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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, August 6, 2013

Notes from the Field - Summer Bounty

August on the farm brings a subtle shift in our work energy. Where two weeks ago we were still in high-season planting mode, the first of August is a marker beyond which we don't plant anything that needs to be in the ground for more than 50 days to mature. It means all our carrots are in, all our beets are in, all the fall turnips and rutabagas and leeks are in. The only things left to plant are lettuces and spinach, arugula and mixed greens, which we'll continue to put in the ground, and in the hoophouses, until early September. As fields slowly begin to come out of production, we'll also begin planting cover crops, including oats and peas, winter rye and hairy vetch, that can hold our soil over the winter and add organic matter when we turn them in in the spring.

Now the bulk of our energy turns to the harvest. Squash and cucumbers, peppers and eggplant at our Gateways fields in Weston will soon be joined by cantaloupes, though we'll need a few days of heat to ripen them up. The fields at the Lyman Estate will need the same in order to start really churning out the tomatoes. It's a race against disease in weather like this, where the (beautiful) cool days and nights are favorable to the spread of cucurbit and tomato fungi and bacteria, as well as the dreaded late blight oomycete. We've been spraying our field tomatoes with copper to protect against late blight whenever the "blitecast" website from Cornell tells us that weather conditions warrant it; since we haven't yet seen any on the farm, we haven't sprayed the pick-your-own tomatoes yet. We have started to spray the raspberries with spinosad, a compound made by bacteria that is approved for use in organic systems and is currently thought to be our best bet against the spotted-wing drosophila.

Last week the weed crew continued their swing through our fall broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, cleaning them up with hoes and hands while Dan worked the tractors. Sutton worked on her (hopefully) rabbit proof fence around the tomatoes before departing for her summer vacation. Andy was back from two weeks in Wisconsin with his family to help with the bountiful and beautiful harvest that the field crew and Zannah pulled in at Gateways. The pigs got bigger and bigger.

Our outreach market is in full swing, bringing bags of free and reduced-cost produce to about one hundred of our low-income neighbors every Tuesday evening. The farm is filled with young people participating in our summer Learning Garden programs. Our brand-new youth program got underway this past week; Sutton trained our youth crew in harvesting on Friday morning in preparation for their first trip to the Waltham Farmers' Market next Saturday. And we heard some great news on Monday -- the Lexington Community Farm Coalition’s proposal to operate the former Busa Farm in Lexington as a brand-new community farm in cooperation with Waltham Fields’ staff managing the farm operation, was selected by the town. Now, with LexFarm, we'll begin the work of bringing a new farm, responsive to its individual community, into being.

Beets and sweet fresh onions, carrots and potatoes, lettuce and swiss chard all continue to come in beautifully despite the cool nights. Our next succession of kale is almost ready to harvest, and we'll start picking shallots and storage onions as soon as their tops fall over. The sun has begun its inexorable swing to the south and autumn is around the corner. For now, we're hoping for a little warm weather to ripen up those melons and tomatoes, and we'll be all set.

Enjoy the harvest,
Amanda, for the farm crew

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