Monday, October 8, 2012

FARM UPDATES: Fall and paving the way for more school garden...

Here is an excerpt from our weekly newsletter

The cold weather is moving in and the farm is transitioning into a new phase. Farming is a cycle process with constants that change in their actions but not in spirit; we are constantly focused on caring for the short term and long term health of our soil and our community and do so with many different successions of plants and farm work. Though we are still harvesting tomatoes and can feel the suns rays on our skin and remember the intense heat of the summer, we are thinking forward to our harvest next season and nurturing our soil by planting cover crops and careful cultivation. 

We are slowly taking out crops that are past their prime, so we can get good growth on our field peas, vetch, oats, rye and clover before its too cold. These are special crops we grow for the soil, not to eat. We plant these crops in the fall so they hold the soil in the beds, preventing it from washing away. Cover crops also add nutrients to the soil through taking nitrogen from the atmosphere and storing it in the soil, legumes do it themselves with the help of rhizobial bacteria, and the rest add nitrogen when we till them into the soil to break down in the spring. Cover crops also help to break up hard soils, their roots grow deep into the soil and create space for oxygen and drainage. 

We will continue to grow flowers and produce into the cold months both in our hoop house and outside. Take a look in our cold frames, mini greenhouses, to see the variety of greens and root crops sprout up. You will also see more and more white blankets, called row covers, covering beds. Both the row covers and cold frames provide a little extra shelter to the plants, keeping them warmer, and protecting them from light frosts. Check out Harriet the Hoop House too, she has some new beds prepped and planted. Last year we were harvesting right up to new year, and hope to this year as well. 

We are still in negotiations with the DOE on our contract, and unfortunately are still not able to distribute our produce. We are very happy to be establishing standards for soil quality and non-profit partnerships that will benefit many school gardens in the future. The lack of sales however has greatly hurt the financial health of the farm. We depend on the sale of produce and flowers to run our programs. We are now forced to start cutting back programs and staff. We hope to be able to distribute again soon, but know that even then we will not be able to make up for the loss.

Bk farmyards is holding an amazing fundraiser on October 25th, which we hope will provide some fund to allow us to continue operating. The event Meet your Maker: Crops& Hops, will be a celebration of local foods with sample pairings of food prepared by some of Brooklyn's best chefs and beer from NY’s best breweries. Tickets are available for a 6:30 & a 8:30 seating HERE. Hope to see you there!