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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!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Notes from the Learning Garden: From One Season to the Next

Summer programs have come to an end here at the farm, which gives me a little time to reflect before we launch into our fall season of programs, events and happenings at Waltham Fields Community Farm.

For many years now, WFCF has been working with the Waltham Recreation Department to offer after-school and summer programs for area youth. In August we held two of these programs which were 4 mornings each for children who will be entering 1st-3rd grade in the fall. From exclamations of "This is more fun than fencing!" (yes, the one with swords) while harvesting basil, to the image of children sitting on a blanket in the shade singing "The Garden Song" this was a truly memorable experience for all (adults and kids alike).

This year for the first time we also offered a full day program for children ages 9 to 12 which we called our "Farmer For A Week" program. Participants got to delve a little bit deeper into farming and food preparation than those in our other programs with activities such as jam-making, chicken chores, working with the farm weed crew, pickling, and planning out their dream garden using a multitude of seed catalogs from our farm bookshelves. They ended the week by putting together boxes of vegetables, herbs, pickles, and jam to take home and share with their families.

Farmer For A Week Plum
-Raspberry Jam

1 lb Plum, washed, pitted, and chopped finely
3 lbs Raspberries, mashed
1/4 C Water

3 lbs Sugar
2 T Lemon Juice

-Place chopped fruit and water in a preserving pan, soup pot, or other large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium to medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
-Add sugar and stir until dissolved.
-Return to boil and continue boiling until temperature reaches 210F, stirring occasionally to make sure jam is not sticking or burning.
-Add lemon juice and continue boiling to bring temperature back to between 210F and 220F
-Do a test to see if you jam has gelled. The best thing to try is put a little bit of your jam on a plate and stick it in the freezer or fridge for a minute or two to cool it down. When cook, it should have a slightly thicker gel-like consistency. When that happens, it is a good indication that the pectin is activated and it is time to put your jam into jars and process them in your water bath canner!

Farmer For A Week Harvest Box

As the education staff was setting up for the last day of our final summer program a few weeks ago we couldn't help but comment on the speed at which summer rushed past yet again. Lately, I feel as though this has become a mantra for me: "I can't believe the month is over already", "I can't believe the next season is almost here". I suppose as we get older each section of time becomes a smaller percentage of our lives and thus seems to pass by much more quickly. I remember when an hour seemed like a lifetime and as I watch the kids playing in the garden, chopping veggies, or looking at worms I try to put myself back in that mindset and hope that the few hours that they spend with us feels long enough and meaningful enough to stay in their hearts and minds at least until their next visit, next program, or perhaps just their next meal.

Happy gardening,

- Jericho

Fall after-school programs for children in grades K-5 start September 20th! Sign your child up today for six weeks of gardening, cooking, composting, and just generally enjoying the wonders of fall on the farm!

Images by Rebekah Carter (2011).

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