveyed the land in early July:
Then, in early August, I had two groups of youth volunteers come out to help get things started!

We cleared away sod from two already bare spots (two big pines once stood in these spots), then we layed out cardboard and compost to start building beds. Paths of mulch and beds of compost were built bucket by bucket. The circles are 30' in diameter totaling 1,400 square feet of growing space! We do have a deer and crow population that is quite curious (and destructive) so that 'farmonista' fencing is coming in handy.
Seeds were planted (as were seedlings from my fabulous farming friends, Radical Roots)
carrots and chives in the center bed
It has been a very busy month... rains came, and the sun shined and seeds sprouted (I can't find my pictures of sprouts right now, but trust me, seeds sprouted!) I am actually going to harvest (HARVEST!!!!) next week. I will be sure to catch that on my phone's camera :o)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

five-month foot

There have been requests to update my foot photos (after my bunionectomy and osteotomy in February) so I grabbed my camera this morning and snapped a couple:

Pardon the chipped polish... I've been swimming and biking a lot lately (hooray!). That also explains why my second toe is a bit swollen this morning - 7am spinning class.

I am very pleased with my progress and healing. I have had a couple of 'ouch' days... Monday's 15-mile bike ride (after 7am spinning, mind you) found me climbing a hill that my foot did not like. But I finished the ride and propped it up when I got home and all is well. Here is a recap of before and during pics:

Monday, July 8, 2013


A friend of mine just sent this article to me. A Philadelphia firm, that I once knew, designed a milking + teaching barn for Cornell... pretty great stuff!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Fun With Fencing

As many of you know, and as I just mentioned in the "back at it" post, I have been working with the College of St Joseph to get a farm started on campus! With limited resources of various natures (labor + money being the foremost), I have to be keen and scrappy - two important farming skills!

So, last week I headed out to collect some old fencing from a house near the school. Equipped with my trusty Ford F150, a good pair of gloves, and a healthy breakfast, I was able to load the fencing into the bed and haul it to the farm all by myself! One thing I didn't have with me, however, was flagging... though it was a short drive, I was still concerned about the fencing hanging out of the back of the truck bed. 

Luckily, I did have a TJMaxx bag in the cab - red as red can be! So, now you can consider this fashionista's must-have a farmonista's must-have!

back at it

Oh my, how long have I been away from this blog... too long, indeed!
So much is going on right now, its hard to know where to pick back up. How about an update/review:

My foot has healed really well. I am actually looking forward to getting the left foot fixed in the fall. I wouldn't say that I am 100%, but I'm close. I should really post a picture... I will try to do so soon. I've been hiking and biking, swimming and doing yoga, I've even been working some long days both indoors and out! It is certainly weird to not be farming right now, at least not in an official way. 

I did spend this past Friday helping Radical Roots Farm with some harvesting for market and restaurant sales.  Pat and I belong to their CSA (yes, it is weird to be a CSA member!) and I happily jumped at the request for some help this week. It was hot and sticky, sweaty and grimy and I LOVED every moment. I really miss working on the farm. But.... I might not be that far from it! 

I have been talking (and meeting and designing, and networking, and thinking...) with the College of St Joseph, here in Rutland, to start a farm on campus! We have been meeting since December and I was hired in April to create a feasibility study about a farm on campus. I have worked through budgets and schematics and have written a few proposals and philosophy statements and have now been given the 'OK' to start to work the physical land a bit. The plan, of course, is to start small and expand over time. I have been doing some preliminary work - gathering scrap fencing and cardboard - and today Pat and I truly surveyed the land with his civil engineering equipment. It is really exciting to be starting from scratch and in such a deliberate way. There is a TON of potential in this project and I am anxious to see it develop. But, if farming has taught me anything, it is patience. So, I will plod forward, gathering the materials I can and working at an appropriate pace. I will also do my best to keep it all posted to this diary of sorts I call a blog!

Friday, April 19, 2013

spring seeding!

I realized last week that this is the first spring since 2009 that I haven't had dirty fingernails and soil-dried hands... and it's weird. In some ways, my first ventures into seeding on a farm in the Hudson Valley seem like they were long ago; and in some ways, they seem like only yesterday. 

For those of you who have read this blog, you may remember this little diddy, illustrating the wonderful world of seedling and soil blocking. Well, there's no video this time, but last night Pat and I took to the soil again, seeding up some peppers, lettuce, and basil for some growing at home. We have joined a CSA for the season, which will provide us with wonderful veggies all summer... but you can never have enough pesto, salad or extra peppers for the freezer!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mid March, already?!

I am definitely overdue on a post... can I just blame the trend of seasonal lapses and say "hey, it's winter"?!

I have been busy these past couple of months. 

I started a class through UVM extension and the Vermont New Farmers Program entitled "Holistic Farm Planning for Beginning Women Farmers". It is a fantastic course/resource/tool and I am really enjoying the 'classroom' side of farm education. 

I also had foot surgery in late February to remove a bunion and re-align two toes. I knew the day would eventually come for this. And my doctor basically said "if you want to be farming - or walking - at 60, you had better do this now.

Plates, screws, saws, and stitches were all involved and I am now into week 3 (of 8) on crutches. I was looking at my "before" picture the other night, and despite my current swollen toes, and Frankenstein-esque wounds, my foot looks so much better! 
** I did promise, long ago, that this would be a photo-laden blog... so here are some feet shots:

So, this round was the right foot... in the fall I'll head back to the hospital and get the left one done, too. To make sure that the doctor did the correct one first, I left him some messages for while I was sleeping:


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Vernon... Vermont...

I HAVE to share this article from the Rtuland Herald (the paper in our new home city in Vermont). 
A few months ago, Pat said to me: 
"I really feel like Rutland is the 'New Jersey' of Vermont. It gets a bad rap, but the truth is it's great. There are little gems here that most people who come to VERMONT don't notice because it's not VERMONT enough..."
I am paraphrasing, but that's the jist of it!

Well, it seems our food and market writer found one of the gems of New Jersey this fall and feels similarly to my dear Patrick:
I’ve done a bit of traveling this season with my partner and kids. As a sociologist and community planner I am deeply interested in what makes a community tick. When I arrive somewhere I immediately start scanning for clues.

Each location reveals a lot about their history, current values and aspirations for the future through their development patterns, what gets covered in their newspapers, traffic patterns, transportation options, types of businesses, what they choose to highlight in the free guides to the area, and finally what is available in their grocery stores, farm stores and farmers markets — if you can find them.

One of the places we visited this past month was a somewhat rural part of New Jersey. With a goal of spending some time in New York City, but not breaking the bank on lodging, we found ourselves in Vernon, N.J.

I’d never spent any time in New Jersey, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Honestly, my expectations were pretty low given the chatter that seems to surround New Jersey’s reputation. What I found, was that in broad terms, this area was not that different from our part of Vermont.

Vernon is a blend of ski resorts, farms and housing. This particular area, we eventually figured out, had a long history of natural resource mining for valuable minerals unique to this area — sound familiar?

Warwick, N.Y., was nearby. This is an area I recalled from my regional planning days as a place with strong local ordinances and future planning that kept intact their village area, allowed for strong farming presence around the village, and set standards for how things were built.

This area felt much more like a small town in Vermont, for sure.

We found a farm store that was an extension of a multi-generational working farm and orchard. It carried local meats, vegetables and value-added products like jams and relishes. And, it had extra features that made it obvious they wanted people to stop.

There was a chainsaw wood carver working on a sculpture in the parking lot, a pen of goats and chickens, and a mini playground for kids.

Each of these cues made it a no-brainer for us to stop, visit and buy a few things. There was even a café inside the farm market where we could have eaten lunch.

People from outside Vermont have long been traveling here because they want to observe and have some sort of experience that includes our local farms. Just as we searched out the Staten Island Ferry to travel past the Statue of Liberty in NYC, visitors to our area want to tap into what makes us unique.

The farm store in New Jersey we visited, Pennings, got me thinking about the strained relationship Vermonters sometimes have with tourists. Tourists are viewed by some as nosy visitors or, worse, unwanted intruders. Yet, these visitors are an important part of our local economy and can bring new revenues to a farm that is set up to welcome them. The number of times I’ve seen a farm stand in our part of Vermont, couldn’t quite tell if it was open or not, and wasn’t sure whether to stop or not stands in stark contrast to Pennings. Pennings made it obvious they wanted people to stop – removing that barrier to potential business.

RAFFL is hosting a workshop Jan. 10 for farms interested in expanding their business to include attracting visitors to the farm. The workshop features a panel of folks with expertise to share.

Irene Hathaway of Hathaway Farm will share what she has done to successfully bring people into their corn maze.

Beth Kennett of Liberty Hill Farm and Vermont Farms! Association will share best practices for bringing people onto the farm. Kevin Durkee of Durkee Insurance will talk about insurance concerns. Folks from Shelburne Farms will share ideas for creating an educational program. Opening a farm to visitors isn’t for everyone. But, interested farms can come learn more at the workshop.

Register by contacting the RAFFL office at 417-1528.

Tara Kelly is executive director of Rutland Area Farm and Food Link.