A Month of Harvesting (and Weeding!)

September 2, 2009

Author: Neighborhood Farm Initiative

Category: General News

August has been a very busy month at NFI, we have had more than 100 distinct volunteers dedicate over 350 volunteer hours to making NFI’s harvest season a success. We have done a little bit of everything this month (and a LOT of some things!) It is a very rewarding time to be out in the garden as you can really see the entire seasons process happen literally all in a day.

For example, a few Saturday’s ago we started at 7AM harvesting bucket-loads of cherry tomatoes to sell at the Mt. Pleasant Farmers Market, and then continued from there to do everything from weeding, turning compost piles, and even hand turning used beds, spreading compost, and planting our fall chard crops.

Below, volunteers Anna-Beth and Katie sample some goodies at the Mt. Pleasant Farmers Market, while selling produce so fresh the tomatoes were still warm from the sun!

We learned the hard way that a lot of rain early in the season can weaken a plants immune system and make them more susceptible to disease. We had an outbreak of the Zucchini Yellow Mosaic Virus kill about half of our cucumbers and squashes. Here, volunteers Neal and Laura examine plants to determine which ones are healthy, and which need to be removed to stop the disease from spreading.

Volunteers and class participants enjoy a cold watermelon at the end of a long day of weeding and learning in the sun. Thanks to volunteer Neil for running out mid-morning to procure our mid-day treat!

We’ve been fortunate enough to harvest basil pretty much every other day for the last month. As a result Basil has been bountiful in our CSG shares, is often available by the bunch at Glut Food Coop and the Mt. Pleasant Farmers’ Market, and we’ve even had plenty left over the turn into Pesto for the winter!

One Day’s Harvest!
On August 15th, we held our 9th (and second to last) class in our season long Gardening Education Program. This class focused on Harvesting and Preparing your Harvest, and was taught by guest speaker Ed Bruske. Throughout the course of the season, Ed Bruske has featured NFI three times on his blog. We encourage you to browse through his blog to learn all about the best ways to turn your harvest, into your dinner. The posts directly related to NFI were made on April 30th, August 17th, and August 28th.

On August 12th, we had a 35 person volunteer crew, ranging in age from 5 to 65, from St. Louis come join us for an afternoon. They spent two hours working in the field, and then we migrated up to a nearby park for a cookout. Everyone had a great time, got some dirt under their fingernails, and enjoyed the fresh air! The crew was on a two week bus trip to visit urban gardens in Chicago, Denver, and Washington DC. They said their two DC highlights included a tour of the White House Garden, and their afternoon with NFI! Below, Bea helps a group of kids find gloves that fit their little hands!

They worked in teams to do everything from mulching with Straw, weeding, and Spreading Wood-chips.

(Click any photo to see larger image)

One group even took freshly harvest basil and turned it into hand-made pesto which we then ate on our veggie burgers for dinner!

We ended the evening with a delicious feast, a discussion of locally produced foods in our respective communities, and a true sense of accomplishment!

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