The Ant

So it’s the end of July. The sun shines high in the sky and everything in my home garden is really beginning to ramp up. The first plants ready for picking were the raspberries, which line one side of our driveway. I remember one day about 2 weeks ago, in which my boyfriend and I marveled at the tiny white berries growing in thick clumps. A few days later, we noticed that the bush bean plants had thin, green strands where only dried flowers were the day before. We watched the daily growth in anticipation, our mouths watering as we talked about our favorite dishes, made fresh from the garden.

In just two short weeks, nearly all the raspberries are picked and we’re still picking daily, the longest and fattest beans for dinner. We didn’t grow enough beans for canning but that it just as well as I haven’t yet bought a new pressure canner. We have enough raspberries to get us thru the rest of the year, though, with the deep freezer in the basement filled with almost 15 pounds of frozen berries.

We’ve been eating steamed beets on our salads, both the beets and greens picked from our beds here at home. The corn is tasseling and just this evening, we picked the first of this season’s red, sunshiny tomatoes. Salad tonight will be perfect.

Out at the quarter acre farm that we are working, things are a bit different. We rented some land from a local farmer this past spring and we’ve growing on a scale that we are not used to. However, needing the experience, we jumped at the chance to grow big. We have over 100 tomato plants thriving, as well as melons, corn, beets and onions.

The pepper plants didn’t do too well as they took longer to adjust to the transplanting… and then some unknown insects ate many of the leaves, further setting them behind my harvest schedule. The curly-leaved kale is doing great but not so for the flat leaved kale. A colleague mentioned that his flat-leaved kale was also falling prey to insects and he blamed flea beetles.

Some other challenges we’ve encountered at the farm is the use of black plastic mulch. It works fantastic at suppressing weeds but it is just as lethal for the new transplants that were pushed beneath after a windy day. Left too long under the mulch, many of them died after baking in the sun.

Another challenge is keeping the grass suppressed between the rows of plants. But a few hours of the gas-powered trimmer and the BCS with sickle bar attachment get the job done.

The final challenge with the farm is finding buyers for the forthcoming produce. Two weeks ago, we picked almost 4 pounds of basil. We washed and bagged them and I brought them to sell at the farmer’s market. I sold 5 bags. But on the plus side—we now have enough pesto made and frozen to get us thru until next year! Obviously this isn’t going to work if I can’t find buyers for my other produce, so I’m looking into marketing ideas and consulting with buyers and a graphic designer for a company logo to help get signage for the market.

Everything is an experience. We continue to work and learn from our mistakes. It tough running a small farm while working full time, while also trying to enjoy time with friends and family. But in the end, I know it will be worth it. As my boyfriend teased the other day while I was in my third hour of pesto blending and the neighbors were outside having an impromptu block party, “Are you happy being the ant rather than the grasshopper?” Yes, I am.

By Scott Rosenberg, recent Graduate of NWTC’s Sustainable Food and Ag Systems program and new owner of Sweet Soil Market Garden, LLC

antANDgrass

Image courtesy of conicartfan.com
Advertisements

Planting Seeds of Love

Taking a break from the ever continuing physical, hectic pace of life, to begin this blog has been quite the effort. You would think slowing down would come easy, and a welcomed change. Taking the proverbial “deep breath” I sit, blank at my laptop…felling beat up from current circumstances. An ankle injury that is taking too long to heal, trying to repair water damage in the master bathroom, and fencing that needs to be repaired on my rural property, are all needing attention.

Kind of a jumbled formulation of thoughts began, and the theme of love began to persist. Why do we plant seeds in our gardens and fields? The first thought would be for an income, of course? For the average Farmer’s Market Gardener or family farm, the cultivation of vegetables and crops provide for our immediate family, which is an expression of love.

But then what about my fellow student gardeners at Bounty Garden of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College? Why do we plant, transplant from our green house, water, weed in a 2.5 acre plot, for an un-paid internship (other students have gone for hire for internships). Once again the thought of love reoccurs. Love for the community to provide quality organic food and educate through our Farmer’s Market Stand, Wednesday downtown Green Bay, WI. It would be much easier to just spray chemicals throughout the growing season. But then consider the ramifications.

Ground water contamination, and water way fishing severely impacted in our Brown County area from agricultural ventures not adhering to sustainable practices. A basic human drive is to pass to future generations, safer working and living conditions. Thus an extension of our love to future generations.

“What goes around, comes around,” and I believe this on a national level. The previous actions may be able to be observed in our local area and can have an immediate gratifying effect, intellectually but not always financially. Expanding on this concept, I type on.

“Out of sight, out of mind” comes into play on a global plane. As Gandhi has been quoted “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” The final thought is… we do what we do in Sustainable Agriculture because, we love our family, we love our community, we love our county, we love world citizens, and we love Mother Earth.

-2016 Bounty Garden Intern and student/master of life Teri Saray

How Bounty Garden Peanuts are Growing!

The first batches of Bounty Garden Peanuts were planted, April 18th 2016, and there already three inches high! We planted in a more sandy soil because we heard and did some research on planting peanuts and that’s what it says they like. We planted these peanuts about two peanuts lengths down. Another flat we did I went about three to four peanut lengths down and a few have started to poke through and those were planted April, 25 2016. Fingers crossed they keep growing like crazy!

Facts to know about growing peanuts

 

  • They like the soils PH to be 5.8-6.2
  • The soil temperature to be 65 degrees
  • Peanuts take 100-121 days before your able to harvest them

 

peanuts

 

~~Emily and Amber

Transplanting corn?! In a high tunnel?!?! WHAT?!

We are in Green Bay, WI and sometimes spring weather lasts too long for us to get two turns of corn, especially in our 2.5 acre. We have some early-mid season soggy patches that don’t get full day access to light so we are trying to creatively better utilize that 90’x40′ field. After some research, we came across a SARE grant project of a farmer in Vermont who had started sweet corn in 1020 flats of 72’s and 98’s, then transplanted the starts at the ideal row spacing.

Fascinating. Watch the video of Ben describing our process.

Our seeds germinated in 3 days and were transplanting in the HH, bc the field wasn’t ready to get worked up, at day 19 (April 18).

CornGerm.jpg

Germinated on Day 3

CornSpacing.jpg

Transplanted plants at 10″ apart, rows 18″ apart

By: Amanda Chu, Bounty Garden Manager

Getting ready for 2016.

We have got big plans this year. Bounty Garden is focusing on more ways we can FEED THE PEOPLE and to grow that much food, it takes a lot of intentional time and effort in the spring to prepare for planting and seeding. This year there are about 18 students who are discovering what spring prep is all about in our Spring Garden Management class.

See our plan in the tiered fields: 2016 Student Garden Layout

NWTC’s Bounty Garden is in it’s 4th season, and not only has it been growing food organically, it has also been a very organic process. The past couple years, we have been focused on the education piece of the farm and now that some groundwork has been laid, we’re able to put more time into developing our produce capacity and marketing outlets. So, look for us a the OnBroadway, Wednesday night Farmers’ Market.

We hope to have some students post their experiences and pictures here, so readers can hear the many voices that contribute to Bounty Garden’s success.

 

  • By: Amanda Chu, Bounty Garden Manager

Hello gardeners!

My name is Scott and I’m a student at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (aka: NWTC). I’m working towards my degree in Sustainable Food and Agricultural Systems.  The goal of this blog is to share my experiences, observations, success and failures as I continue my journey in both my education at school and my personal education in my home garden.

I wish to point out that I’m not an expert in the field of sustainable agriculture.  But I hope to inspire and encourage others to continue their own journey in growing and cultivating whatever their heart desires– as long as it means that we are supporting and sustaining our planet.  Sustainable agriculture is important not just for the health and wellbeing of ourselves and our family but more importantly for Mother Earth.  We must get back to a place where we are incorporating technology and knowledge with the needs of our environment. Conventional agriculture CANNOT continue on the path it’s on and that is where sustainable agricultural practices come into play.

I feel very lucky to have found an educational outlet for my passion: growing food.  NWTC offers an excellent program for sustainable agriculture and my school is among only a very small number of schools that offer such a program.  We have  a four acre garden on campus named Bounty Garden, that allows us to put into practice all that we are learning. One of my intentions is to highlight our progress at Bounty Garden as the growing season continues.  Also, I’m going to include my experiences at home.

So that’s it for now.  Stay tuned– I hope to entertain, share and encourage.  Keep growing and more importantly– keep learning!