Sunday, March 29, 2009

Opening Day at Sharing the Harvest and Local Resources

Pinkletinks or Spring Peepers are calling and the beginning of the baseball season is right around the corner, but the opening day that I'm referring to is the start of the volunteer season at Sharing the Harvest, our local community farm at the Dartmouth YMCA. Volunteer drop in hours begin this coming week and will continue throughout the fall; hours are: Wednesdays 9-11AM, Thursdays 3-5PM, and Saturdays 9-11AM. For more information contact Donna Edberg at 508-993-3361 x13. Dan King has recently taken the reins as the new farmer and will be joining Donna in stewarding Sharing the Harvest for the 2009 season.

Sharing the Harvest is now in its 4th season of utilizing the volunteer work of hundreds of community members to produce high quality fresh produce for hunger relief efforts on the Southcoast. No previous farming or gardening experience is necessary. Volunteer, sink your hands in the soil and help your neighbors in need. All of the food grown at Sharing the Harvest is donated to the local community, through a partnership with the Hunger Commission of Southeastern Massachusetts (a project of the United Way of Greater New Bedford).

Helping out at Sharing the Harvest is a great way to pick up new gardening skills; other avenues for the beginner or experienced gardener to continue their education abound. In addition to the free workshops presented by Brix Bounty Farm - Roots Down New Bedford and Know Your Vegetables and the resource sheets on our blog, folks can check out Laura McLean's weekly article "From the Ground Up" in the Standard-Times. This season, Laura will be presenting the "fundamentals of having your own vegetable plot, from planning through harvest" every other week in her local column. Still looking for more opportunities to learn? Avant Gardens in Dartmouth has a series of workshops focusing on everything from pruning, dry stonewalls, to The Cook's Garden.

Spring has arrived, opening day is near, providing a wonderful time to get in touch with our soils.

Monday, March 23, 2009

RJD Lectures on Channel 17 - New Bedford

New Bedford Cable Access is currently airing a series of 3 Spring Gardening Lectures that I presented at the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum during the month of March.
Topics covered included: soil testing, seed selection, crop rotation, succession planting, and an introduction to nutrient dense food production.

Missed the lectures or don't have cable television? Then join us at one of the upcoming Roots Down - New Bedford workshop series. We'll be co-hosting neighborhood workshops in collaboration with community organizations throughout the Spring. The schedule is still being finalized, but a current schedule of workshops is now available and will be updated in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Event: Improving Regional Food Security - Sustainability Exchange

Wednesday March 25th 9AM-1PM at Woodland Commons, UMass Dartmouth.

Join in the series of regional sustainability exchanges presented by SRPEDD and UMass Dartmouth's Office of Campus and Community Sustainabilty. This month's exchange will focus on "strategies for improving regional food security and how to support a sustainable local food system."

For more information download the flyer or contact Louise Hardiman at SRPEDD, 508-824-1367.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Know Your Vegetables - Seed Starting: 6:30 PM, Monday March 16th at Brix Bounty Farm

Interested in getting a head start on the growing season by using transplants? Want to learn tips and techniques for healthy seedling production? Join us next Monday at our March installment of Know Your Vegetables focusing on Starting Your Own Seedlings: Greenhouses, Cold Frames, Potting Soils, Sowing and Germination Techniques. At Brix Bounty Farm we use a low-tech combination of heating mats, unheated greenhouses and cold frames to produce transplants. Compared to past production seasons, our scale is rather modest; while in New York, I oversaw a larger greenhouse operation that included the production of 3000 flats/year. For the home gardener who wants to ensure their starts are grown in organic methods to professional growers looking to increase efficiency in their gh systems we'll host a conversation that can help 2009 be a more productive season.

Note: During the months of March, April, and May we will be available from 6:00-6:30 right before Know Your Vegetables to answer questions about soil testing. We can review testing techniques, different soil testing labs, and help you to understand what information your soil test report includes. Come with specific questions or general interest.

Know Your Vegetables is a free monthly conversation series hosted by Brix Bounty Farm focusing on small-scale vegetable production. Conversations are usually held the third Monday of every month. We invite farmers, gardeners, and anyone interested in learning more about growing healthy food to join us.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Local Food and Health

We at Brix Bounty are continuing our effort to bridge the connection between healthy soils, diet, and health. To this end, I've put together a Health and Nutrition Book List, focusing on material that I've found enlightening since I've started farming. Personal and environmental health are two of the foremost areas of consideration when we make decisions here on the farm; our work aims to build soil health and vitality that is capable of producing healthy crops. This work focuses on the chemical, biological, and physical components of the soils.

Regarding soil biology, I've recently been learning more about the role of mycorrhizal fungi the soil. Mycorrhizal fungi have an association with many of our vegetable crops that help the roots access more nutrients in the soils. This season we are including mycorrhizal inoculants as part of our fertility plan. I just started reading Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World by Paul Stamets. Too early to give it a full recommendation, but it definitely presents some intriguing possibilities; especially around the area of mycoremediation of contaminated soils.

Healthy soils are the foundation for productive farms and gardens; and productive farms and gardens can build a foundation for community health. Looking ahead to the summer, it's not too late to sign up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) share for the 2009 season. Local options include: Forbidden Fruit Farm and Silverbrook Farm in Dartmouth, Kettle Pond Farm in Berkeley, and Lucky Fields Organics in Rochester.