Homegrown News Blog
We are thrilled to partner with Luke Longstreeth of Mountainside Maple, Hatfield's first sugaring operation. Luke is a dedicated farmer and really is making a name for himself here in Western, Massachusetts!
Check out Harry's Farm Vlog on YouTube to see how we used his handcrafted syrup... ice cream for breakfast anyone?
All products above are available at our online farm store!
Luke shared the "sugaring" process with us...
We are proud to work with a local farmer in right here in Hatfield to supply our customers with a super delicious locally made product.
Luke's Mountainside Maple products are available at our online farm store. You can arrange for pickup, delivery or ship anywhere in the United States!
Please call (413) 800-5583 or message us at email@example.com if you have any questions.
As many of you may know cover cropping is a major part of soil health. It builds organic matter and creates food for the microbes, earthworms, and other living organisms in the soil.
Season 2018 sure took a tole on both farmers and the farmland on which they grow on. We shared how difficult last season was with you but never really talked much about the late season monsoons and what it did to the farmland here in the Pioneer Valley.
The picture below might be hard to see, but I was driving the other day and saw a brown wind storm in the distance and wanted to stop and grab a quick photo to illustrate.
Due to the excessive rain and the over saturated fields late in the season many farmers had to abandon the use of cover cropping because it was just too wet to get into the fields without creating more damage. Fields were either left bare, or if lucky, the remnants of the crop remained.
Soil is most happy when it has something living on it. It keeps the soil fed and healthy throughout the winter months, but it was too difficult to seed down fields or even germinate seed before it just rotted away from too much moisture.
This led to bare fields over the winter months. When we didn't have any snow cover, on windy days you could see top soil blowing away because there was nothing to hold it in place. Or the opposite, where there was too much snow melt or excessive rain made erosion a big issue. It basically washed away the top soil.
Farms have to start getting creative in years such as these. It's a tough battle. In some cases there's not much that can be done. We have to take care of our land just as much as we take care of ourselves. If the soil we grow our food on isn't healthy it will not perform well. Farmers constantly have to find the balance between profit and environmental sustainability.
The take home message here is that we are at the mercy of mother nature, but we have to try our hardest to make sure we are implementing the best agricultural practices as we can.
What is a germination chamber?
It's basically a miniature climate controlled greenhouse. Its job is to germinate seeds.
We use a crockpot filled with water to generate heat and humidity. This gives us uniform germination over the trays and speeds up the time for most crops. This is because it is always at 80 degrees to create that perfect growing environment.
The chamber does not need light because the seedlings are only looking for heat and moisture to start. It is very important though to make sure you pull the seedlings out as soon as they have popped through the soil. At this time, without light, they would die.
This is the process of how we went about building this mini wonder...
The experiment worked!
The chamber heated up just as planned. We seeded cucumber seeds in a tray and added them to the chamber. We had germination within 3 days! It really sped up the process along with creating a uniform germination across the trays.
This is a great tool to use all season long because it will hold the desired temperature you need. For instance if it's 100 degrees in August and you're trying to germinate lettuce, you can place trays in the chamber and let them go. And, most likely, you'll have 100% germination every time.
We'll keep you informed throughout the season as we use this new piece of equipment. Give it a try, we think you'll love it!
Earlier this month I was asked by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) to join a panel of three farmers to help with a New Beginner Farmers Class they offer.
After a brief introduction by each student the panel shared what it was like to start, maintain, and generally own a farm still being beginning farmers ourselves. We talked with students about the struggles we face day to day, the hard work that goes into the operation and the positive aspects that make us wake up and go after it for another day! This was really exciting for me because I was able to share my story with people a little less than twice my age. I was able to inspire others and left that night feeling as I did good for others! As many of you know I love talking farming and it was right up my alley!
The conversation was really engaging. There were so many great questions about how to financially and economically run an agricultural business, how to sell and advertise to a saturated market, how to balance personal relationships, and so many more.
I was proud to share my passion and love of farming with all of them. I was sincere in saying farming is a lifestyle and an industry built on hope. That it is more about the ride than making a million dollars. To expect mistakes and work through them. To have an open mind and learn something new every day.
If there were five things I would want the students to remember...
I want to thank MDAR and the students for this opportunity. Thank you for listening to my story. Knowing programs like this one exist brings hope and promise to our profession of farming!
Last week I was welcomed by Smith Academy to participate in their Agricultural Career Day presented by the Szawlowski Farms Agricultural Foundation.
This day was to educate and expose students to the importance of Agriculture and the local food movement in the Pioneer Valley.
I sat amongst a group of ten panelists who are all involved in one of the many branches of agriculture. It focused on two very important aspects. One, how important local food is to our community and economy. Second, all of the people that are involved in making local food possible.
Whether it's the farmer growing the food, the banker who provides a loan for farm equipment, the trucker who distributes food or a food bank that feeds people that are less fortunate, each and every one is important to agriculture.
Bob Wagner represented the Agricultural Commission of Hatfield. Having a background with the political side of farming he shared how important it is to be involved with legislature, the bills being presented, and how it can effect the industry.
Lisa Limont and her colleague Amber Letourneau were representing the Food Bank of Western Mass. The Food Bank helps feed communities and people that cannot afford to purchase food. Lisa is a coordinator and helps source local foods to feed people. They work with local farmers during each season to source food that the farm cannot market. They also work with businesses to arrange donations of canned goods. Amber Letourneau is a nutritional specialist that works with people who lack the experience in how to cook healthy meals. She works directly with communities to provide a base foundation for people to properly cook nutritious food for their families.
Gina Gallagher from Farm Credit East was there to share the financial role in agriculture. She explained that Farm Credit East works with farmers to develop profitable business plans, marketing tactics and loans to help agricultural businesses succeed.
Carl Loomis, from Swazlowski Farm, represented a trucker who has the important roll of moving produce and goods across the country to supply the needs of the food industry.
Big Y Produce Sales Manager Sean Stolarki works with local farms in the area to source local foods to stock the chain of stores and feed the communities around them. He does his best to bring in local foods being produced in the valley to give their customers the same feel and quality of what it means to be "local".
George Semanie from C&S Wholesale in Hatfield's job is similar to Seans where he is the manager dealing with the buying and selling of products coming into their facility. He helps supply local grocery stores all throughout the Pioneer Valley to meet high demands within the industry.
Kevin Rodak from Helena Chemical in Hatfield is a sales representative that deals with farmers to help better their growing operations and create a more profitable crop. He works closely with farmers to help with control of weeds, insect and disease pressure, as well as help feed crops being grown.
Melanie and Diane were there representing Swazlowski Farm and everything that goes into bringing an agricultural product to market. From farming the fields to marketing a product, to distribution and performing important office tasks, it's no wonder they sell two hundred million servings of potatoes each year!
I represented the farmer. I talked about the process of growing food, the steps of planting and maintaining a crop, and how we market and sell our produce to the community. It was exciting to be able to see the students react to agricultural related topics and see their interest!
I want to thank the Swazlowski Farms Agricultural Foundation for inviting me to speak, to share my passion and why I think agriculture is so important to our community.
I would also like to thank Smith Academy for hosting this event and giving students the opportunity to listen to all of the good things agriculture has to offer!
Lastly, thank you to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts for the certificate presented to me. I'm honored to serve our community.
Last Friday Senator Jo Comerford stopped by the farm to talk about agriculture. She was excited to learn how Bardwell Farm came to be and was really blown away to hear we were established in 1685.
Jo listened to my story and asked, ”Why farming?”
I told her it’s in my blood and I go crazy if I’m not playing in the soil in some sort of way. I explained our long family history from being passed on from generation to generation, to it finally falling into my hands; where I transformed it into my own business. I explained to her I’m slowly building this farm to make a bigger impact on the local community and the earth combined.
Jo also came with news herself. She wanted to share information about the new bills she had passed and ones she is working on for the farming community.
One that interested me a bunch was legislation she filed to incentivize low-til/no-til practices for healthy soil and carbon sequestration. This bill falls directly in line with our changeover to a no-til system we actually implemented last year, really exciting!
Jo also talked about a bill that would tax non-contiguous farm land at the same rates to stop penalizing farmers from farming on small plots of non-connected land.
It was a productive meeting and she said she would be back to tour again as soon as things started to green up a bit and the farm is in full operation.
Many thanks to Senator Comerford and her team, I really enjoyed our visit. We can't wait to have you back and try some of our fresh veggies!
We were recently interviewed about the government shutdown and how it's impacting our farm. Change doesn't come by looking the other way. We are all in the same boat and need to be heard. Be a voice.
Many thanks to Caroline Powers and Western Mass News for the opportunity.
Local farmers feeling the impact of partial government shutdown
WGGB/WSHM Ryan Trowbridge & Caroline Powers
HATFIELD, MA - Monday marks day 24 of the government shutdown.
800,000 federal workers continue to go without pay and with major departments being closed, the people they help are also left in the dark, creating a bigger impact.
One group that people might not realize rely heavily on federal dollars are local farmers.
A Hatfield farmer told us they are really feeling the effects of the shutdown.
For the past eight years, Harrison Bardwell has continued his family's long history of farming.
"This farm was actually established in 1685. Yes, you heard me, 1685. I'm ninth generation farmer, eleventh generation Bardwell in this town. We go back quite a way," Bardwell noted.
The farm has 15 acres full of carrots, tomatoes, peppers, and other vegetables.
"We've been farming this land for hundreds of years and it's pretty cool to think about and I continue to keep it going, so I look forward to it," Bardwell explained.
However, right now, Bardwell is facing multiple obstacles as he tries to continue his family's legacy.
"We're dealing with situations with money issues. This past season was pretty tough crop wise with the rain and excessive heat. We experienced a lot of crop loss, lower yields," Bardwell noted.
While crop loss is a concern, Bardwell told Western Mass News it's something farmers are used to dealing with. He can usually make up for it with crop insurance from the USDA, but right now, that's on-hold as the government shutdown continues.
"All the work I had to do is in and now I'm sitting here and waiting not knowing when I'm going to get a check or how much that check is going to be. I have a grant out for harvest bins and I can't talk to my rep that's dealing with it. I can't go to the USDA office in Hadley right now or call them if I have questions regarding my insurance or my loan that I have out with them. It's nerve racking to not know when we're going to get answers or when we're going to get paid and for farming, we don't get a check every day," Bardwell explained.
Bardwell said their 2019 season will start in about two to three months. He's taking a closer look at his budget and expenses to see what he'll be able to do as the shutdown continues.
You hear it all of the time, "know your food, know your farmer", but now more than ever we have to take these words more seriously. A CSA is the perfect way to make those words a reality!
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a way to bring together the consumer, farmers, farmland and the food they grow into a mutually beneficial relationship that sustains local agriculture, ensures greater food security, and strengthens the local community and economy.
In this blog we will explain to you what a CSA actually is, how it works and how it may benefit you!
HOW DOES A CSA WORK?
A CSA is a model where you purchase a seasonal farm share up front at the start of the season from a local farm. This means you are "investing" in the farm for that season and in return you are taking the reward and risk of the bounty the growing season offers. For example, if a crop is doing very well you will get your appropriate share and maybe more. On the other hand if crops are doing poor due to weather, or other natural issues you may take a risk in not receiving much during a particular week.
To give you an idea of how a CSA share may run here is an example how a few farms in the area structure theirs.
This season Bardwell Farm will offer a "choice share" to CSA members. Members will pick up their share by choosing from a variety of products available and quantities designated by our farm through the season.
Keep reading to see how a CSA benefits you and your local farm!
6 CSA BENEFITS FOR YOU & THE FARMER
WHY IS CSA SO IMPORTANT?
Community Supported Agriculture is the stepping stone to sustainability. It helps you, your local farm, the people who grow your food, the local community, our environment and the Earth.
Please join us in our new adventure! We look forward to building new relationships and strengthening old ones.
Are you excited about joining our CSA? Click here for more information and see our brand new signup page!
Follow Bardwell Farm and all of our adventures here, at Homegrown News!
Give the gift of a CSA farm share or farmstand goods with gift certificate from Bardwell Farm!
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