The two swarms we had indicated that the bees were doing too well out at the farm this week. Bees swarm when they fill up the space in the boxes that make up their hive. When they do this the entire hive leaves the nest and finds a temporary home such as a tree branch like the one shown in the photo below. Once on this temporary nest they send out scouts to find a suitable permanent home. They then report back to the colony and communicate the site of the new home. Unfortunately this means we lost two colonies this week, but Ross came out the farm to check on the bees and revealed the remaining colonies are still thriving. Ross opened up the hives and we all were able to taste a bit of this year’s first honey!
For those of you that don’t know, we have a wood fired pizza oven out at the farm. Last weekend the students from the Middlebury School of the Environment fired up the pizza oven for the first time since the Spring Planting Festival in April. Why such little use? It’s been cracked, and wont stay hot. To celebrate the first week of the second year of Middlebury’s environmental school, students brought out dough, toppings, and good friends to the farm. A bunch of delicious pizzas were loaded into the oven with some featuring fresh picked basil from our kitchen garden! Despite the cracks (and the extended cooking time) the pizza turned great!
The next morning a group of motivated individuals went out to the oven with a sledgehammer and smashed it to pieces. Why? Renovation. The clay was remade and laid over a sand mold to dry. The clay takes a few days to dry, but when it does, another layer will be added. Three layers are needed for the whole oven to be completed. When all the clay drys the pizza oven will be ready to use once again. The goal is to have it done before the fall semester starts. Feel free to come out to the farm and use the pizza oven anytime, but remember you need to be properly trained and you must have permission from the Cornwall Fire Marshall (same rules as the fire pit!). Thanks oven builders!
Here are some photos from an order we filled last week to Atwater. When we fill an order first we pick however many boxes or bunches we need, then we wash everything, pack it into produce boxes, and then deliver it! Everything is fresh from the field because we don’t have electricity to refridgerate anything.
Given the heavy rain this week, it was a little difficult to get going out in the beds. However, our flats are doing well in the hoophouse, we’ve started two of basil that have almost 100% germination and the beans we planted last week are getting bigger every day! On the rainy days we also re-painted the rocks and signs in each bed, now you can know what’s growing. We did a lot of edging and organizing, so the garden is looking as sharp as ever. We did manage to plant one bed, planting corn and black beans, surrounded by pumpkins to keep the racoons out. The romaine and chard are getting just about big enough to harvest and we are hoping to make a few deliveries this coming week. Also on the agenda: a few more flats to be started and the transplanting of our new sprouts, and much, much more. See the progress of our new plants below!
On Friday, we spent the afternoon cutting the chicken coop out of a tangle of grasses and weeds. The chicken watering containers are going to be converted to hanging planters with four new types of flowers. We have big plans for the chicken coop: raising it a couple of feet so it’s comfortable to stand in and growing beans up around the chicken wire. The goal is to create a space to sit and hang out underneath flowers and maybe also enjoy some pizza after the oven repairs. Stay tuned for more chicken coop updates!!
Ross Conrad came by to check on his bees and to see if they needed more space to make honey. To start off his informal lesson, he said: “Bees are the only other creatures besides humans that will take more than they need.” To have food for the winter, bees store up honey. In order to make sure that the bees have enough honey for winter and we have enough to harvest, he will continue to add boxes to each hive to promote honey production. Ross has been working with bees for over twenty years and was the first person to publish a book on organic beekeeping.
This week at the Middlebury College Organic Farm:
Orders: We made our first sale to Atwater Dining Catering Service and Otter Creek Bakery! Atwater bought 10 lbs of leaf lettuce from the hoop house, 1350 Johnny Jump Ups (yellow & purple), 100 Chive flowers (pink), 2 bunches of Sage and 2 bunches of Tarragon. Sounds like Reunion will be delicious. Otter Creek Bakery bought 1 lb of spinach.
We Planted: Pole beans, bush beans, lettuce, chard, collards, flowers.
In our pizza oven herb garden: Tarragon, chive flowers, thyme, lavender, rosemary, basil.
We have a lot of baby plants that are starting to germinate. The squash and zucchini are sprouting. We have chard, collards and lettuce growing in flats in the hoop house where out tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants are growing healthily in the ground.
Outside we have delicious chard and lettuce almost ready for harvesting.
Hey! I’m Margot from Chicago. I’ve been working on the Middlebury College Oragnic Farm since I got to Midd in the fall of 2014. I’ve loved watching how the farm changes from season to season. My favorite vegetables are either eggplant or sweet potatoes–which I recently learned aren’t part of the potato family at all.