- FUN FEATURES
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On a muggy Thursday morning, a group of green thumbs were busy cutting chard, picking peas, and gathering garlic at the Boulder Knoll farm.
The group was preparing bundles of fresh-picked vegetables, 12 packages in total, for shareholders of the community supported agriculture (CSA) project at Boulder Knoll. Every Monday and Thursday, crops are harvested on a two-acre portion of land that the Friends of Boulder Knoll has leased from the Town. The garden is enclosed with deer fencing and arranged in different groups, such as tomatoes, chards, kale, peas, potatoes, and herbs. The group began planting in April and has had twice-weekly harvests throughout the season, which will last until early to mid-October. Brenda Caldwell was hired to be the lead farmer of the property, but shareholders also come and help harvest, weed, or plant crops.
“We felt it was important for people to be engaged in food growing in some way,” Caldwell said. “They participate in some way and are really important to what we do.”
After the Town and the Friends of Boulder Knoll agreed to a three-year lease earlier in the year, it was up to the group to find a source of water, create a tool shed, and construct a miniature green house to prepare and sort vegetables. Water was provided by Bob Giddings, a neighbor of the farm, who lets the group use his well.
Also, two tanks have been stored on site for the use of additional water, but since it’s been such a rainy season, Caldwell said they haven’t had to utilize the tanks yet. The tool shed was built and then painted red by a group of volunteers, and the hoop house was raised quickly. Between the vegetable beds, Caldwell lays cardboard then covers it with wood chips. While she was working one day, a tree company drove by, noticed her hauling wood chips and asked if she needed more. She said yes and the company decided to make a donation and left piles of wood chips around the garden for future use.
“So many people helped out, and that’s so important to the CSA process,” Caldwell said. “Everyone has been really positive about this.”
On Mondays, the harvest is for shareholders only, but on Thursdays Caldwell explained that, besides picking for shareholders, they were also harvesting for soup kitchens in Meriden and Waterbury. Recently, a group of teenagers from the Police Athletic League in Waterbury have been volunteering their time at the farm, learning about the different vegetables and how to plant a garden, which has been fun for Caldwell.
“I’m a teacher by trade, so I love talking to them,” Caldwell said. “They even dug out some beds. They are so helpful.”
Martha Blume was busily picking peas on July 16, weaving between the five-foot tall rows to find ones suitable for the shares. Next to her was a cooler bag, nearly half full with picked pea pods that she collected over an hour. Blume said she wanted to participate in the project because she has always been “really interested in fresh organic produce” and she “loves growing things.”
“We have some tomatoes and peppers at home, but don’t have the room to do something this big,” Blume said. “I love working here and having a connection with the food. It’s good to know where the food comes from and what is in it.”
Blume even brought her children along for one of the harvests to show them first hand from where the fresh vegetables they eat during the week came.
“I really love it here. It’s almost meditative being out in this garden,” Blume explained. “It’s great to see this land being used again. I definitely will be back again next season.”
More information about the garden, including updates directly from Caldwell, can be found online at www.friendsofboulderknoll.com and clicking on community farm and CSA.