Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Turnips, Pigs, and Salamanders

I spent a few hours at New Roots Farm this morning, my weekly visit to help out in exchange for amazing seedlings and fresh vegetables as the season goes along. After a near collapse of the tomato crop last year from late blight and a hurricane-force wind storm that took down their newly constructed greenhouse in February, the farm looks as good as ever. Jeff and Renee persevere - they are farmers.

New Roots has a larger crew of helpers this year that includes interns, assistants, and volunteers. The new greenhouse is rebuilt and is already filling up with seedlings. The garlic is eight inches tall and growing. The sheep and goats graze on fresh pasture. The pigs feast on turnips.

Emily, one of the young interns, and I helped clean out a few hoop houses in preparation for new plantings. We pulled a raised bed full of turnips that had gone to seed. Three bushels of roots, stalks, and flowers were carried up to the pigs. They like turnips more than me. Rarely do farmers let root vegetables go to seed. As Emily noted, the flowers of many root vegetables are quite beautiful, perhaps worthy of their own root vegetable flower garden.

The pigs enjoy freshly pulled turnips, flowers and all

The hoop houses are warm and moist so various animals live there too. The voles are plentiful, but not welcome. Renee overturned a board and uncovered a rather uncommon and beautiful blue-spotted salamander, which was left to carry on. On a farm some visitors are welcome and some are not.

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