Barb


The 24th annual Corn Boil was fantastic! Thank you to all who came out to harvest corn, eat raw corn in the fields and enjoy a beautiful Wisconsin day on the farm. The pot luck dishes were amazing! I had lots of comments about the delicious and creative dishes. One person told me this was the healthiest pot luck she has been to! The Vermont Valley farm Community is the best!

Harvesting and eating corn in the field.

Yum! Raw corn!

Abby, our amazing full time employee, spent her time at the Corn Boil boiling up the corn for everyone. Thanks Abby.

And then there was the incredible pot luck. No one left hungry.

This week brought a bounty of broccoli, the first green peppers and enough tomatoes to do the first tomato bagging. This only means more tomatoes to come.

Harvesting green peppers. The mornings have been very humid and hazy. Quite beautiful in our valley.

Bagging tomatoes. A very fun activity, our own tomato assembly line.

Broccoli galore. When we bring the broccoli in from the fields it is submerged in tubs of ice cold water to cool it down quickly and then counted into crates. Yun and Jon have counted much broccoli. Thanks guys.

Every morning at 6:30 a crew of about 10 people heads into the fields to begin harvest. We harvest vegetables 4 days a week and spend one day packing the boxes and delivering them to you. We try to spend the afternoons in the packing shed, out of the hot sun, washing and bagging. In between harvest we squeeze in weeding, greenhouse work, planting, trellising and much more. It’s a balancing act dictated by the Thursday deadline and the weather. We don’t leave the packing shed on Wednesday until it’s all done. We work well together and enjoy what we do. Enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of our labor!

Misty morning zucchini harvest. Many of our mornings are very foggy in our valley. Foreground: Abby and Jesse

Cutting the tops off the newly harvested fresh onions. Jon and Matt are Monday morning worker shares. Jesse and Abby are always here.

Washing those onions in the packing shed at the brush washer. Neing, Phalla, Abby, Yun, Ryna.

Swiss Chard harvest on a beautiful morning.

The season is indeed starting out with bounty. Much thanks to all of the rain and hot weather; plants do respond positively to both of these things. Everything looks great in the fields. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons and all of the summer crops are flourishing. Although we did have a dry period last week and needed to irrigate. Crazy how that works, so much rain then none, the plants need consistent water.

Green beans were one of the bounty crops this week. They are as beautiful as can be. We harvest green beans with a mechanical harvester, then bring them into the packing shed and run them over a bean cleaning machine. Many people stand in front of a conveyor to take out any debris (stems, leaves) that may have come in with the beans.  This cleaning process takes about 3 hours. The mechanical harvesting takes about 2 hours. This process allows everyone to work standing up and eliminates crouching over bean plants for an entire day.

We acquired this bean machines about 15 years ago, bought it from a farm near Green Bay. It was winter and I took our old Jeep pickup truck and trailer to get the machine. I had stayed in a hotel the night before and woke to a blizzard, loads of snow had fallen during the night and was still falling heavily. I headed to the farm on a completely snow covered country road. The farmer successfully loaded me up, strapped down the machine and off I went. The interstate was no better.

Now this old pickup truck was a piece of work. The gas gauge didn’t work, the head lights were mediocre at best. I kept track of mileage to estimate when to fill up, but pulling a trailer with a heavy piece of equipment of course uses more gas. The snow covered interstate was as horrible as conditions get (blowing snow, semi trucks, low visibility). I knew I was getting close to needing gas so exited on Hwy 151 and ran out on the off ramp. Was able to coast to the side of the road. Now these were the days before cell phones. I ran up to a car on the off ramp and hitched a ride to a gas station; a mom, two girls and a fresh box of pizza.  I filled a container with gas and started to walk the mile or so back to my truck, not seeing anyone at the gas station I felt comfortable asking for a ride. As I walked in blinding snow and below zero wind chill back to the truck, a man and his son pulled over and gave me a ride. I did what I needed to do and got home pretty late and in the total dark. When I asked David if he was worried, he said ‘No, should I have been?’ I guess not.

Barb

David drives the tractor and skillfully operates the harvest machine while Jesse monitors the beans dropping from the chute. The machine harvests the entire plant. All of the plant matter gets blown out of a chute (between the tractor and the stack of crates) and the beans drop through another chute.

 

Many hands picking through the beans to eliminate leaves, stem and such. The machine sits in the packing shed addition where we get nice air flow and sunlight under the shade of a roof.

Many hands picking through the beans to eliminate leaves, stem and such. The machine sits in the packing shed addition where we get nice air flow and sunlight under the shade of a roof.

 

 

We, and the plants, all made it through this record breaking May heat wave! We worked outside Monday and Tuesday, sweating like crazy and drinking lots of water. The end of May is the busiest time on the farm so no matter that the temperatures are soaring into the 90’s, there is tons of work to do. We harvested outside and in the hoophouses. We transplanted zucchini, sweet corn, melons and David spent a lot of time on the tractor planting many seeds. We wished we could have spent more time in the packing shed, but this week’s work kept us outside for most of the days. Wednesday was a gift, with cooler temps and rain! We worked outside until the rains came and then harvested in the hoophouse. We knew everything outside was getting well watered. Oh yes, the mosquito population is a bit crazy this year, adding to the fun!

Barb

Monday Morning salad mix harvest.

Followed by spinach harvest. You can almost see the heat hanging in the air.

Tuesday afternoon we headed into the rhubarb jungle.

Wednesday morning was spend in the hoophouse in the fennel jungle. Notice Sophon is wearing mosquito netting. It is pouring rain outside and we are happy inside, although I think all of the mosquitoes decided to get out of the rain, too.

Ryna planting tomatoes in the hoophouse. After a crop is harvested we replace it with tomatoes. Lettuce heads were in this spot on Monday.

Spring is such a beautiful and magical time on the farm. Different hues of green everywhere are soft and varied and brilliant. Rains come hard and the wetland turns into a pond, only to recede the next day. Sandhill cranes are vying for nesting territory. Fog rolls through the valley in the early mornings, muting the colors and bringing with it a mystique. Dew hangs so heavily on the tall grass that you feel as if you are swimming when walking into the fields. Planted crops are thriving, despite all of the crazy weather.

Through it all we work hard. Bodies ache and grow weary. But then we look up at the beauty all around us and are reminded how lucky we are to work in such a magical place. At times we work silently and at other times we chatter and laugh. The days pass and we accomplish much.

Enjoy the spring magic in your box this week!

~Barb

Rhubarb harvest Tuesday morning. If you have never used a rhubarb leaf as a hat, give it a try. It cools your head an looks quite fashionable!

Heavy rains caused our wetland to turn into a pond. Our stream is that straight line of water in the middle. The spring vegetables are planted in far the field. The following day the waters receded and the vegetable fields are in great condition!

Last Friday we were working in the hoophouse during a downpour. The water decided to come under the edge and start flowing like a river. David is doing some water re-directing. All is well with the plants!

Harvesting salad mix Monday morning. Heavy fog and mist outside.

I stepped out through the open side wall of the hoophouse to capture this picture of our leeks, onions and garlic in the mist. They are enjoying the spring and growing well.

The sun sets on the stream behind our big field.

Yea, spring finally came, and along with it the needed warmth for vegetables to grow. We’ve had a lot of fun harvesting greens from the hoophouses. This year we are growing more than twice as much food in those hoophouses and needed to be creative about how to squeeze it all in. We decided to make the paths between the beds of greens a bit narrower. Weeding and harvesting and maneuvering in a 12 inch row is not the easiest thing to do, and all without stepping on the crop that’s flowing into the row. For the past three days, with sore backs and lots of laughs, we harvested our way through beds and beds of greens. The sunshine makes the houses warm and when it’s raining outside somehow the rain manages to leak in, creating a slick muddy walkway. A balancing act all around.

Welcome to the Spring Season!

Barb

Sauté Mix harvest in those 12 inch rows! Note how we need to balance the crates on a bucket since there is not enough room in the row to place the crate. Casey and Yun harvesting arugula. Sophon, Ryna and Neing harvesting different beds of kale and mustard greens.

Ryna, Yun, Casey harvesting spinach. We pinch off one leaf at a time. This way we can leave the smaller leaves on the plant to grow bigger for next week.

The hoophouse a couple of weeks ago. The red lettuce in the foreground is what was delivered this week. It even looked like this when there were piles of snow outside. A lovely place to be.

Wednesday night after all of the employees had gone home Eric, Barb, Jonnah, Jesse and David (all with the last name Perkins) rallied for another hour to get every little bit done. We were all on our 11th hour, ready to be done yet still having fun! Balancing a phone on a sawhorse was the only way to capture the moment. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to grow your food.

The thermometer reads 70 degrees Tuesday and there are still a few piles of snow strategically distributed around the farm, lest we forget we had a blizzard only a few days ago.

The crew is planting onions this week; the onions that were diligently cared for as they patiently waited to be planted. For the past 2 weeks, on each day that was above freezing, we would carry them into an unheated plastic structure to get hardened off (toughened up) and then carry them back into the heated greenhouse each night. This went on until last Friday when we decided they could stay out all night, along with their friends spinach, lettuce, dandelion greens, sauté mix and scallions: 36,800 cells total. That night the temperature dropped lower than expected. At 10 pm it was 32 degrees and I knew I wouldn’t sleep until we somehow protected those plants. David and I decided to double row cover them and put a space heater below the draped row cover. It looked so cozy when we were finished I thought I could just crawl under and fall asleep. I resisted and slept well in my own bed, knowing the plants were going to make it through the low evening temperatures. They did.

The other vegetables that made it through less than ideal conditions were the lettuce heads and spinach transplants which were planted into the field just days before the first snow fall. We studied the weather predictions and figured they would be protected under a blanket of snow until it melted. We also knew if we didn’t plant them before the snow came, it would be way too many days before we could get them out into the fields. We weren’t too crazy about the ice that accumulated prior to the snow storm, but plants are tough. The snow from the first storm hadn’t even melted off before the next storm hit. Now they were really covered, and hopefully as cozy as a lettuce plant under a blanket of snow can be. The snow has melted and the plants look fine! They didn’t do too much growing under the snow, but now they can get serious about that. Happy Spring!

Barb

Planting onions on Tuesday, that gorgeous 70 degree day. Sophon and Ryna in foreground.

Walking down to the greenhouse on April 19. Yes, the greenhouse is bursting with life inside.

Here we are inside the greenhouse. Quite a contrast from the snowy day outside.

All of the plants that were moved into an unheated structure to ‘harden off’ or get tough and strong before being transplanted into the field.

At 11pm last Friday night David and I were out in that hardening off area double row covering the plants and placing a space heater beneath the covered plants. The temperatures were dipping more quickly than expected.

The survivors. Here are the lettuce and spinach plants that weathered 2 snow storms! We knew they could do it!

Here comes the garlic! Planted last October. So much to look forward to!

Spring Season plants growing happily in the hoophouse. If you haven’t signed up for the Spring Season yet, you still have time.

Next Page »