Archive for the ‘winter growing’ Category

Winter grown greens at the UNH Dairy Bar

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Seacoast Eat Local is happy and proud to be a partner in the winter growing grant that sparked this terrific partnership! It’s great to note this research and know that it is helping to inform winter growing of greens – much of which is also being done in unheated or minimally heated greenhouses in the ground.

UNH Dairy Bar Serving Local Greens With a Side of Science

DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire’s Dairy Bar, a restaurant with the tag line “Local, Fresh, Sustainable,” is serving salad greens this spring that couldn’t be more local: they’re grown several hundred yards away in the UNH Macfarlane Greenhouses. And before they’re doused in vinaigrette, the gourmet greens have served science and helped inform New Hampshire growers about a potential new winter crop.

The project represents a collaboration among UNH Dining, which operates the Dairy Bar, and UNH Cooperative Extension and the N.H. Agricultural Experiment Station at UNH, which spearheaded the research.

“The goal of the research project was to investigate the feasibility of profitably producing greens and herbs in underutilized greenhouses during the winter months,” says Becky Sideman, associate professor and Extension specialist in sustainable horticulture, who is conducting the research with Brian Krug, Extension specialist in greenhouse production.

Greenhouses around the state are often empty between November and February, Sideman says. Yet this time period coincides with the coldest, darkest time of the year. Given energy costs, she and Krug wondered, what are the optimum amounts of supplemental heat and light needed for growers to produce a profitable winter crop of gourmet greens?

The researchers launched their pilot study in September 2010 by planting 12 varieties of greens – including lettuce, endive, arugula, mache, mizuna, tatsoi, and spinach – in two identical UNH greenhouses with minimum temperatures of 60 degrees Fahrenheit in one and 40 degrees in another. All were grown in potting mix in “benchtop production” rather than in beds, since that’s the setup of many greenhouses that are empty during this time period.

Calculating growth rate and production costs, the duo refined their pilot for a second planting in March 2011; it’s these greens that are being used by the Dairy Bar. While results are very preliminary, Sideman notes that production during a New Hampshire winter is not cheap.

“The key to any kind of winter production is to have a pretty good market,” she says. “Producers would need to sell these greens direct to consumers who are willing to pay for a local product.” Farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSAs), or perhaps restaurants committed to local procurement are potential outlets, she says.

Primarily supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, the project received additional support from UNH Dining, which is using about 50 pounds week of the greens per in Dairy Bar salads. “We’re hoping it can go from a research project to how we do business,” says Rick MacDonald, assistant director of UNH Dining. “The greens are delicious, and people really like them.”

No stranger to sourcing local food, UNH Dining, through its Local Harvest Initiative, spends more than 20 percent of its budget on items produced within a 250 mile radius of UNH and hosts a popular Local Harvest Feast each fall. It regularly serves apples from UNH’s Woodman Farm and since 2008 have cooperated with professor of plant biology Brent Loy to serve a butternut squash hybrid he was developing for farmers in the Northeast (see news release here: http://www.unh.edu/news/cj_nr/2008/oct/bp21squash.cfm).

The Dairy Bar, revamped in summer 2008 with a focus on local foods and sustainable operations, provides the ideal outlet for Sideman and Krug’s winter greens. “They’re as fresh as you can get,” says MacDonald.

“They’re just fantastic,” Sideman adds.

Twilight Farmers Meeting at Farmer Dave’s in Dracut MA, Monday March 14

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

IPM Update, Corn Heat, & Winter Greens
Twilight Farmers Meeting at Farmer Dave’s in Dracut MA

Time: Monday, March 14, 2011, 3:30 pm to 7:00pm

Location: Farmstand and greenhouses at Brox Farm, 1276 Broadway Road (Rte 113), Dracut, MA 01826-2813

Hosted by Dave Dumaresq

Sponsored by UMass Extension Vegetable Program

Join us for our first 2011 vegetable twilight meeting, hosted by Dave Dumaresq of Farmer Dave’s farm. Dave farms about 90 acres of vegetables and about 18,000 ft of heated greenhouse space, at three different locations including Bronx Farm in Dracut, MA. Dave uses greenhouses to grow flowers, winter and spring greens, greenhouse tomatoes, and vegetable transplants. Dave sells through two farm stands, several farmers markets, a summer CSA with many pickup locations, and some wholesale. Recently he has started selling through winter farmers markets and both winter and early spring CSA’s.

The full program will include:
•    Pre-season IPM update & weather monitoring information. Dave will describe innovative IPM techniques that he uses with assistance from crop consultant Jim Mussoni. Ruth Hazzard will introduce a new UMass Extension project that will offer basic and advanced training in specific IPM tactics, and Jon Clements will talk about our new network of weather stations and how you can use them to access on- line weather data and pest modeling and make more informed pest management decisions in both vegetables and fruit crops.

•    Corn burning furnace for greenhouse heat. This is the third winter that Dave has heated his warmest greenhouse with shelled corn. We will see his innovative heating system in action and discuss the costs, benefits, and challenges. We will review the economics of using corn for greenhouse heat, based on several years of economic data.

•    Growing & marketing greens in the wintertime. Farmer Dave’s has recently started growing and harvesting greens through the winter and early spring greens for a 10-week spring CSA using a sub- irrigation bench filled with compost and potting soil. Becky Sideman UNH Extension Veg. & Berry Specialist and UNH Extension Greenhouse Specialist Brian Krug will discuss their studies comparing benchtop production vs in-ground winter production for yield and energy use. Kate Donald from Seacoast Eat Local will talk about profitably marketing winter produce. Discussion of winter production and sales will continue over refreshments.

1 pesticide applicator recertification credits will be offered. Refreshments will be served.

Directions from Route 93: Take exit 46 for MA-110/MA-113 toward Lawrence/Dracut. At the traffic circle, take the 3rd exit onto Lowell St. Slight right at MA-113/N Lowell St. Continue for ~2.4 miles, the farm stand will be on your right.

For pre-registration or more information contact Andy Cavanagh at 413-577-3976 or acavanagh@psis.umass.edu. Pre-registration is encouraged but walk-ins are welcome. Attendance is free.

Winter Harvest & Sales — Online Survey

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

If you grow or store winter vegetables for wholesale or retail sales, we are seeking feedback on your needs and the issues most important for expansion:

 

ONLINE GROWER SURVEY ON WINTER HARVEST AND SALES:

New England Vegetable Growers Needs Assessment

 

Do you store vegetables for winter sales, or are you producing vegetables to harvest between December and April? Are you interested in expanding your farm’s winter harvest? We are seeking input and involvement from vegetable farmers on a project to help build the capacity for winter vegetable production in our region. Northeast SARE has provided funding for a 3-year Research & Education project to expand winter harvest and sales for New England vegetable crops.

 

Partners on the project include University of MassachusettsUniversity of New HampshireCommunity Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, and Seacoast Eat Local. We are in the first year of the project, and are seeking feedback from farmers on what winter growing and sales you are doing now, what you would like to do in the future, and what issues are most important to expand your production, storage or sales. It is a 5–10 minute survey.

 

To take this short survey, go to: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2WYDLPS.

 

Thank you for your interest and your time!

Growers Survey: Winter Harvest & Sales

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Help us reach reach New England vegetable farmers who are interested in winter crop production and winter crop storage — please share info about this Winter Growers Survey with farmers in your area!

 

ONLINE GROWER SURVEY ON WINTER HARVEST AND SALES:

New England Vegetable Growers Needs Assessment

 

Do you store vegetables for winter sales, or are you producing vegetables to harvest between December and April? Are you interested in expanding your farm’s winter harvest? We are seeking input and involvement from vegetable farmers on a project to help build the capacity for winter vegetable production in our region. Northeast SARE has provided funding for a 3-year Research & Education project to expand winter harvest and sales for New England vegetable crops. Partners on the project include University of Massachusetts, University of New Hampshire, Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, and Seacoast Eat Local.

 

We are in the first year of the project, and are seeking feedback from farmers on what winter growing and sales you are doing now, what you would like to do in the future, and what issues are most important to expand your production, storage or sales. It is a 5–10 minute survey. This short survey can be found at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2WYDLPS

 

For more information, please email kate@seacoasteatlocal.org. Thank you for your interest and your time!

Helping Local Farmers Extend the Season

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

root_veggies.jpgWinter farmers’ markets wouldn’t be possible without the commitment local farmers have made to producing and storing food past the usual growing season. From the UNH Cooperative Extension:

 

Extension research aims to help local food producers extend the season, expand markets

 

Driven both by aggressive campaigns to promote New Hampshire’s farm products and by consumer demand for safer, healthier food, New Hampshire’s vibrant eat-local movement has expanded into the winter months.

 

This year, more than 30 winter farmers’ markets [partial listing] have sprung up throughout the Granite State, offering locally grown winter squash, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, beets, and salad greens, which join the local apples, eggs, honey, and maple syrup that have always been available year-’round. Some community supported agriculture enterprises (CSAs) offered storage crops and many farm stands have stayed open into the winter months.

 

Seed companies report that backyard gardeners have expanded production, too, adding winter storage crops to their summer gardens, and installing plastic-covered low or high tunnels that allow them to extend the summer harvest into late fall and begin harvesting spring salad crops a month or two earlier.

 

Interest strong among both consumers and producers

“We know there’s a strong winter demand for locally produced food, but interest is also strong among the state and region’s producers,” says Becky Sideman, Extension’s sustainable horticulture specialist. “Growers are scrambling to expand the technical knowledge, production systems, and farm infrastructure they need to meet this growing consumer demand.”

 

“We held three workshops in November for organic greenhouse growers that drew nearly 70 participants.” Sideman says. She adds that an early December farmer-to-farmer gathering attracted 40 experienced Maine and New Hampshire growers to share working knowledge about winter greenhouse production, season-extending devices, and growing storage crops such as potatoes and root vegetables for sale in winter markets.

 

“Over the years, growers have been really innovative with storage and season-extending strategies, she says. “We have a lot of individual case studies, but there’s been no systematic attempt to compile the knowledge they already have or to assess their needs for research that plugs the gaps in their information base.”

 

Winter-crops research projects underway

Sideman has partnered with UNH Extension Greenhouse Specialist Brian Krug on a three-year project that will explore the feasibility of using existing greenhouse structures to increase production of winter vegetables and herbs. The project is funded by a $73,000 USDA Specialty Crops Block Grant through the N.H. Dept. of Agriculture, Markets, and Food.

 

“Many operations that produce bedding plants have under-utilized greenhouse space from October through February,” Sideman says. “We’ll be looking to find the best crops and most effective cropping systems for producing winter food crops, along with ways to maximize yields while minimizing energy costs.”

 

Sideman also is a partner on a $194,00 USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant-funded project, Expanding Winter Harvest and Sales for New England Vegetable Crops. “The central goal of this three-year, multi-state project is to help farmers expand their vegetable harvest and sales from December-April, thereby increasing their winter income. It will build on successful innovations in cold-season growing and will focus on aspects of production, crop storage, and marketing that need further development to strengthen this aspect of the regional food system.

 

Other partners in the project include UMass Extension, Seacoast Eat Local, and Communities Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA).

 

“The partnership includes people with expertise in post-harvest physiology, growing and production, storage, and marketing.” says Sideman. “The project also has a farmer advisory team and a big hands-on, on-farm component,” she says. “A big part of what we’re planning to do is connect growers to each other so they can exchange information and share expertise.”

 

To read continue reading article online >

Organic High Tunnel Production Meeting, January 21

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

Organic High Tunnel Production Meeting

UNH Cooperative Extension

Friday, January 21, 9:00am – 3:00pm

Unitarian Universalist Church, Concord, NH

 

This workshop is designed for experienced producers who want to better understand organic soil, crop and disease management in high tunnels. Grower and researcher presentations will be followed by a farmer-to-farmer discussion where you can learn from each other. There is no cost to attend this workshop but registration is requested. For the agenda and registration information, see the brochure.

 

For more information, please contact Becky Sideman at 603-862-3203 or becky.sideman@unh.edu

Survey on winter growing seeks input from vegetable farmers

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Are you growing or storing crops for sale during the winter months?  Are you interested in expanding your farm’s winter harvest? 

Click here to take the online survey, and get connected with a network of winter growers and resources for year-round farming.

This survey will inform a new project to help farmers expand their winter crop production, and improve crop storage structures on their farms. Seacoast Eat Local is proud to be a partner on this project, which will provide much-needed information and resources to the farmers who are working hard to grow a year-round supply of vegetables. The project will also support the development of  winter farmers’ markets in the region.

Northeast SARE has provided funding for a 3-year Research & Education project to expand winter harvest and sales for New England vegetable crops. Partners include University of Massachusetts, University of New Hampshire, Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) and Seacoast Eat Local. We are currently interviewing growers, setting up research trials, organizing winter markets, and planning educational workshops and meetings for farmers. Please complete our survey, and tell us about what you’re doing on your farm, and what issues are important to you.

Stay tuned for details about upcoming workshops and events!