The Local Harvest

THE LOCAL HARVEST   The Newsletter of Honey Brook Organic Farm CSA, February, 2017


Our Chesterfield staff spent early January cleaning up the fields from our Holiday Harvest program, as well as wrapping some of our fruit trees in burlap to protect them from the winter chill.  More mundane tasks include searching for a new organic certification agency as we need more technical assistance than our current agency, the NJ Department of Agriculture, can provide with respect to some of the new biocontrols we plan to use.

Temperatures were much warmer than typical for January at the farms, allowing staff to perform equipment maintenance and other tasks a little more comfortably. However, warm winters are of concern for produce farmers as a nice long, cold winter goes a long way in helping to reduce spring’s insect pests and pathogens.  Warmer winters can also spur fruit trees to bud earlier than usual, leaving them vulnerable to frost damage should the weather change, and can also inhibit bud formation and vigor in the spring.  Our hope is that February will bring more seasonable temperatures, and we wouldn’t mind some snow, so the dogs and I can do a little cross country skiing on the farm!

Our compost efforts continue in the winter, with staff turning and moving our windrows of compost in order to maintain the proper temperature and moisture levels, but by  mid January we were all ready for a break, so we closed the Chesterfield farm for a few weeks to allow staff to rest and relax before the new growing season. Farmer Jim and I, as well as Chip and Jamie, vacationed in Virginia Beach, in our favorite dog-friendly hotel. We spent one day driving in the areas that still had active farmland.  Apparently, this part of Virginia is known for its strawberries. It was disheartening, though, to see the acreage being lost to housing developments. Too bad they haven’t permanently preserved these seemingly productive agricultural lands.

By early February, Dave, our greenhouse manager, and Eric, one of our returning greenhouse workers, are busy preparing our three Pennington greenhouses for the growing season.  They are responsible for growing out our “baby” transplants and making sure field staff have healthy seedlings to plant beginning in March. Farmer Jim is still hammering at his seed order, which should be finalized this week. With respect to 2016’s weather, Dr. David A. Robinson, the New Jersey State Climatologist, has compiled his annual weather review and is reporting that 2016 was the third warmest year on record in New Jersey and the summer was the second warmest on record.  This warmth had an adverse effect on our tomato crop last year, diminishing crop yields and quality, so we hope to have a more temperate  summer growing season this year.

Educational Outreach

Ellie, our farm educator, attended NRG Energy’s employee wellness event in January and was treated to a tour of their Princeton facility after being filmed for an employee-targeted video explaining our CSA program.  In late February, Sherry will be speaking to an environmental  class at Rutgers on the topic of organic farming, sharing the forum with Jon Knox, a young organic farmer based in Somerset County.  In March, she will also be speaking to a senior citizens group in Monroe Township, her hometown.

2017 Memberships 

Membership applications continue to stream in, but there are still many memberships available for our Boxed Share program and at our Distribution Centers in Chesterfield and Pennington.  Currently, PDF applications are online and soon we will revise our website to allow online payments via credit card. We are happy to now offer five share sizes to our on-farm pick-up offerings, and you can learn more about these options by visiting our Chesterfield or Pennington pages. In our Boxed Share Program, we are offering new drop off sites: one in Sea Girt and in our Corporate Boxed Share program, we have added NRG Energy to our Tuesday delivery route. In fact, NRG Energy is offering their full-time employees a $115 reimbursement on their Honey Brook membership fee! If you work for an employer who may have an interest in sponsoring a  Boxed Share drop-off site for the farm, please contact our Boxed Share coordinator, Rachel, at 609-737-8846 or by emailing .

Winter at the Farms 

In one of our Chesterfield farmhouses, Farmer Jim and our facilities manager Ray are in the process of overseeing the completion of the installation of both our geothermal energy system, as well as new, energy conserving storm windows.  Farmer Jim and I heat our home with the aid of a wood-burning stove, and since we had a diseased tree blow over in the fall, we’re set for our wood needs for quite some time! Canada geese are again a nuisance at our Hopewell farms, feeding on our cover crops, so we have resorted to occasionally using Jamie and Chip, our farm dogs, for goose control, which they absolutely love.  They run towards the birds, barking and scaring them off the fields, forcing the geese to take flight and find refuge in another open area.  For the dogs, it beats being holed up in the house waiting for spring and is good exercise!  We also are seeing a kestrel quite often at one of the Chesterfield farms, so it’s possible it’s taken up winter residence here, and helping to keep the mouse population in check!  I also had my earliest winter siting of a groundhog, spying one behind our garage in Pennington the week of January 23rd. I’m guessing the warmer-than-average temperatures had he or she coming out well before Groundhog Day!

Employment at the farms

We’re still hiring for the 2017 season, and are thrilled to be adding new managers to help us at the Chesterfield farms.  Click here to learn more about available positions!  

This Week’s Harvest
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