You might note the lack of activity on the webpage since early last fall, but be careful not to confuse that with a lack of activity in the Kitchen Garden. The several months that have passed between then and now were full of grant writing and planning for a spring that has now come and gone. Our manager for the 2013-2014 school year, Sam Taggart, started passing the management baton over to Emily Salle in mid-February as she prepared to graduate and leave for the Allegheny Mountain School.
Meanwhile, the garden spent much of the late winter blanketed with snow. The striking winter was beautiful, but proved difficult to work with in terms of getting spring plants in the ground. We always hope to extend our season as far into the semester as possible to allow for more student involvement in the growing process. However, with frosts continuing into mid-April, we found that to be quite a challenge. Luckily, by the time May rolled around, our summer crops like tomatoes and eggplant were able to find their spot at the farm.
Another important novelty in the MKG landscape was established this past spring: the Morven Kitchen Garden Apiary. With the help of Paul Legrand, the beekeeper for Monticello, we were able to install eight hives to aid in strengthening the corridor of Russian variety bees in the area (including hives at Tufton, Ashlawn, and Monticello) and for assistance in crop pollination. Hopefully, the bees will be a key resource for student research and provide an opportunity for anyone interested in beekeeping to learn the different steps of establishing, caring for, and harvesting from an apiary.
After the spring semester ended, the work in the Kitchen Garden intensified. Students from the Morven Summer Institute used the garden to carry out experiments for the AgroEcology class, and our summer interns Sarah Osterman and Cassidy Pillow started taking charge as the June and Summer CSA seasons approached.
Now, the CSA is in full swing, as well as the garden’s productivity. After a bit of worry about how to handle slow growing crops (an interesting point of investigation that links to soil fertility and pest management challenges) when a list of CSA members are expecting weekly deliveries, we finally feel comfortable with the yield of cucumbers, beans, and squash arriving daily. And the slicing tomatoes and watermelon plants are hinting at treasures yet to come.