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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, September 29, 2015

Notes from the Field - Harvest Moon

Sunday night was the harvest moon, which also happened to be a lunar eclipse (and a super moon and blood moon too!).  It was a special evening to see the glowing orange sphere that blocked the light of the sun so perfectly, aligning the earth, moon, and sun just right on a clear, warm night.  This moon brought a lot of people out and I felt a sense of community and connection to where we live.  It makes complete sense that we call it the harvest moon considering this is how we spend the majority of our waking hours these weeks.  It is a time when the community comes together and shares the bounty of the harvest.

We are in the midst of the bountiful fall harvest and the farm is truly shining.  All of our hard work, long hours, and sore bodies are paying off.  The other day Dan told me that Waltham Fields is a fall farm and it's true.  The cabbages are as large as bowling balls, the carrots are sweet and crunchy, and the heads of broccoli are small trees.  The crops that we grew in the spring time are now making their way back into the mix.  Once again we have radishes, haukeri turnips, bok choy, endive and escarole. 

There is excitement over the change in season.  I find myself with the desire to cook more complicated meals that require hot ovens and big pots.  Just as bees and squirrels are packing away food for the winter, so are we.  My husband Ben and I have been on a kick of pickling carrots, freezing tomato sauce, and making pesto to try to capture the essence of summer for the cold months ahead.   

This past week we finished our watermelon harvest with flying colors.  Watermelon deserves the highest achievement award this year for its taste, texture, size and color.  We have begun the long haul of sweet potato harvest, which is a delicate process.  First, we must mow the heart shaped leaves and vines and then pitch fork each plant.  Next we begin the excavation process of carefully uncovering what almost feels like fossils.  Sweet potatoes have sensitive skin so even a scratch of a nail can injure the outer pink layer preventing it from healing fully.  They must cure in a warm place for a couple weeks so that they can fully develop their sugars and store long term through the winter.  On another note, our onions and garlic have been all cleaned up and accounted for, so now we are able to assess how much is to be distributed between the summer and winter shares.

The energy of the farm has settled down a bit.  It's more peaceful with room for full breaths.  We are ever affected by our environments.  With the equinox just behind us, the light and dark are more equal to each other, leaving me with a greater sense of balance.  The morning air is fresh, crisp, and chilly.  On the farm this week we found ourselves in winter hats and beginning to wear layers.  It's a challenge to wake up in the morning since the sunrise is not until 6:30am and wake up time for me is at 5:45.  Despite our more relaxed state of mind, knowing that the hustle and bustle of the summer has past, there is still a lot to be done.  With every moment that we are not harvesting, there are still weeds to pull, drip tape and tomato stakes to clean up, and cover crops to be sowed.  Here I would like to give a special thanks to Barbara, a volunteer who has done tremendous work for us these past couple weeks.  She has single-handedly saved our next planting of fennel as well as beets and cauliflower.  Thank you so much. 

It continues to be extremely dry and we are irrigating most days.  Once again we hooked up our old irrigation pipes and an oscillating sprinkler in addition to the water reel that has proved vital to the life of our crops this year.  We received our seed garlic in the mail and will soon be dividing the bulbs into cloves and preparing its new seven-month home. 

As we move into the colder, darker, more restful part of the season we will continue to harvest.  While the summer crops of tomatoes, eggplants, and summer squashes are coming to their end, cauliflower, braising mixes, and turnips are just about to show us their stuff.  It's the time of year for celebration and reflection.  And most important of all deep sleep and good eating.

Enjoy the bounty, 
Anna Kelchlin, Assistant Grower

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