Friday, July 15, 2016

Still Growing

Another sunny week in the garden for us. After a hot Fourth of July, we were able to get to work again and finish up some projects, harvest our food, and share it with friends!

This past Wednesday was a huge Salad Day for us at the permaculture site. We were lucky enough to have veterans, students, staff, faculty, and other special guests join us for lunch. We had a big salad starring our newest crop ready to harvest, beets, as well as fresh and homemade bread, scape pesto, butter featuring garnishes from the garden, and homemade salad dressing - check out this article to learn more about some of our wonderful collaborations down at the garden!

This week was also our first week donating food to the Intervale. The Intervale, located on 180 Intervale Rd off Riverside, is a food hub focused on community food systems. The Intervale provides land for farms and restaurants to grow their own food, and also acts as a central point to distribute CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) out to the greater Burlington Area. We participate in their gleaning program - gleaning refers to the act of gathering food leftover after harvest. The Intervale collects any food that does not sell in market, or that is still edible but may not look market-ready, and gathers it to distribute to families who may not be able to afford a CSA. In this way, the Intervale provides fresh produce to families and fosters the skills of cooking and preparing your own food, which also allows for more autonomy for families in lower economic standings. This goal aligns with our mission here at St. Mike's, so we have been happily partnered with the Intervale for years. Our first donation this season was 66 pounds of food, which will help feed the 150 families participating in the gleaning CSA.

Back at the garden, the food keeps growing. We trellised the cucumbers in the hoop house today, winding them up the twine as far as they could reach. By harvesting the cucumbers as soon as they are ready, and continuing to wind the vine up the twine, we will push the plant to grow up instead of out, meaning that by the end of the season we will have a forest of cucumbers in the hoop house. Unfortunately, we also had to replace a couple of cucumber plants in the hoop house because they were eaten by woodchucks! The woodchucks have claimed the field as well, so our solution was to build a wall. We erected an electric fence around the perimeter of the plots in remembrance of the sunflowers lost last night, and in hopes that the woodchucks would get the message.

As always, the Permaculture Site is open to everyone Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday 8:00-3:00. Please come down whenever you are free to help out or to just enjoy the space! On Wednesdays 12:30-1:00, we will be having salad days. Salad from the garden, fresh bread, and homemade butter, bring your own bowl! In addition, there will be a self-serve farmstand in the Center for Women and Gender 9:00-4:00 most days. We will be having our big Farmstand every Thursday 11:00-1:00 outside Alliot, please stop bye and say hello! 
- Erin

 (Not our picture, but looks like our woodchuck)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Mowed Grass and a Picnic Table

Hello again! This week the Permaculture Site got a huge makeover. We were able to mow the field and area around the veggie production site. The tall grass if gone, the clover is under control, and the sun kept shining between all the strange rainstorms this week. The picture to the left is the view from the picnic tables underneath the oak tree. Nothing better.

Jess and I kept chugging away at little projects. We mulched more of the pollinator garden above the raised bed area, and picked up some more flowers to be planted there soon. One of our favorite flowers is the cup plant, or Siliphium perfoliatum. This flower is named as such because the leaf folds inwards to connect to the main stem, forming a small cup. These cups can fill with rain water, which become micro watering holes for bees and other pollinators.

We planted beans of all different varieties, including black, provider, gold rush, and royal burgundy - we saw the first bean sprouts in the black beans in the raised bed this morning! Black beans are a little different from the other beans listed above, which are just the classic string beans. Black beans are dry beans, and this is the first time we have grown them at SMC. The plant will grow fast, and the beans will remain on the plant to dry in the late summer/fall. When it is time to harvest, we will have a little harvest party because there are a couple extra steps to take before we are able to sell them.

We also had another incredible Salad Day on Wednesday, so thank you for all who came down to share some lunch with us! To the right you can see a picture of the salad Jess made for the HR department right here at St. Mike's. The first couple beets we harvested last week really brought some wonderful color.

As some of you may have seen at Farmstand, we have harvested a lot of garlic scapes. Garlic scapes can be put in stir fries, on top of pizza, or can be used as the main ingredient in garlic scape pesto. Check out some recipes for scapes, and stop by the next Farmstand to get some!

As always, the Permaculture Site is open to everyone Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday 8:00-3:00. Please come down whenever you are free to help out or to just enjoy the space! On Wednesdays 12:30-1:00, we will be having salad days. Salad from the garden, fresh bread, and homemade butter, bring your own bowl! In addition, there will be a self-serve farmstand in the Center for Women and Gender 9:00-4:00 most days. We will be having our big Farmstand every Thursday 11:00-1:00 outside Alliot, please stop bye and say hello! 

See you soon,

Friday, June 24, 2016

Dreaming in Garden

As we were watering this morning, Kristyn, Jess, and I talked about how we had all been dreaming about the garden this week. Kristyn remarked that when you understood a language really well, you dream in that language - so, it was only a matter of time before we were all dreaming in 'garden,' our own language of the inner workings of the permaculture site. This week has been a big week for the garden, and we were so happy to share our language with some welcomed visitors!

We have been setting up a drip-tape irrigation system down at the garden, and that is going to be a huge help for me and Jess as the summer gets hotter and drier. Drip tape irrigation is a system that pumps water from one of our spigots down at the garden and sends it through a series of tubes which get smaller and smaller as they approach the crops. In each bed, we will lay down thin tubes, or drip tape, which comes pre-perforated so the water can leak out into the roots of all the plants. This is a really wonderful system, and we are excited to have it completed soon! 

On Tuesday we had a stupendous group of MOVE volunteers come down to the garden for the last week of volunteering with the Accelerated Summer College program. We put drip tape into the beds of the hoop house, and covered three beds with landscape fabric. Then, we cut holes along the length of the fabric to plant some cucumbers and tomatoes - having this fabric down means that we can better control weeds. Take a look at our volunteers to the right -->

Jess and I had a really rainy harvest morning on Wednesday - good for the plants, a little chilly for the humans. But, the garden provided more than enough food to have a wonderful Salad Day that afternoon! We had around 20 people down at the permaculture site for Salad Day. Fresh salad harvested that morning, local bread, homemade butter, and a suddenly sunny day made for a wonderful time with some friends new and old. Please, join us for Salad Days every Wednesday at 12:30! Bring your own bowl and we will provide the lunch. This week we welcomed some veterans to Salad Day. The veterans have a plot of veggies and a couple raised beds in the permaculture site; below, Kristyn is sharing a kohlrabi with them. 

Another exciting new development in the garden: the orchard! This week we had a huge delivery of fruit trees and berry bushes, which will soon be planted on the northern incline of the permaculture site (the area to the left of the road as you walk down). The purpose of this orchard is to provide fruit in the coming years and also filter the water that drains down to the lower vegetable production area, a permaculture principle in action. 

A little nugget of wisdom: 
"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." 
- Lao Tzu

This has been true for the past couple of weeks at the garden - a lot of projects to get done, and we are tackling them all in due time. Please come visit us soon. We have open garden hours every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday 8:00-3:00, and we are always looking for more volunteers!

Wishing good vibes and good dreams about the garden, 


Monday, June 20, 2016

A Bountiful Beginning

Welcome to the 2016 growing season! 
We are this year's garden crew holding our new favorite vegetable, the kohlrabi:

Top: Jess Reid, '17
Bottom: Erin Buckley, '17

This summer, the garden crew is lucky enough to be gardening in the new Permaculture Site at Saint Michael's College. The Permaculture Site is located off of Route 15 across from the main entrance to the school, between the Robert E. Sutton Fire and Rescue Station and the Pomerleau Alumni Center. This location was actually the old Edmundite Hunger Garden, farmed by Rev. Stankiewicz in the 1980s. Rev. Stankiewicz used this site to grow veggies to feed members of the SMC campus and also families from the greater Burlington area in need of fresh, healthy food. In accordance with the traditions of service and sustainability at Saint Mike's, and as a continuation of Rev. Stankiewicz's work, we have also set out to feed our community.

Thanks to countless volunteers, our fearless leaders Heather Ellis-Lynch (Sustainability Coordinator - Assoc. Director of Facilities) and Kristyn Achilich (Academic Coordinator for the Garden Program), and some really wonderful soil, the maiden voyage of the Permaculture Site is under way. Here is what we have got in store:

Veggie Production: 
We have begun farming in both our field and hoop house areas. Our field is broken into 12 field blocks, which are roughly 30' by 30' squares with 7 beds in each. We have an entire block of garlic as well as beds full of kale, swiss chard, kohlrabi, radishes, scallions, and lettuce that we have already begun to harvest. Last Tuesday we covered our potato plants with straw with some MOVE volunteers - the straw will help maintain soil moisture and add space for the plant to grow in.

We recently planted a block of tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers outside as well. For our tomatoes we did some basket weaving trellising, and the picture below shows Jess' great work. The twine weaves in front of and behind of the plants down the line, with the main growing stem snuggly in the middle. As the plants grow, we will add more twine, supporting the tomato as it reaches up.

Hoop House: 
In our new hoop house we have planted three beds worth of sweet potatoes. These plants are a little different from the potatoes we planted in the field, which sound similar but are actually in an entirely different family. We planted what are called sweet potato slips, which are the vine-looking sprouts that came from sweet potatoes from last year's harvest. These slips go directly into the ground, and have been growing slowly but surely in the warm soil of the hoop house. The hoop house generally runs above 100 degrees F during these sunny days, which is perfect for the heat-loving sweet potato. Also in the hoop house are our propagation tables, which hold all of our seedlings! To the right is a picture of all our cucurbits - cucumbers, melons, squash, etc. The new plants really thrive in the consistently warm air of the hoop house.

Raised Bed and Pollinator Garden: 
The raised bed area currently holds some herbs transplanted from the original organic garden. We put in sage, oregano, and thyme, as well as some beautiful cosmos. Jess remarked, as we planted the thyme, that our conversation had taken a more metaphysical turn: the question of how much more thyme we had left made us both pretty contemplative!

The pollinator garden is still a work in progress, but a lovely one. The plan for the pollinator garden was the outcome of Karla Clithero's (Class of 2016) Academic Internship with Heather Lynch this past year. She incorporated native plants into three different pollinator gardens to be planted around the permaculture site. The one we are working on now is located above the raised beds, and once planted will become a haven for pollinators that are a key part of our ecosystem. Thanks to Prof. David Heroux of the chemistry department, we are prepping the ground to be planted in the next couple of weeks.

That's all for now!
We are so excited to share the Permaculture Site and to learn about our local food system alongside each other. The Permaculture Site is open to everyone Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday 8:00-3:00. Please come down whenever you are free to help out or to just enjoy the space! On Wednesdays 12:30-1:00, we will be having salad days. Salad from the garden, fresh bread, and homemade butter, bring your own bowl! In addition, there will be a self-serve farmstand in the Center for Women and Gender 9:00-4:00 most days. We will be having our big Farmstand every Thursday 11:00-1:00 outside Alliot, please stop bye and say hello (you may even get to taste a kohlrabi or two).

Thanks for everything! Best wishes and happy gardening,

Thursday, August 20, 2015

August: The Month of Abundance

August: the month of abundance as summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes, and beans start coming on strong and all of our other veggies continue to produce as well. And we've planted our fall cool-weather crops like another round of spinach!

It can be overwhelming at times and I know that my fridge is overflowing with fresh food waiting to be either eaten up or preserved for the coming cooler months. VPR's program Vermont Edition recently had a conversation about what to do with all your excess produce which can be found at this link: Summer Cooking. The Intervale Community Farm is also a great resource for new recipes and ideas. Here is a link to that page on their website. Intervale Recipes.

Another great newly found resource is a cookbook put out by a local Vermont publishing company called Cooking Close to Home. The recipes in this book are not only catered to Vermont's seasonal foods but also look absolutely delicious.

At a recent farm stand, we experimented with some nontraditional baking and made a chocolate beet cake! Feedback from most people was that chocolate cake was now their favorite way to get a serving of veggies. That recipe can be found here: Chocolate Beet Cake.

As the season continues, we'll soon be expecting our first winter squash! But just by looking at the garden you'd think that frost will never come. The zinnias, sunflowers, and various vegetable and herb blossoms are adding tons of colors and places for pollinators to feast! Visitors as always are welcome during working hours (8am to 3pm most days weather depending). Also, we are always happy to hear about your favorite way to use produce. Feel free to share recipes in the comments section or when you come see us at farm stand!

Enjoy the fruits of our seasonal labor and soak up these late days of summer!

Monday, August 10, 2015

So Much Chard

Hey garden folks!
Here’s what we’ve been up to this past week!

This morning, we harvested and donated five buckets of chard to Alliot! We are starting to plant seeds for  our fall harvest, and we needed the extra bed space. Our alliot kitchen staff  is excited to incorporate our garden vegies into our meals this afternoon. With summer coming to a close, we recommend that gardeners start thinking about changes they should make to their gardens. For example, we plan on putting in one more round of lettuce, spinach, snap peas, beets, and beans. These crops enjoy cooler conditions and should be ready for harvest before the next frost. Other changes that we have made in preparation for the fall have been pruning watermelon flowers. These flowers are draining energy that could be better used by the melons we already have. Letting them bloom would be counter intuitive, and the smaller melons would not have time to develop before the frost.

Recently, we also had our third and final garden day! This time around, the kids got to enjoy the presence of some garden wildlife! The day featured snails, butterflies, and of course, toads. We had a few intense toad races, where Rebel the “frog” performed exceedingly well. Following this, we ate some sorrel and experimented with red maple seed pods. A great day! 

As always, we had a wonderful farm stand on Wednesday. Feel free to come join next week! We will be around from 11:30 to 1:30, and it will be Jess and Jack’s last. Well, that’s all for now.
Garden Crew. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Welcome August

As August rolls in, we're getting new crops in the garden as well as replanting for fall harvests of cool weather crops. Below are pictures of our zinnias and the first of our tomatoes to ripen this season. Both the zinnias and tomatoes should be exploding within the next couple of weeks so come check out our farm stand Wednesdays from 11:30 to 1:30 in front of the Chapel.
gorgeous garden zinnia almost fully bloomed

Pink Bumblebee variety tomatoes

Our farm stands are a great opportunity for members of the campus community to come and meet the garden crew, ask questions about produce and cooking ideas, or get advice on whatever is disrupting your own garden. We also love hearing from others new ways to use the vegetables and herbs we produce or how much they've been enjoyed. If you would like a large quantity of a specific item, you can email Heather Ellis Lynch to make sure that we have enough of what you'd like. Next week we should be adding tomatoes, summer squash, watermelon, eggplant, and beans to our list of delicious produce!