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Welcome to our blog! Learn about our farm operation, public programs, and the people behind our work through the Notes from the Field and Education sections. Peruse the Recipes section for some staff favorites.

Waltham Fields Community Farm (incorporated as Community Farms Outreach, Inc.) is a nonprofit farming organization focusing on sustainable food production, fresh food assistance, and on-farm education. For more information about Waltham Fields check out our website!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Notes from the Field: Spring in New England

Even by the standards of spring in New England, this has been a wild one. Instead of writing this week's Notes, I seriously considered just including a link to the first Brookfield Farm CSA newsletter, where their longtime farmer, Dan Kaplan, brilliantly recounts the ups and downs of the weather and their effect on crops, with the simple caption "what he said." But when it comes to producing forty different crops, every organic farm has its own story, ever so slightly different from any other. So here is ours.

This spring began for us in the greenhouse, where Erinn nurtured thousands of tiny seedlings to maturity while we watched the thick blanket of snow on the fields slowly melt away. We seeded cover crops in March on fields that were deceptively dry - until the cold, wet weather of April settled in to stay. With the help of many volunteer hands, we dodged rainstorms to plant onions, leeks, lettuce and spinach on schedule. These crops promptly hunkered down in the cold, damp soil and did absolutely no growing at all.

Then, in early May, the hot weather hit. It seemed to go from March to July in a matter of days. Sunscreen and ice cream replaced sweaters and hot coffee in the farm office. Early season transplanted crops, already stressed out by the cold, wet weeks, now experienced a drastic swing to the opposite conditions. Crops that we seeded directly in the ground did not germinate in the abruptly powdery, superheated soil. Spinach and lettuce threatened to bolt if we didn't get irrigation on them immediately - not usually a priority at this time of the year. Even heat-loving transplanted crops like the cucumbers, sweet potatoes and summer squash that we transplanted were traumatized by the ferocious wind and dry soil. But we kept up on the weeding and managed to get our strawberry planting almost clean just in time for the plants to bloom.

Then, another spell of rain and cold (sweaters, transplanting, weeds growing, inside doing tractor maintenance), followed by temperatures that soared into the 90s and tumultuous thunderstorms that brought brief hail and spectacular lightning (more ice cream, this time accompanied by the first of the strawberries). The morning after these storms is always a little nerve-wracking - walking the fields to see what survived the night is not anyone's idea of a great way to start the day. So far we have been fortunate where hail is concerned. The fluctuations in temperature and moisture, though, have definitely made our spring crops confused and a little bit cranky - most are a little smaller than we would like (lettuce), some are a little later (napa cabbage), and some have been attacked by flea beetles or cabbage root maggot while they suffered from drought stress (bok choy).

All of us are happy to have the spring behind us and the bounty of the summer just ahead. We look forward to connecting and reconnecting with volunteers, shareholders, program participants, and other visitors throughout the season. Thank you for supporting us and the work that we are fortunate to do - even when the weather tries to thwart us!

Amanda, for Andy, Erinn, Dan, Larisa and Lauren

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