Welcome to our blog!

Welcome to our blog! This blog will keep you updated on our summer learning garden programs and recipes for the vegetables in your CSA. For more information about Waltham Fields check out our website!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Waltham Family School Visit


Over the last two weeks we had two visits from the Waltham Family School. It was really great to have visits where parents and children get to experience the farm together. It is also wonderful to share our farm with families who are a part of the Waltham community.

We went on a tour of the farm together and talked about all the different vegetables we grow and our organic practices. Then, we visited the chickens and everyone got a turn to pet a chicken and feed it some grass or grains. We also got to make a delicious healthy snack with vegetables harvested from our farm and learning garden. The first visit we made a swiss chard salad with basil and homemade dressing. The second visit we made a cool cucumber and mint salad. Both snacks were delicious and made by the kids!

I love being a part of these farm visits because I get to meet all different people from our community. I am always talking about our farm, but each group brings such great energy that helps me be excited to share why I think fresh, local, organic produce is so important. Thanks for visiting Waltham Family School! Hope to see you soon!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Parts of a Plant




Just like that a new week has begun; I can't believe we are already on week three of camp here at the farm! Today 10 garden explorers and 10 farmers for a week started. We had a hot day, full of fun, exploration, learning, and, of course, sprinkler time.

Today we focused on getting to know the learning garden and the farm. We learned about the different parts of the plants and figured out that most vegetables we eat are a specific part of a plant. Here are some examples of the different parts we talked about
  • Seed- Corn
  • Root- Carrot
  • Stem- Asparagus
  • Leaf- Lettuce
  • Flower- Broccoli
  • Fruit- Eggplant
All of the garden explorers adopted a plot in the learning garden to look after for the week. We did some garden maintenance, watering and weeding the areas we thought needed it. The day also included a delicious swiss chard salad made by the kids. It had swiss chard, carrots, and herbs and was topped with a homemade dressing! 



Sunday, July 26, 2015

Youth Crew's Quinoa Salad



Our youth crew does a little bit of everything on the farm. They help us harvest once a week, roll in with the weed crew, and take care of our learning garden. Today they did something new, they cooked! This afternoon our youth crew of 7 teens made a delicious and filling quinoa salad using fresh veggies from the farm! They used a recipe from the food blog Oh She Glows as a rough guide that can be found here. Below is our version of the recipe, but you can substitute anything you have on hand! Any fresh veggies grated are delicious and the quinoa really makes it substantial and filling.

Ingredients:
 
   For the salad:
       1 cup uncooked quinoa
       1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
       1.5 cups cilantro
       4 scallions
       1 shallot
       3 carrots
      2-3 beets
       1 summer squash
 
   For the dressing
       1/4 cup lime juice
       1/2 cup olive oil
       1 handful cilantro leaves
       1 teaspoon maple syrup
       1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Rinse and cook the quinoa. Cook in 1.5 cups water, bring to a boil and then simmer for 15-20 minutes (until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy)
  2. Slice the summer squash into circles and grill until browned and tender (or grate and use raw if you don't have time to grill!)
  3. Chop cilantro, scallions, and the shallot
  4. Grate the carrots and beets raw using a hand grater or a food processor
  5. Combine all of the prepared vegetables with the quinoa and the black beans
  6. Combine all the dressing ingredients in a bowl together and pour over salad
Enjoy! And keep your eyes out for a meet the youth crew post! 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Week 2 Camp: Garden Explorers


Today marks the end of our second week of summer camp! It was a small group of campers this week, so we all worked together in one group. Each day we focused on a different theme that connected different areas of the farm to each other. One day was soil and compost, another bugs and pest, and another the life cycle of plants. Alannah and Autumn led the group together and included lots of exciting recipes this week. They made squash pancakes, a salad,  and pickles, to name a few. From learning about the importance of growing conditions to seeing the different elements in soil, it was another great week with young farmers on the farm. We are so glad we get to share our farm with children who are eager to learn. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Notes From the Field - 7/21/15

Summer Time on the Farm
From Anna Kelchlin, Assistant Grower

As I begin my day in the wash station, I write 7/17 Lettuce 20 (meaning date, veggie type and number of heads) on the blue packing bin, and yes it's mid-July. How did this happen? Remember when we were all shoveling and tunneling our way out of the snow? And we now are in the height of the season: full on with harvesting, bed making, planting, weeding, irrigating, fertilizing, seeding, and the list goes on. The change in seasons never ceases to amaze me, like a new born baby or a tiny seed of a collard plant all grown up to elephant size leaves. It's breathtaking when you really think about it. There is such immense change in such little time. The summer weather has definitely arrived along with full mornings of harvesting that are beginning to spill into the afternoon. This means of course more delicious vegetables and more variety, but less time to get everything else done we still need to do. However, our crew seems to increase with each week. We are now at our maximum capacity, at least I think so. The youth crew started with us this week. Yay! Welcome Youth Crew! I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with these young people one day a week, whom for most is their first exposure to farm life, and also their very first job. Together we got to know each other over harvesting collards, summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and even garlic. They will be working in the barn on Saturdays and also at our Outreach Market which is kicking off today! More on that next week.

Some highlights from this past week were transplanting the first round of fall brassicas. We were able to plant broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and water it right away with our water reel irrigation system. Weed crew, field crew, and volunteers got a ton of weeding done (probably close to a true ton) in the leeks, carrots, onions, and flowers to name a few. The flower share opened this week. Some fields are beginning to be flail mowed and disked in and ready for a second crop such as a light feeder like lettuce or spinach. We had some spectacular beet harvests of golden, dark reds, and candy stripes. The kale bunches are becoming more bold and beautiful by the week and we also started the once a year garlic harvest, which includes pitchforking all three rows of garlic, then very gently pulling each head of garlic up, being careful not to bruise them so that they can store through the winter. Then finally we lay the heads with stems out in the greenhouse for a couple weeks of curing. Erinn and I direct seeded our last bean planting and more carrots. This went super smoothly thanks to Tim who was able to fix one of the shoes on our seeder so that it's just the right depth for those teeny tiny carrot seeds. And finally, our farm family was able to finish out the week's greenhouse seeding of our 4th generation of spinach, 11th generation of lettuce and more kohlrabi, endive, and escarole.

Through all of these activities I always find myself struck by the concept of time and its magical powers. Back in the wash station, Anna (not me, but our field crew member Anna) said something that was quite wise, and something I didn't think about until recently. She said something like this, "I only worked as a waitress for three days in Paris and hated it, but in those three days I learned so much. I learned to do as many things in one movement as possible." I thought about this more and how true and important this is throughout our farm day and maybe even to our society. It's so easy to get lost in time on the farm even though we have the sun and moon to guide us through the day. As farmers we are on the go. Moving from one task to the next, trying to be most efficient with our time so that we can grow as many beautiful and healthy vegetables for our CSA shareholders and people who can't afford organic produce at this moment in time. It could be that time moves with such velocity because of our pace, or our attention to detail with the amount of water our seedling trays have or what kind of beetle is on our bean plants, but maybe its because we can pass the time in all weather with people who share similar values. There is one constant on the farm which is that no moment is ever the same and that we must roll with whatever is thrown our way - whether it be a disease, a heat wave, or hundreds of cucumbers to harvest - we like to be kept on our toes and connect with our surroundings.

I would love to hear from you all when I'm out in the field about your experiences and memories on the farm. Please flag me down anytime. I would love to meet more of the people who are a part of this beautiful community. Join me this Saturday July 25th from 9am until noon for our 2nd Crop Mob of the season.

Enjoy the harvest,

Anna, for all who are involved in our food system.

Anna, a Field Crew member, washing beets in the wash station.
A beautiful beet harvest.
A snapshot of the once a year garlic harvest.

Our first okra harvest.
Field Crew and farmers harvesting garlic.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Week One Camp Comes to a Close


The week sure flew by! Our first week of summer camps on the farm has come to a close and we move forward into a new week. We wrapped up on Friday with a review of all the different activities everyone got to participate in and everything the kids learned about farming. When asked "did we give anything back to the earth this week?" one garden explorer remarked, "Of course! We composted!"

The farmers for a week concluded by creating their own mini farmers market. The produce was vegetables they harvested themselves from the garden, the customers were their parents and the educators, and the currency was sour grapes from the garden. I was able to buy some garlic for 4 grapes from one of the vendors. There was even some price competition going on between the farmers, what a great simulation! 

The garden explorers made some delicious pickles! They mixed five small cucumbers (chopped) with 4 tablespoons of sugar, let the mixture sit until watery, then added sprigs of dill, 3 teaspoons salt, and 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar. We enjoyed these pickles right away, what a quick fix for a pickle craving! So delicious and completely unprocessed. 

Farmers for a week made raspberry rhubarb jam. A sweet treat on the last day of camp! We used fresh raspberries from the farm's perennial garden and rhubarb from the learning garden. Combine 4 pounds rhubarb/raspberry mixture with 4 cups sugar, juice of one lemon, and 1.5 cups water. Heat over medium heat until it reaches close to desired consistency (about 30 minutes, it will thicken as it cools). We enjoyed immediately, but you could also keep it in a jar in the fridge. 

I hope all of our campers had as much fun this week as I did and I can't wait to see what this next week has in store! 

Notes From the Field - 7/14/15

Cheers to the Farm Team
From Erinn Roberts, Farm Manager

We had a great week on the farm last week and for the most part, things are moving along as they should this time of year. Days are hot, nights are warm and we even got a good soaking rain overnight on Thursday. We even had a pizza truck on the farm! Thanks to those of you who came out for our first ever Pizza on the Farm night. It was a great event and Posto churned out some delicious pizzas.

Erinn giving an evening tour on the farm last Thursday.

Out in the fields, the unflappable weed crew has been working hard to stay apace with the weeds. But with the rapid growth of weeds like amaranth and galinsoga in the heat of July, we're moving into fire-fighting mode, with new urgency bursting from the shoulders of tomato beds and rows of leeks and pick your own crops like parsley and chiles. We're on the downslope in the weed crew's tenure with us, with last week marking the halfway point, and we've only got the pleasure of their company and hard work for another six weeks. They have pulled, hoed, clipped and tweezed out countless weeds.
With our stellar field crew of Evan, Jack, Anna, Roy and Claire, along with honorary members/Forest Foundation interns Cassie, Alisa and Ali, we got our first round of fall brassicas in the ground and watered, a second line of tying on all of our slicing & cherry tomatoes, caught up on field seeding and gave more love to our Lyman Fields with some fertilizing and weed management than I can ever remember having the time to do. Harvests came in quickly and efficiently, with assistant grower Anna Kelchlin and Naomi Shea expertly leading teams out in the fields. Field crew learned how to harvest cucumbers and carrots this week, and once again impressed me with their care and attention to detail, aesthetics and standards. Farming is always full of mental exercises, but if I'm not really on my toes, it can be hard to keep up with these guys. They rip through transplanting, doing it efficiently, cooperatively and thoughtfully, but with pace and speed. We need to have a roster of tasks each day in order to stay ahead of them. 
Individually, each member of the field crew comes with unique talents and points of view. Collectively, they share a strong and ingrained work ethic, a commitment to the organization and to co-workers, positive dispositions, a depth of strength, endurance and competency and a desire to get better at and improve upon newly learned skills. What amazes me most is that this describes every single one of them. All of them can be the engine, the cheerleader, the wing(wo)man, the roadie when needed-they look for gaps and fill them, which is one the best things a farm can ask for.
Farming is full of risks and rewards. It can be easy to get caught up in constantly calculating the risks to each day's successes, and gratitude is a practice that is at times difficult but always valuable to hold in farming. But this year, Zannah, Dan, Anna K., Naomi, Tim, Lauren, Leo, Annie, Anna B., Gina, Evan, Jack, Anna H.S., Roy, Claire, Cassie, Alisa and Ali have made practicing gratitude easy. Thanks, guys.

Erinn, for the farm crews