THE LOCAL HARVEST The Newsletter of Honey Brook Organic Farm CSA, April, 2017
CHESTERFIELD FARM OPEN HOUSE FOR
POTENTIAL CSA MEMBERS!
Join us on
April 29th, from 2 - 4pm at our farm located on 258 Crosswicks-Ellisdale Road
in Chesterfield, NJ for our Open House! If you’re interested in becoming a
member of Honey Brook Organic Farm's Community Supported Agriculture program,
please come to the farm for a tour, a "Q&A" with Farmer Jim, to
purchase organic transplants, to check out our resident nesting kestrels and to
sign up for the upcoming season! This is a family friendly event and potential
members of both our Boxed Share program as well as on-farm pick-up program are
encouraged to attend! Please RSVP to so we can get a head
AVAILABLE FOR ALL OF OUR MANY LOCATIONS! –
by Sherry Dudas
Applications for all pick-up locations are still being accepted.
Please join today if you haven’t already (the Join Us page is HERE). If you haven’t checked out our Boxed Share
page in a while, you may want to do that now, as we’ve added many new pick-up
locations for this season!
In early May we print our member identification cards, which on-farm
pick-up members receive the first time they visit the farm. Membership Handbooks
will be revised for 2017 and posted on the website in early May for members to
download and read prior to Opening Day. Beginning May 1st, please check
the “This Week” page of our website to learn when Opening Day will be for your
program, as on-farm pick ups begin before Boxed Share deliveries. We will
also be sending emails with Opening Day information, as well as announcing it
on our Facebook page. Please keep in
mind that usually the ripening of the strawberries dictate when your Opening Day
will be, and Boxed Share deliveries may
begin as early as Memorial Day weekend. Please also keep in mind that all
memberships include PYO crops, so Boxed Share members may harvest PYO
strawberries even if the Boxed Share deliveries have not yet begun. The
Veggie Hotline (609-737-8899) will also provide Opening Day information after
May 1st. Remember, we are not saying
that we open on May 1st, but rather that is the date that you
should begin checking for when Opening Day will be.
JIM: FOCUS IS ON IMPROVED SOIL FERTILITY AND MANAGEMENT THIS YEAR – Sherry Dudas
Farmer Jim has decided to make soil fertility a top priority
this year, and has several exciting projects in the works. He’s going to be looking at a soil balancing
approach to address nutrient deficiencies and to enhance nutrient density,
producing more nutritious crops and also improving crop cosmetics as well as
nutrient quality. This process begins by
taking multiple soil samples to ascertain where our deficiencies are and
applying the right amount of organically sourced nutrients.
Farmer Jim is also really excited about his new biochar
project! Biochar is a type of charcoal
that is used as a soil amendment and improves many soil properties. It starts
with renewable carbon in the form of organic materials, charring them, and then
incorporating them into the soil where the carbon will remain stored for
thousands of years. Using biochar
effectively removes it from the environment, creating a ‘win-win’ situation for
both the environment and our farm. In
fact, in a classic case of what’s old is new again, archeological research in
South America has revealed that pre-Columbian Amazonians used biochar for soil
improvement. Those soils, referred to as
terra preta, are also less vulnerable to nutrient leaching due to heavy rains,
as they have a high concentration of organic matter. As we prepare the farm to be more resilient
to damaging storms as a result of climate change, we need to adopt low cost, low-tech
strategies such as using biochar and compost.
There are several fields we manage on our four farms that we
have recognized have inherent problems.
For example, nearly all of last year’s Chesterfield PYO crops seemed to
have production problems. Mid-season,
Farmer Jim began to suspect that the drainage tile vital to draining the fields
of excess water may have been broken, leaving water to pond and saturating
roots during critical growth periods. He
also considered the possibility that the PYO fields were suffering from
nutrient imbalances that led to partial crop failures of several of the PYO
crops. This year, he has decided to
retire the primary PYO field from last year and plant PYO crops in last year’s
strawberry fields. These fields also get
a lot of action in terms of birdlife, as our resident kestrels, red-tailed
hawks and red-winged blackbirds use these and other adjacent fields for hunting
Also in Chesterfield, I’m happy to report that our persimmon
trees survived our harsh late winter weather and the fig trees look healthy and
were also totally unaffected by the wild weather! Every inch of the fig cane is
alive and in all likelihood is going to probably produce our best fig crop to
date. Since we are growing them in specially
protected high tunnels, we expect to have fruit earlier than field-grown figs.
In other news, March was another month of farming challenges due
to the wacky weather. We went from a
high of 73 degrees on March 1st to a low of 13 degrees on the 5th! With respect to the early warmth, when it
happens that early in our planting season it is not very helpful for plant
health: it encourages early blooming of perennials such as strawberries,
leaving them vulnerable to frost damage, and premature sprouting of garlic
bulbs and herbs, leaving their early leaves also exposed to killing frosts and
freezes. Overall, March was cooler and
slightly wetter than normal, but the late, heavy snowstorm set us back with
spring tillage and planting. The severe freezing temperatures appear to be
behind us, so we were comfortable hand-planting our PYO snap and snow peas at
both the Pennington and Chesterfield farms and our early spring broccoli in
early April. Garlic, which was planted
last fall, looks very healthy and is on track to be available in early summer.
Our spring transplants, grown in our Pennington greenhouses,
look very good, we are just waiting for some dry weather in order to transplant
the spring lettuce, cabbage, collards, kale and other early season favorites. Farmer
Jim also is planning to direct seed arugula, lettuce mix, radishes and hakurei
turnips just as soon as he can get the tractor on the currently saturated
soils. While our strawberries, which look to be a better crop this year than
last, will be roughly on schedule (being ready to harvest sometime in mid-May),
other crops are going to get a late start due to the heavy rains of late
Farmer Jim, always looking for a new crop challenge, is planting
popcorn this year, and our first crop of turmeric (we’ve planted three different
varieties), planted at the same time as our very popular ginger, is looking
quite nice, as is the ginger. He also is growing personal-sized watermelon and
cantaloupe, which should be popular with members purchasing our Personal-sized
The tomato plants destined for our Chesterfield high tunnels are
looking fabulously healthy! Farm staff
successfully grafted the plants by fusing the rootstock of tomato varieties
known for resiliency against soil borne diseases to the top (scion) of varieties
known for the superior flavor of their fruits. In this manner, we have created
plants with increased vigor as well as delicious fruit, getting the best of
both worlds! We will get disease
resistance, as an organic farmer’s challenge is always managing diseases,
especially fungal, in a high tunnel environment. The beauty of grafting is that it is a
natural process, in that you are achieving disease resistance without the use
of chemicals or GMOs, you just need time and patience, and sharp scissors and some
grafting clips. This spring, we will be
planting one acre of grafted tomatoes in our high tunnels in order to get the
earliest, tastiest tomatoes to our members, hopefully by early July!
EDUCATION AND OUTREACH
PROGRAMS MORE IN DEMAND NOW THAN EVER! - Sherry Dudas
In addition to spring planting, it’s a busy time for our
education and outreach programs. In
February, Sherry was part of a discussion regarding organic farming in New
Jersey, along with farmer Jon Knox, with an environmental policy class at Rutgers
taught by CSA member Dr. Ethan Schoolman.
In March, Sherry gave a presentation to seniors at the Monroe Township
Senior Center which was a real treat, as she was raised in the township. April
is always a busy time since it’s Earth Day month, and this year we will be at
Bristol-Myers Squibb in both Hopewell and Lawrenceville, NRG Energy and
Bloomberg promoting the benefits of our Community Supported Agriculture
program. Also in April, Sherry spoke to
students at Grant School in Trenton about organic farming. For some of them, it
was the first time they ever met a farmer!
In late April, the Mercer County Master Gardeners will be visiting the
Pennington farm for a farm tour and in June students from Kean University will
be touring the Chesterfield farm! On April 29th, Ellie from the farm
will be staffing our informational table at the Chesterfield Bordentown Green
Fair in Village Square Park from 11am to 3pm, which is the same day as our
Chesterfield Open House!
Our first yoga class of the new season will be a Full Moon yoga
class, held at our Chesterfield farm on Friday, June 9th at
7pm. This is a free, members-only event
and Gina Gilligo, our yoga instructor, asks that participants register by
emailing her at .
Lastly, we are coordinating food demonstrations as well as other
yoga classes for the 2017 season, so please continue to read this newsletter
for more information.
This Week’s Harvest
Plan your meals for the week.
Our harvest calendar indicates produce availability throughout the growing season.
The Local Harvest
Please read our newsletter The Local Harvest to connect with the farm and the larger community.
Buying A Share
Become part of our community by purchasing a share.