In the spring of last year we were contacted by UMass student Isabel Brofsky to participate in a bird and vegetation study. We were excited and jumped at the opportunity and invited Isabel to our farm.
After several visits and rounds of study she presented us with her analysis and it was pretty amazing! We were surprised at the diversity of birds our little farm hosted.
Have a look at the report it's an invaluable insight for us farmers and interesting information that we don’t typically think of.
A big thank you to Isabel and her team for including us in her important work!
Bird & Vegetation Study: Bardwell Farm
Isabel Brofsky, MS Student
Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts Amherst
This American Robin became a familiar sight as the season went on. I was able to recognize it individually because of the unique white patches on its wings, caused by a genetic mutation known as leucism.
Field Season Review
The purpose of this field season was to collect data on the abundance and species diversity of birds and quantify their habitats. I completed three rounds of bird surveys over the course of the summer, each time performing 10-minute standardized point counts of all birds within a 50-meter radius. During each point count I recorded the number and species of birds I observed, as well as which habitats they were occupying and any feeding or breeding behaviors they were exhibiting. I also conducted two rounds of habitat surveys, which I completed by dividing the area of the 50-meter radius point count circle into distinct land cover types (i.e.orchard, cover crop, woodland, etc.) and measuring the height
and density of the vegetation and identifying the plants present throughout each land cover type. I began these surveys in around late May and finished in mid-July to coincide with the breeding season of most species in this region.
Highlights of the Field Season
Not only was Bardwell Farm one of the smallest farms I surveyed over the course of the summer, it also was located in one of the most developed or suburban areas that I visited. Because of these two points, I did not anticipate Bardwell having a very long species list. I was, however, proved totally wrong. With a list of 40 bird species and a total of 225 individuals, Bardwell was a remarkably diverse and unique farm that surpassed my expectations. Due to Bardwell’s more suburban surroundings, I observed a number of species that are uniquely adapted to human-altered habitats. Chimney Swifts were a common aerial visitor, as well as Rock Pigeon and Eastern Kingbird. On my very first visit to the farm, I observed a pair of Redtailed Hawks perched and calling from the top of one of the trees on the edge of the farm. Although I didn’t see them on any subsequent visits, I wouldn’t be surprised if they nested somewhere nearby. The only Canada Geese I saw at any farm all season long were in the grassy fields adjacent to the farm.
While many of the birds I recorded on and around the farm were suburban species, I also observed a diverse array of woodland and shrubland birds as well. The forested areas at the edge of the farm produced species such as Warbling Vireo, American Redstart, and Yellow Warbler. The big hickory tree near the main field was a magnet for songbirds. The list of species that I observed in that single tree includes Baltimore Oriole, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Northern Cardinal, Downy Woodpecker, and Song Sparrow. As I have started my data analysis, Song Sparrows have become more and more of interest to my research. A common but declining species in the Northeast, Song Sparrows were present on small farms like Bardwell in higher densities than any other natural and managed habitats in this region. They were also one of the most common species that I observed feeding in and around
row crops, and because they feed primarily on insects during the breeding season, it is possible they are providing an ecosystem service in the form of insect pest control.
With a field season complete, my primary tasks were to enter all of my data into my computer and organize it so that it could be used in future data analyses. With that step finished, I have recently been working on some preliminary Song Sparrow analyses to determine the major habitat characteristics (vegetation height, density, cover of different habitat types, etc.) that are driving bird abundance and occurrence on these farms. I will also be preparing for a second field season this summer.
The following list includes all species observed or heard in and around the farm (not just those observed during 10-minute point counts) across the combined three visits. I have highlighted shrubland birds in green because many of these species are declining in this region due to habitat loss and their presence on these farms is of interest to my project. Another of my interests is the extent to which birds are feeding on farm pests, so I have also included a brief description of the diets of potentially beneficial species. Here I define a beneficial species as one whose diet during the breeding season is composed of over 50% animal and/or insect matter and whose feeding behavior would allow it to potentially feed on a farm pest.Bir
In early May we received a visit from Lindsay Sabadosa a progressive Democrat running for Massachusetts State Representative. Not only is Lindsay running for office, she is a hardworking mom and a Western Massachusetts Native.
She toured our farm and wanted to know what was important to me as a farmer and being a young business person in my district. I can talk farming all day and Lindsay was genuinely interested.
She was thrilled about what I was doing right now and my plans for the years to come. She was also excited by the trend of young people getting into agriculture and becoming farmers.
We walked and talked and she took quite a few photos. She and her team posted to Instagram later in the day and it was awesome seeing our humble little farm talked about with such inspiration and hope!
A big thank you to Lindsay and her team for giving me the opportunity to talk about my business and giving me a voice!
You can learn more about Lindsay's campaign at www.lindsaysabadosa.com! #TeamSabadosa #SabadosaMA
Western Massachusetts News Meteorologist Jacob Wycoff's series 10 Towns in 10 Days rolled through Hatfield on April 12th and we were lucky enough to be interviewed!
The 10 Towns in 10 Days series highlights a different town each night, showcasing just some of what the area has to offer. Pioneer Valley Indoor Karting, Black Birch Wines, Good Stock Farm and our farm were mentioned.
Thanks again to Jacob and the crew, you did Hatfield proud!
10 Towns in 10 Days: Hatfield
HATFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM)
May 2, 2018 | Jacob Wycoff, Meteorologist & Erin Fitzsimonds
Take a short spin off of I-91 in Hatfield, and you'll find Pioneer Valley Indoor Karting.
For the last five-and-a-half years, tens of thousands of people have zoomed around the track in their not-so typical go-karts.
"On the inside track, they're capable of 40mph. once we go outside, it'll probably be near 50," said Ryan Bouvier, the Owner of Pioneer Valley Indoor Karting.
If you're looking to slow down a bit, head to Black Birch Vineyards.
Co-Owner Michelle Kersbergen said while they continue to work on their grape harvest, the winery looks local when it comes to finding grapes.
"All the grapes that we've sourced in the past and in the future will be from our own vineyard," said Kersbergen.
You can enjoy some of their collection in their beautiful tasting room, and while the wine list may be growing, Hatfield seems to remain the same.
Some farming roots in Hatfield are deeper than others. Harrison Bardwell of Bardwell Farm said his family has been tending to the land since the 1680's through nine generations.
"Farming can connect you to the Earth and nature. Being able to grow food on the land we have been provided to us is really some meaningful."
Bardwell said the town of Hatfield recognizes his hard work.
"They praise the local vegetables, how good they taste, how nutritious they are. It brings a smile to my face to know that I can support people," Bardwell continued.
His farm also sells and donates some of his crop to places like the Food Bank of western Massachusetts. The food bank serves as the central hub for local food pantries and soup kitchens.
"There are 223,000 people that rely on the food that we distribute from our warehouse," said Chris Wocjick with the Food Bank of western Massachusetts.
Monetary donations are hugely important to the food bank.
"Every dollar that is provided to the food bank, we're able to provide three meals to a neighbor in need," Wocjick added.
For all of the food bank does for people, Western Mass News wanted to help so a $500 check on the behalf of Diamond RV, Big Y and Western Mass News.
Tune in at 12:30 p.m. on Better Western Mass on Thursday to find out what town Jacob is headed to next.
You asked and we listened, new winter squash varieties are coming to the fall harvest!
Bush Delicata Squash
We've never grown this variety before and we're pretty excited! The cylindrical, 8" long fruit has a bright yellow-orange flesh. The texture is smooth with a mild nutty flavor and reminiscent of a sweet potato.
Primavera Spaghetti Squash
This is a uniform variety with canary yellow skin color at maturity. Bake with your favorite red sauce and a little parmesan, mangia!
Festival Acorn Squash
The fruit is deeply ribbed and striped with a wide, slightly rounded bottom. Flesh is peach-colored, similar to an acorn squash but with superior sweet flavor and texture.
Three new varieties of peppers to spice up your weekly menu!
This variety is sweet and green, has thick walls and a traditional block shape. It's perfect for summer salads, fajitas, and stuffed peppers.
Red Rocket Pepper
This cayenne chile pepper is tapered, thin-walled, and about 5 to 6" long. It dries quickly to a bright crimson red. These dried fruits have tender flesh which is nice and soft when cooked.
The largest jalapeno offering! The fruit averages 4 to 4 1/2" and are slow to check (to show small cracks in skin). A great addition to any menu requiring heat.
So many of you have asked about herbs and again, we listened!
2 to 3" long glossy and cupped leaves with a classic Genovese Basil aroma.
Dark Opal Basil
Purple with 20% variegated green tips make this variety colorful and unique. It's sweet and spicy, slightly stronger anise flavor than the common green sweet basil, with mild ginger undertones and a robust aroma.
For all you pickling lovers! Edible seeds and greens with a flavor profile of fennel, anise and celery, with warm, slightly bitter undertones. A popular addition to sauces and a must for making Hatfield Pickles.
Stay tuned for updates as we will be adding thyme, oregano, and more!
We hope you enjoy these new products as much as we will enjoy growing them.
As always, we love your feedback, please share your wish list, ideas, and/or comments below. Thanks for reading!
TOMATOES! TOMATOES! TOMATOES! This year we are introducing a plethora of new tomato varieties; any where from large juicy heirlooms to the sweet little grapes!
Cherokee Purple Heirloom Tomato
A famously rich flavor and meaty texture make this a colorful favorite among heirloom enthusiasts.
Brandywine Heirloom Tomato
This variety has a luscious heirloom flavor and described as very rich, loud, and distinctively spicy. The fruit is often large, over 1lb, has a deep pink skin, and smooth red flesh.
Striped German Heirloom Tomato
This variety produces a flat, medium to large fruit, with a yellow and red meaty flesh. The marbled interior looks beautiful sliced!
Sun Gold Cherry Tomato
"Candy Tomatoes" as I like to call them are bright tangerine-orange and sun-kissed sweet.
Black Cherry Tomato
This variety has a dramatic flavor very similar to heirloom tomatoes and compliment chop salads perfectly.
Sunrise Bumble Bee Tomato
This tomato is bite-sized with red stripes and pink interior marbling. A gorgeous combination of yellows and reds, inside and out. Excellent sweet and tangy flavor.
Purple Top Turnip
An awesome addition to our fall display! This turnip is popular because of its shape, rich taste and attractive appearance.
We are introducing two varieties, Megaton and Takrima. Cousins to the onion, both have medium blue-green foliage with refined bright white shanks. Mild in flavor and a perfect compliment to your kitchen.
Two different varieties to choose from! Nabechan and Evergreen Hardy White, both have sweet and complex flavors. Evergreen Hardy White will compliment the fall harvest and will overwinter.
In the summer squash category we are introducing spineless varieties making picking a little easier!
Spineless Beauty Squash
The squash is a favorite late season variety producing big yields of uniform, long, cylindrical, and medium green fruit. Excellent steamed, sautéed and juiced, a staple in a summer kitchen.
Noche Zucchini Squash
An attractive, dark-green, cylindrical squash that is earthy and mildly sweet.
Join us next week for Part 3 of the 2018 Season Preview!
Today we celebrate Earth Day, but it shouldn't be the only day of the year we acknowledge the big blue marble we live on. Now more than ever It is an every day fight for it's health and protection. The very soil we live and grow our food on is at risk and we need it now more than ever. Without rich and fertile soil, clean air and water, our ecosystem becomes nonexistent. We have to do more.
Millions and millions of people will be taking part in local events to demonstrate why they care about the environment and why it's so important to be a voice in this cause. My wish is to celebrate all yearlong so that our children's children have an Earth to farm, to picnic, walk barefoot in the grass, and enjoy what we have so taken advantage of. Please take a moment today to realize how important Mother Earth is to us.
How will you celebrate Earth Day?
March 30th we received a surprise visit from the WWLP TV22 News Team! Tashanea Whitlow and a camera man took a trip out to the farm to interview me along with several other farms who received the ACRE Grant.
The Agricultural Climate Resiliency & Efficiencies (ACRE) Program is a grant provided by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organization that assists farmers with all sorts of environmental challenges and improvements. They also share their knowledge with farmers to help them implement new practices that impact the environment in a positive way. These resources also include grants such as the ACRE program.
The ACRE grant was presented to farmers through MDAR to help impact the environment in a positive way by reducing greenhouse gasses through fossil fuels, tillage of the soil, and less inputs such as fertilizers, fuel, and pesticides farms rely on in a more conventional setting.
Farmers were eligible to apply for items like no-till equipment, zone tillers, high residue spring cultivators, and spring systems, along with no-till planters and transplanters, which is what I mainly focused my proposal on. Other eligible items were improving irrigation equipment and systems by making them more efficient and environmentally friendly. Also, implementing solar power pumps for irrigation equipment and other farm related aspects.
We decided to explore how we could improve our soils for the longevity of the farm. We looked into no-till equipment. With many hours of research and time, and talking with companies, it was clear a no-till planter perfectly fit our operation. It was compatible with our goals of improving our soil, saving, and reducing fossil fuel use, and reducing our carbon footprint.
Bardwell Farm was awarded $11,900.00 towards a MaterMacc 2 Row Vacuum Precision Planter with no-till options. The planter is perfect for our farm because it is designed to plant and space any sized seed, from as small as a carrot to as large as a pumpkin seed, with only one piece of equipment. This planter also is "vacuum" which means it will plant seeds exactly spaced in rows, in a width row I choose. The best part is that is designed for no-till planting and this is where the grant came into play.
The planter is equipped with heavy duty coulters that cut through biomass on the soil's surface and is able to plant through cover crops without disturbing the soil. We project this will be a five year progression until we are really seeing a substantial difference in soil health, yield, and the health and quality of plants and vegetables produced. As they always say... good things take time!
We are excited to implement this new equipment and feel good knowing we are having a better impact on our environment and producing a higher quality product!
We want to thank WWLP TV22 News and the Daily Hampshire Gazette for taking the time to learn about what farms are doing in the area to help improve our environment and reduce greenhouse gasses. We also want to thank the USDA and MDAR for awarding us this grant and making all of this possible!
Stay tuned as we start to make the switch to a no-till farming season!
We have battled more winter weather since we last left-off, the snow wasn't too bad but the wind sure gave us a beating.
After we put the plastic up on the frame we waited for a warm day to readjust and tighten everything up. Thanks for the help Cam and Spencer!
Next, we installed a blower for the double layer of plastic. The blower adds air between the layers and creates an air pocket to act as a type of insulation. With the inflated layers it retains more heat when the weather is colder.
Now that we had adequate warmth, we switched gears and put some actual farming into play! We started a cover crop! With the help of a few friends we subsoiled the ground intensely to break up the hard pan we created from leveling the land.
We rototilled the soil and seeded "Peas, Oats, and Radish" into the ground along with some fertilizer and lime. Within a few weeks we had germination and it's looking great!
Ok back to the actual high tunnel... we spent a few days working on the roll up sides, installing the eyebolts, and adding rope to keep the sides from moving.
After that was complete, we came back to the end walls. My dad and I attached final trim board and fastened the plastic with wiggle wire for extra protection. A huge thank you to my father (who still thinks we are building a house and everything has to be precise) for giving it the classic farm look in barn red. To say the least it came out better than imagined!
The end wall doors and vents were the project finishing pieces. We fabricated the doors in the shop by cutting, mounting, and fastening polycarbonate sheet to them. We also built the vent windows in the shop as well, painted them up and attached polycarbonate. Everything came out perfect!
Lastly, we mounted the vents and doors to the end walls with the hinges. This took some expertise because of the slight ground movement from the frost over the winter. The structure finally looks complete.
Happy to be moving forward with irrigation, and electrical. Soon we will be planting... we are counting the days and it can't come soon enough!
Stay tuned to Part 3 of the High Tunnel Project. As always thank you for reading and all of your support!
It's been a long active winter, but things are looking up, today is March 20th and the first day of spring! So we may be getting a little snow tomorrow, no big deal right?
Like you, we are so ready for this cool weather to break and the snow to finally stop. We're looking forward to warmer days and finally breaking ground.
Even though it's cold, Bardwell Farm is busy at work and we are counting down the days. We're tuning-up all of our equipment. The high tunnel is almost complete and ready for operation. Seeding of the first crops that you will see on the stand come May all begins soon!
What we will be talking about in the days to come...
Here's to season 2018 and a Happy Spring to all!
We are so excited about our new high tunnel! Wait, what? You're not really sure what a high tunnel is? Let me tell you all about it...
A high tunnel is a non permeant structure that is used for growing crops in the soil and/or raised beds. It's primarily used to extend the growing season by having a controlled growing environment. This new system will give Bardwell Farm the capability to grow a quality crop much longer.
As many of you know we started this project back in November as we were closing for the season. We started by laying out the demensions on the land where the structure was going to sit. This was a process of applying the dimensions, then grading and leveling the land to make it as flat as possible. It's important to build the structure level and true, it makes a world of difference and helps the building process go that much smoother.
After the leveling process we lined-up 4 foot pipes that would make the base of the structure. These were spaces every 4 feet in a row on each side of the field. The pipes were pounded about 2 feet into the earth to create the foundation for the high tunnel.
Frame bows were assembled off site then brought in to be put in place. The bows were so light three of us were able to pick them up and slide them into place. Once completed we tied the structure together using purlins, cross ties, and corner braces. These were all bolted together to make it solid.
This part of the project went up fast! We encountered some challenges with end wall design and bad weather hindering progress. It slowed us down a bit, but didn't halt our work. We decided to use 4X4" posts as structural supports to hold the end walls to the ground and structure. It's quite difficult working with round metal pipe and wood. We finally came up with the perfect design plan to build these end walls. The lower half is going to be shiplap boards and the top will be a polycarbonate double layer honeycomb hard plastic that will allow light into the structure.
Once the doors are mounted on to the end walls the next step is putting the plastic on the roof. This is a BIG TASK! We'll need a good size crew of people. A double layer of plastic will be added to the rough of the structure. One is an infrared plastic to capture sunlight and hold in heat. The top layer of plastic is clear to let sunlight in. Lastly, near the roof, a small blower fan will be installed to create an air gap between the two plastic layers. This is used to make an insulation layer to help retain heat inside the high tunnel during cold parts of the spring and fall seasons.
The last step is adding the irrigation system and horizontal ventilation fans to create the most efficient environment for growing our crops. I cannot wait to finish this up, we are so close!
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for The High Tunnel Project: Part 2 coming end March.
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