It is cold now, but soon enough buds will be bursting, plants will be sprouting, and birds will be singing. It is time to start planning for the 2014 growing season. We will be accepting applications for two interns through March 3, 2014. Read below for more of the details.
Article submitted by garden interns Zoe Huston ’15 and Gabe Block ’15
After a long and wonderful season, we are wrapping things up at the Colgate Community Garden. We were able to grow vegetables right up until the end of October (thank you Hamilton, NY for providing us with those few extra weeks of sunshine) and implemented a number of new projects during the fall season. We finally had to pull the pumpkins, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed for a few remaining root vegetables. In the meantime, here are some highlights from the fall growing season:
Community Garden Farm Stand
In an effort to bring fresh and homegrown produce to students up the hill, the garden interns set up a weekly farm stand in the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop). The interns harvested, weighed, and washed the produce on Sunday afternoons and displayed it for sale from 11:00-12:30 every Monday in the Coop. A wide variety of produce was available each week, ranging from the famously delicious cherry tomatoes to the more obscure daikon radishes. An assortment of lettuces, herbs, peppers, and cucumbers were also available for purchase. To make veggies more accessible to students, customers had the option to pay directly with their ‘Gate Card. Proceeds went to the community garden, and excess produce was donated to the Hamilton Food Cupboard. Be on the lookout for a Farm Stand again in the Spring!
Green Thumbs Work Parties
The Green Thumbs club was able to come down to the garden a few times this semester to work on larger scale projects. In October, the club helped lay down recycled cardboard to create walking paths around the herb garden and between beds. We used wood chips that had been washed up from the flooding during the summer to cover the cardboard and mark the pathways. The Thumbs were also able to help harvest produce for the Monday farm stands in the Coop.
Cold Frame Project
In order to extend the garden’s relatively short season (even shorter no thanks to the flood!), the Community Garden teamed up with Green Thumbs to build cold frames. These are structures that are built around the garden to help plants continue to grow even as it gets colder outside – almost like mini green houses. They can be made from miscellaneous materials and built right over existing crops. We built two different styles of cold frames; one with panels and a hinged lid, and one made of a frame of hay bales with two windows resting on top. Two weeks after building the cold frames and planting seeds, our first seedlings appeared! We will be checking in on them throughout the winter and early spring to see how they fare in the cold weather.
In Upstate New York, the gardening season can sometimes feel extremely short. The average time between the last frost in the Spring and the first frost in the Fall is about 144 days… not even half of a year!
Cold frames are structures designed to extend the growing season in cold climate gardening. They can be used at the start of a season, or at the end of a season. They are smaller than typical greenhouses, easy to move around the garden or even place over existing plants or shrubs.
Visit Organic Gardening’s website for some terrific information about cold frames and how you can extend your own gardening season.
Green Thumbs and the Colgate Community Garden team will also be hosting an event this weekend to learn more about cold frames. There are many different ways to create a cold frame that will suit your gardening needs, and we will be building 2 different ones on Sunday.
The event will take place on Sunday, October 20 at 4:30 pm at the Colgate Community Garden behind the Newell apartments on College Street. Come on down and see how easy it can be to add an extra 30-60 days to your own growing season! Hope to see you there!
For those of you living outside of beautiful, bustling Hamilton, NY for the summer, Saturday July 27th was Madison County Open Farm Day! The interactions we’ve had with other local food operations so far have been nothing but positive, from volunteering with the harvest effort at Common Thread Farm to checking out Hamilton College Community Farm. But between researching the “physiological leaf roll of the tomato” and sowing some late season kohlrabi seeds, there’s not nearly enough time to try getting our hands dirty at every farm in our neck of the woods. To us farming newbies, the Open Farm Day was a great chance to check out some of the growers behind the staples of the Hamilton Farmers Market.
While the wonderful Community Garden Internship affords Gabe and Skylar plenty of learning opportunities, the fields of mushroom farming and honey bee cultivation remained mysterious. First stopping at Highland Farms in our own backyard, we headed out to Fruit of the Fungi and learned the labor-intensive process of drilling holes in thousands of logs, cultivating mycelium, capping the logs with wax to retain moisture, waiting for a year, and then finally getting to start the actual mushroom growing process. As of now, there are definitely no plans for mushroom cultivation at the Community Garden.
We then set out for Johnston’s Honey Bee Farm, where we got some sweet posters. There was also a seriously sweet demonstration of the honey extraction process, including obligatory questions about how many times the farmers get stung (apparently hundreds, sometimes). The honeycombs are pulled out of the bee boxes and first capped with a hot iron to expose the raw honey. They’re then set into an extractor, and spun at speeds fast enough that the honey is forced out of the combs. Bee jealous, it was cool.
For next year, Madison County Open Farm Day is totally worth the trip!
When one hears the phrase “sustainable eating,” one of the first methods that comes to mind is eating locally grown food. Many would be surprised to learn that there are some people who do not support the locavore lifestyle, and wonder, “what could possibly be wrong with eating fresh produce, supporting neighborhood farmers, and boosting the local economy?” Cost is typically one of the major factors involved in deciding whether to purchase the slightly more expensive local, organic food, or to simply buy conventional supermarket food. Are the higher costs of local food outweighed by its associated health benefits? Read more
Months of hard work finally produced tangible results last week when we had our first harvest of the 2013 growing season. To prepare for our weekly 7:00 a.m. pickup each Wednesday morning, vegetables must be picked, washed, weighed, and bagged the night before. Our first harvest yielded squash, cucumbers, zucchini, and a couple green peppers- our first of the season! Chives, thyme, mint, oregano, and parsley were gathered bright and early to keep them fresh and at 7:00 a.m. the Purdy and Sons truck pulled up behind Newell Apartments. After handing over our first harvest we talked to Head Chef Michael Stagnaro, who told us the food would be used at the Library Café, which now prepares fresh salads and sandwiches.
The numerous floods hindered production significantly but things are really starting to speed up and yesterday’s harvest, our second, consisted of an even wider variety of crops.
Every Tuesday and Thursday the garden interns are responsible for watering the garden at the Hamilton Central School, and on Tuesdays any of their vegetables are added to the Community Garden’s harvest. Yesterday, we harvested several odorous pounds of herbs dill, mint, oregano, thyme, and chives. Chef Michael Stagnaro also happily received Japanese eggplants, cherry tomatoes, cabbage, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and three varieties of peppers.
Next week’s harvest, which will be augmented by root vegetables and tomatoes (that are flourishing in the greenhouse) and plenty of chard and cucumbers (from the garden), will be ready right on time for the throngs of students arriving in the coming weeks.
For more information or if you would like to come down and help harvest next week contact email@example.com.
As a part of the Community Garden’s pilot Community Plots program, a raised garden bed was designed specifically for Colgate Professor Aisha Musa. The process was unique, as Prof. Musa gardens from her wheelchair. Community Garden Consultant Beth Roy has a background in Horticultural Therapy, and has designed wheelchair accessible garden beds in the past. While typical raised garden beds are around 12-16” high, Prof. Musa’s bed is 24” high so that she can easily access her garden while in a seated position. And thanks to a new crushed stone pathway put in by Phil Roe from Hamilton Lawn and Garden and funded by the Colgate Accessibility Office, Prof. Musa now has complete access to her bed in the Community Garden.
Prof. Musa says of her bed, “What I have liked most so far is the opportunity to grow organic vegetables. I am really concerned about herbicides, pesticides, and GMOs in our food supply. Growing vegetables gives me more control over what I eat.” Musa’s raised bed is constructed out of larch milled at the local Amish saw mill, Troyer Farms, rather than pressure treated wood which will often leach arsenic and other heavy metals into the soil.
Prof. Musa began work in her plot the week of June 27th, working with Gabe Block ‘15 and Beth to plant several seeds and some small seedlings she had grown at home. “Right now, I am growing beets, broccoli, bush beans, cabbage (red), dragon tongue beans, kale, lettuce, peas, peppermint, salsa peppers, spinach, summer squash, thyme, tomatoes, and zucchini,” says Musa, “My plan was based mostly on what I like to eat.”
She doesn’t see her organic gardening career ending anytime soon either. “For this season, I will be thrilled with whatever I successfully harvest,” Musa says. “In the future, I want to do more careful planning of just what I plant and when.” Thankfully, her raised bed is tall enough not to have sustained any damage from the recent flooding, and her plants are growing beautifully!
For more information on the Colgate Community Garden Plots, contact the garden team at firstname.lastname@example.org. If we have a successful year, we hope to offer even more plots to community members in the future!
The Community Vegetable Garden is looking to hire an intern for fall semester
Department: Sustainability Office
Hours per Week: 6 hrs during fall semester
The Sustainability Office is offering a paid Garden Internship to a qualified student starting in late-August 2013 until November 2013 (the end of the growing season). The garden intern will help manage and promote the one-half acre vegetable/herb garden and greenhouse on campus. This is a physically demanding, yet very rewarding job. Work includes exposure to outdoor elements (e.g., heat, sun, rain, etc.). The student intern is expected to coordinate and organize volunteers and student work parties. The Garden Intern will report directly to our garden manager (Beth Roy) and work in close collaboration with another garden intern and other Colgate students, faculty, and staff. The student intern will gain life-long skills and knowledge in harvesting and maintaining a garden, organizing events, and supervising volunteer workers.
To apply, send a resume and one page cover letter to the Director of Sustainability, John Pumilio (email@example.com). The application deadline is August 15. Employment will begin on or around August 26.
Required Skills and Experience
- Work with garden manager (Beth Roy) to plan and manage the garden during the fall season. Specific tasks may include preparing soil, cultivating, planting, weeding, and harvesting.
- Organize and supervise volunteer work parties.
- Coordinate with Green Thumbs presidents to schedule a weekly time for volunteer work parties (usually for harvest, the day before pick-up), and be at the garden during those scheduled times to supervise those work parties.
- Provide continuity for work on the garden throughout the 2013 growing season.
Recommended Qualifications and Skills:
- Strong work ethic and self-motivated.
- Strong interpersonal and communication skills.
- Preference will be given to those with experience and firsthand knowledge in farming and/or gardening with vegetable crops; though previous garden experience is not required.
- Experience organizing and supervising the work of others.
- Tolerance for hard work and exposure to outdoor elements.
- Excitement about promoting local farming and local food production
Work Requirements and Benefits
The garden internship position is rewarding but demanding work that involves physical exertion and exposure to the outdoor elements.
To apply, send resume and one page cover letter to Director of Sustainability, John Pumilio (firstname.lastname@example.org). The application deadline is August 15. Employment will begin on or around August 26.
Starting Hourly Rate: $8.10
Supervisor: Garden Manager (Beth Roy)
Key Contacts: John Pumilio, Director of Sustainability and Christopher Henke, Associate Professor and faculty adviser to the garden
As a result of all the flooding, the garden team has decided to focus most of our effort on the Community Garden Greenhouse. What began as an accessory location to simply hold about 50 extra tomato plants, has now become a refuge for transplanting crops that survived the flooding, and a way to reinvigorate our potential harvest. The greenhouse was originally purchased by Colgate, along with the land that it sits on, from a nursery and garden business that went out-of-business.
Pepper plants went wild, as seedlings and spirits shot up. Up until today, all plants were held in the largest pots we could get our hands on, thanks to a generous donation from Alcott’s Garden Center! It quickly became clear, however, that we’d need more space and soil depth to really take advantage of the space.
Our root vegetable aspirations, only temporarily stunted by the floods, couldn’t be held in pots. We drew up plans for both a twenty foot and a forty foot long raised bed. With much appreciated emergency funding from Dean Hicks, we were able to finish construction today. Sustainability Office interns (Everett Spencer ’15, Jack Eiel ’15, Jenna Glat ’14, Kathryn Bacher ’14, and Allison Shafritz ’15) helped us for the day and we had a regular ole work party in the rain. If anyone’s curious how much labor it takes to build and fill sixty feet worth of deep raised beds – or how dirty you get in the process – get in touch with any of them.
Built out of larch from Preston Kelley’s lumber yard in Hubbardsville, the new greenhouse raised beds will hold carrots, turnips, chard, rutabagas, beans, radishes, lettuce and anything else we lost to the flooding that isn’t as viable or efficiently grown in pots. The sustainability interns even pushed through to finish most of the seeding today, so hopefully we’ll see some starts by the end of the weekend. This is the first season the Community Garden has made use of greenhouse space, and we hope to use it for everything from an extended growing season, to cultivating starts for the 2014 season before the last snows.
As weather stations, radios and our cell phones are all abuzz with the latest flash flood warnings, the agenda of the Colgate Community Garden team turns to evasive action. If you’re wondering why there hasn’t been a follow-up to our last Community Garden work party and dinner, or why there’s been a decrease in our Instagram activity, we apologize. Though we count ourselves lucky to be safe and dry at home, standing water has covered the beds and paths three times since the night of June 24th.
On the morning of the 25th, the garden woke up to around two feet of water and a strong current flowing through the pepper, squash and tomato beds. The neighboring creek had surged over its banks and, covering the parking lots of the Newell and Parker apartment complexes, carried recycling bins down into the garden. In spite of the perilous conditions, the intrepid Community Garden interns ventured out in a canoe to inspect the situation. Nothing was to be done at that point unfortunately, but once the majority of the standing water was gone, we transplanted many peppers, tomatoes and squash that had survived but would struggle if they remained where they were.
Expecting the worst, we were surprised by how many crops made it through the first flood. Cucumbers (fact of the week: these belong to a family of vegetables known as “cucurbits”), cabbage, beans, kale, chard, melons, squash and the pumpkin patch were all still viable. Thankfully, these crops include our famed “spiral bed”, visible from space! Everything is currently underwater once again, but any remaining crops will be the focus of the garden team’s efforts for the rest of the season. The garden has a healthy dose of wood chips, gravel and cardboard washed over it, with most of the wood chips from our paths covering the tomato bed.
The flooding may be undeniably unfortunate, but with the hit to our potential harvests it carries a chance for learning. Cultivating the areas we’ve identified as salvageable will involve learning about organic fungicide and pesticide substitutes, and maintaining the nutrient content of soil. We’re getting things rolling in the Colgate Community Garden greenhouse, located just past the townhouses, and will update with details soon!
For now, everyone in the Sustainability Office is supportive of the salvaging we can do and we are all simply waiting for the soil to dry enough to clean up the area. Once the standing water in the garden has receded, be looking for a CCG Clean Up Day event and come help us salvage what is left! For more information, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or contact us by email at email@example.com.