It is still necessary and beneficial to walk on the wheel rows and not on the growing beds. Though it is quite frozen, the habits are good to form, as walking on the beds can compact the soil and disrupt the soil, not to mention any seedlings that may be germinating and growing. Here in January, the beds are quite recognizable, some in Peck’s Meadow even have straw covering the planted garlic. Most all the beds are raised from the paths, so they are easy to see. Some still have plants and crops from warmer days gone by. The birds and the deer have taken advantage of the taken-away fence. Any winter birds, not in Florida, have already flown in for remaining seed. The four hooved deer have not traveled far, as they have consistently stuck to their winter routine. There is foot print evidence, from back when it was muddy, that they have come to nibble still-hardy greens and look for food to sustain them. Deer eat too, as frustrating as that is for the farmers who charge batteries, string wire and attempt to gently bait the deer to the fence, so they learn not to approach that field and find a different route for nibbling and sustenance. Maybe it is time for a permanent fence fund drive to completely keep away the dear deer. The deer and many other animals wild and tame, live in the adjacent 130 acres of woods as well as probably in the Wheelwright woods. There is delightfully plenty of forest for these animals to call home, rich with food, evergreens and lots of greenery year-round. But back to the fields, Peck’s to be specific, where there are still desirable greens, and not just for the deer, but people too.
During this frigid fortnight,when the temperature has not exceeded 32 degrees, the broccoli and kale seem to have a built-in durability. The three high school Cohasset seniors, Ross, Mollie and James, who have spent three days a week at the Farm for the better part of the current semester, set out to the field with me this past week, bravely and quickly. We had a bin, two pairs of scissors and a desire to rapidly harvest. We cut about 25 leaves of kale, both Red Russian and Lacianato, and snapped off an equal number of ready broccoli. We scurried back to the slightly warmer Farm House, where we selected, washed and settled on about seven pounds total of broccoli florets and quite hardy, cold tolerant kale leaves. Once we placed the kale and broccoli in the near empty fridge (as the farmer is away), we had a warm cup of tea and made plans for the next day, which had us bringing the fresh and warming greens, to the Cohasset Food Pantry, where the weekly traffic continues to increase. Even in the throes of winter, there remains some well-established crops and plenty of need for fresh, organic produce. The plants were transplanted in the summer (watered by these same high schoolers during the drought) and are a testament to longevity and season-extension possibilities, even in New England. The harvested crops will not feed all those in need, and I am not sure for how much longer we can harvest anyway. But farm and teach on we do. The cold keeps us moving, the paths still line the beds and though the kale is cold, it warms the heart to grow and provide opportunities for all those involved at Holly Hill. Stay warm and kale on.
© 2015, Jon Belber. All rights reserved. Friends of Holly Hill Farm