Winter Volunteer Newsletter
Check out the impact volunteers made!
Even as these newsletter updates have paused during the last few weeks, there hasn't been a lack of action at the farm. December ended on a high (and warm!) note, as steadfast volunteers brought in family and friends for some holiday help around the farm: project highlights included cleaning out the former chicken coop building, native seed cleaning, greenhouse repair, and lots of weed removal!
January and February have continued to see a steady influx of volunteer interest, and all hands have been so appreciated as we tackle removing weeds from the fence lines, fields and beyond. The northern border is now officially cleared, with thick stands of invasive trees & bushes cut down and ready for chipping.
To every volunteer who has joined us in a task, or just signed up during this time- we are so thankful and can't wait to have you involved out in the field as soon as possible!
See you at the farm,
HHF Food Donation + Volunteer Coordinator
Volunteer help has also been key in helping create thousands of hand-written plant labels for the upcoming growing season. Thank you for your time and patience in this project! We can't wait to put these to use as our plants grow into their trays and pots.
"Inside every seed is the potential for an
Our next Community Work Day will take place on March 18th from 9am - 12pm. This will involve Spring Maintenance within the Trees for Tribs area, which is key to ensuring healthy trees. Specific instructions and all supplies will be given at the start of the activity. Learn more and reserve your spot today!
Read below to find out more on how the year's CWD's have been going so far.
The temperature dipped, but the High Tunnel structure was balmy and begging for work to be done! We welcomed many new faces and returning help as we set to work prepping the entire tunnel. By completing this project so early in the year, this ensures farmers don't have competing tasks to juggle in a very busy springtime period, and bumps up the planting timeline to be as early as possible.
A very dry, and very weedy tunnel! The soil got a thorough watering with the hose throughout all these steps.
Even as outdoor temps dipped into the 30's, inside the tunnel temps started at a comfortable 46° and kept climbing!
First we focused on weeding by hand and with hoes, removing everything that sprouted on the beds and along the fencing protecting the tunnel sides.
We aerated the soil using broadforks, preserving the vital layered structure of the soil while helping oxygen penetrate deep: the folks you see in the back and in the front are doing this on large + small forks!
Taking care not to step on the beds after aeration, it was finally time for the last step of carting, dumping and spreading 2 inches of rich compost over the beds.
Clearly defined beds are a sign a job well done!
We had a great and eager turnout despite the chilly temperatures! Volunteers quickly warmed up as we began digging and dispersing gravel into the foundation of the hardening off area between the greenhouse and high tunnel. A space protected from wind and deer, this area is a key piece in the delicate dance of preparing greenhouse-grown seedlings for outdoor conditions. Once we had a well-drained and sturdy base, landscape fabric was stapled in this stretch to finish up, so that this will now be ready to welcome tables topped with seedling trays in the next few weeks. Other volunteers went to work with clippers and nippers along the growing field fence, removing and unweaving the progressively taller weeds that crept up and threaten to pull down the fencing. Hands big and small made great progress along the western edge!
Digging drainage trenches then spreading gravel warmed things up!
At the end of our morning, volunteers joined farm manager Ice in the High Tunnel with some light pruning of overwintered veggies, removing yellowed or broken leaves in a pile that took three trips to the compost.
What a typical seed cleaning session begins with-
There are quite a few steps and methods to seed cleaning: a single seed head may go through the seed machine and as many as 3 types of hand screens to properly separate!
-and what it ends with! This contains thousands of Mimulus Ringens seeds.
The right tray here is mostly seeds, though with a bit of chaff still included which will be separated at later screening steps. The left side is the larger chaff that has been removed so far in this early step.
On an early December day, volunteers tackled clearing and cleaning out the former Coop building for a new Natives space!
It took a team of volunteers over 3 hours to remove old infrastructure and equipment, wash, and lots of dusting to make this building usable.
Swept and clean, this space is now a key area for the native plant program, and has housed seedlings over the winter months.
This section of the fence is now the focus: vining weeds have literally pulled it down, making an easy entry point for deer to jump in. We'll show the after shot of this photo next month!
Some new critter mesh netting was attached to the growing field fence, but first, it was time to cut back the forest of invasive mugwort to make working room!
Winter led to some heavy-duty tasks, like repairing the greenhouse walls and infrastrucutre, left, + carting away heavy utility poles that were uncovered after weeding!
The first few passes of weeding on the northern border meant a variety of tools were put to use, like heavy duty loppers and pruning shears. After clearing this section, the skyline of the farm and hills was finally visible from the northern road!
Some of the dedicated winter weeding warriors! The stand of trees behind this group shows just how tall this entire section was before this project started. The left, shows the aftermath of weed work.
Goats Glitter and Cheyenne have liked that volunteers have had extra time and energy to visit them throughout the winter!
Cows Cocoa, Clover, and Cricket stay close together for warmth during the recent snowfall. Like many of us, they can't wait for spring and the return of sweet grass!
Take more produce home with a CSA Membership!
When a volunteer joins us out in the field or in the farm stand, we always like to send them home with a little taste of what you helped care for: farm fresh produce! For those who can't get enough of what we grow, a CSA membership is a great way to ensure you have a steady supply of veggies even after volunteering. Check out the website for more information.
Winter sunsets on the farm are so unique. We would love to see your own shots on social media!
"Try and leave this world a little better than you found it."
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1271 Hanover Street | Yorktown Heights, NY 10598 US
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