Just Morven Kitchen Garden Things

Hi friends,

What are the haps at Morven Kitchen Garden, you ask? If you’re receiving our CSA share this summer you may have noticed that our squash, cucumbers, and green beans are now being harvested! In addition, other crops such as broccoli, tomatoes, and peppers are coming soon!

Now, I’d like to take you on a little trip back in time.

 

The picture on top is from June 7th, the day the MKG interns weeded, tilled, and laid compost in rows in the hoop house. Below that is a photo from July 12th, featuring (from left to right) squash, cucumbers, and peppers! What a transformation. It’s been such a delightful experience to be able to help these vegetables grow. And I for one am learning a lot each day. For example, before this summer I had never seen how a squash grows. And if you’re like me, then check out the photo below!

Squash plants put out these beautiful yellow flowers (which are edible) and then produce squash at a rate that requires us to go through and harvest them every other day! How cool.

Now, let’s take a trip into the future. As you may have heard, the upcoming Food Lab at Morven is going to be a newly renovated space that will be opening for use in mid-October. This space will be used by many groups for meetings, educational events, cooking classes, and more! It is located very close to the garden and thus provides a perfect opportunity for people to follow their food, every step of the way, from farm to table.

Because MKG had been using the Food Lab building to wash and pack produce, we needed find a new spot to do this important activity. Thanks to a donation of a used carport, we were able to create an interim covered space to wash and pack vegetables at the garden. As you can see below, work on the carport began this week.

Pictured above are two outstanding Morven employees, Andy and R.E., reconstructing the carport inside the garden.   We are infinitely grateful for their help with this building project and have enjoyed working with them this week.  In addition to being great builders, they are really nice and fun to talk to. 🙂

Anywho, we are excited to announce that this new wash and pack area will be ready for use next week. Its location inside the garden area will make it much easier to wash containers, prepare CSA shares, and more!

REMINDER: Save the date!

Gazpacho in the Garden will be Friday, September 7th from 5:30- 8:00 pm at the Morven Kitchen Garden. Enjoy an evening of local food, live music, garden tours, and fun.  Everyone is welcome to attend and you can RSVP at https://mkggazpacho.splashthat.com/ 
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What Has Been Happening at the Farm?

Monday: We did a lot of weeding. Cleaning containers was a major thing on our to-do list, in the past weeks, it was stressful to leave it all till Thursday/Friday when we need the containers the most, so all the containers were washed and sanitized. We also harvested a bunch of garlic that will be in the CSA shares eventually, right now it is drying so that it will keep longer once it is given out.

Tuesday: We spent the morning at Bellair Farm learning about bees. We got to put on bee suits and get into the hives. We learned about smoking bees and how smoke puts the bees at ease because it makes them think of a forest fire and causes them to gorge on honey and not focus on the beekeepers. The smoke also helps mask the smell of the bee alarm pheromone, which some say smells fruity.  Bellair also has a pollinator garden, which we helped weed and mulch.

Wednesday: We weeded the hoop house before the weeds got out of hand. We also put up stakes so that we could trellis the peppers. We also trellised the cucumbers in the hoop house using a system that puts string down from the ceiling that holds the plants up and allows them to climb up the string. We planted basil and sweet potatoes. Some of the beds were very weedy like the salad turnips, so we weeded them.

Thursday:  This day was another day full of bees. We had beekeepers Ken and Karen come to us and give a lesson on beekeeping. We got to get into the hives and see all the honey and the brood in our own hives at Morven. Before we got to the bees we weeded around the bees and laid landscape fabric, so that everything was nice and neat when they brought back our bees that swarmed. Logan spent most of the day weeding and the rest of us planted seeds for the greenhouse and washed containers for harvest on Friday.

Friday: Friday was CSA day, the interns spent the morning harvesting and washing veggies for the CSA members. Then some interns waited at O’Hill dining to give out shares to some members, while others drove around town and dropped off deliveries.

SAVE THE DATE!!!

Gazpacho in the Garden will be Friday, September 7th from 5:30- 8:00 pm at the Morven Kitchen Garden. Everyone is welcome to come out and enjoy Gazpacho made from Morven grown produce and other yummy treats!  You can RSVP at https://mkggazpacho.splashthat.com/

Meet our Summer Interns!

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~June~ Showers brought both the kickoff of our Summer CSA (this Friday, June 15th) and ALSO our summer interns! Check out their bios below to learn more, and be on the lookout for updates of all the summer happenings from honey bees to bell peppers.

 

Kaitlyn Elliott

Kaitlyn Elliot

Hi! I am Kaitlyn Elliott and I am one of the 2018 Summer interns. I am thrilled to be working with MKG this summer because I volunteered throughout school year and became very interested in all the cool things that go on at Morven. I am a rising 2nd year studying Environmental Science with a minor in Urban and Environmental Planning. I am excited to be learning more about sustainable agriculture first hand. I can’t wait to meet everyone as the summer goes on!

 

Logan Ende

Logan Ende

Heyo, my name is Logan, I am a fourth year at UVa and stoked to be working at Morven this summer! I study Environmental Sciences and relish the opportunity to work outside all summer growing food for you guys. See you this summer!

 

Bridget Murphy

Bridget Murphy

Hi friends, I’m so happy to introduce myself as one of the MKG Summer Interns! I’m a rising 4th year studying Design Thinking in the School of Architecture with a minor in Global Sustainability. The best part of being an MKG intern is definitely growing delicious veggies and playing in the dirt, but I guess learning about the systems behind small and mid-sized farms is important too. I look forward to meeting you throughout the summer!

 

Elin Woolf

Elin Woolf

Hi there! My name is Elin and I’m excited to learn about sustainable agriculture through working in the Morven Kitchen Garden this summer. Since I was a child, I’ve loved playing farming games online and am now overjoyed to have this opportunity to work on a real farm! I’m a rising fourth year studying Psychology and Economics, with a minor in Global Sustainability. This summer, I’m especially looking forward to learning about different crops, interacting with the bees at Morven, and meeting our CSA members!

 

Spring has Sprung at MKG!

We’ve been having a blast harvesting lettuce mix, greens, radishes and turnips and are excited about preparing the garden for our upcoming crop plan, especially now that the weather seems to have officially warmed up! Next week is Earth Week, which offers a number of opportunities for volunteers to join the Garden in celebrating sustainability and the planet!

Earth Week 2018 Events (April 16 – 22)

Monday: MKG will be selling plants at the Farmer’s Market from 12pm to 4pm in the Central Grounds Amphitheater. Meal plan holders can use Plus Dollars or Cav Advantage throughout the Market. We hope to see you there!

Tuesday: Visit our table at the Earth Week Expo from 11am to 2pm in the Newcomb Ballroom to learn all about MKG.

Wednesday: MKG members will be attending the annual SustainaBanquet to celebrate the university-wide sustainability community and its accomplishments this school year.

Thursday: Come out to SustainaPitch Night at 6pm in the Rotunda Multipurpose Room and vote for MKG to win funding for our Bee Program!

Sunday: Earth Day!

Morven Spring Open House

This weekend was gorgeous, and Saturday was the perfect day to welcome newcomers to the garden for our spring open house. Shoutout to all the great folks who made it out to the garden even though it was Easter/Passover weekend. It was a great day for garden tours and learning more about the sustainable farming that goes on at MKG.

Unfortunately, since it’s still relatively early in the planting season, and this winter and spring has been so unpredictable (it might snow on this weekend? In April!?) the garden doesn’t have much growing outside of the hoophouse. Nevertheless, our great exec team tilled beds and set out tools to give visitors an idea of our timeline, process, and what’s to come. We hope everyone was able to try out a gardening tool, and is motivated to come out when planting begins! Visitors also potted plants and were able to take them home

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Garden tour and tool explaination

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Visitors potting plants. Choices were lettuce, swiss chard, and parsley

Our first planting workday is this Friday, so contact morvenkitchengarden@gmail.com if you want to get your hands dirty. It’s a lot of fun!

If you missed this weekend’s Open House, don’t fret! There are plenty more upcoming opportunities to get out to our beautiful garden:

  • Saturday, April 7: Madison House Big Event will welcome volunteers from 10:30-1:30
  • On going: Weekly workdays. Contact morvenkitchengarden@gmail.com to get on our listserv and get into a carpool!
  • Monday 4/16: Central Grounds Ampitheater. We will be selling plants as a part of the Earth Day Farmers Market from 12:00-4:00

 

Sign up for a workday! And helping out with a harvest like this one (pictured below) could be in your future!

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These beautiful salad greens were grown in our hoophouse and harvested today! They will be sold to Boar’s Head and Greens to Grounds. (Above: mixed greens, below: mizouna)

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Intern at MKG this summer or fall!

It’s not often you find a perfect summer internship position. Like one that allows you to spend time outside with great people, grow and eat sustainable food, and learn about the environment, business, AND sustainability. But a summer internship at Morven Kitchen Garden offers all of that and more!

Join us for a productive summer of growing and selling sustainable, local, and fresh food. Help us promote sustainability in the Charlottesville community and take home some fresh produce while you’re at it.

MKG is looking for three summers interns to work 11 weeks this summer (late May to early August) for about 25 hours a week.

We are also looking for two fall interns to work 13 weeks this fall semester (early September to early December) for 8-10 hours a week.  Our website offers more details.

Learn more about this fabulous and rewarding experience:  MKG 2018 Internship Application

Applications are due Thursday, April 5.

Please contact Steph Meyers, MKG Farm Manager, with any questions

Carrots, Crop Planning, and More!

The Hoop House seems to be ready for Saint Patrick’s Day because the crops that were seeded last month are now bright and green! Here are some photos of the progress. The Mizuna (in the row on the far right) is doing especially well! Also growing is arugula, spinach, radishes, kale, and more.

     

^one week after seeding            ^four weeks after seeding               ^close up: Mizuna

I don’t know about you, but ever since the Welcome Back Brunch, I’ve been craving carrot cake! Speaking of carrots, MKG made its first whole sale of the semester of 90.5 pounds of carrots to UVA Dining. The carrots were direct seeded in the garden in August and the volunteers and interns had a blast harvesting and washing them in February. Some of the carrots were used in carrot ginger soup made for the December Holiday Party and also in several dishes students made for the Welcome Back Brunch. Students, be sure to look out for Morven carrots in dining halls during these next few weeks!

^view from outside the Stone House on Thursday, where Steph and the interns have been staying warm and working on crop planning

Steph and the interns have been working on finalizing the crop and harvest plan for 2018. Between the CSA and whole sales, we have a large variety of crops we will be growing this year. We shaped our crop plan based on requests from students, past CSA members, and partners like UVA Dining and Boar’s Head. We are especially excited about including some new, fun crops like Romanesco and watermelon! We can’t wait to get our hands dirty and start seeding once the weather warms up.

Upcoming Events

The Garden will be holding an Open House on Saturday March 31 from 12-2pm. This event will be a great opportunity for anyone to come out and learn more about the Garden, it’s never too late to get involved!

Until Next Time!

Thank you to everyone who has helped out at the Garden so far this semester, we really appreciate all your hard work!

We hope to see you soon at the Garden! Isabel, MKG Spring Intern

Some Updates

It’s not quite spring yet, though some of these seventy and eighty degree days definitely could have fooled us. We definitely have made good use of both the chilly and warmer days here in the garden. Even though the growing season isn’t productive, we most certainly have been! Between volunteer workdays, our annual brunch, and the start of our new spring interns, we definitely have a lot to catch everyone up on!

Welcome Back Brunch

We had to rename our annual brunch (formerly the “Stonehouse Brunch”) because our cohort of volunteer gardens has outgrown the Stonehouse. Not a bad problem to have! The newly named “Welcome Back Brunch” was hosted in the Meeting Barn, and had around thirty attendees and an amazingly delicious spread of food. We knew our volunteers were talented gardeners, but they also blew us away with their cooking and baking skills. Students brought casseroles, cupcakes, sweet potato biscuits, carrot cakes (featuring Morven carrots), fruit salads and galore. It’s safe to say: not one empty belly left the brunch.IMG_4090

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Thanks to all our volunteers for the food and the good times. Since workdays happen at different times, it was great to get everyone who is involved in the garden together in the same room! We recapped our recent successes and voted on which crops to grow this season. We have a great plan, and can’t wait to get started!

Sustainability Work Day

On January 26, the office of sustainability kicked off our first workday of the year! Thirteen staff joined us, for a fun and productive day!

Activities included:

  • Seeding greenhouse trays of chard, kale, and lettuce for planting out later this spring.
  • Building wooden dripline winders for storing our irrigation line
  • Moving and storing row cover and rock bags from the fall plantings.

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Building the dripline winders ^

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The winders in action! ^

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Seeding trays ^

We loved the enthusiasm all of the Office if Sustainability staff brought to the garden! It was definitely very well appreciated, our inters have already made very good use of the dripline winders! Thanks again for all your help!

That same day MKG Exec students promoted MKG at the winter activities fair in Newcomb.

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Our Interns

Last but certainly not least, we’d like to introduce you to our two spring semester interns. This is the first time MKG will be having semester interns. And they are both very excited to be joining the team. Caroline (this post’s author) and Isabel are both third-year Global Sustainability majors with strong interests in food sustainability. About a month in, we’ve already gotten their hands dirty seeding, laying drip line, washing carrots, and much more. We’ve also helped out with some crop planning. We’re so excited about all we’ve accomplished so far, and can’t wait for what’s to come!

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Caroline (right) and Isabel (left) after seeding the hoophouse!

MKG Squash in UVA Dining Halls!

This is an exciting week for Morven Kitchen Garden.  On Tuesday, November 14 through Thursday, November 16, UVA Dining Halls will be featuring butternut squash grown at MKG in evening meals!

The butternut squash journey from seed to dining plate, began on June 1st.  Volunteers from UVA Facilities Management helped the MKG interns to prepare beds for planting – adding  compost to the beds and connecting the lines for drip irrigation.  On June 2 summer interns seeded ten beds of squash.

Summer squash tasks included irrigation, multiple weedings, and pest control.  Another group of Facilities Management volunteers joined us in July to mulch the beds with hay.

The plants grew well and thrived throughout the summer.  On October 12, twelve student volunteers harvested over 900lb of butternut squash from the 10 beds of squash.  The also sorted the squash into 3 categories:  best, short term storage, and eat soon.  Everyone left with squash to cook and enjoy.

The planting of seeds started in early June, but the partnership between UVA Dining and MKG started in 2016. Both groups were interested in having local, student grown vegetables eaten in the dining  halls.  A key step to make this goal happen was for the garden to get GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) Certified.   UVA Dining requires GAP Certification for produce they purchase.  The USDA defines GAP as “a voluntary audit that verifies that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled, and stored as safely as possible to minimize risks of food safety hazards.”

In 2016, MKG students and Emily Salle, the former garden manager, began exploring and researching GAP and laying the groundwork for getting certified.  Part of their efforts included obtaining a G.I.F.T. grant to create a produce wash area and picnic tables for the designated eating area at the garden. 

In 2017, we dove into the GAP paperwork – including creating our food safety manual, getting our water tested, outlining procedures for how produce is harvested and handled,  and developing guidelines and training for garden volunteers.  In early October, the auditor visited MKG and reviewed our paperwork, policies, and fields and the garden received GAP certification.  Hurrah! Now that the garden is GAP certified, we look forward to selling more produce to UVA Dining in the future.

Many hands were involved in planning and tending the butternut squash this year.  We are excited that it will be featured at UVA Dining this week and to taste the yummy dishes the chefs will prepare.

Stop by the following dining halls for dinner this week to try some student grown squash:

Tuesday, November 14th   Runk

Wednesday, November 15th  Fresh Food Company

Thursday, November 16th   O Hill

Happy eating!  Steph Meyers, MKG Farm Manager

“Falling” into October!

It’s been another busy week on the farm! Our students have come back from their fall break, refreshed and ready to get back to the farm.

On Wednesday we harvested beans and tomatoes, and we’ll begin to harvest sweet potatoes this upcoming Saturday!

Here is a photo of one of our volunteers harvesting swiss chard for the CSA:

We also have begun to harvest our pumpkins, in time for Halloween.

And at one of our meetings, students planted pea shoots, which have already begun to sprout.

See you soon at the farm!