May is a Busy Time for Farmers
May is a busy month for community supported agriculture farmers. They are harvesting over-wintered greens, planting new crops and trying to make ends meet. I visited Native Hill Farm to see what life is like on their farm.
They are harvesting spinach and other greens that were started last season. Some of the crop is in a high tunnel which is an unheated greenhouse structure. Other crops were over-wintered under heavy frost cloth. The cloth moderates winter temperatures. Once it warms up in the spring the plants are ready to grow.
In May they are also planting like crazy. Early in the month cool season crops were started. Peas, salad greens, carrots and green onions are planted. Second and even third plantings of all of these veggies will happen over the next few weeks.
Slicing and heirloom tomatoes were planted in the high tunnel. The tomatoes go in rows between the over-wintered crops. The tunnel will give the tomatoes extra warmth during cool spring nights. The tunnel warmth also helps the plants produce fruits earlier in the season.
Later in the month, warm season crops were planted outside. Cherry tomatoes, paste tomatoes, peppers and eggplant were set on the farm. All of these warm season crops were started in a small, heated greenhouse in late February. The greenhouse plants were nurtured with natural fertilizer until they were ready to go outside last week.
After the recent rains the next big project will be to keep ahead of the quickly growing weeds. Native Hill farmers use natural weed controls. That means hoeing between tender young plants. Wider rows will be cultivated with a tractor to kill young weed seedlings. They will also use a backpack flame weeder to burn off larger weeds. It involves a lot of hand work by the working members of the farm.
Native Hill has a twist on the traditional CSA farm. A CSA offers shares to members and delivers food weekly during the season. Traditionally each member gets a portion of that week’s harvest. Native Hill shares become a produce account. The member pays in advance for the season. Each week the member can take the portions of the harvest they want. The amount is deducted from their account. The member selects the type and amount of fresh produce they need.
I’ll check in on Native Hill Farm next month when the Farmer’s Market season starts.