Saving Seed

By Elena Tesluk, Tarver Intern, Marist College

This summer, the education team (re)embarked on an exciting project: seed saving! To save seeds is to harvest and store seeds from present-day crops so that they can be used in future seasons. Over the course of the past few weeks, we’ve worked with seeds which were harvested by the farm as early as 2007. Since the initiation of the farm’s Seeds of the Food System program in 2006, team members have saved dozens of varieties of seeds. Working with these seeds now is like flipping through a grand bookcase of PFP history. Saved seeds remind us that seeds from the Gogosari Pepper were brought to the farm from Romania after former executive director Susan Grove’s time there in the Peace Corps. They also leave us with questions, like seeds from a “Mystery Lettuce,” harvested in 2010. One constant when it comes to seeds is that they’ve all got a story.

In a broader sense, to save seeds is to participate in a process that dates as far back as 10,000 years. Across history, seed saving has played a parallel role to that which it plays at PFP. By increasing self-sufficiency and food availability, seed saving has allowed civilizations to grow and thrive. At the same time, seed saving preserves the genetic diversity of crops AND connects farmers and gardeners with plants that are uniquely adapted to prosper in their environment! When farmers personally select the most successful plants from which to save seeds, they can define success on their own terms—that means future generations of the yummiest, best-performing plants from a given season.

In these ways, the seeds that we’ve chosen to save serve a function of memory. Saved seeds represent a given season and the people who were around for it. Beyond helping us remember our relationships with people, seed saving also helps us to preserve connections between ourselves and the environment. By taking an intentional role in natural systems, we increase our awareness of that relationship and of our role within it. This consciousness is helpful at every stage of our unending interactions with food and the environment—as we grow food, as we prepare food, as we eat food, and as we dispose of food waste. We applied this mindfulness as we returned to our seed saving project this month.

The farm has around forty varieties of seeds saved from previous years. Before we can we can share these lovely seeds—or use them ourselves—we have to conduct germination tests to see what proportion of the seeds are still viable. This means a lot of seeding, waiting, and counting.

When conducting germination tests, the first step is to plant one hundred seeds from each variety and year. Featured in this week’s seeding: Dragon Tongue Bean, Cilantro, and Red Russian Kale! Once the seeds are set in strip trays, we water ‘em and the waiting begins. Some seed varieties will take about a week to germinate, while others will keep us waiting for three weeks before we see any sprouts. Thanks to the diligent record-keeping of seed-savers past, we have an idea of how long it should take for each variety to complete germination. When a given variety finishes germinating, we count the number of sprouts in our strip trays. This number (out of the one hundred seeds planted) is the germination rate for that variety.

If a crop has a high germination rate, the farm will distribute or sell the seeds. Be on the lookout for PFP-grown seeds!

For crops with low germination rates, seeds will be planted in PFP gardens or used for seed art. Either way, these seeds’ stories don’t end here. 

Pick Your Own: Things to Know

Editor's Note: Another post about Pick Your Own‽ Yes! New and returning shareholders alike will benefit from this info. Pick Your Own is only open to our full and fall season CSA Shareholders. Don't have a share but want one? Go here.

With the CSA season in full swing, we've been getting a lot of questions from shareholders about Pick Your Own. If you are a CSA shareholder participating in PYO, here are a few things to know.:

Where should I harvest?
Please read the PYO board for information about where to pick and where NOT to pick! Sometimes we plant things in successions. This means that some rows of plants may be ready, and the same crop the next row over might not be ready yet, because it was planted later. The board will often have instructions about which successions are ready, and which are not. 

We will do our best to mark where one ready succession ends, and the next (“still ripening”) succession begins, with signage and/or yellow rope. If you respect these picking boundaries and allow immature plants to ripen, there will be more to pick for everyone!

Where can I walk?
Please watch out for neighboring beds! We often have crops planted right next to PYO crops, and it is important not to step in the beds. 

(Hint: even if it doesn’t look like there are plants in the bed next to you, if stepping in it feels soft or fluffy, that probably means that it’s been recently tilled, and that it is either seeded OR will be seeded very soon. We always want to avoid stepping in fluffy/soft soil. Pathways should feel firm under your feet.) 

What should I bring?
Containers: We cannot reuse or take back containers, but we strongly encourage you to reuse your OWN containers! Please do not try to return them to us, but DO feel free to bring them with you to next time. 

Scissors and clippers: Some crops (like flowers and some herbs) are best harvested cleanly by being clipped or snipped, rather than ripped. Please bring a pair of clippers or scissors with you to pick, and possibly a cup of water to transport flowers home.

Please note there is no glass allowed in the fields. We ask that you not bring drinking jars or any other kind of glass out into the fields, or anywhere inside the gates of the farm.

Our Philosophy

Sharing is Caring! We set quantities to make sure there is enough for everyone. Please respect quantities and limits.

Assume best intentions! Some members pick for friends who are elderly or less able to walk around the fields, and therefore harvest more than one share’s worth of PYO items. 

Be kind! To each other, and to the plants. Pick gently, and the plants will stay healthy for longer, providing us with more herbs/flowers/fruits than if we treat them roughly

Finally, please do stop by and say hello to our Pick Your Own person, stationed just inside the gate on distribution days! These friendly folks have lots of helpful information, and can help answer questions and point you in the right direction.

Thanks, and happy picking!

Grower's Row: Garlic!

We’re back! And we have GARLIC!

Garlic is something most of us see year-round in the grocery store. It’s one of those crops that we don’t always think of as being “seasonal”, or having a “season”. But follow any farmer’s social media account, and you’ll pretty quickly see that garlic does indeed have a season: and that harvest season is July.

Our garlic’s story begins in October of last year, when we planted it into a layer of plastic mulch. (The plastic mulch helps retain moisture, suppress weeds, and warm the soil in the spring.) The garlic must undergo a cold period in order to form a nice fat bulb -- and so it spends the winter out in the ground, waiting for spring.

 Garlic shoots in March

Garlic shoots in March

 Cultivating the garlic in May

Cultivating the garlic in May

In March, as the soil warms, the garlic sends up little green shoots… and soon, so do lots of weeds. Weeds like grasses, that threaten to spread their dense, deep root systems and steal all of the garlic’s nutrients, and amaranth and lamb’s quarter, whose big wide leaves will take up all the sunlight and shade out the garlic. So we weed. We cultivate the pathways with the tractor, we hoe the sides that the tractor missed, and we weed the holes with our hands. We do this more than once. With careful weeding and watering, the garlic sizes up.

By the time it’s about waist-high, in early June, plants start to send up tall, squiggly poles from the center: the scapes! If left to mature, the arrow-shaped tips of the scapes will swell to create a bundle of mini-bulbs, called “bulbils” -- and will draw on nutrients stored underground, in the cloves, to do so. In order to get fat juicy bulbs, we harvest the scapes in June. This forces the plant, which wants to make viable seed, to go to Plan B (the bulb).

 A forgotten garlic scape swells with bulbils

A forgotten garlic scape swells with bulbils

 The garlic field starting to senesce

The garlic field starting to senesce

 Leon showing clove separation during a field walk

Leon showing clove separation during a field walk

From June to July, the green leaves of the garlic plants start to turn yellow and brown at the tips. This process, called senescence, is one of the first indicators that harvest time is approaching. On a recent field walk, Leon showed us another, more reliable indicator: after pulling a bulb from the ground, he sliced it in half crosswise, revealing the hard neck. As cloves mature, they begin to pull away from the neck, leaving tiny gaps of space. At this point, the garlic is pungent and fat and ready to harvest!

 Garlic harvest!

Garlic harvest!

 Covering garlic with burlap to prevent sunburn

Covering garlic with burlap to prevent sunburn

We harvested our garlic on a hot day in July. The plants were mowed to remove the tops, undercut with the tractor to loosen the bulbs, gathered up by farm crew and workshare members, and laid out on tables to cure in the greenhouse. The curing process, which can take one to two weeks, allows the wrapper layers to dry out. Cured garlic can store for many months, though the flavor will evolve and the cloves will become slightly drier and less juicy over time. (Enjoy them now, while they’re fresh -- and notice the change in flavor over the course of the season.)

From this year’s garlic harvest, we will sort out the largest cloves, which will themselves become the garlic harvest of 2019.

 Garlic curing in the greenhouse

Garlic curing in the greenhouse

Grower's Row: Welcoming New Helping Hands

The demands of the farm skyrocket in June.

With the arrival of longer, hotter days and warmer nighttime temperatures, the plants take off, sizing up quickly each day. We leave the plants on Friday, and come back Monday to noticeably larger, leafier, greener plants and fruits that seem to have nearly doubled in size.

This same boom in growth isn’t limited to the crop plants. It’s even more true of the weeds. Unlike our crop plants, which are bred to be succulent and delicious, these rough-and-tumble weeds have to survive out in the wild, where they self-select for their ability to gather nutrients more quickly than their neighbors, and to grow leafier, taller, and faster. They’re tough, and they’re survivors. Once established, they’re tough to kill -- and can take twice the staff-hours just to manage them.

Getting weeds at the right stage, when they’re very young, requires vigilance -- but more importantly, it requires getting lucky with the right (hot, dry) weather, and juggling multiple high-priority tasks that all need attention RIGHT NOW.

Because of course, weeding isn’t the only thing we’re trying to get to on time. We’re planting, every week, to make sure we have new successions of plants to provide our CSA members with a continuous supply of fresh produce all season long. We’re seeding in the greenhouse, to have plants to plant. We’re pruning and trellising, to keep up with plant needs. And finally we are harvesting (and washing and packing and distributing) hundreds, and soon thousands, of pounds of produce every week.

All of this is way more than our core farm team of 6 can do alone. We need HELP! And here at PFP, those helping hands come in many different shapes and sizes.

In the winter, we had help from volunteers, which included CSA members who came out to work just for fun; CIA students and college students home for winter break; and a shy, smiling au pair from China who showed up unexpectedly one day, determined to work. Then in the spring, we received help from four dedicated (and very enthusiastic) Vassar students Alie, Kristina, Mad and Zoe, through the Community Engaged Learning program. They helped us sort through our winter storage crops, wash and pack produce for winter share, and manage weeds in our high tunnels.

 Editor's Note: Heck ye Demier and Lucas, look at those tomatoes now! (Please refer to the  Green Jobs Post )

Editor's Note: Heck ye Demier and Lucas, look at those tomatoes now! (Please refer to the Green Jobs Post)

In March we welcomed Lucas, Demier and Isiah. These curious, energetic men with big hearts and bright smiles are the first members of our brand new Green Jobs program, intended to provide young people with an outdoor farm classroom to learn to grow food for their community. The team has since expanded to include Kitana and Savannah, whose positive energy and hard-working hands have already brought so much to the farm, including planting all the PYO tomatoes! Do yourself a favor and take a moment to read our feature post on the Green Jobs program, and to see more photos and amazing moments from their first few months here.

As of last week, our core team of 6 has expanded to include two new Interns, Kira and Laura, who will be with us every day from June through August. In addition to helping us plant, seed, subdue weeds, harvest all the things and trellis tomatoes forever, they’ll be gaining knowledge and building skills in greenhouse management, irrigation, crop rotation, soil structure and soil biology basics.

 CSA members co-carry heavy bins of lettuce during a morning harvest

CSA members co-carry heavy bins of lettuce during a morning harvest

Last but not least, our main season work is made manageable by the many helping hands of our CSA work share members! From helping with morning harvest and afternoon fieldwork projects, to delivering donated produce to our Food Share partners, and helping soup kitchens wash and chop raw produce as part of the Green Machines, our work share members allow us to do and accomplish so much more than we ever could without them. Any garlic or scapes you receive this year will have been grown from a clove that was split and sorted by one of your fellow CSA members last fall, and any strawberries and raspberries you pick will be sweet and delicious because CSA members helped weed them and give them access to all the soil nutrients and sunlight they need.

Like the crops we grow, the farm work itself is seasonal, swelling in the summer and dwindling in the winter. One of my favorite things about PFP is the diversity of different hands we have all pitching in to keep this farm running. Everyone has something different to contribute, whether it’s hard-working hands, a sense of enthusiasm, big smiles to brighten the overcast days, curiosity that helps us all see things differently, or a sense of gratitude for the ability to get out of the office and into the dirt. All the different hands and hearts that find their way here make for a stimulating learning experience, a rewarding work environment, and a rich on-farm community.

We are growing so much more than vegetables. Thank you for being a part of it.

Now: back to the weeds!

 

 

 

 

Green Jobs for a Greener Poughkeepsie!

Dear Farm Community,
We have some folks we’d like you to meet.

They’re the first participants in our new Green Jobs program, which provides young people with an outdoor farm classroom to learn to grow food for their community. In addition to growing and propagating food crops using sustainable practices, they will deepen their understanding of local and regional food systems and learn to educate others about organic gardening, healthy eating, and using urban agriculture for community building. This project will provide intensive training to 34 youth over the course of two years.

At PFP, we believe that every person has a right to real food. This right extends beyond the consumer's purchasing power: every person has the right to access the space, knowledge, and resources for growing the food they eat and to access fresh and nutritious food grown by others. As part of our commitment to supporting young people in our community in this endeavor, we’ve launched this important new Green Jobs program.

Meet Demier, Isiah, Lucas, and Kitana, the first four participants of the Green Jobs program. They joined us in March, and have been a total delight to have working with our team!

 Lucas Ramos!

Lucas Ramos!

 Demier Harrison!

Demier Harrison!

 Isiah Hawley!

Isiah Hawley!

 Kitana Zachary!

Kitana Zachary!

These young adults have such a great attitude. They are always smiling, and always ready to learn something new. It has been an honor and a whole lot of fun to learn and grow alongside them so far!

According to them, the never ending learning opportunities play a big role in their excitement. Isiah remarks, “There is so much you have to know about each individual crop to grow it successfully! It’s a whole new world to me, and I feel like I could spend years here and still be learning. It’s seriously awesome.” If you ask them their absolute favorite part of the program however, it is a tough call to make. Isiah again,  “This is the first job I’ve had where I wake up and I’m so excited to get to work.... I didn’t know that was possible! I wake up, I’m excited, and the day just gets better and better.”

The Green Jobs program is the first project we have created as a complete collaboration between the farm and education department at PFP. If you ask Lucas, it’s this cohesion, it’s the times we all come together, that creates the true magic.  He says, “Mid-day we all come together as a big team. Everyone sits together like a family, and you can probably hear us laughing from miles away.” The rest of the crew agrees but can’t hold back in sharing more of what makes this place special to them. According to Demier, “There is something about this food itself!!”.... So every day we work we try new foods at lunch, right? Well after I eat here my body feels CRAZY. It is ready TO GO! I feel unstoppable.”

The Green Jobs crew is in complete awe of the farm, and meanwhile, we are in complete awe of them. It has been obvious from day one that this is a team completely devoted to community. From Isiah, “Every day there are at least four stories I can’t wait to run home and share with my family members, and now they can’t wait for me! They need the magic too.” After just one week on the crew, Ellie ran into Demier on Main Street, where he was already plotting to begin a space to share hands-on training from his experience. “ELLIE! What are the chances! I was just talking about you and the farm! Do you have seed catalogs I could have? We need to start growing food on Main Street so everyone can get in on this good feeling.” 

 Demier and Lucas, kings of the tomato tunnel.

Demier and Lucas, kings of the tomato tunnel.

Free Cooking Workshops at the Mobile Market!

Do you need tasty new recipes for your farm-fresh produce? 
We are thrilled to offer FREE cooking demonstrations and tastings at the Dutchess Outreach Fresh Market every Wednesday (11:30-1:00) when it stops at the Family Partnership Center, 29 N Hamilton St, Poughkeepsie. 

The Dutchess Outreach Fresh Market distributes local, farm fresh fruits and vegetables to residents of the City of Poughkeepsie. The goal of the mobile market is to provide affordable, healthy food access to everyone, regardless of social status or income. The market operates from June-November making stops throughout the city of Poughkeepsie and accepts all forms of payment, including food assistance benefits like SNAP/EBT and WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program Checks from Seniors and Mothers with Infant Children. 

Market Stops:

MONDAYS 3:00 PM–6:00 PM The Poughkeepsie Waterfront Market at the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum, 75 N. Water Street Poughkeepsie. Market runs June - August. All other stops are open into November!

EVERY WEDNESDAY 11:30AM–1:00 PM Family Partnership Center 29 North Hamilton Street, Poughkeepsie.

1ST AND 3RD WEDNESDAY 1:30 PM–3:00 PM Maplewood 475 Maple Street, Poughkeepsie Westbound Arterial

2ND AND 4TH WEDNESDAY 1:30 PM–3:00 PM Benny’s 10th Inning, (Benny’s Parking Lot) 4 Lincoln Avenue, Poughkeepsie, New York 12601

EVERY WEDNESDAY 3:30AM–4:30 PM Adriance Public Library 93 Market Street, Poughkeepsie

THURSDAYS 12:00 PM–1:30 PM Interfaith Towers 66 Washington Street, Poughkeepsie

THURSDAYS 2:00 PM–3:30 PM Wildcard Stop Follow @DutchOutreach on Twitter to find out where they’ll be!

 

 

May Share Sneak Peak (+ Recipes!)

April showers bring May flowers… and our first vegetables! Want in on some of our earliest harvest? May Share is a two-week pick-up the last two weeks of May (May 22 and 29), and is a great way to get a head-start on what the growing season has to offer. The mild weather means tender young greens, fresh spring radishes, and more.

Here, we’re giving you a sneak peek into some of the crops you can expect to see in the May Share, along with a few recipe ideas:

 French breakfast radishes are tender and juicy

French breakfast radishes are tender and juicy

Baby Bok Choi
These bite-sized bok choi are lovely in a quick saute. Follow this basic idea, or try adding ginger and fresh chili to the garlic and replacing the water with mirin or soy sauce. Finish with a squeeze of lime. Or halve and simmer into this lemongrass-turmeric soup.

French Breakfast Radishes
These beauties are a treat, however you slice them. Add them to your favorite salad; slice them thinly and quick-pickle with a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime for a fantastic taco topping (or try your hand at these fun pickles!); layer sliced radishes onto a sandwich of crusty bread and good butter -- or enjoy them fresh and whole.

Red Butter & Oak Leaf Lettuces
Small tender head-lettuces are on the way! Use in your favorite salad, or try this one with radishes and buttermilk dressing.

Rhubarb
If all goes well with our newest perennial patch, we hope to have some tart ruby-hued rhubarb for you at the end of this month! Not familiar with this delectable spring vegetable? Try a classic strawberry-rhubarb crumble, or get fancy with this rhubarb honey panna cotta or these rhubarb bars with cream-cheese shortbread crust.

Popcorn!
Go classic, or try topping your popcorn with a dusting of curry powder, Old Bay seasoning, nutritional yeast, or salt + sugar for kettle corn. Never made popcorn on the stove before? Here’s a fun step-by-step guide. Try using a heavy-bottomed pot and oils with a high smoke-point for best popping results. (Editor's note - if you can't give up microwave popcorn, shop around for a silicone popping bowl...I have one, I use it with my home-grown corn, and it's great.)

Click here to sign up for May Share (or any of our other CSA shares), or here to submit a recipe you’d like to share with fellow shareholders!

 Rhubarb centers just starting to unfurl new leaves

Rhubarb centers just starting to unfurl new leaves

 Baby bok choy

Baby bok choy

Grower's Row: May Means Plant Sale

By Lauren McDonald

Happy Spring… hopefully?

 Broccoli babes

Broccoli babes

 Tunnels starting to fill up with cucumbers

Tunnels starting to fill up with cucumbers

For much of April, the cold weather has kept us from getting into the ground, delaying our planting schedule by two, then three weeks -- which has been fairly nerve-wracking. While waiting for the soil to warm up, we’ve been preparing for the Plant Sale, and continuing to transition the high tunnels from arugula and radishes to main season crops like tomatoes and a moderate planting of cucumbers. We wouldn’t have been able to get this work done in such good time without help from four dedicated Vassar students and our two new crew members from Nubian Directions (whom we will introduce in next month’s newsletter). Finally, a break in the weather gave us one day (!) to get three weeks’ worth of plants in the ground -- and we did it! One acre, eleven hours, and 18,000 plants later, and our farm is finally starting to look like… well, a farm.

Now that the first planting push is behind us, we’re all getting excited for the next big event: our Plant Sale! This week we’ve been potting up hundreds of flowers, herbs, and vegetables from open trays into pots. Even after moving thousands of plants out to the high tunnels, the propagation greenhouse is busting at the seams.

 It's "thyme" for the Plant Sale!

It's "thyme" for the Plant Sale!

Here are some highlights you can look forward to!

 Calendula seeds

Calendula seeds

  • 20 varieties of heirloom tomatoes of every color of the rainbow! Most of these grow well in containers with some trellising (even in a 5 gallon bucket), so if space is limited you can still give them a try. We’ve chosen varieties that are known for their flavor, productivity, and/or disease resistance.
  • More flowers that are great for drying: Statice, Strawflower, and Calendula. Harvest the blooms from these when they are partially open and hang them upside down on lay flat on screens to keep their stems straight.
  •  Flowers that are deer resistant. We know deer are a challenge for many gardeners in our area, so we’re growing several flower and herb varieties with strong odors, bitter flavors, or tough leaves that are less palatable to deer.
  •  Flowers that are especially good for pollinators. (Pollinator habitat is something we’d like to promote in the region.) Look for these flowers that fall in both categories: Alyssum, Bee Balm, Blue Balloon Flower, Blue Flax, Cosmos, Heliotrope, Lupine, Marigold, California Poppies, and Yarrow
  • All of the usual favorites, from arugula and artichokes to yarrow and zucchini, plus melons, strawberries and herbs.

In case the dates aren’t already on your calendar, the sales are the first two Saturdays in May (May 5th and 12th) from 9am-2pm. Come visit us and pick up a few plants to take home! Or take a walk around the farm with us, and admire our newly pruned and mulched blueberry patch, and all of the new baby plants that will soon be appearing in May Share and main-season CSA distributions. (If that’s not reason enough, did we mention there will also be a food truck?)

Hope to see you there!

 Our first planting: 18,000 plants in the field!

Our first planting: 18,000 plants in the field!

Join Us for Spring Fever 2018

We are super excited about our 2nd Annual Spring Fever Family Day and Book Fair on ***May 19th*** (please note we postponed this event to May 19th, rain or shine!). This day of festivities for children and families coincides with the second day of our Plant Sale and will run from 10am to 2pm. We will celebrate nature, animals, gardening and taste delicious fresh snacks! There will be fun workshops for children from 4 to 12 years old offered by local community organizations. Register for the workshops here. Spring Fever is a FREE event; however, we will be accepting donations to help cover the costs of the event. Want to volunteer at Spring Fever? Sign up here.

spring fever 11.jpg

Ongoing activities throughout the event will include:

  • Book Fair: Browse and purchase new books at discounted prices with Inquiring Minds Bookstore.
  • Bubbles Bubbles Everywhere! Come join The Art Effect to learn about printmaking and make a unique print from colored bubbles.
  • Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Family Services. Learn the history of the holiday and create traditional paper flowers.
  • Plant seeds to take home with the Childcare Council of Dutchess and Putman Counties!
  • Make native seed balls with clay, soil, and native seeds to plant around town with the Student Conservation Association.
  • Visit with and pet miniature donkeys with Little Brays of Sunshine from Donkey Park.
  • Help make a giant clay flower pot by decorating a coil of clay and adding to the coils other children have made with Art Centro.
  • Taste fresh vegetables with differently seasoned dips with Eat Smart NY.
  • Browse and purchase fresh vegetables and fruit on the Mobile Fresh Market with Dutchess Outreach.
  • Stop by the smoothie station for tasty fruit and vegetable-based smoothies with Poughkeepsie Farm Project (by donation).
  • Get some delicious snacks or lunch from two food vendors: Essie’s Restaurant and Farmers and Chefs Food Truck.
  • Take photos as Super Veggie or as one of our local beaver neighbors.
  • Nature body paint: Get pollinators, flowers, or vegetables painted on your face or hands with the Environmental Cooperative.
  • Plant Sale: Browse and purchase PFP-grown flower, vegetable, herb, and fruit plants for your garden or as gifts.

In addition to all of that, there will be four children’s workshop options in each of the three sessions. Registration is required for the workshops which include the following:

All about Donkeys: Hang out with the Little Brays of Sunshine and learn interesting facts about miniature donkeys including what they eat and how to care for them. For children 7-12 with an adult.

Eat the Rainbow: Celebrate of the rainbow of vegetables and fruits that you can grow in your own garden! Learn how to prepare a colorful snack-wrap using produce of all shapes and colors with educators from Poughkeepsie Farm Project. For children 4-12 with an adult.

Worms Rule: Come investigate real live worms. We’ll learn about their life cycle, what they eat, and how you can use their natural gifts at home for compost. For children 8-12. Presented by Poughkeepsie Farm Project.

spring fever 12.jpg

Pollinator Power: Learn all about native plants, the pollinators they benefit, and actions that you can take to beautify your environment and provide habitat for local pollinators. There will be an opportunity to build bee hotels on a first-come first-served basis. For children 8-12. Presented by The Environmental Cooperative.

Garden Explorations: Explore many vibrant wild weeds and cultivated Spring-time plants growing in the Discovery Gardens! Join a wild plant scavenger hunt, open your senses with herbs in the Meditation Garden, and create your own flower crowns! For children 4-12 with an adult. Presented by Poughkeepsie Farm Project.

Whoa, Go, Slow with the Very Hungry Caterpillar: What does it take to transform into a beautiful butterfly? Join us as we read the classic story and find out what foods can help us become strong and beautiful butterflies. We will sort food into categories, talk about eating the rainbow and make our own yummy butterfly snack. For children 4-7 with adult. Presented by Eat Smart NY.

Tales of the Rainbow Forest Musical Reading: Sing, dance, and read with local author McKenzie Willis and his musical story Tales of the Rainbow Forest in the Meditation Garden. For children 3-8 with adult. Presented by Inquiring Minds Bookstore.

Children’s Farm Tour: Explore Poughkeepsie Farm Project's fields on this guided farm tour. Look for pollinators, taste the freshest veggies, and discover the magic of plants! All ages. An adult must accompany any child on the farm tour.

We hope you will join us for this fun family festival!

*Activities and schedule are subject to change.

spring fever 7.JPG

Grower’s Row: The Joy of Watching Seeds Grow

By Aozora (Zoe) Brockman

The heat mats in the greenhouse are now covered with little seedlings. Swathes of dirt-filled trays filled with baby green plants are spread across low black tables. The newly re-potted tomatoes—hybrid, heirloom, and cherry varieties—relish the cooler air on pallets underneath the tables.

Soon every inch of the greenhouse will be taken up by tiny morsels of life, growing stronger and bigger each sunlit hour. And before long, the tomatoes will be transplanted into the tunnels, and the onions, beets, scallions and other spring crops will be pressed into the tilled dirt of the field.

 Newly sprouted onion seeds

Newly sprouted onion seeds

Spring is a time for quiet birthings, and for me, a time of exuberant joy. Watching onion seeds I dropped three at a time into plugs peek their heads up from a layer of vermiculite, then sprout like little green hairs, floods me with maternal happiness. I wish for them to keep growing towards the light, to eat and eat and drink and drink, to reach their white roots far and wide.

 A little bigger...

A little bigger...

It feels like a miracle, how a little seed knows to grow into an onion. Not just any onion, but a highly specific one: a gold, round, Cortland onion, for instance. And how marvelous it is that this onion, planted in the spring, will last until next spring, stored throughout the winter.

 Now we're cookin'!

Now we're cookin'!

I smile thinking of how perhaps the hand who seeded a Cortland onion will one day place it onto a wooden chopping board, sizzle it in oil, and salivate as its aroma fills the kitchen. Or perhaps you will feast on the onion that was birthed in our greenhouse, that bulbed under the sun and rain in the black soil of our fields.

As the rush of spring and summer speeds towards us, I want to hang on to this time of seeding, of youth. In the calm before the storm, I hope to myself that we will all remember, when we eat, the journeys of the vegetables that sustain our bodies, that keep us growing, that keep us strong.