The Local Harvest
THE LOCAL HARVEST The Newsletter of Honey Brook Organic Farm CSA, February, 2017
PREPARING FOR THE 2017 GROWING SEASON
– Sherry Dudas
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.
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!
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
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.
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,
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
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!
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
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!