Have you ever picked a carrot? I’m not talking off a shelf at Stop & Shop or even Whole Foods. I’m asking, have you ever gone to a farm and pulled this amazing root vegetable out of the ground with your own two hands? In this day and age, produce is more often found wrapped in plastic than fresh from the earth. It isn’t uncommon for many of us to have missed out on the opportunity to pull a fresh vegetable from the ground or even pick fruit from a bush or tree. Well, during Summer of Souzapalooza 2011, I am not missing out on opportunities like picking my own carrots.
Every weekend, I help with Red Barn Bakery’s market stand at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture‘s Farm Market (Red Barn is the exclusive pastry merchant at this market). It is beautiful to drive through the Stone Barns’ property and see a full functioning farm right in the middle of the suburbs. However the frustration is that I only get to spend time in the small garden where the market is located. I miss out on all the other amazing areas of the property. This week that all changed…
Yesterday, I went up to Stone Barns and got to take a greenhouse tour from former corporate suit turned farmer, Jason Grauer. Jason has been volunteering at Stone Barns for a few years, but recently had the opportunity to join the staff full-time. Jason took me on a tour through the 1/2 acre greenhouse, where I got to see all the different crop beds. The beds in the greenhouse are 30 inches wide, which is about an arm’s length. This size bed allows the greenhouse staff the ability to reach both sides of the bed when working with the crops, which allows all the greenhouse crops to receive “hands on” attention – literally!
It was a great day to visit, because the greenhouse staff was in the process of changing the beds and rotating the crops. Why do they rotate the crops? Crops are rotated from one bed to another, so the soil does not get drained nutrients; in addition, rotating the crops also keeps insects and parasites from taking over, since they don’t get an opportunity to set up a home in the soil. Not only did I learn all about the rotation, I learned about the different vegetables, lettuces, edible flowers, and herbs that are going to become dinner at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. I was even able to taste some of them. It wasn’t exactly like eating at the restaurant, so I am not going to mark it off my bucket list just yet!
If you are interested in learning more about the Greenhouse Program at Stone Barns from an insider’s perspective, please check out Jason’s blog “Have You Ever Picked A Carrot?”. He has great pictures of life in the greenhouse as well as detailed explanations as what goes on year round.
Of course, if you are in the vicinity, Stone Barns is always looking for volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, visit the Stone Barns website for details.