Longest Days, Shifting Landscapes

-Erika Rumbley

The Langwater landscape is shifting as we enjoy the longest days of the year. Until recently, the farm was a patchwork of tall, lush cover crops- grasses and legumes that farmers plant to cover and build soil between plantings. At Langwater, we work extra hard to incorporate cover crops into our crop rotations because we take soil stewardship seriously. The benefits are huge! Here’s a couple: preventing erosion, providing habitat for pollinators, increasing organic matter. Some cover crops even draw nutrients and micro-nutrients up from the deep. Powerful plants!

Spring was a magnificent procession from the deep green of rye and winter wheat into the wild, lavender masses of vetch. Before cover crops produce viable seed, they are mowed, chopped and incorporated into the soil to make way for the next planting. Right now, this shift is in full swing as we transplant the last rounds of summer crops <pepper, eggplant, melon> and the first fall seedlings <Brussels sprouts!>

As we enjoy these long, sunny days, we’re hustling out in the field to keep up. Not only do our fruits, vegetables and flowers flourish with abundant sun, the weeds are taking off as well. Stay tuned to future newsletters where we’ll tackle the art and strategy of keeping the weeds at bay on an organic farm. In the meantime, take a look at those shifting fields! It’s a gorgeous time of year and the abundance is only beginning.

CoverCrops

Winter Mercy

-Erika Rumbley
20160119_112811I write to you from the glowing, empty greenhouse.
Winter at Langwater Farm is surprisingly bustling. Each week we haul thousands of pounds of vegetables out of storage and harvest greens. Beets are washed, sweet potatoes graded and winter squash polished. It’s also the season of planning and digging through our memories. We gather in the barn around a table littered with spreadsheets to learn from the past. Let’s grow more of that fabulous, popular cabbage. Let’s try that new technique for growing flowers between rows of Brussels sprouts. Its not just about growing practices. We set resolutions and make proclamations. We will keep our knives sharp. We will work hard, communicate clearly and believe in each other’s best intentions. 
The farmer’s winter is driven forward by the irresistible belief that this season will be different. Our ideas and ideals will find easy embodiment when the snow thaws. We will re-enact our successes and find solutions to our shortcomings. It’s a new growing season and we’ll carry all the lessons of past growing seasons with us. They will help us see clearly.

In a few weeks, we will heat this greenhouse and fill this space with new life. For now, I’m overcome by a sense of hope in the face of this cleared out space. Oh, the mercy of a fresh start! May you all find ways to start anew as the spring approaches.

Wintry Mornings

-Erika Rumbley

Each week I meet more of you who are captivated by the idea of eating more locally. Perhaps your family has gone whole hog, or you may be dipping your toes in this season with a newfound curiosity for root vegetables and all those gorgeous squashes. As the temperatures bottom out and the shortest days approach, the Langwater Farm crew is doubling our efforts to feed you through the winter months. We’re filling every last inch of the barn with beets, turnips and carrots. We’re stacking sweet potatoes, kabocha and butternut to the ceiling. The lush, impossibly green spinach and kales have been tucked under row cover for careful gradual harvests in the coming weeks. The sides of the greenhouses are battened down tight with arugula and lettuce growing inside. Every vegetable is stored to suit its preferences, to maximize freshness and storability- carrots, beets, daikon and the striking watermelon radish in a chilly, humid cooler while squashes and sweet potatoes like it warm and dry. This time of year, farming is more about dormancy than growth.

Through this week of wintry mornings, the Langwater Farm crew will devote early hours to clearing out greenhouses and cleaning leeks until the outside world thaws. Several hours later, we pile into trucks with our thermoses and all the layered clothing we can stand. We’ll be cutting tops off of turnips, tossing them into crates, pouring crates into big bins, carrying the bins away with the tractor. This is what local, seasonal eating looks like.