Gazpacho in the Garden and first week of Fall CSA

We kicked off the fall semester with our annual event, Gazpacho in the Garden on August 25th.  Just shy of 200 people attended and enjoyed a fun evening.  There was great local food, garden tours, live music, and raffle prizes!

The day before, two crews of students made Gazpacho, a cold tomato and cucumber soup, for Friday’s meal.   Many local businesses donated food and drinks to provide a wonderful buffet dinner.  Local band Sorority Boy shared good music and we could not have asked for better weather.  Thanks to everyone who attended or volunteered!

 

Today, the fall CSA season began!  We are excited to be distributing our produce on campus this semester, in front of O Hill Dining Hall.  In addition to serving as a CSA share pickup spot, the MKG table offered tomato tastings to students and information about the garden.  Stop by  on Friday afternoons from noon to 2pm to say hi and to try a sample of produce your fellow students are growing.

Happy eating, Steph Meyers, MKG farm manager

 

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Week 10 Summer CSA

On Friday, we harvested the final share of the summer CSA.  It was also the last day of the MKG summer internship program.

This week’s share was a food lover’s extravaganza – filled with eleven different vegetables!  From eggplants and chard, to onions and potatoes, there was something to excite everyone’s taste buds.

 

Over the course of 12 weeks you see lots of change and growth in the garden.  In one of the early week’s of the CSA, the interns seeded ten beds of butternut squash.  In the pictures below you can see what it looked like on the day of planting (left side) and what that field looks like now (right side).  Later in September, we will begin harvesting the butternut squash.  Some will go to the fall CSA, but most of the squash is destined for UVA Dining where they will be used in student meals.  Very exciting!

 

It has been a good summer season!  I have enjoyed working these past 12 weeks with Gabi, Holly, and Mikaela.  They have shared lots of enthusiasm, good insights, and thoughtful questions, as they tended the garden and harvested produce for the CSA and for wholesale customers.  A big thanks to the interns for all their dedication to the garden and their hard work this season.

 

With every ending comes a new beginning.  As we say goodbye to summer and the interns, we look forward to the start of school and more students helping in the garden.  The fall CSA will start Friday, September 8th.  We hope you will consider joining us.

Steph Meyers, MKG Farm Manager

Summer CSA Week 9

This week was exciting and challenging for the interns, as it was the first full week without our fearless leader and farm manager, Steph, who took a (much deserved) vacation with her family!

We tackled a lot of chores in preparation for fall this week: planting fall crops, clearing out old beds, and cleaning up those that will carry through from summer to autumn. Check out some of the highlights below:

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The zinnia beds feel a lot fresher now that they’ve gotten a decent weeding. Even the pollinators are happy!

The end of last week and the beginning of this week focused on getting new plants in the ground for our upcoming Fall CSA (starting the first week of September — be on the look out for updates on when sign-ups start!). Germinating now are new successions of green beans and lettuce mixes. Kale, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage (aka the fall brassicas) are also doing their best under row cover, getting big and tasty for Fall CSA members!

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Shade cloth (shown in black) and row cover (white) help keep sun and bugs off of baby plants!

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Take a peek under the row cover to find…

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Baby beans!! Soon these sprigs of leaves will be thick with green beans.

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Despite the weeding done in these beds of sweet potatoes, the vines still dominate the rows!

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Herbs (bed A14) and Nasturtiums (∆) got a good weeding. Just in time for the Nasturtiums to bloom! (Peep the golden and orange flowers on the plant in the front)

On Thursday, we had volunteers come from UVA’s Facilities Management, and they helped us tackle some bigger (taller?) tasks!

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Cherry tomatoes getting trellised (again!); they now reach the ceiling of the hoop house!

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All Trellised Up

They also helped us in our never-ending battles of weeding and harvesting cherry tomatoes!

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Cleanin’ up the chard

We really appreciate all of our volunteers who come to help us out (especially during some really hot days during the summer!). We couldn’t do it all without your help!

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Our tireless FM friends (plus our tireless interns, Mikaela and Gabi)

The week ended with this beautiful harvest, going out to our members as week 9 of our summer CSA! Check out that spread (featuring red potatoes and those lovely zinnias!)IMG_7949.JPG

It’s a little bittersweet to see the summer coming to a close. This past Friday marked Gabi’s last day with us as a summer intern, and we have just one more Friday harvest and distribution before the end of the summer CSA.

But never fear! Fall (and classes) are just around the corner, and a whole new ~crop~ of student volunteers will be joining us to start the new round of growing!

Sunnily,

Holly, MKG Summer Intern

Tomatoes Everywhere

Hello! This is a post about tomatoes and what to do with them.

  1. Eat them! They make a great snack (just make sure to wash them before popping them in your mouth)
  2. Bruschetta (The Garlic Diaries, Bruschetta tips)
  3. Tomato sauce (NYT Cooking,  Serious Eats, Brooklyn Farm Girl)
  4. Gazpacho (NYT Cooking, The Chef Dan)
  5. Curry (The Full Helping, Epicurious)
  6. Summer salad (Delish)
  7. Quiche or frittata
  8. In an omelette
  9. Bloody Mary (you can use the juice that results from removing the seeds in some of the other recipes!)
  10. Your own V8 (Farmgirl Fare)

Week 8 CSA

Given how quickly everything changes in the garden, every week feels eventful but this week in particular saw some big changes at MKG!  Last week we pulled out a lot of our dying beds and this week we tilled up the soil, added compost, and planted new beds of kale, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, and lettuce for the fall!

Soon Plot A will be green and full of growing things once more! This coming week we’ll work on putting in broccoli, more kale, sunflowers, and buckwheat in Plot B. Some more basil might also be in order because our beautiful bed was struck down by basil blight, brought on by the high levels of heat and humidity recently.

Fortunately, the tomatoes in the hoophouse seem completely unaffected and are chugging along. They’re doing so well, in fact, that we picked over 200 pint boxes of cherry tomatoes this week!! The tomato plants have grown so high that some of them touch the top of the hoophouse, while others have drooped into the aisle between the beds. We’re going to see if we can restore some order to our tomato jungle this week!

In other garden news, the zinnias have started blooming and it seems that almost every morning I find a butterfly or two perched on the flowers.

We also found the first few itty bitty pumpkins this week. It’s crazy to think that these tiny green balls barely bigger than a grape will grow into shapely orange pumpkins come October.

Enthusiastically yours,

Mikaela Ruiz-Ramon, MKG Intern

Summer CSA Week 7!

We can’t believe there are only 3 weeks left of the summer CSA! It has been amazing getting to watch things grow over the past weeks from seed into a full acre of food. The Kitchen Garden has a special place in my heart…and all of my aching muscles! But the hard work has definitely paid off (the view helps too).

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This past week we harvested loads more cherry tomatoes! The hoop house is becoming more of a forest than a house. We have been lucky enough to not only give our CSA members lots of cherry tomatoes but we have also sold them to Salt, The Boars Head and Integral Yoga. It’s really exciting to be part of a whole network of food systems in Charlottesville.

If you are looking for a quick and easy recipe to use up those cherry tomatoes check out this yummy pasta dish.

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Cherry tomatoes galore! Peep the garlic drying in the background 🙂

Some things are coming to an end in the garden; this week we mowed down the salad greens, pulled out the rest of the onions and the last of the Napa cabbage. But, by the end of next week we hope to have plenty of peppers and eggplants! If you’re looking for a way to use your Napa cabbage and radishes from this weeks share try this kimchi recipe.

We hope some of you can make it to our volunteer workday this Sunday from 9am-noon!

All for now,

Gabi Freckmann, MKG Summer Intern

 

Week 6 CSA

Welcome back! We’ve made it over the halfway point for the CSA and we’re starting to see the bounty of summer in full! Check out the beautiful produce featured in this week’s share!

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Beautiful colors this week from the beets, cherry tomatoes, and return of rainbow chard!

The cherry tomatoes in our hoop house have been loving the heat, and we’ve now collected nearly four dozen pints of cherry tomatoes in a single week! That’s a whole lot of tomatoes, and we’re just getting started!

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Harvesting in a hoop house full of basil, tomatoes and peppers isn’t so bad… it smells like pizza! 🙂

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Halfway through the tomato harvest for the day!

This week also marked the first harvest of beets (a personal favorite of mine)! Not only did we have a healthy-sized crop in the field, but a single beet volunteered to grow in the hoop house… and boy, did it grow.

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Great in salads, as chips, dipped in hummus, made INTO hummus, and even as a natural dye!

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You can’t BEET veggies that decide to grow on their own! 

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Fun fact: Beets and Swiss Chard are in the same botanical group, along with other colorful friends including Amaranth, Spinach, and even Quinoa!

In other news this week, the collaborative quarter-acre shared by UVA’s Environmental Sciences Department, UVA Dining and MKG (more commonly referred to as Plot C), has been mulched and weeded thanks to the help of many volunteers, just in time for the opening of the first butternut squash blossoms! These plants have really taken to the soil, bio-char or not, and the bees are busy getting to pollinating the plants!

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Many thanks to our ever-helpful volunteer, Natalie!

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The tiny, oblong shape at the base of the flower will soon become a full-sized butternut squash!

The butternut squash will be ready for harvest likely at the beginning of September, right in time for our Fall CSA! If nothing says “autumn” to you quite like a warm cup of butternut squash soup or a roasted squash for Thanksgiving, consider signing up for the MKG Fall CSA (you won’t be disappointed!)

Speaking of fall plans, this week, we started planning our crops to be ready for fall, and will be planting next week!

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So much potential…!

Looking forward to even more veggies soon as slicing tomatoes, bell peppers, and eggplants ripen up!

As always, keep it ~fresh~

Holly Brooks, MKG Summer Intern

CSA Week 5

Today marks the half way point of the summer CSA – week 5.  There were lots of new crops in the share this week:  green beans, nappa cabbage, cucumbers, onions, and for the full shares, the first cherry tomatoes!  Some of our earlier spring plantings  like lettuce mix and salad greens are ending. With the warmer temperatures, we anticipate more of the heat loving crops to make their debut in July including eggplants and peppers.

This Week’s share: Green Beans, Squash, Nappa Cabbage, Onions, Basil, Cucumbers, and Salad Turnips

To fill the CSA bags each week, we continue to plant and replant beds for late summer and fall.  This week we put in our last planting of tomatoes.  These plants will bear fruit from mid-September to frost (mid/late October in Charlottesville).

Weeding was still a big focus this week.  We were joined by volunteers from UVA Facillities Management in weeding and mulching the butternut squash.  Once a month employees of Facilities Management shuttle to the garden to volunteer for two hours. We appreciate their help and enjoy their camaraderie.

UVA Facilities Management Volunteers from the Office of Sustainability. They helped us weed and mulch butternut squash in plot C this week.

The butternut squash is growing in Plot C of the garden, the Collaborative Plot.  In the ten beds of this section, we focus on one crop.  Environmental Science students study and research the crop to see if biochar, a soil amendment made from charcoal impacts crop growth.  UVA Dining will feature the winter squash in meals at the dining halls this fall.  The collaborative plot provides a great way to work with more students and groups at UVA and to expand the number of students who eat the garden’s produce.

 

Summer Interns from left to Right: Holly Brooks, Mikaela Ruiz-Ramon, and Gabi Freckmann.

We have three great UVA summer interns making the garden and CSA happen.  They are Holly Brooks – fourth year, Gabi Freckmann – fourth year, and Mikaela Ruiz-Ramon – third year.  You have read a blog post from each of them the past few weeks.  Hopefully CSA members have had a chance to meet them at CSA pickup or delivery.

Happy summer!

Steph Meyers, MKG Manager

 

 

 

Week 4!

The Name of the game is… weeding!

Once upon a time there was a kitchen garden. In that kitchen garden there was a cheerful red shed. Inside that cheerful red shed hung a whiteboard with a magical list of tasks that kept growing and growing, much like the squash and tomato plants outside. The interns tended to it carefully, adding new things to do each week and pruning off completed tasks.

Lately most of the tasks have involved weeding; the rain and sunshine have given rise to very healthy crops of crab grass, mugwort, nettles, and other fun additions to the garden. This week we tackled the butternut squash, parsley, hoop house, and bush beans. On Tuesday we went to Bellair and helped weed eggplant and pepper beds.

In the midst of weeding we made an exciting discovery; the first ripe tomatoes! There were only two this week, but the warm weather this weekend and upcoming week should help them along. The green bean bushes are also ramping up production too and we hope to start giving those out soon. Initial taste tests of both tomatoes and green beans were (no surprise here) absolutely delicious. I, for one, am excited about wading through green beans and tomatoes plants instead of prickly squash plants!

The first ripe tomatoes!

Our weeded and significantly more orderly hoophouse

Speaking of squash, we tilled three beds on Thursday and planted them with a second round of summer squash, pumpkins for the fall, and some cover crop to help rest and rejuvenate the soil. After work in the garden, Holly and I helped our fantastic bee keep extraordinaire Paul Legrand collect honey from the hives in the back of the garden.

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Fridays, of course, are CSA harvest days, which means no weeding for us and lots of delicious produce for you! Here’s this week’s share:

Stay tuned for more tales,

Mikaela Ruiz-Ramon, MKG Summer Intern

Week 3 Summer CSA 2017

Welcome back to the third week of our summer CSA!

IMG_7833.JPG“Green thumbs” become more literal when trellising tomatoes!

We came back after the weekend to find that our garden was bursting with new growth following all of the rain. We’re looking forward to harvesting onions, potatoes, more cucumbers, and lots and lots of tomatoes in the coming weeks, and having garlic cured and ready to distribute for next week!

Here’s a quick look at what all was included in this week’s CSA share:

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A lot of exciting changes are happening at Morven this summer, most notably our move toward GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) Certification. This requires changes to our farm to facilitate efficient, clean and safe harvesting techniques, and good record-keeping. This week, we have been working to install our new harvest station, and a more permanent hand-washing station! We have also been working to get our electric fence up and running again to deal with the pesky groundhog problem. Look out for more updates in the future on our continued path to GAP certification!

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Harvest requires taking weight measurements and dunking the fresh produce before distribution

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Bundling rainbow chard is an art form

We also enjoyed hosting Executive Chef Dale Ford from Boar’s Head to tour our garden. We look forward to partnering with him in the future! (Look out for MKG squash being served in the restaurant at the Boar’s Head Inn in the next few days!)

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Thank you very *mulch*, Chef!

Looking forward to sunnier skies next week!

Stay dry and stay ~fresh~,

Holly Brooks, MKG Summer Intern