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Yup, that time of year already

Most everything besides the date itself is telling us that the summer has all but ended. The cool nights, shorter days and quieter mornings remind us of the changes to come. Nearly as quickly as the summer with all it’s toil and heat had arrived it departs. Like one final weekend at the lake or a beach we have no choice but to enjoy the last few beautiful sunsets and embrace the seasons to come. One thing that lies in the back of our minds this time of year besides the usual prep, plant, repeat, is the concept of overwintering. Now in fact is the time and in some regards even a little late to be starting some frost hardy veg that we look forward to enjoying in the cold of winter.

In the world of overwintering for us there is of course the greens, like spinach, kales, lettuces and a variety of Asian greens. Today we a starting not only Chinese cabbages and bok choys for fall harvest but also Winter Crisp a large Chinese Cabbage that with any luck will be around this winter. Currently however, the focal point of overwintering for us is on the allium family. Leeks(hopefully), onions and scallions started in September and transplanted in October become a spring treat that we long for all winter. In particular we do 4 to 6 varieties of onions each year. Some we have tested and as always a little bit of experimentation along the way too.

Other Experimenting that went on this year was potatoes in some of the high tunnels.  Like most experiments their are usually successes and failures and this trial was no different.’  Though overall production was lower than expected some varieties and one location in particular produced better than others.  Working with these lessons we can hopefully apply them to our growing next season.
We apologize for any confusion with preordering last week.  It is back to normal with on farm pick up Wednesday, Friday and Saturday as well as pick ups Fridays at the Madison Farmer’s market and Saturday in New Haven.  Flowers will also be back in full force at the markets.
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Dancing in the Rain

To be honest probably more like slipping, falling, getting wet and muddy in the rain. What’s that old saying careful what you wish for cause you might just get it in heaps. It’s certainly safe to say that there are quite a few farmers across New England that are feeling this way. It’s been one hot and dry summer and we can only imagine all the rain dances that have been taking place. Yet while we have wished for a gentle light rain overnight with some cloudy cool days in between, what we have gotten is not quite the case. But beggars can’t be choosers so we will certainly take what we can get(as if we have a choice). So for now we’ll hold out hope for our young transplants in the field that the rain will stay light and end early, while we take advantage of the rainy days to prep our covered spaces and stay as dry as one can on such a day.

There are definitely a few important things to keep in mind this week. First off is the mention of somethings that have ended for the season, our attending of the Durham Farmer’s market and home delivery. As you may have found the home delivery option has been removed from our online store, if this changes you will hear from us. This week is the last Durham Farmer’s market before the break for the Durham Fair. Traditionally, we don’t return for the October markets due to time constrains(dwindling light and the need to plant). This year is no different except we must miss this last week for a Wedding flowers commitment. Which brings us to another important bit of info. Flowers will be in short supply this week as a result. There still should be some at the markets but if you really want to be sure reach out to us. And though it might seem that a rainy day would be an ideal time to sit by the computer and write, that is unfortunately not the case. That planting schedule and the fleeting daylight hours are calling us to task.

Have a great week

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Better Late than Never

What can we say occasionally there are just too many things calling you outside early in the morning. In particular today it was the desire to transplant early in the cloudy weather. This August, and summer as a matter of fact has been a hot and dry one. For transplanting our little plant friends it does become quite difficult with those conditions and it pays to make use of those cloudy moments. It’s difficult to think that August and indeed summer is nearly over but if you look around the farm you can certainly begin to feel it. The first bed of spinach has been planted, tonight the first claytonia will be planted and with it Swiss chard for the fall, winter and spring. Strange to say that sitting around on an August afternoon but it’s a matter of fact. Over at Star Light Gardens North West we are coming up on nearly a year of growing there. The season has been great so far, yes a lot of work and yes much more to come. However the opportunity the new land gives to Star Light Gardens is more than worth it. One thing we noticed straight away at SLGNW was the difference in the soil between there and Durham. To put it plainly it lacked the love and attention that we are accustomed to giving. We are big on regular applications of compost and we knew that was step number one Last winter we borrowed a friends truck to deliver a small amount from Durham to Middlefield and this past March the first full dump truck was brought in. Countless wheelbarrow trips later we finished that first load off last Thursday. Later that day we received our second load just in time for the turning over of the high tunnels from summer to winter and fall. It was closely inspected by Joel’s niece and nephew and once their boots were filled with dirt they gave their approval.

Speaking of dirt in the boots we had plenty today in the first of many great high tunnel turnovers.  Pulling each plant from the ground results in a decent amount of dirt and the occasional cherry tomato winding up in your boots.  This week will see that high tunnel cleaned, prepped then watered well to induce weed seeds to grow.  These early weeds will then be destroyed to provide a cleaner growing area for the next planting.  A few important things to make note of this week.  Wednesday 8/31 is the last day we will be offering home delivery as an option when ordering.  Also this week you may have noticed cherry tomatoes were not available for preorder.  The Wadsworth market was a success but it did also eat into our inventory.  Cherry tomatoes will be available at the markets though as we harvest throughout the week.

Have a great week

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The Season of Sid

It’s that time of year where the sun begins to set noticeably a little earlier each day, the mornings are cool and wet with dew, yes it’s nearly the season of Sid. Sure the days are still quite hot and as a result this hunk of a farm dog spends most of the day in the AC laying on the floor or couch. Uncharacteristic of himself this time of year Sid awakes nearly as early as the farmers who share his bed. With a shake of his floppy ears, we hear him leap out of bed as the day begins. He knows he must make the most of these cool early morning hours,searching the the tall grass for rodents and bathing in the morning dew. He’ll get one more chance later in the evening, or maybe a walk. All the while he knows the the cooler weather is approaching, looking at us with his angel eyes and sweet puppy dog smile that says yes the season of Sid is almost upon us. The life of a farm dog can be tough(especially for one who must tolerate living with 5 farm cats). But during that special time of year when he can frolic all day patrolling the perimeters of the farm, it really is worth it.

Another day of the job

As tough as farm dog life is it can be even tougher handling official business. But there are certainly a few things to make note of this week, including but not limited to; The Wadsworth out door market, info concerning the Durham Farmers market, saying goodbye to Susie and more than likely something else we’re forgetting.  The Wadsworth Outdoor market is an annual market held at the Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown this Sunday the 28th from 10 to 4.wadsworthmarketinfo  Yes you guessed it Star Light Gardens will be there so if you’re looking for something to do this Sunday, come say hi.  Concerning the Durham Farmer’s market we have a few dates to keep in mind.  One is this week, depending on whether the construction on the green is finished or not we may not be at the market this week.  We are leaving the pickup option open and if we do in fact not attend all orders will be available for on farm pick up. If you want to make sure to get something from us Thursday ordering may be your best bet.  If you haven’t picked up on farm and have questions feel free to reach out. We will of course notify anyone who has ordered.  Thursday 9/8 we will also be absent from the Durham market because of a wedding obligation. 

Speaking of important dates there are only 2 weeks left before we will be officially ending our home delivery option until further notice.  8/31 is the last day this will be available.  If you have been enjoying this service and want to send your appreciation to Susie and Tom there are 2 more chances and I’m sure they would appreciate the love.  Well that more than likely covers official business for now so let us enjoy a look at the farm this and the coming weeks.

Mexican Sunflowers inter-planted with our 1st succession of summer squash.
Now that the squash has died back the flowers are thriving and feeding all the bugs


This time of year is all about transition and decisions, what to keep, what to scratch.  Off course the recurring theme of prep, plant, prep still exist but with a new sense of urgency.  The unheated greenhouses or high tunnels, must be turned over for one or two last plantings that will carry us through the fall and winter. Outside in the fields the beds will similarly be receiving one last planting, be prepped for overwintering or are getting earmarked for cover cropping.  It’s a bit like the monarch butterfly loading up on a Mexican sunflower for its epic overwintering migration.  One final push to get us safely through to the next season of abundance.  There is something both beautiful and sad about the end of summer and the dwindling light.  We are honored to share this magic of the seasons and cycles with all of you.

Have a great week

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Hartley, Skye and the Great state of Vermont

We had beautiful weather in the forecast and coverage for the market. With all the pieces in place, the plans had been laid out and a picturesque wedding on the shores of Lake Champlain was in the future for a couple a farmers looking forward to break and time with loved ones. After all what could go wrong? Well as plans often do things fell thru. Without the market coverage we relied on it looked like a morning departure would be scrapped for an afternoon one. Sure we’d miss the ceremony but hey the reception will be going late. It was then that we were saved by those closest to us that you often count on first and that’s family. Whether or not you knew, it’s probably easy to assume that David is a Grandfather and a great one at that(great as in wonderful). And it was not one but two of his Grandsons who stepped in to save the day for Jen and Joel this past weekend. If you’ve been going to the market for years now you probably have met them as at least one often accompanied David even on the coldest of outdoor markets. If you didn’t quite recognize them I wouldn’t feel bad as young men is a better description now than Grand kids. They hit the ground running Saturday and it was as if they have been working the markets this whole time. Needless to say Jen and Joel were beyond thankful and though going to the market to setup and help with the early rush. Quickly realized everything was in more than capable hands and it was time to make the run up North. Overall the weekend had a magical feel to it that was very much Star Light Gardens. For us the farm is synonymous with family. An extended family coming in may forms, friends, relatives, fellow farmers and you the good food people. A quick trip away from home can be enough to rejuvenate the soul but also make one truly appreciate home and the extended family that comes with it.

Skye (left) and Hartley (right) working the Wooster square farmer’s market with David

Some members of this extended family that you may or may not be aware of are Susie and Tom. For years now they have been delivering to restaurants for us and patiently dealing with some behind schedule farmers in the process. It saddens us to say that 8/31/2022 will be their last day delivering for us. With this comes the end of our home delivery option. All other pick up options either on farm or at markets are business as usual. If you find yourself wondering besides wonderful delivery people, family and the Green Mountain State. What fills the heads and hearts of farmers at Star Light this time of year? Well it’s things like spinach, claytonia and what could have been. Mostly however and relating to the first two it’s light and the epic high tunnel turnover from summer to fall and winter. Still though the tomatoes and cucumbers call us to harvest so this tale will have to wait for another day.

Have a great week

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Refuse to Burnout

Despite the beautiful weather and the bounty of the season there does come an inherent risk with the month of August. It is a time of year where farms are firing on all cylinders. Between the weeding, the planting, the prepping and the daily harvest it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Let us not forget the relentless heat, times of year like this it’s easy to wonder if we will ever feel a cool breeze again. Looming in the background all the while is the fact that the planting schedule is reaching it’s end for the season and some things if not started soon won’t be around till 2023. Factor all of this in and consider the 12 hour days and 7 day work weeks and certainly you can see how August burn out is a real thing. You can see it in the weary faces of the farmers at the markets, you hear the moan in their voices as the bend to move another 20lb crate of produce, a slight limp or hand pressed firmly on ones back tell tales of the wear and tear faced by them each season. Adhering to a strict set of anti burnout principles many farms and farmers have insulated them selves from this inevitable time of year. We wish we could say the same for ourselves but alas this is not the case. With relatively new farmers and new and old land how can we not find ourselves going in all directions at once. We have given ourselves a few safety nets, at least one weekly run and swim midday, an ice cream break or two and giving in to the call of an afternoon nap when we can. One method overall is employed to fight the August feeling and that is just being plain old stubborn. Because after all if we don’t let something affect us we will be fine. Yes, this theory is not without it’s flaws and it is becoming quite obvious that in the coming years a better system of insulation to protect every farmer at Star Light Gardens will be needed. Farming is a labor of love but that doesn’t mean it must come at the sacrificing of our own self love So keep the season in mind when you’re visiting farms or markets and give those farmers you see each week a heartfelt thanks it may just be the fuel they need to get them over the hill that August can be.

August is more than just the season of bounty and burnout on the farm, it is also a season of change. We begin to look at each bed and high tunnel with a lens of fall and winter. Slowly ideas of which tunnels will be converted first and where we might overwinter carrots fill our heads. Soon we must begin to organize the row covers, plastic and hoops that will make our low tunnels, helping us extend the season a few weeks longer. And speaking of a few weeks longer you may have noticed our mention last week of the home delivery option. This will be the last month until further notice that will be offering home delivery. Our delivery people are moving on and though we are always happy for friends making changes we will miss them and it goes without saying that Wednesdays just won’t be the same. This week is also national farmer’s market week. Yes this is something that should be noted. However, for us with all the great customers that visit us each week at market or on farm, each week feels like national farmer’s market week. And that means more to us than you could know.

Thank you all for the support
Have a great week

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Cucumber Yoga

It may sound like a trend or perhaps some sort of drink but we assure you that’s it is nearly as literal as it sounds. Requiring our attention at least every other day it is a serious business that if taken lightly will leave you wondering why. Cucumbers can be a wonderful crop but are also prone to and the target of disease and insect pressure. The majority of the thin skinned cucumbers we are growing this year are an excellent variety we have been using for around 5 years now. The first early plantings seem to do particularly well and even more so if we allow them to sprawl out across the ground. Though this does present two main problems, less air circulation and harvesting without stomping on the vines. You see each injury to the vine is another avenue for disease to enter the plant. It is here that the squatting, stretching, balancing on one leg, reaching behind you and hoping from one place to another of cucumber yoga comes into play. Within the lush green canopy of cucumber leaves, small patches of bare ground are visible. With a laser focus and steady movements you slowly stretch to gain new footing. There are the wooden base boards and metal hoops of the tunnel, swinging from the hoops making your way down the boards all the while with a load of cukes getting heavier and heavier. We harvest into a pouch which straps to the front of us called a roosack. An excellent tool allowing use of both hands while carrying a lot of weight relatively comfortably. Inevitably there becomes a point where the roosack is too full but you just know you can grab one or two more cukes. You bend over to grab one, reaching and a few fall from the roosack. You reach to pick those up and yes a few more fall. You reach they fall, you reach they fall until finally you must admit defeat, it’s time to empty the roosack. Below you can see our cumber yoga mat. The picture is 6 weeks old or so and though not looking quite as strong they are still doing well.

Our greenhouse Mizuna and the cucumbers that were planted on the side of the tunnel in April.   By now they are climbing the white fencing in place to protect the tomatoes.
And if you couldn’t guess it another thing that is doing well around the farm is the Tomatoes.  The waterfall has officially begun and the only thing that might not be ready is well us.  That is having another daily harvesting task on top of cucumber yoga can seem daunting, luckily there are plenty of ripe, delicious, moral boosting treats for us along the way.  With August officially here(yes I am shocked too) the crunch is on to plant plant plant.  Broccoli, kale, chard, escarole, radicchio and over wintered onions are just a few of the things that are slated to be started, oh and how can we forget spinach.   It looks to be another hot and sunny week ahead.  We are certainly grateful for the bit of rain and clouds that today brings and you can be sure we will be transplanting many starts that are long over due.  Another thing of note that is fast approaching is the loss of our wonderful delivery people.  August is the last month we will be offering delivery until further notice.  That is about all for now, stay cool and hydrated.

Have a great week
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The Art of Letting Go

As a grower letting go can be a very difficult thing but learning to let go and accepting it must happen is key. It’s in the nature of the business that we over do our plantings more or less as a redundancy for when things inevitably go wrong. That means extra trays of transplants that may not have a home and thinning a beautiful stand of seedlings knowing that if we don’t they will smother each other, not growing to their full potential. In a similar light there are always things around that we intend to plant that just won’t fit into the season, be it for time or space in the ground. There’s weeding and cleaning the far corners of the farm, organizing the shop and of course a list of fun little projects that we’ve had in mind. Soon those too fall victim to the ever growing need to weed, mow and harvest. I guess it would be fair to call late July the time of farm triage. When you’re heart and hands are so intimately linked with the farm and all the life it brings forth the idea of ranking things by importance seems impossible. The truth is that with August fast approaching growers must shift their focus and planning to Fall. Yes their is plenty of summer left, but the time as a farmer for summer dreaming has passed. It is with a deep sigh, heavy hearts and occasionally a tear that we make the decisions that must be made. Sorry melons, we might be too late for you this year, oh hi there tray of lettuce there’s something we need to talk about. Letting go is always tough, but that’s the way it should be be when you live and dream with a big heart.

One thing you won’t have to let go of this week is you’re desire for a delicious tomato or three. The tomato waterfall appears to be imminent, a joyful time of year with a bounty and workload all it’s own. The heat and sun of the past few weeks have been doing a lot of good for things like the tomatoes and flowers. While presenting challenges for things like transplanting, direct seeding, growing greens in general and not to mention just working outside. Big shout out to all those helping us out this year and braving the heat of July. We were out in nearly full force this past Tuesday for the Great Garlic Harvest. Blessed by an unexpected rainy Monday nearly all the garlic pulled easily from the soft wet earth. Usually we have to fork up each bulb individually, so we of course took advantage wrapping up the 2022 GGH. In other farm news you may remember from a few weeks back the tale of Kanga and curved horn. Well we are happy to say that our decision to bring in the pros was the right one. They removed one horn and trimmed another, giving us instructions on how to keep them trimmed as they grow back. We’ll have to do this for Kanga and her cousin Betty once or twice a year. That should keep them safe and without a horn in the the eye. Remember Wednesday order deadline has been moved from 8am to 6am Wednesday morning to accommodate earlier harvest start times.

Have a great week

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Talented Beach Goers

It can be hard to pry ourselves away from the farm this time of year, with so much all going on at once and only so many hours in the day. But every year for the past 5 years now, Jen and Joel sneak away at least once(hopefully more this year). Heading out around 3 they hop in the car with their trusty farm dog Sid, heading straight to the beautiful beaches of RI. Arriving at the beach as the day cools off and when beach goers can bring their dogs. The first trip each year is in celebration of their shared birthday week(a great excuse to leave work early). After this first trip each July they find themselves exclaiming how they must cram at least a few more outings into the summer. A little self care can go a long way and its worth making extra time for it. Meanwhile back in Durham another annual tradition was taking place, the 4th annual Fowler Ave talent show. Featuring a star studded cast of talent, including none other than the Tomato Scientist himself, acts come from as far as Cherry lane to participate. Talents ranging from all skill levels and walks of life are encouraged, we are now open for 2023 submissions, inquire at the markets.

Yet another annual tradition will also be taking place this week on the farm itself, “The Great Garlic Harvest”.  I know what you’re thinking Is it great in magnitude, in excitement, is the garlic itself great.  There answer to all of these is yes.  Slated for Tuesday this week it promises to be quite the affair, interested in seeing it for yourself, there is still time to join.  We brought some fresh garlic to the markets last week and the bulbs are looking beautiful.  In addition to the GGH, the week is certainly looking like summer should on a farm hot, dirty and busy.  Plant, transplant, prep, harvest and we can’t forget about the weeds(well they never let us forget).  Speaking of not forgetting we are changing the cutoff time for Wednesday pick up.  The time is going from 8am to 6am Wednesday.  This is to accommodate the fact that we are in the fields earlier and need an accurate harvest list before we head out. 

We hope you all are getting a chance to give yourselves a bit of self care this summer too.

Have a great week

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Farmers and the sheep

Without doing the research, it’s more than likely that our summer writings are shorter than all the others. There is just so much going on this time of year. It can be difficult to wrap your head around all that needs to be done in a day, let alone find the time to pen a thoughtful note. To paraphrase two mentor farmers that should remain nameless, this time of year there are a lot of balls up in the air and it’s all about good systems and methods. Well we certainly have plenty of balls in the air. And though still evolving our systems are growing each day full of the unique beauty that is Star Light Gardens.

It looks to be a beautiful and hot summer week ahead. From a work perspective this means two major things great weather for weeding and tougher weather for seeding and transplanting. Both of which are on the agenda for today. Luckily we employ a helpful tool called shade cloth which is exactly as it sounds. Essentially, the summer cousin to the row cover we employ in the winter for protection from the cold. A woven mesh of various shade percentages we drape of the new plantings to keep them cool and moist from the hot sun. Other farm happenings this week include another round of wire and string hanging in addition to a vet appointment for Kanga one of our sheep. The 2 smaller of her 4 horns are growing in such a way that we fear they will begin to grow dangerously close to her eyes. Though we don’t have the experience know how this would play out over time, we do know that it is making us nervous and we’re calling in the professionals.

Speaking of professional our garlic is reaching that point where we are ready to harvest it. Traditionally we choose the 16th of July as the start of the great garlic harvest. This year is shaping up to be no different give or take a few days. Interested in helping out, reach out to us and we can coordinate schedules. CSA members remember to keep an eye on your balance as it begins to run low. We appreciate every saved minute especially this time of year and it does save us a few if you reach out to us first. Your balance is in the email receipt you get when we process your transaction, or we can tell you at market when you shop. Remember you can reload anytime of year, with any amount 200 and up. Curious to find out more about our CSA? Click the link below or reach out. And to all of our wonderful customers CSA or not we say thank you. We hope you’re enjoying the bounty of the seasons and know that without you none of this is possible.

Have a great week