Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I just had to share a couple more shots of the two girls who made it all possible in case you the reader don't make it to the gallery. These were some sunflowers we grew for a cover crop, selling a few at market. This is Melissa  a strong and dependable worker who grew so many of the vegetables that fed people this season.
Here is Kelly, finally out from behind the camera for her own shot in the sunnies.
Check out a few more 2012 shots down towards the bottom of the page in the gallery .
One final shot from the excellence of summer. Tomatoes,

End of Season

Clemens Here,
Apologies for not writing more but farming season does not lend itself well to blogging. I will be adding some of the seasons best photos courtesy of our resident photographer, Kelly. Please, check them out in gallery.  I will also try to add thoughts and stories from the season in the coming months of down time. 
The season is wrapping up, leaves on the ground, squash in bins and onions tucked in boxes. The tomatoes were just torn up today and the irrigation drip line rolled  for use next year. Time has opened its brief window for assessment of the year and planning for the next. 
I would have to say this was the most difficult year yet. The lack of rain for six weeks tapped every resource, both physical and monetary. The irrigation system was upgraded to cover the entire farm, four acres now. That of course meant laying the lines for this endeavor and keeping pumps running late into the night to accomplish getting water to the four zones the system was separated into. In dry weather like that, by the time the last zone had been watered the first was ready to be done again. It was, "make or break" in that plants grew great with water and died a under a scorching sun without. 
It was a great season. The CSA was larger and better fed then ever. The members gave positive feed back which was always encouraging. The market stands were larger and better stocked through the entire season. All in all the hard work of surviving the drought payed strong dividends in both satisfied CSA members and success at market. 
I could not have asked for a better crew to do all this with. Kelly and Melisa were tough from first hour to  friday 12th hour. The fun, laughter and hard work we shared will linger with me for a lifetime. I hope to have them back some season as they have both expressed interest in continuing in agriculture. It seems these young ladies have some of their own adventures to pursue but they know the door is always open to them at Solstice Hill Farm.  
Special thanks to all our CSA members without whom non of this would have gotten off ( in ) the ground in the spring. Much appreciation needs to be expressed to our dedicated customers at the Saturday Delmar and Gloversville farmers markets. It makes it all worthwhile when folks not only come each week, rain or shine, but say when they come that we have the best stuff around. We work hard to produce the freshest, best tasting, most nutritiouse veggies possible and we're glad it shows. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Farm News - May 14, 2012

Greetings from Solstice Hill! 

lovely lettuce in the greenhouse

Kelly here, with a bit of an update -- with the warm weather so early this year, the season is definitely getting under way. The first CSA pickup date is June 12, and will continue through November. We will also be at the market in Gloversville and Delmar again this year.

artichoke plants
This week was occupied, as always, with myriad tasks and activities. I am very excited about the mushrooms we started on last week. Although they won't fruit until the fall at the earliest (we may have to wait until next spring), it's always fun to try new things. We have inoculated several logs with shiitake mushroom spores, and will be working on oyster and lion's mane mushrooms as well. The inoculated logs are stacked in the woods, and we are working to keep them moist and happy.

a sea of tomato plants

We have lots of crops in the field. Last week we transplanted the summer squash, corn, and potatoes and seeded some beds of arugula, carrots, and spinach. Already coming up in the field are the peas, which are growing nicely and we trellised this week, beets, swiss chard, parsley, cilantro, turnips, daikon and regular radish, scallions, six types of onions, two types of kohlrabi, two types of cabbage, three types of kale and of course plenty of lettuce!

Coming up on our planting schedule are cucumbers, tomatoes, fennel, parsnips, brussels sprouts, and celery.

We have been working with a new tool, a raised-bed maker, by Nolts. It pulls and piles the earth behind the tractor, then smooths the edges and the top for a clean surface. This raised bed makes it a bit easier to hoe, and the extra inches are good for drainage, while giving the plants roots lots of room to grow. 

a forest of fennel
It takes a bit of time to understand the quirks of any new equipment, and this is certainly no exception. Personally I am enjoying getting to know the tools from their start at Solstice Hill, and really enjoying learning all this great place and people have to teach me!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A New Apprentice

Hello all! Kelly here, the first apprentice to arrive at Solstice Hill for the 2012 season. Melissa will be joining us this weekend. There is, of course, lots of work to do, and we are excited to get a larger crew and really get the ball rolling.

I arrived almost two weeks ago from New York City, where I have lived for the past year and a half. I studied English Literature and Film at SUNY Binghamton, but my love of fresh good food led me down a different path than what my undergraduate focus may suggest.

Spending time in the service industry in New York and working in customer service allowed me to focus my long-term goals. After extensive soul-searching, a future in farming emerged as a likely outlet for my interests and values. Hard work out-of-doors appeals to my body's yearning for exercise and growth, while the constant changes and challenges of agriculture stimulate my mental facilities.

Having been here for just two weeks, I have already learned so much. In the first week, I was lucky enough to witness the complete cycle of plant growth: seeding, preparing beds, transplanting, and of course, weeding... I convinced Clemens to pick a small salad for dinner on Friday night and voila! The farm-to-table loop was complete. Now I am settling in and getting to know the ins and outs of the farm, community, and everything in between.

Solstice Hill is really a beautiful place, and the methods of working with nature provide for near-constant rewards and surprises. I am really looking forward to the upcoming season, and to meeting the people for whom we are growing all of this delicious, nutritious food!