ICF Food Donations: Feeding the Community

As the farm membership has grown over the past decade so has the quantity of food we have been able to donate.  This time of year is particularly exciting because the amount of gleaning and donating is increasing with the bountiful harvest.  This month the Vermont FoodBank has come out to harvest extra head lettuce and spinach. We are excited that the Intervale Center is beginning their free CSA in July so they will be starting to glean and pick up extra produce next week.  

We have been working with Tim and Linda Looney who coordinate a free Sunday night dinner at the First United Methodist Church.  Tim picks up a selection of extra veggies from us every Friday to incorporate into their meals.

This winter a group of medical students from UVM reached out to us for their Here to Help Clinic.  They work with community members and the UVM Larner College of Medicine to provide free haircuts, showers, food and help access other resources for the homeless population.  They run this clinic once a month and have been stopping by the farm to get fresh produce.

In addition we have been continuing to work with the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf.  It’s really great this time of year when we are super busy they are able to come to the farm and pick up produce directly from us.  At the end of Winter Share we donated our last couple hundred pounds of sweet potatoes and onions to the Food Shelf. Lately we’ve been having them come by the farm most Tuesdays so that we can clear out any leftovers from pick-up that won’t keep for long and they can distribute to people in need or incorporate into meals right away.

For the last couple of years we've relied on members to help with the ICF gleaning for our donation efforts.   Generally we are gleaning on Tuesday mornings and Friday afternoons. If you want to volunteer, contact  Aly Martelle. You can also sign up to be notified of gleaning events and news by subscribing to our Gleaning List here.

It's Always Time for Pizza

If you were to be stranded on a desert island and could have just one food, what would you pick? I usually select pizza because it's so versatile and honestly, pizza makes me happy.

ICF members are always in for a treat and always excited when we announce our summer pizza nights. What's not to like? We have wood-fired pizza crafted by the NOFA team using ICF vegetables in all kinds of creative ways, along with our own tomatoes, salad, and sometimes corn and melon, all served in our pick-up area. 

July 13, 5:00-7:30 will be the first of two pizza nights this summer.  The second will be August 31, same time and place.

The details: we will have plates, flatware, and cups but feel free to bring your own. Bring your chairs or blankets to make it a picnic. 

All ICF members and families are welcome. We suggest a contribution of $5 per person or $20 per family, but no one is turned away for lack of funds. 

There is no need to tell us you are coming...just mark the date on your calendar and come hungry!

 

Tunnel Cukes at ICF Started Week 2 of Summer Pick-ups!

In 2015, we planted about 25 greenhouse cucumber plants in our high tunnels at the end of our tomato beds.  We were extremely surprised and pleased with the fruit (thin-skinned and delicately flavored), first harvest date (approaching the first week of summer share pick-up) and overall yield (an incredible bounty from so few plants).  

 

The following year, we took the next step and planted half of one of the high tunnels in cucumbers.  Unfortunately, we did not predict the level of infestation and damage from the cucumber beetle that plagues our field production of the cucurbit family.  The delicate skin of the greenhouse cucumber is easily scarred from the feeding damage, leaving a portion of them unsalable.  But, we saw the potential.  

In 2017, we decided to up our game.  Before we planted, we installed a fine mesh insect netting to prevent the cucumber beetle from finding our plants, which worked flawlessly.  We also increased our planting from one half to an entire house because our membership loved the thin-skinned cucumbers from the previous year.  Overall, the yields from the house were substantial and provided the membership with an early and consistent supply of delicious cucumbers which is often lacking because the quality of the first planting of field cucumbers can vary tremendously based on conditions.  

However, the downfall of this house was a complete infestation from the Two-Spotted Spider Mite which is a known pest to greenhouse cucumbers.  Ultimately, we had to abandon this planting because the damage to plants and fruits was too severe.  Fortunately, we had two field plantings in full production so we did not miss a week of cucumber distribution at pick-up.  

These greenhouse plants are bred to be parthenocarpic which means that they do not need pollinators for fruit production and are well suited to be trellised and pruned in the same way that we manage our tunnel tomatoes. 

This year, when we planted our cucumber house in the middle of May, we put out pots of bush beans which are particularly attractive to spider mites.  Less than one week later, we found our first spider mite and promptly ordered our first round of predatory mites to control the population.   This past week, we ordered another round to control some localized outbreaks.  We will continue to monitor their progress.

So far, the harvests have been bountiful and the production is picking up.  We are looking forward to a long harvest window and many summer dishes with these delicious, delicate cucumbers.

Meet the Summer Staff: Dorothy Kinney-Landis

Dorothy Kinney-Landis joins the ICF crew after graduating from UVM this past spring. Farming has been a passion of Dorothy’s that has grown over the years since her first experiences visiting neighboring farms in her hometown of Guilford, VT, and helping in her home garden. At UVM Dorothy majored in Environmental Studies with a concentration in sustainable agriculture and food systems. During her time at UVM she has gained farming experience working in the Market Gardens at Shelburne Farms and at the Farm at South Village, in South Burlington. Outside of farming, Dorothy enjoys cooking, hiking, creating pottery, and recreating outdoors throughout all of Vermont’s seasons. This summer she is excited to be part of the ICF crew, working to bring organic and nutritious food to the Burlington community.

Dorothy Kinney-Landis

Comment on Pedestrian & Cycling Access On Intervale Road

Intervale-Study-Area-259x300.png

Monday, June 18, 4:00-6:00pm, please stop by the open house and discussion on improving pedestrian and cycling access and safety on Intervale Road at the Intervale Center's Community Barn, 180 Intervale Road (aka the Summervale barn).  The Chittenden County Regional Planning Committee, the City of Burlington, and Intervale Road stakeholders have met throughout the winter to assess several approaches to improving Intervale Road for walkers and bikers and want to know your thoughts on the importance and the design of this project. 

ICF has long advocated for a sidewalk, improved signage, shared use lane markings and so forth to make Intervale Road safer and more pleasant for all.  If you share this concern, this is a great opportunity to voice that opinion!  Public comments will be critical to keep building on the good work to date done by CCRPC, the City of Burlington, stakeholders, and the consulting engineers.  For more information, please visit the CCRPC page on the project, where you can find an outline of the process to date, as well as several reconfiguration options under consideration.

ICF Co-op Member Loan Campaign Nearing Successful Completion

In April, ICF embarked on a co-op member loan campaign to help finance our portion of a shared wash-pack-storage building in the Intervale.  As of now, 20 members of ICF Cooperative have agreed to loan ICF $110,000 of our $120,000 campaign goal.  ICF is thrilled with the participation and support of our co-op member lenders, and we would love to find that last $10,000 before our member loan campaign officially closes out on June 15th.  If you have been considering a member loan, please contact Farm Manager Andy Jones at a pickup or  email Andy (andy@intervalecommunityfarm.com)  For more information on the loan program and the construction project, visit our member loan page here.

If you haven't had the opportunity, you can see the building construction site across the road from our summer pickup area.  Things are about to get very dramatic in the next few weeks.  ICF staff and Board are excited with the new storage and workspace the building will provide, especially the climate controlled areas designed for washing produce throughout the winter months.  We appreciate your support for this project!

Meet the Summer Staff: Angela deBettencourt

Angela deBettencourt is starting her first season at the Intervale Community Farm (ICF). She graduated in 2015 from the University of Vermont with a B.S. in Environmental Studies with focuses in alternative agriculture and farmer livelihoods. All together she has had five years of farming experience working on organic and biodynamic vegetable farms in Colorado and on Martha’s Vineyard. She is happy to be become a part of the Burlington farm community by expanding her farm career with ICF and as her career progresses, hopes to gain more experience in crop production research and nonprofits that focus on food access and farmer livelihoods.  
 

Please welcome Angela when you see her around the farm!

Our Summer Crew

Each year the entire ICF staff gathers for a photo shoot so we have at least one photo with everyone in it each summer season. Unless it's the appointed time, teams are scattered about the farm irrigating, planting, weeding, plowing, repairing equipment,or plowing!

ICF Farm Team 2018

 Back Row (L to R):  Andy Jones, Brian Shevrin, Samantha DuPont, Maya Bower, Samuel Thomas, Nieva Schemm, Angela deBettencourt

 Front Row (L to R):  Kathie Sullivan, Jill Rotondo, Silas Branson, Fae Blackmer,  Aly Martelle, Dorothy Kinney-Landis, Sarah Howe, Erik Rehman

 

Yesterday we gathered at high noon so Abby Portman could work her magic. Abby works at the Intervale Center and has become our official portrait photographer.  There were many shots taken as we moved from sun to shade, from fence to barn, from apple tree to truck. Someone thinks we look like a soccer team when this photo is staged each year, but how else can we show our large crew in one place except by lining up?!  So it boils down to the backdrop...this year a truck.

We are pleased to add 3 new faces to our group this year: Nieva Schemm, Angela deBettencourt, and Dorothy Kinney-Landis. Everyone else is a returning member, from 2 years to over 20.  You can learn about Nieva here, and watch our blog for Angela's and Dorothy's introductions soon. 

You'll notice the smiles on all the faces. They are not staged smiles but rather a result of laughter. Our crew gets along well with each other, works well as a team, and truly enjoys being part of this hardworking team.

Be sure to say "hello" when you run into one of us at a pick-up!

Summer Share Pick-ups Begin June 4 and June 7

Finally, the long winter wait is over. The snow is gone (crossing fingers) and the fields are planted. The greenhouse is booming. The hoop houses are receiving transplants. Our summer crew is back, hard at work.  

All the pieces are coming together which means our summer share pick-ups will be starting!

We'll start June 4 and June 7. Remember summer is different from winter: members come every week, once per week, for 21 weeks. You should make sure you have picked either Monday or Thursday for your regular pick-up day. Why do we ask you to select a day? We have 600 shares in the summer...and many shares are split into two or more families. We try to control car and people traffic as much as possible so the experience remains pleasant for everyone. Also knowing how many people we expect helps with harvesting.

To make the pick-up experience pleasant for all, please keep dogs on leashes. Please observe parking and driving signs. Please drive slowly over the dirt road (the dust!!) Please check in at the desk each week and tell us if you carpooled, biked, or walked.

Kathie will be on site for the first week of pick-ups if you have questions about your account, need to make a payment, or need to order your supplemental products. (But why wait! Order your bread/eggs/cheese shares here.)

We are happy to welcome back all returning members, but we also have many new members. Please be sure to meet our farmers during a pick-up and ask questions. 

We're excited to be starting the season soon!

Flowers for Everyone: Tell Your Friends and Neighbors

An example of a first-week share from 2017

Again this year we are pleased to offer a pick-your-own flower share for non-CSA community members. (NOTE: If you are a member of the CSA and have signed up for your summer share, you will have flowers included in your weekly pick-ups.)

Many people grow what they need for vegetables at home or are members of other CSAs or simply shop farmers' markets for their produce. But fresh flowers are not always available or may not grow well at home. Some home gardeners are better at vegetables than flowers, or we may have too much shade for robust cutting gardens, or it's just nicer to have a wider variety of colorful stems to select from ICF!

We will offer a 10 week flower share which starts July 9. The flower fields are always accessible for picking 20 stems once weekly. Once you have signed up we'll contact you for a brief orientation to the fields and process.

Prepayment of $107 is required ($100 plus 7% sales tax) and may be mailed to ICF, 128 Intervale Rd, Burlington, VT  05401.

Sign up here for your blooms and please feel free to share with your friends, neighbors, and colleagues. You do not have to be a CSA member to sign up for flowers.

 

 

We're More than Just Farmers: Welding on the Farm

Sam Thomas inspecting worn spade

As many of the farmers in the US become more and more specialized the tendency, as in other industries, has been to outsource more and more repair jobs to contractors. Here at ICF we still do the majority of our own repairs in house and maintain the “Jack & Jill of All” mentality that American agriculture was built on. One of the trades that we are learning and gaining from is dabbling with farm welding and metal work. This year, Sam Thomas (returning crew member) designed an independent study for his UVM coursework and had the opportunity to tackle some of the odds and ends welding projects around the farm and hone some of his own welding skills.

Welding is a group of processes by which metal components can be repaired and manipulated by applying high heat to extremely localized areas. While blacksmiths of yore would heat entire components in their forges in order to pound them back together or back into shape, today farmers can use welding techniques to create a small pool of liquefied metal on the piece they are making or repairing. This ‘weld puddle,’ as it is called, ranges in size from the tip of a pen to the size of a dime. As a result, workers can quickly fill in cracks with additional steel, replace a damaged part by fusing on a new one, or even apply coating of a more durable alloy to a piece.

Worn (rounded) and repaired (rectangular) spades

This spring Sam did a number of repair and modification projects on the farm including fabricating special hooks for our irrigation pipes, replacing a jack stand on the IFEC disk harrow, and making the baskets on our cultivator narrower.

One project we are particularly excited about this year is hardfacing the spades off of our spader. The spader is finicky piece of Italian tillage equipment that takes a serious beating. As a result we have put a lot of thought into improving its durability and lowering its cost of maintenance. Hardfacing is a really useful method by which layers of new more durable steel are laid down across a surface that is prone to abrasive wear. This is key in the Intervale as our sandy soils wear metal away pretty quick. For this project Sam added strips of steel alloy that is high in chromium, manganese and carbon to the edges of our spades. These three elements, when added to steel, make it significantly more durable; the draw back is that pieces made with such alloys are really brittle and prone to cracking (just as a cast iron skillet is high in carbon and would crack easily when dropped.) However, when we use such an alloy as a coating we can take advantage of its durability without risking large cracks forming in the implement.

Repaired spade

The end result is rows of what look like stacks of dimes pushed over and arranged across the vulnerable surfaces of our spades. It may not be the slickest looking tool in the yard but we’re hoping it’ll make for a longer lasting spade.

One final note of intrigue and farm safety: If you’re around the farm and see welding signs posted on our shop doors, please be sure to knock before you poke your head in. The electrical arc that is most used to melt metal reaches temperatures of 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit:  the same temperature range found on the surface of our sun! As a result looking at a welding arc can be just as damaging to your eyes as staring at the sun.

Meet the Summer Staff: Nieva Schemm

Nieva Schemm is beginning her first season at the Intervale Community Farm this 2018. She is currently enrolled at UVM as an English major and will graduate in 2020. She gained her first experience with farming in the summer of 2015 when she travelled to the California Bay Area to work with the nonprofit organization First Generation Farmers. Upon finishing her time there she went on to complete an internship with Sleeping Frog Farms in Cascabel, Arizona in the fall of 2015. After this she started working summers at Harlow Farm near her home in Southern Vermont. She has a deep love of farm work and is passionate about bringing people quality produce in a sustainable, environmentally conscious manner. Nieva is thrilled to become a part of Burlington’s organic farming community and to see what the season at ICF has in store for her.

Nieva will begin work at the end of May.

Nieva Schemm

Construction Continues on Our New Produce Pack Shed

Pouring concrete for the pack shed  foundation.

We're excited to see some construction action on our new building for washing and storing produce, located near the ICF greenhouse complex by our winter share distribution.

The packhouse building is a joint effort of the Intervale Center and ICF to house ICF and the Intervale Conservation Nursery, as well as providing other Intervale farms access to additional washing and storage space.

Want to do more than watch the progress through photos? You can help to build the pack shed through our 2018 Co-op Member Loan Program. Through the commitment and generosity of our co-op members we erected 4 greenhouses in 2013 to support our summer production as well as for growing greens in the winter. Summer tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers have all increased in abundance as well as winter baby lettuce and spinach as a result of our members' investment in their local food source.

To find out more about the 2018 loan program, check out the details here or contact Andy Jones directly (by email or call 658-2919 ext 4).

Summer Shares: Update

Some of you may have noticed we are now starting a wait list for our summer shares. This is great news for ICF but may be a disappointment to you.

We are fortunate that by May 1 we are usually sold out of our over 600 shares for the summer season. It's been a busy late winter-early spring as we sign up members. We announce early share sign-up in January and offer a small discount to members who pay in full in the first month. We don't advertise but rather rely on word-of-mouth for member referrals. This buzz is also good for ICF. 

Co-op members may ask to be automatically renewed and those members are signed up first in January. Even at this late date, we would do our very best to squeeze in every co-op member possible. 

All this said, we do reach a limit in terms of how many members we can support with produce for the summer. Waiting until May to sign up increases the possibility of being added to a waiting list. Sometimes we have people drop out after we get started in June and we can reach to our list. Sometimes folks on the waiting list can't join until the winter share season. 

Please do sign up to be on the waiting list at this point. We need to know how many people we're working with going forward.  If you've already signed up, thank you!  Thinking ahead, if you are a co-op member, make sure you are on automatic renewal. Not a co-op member? Join anytime here. 

We'll be announcing the first pick-up date very soon! Watch this space.

Preview of May: It's a Busy Time at the Farm

Despite some of you witnessing snow on April 30, today is May 1 and the sun is out. The farm vibe is one of excitement and anticipation. We have a lot of stuff going on in preparation for the start of our summer shares (likely very early June.)

For starters, our annual plant sale is this Saturday, May 5, from 9-12:00. It continues May 12, May 19 at the same time. In addition, the final two winter pick-ups will be opportunities to grab plants for your home gardens (May 10 and May 17.) We'll have flowers, herbs, and vegetables for selections.

We continue to make daily progress on the new packhouse project near the winter share parking area. Foundation concrete has been poured and wall/roof materials have been delivered. Our Co-Op Member Loan Campaign is over 50% funded and we are grateful to all of you. 

It's not too late to order your bread, egg, and cheese shares for the summer. You can sign up online here.

Our summer crew has started, the fields are warming up, tractors are running. We'll see you very soon!

From the Fields: April Update

First transplanting

 

  • We were able to get into the field and do the first tractor work at the beginning of April.  We did primary tillage and prep in the potato field, seeded some early cover crop, and killed some weeds and smoothed beds with the field cultivator. Later in the month we did more preparation for planting, more cover crop seeding, discing, and plastic mulch laying for upcoming onion planting.

  • We have been busy in the Propagation Greenhouse, seeding, watering and potting up everything that we are expecting to plant in the next couple of months.  We also set up one of the hoop houses as a coldframe to harden plants off this month. We keep the sides down, but cracked to let the plants acclimate to the outdoor temperatures.  

  • In April we start flipping our Greenhouses from winter to summer production.  We did a big last round of harvest in two of our large greenhouses, then took out the hoops and row cover that we used to protect the spinach, baby lettuce, and bok choy from the cold temperatures.  We filled soil in low spots in the houses, and added compost, peat, and fertilizer to the beds. The two eastern houses will have tomatoes this season, which we will planting in the next couple of weeks.   Next up we will till the beds, put drip irrigation in, and cover the beds with black plastic and the pathways with landscape fabric. We have also started prepping the smaller houses across the street for tomatoes and peppers, basically the same routine: clean-up, amend, till, and irrigate.  

  • We are also working on installing a rail system in the Harnois so that we can have a cart to push around the houses for tomato harvest.  During the season we spend a lot of time harvesting tomatoes and are looking for ways to improve the ergonomics and efficiency.

  • Two highlights of April: the first plants and seeds are in the ground; and most of the crew is back at the farm!

The Fields are Open: Transplanting!

This week marked an exciting first of the season - the first round of transplants going into the field. On Monday and Tuesday we planted kale, collards, cabbage, broccoli, and head lettuce. Almost all crops we grow fall into two categories: direct seeded or transplanted. There are many reasons we choose to transplant some crops - transplanting allows us to raise crops into their adolescence in a more controlled environment, the greenhouse, giving them a head start in the field. Additionally, it allows us to start growing very long season crops (like onions) well before the fields are ready so we are able to plant them the moment the beds are prepared. 

Although transplanting can be done by hand, we use a specialized tractor implement called a water wheel transplanter to make the process faster and more efficient. The water wheel takes three crew members to operate. One person drives the tractor pulling the water wheel down the beds going slowly and a straight as possible. At the back of the implement, large metal wheels press divots into the ground and fill them with water. Two planters ride behind these wheels and hurriedly plop plants into the divots. 

When all goes according to plan, a team of three can put a huge number of plants in the ground in a short day. In a single day this week, we planted over half a mile worth of brassicas!

Want to stay updated on transplanting this spring?  Keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram pages for updates from the field.

Our New Building Project

Heavy equipment in place.

Last week we broke ground on a shared pack house and storage facility that will support year round washing and product storage for ICF as well as a production increase at the Intervale Conservation Nursery. 

The wash-packhouse project is a joint effort between the Intervale Center and ICF and will benefit other Intervale farms as well with washing and storage areas. 

The hole has been excavated, and insulation was placed in preparation for cement pouring this week. Construction will be completed so we can use the new building for the winter 2018 season!

Want to do more than watch the progress through photos? You can help to raise the barn through our 2018 Co-op Member Loan Program. Through the commitment and generosity of our co-op members we erected 4 hoop houses in 2013 to support our summer production as well as for growing greens in the winter. Baby lettuce and spinach in the cold, winter months is a result of our members' investment in their local food source.

To find out more about the 2018 loan program, check out the details here or contact Andy Jones directly (by email or call 658-2919 ext 4).

Supplemental Products Available for Summer Shares

As many of you know, we offer supplemental products at our weekly pick-ups: Gerard's bread, Jericho Settlers' Farm eggs, and Doe's Leap goat cheese.

While we have a few of each item available for on-site purchase, to ensure you get to enjoy these products we recommend pre-ordering shares of each. We will, of course, sign you up at a pick-up at any time. 

You can sign up for your add-ons here. Prepayment is requested for these products.

You can download a paper form here or find one at winter pick-up.

 

Grafting Tomatoes

Our tomato rootstocks and scions were ready to graft right on schedule, so on a cloudy morning last week, we completed the grafting process, topping all the plants and mating the scion tops with the rootstock bases. We then moved them into the healing chamber where they will stay for the next 7-10 days.  For the first 48 hours they were in complete darkness and with high humidity.  After that crucial period, we slowly start to increase light and reduce the humidity to eventually acclimate the healed plants to normal greenhouse conditions.  This year, we built a shaded area over the healing chamber to help moderate the temperature spike that can result from direct sunlight.  In the beginning of May, we will transplant these grafted plants to our high tunnels where they will bear fruit until October!  

Grafting tomatoes

The grafting chamber....hot, humid, dark.