While the farm stand is seeing less activity as our production winds down, the farm itself is quite busy. We’ve sown all the fields in cover crop, have been planning for the location of the NRCS high tunnel, and are working on a variety of other projects, including the planting of daffodils and tulips, and garlic!
Our board President, Tim Faulkner, put together some numbers of the goings-on at the farm. Take a look:
Compost. The October food school food-scrap collection totals are in. Hampden Meadows School 374 pounds, Sowams School 209 pounds, Nayatt School 190 pounds, Primrose Hill School 155 pounds, Barrington Middle School 81 pounds and Barrington High School 0. St. Andrew’s School collected 370 pounds. Public drop-off (east of the farm stand off Federal Rd) at the farm netted 1,323 pounds.
The BFS Food Scrap Program is run with the Barrington School District Green Team. Food scrap collection occurs during lunch at all four Barrington elementary schools. The Middle School and High School collect food scrap from their kitchens.
Garlic. Volunteers planted nearly 2,000 garlic bulbs on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3. The garlic was fertilized with seaweed courtesy of Point Judith Kelp Co., shredded leaves, and our own compost. The garlic, our own variety, will be harvested in July and offered at the farm stand.
Board help needed. The Barrington Farm School is looking for new board members. In particular, we are in need of a treasurer and a grant writer. If you are interested in either position or would like to join our board as a regular member, please reach out to Tim Faulkner atBarringtonFarmSchool@gmail.com or 401-330-6276.
What better way to follow el Dia de Los Muertos than with planting seeds. While October 31 still draws the most attention, it marks the eve of the day when we celebrate our ancestors.
When we think about the richness of tradition and the vast metaphors within oral and written histories with respect to life and death and its relationship to the soil, we recognize the intricate relationship we have with the earth. For us, this takes center stage with our composting—collecting local food scraps from areas schools and at our farmstand drop off toters, which are filled to the brim regularly by enthusiastic neighbors.
In honoring the earth, and our carbon-based chemistry, we have planned two wonderful opportunities for the community to join us in farming the land here at Vendituoli Farm.
Monarchs and Milkweedis Saturday, November 2nd, from 10 am – 11:30 am, hosted by our neighbor Cynthia O. and her keen knowledge and stewardship of native plants, pollinators, and milkweed—we will tour her native garden and learn how to collect seed and incubate seed into cold stratification through the winter.
Planting Garlictakes place Saturday, November 2nd, from 11:30 am – 3 pm. We will be planting 2500 garlic seeds in the “Little Uruguay” garden bed. We’ve been conditioning the soil with our very own compost, plus we will be mulching over the garlic with Kelp mulch, courtesy of Point Judith Kelp Company. This process is amazing, and so rewarding come July as the various heirloom varieties make their way out of the ground to cure.
Another great way to show support for the farm is with our “Adopt” a farm row campaign. We’ve secured 9 out of 27 rows thus farm, and your donation helps to ensure the best organic compost courtesy of Earthcare Farm, and the best organic seed from the most respected open seed companies in New England.
Autumn carries with it its own sense of rejuvenation, with its many insect creatures preparing for their hibernation, its fallen leaves a haven, as the sun prepares for its final descent until blessing us in winter.
However our paths meet from now until spring, the farm echoes, even when silent. For there are infinite projects in the works. We’re grateful for being here.
I appreciate that BFS is a farm school, not merely a farm. In a place and time where farming isn’t the norm and is even looked down upon as an unwise career choice, BFS is sparking interest in the volunteers, both adults, and children, that come by.
One thing I love about physical labor is that I can think. Because I’ve been in school almost my entire life, most of the topics I’ve spent thinking about have been assigned. I didn’t have much time for pleasure reading about subjects I was interested in, and no one to discuss my interests with (a con of being an aspiring farmer in DC).
With more time to read, I’ve been able to dig deep into different perspectives on a variety of matters (a recent favorite read is The Soil Will Save Us by Kristin Ohlson). The farm is where I can process these perspectives. One reason for this is that on the farm, I have time to think. As I’ve settled into my routine of watering, weeding, and harvesting, I’ve been able to parse through what I’ve been learning. Another reason is that many of the volunteers on the farm have also learned and thought about the same things. I’ve had amazing conversations about the carbon storage potential of farms, the pros/cons of meat production, and social justice.
The interconnectedness of food is astounding. Not only does it nourish our bodies, but it also carries significant cultural, ecological, historic, scientific, and philosophical value. A professor gave my class a short article to read for our first day of class. It forges connections and articulates them more clearly than I ever could.
I appreciate that BFS is a farm school, not merely a farm. In a place and time where farming isn’t the norm and is even looked down upon as an unwise career choice, BFS is sparking interest in the volunteers, both adults, and children, that come by. At the birthday party held at the farm last week, children were pulling carrots from the ground. The look on their faces said it all- they were proud and excited that they had harvested a snack on their own. The carrots were gone in minutes. It gives me a lot of satisfaction and joy to think that this, for many of them, was the first time they understood where carrots come from. One of the parents came up to me afterward and said that she struggled to get her son to eat vegetables, but that he ate the carrot without any prompting. I’m guessing this is because he watched the other kids’ excitement and felt proud after harvesting it on his own.
I think we should all be able to take pride in our food. Whether we’re farmers ourselves, have a single raised bed at home, or even support regenerative agriculture by buying from local farmers markets, I believe we each have a role to play in shifting the food system to one where we understand and are proud of where our food comes from, just like that child. Food is a baseline, a necessity, a starting point from which change can unfold, and I’m eager to continue thinking and learning about it.
A 7-year-old’s birthday anniversary celebration at the farm: such a treat and a testament to what this community can be about…
Co-hosting with a local family and their friends to enjoy a perfect afternoon is all we could have hoped for on this early autumn day. We met casually earlier in the week to make a plan: two hours – honey bees, bbq, playing with worms, harvesting carrots and radishes – and best of all- s’ mores and dirt in a cup!
We truly enjoyed this model, building friendships and teaching about our great little farm school. Everyone went home with an overwhelming sense of joy.
This event came together casually and ran smoothly thanks to the efforts of the farm team and the terrifically easy-going visitors. Of course, when it is sunny and warm, and the farm is brimming with flowers, veggies, and kind hearts, what could be better?
If you receive our newsletter, you have already met our talented volunteer, Emily Sutherland. Though she’s been with us just a few weeks, the Farm School is her home now; she is one of us! This is her first blog … we asked her to share her journey to becoming a farmer…enjoy!
Self-sufficiency has always intrigued me. As a child, I would read with wonder how the Ingalls family would churn butter, build log homes and barns, and tap maple trees for syrup. I would play with my American Girl Doll, Kaya, learning how the Nez Perce valued their food so highly that they left not one piece of buffalo wasted after a hunt.
My parents went along with my various escapades, running the stove for hours to boil down the sap I tapped from the maple tree in the front yard and building me a raised bed when I was seven. Looking back, the pride and confidence I build while growing my own food was crucial in my development. I would bring my maple candy (after boiling it past the point of syrup) to school and proudly watch my classmates devour it. I was contributing food to my family’s table, selling it at the end of my driveway for a few dollars, and learning to love nutritious food all the while. My garden gave me ownership and responsibility, and I loved it.
I took a career class during my freshman year of college at American University. The professor had us write down our main interests and favorite activities as a child. “This,” she said, “is where you’ll find your passion. Turn that into a career and you’ll be all set.” I looked down at my list and realized I was going to be a farmer.
I didn’t know what I could possibly do with a list consisting of “raising pet rabbits and chickens,” “tending to my garden,” “being outside,” and “meeting new people.” So I decided to enter the business school, figuring I could pretty much go any path with a business degree. After finishing a year early (thanks AP credits!), I decided to pursue my masters, also in the business school, but in a specialized Sustainability Management program. It was one year long, and since I’d already completed the basic business classes, I got to take a variety of electives. I took environmental science, conservation, and political ecology classes. These opened my eyes to the wide, messy, complicated world of food- growing it, importing it, genetically engineering it, distributing it, and so much more. The director of the program had studied agriculture herself and was the first person that encouraged me to pursue farming. Nobody I knew had viewed it as a viable life path before, even myself. Farmers were poor, relied on subsidies, and wrecked the environment, right?
During my masters, I started reading and researching potential programs for aspiring farmers. As it turns out, there are hundreds of farmers looking for apprentices. They tote labels such as “regenerative,” “no-till,” and “organic.” They sell at farmers’ markets in the inner city and donate to food banks. They educate kids on how to eat healthily and encourage the next generation of farmers. Once I got a taste, I knew that’s where I’d be going after college. So in March, I’m headed to a farm in Shenandoah, Virginia, to work full time as an apprentice.
That’s where Barrington Farm School comes in. I was raised in Barrington and figured it would be wiser to move home for a few months after graduation rather than working a low paying job while paying high rent in DC. I quite literally stumbled upon BFS while walking my dog (I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed it over breaks previously, I guess college kids are in a sleep-deprived daze when they return after exams). I met the amazing farmers that volunteer their time to make this farm happen and teach others the same skills that empowered me as a kid. The next day, I showed up and put in a few hours of work… and have come back every day since.
Reflection sinks in deeply when August night’s cool settles the mind as it looks back at the fruits of summer
In this first spring-summer employing market garden and bio intensive planting techniques, we begin to recognize how the beauty of the craft is in the continuous practice of bed prep and seed sowing.
With each bed flip, prep and new plantings what we get beyond the produce is … knowledge.
This summer was a test to see if the lessons we read and viewed would come to fruition.
We’ve learned enough to get by and we remain humble in knowing there is still so much to learn.
While we kept it relatively simple, as far as variety of produce, we certainly recognize that as we scale up some next year and look to offer more variety, the farming will be more involved and the practice will take on another level of intensity.
August brings with it the first of our tomatoes. And the wait is worth every juicy bite. Though we would love to bring the succulent reds to the stand by early July, our story is one of patience and perseverance.
As we incorporate new methods for growing through organic practices, we first heal the soil and enrich it with certified compost and a cover crop rotation. For some of our fields, a three year cover crop rotation would be necessary.
However, we can improve the soil while still growing delicious veggies. We simply need patience.
While we know what we’re planning will take some time, we’re excited, as many of you are, about our progress.
This spring, summer and fall will be a mere sampling of what will be in store for the coming years at BFS. As the soil is nourished, so is our spirit to learn, and educate around healthy and sustainable living.