Thursday, May 22, 2014

New beginnings

Spring is symbolic of new beginnings and at Fresh Start Farms, this is manifested in many different ways. Fields are clear and tilled - a new canvas that in the coming months will become increasingly vibrant.

This is also the time of year when the first-year incubator farmers learn new skills, as well as when we watch the emergence of seeds poking up through the soil as plants. Seedlings, which are baby plants, also come out of the greenhouse and are planted in the fields where their roots happily stretch out into the soil.

Here are some photos that document new beginnings and new experiences for 2014 at Fresh Start Farms:
Patchwork of farmers' fields

New farmer Noor Ali uses the BCS tiller for the first time

Freshly-watered summer squash seedlings

Bok choi seedlings ready to be planted in the field. Soon these will fill CSA customers's bags. Yum!

Thank you Merriconeag volunteers!

9th graders working hard in Omasombo Katuka's field

Last Friday, 14 9th graders from the Merriconeag Waldorf school planted 50 lbs. of onion sets with farmer Omasombo Katuka. What a wonderful job this group did. Fresh Start Farms is so appreciative of this valuable support!

These are the onion sets the group planted. These onions will be harvested June - August as green bunching onions to be sold to Rosemont, Local Sprouts Cooperative, Forage Market, Native Maine and other Fresh Start Farms wholesale accounts

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thank You Bates Volunteers!

Last week Bates students from "Food as the Sacred" May term class planted kale, broccoli, parsley, potatoes, peas, leeks, and swiss chard in Asli Hassan's freshly-plowed fields. Thank you to this group!

We love hosting volunteer groups from colleges/universities, local offices, faith-based groups and others. Let us know if you have a group willing to pitch in and lend a hand, while simultaneously learning some of the intricacies of farming. We'll also be hosting once-per-month farm visits for CSA members starting in June, so stay tuned for that!

Bates has been one of Fresh Start Farms' largest CSA office delivery sites in the past and we hope even more Bates staff will sign up this season!  

Perhaps the reason why so many folks at the college are benefiting from shares of local vegetables each week is thanks to their CSA payroll deductions program. Bates and a few of our other office sites allows staff to pay for their CSA directly from their paychecks. 

We're happy to work with your office's wellness department to arrange the payroll deduction option! Get in touch at for this or other general questions related to CSA.  

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Planting has Begun!

Planting the fields has begun...
...And will continue steadily! 

“It Isn't Perfect but It Is Excellent”

Sarah M. reflects on a job well done
"It isn't perfect, but it is excellent"
The farm is buzzing with more and more activity each day!  Fields are tilled and compost has been spread.  Farmers are prepping beds and planting early crops.  The greenhouse is bursting at the seams with tall and vibrant seedlings of all types--many almost ready for planting.  

This year, Fresh Start Farms received a high tunnel through the NRCS high tunnel initiative and yesterday the crew had all hands on deck to cover the structure plastic.  To plastic the front, farm managers Sarah and Holly innovated a technique of attaching strapping to the wooden frame.  

Outreach coordinator Hussein impressed us with his balance and ease while juggling a power drill, screws, and boards atop a ladder as he fastened the strapping to the beams high above.  

“Is that plastic taut enough?”  Holly called up to him as he attached one of the first pieces.  Hussein drummed on the plastic “boom boom boom--it isn’t perfect..but it’s excellent”  he replied.  

We all agreed with his assessment, and this mantra seemed fitting for our project that day and for farming in general.  As farmers, we often experiment and innovate to make due with the materials and resources we have.  Things might not be perfect, but excellence is achievable and realistically, this the ultimate success!

Check back soon for updates on other excellent endeavors this growing season at Fresh Start Farms!