News and blog
It's another beautiful (albeit hot!) weather day here at the farm. We are seriously hoping for some rain this afternoon. We have had no rain here for almost two weeks. The crops are doing well, though, as our groundwater supply has been keeping up with the demand.
Earl and I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for a great start to our Farm Share season. We have ironed out a few wrinkles, and we will continue to work on the delivery procedures when we think changing something will improve your experience.
We would also like you to know that we (Earl and I and you, our member families) have been able help feed five additional families this year with the shares we are donating to your organizations. Helping these families is something we are able to do as a result of your memberships, so we are very grateful both for your memberships and for your assistance in getting our donated shares to the families who need them. Thank you so much!! If anyone would like to know more about our donation share program, please ask one of us at your next pickup.
The tomatoes are starting to ripen! I have been picking some of the yummy Sun Gold cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes - they are always the first to come in. We actually started picking the Sun Golds on July 1st! Just a few of them, but ... July 1st!! Probably not in your shares this week, but the week after. This week you can look for some green beans, yellow beans, beets, chard, gorgeous red lettuce, and (of course) more summer squash. As those of you who picked up at the farm on Friday already know, we picked a 5 ¼ lb zucchini this week. It is huge!
Many of you have been sharing some recipe ideas with us when you pick up your shares. That got me thinking that we should put together a collection of Hilltop Farm recipes, some from me and some from you, our wonderful members! If anyone has a recipe that uses our veggies (I’m thinking of the person who told me about a dish using pancetta with one of our veggies) and you would like to share it with the other farm share members, please send it to me. I can upload it to our website and others can try it.
Based on the great response we received to the tah tsai and kohlrabi, we have planted more for the fall. We still have kohlrabi in the field which you will see in the next week or two if you didn’t get a chance to try it yet. And there will be more later!
We hope you are enjoying this week's veggies. Please remember, if you will be skipping this week’s share, we will need 48 hours notice by email. We look forward to seeing you in a few days.
Thank you for your support!
Allison and Earl
It's raining! Woohoo! That means we're inside for now, working on this week's administrative duties. We have had an incredibly productive week. We are so grateful to my sister Renee, her husband Jeff and their daughter Julia, who visited us for a few days this week to help with our incredibly busy planting schedule. They worked so hard and helped us accomplish so many tasks - I just can't belive how much we got done!
We planted almost 1200 tomato plants. I know, it sounds insane. It probably is insane. But I love tomatoes, especially the beautiful and flavorful heirlooms. I really enjoy choosing some new varieties each year, and this year we decided to try a bunch small tomatoes of different colors, shapes, and sizes. There are green grape, yellow pear, orange Sun Gold (wait til you try these - they are like sugar), yellow and red striped, black cherry, red cherry, peach, and red grape. Of course, we also have slicing tomatoes, paste tomatoes, and some large heirlooms - Brandywine, Pineapple, Hillbilly (gorgeous!), and Black from Tula.
We have also started cucumber and summer squash seeds. We were ready also to plant the winter squash and melons, but we decided to wait til after the rain. The peas are doing very well - hundreds of snap pea, snow pea, and shelling pea plants are starting to flower. And the beans are coming up nicely - green beans, yellow beans, haricot vert, and purple dragon beans.
Next week we will be sending some logistical info about your pickup location, day and time. This will hopefully answer any questions you have about exactly how the pickup process works. If you still have questions after receiving that info next week, feel free to send them to us and we'll get back to you. Have a great week!
Allison and Earl
We are very excited to welcome you to our 2012 season. We have been so busy planting your veggies and herbs that we haven't had much time to keep you updated on our progress. We do plan to communicate with you on Sunday mornings just to let you know what's going on at the farm.
At this time, we have planted lots of early veggies and herbs - a few varieties of onions, broccoli, kale (a new variety of multi-color kale - think "Rainbow Chard"!), cauliflower, radish, turnip, daikon radish (one of my favorites), snow peas, snap peas, green beans, yellow beans, shelling peas, four kinds of lettuce, chard, fennel, parsnips, beets, and four colors of carrots!
Today we're seeding cucumber and summer squash. That makes me feel like it's summer!
Thanks to all of you who have written emails recently asking when farm shares will start. Right now, we're planning on the week of June 18-22 (the date will depend on your location's pickup day). From that point, we'll have farm shares every week for 20 weeks, ending by the end of October. Each week, you'll receive a reminder email about picking up your farm share a day or two before your scheduled pickup day.
Please let us know if you have any questions. If you do send an email, please understand that it sometimes takes us a few days to respond. The last two weeks of May are our busiest two weeks of the planting season. We very much appreciate your understanding about this.
Til next week,
Allison and Earl
We are in from the fields before sundown today due to the Rain.
Last nights hail storm didn’t cause too much damage, we lost 27 tomato plants (out of the 420 we have planted) some greens and a few cucumbers, could have been worse. We will re-seed the cukes and greens, transplant additional tomato plants and continue planting for later in the season.
Saturday we’re installing a new pump down the well in order to keep up with the water demands of 4 acres.
That’s the news for now.
Blog – 26 May 2011
Hi everyone, there hasn’t been much to report due to our cold and rainy month of May.
Our planting schedule has suffered and we are about 8 days behind. We plan to catch up over the next week or two.
After 17 days of gray, foggy, rainy, drizzly days, it was great to get out to the field and work the soil yesterday.
We created 14 new beds for transplanting and direct seeding. It’s still too cool at night to put out the tomatoes, peppers and tomatillos.
The broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are doing well. Celery, onions and leeks are surviving all the water. Carrots are sprouting, as well as beets and radishes.
Its Sunday now, and I may have spoken too soon about the weather. We have had incredible fog every day until the early afternoon.
We have finished seeding and transplanting the first half acre. Preparations of the next half are underway. The soil has been turned; we are picking out the rocks – softball size up to 3 feet around (anything smaller we don’t consider rocks anymore). We have removed almost 2 dump truck loads from the first half acre and are well under way to do the same in this plot.
The tomato plants are now out of the greenhouse and are hardening off, awaiting to be transplanted this week. Peppers are soon to follow.
I will work at getting better about updating you all on a more timely fashion.
The signs of spring are all around us here on the farm! The lilacs are starting to bud, the daffodils are shooting out of the ground, and birds are nesting all around.
We have been fine-tuning the corn boiler settings so that we can achieve the proper temperature in the greenhouse. This is a tricky time of year for greenhouse operation. On sunny days, the temperature in the greenhouse can climb to over 100 degrees, but we definitely need the heat at night and on cloudy days.
Planting is on-going - onions, leeks, celery, celery root, cabbage and broccoli. Both the onions and leeks are sprouting! Next week we'll be starting some herbs and some bell peppers.
The bees are taking flight on the warmer sunny days. Although one of our hives did not survive the cold of winter, we have one healthy hive and we'll be adding more hives later in the spring.
This week, we are buying some new equipment for the tractor, after which we'll start working the soil in preparation for April's outdoor planting.
We can’t wait for the smell of the freshly-turned soil!
It’s finally that time of year again - spring (for us, anyway)!
But before we get into what's happening right now, let us catch you up on all the events of the past winter. There have been some great changes at Hilltop Farm - we were awarded 3 grants, one to build a walk-in cooler, one for a rain water collection system, and the third for a corn-fired boiler to heat our greenhouses. Each one of these projects will greatly enhance the quality and quantity of the produce that we provide you.
We have made arrangements with several local farms and stables to use their composted manures to enrich our soils and reduce our use of purchased fish emulsion fertilizers. This is really a win-win situation. Horse owners often don't have a use for the manure and sometimes need to go to great lengths to dispose of it. Since it is exactly what we need to enrich our soils, we are happy to haul it away. Everybody is happy!
Our flock of Ameraucana chickens has doubled - we now supply eggs to 3 Whole Foods Markets. We are also able to donate some to a food bank in New Bedford, and we still have enough for our CSA shares. That's right, this year, you'll be able to purchase CSA egg shares! A family share will be one dozen per week, and an individual share will be one-half dozen per week.
The seeds have been ordered, the planting schedules for the greenhouse and fields are done, and we've started the first seeds of the season! We will very shortly begin construction on our new walk-in cooler, soon to be followed by installation of the rainwater collection system. Stay tuned for more details on these projects!
We're excited to begin our second CSA season! Right now, we are ancitipating the first pickup in mid-June. We are very much looking forward to re-connecting with past members and meeting new ones.
If you haven't yet signed up for our 2011 CSA season, now is the time!
While our farmhouse is undergoing major renovations, our chickens are enjoying their newly-renovated home as well. Before our Ameraucana chickens arrived, Earl needed to renovate the chicken coop that had been used in the early 1900's to raise chickens.
The coop has now been completely scrrubbed, and our chickens have new roosts (constructed from some old ladders we found), luxurious new nest boxes, a convenient new "chicken door," and a big, sunny outdoor space for scratching. Take a look at these photos of the renovation project!
During the renovation, we discovered a few old wooden boxes that were used to transport eggs to customers many years ago. Painted on the front of the boxes -- "Hill Top Poultry Farm - South Westport, MA" -- what a great find!
On Saturday, we started the first of what will undoubtedly be dozens of renovation projects at the farmhouse. The fireplace that was the heart of the kitchen more than a century ago was largely destroyed and boarded up when stoves came into vogue and fireplaces were no longer necessary for cooking. Since most of the fireplace is gone, we decided to remove what's left of it, which will give us a larger kitchen space. So how do you remove a couple of layers of brick wall behind a plaster wall? With a sledgehammer, of course! After we equipped my son and a couple of his friends with the necessary safety instructions, eye protection, and masks, they tore down the plaster wall and what was left of the old fireplace. They had a blast! Many of the old bricks are still intact, and we will save them for a future project in the house. Next up on the to-do list ... we need to jack up the back corner of the kitchen by a couple of inches where powder post beetles have destroyed part of the sill.
Yesterday, we went to an equipment auction in White River Junction, VT to look for a tractor. The auction was held at Connecticut Valley Auto Auction and run by C.W. Gray & Sons. There were nearly-new tractors with all the bells and whistles, as well as beautiful antiques dating back to 1941.
Since we clearly love old stuff, it's a surprise to no one that we left the auction with a gorgeous (to us!) 1961 International 340, with 47 HP and a (well-used) front loader. We just couldn't be happier! You can look forward to seeing "Miss Lucy" anytime you visit us at the farm!