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.
Here at Bardwell Farm we are always looking for new fruits and vegetables to incorporate more diversity for your dinner plate. This season we are introducing several new products and varieties to what we are already growing, as well as fresh herbs to add zip to your menus. Here is Part 1 of our 2018 Season Preview!
Purple Haze Carrots
The Purple Haze variety has a striking color with a deep purple exterior and contrasting orange interior. It tastes sweet with a mild peppery flavor. It's perfect raw in salads, steamed side dish, and really amazing as a juiced beverage.
The Yellowstone variety has 6 to 8" long roots and are deeper in color than most other yellow carrot varieties. They have a mild earthiness flavor and they're notably a bit sweeter than orange, red, or purple carrots.
Cabbage Ruby Perfection
This is a number one mid to late red cabbage. The heads are medium-sized and dense with a uniform high-round shape and good wrapper leaves. The flavor is slightly peppery and a little deeper and earthier than green cabbage. It's color makes coleslaw and leafy green salad mixes beautiful.
Touchstone Gold Beets
This beet has smooth golden roots with bright yellow flesh and retain their color when cooked. They have a mild sweet earthy flavor.
The Avalon variety is larger with a bright orange color and a more uniformed shape. It has a mild nutty flavor and compared to that of a sweet potato.
This variety just may be better than the others, you can be the judge this fall! This winter squash is flavorful, nutritious and packed with numerous vitamins. It has that "autumn" taste that can be associated with pumpkin, just a bit sweeter.
Crimson Sweet Watermelon
Tasty and so refreshing, this variety has crisp, orange to red flesh, with a sweet summer flavor and small brown seeds. It's a 15 to 25lb melon perfect for parties and good times with friends!
Sugar Baby Watermelon
This variety is a smaller 8 to 12lb watermelon that is filled with sweet goodness. The firm solid flesh is bright red, crisp and delicious with small brown seeds.
Sugar Cube Muskmelon
This melon is personal-sized coming in at 2lbs. Although Sugar Cube is small it's big on taste with it's sweet deep orange flesh that has a superb eating quality.
Join us next week for Part 2 of the 2018 Season Preview!
Did you know soil is happiest when there's always something growing on its surface?
Cover crops are so simple yet have so many amazing features! From being used as a weed suppression tool to preventing and reducing disease pressure, cover crops are vital to cropping systems for so many reasons.
First of all, did you know a cover crop can almost never have a negative effect on a cropping system? Their only job is to build and benefit soil health in a natural way. Nothing sparks my interest more than improving soil health in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way!
It has always been our goal to use cover crops to feed my plants instead of conventional fertilizers. It creates a healthier environment for the plants and produces higher yields in an organic way.
What is a cover crop?
cov·er crop | noun
A crop grown for the protection and enrichment of the soil.
Why are cover crops so important?
Cover crops act as a barrier between the soil and the atmosphere. They are a huge benefit because they hold the soil in place during the fallow times of year, as well as feed the microbes in the soil that create vital nutrients that plants require to grow. Soil microbes, earthworms and insects are key to plant growth and development.
NOTE: Fallow is leaving a field out of production for a year so, while growing a cover crop, keeping it protected and rebuilding soil nutrients and overall health.
The cover crops roll in all of this is taking the carbon out of the atmosphere and putting it back into the soil which the microbes feed from. Without cover cropping the soil is more prone to deteriorate with no structure holding it in place, flooding and erosion, and/or being blown away. The first 2 to 3 inches of top soil is some of the most important for growing. Without cover crops farming would be much more risky and difficult.
Here are examples of cover crops that are vital to farming:
This is a cool cover crop that is primarily used in the fall for holding the soil in place to prevent winds from taking it. This crop can germinate and grow in temperatures as low as 33F degrees. It also grows very rapidly giving lots of biomass and has an extensive root system for soil holding power. Winter Rye overwinters meaning it will keep growing in the spring again so it needs to be killed-off. The other benefit of Rye is it can be a forage crop meaning it can be cut for straw right before the rye goes to seed to make bales. This is a great way for farmers to bring in extra revenue while benefiting their fields.
NOTE: Biomass is plant matter. Grass that is produced from Rye and Sorghum cover crops are filled with nutrients that can be put back into the soil.
This cover crop also called Forage Radish or Dicon Radish. This is a fall-seeded Brassica that has a very neat feature. This crop acts as a natural subsoiling tool. It grows a large taproot to breakup soil compaction by creating holes in the soil for water drainage to reduce erosion problems. Tillage Radish winter-kills after a few hard frosts and breaks down by spring.
NOTE: Brassica is the scientific name for cold weather crops, species such as cabbage, broccoli, and radishes.
Peas & Oats
These cover crops work well as companions to optimize soil health. Peas are just a field pea that can be used as forage for animals. They are also a legume crop meaning they collect and store nitrogen so it does not leach or volatilize into the air. Peas can also be harvested and sold to specialty restaurants for salad mixes as well. There are many different benefits to this cover crop. Oats have a shallow root system but grow fast in warm weather and act as great biomass cover for in-between crops. They hold lots of nutrients and act as a great "green manure" crop to incorporate and plant into soon after. Both are winter killed and work well together to serve dual purposes.
NOTE: Volatilization is when nutrients are essentially evaporated into the atmosphere and are no longer taken into the soil for plant growth.
NOTE: Green manure crops are cover crops filled with nutrients that can be incorporated into the soil to feed microbes. They are full of organic matter, carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus sources. A pure natural fertilization.
Cover Crop Cocktails
A cover crop cocktail is a mix of 2 to 3 different cover crops that work together in unison. For example, I use a mix of Peas, Oats, and Tillage Radish as a cover for a field that is going to be planted with Asparagus the next year. I use this mix because it will all winter-kill and asparagus has to be planted early. I also use it as weed suppression because of the high amount of biomass. The Peas are an awesome nitrogen source for the new roots going in. The Tillage Radish is to create good drainage and water absorption capacity as well.
This is a low lying crop that does best in cooler seasons. Red Clover is a short-lived perennial used to supply nitrogen. Unlike other legumes, it fixes a lot of nitrogen even in high-nitrogen soils. It has shade tolerance so it can be over-seeded into small grains and incorporated in May of the following year. Since Red Clover seedlings tend to be slow growing, it benefits from a nurse crop. It forms tap roots and is useful for remediation of compacted soils. Red Clover is also good for weed suppression. This crop can be seeded as early as February to March for frost seeding or from April to September depending on what you use it for! Blossoming is something that needs to be controlled in warmer temperatures. Such a small plant with endless benefits!
In the Northeast Mustard is used as a fall-planted cover crop that winter-kills. This crop thrives in cool conditions and can give 100% ground cover. It adds organic matter, breaks up hardpan, and suppresses weeds in the following crop. Soil-borne diseases may be suppressed by natural compounds found in the residue of crops such as mustard, cabbage, radishes. These act as natural defenses to certain soil borne diseases. There are three species of Mustard that behave similarly when sown in the fall. This is a very low maintain cover crop that offers a wide variety of advantages for your soil. It is best seeded between mid July and August. You will want to kill at the flower stage if not winter-killed already to prevent the Mustard from seeding-out and becoming a weed in the field. Great for a natural disease suppressant which is a great organic way of dealing with devastating diseases that are presented every season.
NOTE: Seeding-out is when the plant is it's final reproductive stage where it has matured all the way to produce viable seeds that can be replanted again to continue the life of it's species. At this point all the nutrient from the plant is pushed into the seed and lost. Incorporating this into the soil will create two negative scenarios. One, adding dead biomass that will take longer to breakdown and create a loss of nitrogen in the soil. Remember, nitrogen is used to break down dead matter. And two, you are creating field weeds from all the mature seed.
Sudangrass and Sorghum-sudangrass are midsummer grasses suitable for short 8 to 10 week plantings. These grasses are the most heat and drought-tolerant cover crops typically grown in the Northeast. Sudangrass growth is easier to manage because the stems are narrower. It can be sown earlier than Sorghum-sudangrass, and suppresses weeds better. These crops provide abundant root biomass, which is useful for increasing soil organic matter. Mowing encourages root growth. They suppress Root-knot nematodes and inhibit weed germination if densely sown. These are warm season cover crops that generally can be seeded between June through August.
NOTE: Nemetodes are beneficial and non-beneficial microbial worms that are both pathogens that attack and hurt pants and/or help defend-off other diseases and help with plant development.
I'm glad I was able to share my love of cover crops with you! There are so many varieties each with their own unique benefits. It's an endless opportunity for experimentation. We promise to keep you updated as we try different ones as the seasons progress.
First smiles of the 2017 season getting one of our first products out. It was a happy day to officially start the new season!
We might be a dysfunctional group sometimes but I couldn't think of a better way to spend some of my days this year working with some close Stockbridge friends!
Rebranding my business really made this season fun and exciting! Big thanks to my marketing guy and his business Rocket Strategies for making all this happen!
Being out on the tractor in the fresh summer air is my happy place. Turning over the field for the new season, planting the seeds, and watching the plants thrive, there's nothing better!
Hard work really paid off this year. Seeing all of the beautiful vegetables harvested, one after another coming out of the fields brought endless smiles to my face!
"Trevor who are you calling?"..."the gourd goblin, hehe!"... shenanigans were a must on a weekly basis, many many laughs out in the field!
Famers help farmers. Friends help friends. Couldn't ask for better! Love making memories with the people who have your back no matter what.
Having Congressman Jim McGovern, along with many state agriculture and local farming representatives come tour my farm this past summer was a huge milestone for me. It gave me enormous satisfaction that they were excited to see what I was doing and offer resources to help our farm grow. It was an awesome day and I felt thankful we were chosen. Thank you again!
We took some big steps this year and ventured off the farm. Fun times at the Hatfield Harvest Festival and UMASS Farmers Market and they were a big success!
So many great connections, conversations, and memories. On top of it all our displays were kick-ass! Can't thank Rick and Kaitlyn for all their help with these events.
Watching all of our produce going out on daily basis made me feel like I'm giving back, doing something for my community and helping others. I Wouldn't trade it for the world!
A biggggg shout out to my number one employee this season! I Wouldn't be where I am today without you. Countless hours out in the field with me. Countless hours of cleaning up after me and making this farm shine is all a big thanks to you. Your ideas, knowledge, and enthusiastic energy every day sure made working on the farm much more fun. You haven't been recognized nearly as much as you should have.
Also, a big thanks to my behind the scenes guy. I can't thank Rick enough for all the website editing, photo taking, and endless days of hard work to make our social media side of the farm shine! Not to mention all the hot days in the field and help with the farmstand when I couldn't be there. The days where you were ready to rip my head off because I was difficult... you're the best. You made this season that much better and was glad to share a piece of Bardwell Farm with you.
Dad, your knowledge and experience when I was in a bind was always helpful! The times you came out to help without me even asking you were always appreciated even though I may not have shown it. I know you were super busy this past year and how much farming means to you. I cannot wait to get you more involved in the seasons to come. I love you.
I cant explain how awesome it is to wake up and go to sleep to the best sunrises and sunsets in the valley right here on the farm!
Its been a busy end of the year but we are glad to have so much progress on the new high tunnel. The snowfall has stumped work for the winter but we will be right back at it once the weather warms up. It'll be fully operational for the 2018 season!
Thank you everyone for sharing this amazing season with me. I couldn't have done it without the love, help and support from all my friends, family, and loyal customers.
Wishing you all a safe and happy new year!
Christmas at Bardwell Farm is a time for thanks, family and some much needed relaxation. We look back on the year and the success of the farming season and feel blessed we are together as a family.
We are especially thankful for the family we don’t get to see too often. We laugh, share memories and it’s a special time. As my family grows in age I cherish this most.
I take this time to remember my grandparents who were two very big influences in my life. As we celebrate the holidays in their old home, now our new home, it’s hard not to reflect and be thankful for all the traditions we were brought up with and that homey feeling it brings. I think of them often.
Christmas is also a brief time away from the farm to relax with friends, act like a young adult and have a little bit of fun before the next season comes. Sometimes I need this more than you know.
Thank you to my family, friends and loyal customers who support me and the farm year after year. I feel blessed and thankful. You are all in my thoughts through the holidays.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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