The Local Harvest

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



WARM FEBRUARY SPURS EARLY GROWTH by Sherry Dudas  

February was the warmest on record in New Jersey, and we were surprised and somewhat discomfited to find last year’s fall collards and kale crops sprouting new edible growth by mid-February at the Chesterfield farm. Chives also came up weeks earlier than normal, and in Pennington parsley never winter-killed, allowing me to harvest some in usable amounts, a first for the month of February. I’ve also been able to harvest edible carrots in the fields since December.  The warm, mild weather allowed Lou, one of our farmers, to get some early tillage done at our Chesterfield farms, filling the farm with the distinctive aroma of freshly turned soil, a sure sign of impending spring! Having the fields prepared for planting this early will allow Farmer Jim to direct seed our spring lettuce mix, arugula and spicy mix earlier than last year, which, if all goes well, will allow us to open earlier this year.  

However, the warm weather also encouraged the apricot trees to begin blooming earlier than usual, so once the colder March temperatures descended, the pistils of the flowers died and will therefore not produce fruit this year.  March’s cold and windy weather has also made it uncomfortable to do outdoor work, so some of our equipment maintenance is now being diverted until spring and, most distressingly, pest insects have been able to overwinter.  

In other news, several of our staff from last season have returned to help get our plants started in the greenhouses, and our Pennington greenhouses are steadily filling with trays of vegetable and flower transplants.  Later in the season, most spring and early summer crops will be transplanted in each of our two Chesterfield farms.  Most of the spring planting takes place at our Chesterfield farms, which have sandier soils than those at our Hopewell farms and therefore can be planted sooner, as they dry faster after rain or snow thaw.  By the time additional workers come to the farm in late March and April, it will be time for more spring tillage and the early summer tomato, basil and pepper plants to be transplanted in our Chesterfield high tunnels.   

The sweet corn crop, which we start in the greenhouses, will be planted as transplants in April in the hope for a late June harvest, and we expect to have corn through August.  Sweet corn is an “add on” crop for us, meaning it is not included in the regular distribution, but rather is available in the Distribution Centers for an additional fee.  If all goes well this year, our peaches and figs will be available as “add on” crops as well for 2017.  

GINGER AND TURMERIC PRODUCTION HAS BEGUN! – by Sherry Dudas  

Staff has finished preparing our ginger and turmeric rhizomes for planting this season, which includes cutting the organic rhizomes we received from Hawaii into pieces, then dipping the pieces into an organic treatment which helps to prevent fungal diseases from taking root once the rhizomes are pre-sprouted and transplanted in the fields once established with new sprouts.  It will be our first season growing turmeric, so we are all really excited about it, and this will be our third growing fresh ginger.  Both turmeric and ginger are valued for their anti-inflammatory properties, among other health benefits.  I use both fresh in stir-fries, especially those made with coconut milk. The turmeric and ginger will be distributed to CSA members as part of their shares, and not be sold as “add ons”.    

MEMBERSHIP UPDATE AND NEW BOXED SHARE LOCATIONS! by Sherry Dudas  

We still have memberships available for pick up at both the Pennington and Chesterfield farms, as well as all boxed share locations.  Members who want to begin the season with us right from the start must submit your applications to our office before early May.  Due to the warmer than average temperatures, we expect to be opening earlier than last year (May 17th).   Our three new boxed share locations, added this month, are Country Gardens Farm Market in Robbinsville, In the Garden in Highlands and Doc Bakers Farmulations in Doylestown, PA. Click here for membership information and to pay using a credit card online (please use the drop down menus under the "Join Us" tab to find the program best for you). Remember that all shares include pick-your-own privileges at either our Pennington or Chesterfield farm!  

STAFFING UP FOR THE NEW SEASON by Sherry Dudas  

We are thrilled to announce two new additions to our farm management team! Nancy Orlowski, our new Distribution Manager, is a food service professional, having over thirty years’ experience in supermarket management.  She will be responsible for the management of our Pennington Distribution Center, including our PYO fields, as well as our Boxed Share packing program and also be responsible for food safety management.  We have also added Julia Smagorinsky to our team, as one of two Assistant Farm Managers at our Chesterfield farm.  Julia has extensive farming experience, including the propagation and care of plants, CSA management and even livestock production.  She will be involved in most aspects of our Chesterfield farming activities, but we are still in need of a part-time manager of our Chesterfield Distribution Center.  To learn about that position, as well as others we have available at the farm including a full-time driver position, please click HERE.  

NATURE NOTES by Sherry Dudas  

Warmer weather had birds like red-winged blackbirds and killdeer returning to the farms while spring peepers began their peeping on February 28th, also earlier than normal.  We also have our resident kestrels inhabiting their nesting tree at our Chesterfield farm, where we’ve also been visited by a few harriers, red-tailed hawks and have had a siting of an adult bald eagle! Blue jays, blue birds and cardinals seem to be in abundance, as are snow geese flying high above the farm, possibly going back to their northern breeding grounds.   February warmth also caused our early blooming flowers, such as Daphne odora (the most heavenly fragrant early bloomer ever!), croci, daffodils and snowdrops to bloom even earlier, and our lilacs are beginning to form buds already!  The mid-March snowstorm will be blanketing our region with several inches of snow, and our hope is that now that our ponds are replenished with water and fully recovered from last year’s dry conditions and our groundwater is also recharged, that we can say good bye to winter and fully embrace the warmer and longer days of spring!  



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