Poor Man’s Fertilizer

April 2nd, 2014

img_5155img_5165in like a lion, out like a nightmare?
You could have knocked us over with a feather on Monday, as we watched snow pile up during our weekly production meeting. We kept saying to each other “it can’t be” and “this is some kind of joke, right?” as it briefly turned to whiteout conditions. We were sitting together discussing our plans for the week (bed prepping; pea and fava bean planting; greenhouse cabbage seeding; asparagus planting) wondering if we would have to put it all off another week. Snow peas, anyone? haha. Luckily, spring won, and by Monday afternoon most of the snow melted in the afternoon sun.

The pea and fava bean seeding we put off until today, and we rushed to finish up before the rain (which never materialized after all). Sean is practically an amateur meteorologist, and spends a lot of time analyzing weather reports, checking radar, trying to gauge the week’s conditions. We want rain after seeding, but not during; hot and sunny for weeding; dry but not dusty for tractor work. We don’t always get it right!img_5163

Our new asparagus roots arrived in the mail on Tuesday–we are adding a second bed of this popular crop to improve our early spring offerings. The big planting day is this Saturday April 5th–this is a great job for volunteers, as it takes a lot of handwork to lay out and plant the octopus-like crowns. We’ll be there starting at 1030am, rain or shine, all are welcome!

CSA memberships are still available, but going fast! Questions about how it works? Email me at mail@hamletorganicgarden.org! Want to join now? Fill out this application and mail it in with your $100 deposit.

Eggs will be for sale in a cooler in front of our house at 5 Library Lane in Brookhaven. Leave $6 per dozen in the envelope, and please return the cartons!
Spring better come, for real this time. No straight to summer for me. Jill for the HOG.

Vernal Equinox

March 20th, 2014

securedownloadDay and Night are balanced, Spring has arrived. This egg-ceptionally cold weather suddenly broke with the arrival of spring this morning. Did anyone else wonder at the sound of rain drip-dropping on the roof last night? For now I am willfully ignoring next week’s forecast. We are prepared for anything, with our bevy of woodstoves and kerosene heaters, but it would be nice to stop worrying if all of our little seedlings will freeze while we sleep. What does this year hold in store for us all? 2014 is a year with a lot of potential. We are excited about the way things have been shaping up for us so far…how are they shaping up for you all? Hope to see you Saturday anytime after 1pm for our Pruning Day (rain or shine for us!) Stay tuned for other spring work days coming up, we want to see a lot of volunteers helping out in the fields this year, making HOG the best it can be!

March….the final frontier

March 18th, 2014

img_5129img_5124moving day….volunteer pruning day….spring!

Last week our at-home seed house grew too full to hold the bounty of seedlings we are supporting. The big kids got kicked out so to speak–the onions are at the farm, hardening off in the less protected hoophouse. For the cold nights, we light a kerosene stove (or two…12 degrees? really, March? Is this your plan?)

We are forging on as if spring is already here–the large greenhouse has been irrigated, tilled, and seeded to early spring beets, carrots, and greens. Dave, Sean and Katie have been readying the fields by applying trace minerals, composted manure, and dolomitic limestone. The new tractor Sean and Jill bought this winter has halved the time it takes to spread these crucial soil amendments!! Jill ordered asparagus plants to double our asparagus field; strawberries plants are on order as well; supplies like berry boxes, rubber bands, fish emulsion, clipboards, manila folders, crab shell, fertilizer, markers, and clippers are rolling into the farm daily.img_5132img_5145Overwintered greens like mache and spinach have survived the winter and are set to spring forth with fresh green growth soon! Other crops (like our field of late winter broccoli, kale, and cauliflower) don’t survive as well. We would like to invite any and all to come help prune and mulch this Saturday March 22nd. From 1pm on we’ll be trimming and laying mulch on beach plums, hardy kiwis, gooseberries, and blueberries. If you have a pair of pruners or lopers, please RSVP by sending me a quick email at mail@hamletorganicgarden.org. See you Saturday!img_5140
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CSA memberships are still available, but going fast! Questions about how it works? Email me.  Want to join now? Fill out this application and mail it in with your $100 deposit.

Eggs will be for sale in a cooler in front of our house at 5 Library Lane in Brookhaven. Leave $6 per dozen in the envelope, and please return the cartons!
Spring is coming, already time is going too fast! Jill for the HOG.

Eggs, onions, snowdrops, 7 degree nights…

February 28th, 2014

spring is springing despite the temperatures !img_5111img_5110img_0539img_5113
Though the nights are cold the strengthening of the sun is evident in our greenhouse, where it quickly gets up to 95 degrees during the day–so warm we have to prop open the door! The nights are causing a bit of stress, keeping us up until midnight stoking the wood stove in the greenhouse to keep the onions comfortable. Next week we will be seeding lettuce, kale, chard, and parsley too!

Chickens are convinced spring is here, ramping up egg production again! Eggs will be for sale in a cooler in front of our house at 5 Library Lane in Brookhaven. Leave $6 per dozen in the envelope, and please return the cartonsThis Saturday March 1st at the Bayard Cutting Arboretum, please join us for a screening of the award winning film Growing Farmers, a short documentary highlighting the new generation of farmers on Long Island and the struggles and triumphs of the farming community. This will be followed by a panel discussion, moderated by Edible Long Island and featuring; Peconic Land Trust President John v.H. Halsey, Quail Hill Farm Director Scott Chaskey and farmers; Jill and Sean Pilger, Jen Campbell, Chris Browder, and John Condzella. For more information, tickets, and directions click here.

CSA memberships are still available, but going fast! Questions about how it works? Email me at mail@hamletorganicgarden.org! Want to join now? Fill out this application and mail it in with your $100 deposit.
Spring is coming! Jill for the HOG.

onions…the HOG’s heralds of spring!

February 17th, 2014

img_5098img_5094Today finds us farming as best we can with the ground blanketed beneath snow and ice. The fields at the farm are cold and hard as rock, but our little seedhouse is toasty warm! The crew and a few friends celebrated President’s Day by sowing over a hundred trays. Next up is the herbs, early lettuce, and greens. It feels good to get our fingernails dirty again!  Now the waiting begins…we will keep the woodstove stoked high for the next 7-10 days as we wait for the first sprouts to poke through the soil!img_5105img_5095img_5106img_5104

Why we do what we do…

January 28th, 2014


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Sometimes I look at the pickup area and cringe. I said it. A greenhouse? Why would we choose to house our CSA pickup in such an unconventional and often unsightly way? It wasn’t always this way, as many of our seasoned community members will tell you. We had a beautiful, historic, and ramshackle barn that housed our CSA pickup, our bathroom, and apprentices for many years. It was where we had potlucks, cleaned garlic, played music, distributed vegetables, and so much more. Four years ago last week it burned down after a farm potluck, taking with it our only enclosed building and taking from our community a landmark shared space.

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Inadequate insurance, lack of funds, poor placement on the lot, and development restrictions prevented us from rebuilding the space right away. Needing a structure to be complete in time for our CSA pickups, we were scrambling. What could we put up quickly that would be inexpensive, easy to build, require no permits, and meet our needs for a CSA space, storage area, and potluck shelter? Eying our neighbor Michael Barry’s unused greenhouses, we realized we could buy one for a low price, erect it at the pickup site for CSA distribution and as shelter for our farm parties, and buy ourselves some time to plan a real pickup building. Once a pickup structure was complete, the greenhouse would remain useful for winter greens and early tomatoes. So that’s what we did!

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Well, after the NOFA-NY conference this weekend, I am obsessed with whole farm planning, business structure, and this book by locally grown organic farmer Rich Wiswall. What do we really need this structure to do? Can we build it in a way that addresses some of our needs, and leave open the possibility of adding more features when future funds become available? Or should we go whole HOG, hire professionals and incorporate everything we want right off the bat? Minimally, we need a structure to protect vegetables, pickup coordinators, and members from wind, rain, snow, and sun. It will need lights and possibly a little heat for the winter. Ideally, we would have room for a bathroom; a walk in cooler would be nice; solar panels; a “shop” area for local products; an office space; wash station; apprentice housing; heated mechanic shop…our needs are practically endless! With the conservation easements on the land, we need building permits as well. Our hope is that within the next five years the structure we need will be complete, and that rusty old greenhouse will move out to the fields where it belongs. And that’s what’s going through our heads this cold, windy week!

CSA memberships are still available, but going fast! Questions about how it works? Email me at mail@hamletorganicgarden.org Want to join now? Fill out this application and mail it in with your $100 deposit.

Jill for the HOG.

Now Accepting Applications!

January 23rd, 2014

The Hamlet Organic Garden is now accepting applications from the public! Fill out an application here and mail it in with your $100 deposit to secure a spot in our 2014 CSA.

The HOG is a 15 acre certified organic farm located in Brookhaven Hamlet, operating since 1996. With 4 full time and 3 seasonal part time employees we grow produce, herbs, and flowers for a 250 member CSA. CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, is a unique agreement between farmer and consumer–each year, you pay in the spring for a weekly basket of produce from the end of May through the end of October. As a member of this CSA you are joining with the farmers in both the risks (crop failure, disease, bad weather, weeds) and benefits (bountiful crops, recipes, variety, direct relationship with the farmer, and access to u-pick items) associated with farming. Your share will vary from week to week, and there is no guarantee of the amounts or content of your share. The farm gets money at the beginning of the season, when it is most needed, and you get the freshest, most local produce possible! You enjoy delicious food while helping to preserve open space and native wild species in Brookhaven Hamlet. For more information, email me at mail@hamletorganicgarden.org

member renewals, seed orders, crop rotations, budgets…

January 7th, 2014

img_5091This is the last week for 2013 members to renew their spots for the 2014 season, before we open membership rolls to the public, and the waiting list! If you haven’t sent in an application, fill one out here and mail it in with your $100 deposit. Once we open shares to the wait list, they sell fast (especially for pickup in Bayshore, Setauket, and Center Moriches) so secure your spot for next season now!

If you have friends interested in joining the HOG, tell them to get on our mailing list (they can sign up on the right sidebar) to be notified as soon as we begin accepting applications from the public.

With the new year our thoughts turn to the new season, and the first step is seeds! We weed through (forgive the pun) a half dozen seed catalogs to find new varieties that look intriguing and to score the best price on our favorite standbys. Each year there are more options available for organic growers, giving us more choices to improve yields, plant vigor, disease resistance, heat tolerance, frost resistance, taste, and marketability.

Not only do we order all of our seeds now, but we also plan out the entire year–we sketch out what we would like to put in each share through the coming season, plot out on the calendar when we will seed, up-pot, transplant, and harvest crops, order the soil mix, fertilizer, and minerals we will need. We decide where each crop will be planted, and attempt to sketch out our labor needs. Most of this we learned (are learning!) by trial, error, and observation, but we also attend conferences like the Northeast Organic Farming Association New York (NOFA-NY) Winter Conference. The NOFA conference brings together organic farmers, students, consumers, researchers from Cornell, and more, and we are excited to be attending that later this month.

Despite the polar vortex, the metaphorical seeds of a productive farm season are being sown now! Stay warm everyone! Jill and Sean for the HOG Crew

Happy Winter Solstice

December 19th, 2013

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dreaming of 2014

December 10th, 2013

Our application for 2014 is complete and ready to roll! Please click here to renew now! And for 2014 we are bringing back half shares. Instead of picking up every week, half share members pick up every other week–this is perfect if you aren’t able to find a share partner, but still want to participate. Or if once share isn’t quite enough, buy one and a half!
Right now only 2013 shareholders can renew, so send in your application now, before we open up our application to our waiting list in January. We just need $100 to hold your spot! If you have already put down your deposit, thank you, and please take a moment to fill out an updated application–you can just email it to me at mail@hamletorganicgarden.org

Now that we are finally done harvesting (30 consecutive weeks of harvesting this season!!!) we can start to put the farm fields and equipment to bed. And immediately, our thoughts turn to next season! All of the new seed catalogs are in, and we will spend the next few weeks oohing and aahing over all the beautiful pictures, compiling the order to mail out usually by the end of December. Through January we continue our field planning–during the main season we are too busy to think, so we plan everything out to the last detail–what to seed, when, how much, when to transplant it, where, etc. This takes up much of the months of December and January. And like any business, we have taxes to pay, insurance to renew; budgets to balance; payroll to complete. Even though our schedules slow down, we still have lots to accomplish in the winter months!