Farm Blog
09 Sep 2014

The fields are raining tomatoes and in the distance the sunflowers dance like an agrarian Martha Graham piece.  This is simply the best time to be at the farm despite the fact that most of the crew has left for school, and the days are all of a sudden extremely long, and the energy level required to start each day seems unattainable.  And yet they do, and we are all the better for it.  It’s a small group of strong backed bucks, led by the quiet fortitude of JB, and each of these men (DJ and JDP in particular) have become one with the farm.  They know the daily movements of the place, the pace and the tone, and bring their passions to the fields each day. As one might say, they have skin in the game, and any employer would be proud to have these fella’s on their team. 

So the Heirloom tomatoes finally came after a long wait.  Their glorious colors and flavors are what we wait all year, and they are now heaping over the sides of the CSA pick-ups and our market stall.  We will soon make our 2014 sauces, crushed tomatoes, and bloody mary mix, but for now we are enjoying the acidic delights of these beauties.  

However, we are not simply about tomatoes in September.  The fields are full of many wonderful crops like arugula, salad mix, Asian greens, fingerling potatoes, radishes, daikon, summer squash, green beans, kales, swiss chard and that’s just summer fare.  Soon the broccoli, winter squashes, root crops like carrots, beets and turnips will spring forth from the fields and onto the plates of CSA and market shoppers from Litchfield to Brooklyn!  So sweet…

Many people have commented that Waldingfield appears to be having its best season ever.  Well, it is a little too early to say for sure, but all indications point to record harvests in all crops across the board (except tomatoes – which while we still plant a lot of them, have been reduced in recent years to allow for more attention to other crops). Through strong planning, committed CSA members and loyal shoppers at our markets, we should continue to see our revenue grow.

September has just the right mix of warm days and cool nights, and despite the ridiculously hot start to the month, seems to be settling in for a nice autumn.  Rain season may still yet come but our fields are in terrific shape thanks to the crew, and we are bullish for an amazing mid fall harvest. 

Thanks for the support.  

Author Patrick Horan in Farm Blog Read 13056 times Read more...
09 Sep 2014

The fields are raining tomatoes and in the distance the sunflowers dance like an agrarian Martha Graham piece.  This is simply the best time to be at the farm despite the fact that most of the crew has left for school, and the days are all of a sudden extremely long, and the energy level required to start each day seems unattainable.  And yet they do, and we are all the better for it.  It’s a small group of strong backed bucks, led by the quiet fortitude of JB, and each of these men (DJ and JDP in particular) have become one with the farm.  They know the daily movements of the place, the pace and the tone, and bring their passions to the fields each day. As one might say, they have skin in the game, and any employer would be proud to have these fella’s on their team. 

So the Heirloom tomatoes finally came after a long wait.  Their glorious colors and flavors are what we wait for all year, and they are now heaping over the sides of the CSA pick-ups and our market stall.  We will soon make our 2014 sauces, crushed tomatoes, and bloody mary mix, but for now we are enjoying the acidic delights of these beauties.  

However, we are not simply about tomatoes in September.  The fields are full of many wonderful crops like arugula, salad mix, Asian greens, fingerling potatoes, radishes, daikon, summer squash, green beans, kales, swiss chard and that’s just summer fare.  Soon the broccoli, winter squashes, root crops like carrots, beets and turnips will spring forth from the fields and onto the plates of CSA and market shoppers from Litchfield to Brooklyn!  So sweet…

Many people have commented that Waldingfield appears to be having its best season ever.  Well, it is a little too early to say for sure, but all indications point to record harvests in all crops across the board (except tomatoes – which while we still plant a lot of them, have been reduced in recent years to allow for more attention to other crops). Through strong planning, committed CSA members and loyal shoppers at our markets, we should continue to see our revenue grow.

September has just the right mix of warm days and cool nights, and despite the ridiculously hot start to the month, seems to be settling in for a nice autumn.  Rain season may still yet come but our fields are in terrific shape thanks to the crew, and we are bullish for an amazing mid fall harvest. 

Thanks for the support.  

Author Patrick Horan in Farm Blog Read 11761 times Read more...
21 Jul 2014

The Mid-Summer Report: 

It is hard to believe that the end of July is upon us and though we have achieved a lot so far this season, what is most exciting is how much we have to look forward to.  The hard work of the crew, led by our diligent manager, Jed Borken (5th year at the farm), and the “core four “– Jason Depecol (4th year), Dana Jackson (5th or 6th), Will O’Meara (4th year), and John Charles  (2nd year)– have truly brought the farm into the best shape in our twenty-five year history.   With Patrick and Quincy overseeing the business and the crew running the fields, the season so far is off to a fine start.

Let us back up a minute and recap the spring before proceeding with the harvest to come.  It was a cold, damp, and rather grim start to the growing season after a winter of heavy snow and as such we got off to a slower start in the fields then we had hoped for.  However, the field tunnel we got last year meant that we were selling greens at market earlier then we ever have.  And, as in previous years, we had great support from our Taft School program getting the early seedlings planted.  We also changed up the out-sourced propagation program from previous years.  We worked with Gilberties in Easton (CT) with our tomato transplants.  They replaced Couch Brook Farm (Mass).  We once again retained the services of Full Bloom (MASS) for all our early greens transplants.  Our new greenhouses (curtsy of a grant from NCRS and coming later this year) should put an end to the out-sourcing in the future years.  

By May the crew had been assembled for the season and we also took on several part time crewmembers that work between 10-20 hours per week with us.  They are employed mainly on harvesting days. One who is back for a second year is Lindsay Jenkinson, and she has taken on a role somewhere in between full and part time.  She is a valuable asset to the farm, we are glad to have her back.  Our core group handles the part timer management, freeing up Jed and Q to focus on the larger daily decisions.  As with any entity that swells during certain periods of the year, we have to stay focused on how many people we are using and make sure to be as efficient as possible. So far it’s working well.

Happily, since the end of May the weather has been very good for growing.  When it has rained, it has done so mainly at night, and that has been lucky for us since our irrigation system is pretty draconian.  There have been some issues with pests, and certainly some crop loss due to disease and infestation over the past three months. However, with rigorous planting and a rotation schedule we have managed to trick many of said pests.  Our inputs have also been minimal so far this season.  Always a good thing.

The CSA program remains a major focus for us here at the farm.  This year we grew the membership by nearly twenty percent, and we will continue such robust growth over the next five years.  The goal is 300 CSAs by 2018. The feedback has been really excellent so far and that has much to do with the execution and variety.  In fact, in the twenty-five years since we first started the CSA we have never had such positive feedback.  Congrats to the crew for this, it is all due to their hard work and planning. 

Farmers markets have been a little trickier this season then in years past.  Our main market, Wooster Square in New Haven, continues to grow and we are one of the most popular stalls there.  Patrick runs this market, and even though it has taken years of cultivation to get to where it is now, it is safe to say that our tent brings in the crowd with our great produce and great deals.  Several of the crew have stood in when P is away and the results have always been strong.  Sandy Hook/Newtown is also fairly strong, once again, and Jason Depecol is the primary reason for the fine results so far.  Back after a year out west, he brings his charm, and increasingly superior knowledge of cooking and farming to his market each week.   The four other markets, Kent, Weston, New Haven (on the Green), and our new one in Brooklyn, have been a little sluggish. However, they have been steady and historically finish far better then they start off.  Kent is run by a revolving group of the crew and gives some of the new blood valuable market experience without overwhelming them.  Under the training of Will O’Meara, the new group will be primed for markets in the future.  The Downtown New Haven market is being ably worked by Dana “Noosh” Jackson, who is a master of the set up, and even better at the sell. However, his amazing work has not been rewarded with big crowds so far.  This will change in August when Yale gets back into full swing.   Weston is once again led by Quincy and remains a steady earner, and Q has a long-standing relationship with many of his customers.  We will look to improve sales there and increase the CSA presence in the future but Weston is in a very farmers market heavy area of Fairfield County.   If anyone can improve it, it’s Q!   It is a fact that all over the state the sales at markets are down.  There are several reasons, notably that there are far too many now.   The state has focused on getting as many started as possible but perhaps its time now to scale back.  We will continue to find new markets (like the new Brooklyn market, but even that market has been less then stellar). 

Jed has executed the 2014 crop planning, and field plantings, flawlessly and it would be a miscarriage of justice to say that we have ever had the diversity in the fields that we have today.  The crew respond to his leadership, his diligence, and dedication to getting the job done, and getting it done right.  The farm is in fine hands with JB in the mix. 

The new barn located in the upper orchard has also brought a more centralized feel to the entire operation.  No longer do the Horan’s (owners John and Damaris, or Mom and Pop to P & Q), have to deal with tractors, semi-nude farm hands, and trucks, etc., rolling through their front yard.   The new shop has given us a place to work on machinery, and soon the new farm office will be in place in the upper level.  The crew love it and it serves as inspiration for the next 25 years, and the amazing potential the business has.

So there we have it.  We look forward to seeing as many of our friends in the second half of the season as we did in the first, and sharing in the mighty harvest to come.  From Arugula to Zucchini, we are growing as much as we can and hopefully it will end up on your dinner tables.  Till next time, be well, buy local, and support your neighborhood farmers!

Author Patrick Horan in Farm Blog Read 9630 times Read more...
Page 3 of 14

Latest Blog Posts

Sign up for Newsletter

Free email news every month and many more...

You are here: The Blog