September

9/15 - Volunteer opportunity
Barber Farm needs your help to harvest many tons of vegetables for donation.
Salvation Farms will be coordinating volunteers for the week of 9/17-9/21.
Please contact them through caelan@salvationfarms.org or
call cell phone: 248 882 0634 and she will give you details.

Thanks so much.
Charlie

9/13 - Friday the 13th was a lucky day for some hungry Vermonters. Kendall, Alison and Marissa of the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps --clockwise from left-- collected about a ton of winter squash for distribution through Vermont hospitals.

The raspberries were a sweet reward in addition to the feeling of doing good work in the world. Thanks to the VYCC for its ongoing help this year.

9/11 - The difference between involvement and commitment can be understood by the example of bacon and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.

I am fortunate in life to be surrounded by swine, dedicated volunteers committed to removing the pain of hunger from Vermont.

Hats off to Feeding Chittenden, Salvation Farms, the VT Youth Conservation Corps and VT Food Bank. These organizations help with the harvest and distribution of the crops we grow at Barber Farm, making our mission possible. OINK!!!

9/4 - The Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf in Burlington has re-branded itself as Feeding Chittenden, a reflection of its current, broader mission. They now run a food truck and provide grocery delivery to over 130 households with home bound individuals. Their hot meals program serves approximately 100 people daily, they run a culinary training program and their core mission, the food shelf, sees 200 to 300 people daily.

Barber Farm, as a commercial enterprise in the 1980s, was a regular donor of produce. In our current non-profit incarnation we have been back at it for 10 years, delivering 150 pounds of cabbage and over 700 of bell peppers this past week alone. We are proud to be associated with this dedicated organization.

August

8/21 - An old friend was kind enough to treat me to a Red Sox game 8/20. We were among an estimated 33,000 at the amazingly beautiful Fenway Park.
I'll admit to being tired after four months of planting, weeding and harvesting vegetables. It could be confused with work if your attitude weakened.
I found new resolve last night; looking around the park it occurred to me that last year, Barberfarm.org donated to hungry Vermonters vegetables enough for three servings for everyone in attendance. Press on!

8/19 - Over a ton of produce contributed since last Monday, including 1800 pounds of cabbage, over 300 of peppers, plus potatoes and green beans totaling more than 400 pounds. Many thanks to UVM freshmen who labored through the heat 8/19.

8/8 - THE BELL PEPPERS CONTINUE TO IMPRESS. Today's yield, approximately 400 pounds will provide $1000 worth of produce up and down the Lamoille Valley. Thanks to Emma from Salvation Farms for collection and distribution. While she masters the manual transmission on the organization's truck she is using her personal car. Does Guinness have a record for most peppers in a Camry?

8/1 - Thanks to Salvation Farms for organizing volunteers who came to the farm today. They harvested 57 pounds of green beans and 350 of bell peppers, all for for distribution to not-for-profits up and down the Lamoille Valley.

July

July 29 - It looks to be a banner year for green peppers. The first picking today yielded 420 pounds, about 18 bushels. Another 4 bushels of green and yellow beans were harvested by participants in the VT Youth Conservation Corps. All the produce will be passed out through the VYCC's health share program.

The VYCC has been instrumental in our success this year, providing reliable help with weeding and harvest. Thanks so much !!

July 22 - Vermont Youth Conservation Corps members harvested 75 pounds of green beans and 300 of cabbage Monday morning, 7/22/19. The vegetables are passed out to hospitals across Vermont for patients with nutritional issues. This harvest represents a trickle of what's to come!

July 19 -Harvest season kicked off yesterday with members of the VT Youth Conservation Corps picking over 100 pounds of green beans for distribution through their health share program, a joint effort with over a dozen Vermont hospitals.

The VYCC participation allows us to concentrate on growing and has allowed our expansion to over four acres of produce. New potatoes are sizing up, 1600 pepper plants are loving the heat and setting multiple fruits, winter squash is blooming strongly and the first cutting in the 8000 cabbage plants will start next week.

Keeping the show ongoing takes a lot of energy and support. We are ready to disc in and then replant three acres of buckwheat, soil building organic matter for 2020 crops. Organic spray materials for potato beetle control were replenished last week. The fuel tank needs a refill. Whatever help you could provide goes directly to the project.

We are a not-for-profit with no salaries or benefits. Please help us move forward this project that last year provided nearly 100,000 servings of organic vegetables to Vermonters in need.

July 15 - Thanks to the volunteers from Vermont Life insurance who came to the farm today and weeded squash and cabbage. The crops were in need and look so much better this afternoon than this morning. Their assistance makes the entire project so much more manageable and removes the pressure of knowing weedy fields have to be attended.

Helping hands

A thousand thank yous to the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps leaders who came out to the farm for a three hour session of weeding squash and cabbage. Friendly, funny, energetic and thorough. My sincere appreciation to Connor, Hannah, Aspen and Sammy for their efforts which brought an acre under control. The crops look beautiful !!

The Fragrant Row

Years ago, waiting for a landscape client, we extracted enough lilac suckers to populate a row 275’ long. They are a delight each May and the ground beside them is the best-tilled on the farm, just so the tractor driver can become intoxicated.

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Giggles

May 15

The giggles for last week came at the Richmond elementary school, where the kindergarten class got a short course in plant propagation.

The brown line represented the soil surface, the two teardrops squash seeds. One is pointed upward, the other down, but each will know which direction to send its roots and top.

The brown line represented the soil surface, the two teardrops squash seeds. One is pointed upward, the other down, but each will know which direction to send its roots and top.

Everyone got a container of potting mix to plant with a pumpkin, headed for each child’s home.

Everyone got a container of potting mix to plant with a pumpkin, headed for each child’s home.

The kids were into it ! They’ll be coming to the farm June 12 to install winter squash that they planted during our session at school.

The kids were into it ! They’ll be coming to the farm June 12 to install winter squash that they planted during our session at school.

The level plain

May 21

In a fable, Aesop relates that a camel was asked if it would rather carry a load uphill or down. The animal replied, "The laden beast prefers the level plain."

Springtime on the farm is anything but. Wet, cold weather has caused the regular business of the season to proceed only by fits and starts. Last week was one of intense activity with 1500 pounds of potatoes and 5500 cabbages planted in the best-drained land on the farm. Winter squash was seeded both in the field and the greenhouse, some 5000 plants.

Fortune favors effort. A soaking rain Sunday night settled in the new cabbages, which already exhibit new roots a quarter inch long. The potatoes' eyes are extending for their emergence from the loam.

Scads more planting to do, but we're well begun.

Spring chaos

June 2

Lovely, hectic time of year. Lilacs, apple blossoms, fresh green plants on soil the color of brownie batter.

We set out another 1600 cabbage on Saturday. Winter squash, sown May 21 is in rows sufficiently emerged to guide the cultivator.

We live in hope for the potatoes. Though planted on the farm's sandiest ground, I still fear the incessant rains may cause some seed to rot. Emergence from a planting made in early May is sporadic. Brushing aside the covering soil reveals sprouts, strong albeit late to the party.

This time of year things always look so promising, dependent as ever on indifferent nature. Some growing seasons are benign, others bring hail. The agricultural crapshoot.

Fail to do your work timely and well, bear the consequences. Stay on top of things, push the work, take your chances. As I said, indifferent.

A lowery day

May 24

I have an affection for the adjective lowery. It denotes a threatening sky, blustery and chill.

I heard it first from a old man in northern Vermont who ran the forge at the mine in Lowell. A fruit farmer as well, he was my mentor in the strawberry business some 43 years ago.

So on this drizzly morning, 48 degrees, stout breeze and leaden sky, I think of him, and marvel at the speed of time.