Monday, October 24, 2011

A Successful Sproutfest: A Food Day Event

Steamed kale being served at Sproutfest 2011
Attendees enjoy vegetarian chili, grass-fed beef chili, pasta with cabbage, sweet potatoes, whole wheat bread and pumpkin cookies.
Celebrating the harvest with some local apples.

Tonight sprout held Sproutfest, our annual autumn dinner, featuring local, seasonal foods. The meal incorporated beans, pumpkins and kale from the garden, along with other produce from local farms. Some of the selections included beef from Four Mile River Farm in Old Lyme, CT; sweet potatoes and onions from Philomel Gardens in Preston CT; cheese from Neighborly Farms of Vermont; wheat from Still River Farm in Coventry, CT; apples from Raven Hill Orchard in Maine; and butter from Wildowsky Dairy in Lisbon, CT. The meal also incorporated local eggs, maple syrup and cabbage. Many students and faculty came to the event to eat food and learn more about the sprout garden. The event was put on in collaboration with Food Day.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Gourds Galore

A small gourd harvested from the garden, more photos to come soon of some of the other gourds.

Today Sprout, together with the help of the Conn College groundskeeping crew, harvested 57 gourds from the garden. Gourds, also known as calabash, have traditionally been used as water jugs, water dippers and bowls. They are now also used for decoration and to make bird houses. Gourds can be carved or painted to create artwork. The Annual Gourd Festival celebrates the many beautiful works of art that have been made with gourds. Looking at the gourds harvested from the garden, I can't help but feel impressed by their smooth, unique rounded shapes and by the different patterns and shades of green that they have on their skin. Many of the gourds are also rather large! Over the next few months, the gourds will dry and become hollow, and can then be used for bowls, containers and/or bird houses. The gourds are natural works of art that can be cherished for years. They will be for sale at harvestfest.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fall Semester So Far

A meal of fried green tomatoes and mashed purple potatoes, all harvested from the Sprout! garden.

Fall Harvest: Beans, tomatoes, a baby carrot, rosemary and corn from the Sprout! garden.
A miniature decorative pumpkin from the garden.
Purple potatoes and the last of the cucumbers harvested from the garden.
This area was where the squash, cucumber and sunflowers were growing. It has been cleared out to make way for the fall crops. Soon after this picture was taken, kale, spinach, lettuce, broccoli and cabbage were planted in this area and have now sprouted already.

The Semester So Far:
So far this semester we have had three successful workdays and one farmer's market. We have cleared out the debris from our summer crops, and planted some fall/winter crops. These fall/winter crops include kale, spinach, cabbage and broccoli. We also planted black seeded simpson, a famously cold-tolerant variety of lettuce. We have had abundant harvests of heirloom shell beans, potatoes, miniature pumpkins and winter squash. The hardshell gourds are ripening and drying on the vine and we can expect to harvest many of those soon.
The first hard frost is coming very soon, so we will be setting up a cold frame this week to protect the tender young vegetables from the frost. A cold frame is a miniature temporary greenhouse to help established crops through the cooler fall and winter months, thus extending the short Connecticut growing season. We are building ours out of bamboo poles, rocks, and clear plastic.
Our big event this semester, Sproutfest! is happening in just two weeks on October 24th. We are having the event on National Food Day. We will be serving a local dinner on campus, and giving presentations about the garden. The dinner will feature local produce, including hot soup made with beans and squash from the garden.