March update and an introduction!

Hi, I am Isabelle Laskey-Rigrod, and I was recently hired for the farm to fork fellowship program at the Cornucopia Project. The fellowship program hires students from ConVal high school to gain experience working on implementing the mission of this project. The goal of this fellowship program is to get teens involved with their community, understand roles of leadership, and be aware of the local food system and to be thinking about ways to improve it. There are two other fellows currently employed and more are going to be hired by May. The fellowship’s main work priority is maintaining a hoop house and selling the produce that we grow to local businesses. While, I’ve only worked there for a short amount of time, I feel very passionately about this program and the goals that are to be accomplished.

In the beginning of February when I started work, the first thing on the agenda was the seed order for the summer. The process involved  trying to decipher which seeds would work best in our environment, how many of those seeds were needed, and to ensure we stayed in our budget. So after spending a couple of weeks focusing on the seed order, and picking the best varieties of each plant we wanted, an order was finally placed last week. I was unaware of all the small details that had to be factored into a seed order to make this successful. For example, all the math that had to be considered: the amount of seeds per one bed and how many seeds that would fit overall in the hoop house, or the budgeted price we could spend on a specific plant. But, with some help from Hannah, the fellow’s boss, and variety suggestions from Leigh Mae, the process went rather smoothly. After completing that task we focused on hiring new fellows this year. The way the fellowship program works is to employ four students from each grade level to be the fellows for their grade, so when the three senior fellows graduate three more freshman fellows are hired for the next year. This maintains a continuous flow of trained fellows. This past week we completed a presentation that is going to be given to the freshmen that are interested in working at Cornucopia. The presentation will inform them about Cornucopia, and help them to determine whether they would be a good fit as a fellow. We plan on hiring four more fellows for the spring, so that we have seven fellows to work with the hoop house and outdoor garden.

Right now we are preparing the hoop house for the summer. We are also harvesting the winter crop, cleaning out the beds, and starting to plant new seeds for the spring/summer. The summers are the busiest time of the year for the fellows because we have more time to commit to the hoop house.

This summer we are planning to expand from one hoop houses to two, and create another plot outside. This will be very exciting because we can grow more delicious food, and have more healthy plants to sell.  This will create more space to grow anything we like – the possibilities are endless.  

Winter Growing Advice from Farm to Fork

Winter gardening can either become your worst enemy, or your tastiest season for growing. During the cold, harsh temperatures, we must be especially careful of our crops and their warmth. During what some call the “Persephone Period”, the day is less than 10 hours light, and the plants should be at least 75% mature by this time. Also by this point, we could consider putting up “caterpillar tunnels” for our outside crops that need extra warmth, such as the carrots which benefit from having an aesthetically pleasing top so they appear fresher. At Farm to Fork, we used row covers on outside beds until we stopped growing outside in late November. Another consideration to keep the plants toasty would be an extra layer of row cover or two inside the greenhouse. These covers could either be kept in place, or moved on warmer days to prevent too much moisture inside the hoop house which could lead to diseases such as Botrytis and powdery mildew.  This year at Cornucopia, we have dealt with the cold by strictly growing inside the hoophouse. Having a dependable air circulation system can also help prevent said diseases. So far, we haven’t installed an air circulation system which began to affect our spinach, presumably from lack of air movement. Overall, there is much to be considered at the farm with maintaining a steady temperature and adequate amount of crops.

16 And Pregnant??

by Juliet Hunt

I know what you’re thinking, no this is not about a dramatic TV show. It’s actually some helpful info on our plants! A few weeks after planting our seedlings, we started to notice that the young cucumber plants were already producing, well, cucumbers. Instead of letting them grow on the immature plants, we had to pick them off. Why? Because we needed our plants to focus on growing fully before reproducing and creating cukes. This is important because our plants were in a state of stress from the planting process, they thought their only hope was to reproduce. So in short, our plants were just doing what they thought was necessary for their survival. However, our plants are in good care, so to insure that they grow healthfully and continue reproducing after maturing- we picked the premature cukes off. If we had left them on, it would be as if the plant was 16 and pregnant, in other words not ready for that next step of making little baby cukes.

Daisy- Farming Progress

IMG_1532Hello, my name is Daisy Young, and I am one of the four fellows part of the Farm to Fork fellowship. When I started this fellowship, my intentions were to gain some knowledge about sustainable living and work hands-on with planting. However, it has grown into so much more. Through the beginning process of building the greenhouse, we have started to bring the community together through volunteers and even pure curiosity. Many are talking about the giant carrot and greenhouse by the side of the highway. It’s becoming quite a popular spot! Watching the fruits, vegetables, and herbs that we have planted grow into something more has given me feelings of relief and excitement. So far the program has been a fascinating and great experience that came with new information, relationships, and ideas.

-Daisy Young, Farm to Fork Fellow

 

Farm Progress

My name is Kelley Akerley and I’m a fellow at the Farm to Fork Program. The first few weeks of the Farm to Fork program have been full of excitement and progress. The first project was to begin assembling our greenhouse. This construction went smoothly with the help of many volunteers and created a strong greenhouse structure for us to begin with. After the greenhouse came planting. We have planted many strong plants including fruits, vegetables, and herbs. The next few weeks we will be focusing on more planting and planning for crops in the future. This project is turning into a huge success and we have quickly begun moving in the right direction.

-Kelley Akerley, Farm to Fork Fellow