Monthly Archives: September 2014

Welcome, Fall!

Coming from Oakland, California, where the weather is always perfect—never any humidity, no temperatures beyond the 80s—I have to say I am thrilled that the summer months of North Carolina are behind us! I love Fall and am looking forward to having lettuce on the farm once again and being able to sit around a fire at night. We’ve had some late summer rains that have made it hard to keep up with weeding and field work, but the rains seems to be behind us for now, as well.

We’ve been working to build another high tunnel on the Small Farm Unit, which is something that has been in the works for awhile. It’s slow-moving work, with plenty of challenges, but fortunately, we’ve had a lot of help from staff from other other research stations in North Carolina, as well as from other units at Cherry Research Farm.

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Putting up the end walls on the new high tunnel

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Slowly but surely, the high tunnel comes together….

In other news, Melissa Bell has been hired as the new Research Specialist and we are happy to have her for a few days each week here at the Small Farm Unit. She worked for the Center for Environmental Farming Systems previously, and so is familiar with some of the people and projects here already.

Research to determine best planting dates for high tunnel vegetables continues, with Kayla Clark, the Horticulture Technician here, working hard to gather data on pepper, cucumber, tomato, and leafy greens production.

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Fall high tunnel planting calendar research begins.

We’ve been busy getting the Fall field planted and weeded, and have also been keeping up with our variety trials, which mostly means doing a lot of pest and disease monitoring, weeding, and keeping data on germination rates. Fortunately, the deer and ground hogs have been cooperative so far and have left the trial field alone.

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Broccoli variety trial conducted to determine what varieties are best for Eastern North Carolina farmers.

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Fall field production is underway.

We’ve got just a month and a half left of the apprenticeship.  Time here has flown by. As the end draws near, we apprentices have our sights focused on finding work that will allow us to apply some of our new skills, insights and aspirations. Between the work on the farm, and the new task of finding a job, the days are passing even more quickly around here!

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The Fruits of Our Labor

The month of August on the small farm unit brought a bounty of tomatoes, peppers, okra and flour corn. As mentioned in previous posts, the majority of this produce is donated to local soup kitchens, food pantries, and free CSA members. Some however is utilized by the staff and members of the community during cooking demonstrations and garden workdays.

Throughout the summer I worked with children at the WA Foster Community Center on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. Most workdays had the kids outside working up an appetite so we often ended with a snack or meal that incorporated the garden or farm vegetables. This month we brought some of our garden produce to the farmers market and made enough money to purchase frozen pizza dough and cheese.

 

WA Foster Gardeners at the Goldsboro Farmers Market.

WA Foster Gardeners at the Goldsboro Farmers Market.

 We then used the extra peppers and tomatoes from the garden as toppings on our homemade pizzas to celebrate and reward ourselves for a summer of hard work.

Homemade Pizzas

Homemade Pizzas at WA Foster.

Kids enjoying their homegrown veggies.

Kids enjoying their homegrown veggies.

We apprentices also take advantage of the excess vegetables. In fact, this week Myeasha and I took down some of our flour corn from its drying line and ground it to a corn meal powder.

Myeasha removing the kernels from the cob.

Myeasha removing the kernels from the cob.

Me grinding the kernels into a powder.

Me grinding the kernels into a powder.

We then used the corn meal, combined with onions and peppers, to make hushpuppies and fried green tomatoes. We think we did a pretty good job for a couple of northerners.

Hush puppies made from homegrown corn.

Hush puppies made from homegrown corn.

Finally, this week marks the official housewarming of our newly completed worm-bin. We have primarily been feeding the worms a combination of culled tomatoes, peppers and shredded newspaper.

Newly completed worm compost bin.

Newly completed worm compost bin.

Worm's first meal in their new home.

Worm’s first meal in their new home.

Check back soon for our next post!