seeking harvest helpers @ VFA

IMG_6919Want to get your hands dirty with Veggies For All?  Well… mark your calendar, roll up your sleeves, and dig in!

Join us for any of the following service opportunities- and feel free to contact us for more details, to RSVP, or to arrange for travel.

September 26 – BIG POTATO DIG day @ our School Street field

Three opportunities to pitch in on Thursday:

  • 11:00AM-1:00PM lunch power hour
  • 2:30PM-3:30PM afternoon spud block I: warm-up for WORKSONGS
  • 3:30PM-4:45PM afternoon spud block II: diggin’ & singin’ with WORKSONG class*

September 30 – SQUASH HARVEST @ the field near Maintenance

  • 12:30-2:20PM with Organic Horticulture class*

October 5 – CARROT DIG @ our “white house” field

  • 12:30-4:00PM with Unity Barn Raisers Day of Service
  • register with UBR

October 21 // GARLIC PLANTING @ the field near Maintenance

  • 12:30-2:20PM with Organic Horticulture class*

November 7 – THRESH THEM BEANS! location TBA

  • 3:30-4:45PM with WORKSONG class*

Ongoing – CABBAGE HARVEST @ our Albion Road field

  • connect with us to make a date!

* Events that are affiliated with certain classes are ALSO open to the public.  The Worksongs class will be teaching the volunteer crew some tunes to try out while we get to work.

Please contact the Sustainability Office for more info: x286.


July means…

hot stuff!

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As things heat up- Veggies For All is in full swing, the greenhouse is cranking, and campus is green and busy.

The seedling season is officially over now that the fall cabbages have been transplanted, so that makes life a little easier for the team.  One less piece of the puzzle to watch over.  An added bonus to the super hot weather: our little aphid problem seems to have resolved itself during a brief period when the greenhouse got a little too hot.

Our new gorgeous greenhouse is being kept neat as a pin by Food + Farm tech, Sarah B.   Because this is our first summer with the facility, Sarah is experimenting with the cultivation of hot weather crops.  Tomatoes, peppers, okra, and luffa squash have put on major growth in the last several days.

Tomatoes and peppers are crowd-pleasers.  The luffa squash, which can be dried into the bath “loofa” you’d find in the beauty products aisle, was Sarah’s choice.  Okra is a much less obvious addition; people seem to love it or hate it.  But a little bird told us that it is President Stephen Mulkey’s favorite, so we are giving it a whirl.

Out in the fields, it’s all about weed control with a few exceptions.  In the coming weeks, there are also plans to sow fall carrots and pick the early cabbage.  If you are curious about field near the Quimby Library, this is a “rest” season for that plot, which means we are cycling through a care regimen that includes cover-cropping, cultivating for weed eradication, and fallowing.

Currently, one round of cover crop has been incorporated and now Tim is engaged in, as he calls it, “killing weeds” by cultivating just after they germinate.  It’s one of the most fertile plots we manage- and we intend to keep it that way!  Next year, expect some healthy squash plants out there.

To stay in the loop on these projects and others, subscribe to the Sustainability Monitor or like us on Facebook.

Welcome, Sarah!

“I look at the world and ask,  ‘What needs to happen?’  Then I see how my passion can fit those needs.”

Who said that?  How do we get them working with our team?

Sarah B 1Sarah Bicknell, a current Sustainable Agriculture student at Unity, has joined the Sustainability Office as Food and Farm Projects Technician for the summer months.  We’re thrilled to pieces!

This student position, which was made possible with the generous support of the Sewall Foundation, is designed to further the hunger relief mission of Veggies For All by providing support in the veggie fields and creating more connectivity between the College and community food work.  Sarah will also manage some summer greenhouse projects and assist in other food security collaborations we maintain with local partners, such as the Volunteer Regional Food Pantry and Unity Barn Raisers, the administrative home of VFA.

Sarah is a continuous source of positivity and initiative on the worksite.  If you’re lucky enough to work with her- you will find yourself laughing a lot and working hard.   She is also an independent and dedicated team member who is not afraid to dig into tasks.  Her passion for this work is crystal clear!

Her experience includes an AmeriCorps Apprenticeship at The Youth Garden Project in Moab, Utah, an internship with Maine Farmland Trust’s Farm Viability office here in Unity, and volunteer-student greenhouse manager during the last semester.

She works on gardens and other projects at her off-the-grid homestead in Freedom when she’s not doing good work out in the community.

We have a feeling this is going to be a great year…

Welcome, Sarah!

The most wonderful time of the year…

… is Autumn!  This year we’re getting treated to an especially long and unusually warm season.  Why is Fall so colorful here?  Among other exciting things, harvest time brings community together: meals, service, chores, celebrations, generosity, and activity.  Just when students have hit a groove in balancing studies, work, and play- they’re almost ready for a break.  Now they’re busier than ever as final projects, presentations, and exams loom.  But all this activity ends in some satisfying, concrete results:  gardens put to bed, papers submitted, root cellar stocked with veggies (more on this soon!), credits earned, experience gained.  In short, harvest.

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1st Annual Food Day, Just around the corner!

This Monday, October 24th, Unity College will be participating in the inaugural Food Day!  Food Day is a nationwide event meant to bring attention to current issues that we face with in this country in regards to: diet related diseases from high fat, high sugar and processed foods, food access and hunger, subsidies to large agribusiness as well as environmental and animal right’s issues associated with factory farming.  Food Day is sponsored by The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a non for profit watchdog group that
has led successful fights for food labeling, better nutrition and safer food since 1971.

Several events will be hosted on Food Day throughout the campus that will highlight the issues at
hand.  This event is a perfect opportunity to engage students, faculty and community members with dilemmas, that are not only happening nationwide but in our own backyard, with in our food system.

To sum it all up: come out and enjoy a fun filled day with, local foods and community building!

Hunters & Huggers Dinner – a slide show

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This event was also covered in the Morning Sentinel.  Nice story, here.

A mid-summer’s virtual tour of VFA

For those of you who can’t tour around Unity with VFA, I suggest you take this virtual tour of our fields to see how we’re progressing.  2011 is gonna be big.  How big?  We’ve got:

  • over 2000 row feet of onions
  • 2000 row feet of potatoes
  • over 1400 row feet of winter squash and pumpkins
  • 1800 row feet of early cabbage and 2500 row feet of late cabbage
  • and roughly 1800 row feet of carrots

….and miscellaneous crops at our Albion Road garden (including beans, tomatoes, corn, and rutabaga).

If you’re not excited yet, you’re not eating enough vegetables, ’cause this is going to mean tons and tons of fresh food for folks in our community!

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Garden Fiesta Community Meal

Come out to the Unity Community Center to support UBR’s Veggies For All project by eating some fresh, festive Mexican-style fare.  It’s that easy!  Eat some dinner with us on Saturday August 6th (5:30-7:30pm).

While you’re in town, why not check out the sweet show at 8:00pm at the Unity College Centre for the Performing Arts.  Yup, Fishtank Ensemble is back in town.  Don’t you dare miss all the good stuff we’ve got going on in our little town on the 6th!

Sometimes you feel like a potato…

…and sometimes you feel like planting potatoes!  That’s exactly how we felt yesterday.

Yesterday, Veggies For All folks put darn near 600 pounds of seed potato in our plot just south of the Quimby Library.  That translates to just under a half mile of row-footage! Thanks a ton to Marty, Tess, Trey, all the folks who chopped seed potato, and big, big, au gratin-style thank you to Moose Tubers for their continued support!

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All(ium) hands on deck!

Get it, onions are in the allium family…

Yesterday, Veggies For All planted our first big round of onions.  We got some sweet, strong seedlings from the good people at the Village Farm and planted them with the help of super volunteers.  Volunteers included UC students, two local alums (not to be confused with allium), our Unity Barn Raisers ED, and one robust baby.  Thanks to all!

Onions are one of those crops that really demand our attention and consistency as growers.   While last year was wildly successful for VFA (and all farmers and gardeners), we noted that our onion crop had room for improvement.

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Tiny seeds get started indoors back in March, they are carefully tended for months in the greenhouse.  Our field is tilled, beds built, soil amended, seedlings transplanted.  Then we feed, weed, and water for quite a while in the field.  It’s not over at harvest- we’ll pick, clean, cure, and trim the onions, which will need to be monitored closely in storage.  Our onions are then incrementally released from storage and distributed through the VRFP to our neighbors who have reduced access to food like local onions.

The challenge of growing good onions is a lot like the challenge of growing a healthy community.  It’s takes time, a lot of hands, and a good dose of letting the sun and rain do their good work.


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