NOFA-NJ put on a tractor class taught by Shane LaBrake at our farm last week. We spent the first day going over how an engine works. This really sparked my interest because it provided context to why taking care of your tractor is important. Daily preventative measures will keep your tractor running and make you a better farmer. Raising the professionalism for beginning farmers is important for our emerging food movement to take root. Farming is also one of the most dangerous jobs in America and every way we can better understand the equipment we are using the safer we can operate. Shane showed us first hand how to change the oil, tighten the fan belt, change the coolant, and service the air filter. His patience and practicality permeated a work ethic that is inspiring. It reminds me that as a farm manager I am responsible for more then just producing good vegetables, I also need to promote professionalism in farming so we can have a generation of competent small scale farmers. After all, food is wildly important to so many issues in our current society, as it always has been throughout our culture.
The gentle glide into cooler temperatures has been a welcomed gift. We are actively harvesting our fall plantings of rutabagas, turnips, kohlrabi, and watermelon radishes. One last succession of kale, collards, beets, and chard has been planted to get us through November. Everyday we get closer to the Solstice we loose a little bit of light. You can tell this by the slow growth of our plants in the field and you can feel it in our bones as our work days get shorter. Most of our fields are in production or have cover crop nourishing our soil after it has given us beautiful crops during the summer. We harvested our last tomato this week and will soon clear our high tunnel of fresh ginger. The frost should be coming any day now so we made sure to pick all of the peppers that are ripe. One focus this year was to grow and store a large amount of root vegetables. So far the cooler is still full!
September is my favorite month of the year. It is a welcome break from the long days of summer. All of the planning and executing throughout the year has paid off with good yields, only a few crop losses, and a full cooler of storage crops. This is a perfect time to determine which varieties of tomatoes to grow next year and acknowledge what worked and what needs to be improved. We have rutabaga, turnips, sweet potatoes, and winter radishes in the ground ready to be harvested and stored. We planted strawberries that we will cover with straw and fabric that should produce sweet fruit in the Spring. Turning our fields over into cover crop is the final step in preparation for next year. It is a great feeling checking tasks off our list.