What’s Growing 2018
What’s Growing at the Farm Hub?
Each year, our production and cover cropping strategies are
We grew a succession of cover crops last season that were selected specifically to prepare the soil for the 2018 vegetable crops. In the next field over, last year’s vegetable plots are now in cover crops. Our small grains trial has moved across the creek, large grow-outs of rye, oats, and soybeans are spread out over the northernmost section of the farm, and a portion of the Native American Seed Sanctuary has been relocated from our Kingston field to Hurley Mountain Road.
Click here to see the 2018 growing season map.
The Farm Hub’s ongoing crop planning process includes both market research and a review of our production objectives. For our vegetable crops, we began by speaking with more than a dozen wholesale food buyers around the region to learn what types are in demand but difficult to source locally. By tracking in detail the costs associated with growing these crops organically and at scale, we can assess their viability as promising areas of expansion for Hudson Valley farmers. In this way, we hope to increase the diversity of food available locally and provide growers with information that can help strengthen their capacity in the wholesale market.
Some of the vegetables that have been grown at the Farm Hub since 2014 include:
Broccoli & Cauliflower – Many buyers in the Hudson Valley have told us they have trouble locating large quantities of locally grown broccoli. In addition, we understand that it can be difficult to meet the desired head size for cauliflower in wholesale markets. Through demonstrating reliable organic growing practices and consistent supply, we are exploring wholesale opportunities in the regional market for area farmers.
Root Crops: Carrots and parsnips were grown on the Farm Hub in 2015 and 2016 as part of a variety trial with Cornell Cooperative Extension Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program (ENYCHP). Because they grow late into the fall and store well, these root crops can allow farmers to extend their growing season and generate income in winter months. Crops like these can also expand options for farm workers who wish to work a longer season or remain in place year-round.
Sweet corn: Gill Farms was well known throughout New York State for its sweet corn, and this crop is an important part of the Farm Hub’s history and our local heritage. As the Farm Hub transitions to organic growing practices, our approach to growing sweet corn is evolving as well. This year we started plants in the greenhouse in the spring and transplanted them to fields in May. This technique allows for better weed control and an earlier start to the season.
Cover Crops, Soybeans, and Grains
Cover cropping is an important tool in ecological farming, helping to build organic matter in the soil and improve soil structure. Cover crops are planted and then worked into the ground before they set seed. By leaving the organic matter in the field, the soil builds carbon, which allows it to retain water much more efficiently. This means it is less likely to be washed away in extreme weather events and is more resilient during dry periods. Carbon-rich soils are also an excellent tool for adapting to and mitigating climate change.
Cover crops on the farm include phacelia, red clover, crimson clover, rye, triticale, vetch, alfalfa, and timothy. Triticale and rye played a role in the Farm Hub’s no-till organic soybean production.
Small Grains Research
Our small grains field trials is entering is fifth and final year in 2018. We work in conjunction with Cornell University and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County to evaluate small grain varieties. These include barley, rye, oats, and wheat. End-user testing with our partners at Wild Hive Grain Mill and Bread Alone Bakery over the winter provided important initial feedback for evaluating the quality of each variety for milling and baking.
Ecological Land Management
Since the 2015 season we have working to identify potential synergies between the Farm Hub and its surrounding natural environment. This season we will be collaborating with partners to develop a comprehensive plan focused specifically on flood risk on the farm. To protect against erosion and loss of topsoil, flood-prone areas will be planted with cover crops like oats, clover, alfalfa, and phacelia during the 2016 season, or in some cases left fallow. In 2017 we launched native meadow trials in collaboration with the Hawthrone Valley Farmscape Ecology Program. In coming years we will continue to explore a variety of approaches to managing riparian zones on the farm while monitoring costs and benefits of these and other natural systems land management solutions.