The crisp, cool fall mornings are some of the best times of the year to be working at Rural Studio Farm.
With the fruits of Summer harvested, the Fall crops of leaves, roots, and stems have become the farm’s focus.
Students and staff can now enjoy fresh green salads from the farm every lunch until the weather becomes hot again.
In addition to a variety of fresh lettuces, the farm is also producing spinach, baby greens, kale, collard greens, beets, hakurei turnips, radishes, peanuts, turnips, scallions, carrots, mustard greens, sugar snap peas, and snow peas.
With the next freeze right around the corner, most of the field production is halting for the Winter. To maintain and promote healthy soils, as well as to protect against erosion, the students broadcast a cover crop mix into the beds and winter rye grass into the aisles. It is also a good time to tidy and clean things on the farm so that it looks good while it rests in the cold.
Students are back on the farm! With masks in place, all 3rd-year, 5th-year, and graduate students have started their early morning rotations on farm duty.
We have been busy harvesting some of the remaining summer crops, like tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplants, watermelon, okra, and black-eyed peas. The peas were grown both as a cover crop and a food crop, which meant that they covered most space in the field.
Once their yields began to drop off, the crop residue needed to be cycled out to add organic matter to the field and to make room for future crops. Traditionally, this is done by tilling the crops under the soil, but because we are no-till, Eric mulched the crops with a flail mower and then covered the areas with a tarp to break down all the organic matter left behind. The root masses were left in the ground to break down naturally, opening the soil for water and aeration, as well as adding a large quantity of organic matter.
Meanwhile, the team has been starting seeds and transplanting seedlings into the field that are fall and winter crops: baby mixed brassica greens, lettuce, collards, kale, beets, turnips, broccoli, rutabagas, and mustard greens.
Finally, students have been direct-seeding out several other crops like hakurei (salad) turnips, radishes, and carrots.