MKG in April

As we had anticipated, the start of the month has been eventful at Morven Kitchen Garden.

This past week we hosted field trips for 4th and 5th graders from Stone Robinson Elementary. The kids rotated between four stations in which they planted kale at the garden, engaged in a compost activity, went on a garden scavenger hunt, and made salad and salad dressing for lunch in our food lab. It was really fun showing the kids our garden and they exhibited tons of enthusiasm about being there.

SRE compost activity.JPG

This past weekend, we had a Madison House Big Event. Volunteers came and raked compost onto five beds, planted kale and scallions after adding compost to the beds, and then they weeded the hoop-house. A lot was accomplished that day!

file1.jpeg

file3.jpeg

As far as thebees go, we had two bee packages arrive earlier this month. We set up two hives at MKG and put the bees in their new homes. We are very excited to have new bees in our MKG family.

IMG_7473 (1).JPG

Now that Earth-week is upon us, we are about to get seriously busy. Keep an eye out for our newsletter!

 

Advertisements

Primavera Time

March has been a teasing month, it started off really cold and every now and then it starts to warm up. The weather still requires us to bundle up a bit as we work in the garden, but spring is definitely in the air.

This month we were occupied with a plethora of things: the bees, seeding in the greenhouse, laying out irrigation drip lines, fixing the pipes of the hoop-house, weed control in the garden… it’s been eventful to say in the least.

Sadly, the bees in our beehives were not able to survive the winter but they did leave behind some honey. We are planning on getting more bees soon and continuing our beehive collective.

The trays in the greenhouse are all seeded. We are growing eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes this season. Hopefully it gets warmer sooner than later so we can see these veggies sprout.

Professor Dana Elzey’s Design Class design class came out a few times at MKG during spring break and prevented the lull that slows down production when students are gone. A class of 20 students helped us clear some beds and put out compost for seeding. They were able to complete the kale seeding for UVA dining for Earth Week, clear three beds in the hoop-house, and lay out a big plastic sheet to control weeding on our other beds. The sheet will capture heat and efficiently kill the weeds under it so that we can clear up the space and continue seeding. Thanks to them, we came back from spring break ready to transition into the spring season.

The hoop-house structure is looking good. It was difficult to re-position the pipes and add a new plastic over, but we managed to do it. Now we are seeding in the hoop-house!

As we continue with the hard work, we look forward to the sunnier days ahead of us. April is going to be a busy month with all the Earth Week preparations. We’ll keep you updated with our weekly newsletter.

This Week at Morven Kitchen Garden

Hi all it’s Sarah from MKG! This past week at Morven Kitchen Garden has been a busy one. With the luck of fair weather, we were able to continue our work towards rebuilding the hoop house. Our hoop house is important because not only does it serve as a place to plant crops, but it functions to create a warmer environment to allow for extended harvesting seasons. As seen in the pictures included below, this past week we finished putting together the poles that create the foundation for the hoop house and worked on putting the tarp back on that encloses the structure. Reconstructing our hoop house means that very soon we can start seeding for the Spring!

 

With spring and summer months in mind, we are thrilled to take the next steps towards preparing the garden for our summer CSA. This includes tilling and seeding in the hoop house and outdoor beds. CSA members from last fall (2018) will soon be receiving a survey that welcomes feedback on CSA experience and invites past members to share any ideas they may have for future additions or innovations to the program. Spring is an exciting and busy time because we get to spend more time outside working in the garden on tasks ranging from seeding to beekeeping. We are looking forward to warm weather and sunny days in the garden!

In addition to preparation for our CSA program, Earth Day is just around the corner and without a doubt will be a busy time for the garden! Morven Kitchen Garden is proud to participate in Earth Week, a week-long series of events that serve to celebrate our earth and promote an appreciation of the natural world. In the past, MKG has participated in a farmers market at the University and has sold potted plants, such as herbs, that were cultivated in the garden. The farmers market is just one of multiple events that MKG is usually involved in during Earth Week, and more details on these events will be available soon as we near spring. For more updates on the garden, and Earth Week as we approach it, stay tuned to MKG newsletters and blog posts! No matter the season, there is always something to do at MKG.

What’s Going on at MKG?

It has been a slow week at the farm! Weather and seasonal sickness have prevented us from getting much work done here, but looking ahead, the next few weeks should be productive. Our main to-do list items right now are getting the hoophouse fixed and laying more landscape fabric. The hoophouse was originally constructed incorrectly, causing water to pool on the roof, which could eventually break the plastic liner. So, we are working on re-aligning the poles to prevent this from happening. We’re also planning to start laying landscape fabric under the electric fence soon; this will keep weeds from coming up along the fence, as it is currently getting a little overgrown.

We recently hosted the MKG Annual Spring Brunch, which was an amazing event! We had so many people come to spend their Sunday morning with us in the Food Lab, and so much amazing food to share. We also voted on ideas for what we should grow in the spring; everyone loved arugula, sweet potatoes, kale, garlic, broccoli, carrots, and beans, so it’s likely that we’ll be seeing some of those in the garden soon! Thank you so much to everyone who decided to come! It was great to see so many faces here.

It is also getting to the time of year when the bees should start becoming more active. We have yet to see much from them, but we have high hopes that they made it through the winter and have some honey to share. A lot of time and care has been dedicated to helping them through the year, so this should be the case.

Due to the weather lately, we have spent a lot of time doing indoor tasks. You may have noticed that our weekly newsletter has a whole new look, or that the workday signup sheet has been slightly altered. We now have included a section dedicated to outlining the weekly tasks on the farm, which should be really helpful for volunteers to know what they’re getting into or to plan ahead and dress accordingly for the tasks at hand. This also helps us communicate what needs to be done at the farm between interns, the executive team, and workday leaders. In addition, we’ve been taking seed inventory, working in the greenhouse, and preparing grants for the year.

Overall, it has been a time of planning and looking ahead here at the Kitchen Garden. We’re all so excited to get things going on the farm as we enter into the spring season, and we are doing everything we can to prepare for what’s ahead! Stay on the lookout for more from us; we’ll be adding blog posts weekly, as well as sending out our newsletter with any relevant updates every Sunday!

Reflect and Begin

Like most gardens and vegetable farms, Morven Kitchen Garden began January indoors reflecting on the past year, planning for the growing season ahead, and starting seeds in the greenhouse.

REFLECT

Here is look back at some highlights from 2018 season:

Internship Program triples in size

We expanded our internship program beyond the summer, to have positions in the spring and fall semesters. In 2018, nine undergrad students interned at MKG, up from three students in 2017. In addition to paid interns, through a partnership with UVA Career Centers Intern Placement Program (IPP), we had our first student doing their internship for credit.

 

MKG Students win Sustainability Award

At the 2018 Earth Week Sustainability Banquet, the Morven Kitchen Garden won the award for “Outstanding Work in Sustainability for a Traditional Green Group”.  We were honored MKG Exec  received this award and were recognized for their vital work and leadership.  Their initiative, enthusiasm, and commitment makes the garden happen from leading workdays and operating a CSA, to promoting the garden at events on grounds and at the garden.  Please see our list of 2018 MKG Students.

 

Opening of the First Lady’s Food Lab

Located a few hundred feet from the garden, the First Lady’s Food Lab provides both an indoor space for learning, meeting, and cooking as well an initiative to create food and sustainability programs that connect UVA students with the larger community.  With its location close to the garden, the Food Lab provides MKG with an office and meeting space as well as a close bathroom for garden workers

MKG is excited to be part of an inaugural Food Lab program: Food and Health education at Stone Robinson Elementary School. Fourth and Fifth graders rotated through activities at the garden during the Food Lab Launch in October. In November and December, MKG participated in hands on activities in the SRE classroom and at the Health Fair.

 

MKG produce featured in UVA Dining Thanksgiving dinner

For the second year, MKG vegetables were featured in UVA Dining Hall’s Thanksgiving meals. Students grew and harvested over 100 pounds of lettuce mix, kale, and spinach that were used at the Fresh Food Company’s November dinner.  We are excited to work with UVA Dining to have local, fresh and student grown vegetables part of student meals on grounds.

Support from Donors and Community

We are thankful for donations and community support that allows the garden and its programs to thrive, expand, and impact more students and the local community. A donation from the O’Connell Family supports both the garden at large and the internship program. The Jefferson Society provided funds to assist with education and supplies for maintaining our two beehives.

MKG also benefited from donated items this season. With the relocation of the IM-Rec’s Outdoor Rec Center, MKG was able to move and reuse the metal building  once used to store their canoes and kayaks. The building now serves as our wash and pack area at the garden.   A three bay sink, tables, and shelves from the Old Cavalier Inn were donated by the UVA Foundation.

There are many who supported MKG in 2018.  Please see our full lists of 2018 MKG Supporters.

BEGIN

MKG is excited for the 2019 season. Students tabled at the Spring Activity Fair in Newcomb and MKG Exec has been meeting weekly to plan for an exciting spring semester. Three student interns began work at the garden in late January and garden workdays began the first week of February. Hope to see you in the garden this spring!

Steph Meyers, MKG Farm Manager

Intern at MKG this Spring!

MKG is looking for spring interns!  This is a great opportunity to learn and participate in sustainable agriculture.

Interns will be involved in crop planning, seeding in the greenhouse, field prep and planting, and harvesting and marketing.

 

Learn more about this rewarding experience:  Spring Internship Application

Applications are due Monday, December 10.

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

End of the Summer CSA

Last Friday was the 10th and final week for the summer CSA.  We were able to give out several new crops at the very end which made thing exciting. We were able to give out potatoes, cabbage and eggplant. Now that the CSA is over we are planning on seeding new things and preparing the garden for our next event which is Gazpacho in the Garden. Gazpacho in the Garden will be September 7th from 5:30-8:00 pm. We welcome everyone to come join us for an evening of local food, live music and fun! You can RSVP here: https://mkggazpacho.splashthat.com/

During the weeks we had our bee classes we learned that the bees really liked flowering plants such as buckwheat, which we sometimes use as a cover crop. So after that we planted two rows of it and recently we have been seeing a lot of honey bees on them, hopefully some of which are our own bees. You can see some of the buckwheat we planted in the picture above, it is the plant with white flowers right behind the row that is covered.

One thing that is fairly new at the farm is our new wash and pack area. Thanks to Andy and RE we have a new area we can use for wash and pack instead of the food lab, which is under construction now. The new wash and pack which is shown in the image below makes washing both containers and veggies easier because before we had to walk back and forth up the hill to the food lab. Now we can stay closer to the garden, which makes things run more efficiently. Still more work needs to be done to the wash and pack area but we have a great start so far!

Midsummer

Hello all! We are in the midst of the CSA summer season and things are in full swing at Morven. The squash and cucumber plants in the hoop house are producing at an impressive rate, and we already have more squash plants in the ground in the outside beds. Blink and some of the squash and zucchini grow to be the size of an infant child! We have encountered an interesting pest in some of the squash plants, however. The squash vine borer moth has lain larvae in the base of some of the plants in the hoop house, and these little fellas are attempting to eat their way out of the squash plant as we speak. These creepy little dudes can take down a whole squash plant because the larvae destroy the plant at the base. We are working on preforming something akin to emergency squash surgery to remove these aspiring moths to remedy this situation and save the affected squash plants!
Recent days in the garden have included a lot of weed whacking and tilling, as we are in the process of preparing beds for the end of the summer and into the fall. Our tiller is gas powered and very temperamental, but super important in helping us break up the tough clay soil that we Virginians apparently possess in spades. We also just laid down a occultation silage tarp in field B in order to kill existing grass by depriving it of light and cooking it under the black tarp, preparing the way for carrots, beets and greens! Perhaps the most important development this week was our nearing completion of the new wash/pack area at the garden! We will commence using it this week. Here is a photo of the interns moving the last item out of the garage, where the previous wash/pack area was.
IMG_5434
Our bee class with Ken and Karen of the Central Virginia Beekeepers Association continued this week. Previously, we have learned a bit about the life cycle and division of labor unique to these industrious apoideans. Did y’all know that bees can give their comrades specific directions to find nectar and pollen by performing a dance? cause I sure didn’t. Humans and bees are the only two animals on Earth that can communicate directions to a food source like this without having to lead their kin to the food or leave a trail. This week we actually opened up the hive in full beesuits and attempted to find and tag the queen. While we couldn’t find her this time, there is evidence that she has been active within the past 5 days and the hive seems in excellent shape, plus we got to practice using the hive tool to remove the frames and examine them.
In recent days at Bellair we have harvested eggplants. Now, I for one have never paid much attention to eggplants in general but having picked them, I was struck with how beautiful these plants are! Their leaves are laced with purple veins that fade down into elegant purple stems, and this is just one of many varieties! The fruit come in all shades, shapes and sizes. There is even one variety that looks like purple and white marble, as seen below. We also peeled onions this week again and my hands still smell like onions at thisvery moment.
Eggplant-Edirne-Purple-Striped-IMG_19511
We are growing our own eggplants at Morven and they will appear in your shares at some point down the line. Anyways, hope you have an awesome rest of your week, see you guys at pickup!
Logan

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/ 

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/