After the snow kept falling well into April, we feared the worst for the impending agricultural season (perhaps trading in our wheel-hoes for a snow-blower or ice pick?). But June has nonetheless dragged summer along with it and here we are again ready for another season on the Carleton Student Farm. And even though the weather’s been chilly, our new farm interns Guthrie and Zach have been hard at work planning the garden and starting transplants for many, many weeks now. It is into their incredibly capable and rugged hands that we, the former lady-interns, happily pass off this blog and our beloved twitter handle (@CarletonFarm for all you tweeters). We have enjoyed navigating social media and (especially) tweeting our hearts out in the name of small-scale, woman-powered agriculture, though it may have been self-indulgent at times. The future of this farm is bright and fierce and all us former interns can’t wait to see Guthrie and Zach take the reins and move forward with their vision. There are metaphorical butts to be kicked and seeds to be sown. Stay tuned for the steady reveal!
That must be why we haven’t written a blog post in 10 weeks! We were in the fields harvesting until the end of October but instead of updating you about our successes and showing off our yummy vegetables, we were writing about social insects, Marxist theory, and English novels for our college professors. Today was the last day of finals which means we have the brain space to reflect and OOOOO-baby, what a season it was.
Let’s start with September. Being that we’re globe-trotting farmers, we flew out to Corvallis Oregon for a Sustainable Agriculture conference. We met farmers from Utah, Washington, North Carolina, Hawaii, and everywhere in between (there were even some Canadians). We learned about the challenges that other college farms face and had some productive “open session” discussions. Our friends from STOGROW (St. Olaf’s farm) were there, and we made some new friends at Willamette University, the most notable being an adorable kitty named Sprout.
Following our return, we got into volunteer-seeking mode. We handed out watermelon at the Student Activities Fair and got many new people onto the Farming Club volunteer list. After our first Farming Club meeting, we elicited a cherry tomato picker (Robbie), kale specialist (Charlotte), and eggplant expert (Drew). With them and a handful of other volunteers, we were able to strike balance between our books and our vegetable babies.
We had three big farm-love gatherings; an All-Food FARM Festival, Farm Bike Tour, and Harvest Fest. At the All-Food Fest, Firebellies made a big meal with our vegetables, Food Truth made beet chocolate cake, and we proudly showed visitors the fruits of our summer labor. During the Farm Bike tour, we harvested potatoes and showed the farm to Carleton and St.Olaf students and community members and then biked over the Seeds Farm for a celebration with especially tasty Bon’Ap Food (best carrot cake ever), music played by a very enthusiastic St. Olaf band, and plain ol’ happy togetherness. For Harvest Fest, we put some Carls to work taking out tomato stakes and planting garlic, tulips, and fruit trees. We ate farm-fresh salsa and buba ganoush, made mushroom prints with the mycology club, went on an edible plant tour of the Arb lead by a Cam, and celebrated into the night with music from Carleton student bands.
Our last harvest consisted of cabbage, salad greens, potatoes, and lots of love. When we said goodbye to Chef Gibson and left our vegetables in the Dining Hall we weren’t convinced that that was it. Now I am sitting in my kitchen back home, and it is really sinking in. The field was plowed, winter rye cover-crop was planted, and we have released the Carleton Farm Internship application for 2013. The Farm is ready to be handed off to another pair of eager students, whether we like it or not.
(Sustainable Ag Conference)
To airplane we took
Farm ideas went around
Where is Davey now?
A shout-out to those
Who saw our poster today
Thank you for reading.
(Status of the Farm)
The harvest awaits
For those who rise up to help,
Fear of frost looming.
A life-altering shift has taken place at the Carleton Farm: we are spending more time harvesting vegetables (ie. making money) than we are weeding. HA.. take that weeds, we win!! Lately harvest have been a four hour ordeal that happens three times a week. Here is our order of operations for harvesting;
Wiener-shaped (cucumbers, zucchini, squash, eggplant*) *shape negotiable
Underground (turnips, radishes, beets)
Juicy fruit (tomato, watermelon)
Wiltable (herbs, greens)
Add (weighing and tabulating receipt)
Sell (delivering to Bon Appetit)
WUJWAS. This WUJWAS technique takes each vegetable’s needs into consideration and ensures our products get to Bon’App in prime condition.
During our harvest, we have plenty of time to fantasize about all of the things Bon’Appetit is going to do with our lovely produce. When noon rolls around, these fantasies become a reality at the East Dining Hall. Some of the food that we can take partial credit for are;
-greens, cucs, zuccs, cherry toms, and radishes on the salad bar
-heirloom tomato slices on the sandwich bar
-vegetable stir fry
-AND more to come.
The happy part is that that is just at lunch. The sad part is we don’t get dinner. But that’s ok, because dinnertime is when we put our overgrown turnips, woodchuck-bitten tomatoes, and edible weeds to good use in our kitchen at home.
In other news, we are getting ready to welcome new students here on Tuesday. Our plan, inspired by a Carleton Farm alum, is to sit outside Sayles surrounded with vegetables and offer them cherry tomatoes and watermelons in exchange for Farm love. Following our vegetable giveaway, we have Farm tours at 11 and 1.
Our tranquil vegetable garden is about to get busy. The veggies are cranking, the students are coming, and the best news is WE ARE SO READY.
So come at us.
» In all the farm fervor I almost forgot to give a shout-out to Mr. Duck (find him in the recently added pictures). If there’s anything better than a rubber ducky, its a squash ducky.
Sitting in the dining hall for lunch today, Tori and I noticed that summer seems to be coming to a close— if the weather chilling down (quite significantly, at that) didn’t tip us off, the swarm of preseason athletes standing in line with us for tacos did. Our usually calm lunchtime was filled with people watching, and we happily hassled the students around us at the salad bar to eat the home grown cherry tomatoes and cucumber.
Though the summer might be quickly retreating, the farm is starting to kick into high gear. We have gotten in the routine of harvesting 3 times a week, the time we spend bent over squash plants and crouched in the early morning shade of tomato towers dramatically increased— officially putting us at more time picking vegetables than weeding them. After transplanting our mustard seedlings last week during a volunteer night and seeding salad mix in every empty nook and cranny of dirt, our fall planting field has officially reached capacity. The head lettuce transplants we will continue to turn out of the greenhouse will have to be planted in more creative locations…
Friday yielded our first harvest over $300 (most of the legwork there was done by our first watermelon pick—124 pounds of sweet!), but was quickly dwarfed this morning when we came out just 5 little bucks short of $400. The best part is that today’s harvest consisted only of summer squash, tomatoes and cucumbers. We can’t wait to get more melons, eggplants and herbs in there. And the whopper turnip we snagged this afternoon bodes well for its rooted cousins laying dormant all hidden beneath the dirt. Good days like these are enough to overshadow what negativity lies in the diseased leaves of our tomato crop (we’re thinking septoria leaf spot— regrettably it does nothing to deter our woodchuck friend, who we are beginning to consider domesticating attempts on because no other darn plan we try seems to work) or the wilting and thirsty mustard babies. We, for now, are just going to trust that things will even out.
In the meantime we’ll continue to revel in the beauty of what our garden is cranking out, thankful for our full-bellied eggplants and juicy watermelons.
open— perfectly ready
we sellin’ that shit
built large fence funnel
squirrel, possum, raccoon caught
still no damn woodchuck