Thursday, May 29, 2008

Farm Girls

According to Marcia Ruth Ostom in her article "Community Supported Agriculture as an Agent of Change: Is it Working", included in Remaking the North American Food System: Strategies for Sustainability (2008), "Women farmers and apprentices [on CSA farms] appeared to have the same tasks and decision-making roles as their male counterparts...Indeed, CSA farmers are breaking down and reconstructing conventionally held notions of farmer and family," (pp. 104-105).

I am very excited to have the opportunity to learn from a female farmer and to be surrounded by other women who are interested in agriculture at Colchester. Today Theresa taught Carey and me to drive the tractor. It was my first time operating any of the heavy machinery.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The First Shares of the Season

Today was the first harvest day for CSA shares. Colchester offers small (5 units), medium (8 units), and large (14 units) shares. Today we harvested spring lettuce mix, spinach, arugula, radishes, turnips, garlic scapes, sugar snap peas, head lettuce and fresh flowers. Complimentary herbs are also included in the shares.

Colchester delivers shares to Chestertown on Tuesday and has on the farm pickup on Fridays.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Community Supported Agriculture in Action

One neat thing about working with a CSA project is that the community is involved. Pictured are the children of one of our CSA members. Every Friday during the growing season they come to help us harvest for the share pickup and for the farmers' market. Here they are helping to plant leeks. Colchester works to make sure the farm is accessible to everyone by offering Working Shares and Neighborhood Representatives.

Working Shares and Neighborhood Representatives. If you have time, come and help harvest on Tuesdays or Fridays in exchange for free vegetables. We coordinate with you to set a schedule for the season. Also, some members are neighborhood representatives. This involves recruiting a minimum of ten members in your neighborhood and picking up and distributing your group's share of produce each week. In exchange you get free vegetables. (

Colchester is committed to making the community part of the farming experience and wants to ensure that everyone who is interested has the opportunity to participate.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Fowl Updates...

Well the baby chickens are growing up. This week they got their first taste of the sunshine. These chicks will reach maturity in about eight weeks.

We had a new arrival in the mail this week this week. Now, in addition to the little chickens, we have baby turkeys. They are about two weeks younger than the chickens and are still being kept indoors under a heat lamp.

Rather than raising the Broad Breasted White, the turkey found in the grocery store, these heritage breed turkeys ( are called Bourbon Reds. The American Livestock Breed Conservancy ( provides information about threatened heritage poultry and livestock in order to promote the genetic diversity of agricultural animals. By raising heritage breed birds it is possible to ensure the future of these animals which is being threatened by the industrial scale production of the Broad Breasted White.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Let's Make Dirt!

The PA Women's Agriculture Network hosted a conference at The Rodale Institute called Women Mentoring Women: Sustaining Pennsylvania's Female Farmers. Theresa and I attended, and it was a really neat day. We got to tour the Institute and see some of the experiments going on there. The Rodale Institute ( is researching methods of organic production in a twenty year Farming Systems Trial compairing organic and conventional methods of production.

The Rodale Institute has been influential in promoting active composting. Composting is the decaying process whereby organic materials are transposed into a rich humus soil by microbes and insects. Compost can be used to help revitalize soil that has been overfarmed. As part of the lecture series, we reviewed the basics of composting and received Earth Builders, backyard composters. Of course we won't be making 200 ft rows of compost, but we have to start somewhere. We also got to see the Rodale Institute's compost turner in action.

A composting tip - if you are wondering if your compost is finished, try the ziploc test. Put a shovelful of compost in a ziploc bag and leave it for 24 hours. When you come back, if it smells like earth, your compost is finished. If it smells bad or like sulphur, back to the pile!

Veggies...What are they good for?

Garlic Scapes
Garlic scapes are the young unfurled seedpods that form on the hard neck garlic plants.

Garlic Scape Pesto
½ lb scapes (chopped into 1” sections)
1 cup olive oil
2 cups grated parmesan cheese

In a blender, combine the scapes and olive oil. Pour mixture into bowl and blend the cheese in by hand.

Garlic Scape Soup with Thyme
1 ½ cups garlic scapes (cut into 2” pieces)
1 medium onion
1 ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 ½ cups chicken or vegetable stock
½ cup cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the scapes and onion in olive oil over medium heat until vegetables are soft. Add the Thyme at the end. In the food processor, puree the vegetables and add chicken/vegetable stock as needed to make a smooth paste. In saucepan, heat the vegetable mixture and add the remaining chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and add cream. Season to taste. (Serves 2)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Radishes and Turnips and Herbs, Oh My!

Today was my first day behind the booth at the farmers' market in historic Chestertown, MD. It was a success! We sold out of lettuce mix and spinach. In addition to the lettuce and spinach, we also offered radishes, turnips and some herbs.

A wide variety of goods are for sale at the market. Some vendors offer crafts or value added goods like cakes and candles. In addition, there are live plants and cut flowers for sale.

One of my favorite parts of attending farmers' markets is being able to ask the farmers questions about what they are growing. I was so excited for the market today, I could hardly sleep last night. Today I got to be the farmer!

One of my reasons for applying to this internship program was to promote connections between growers and consumers. Today, I got to experience first hand the role reversal that comes from moving from being the consumer to the producer. My first customer graciously agreed to let me document the experience. Yeah! I sold lettuce. If all goes well, I should be manning the booth on Saturday mornings throughout the season.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Good morning ladies!

Every morning when I get into work I walk by the chicken coop on the way to putting my lunch in the fridge. I am greeted by the excited sqwacking of many chickens. They know what time it is. Time to eat!
I always call out to them, "Good morning ladies," but today I fed them for the first time. Perhaps, if I continue to provide their breakfast, I will develop a chicken following.

In other bird news, an orthonologist was consulted regarding the Bobolinks. It turns out that the farm is part of their migratory pattern, but they do not nest on the Eastern Shore. Due to this Spring's unusual weather pattern, they stayed around a little longer this year. Problem solved. Theresa mowed down the yellow clover today.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Who Let the Duck Out? Quack! Quack!

While we were weeding the onions today, a woman who walks her three dogs on the property pulled up in her truck and said, "I let the duck out of the kitchen, I hope that's okay." Theresa and I exchanged puzzled looks. What duck? She went on to tell us that the duck in the kitchen was quacking and flying up against the windows so she had decided to go ahead and let it out. Apparently, the kitchen door was left open and a wayward duck wandered in.

In other news, we finished weeding the garlic today. Finally!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Weighing the Options

This weekend the farm had an open house so that members of the community could come and see some of the things that are living and growing at the farm. Despite the rain, almost thirty people came out to visit the farm.

One of the highlights for our farm visitors was seeing one of the birds that lives in the yellow sweet clover (Melilotus Officinalis), the Bobolink (Dolichonyx Oryzivorus). According to the Nature Conservancy, the Bobolink are in decline and are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
The yellow sweet clover was planted to retain organic material while the land is in fallow. It is particularly good at helping to break up compacted soil and entices honeybees and other pollinators to the fields making it well suited to act as a cover crop. However, yellow sweet clover can be so successful that it can become an invasive weed if left to seed. The Bobolink nests in praries and grasslands and seems to have taken a liking to our clover field.

Currently under discussion is whether the protection of the Bobolink or the problem of an invasive species will win out in the decision of whether or not to plow the field. I will keep you posted...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Conventional Farming

My CSA program is part of a larger farm. Most of the 340 acres is farmed using conventional agriculture methods (with the use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers). Soybeans and feed corn are grown on the majority of the farm.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


During my internship, I am staying with a host family who are also members of the CSA. They have generously allowed me to live in their guest room for the season. The house is located on a 50 acre tree farm which borders the Sassafras River. I explored their property today. There is tons of wildlife. I saw a bald eagle.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Chicks are Here!

One hundred baby chicks arrived in the mail this morning and I got to play with them. When they get to you, they don't know how to drink yet. You have to force their beaks into the water. They cheep and kick until their beaks touch the water, but then boy do they like it! They leap from your hand. I know they won't stay small and cute, but for now they are adorable.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Gray Day

It was drizzly all day, so we did some transplanting
in the high tunnel.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


We planted green beans, yellow beans, soy beans, and tomatoes today. They are calling for rain and we needed to get the babies in the ground before it is too wet. I cut my hand today. My first farming injury.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Oops! That Was a Carrot?

Today was a weeding day, and I am beat! We hand weeded the garlic and the carrots. The garlic is pretty big, and it is easy to tell what is a weed and what is the plant. With carrots, not so much. Oops! Many baby carrots were sacrificed today.

Monday, May 5, 2008

My First Farm Day!

My first day on the farm! Theresa, the Farm Manager, and I planted head lettuce (as opposed to the baby salad mix which I have been purchasing at the grocery store). Head lettuce can only be grown ealy on because it doesn't withstand heat well.