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,


Popular Posts