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As I reflect on the 2013 season thus far, I find myself still ‘riding the wave’ of the Earth Day Celebration and Open House.  I drove home that day realizing how the land was truly celebrated, how it was filled with song, hoops and children, how it’s plants and trees were spoken of and appreciated.  I was filled with reverence for this land that has fed so many over these 25 years and nourishes each one of us in ways we have no words for.  I felt the land smile that day.

Do you remember last year at this time?  The flowering trees had had their show and we were on to summer.  In 2012, we started the season off running. We planted and sowed seeds two weeks earlier than we ever had.  The fields were bursting by the first pick-up.  And here’s what I love about this farming stuff.  You just gotta go with it.  Each year is different and no year is like any other.  This year has had a slow take-off.  All through April and even thru early May, we have had cool nights yet warm days.  And just as we began transplanting our seedlings outside we came into a very dry (although beautiful) period.  Add windy and breezy to the mix and I come up with a word that many of us know very well – STRESSED.   Everything we planted was holding fast to any moisture in the ground and not growing very much.  We did irrigate but there’s nothing like an overcast day of steady rain – like the days we’ve recently had.  The plants are loving all the attention although  their response is not immediate but it is steady.

So what’s going on out in the fields?  Our ‘Spring Fields’ are filled with onions (summer and storage onions), broccoli, cabbage, fennel, lettuce, kohlrabi, radicchio, bok choy, collards,spinach, beets and carrots, fava beans, arugula, baby turnips, scallions, peas and flowers.   This list sounds bountiful!  But I must give you some perspective.  Take broccoli for example.  As you know, we start all of our crops from seed.  We sowed broccoli seed in flats on March 19th.  The broccoli seedlings were transplanted on April 30th.  In a seed catalogue, along with a description of the plant, you will see “days to maturity” or “days to maturity from transplant”.  In the case of broccoli it is 62 or so days to maturity from transplant.  Which means we will be harvesting broccoli around the early part of July, hopefully sooner if the weather is with us.  Now you may ask why didn’t we start the broccoli earlier so we could enjoy it sooner.  Well here we are in northwest New Jersey where the soil needs to warm up before it can be readied for planting.  I realize this is a long story about a broccoli seed but actually, it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

We spent May 7 cutting and planting potatoes just before the rains.  We’ve also been putting up pea fencing for those delectable snow and sugar snap peas.  Much of our spring work is spent pruning the kiwis, the fruit trees, the blackberries, blueberries and raspberries.  Mike has spent much of the spring adding height to the deer fence.  Let’s hope the deer enjoy all the wild veggies outside the fence this year.

Again, we have a very enthusiastic group of apprentices this year (and room for one more apprentice).  Jake Czaja joined us in mid-March.  Bill Brophy and Steve Hendershot joined us April 1st on a part-time basis while they finished their degrees at Rutgers.  Now they will be with us full-time.  And we send Sam Bass off with our best wishes as he takes on an apprenticeship in Canada.  Sam started the season off with us waiting for complications with his work visa to untangle.  And now he’s off to Canada knowing that the CSG at Genesis Farm will always be a home to him.  Good Luck, Sam!

We look forward to the pick-up days, seeing new and familiar faces, baskets and bags of just harvested veggies, and all of us appreciating what the land is giving us.