If 2013 was the year of the eggplant for the Stony Point Center Farm, then 2014 has undoubtedly been the year of the tomato. I can remember walking through the tomato fields six or seven weeks ago impatiently wondering when our tomato crop would begin to ripen. My anxiety elevated when I realized our tomato field’s early fruits were nibbled (and in some cases, completely devoured) by unwelcome and unknown intruders. My best guesses are groundhogs, birds, and squirrels. Now, as summer becomes autumn, we find ourselves up to our ears in these delightful fruits. To put this year’s harvest in perspective, last year’s crop yielded about 1,000 pounds in the twelve weeks from the beginning of August through the end of October. Not a bad year for us, by the way. This year we are already approaching 2,000 pounds, and in only about six weeks of production!
I am of the belief that a farm can never produce too many tomatoes. There are too many tasty ways to preserve them. In the past couple of weeks, thanks to the help of Community of Living Traditions members on campus, some fancy tomato processing equipment, and a visit from my mother who lives in Texas, we’ve begun processing and preserving our harvests. We’ve made about five gallons of tomato sauce already this year, with more on the way. Salsa-making is scheduled for this week. Let the harvests continue!
Outside of the tomato fields, the farm continues to buzz with activity. I find myself saying this almost all the time, but it is a busy time of year for farmers. While harvests continue to roll in, we have also turned our attention to activities necessary for preparing for fall and winter. This month, after harvesting the winter squash in the Cornerstone garden we promptly tilled the soil and planted cover crops. This year, we’re experimenting with various combinations of buckwheat, barley, winter peas, and vetch as cover crops once our fields’ harvests are complete. We now have cover crops planted in parts of the Cornerstone, Gilmor, and Friendship gardens.
We’ve also been diligently planting our fall crops. We have broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and lettuce planted in Cornerstone which, for the most part look pretty good, despite frequent visits from a particularly pesky groundhog (I chased him out of the garden this morning after interrupting the creature’s kale breakfast). We have also spent time preparing our hoop houses for fall crops this month. At the beginning of the month I was thrilled to use our tractor to deliver about 10 bucket loads of compost from our “resource area” to our hoop houses in preparation from planting. After tilling our home-made compost into the soil, we planted kales and spinach, which we hope will provide fresh greens for us throughout the winter months. We’ll be planting lettuces and other greens there in the upcoming weeks as well.
Happy Autumn, everyone!