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Planting Tomatoes in January? Yes!

We grow four “generations” of tomatoes every year on the farm, two under cover and two in the fields. Tomato in the greenhouseThe earliest harvest is expected to begin in late May, about a month after the farmstand opens for the season. Our last crop of field tomatoes ripens in September.

The first generation of Morning Glory tomatoes gets started in early January, when Jim and Debbie sow the seeds at home and tend them carefully until they’re ready for transplant. The growing seedlings spend more time under lights at the farmstand — with added heat and ventilation, our well-insulated main cooler makes an excellent grow room — before they’re transplanted to heated, double-walled greenhouses around March 1.

A week to 10 days ahead of the transplant date, we start using electric power from our windmill to run an array of hot water pipes in the greenhouse soil to heat it up. After the seedlings go into the soil, we water them in and add a small hive of bumblebees to each greenhouse — until the doors open in May, these bees are the tomatoes’ only pollinators.

We use only natural fertilizers in the greenhouses. In wet seasons, we apply two natural fungicides, in rotation. For pest control, we use predatory insects.

Of all the tomato varieties we have grown over the years, our top choice for flavor is Geronimo, from Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Maine. We continue to try out two new varieties every year, but so far nothing beats Geronimo. We feel we can ripen six clusters per plant, but eight clusters is not too rare either. We hope for 12 to 14 pounds per plant, or about 6,000 to 7,000 pounds from each 2,600-square-foot greenhouse.

The greenhouses protect these disease-prone Mediterranean plants from dew and rain, while we keep the soil floor obsessively neat and weed-free. We trellis each plant up a single string to about eight feet high, pruning to one stem and removing all foliage below the lowest ripening fruit cluster. Our greenhouse tomatoes can produce four to five times as much fruit per plant as the same varieties planted outside.

In March, we’ll sow our second generation of Morning Glory Farm tomatoes for 2017. Meanwhile, just like you, we’re making do with canned tomatoes and whatever we can get at the supermarket. This vinaigrette recipe from our Farm Food cookbook calls for plum or Roma tomatoes: »»Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette.

Would you like to work at Morning Glory Farm this year? Find out more »»

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farmstand tomatoes kale

Windmill Energy: Where Does it Go?

Our windmill pulls power from the air and sends it to the electrical grid.Windmills and farms are a traditional combination, but there’s nothing old-fashioned about the 50kw wind turbine here at Morning Glory Farm. It’s a high-tech energy machine that essentially pulls power out of the air, generating enough electricity for a small neighborhood.

»» Watch the windmill repair crew at work »»

We send the electricity from the turbine directly to the grid on the Edgartown Road. From there it flows to the closest point of use, most of which ends up right back at the farm. Eversource credits us back at the end of the year for every kWh we generate, no matter who uses it. On average, the turbine generates about three-quarters of our annual electricity use farm-wide.

Here are a few other facts about our windmill that may interest and even surprise you:

  • Over six years, Morning Glory Farm has generated more than 715,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity.
  • That’s enough to power 215 American homes, or 24,655 laptop computers, for one year.
  • We’ve kept 307,473 kilograms of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere by producing clean wind energy.
  • That’s equal to the emissions from 93 cars on the road for a year, or 25 airline flights around the world.
  • The windmill averages hundreds of kWh a day, and sometimes 1,000 or more.
  • February is the month it produces the most energy.
  • July is the month with the least wind (as Martha’s Vineyard sailors know).
  • August is the month we use the most electricity on the farm.
  • The highest wind we’ve recorded was 42.7 meters per second in January, 2015. That’s 95.5 mph!
  • Our windmill’s height is 120 feet from the base to the center of the rotor.
  • A concrete counterweight underground serves as an anchor so it can’t blow down.
  • The three blades are each 30 feet long.
  • They always turn at the same speed, regardless of wind strength.
  • The windmill is programmed to stop spinning when the breeze drops or high winds exceed 58 mph.
  • It is a “downwind” machine, with no tail, which makes it quieter to operate.
  • Unlike a pinwheel, its turning blades face away from the direction the wind is coming from.
  • It was installed by Gary Harcourt of Great Rock Wind Power in Oak Bluffs.
  • The windmill is serviced twice a year, also by Gary.
  • In addition to reducing the farm’s energy bill and keeping carbon emissions out of the atmosphere, we also earn money for the electricity we generate by selling Renewable Energy Certificates.
  • There’s a real-time windmill monitor below and you can see a larger version online, along with a weather report, at bit.ly/power-dash.

Winter on a Martha’s Vineyard Farm

“What do you do in the winter?” 110_1036 hay winter dog

It’s a fair question, and one most year-round Islanders are used to hearing. In our case, the answer is easy: We keep on farming!

Winter is a special season on a farm: time for reflection, evaluation and planning for the coming season. But there’s still work to do outside. We have something to harvest nearly all year round, and our pigs, cows and chickens never take a vacation. And, of course, many farm chores —like maintenance of our outbuildings, tractors and machines—get pushed into the slower winter months. While sailors ashore “make and mend,” farmers repair and refurbish. ethan screws down ridge cap

Meanwhile, the 2017 planting season is already right around the corner. We’re ordering seeds, hiring employees, picking the dates for our seasonal festivals and attending lots of farming conferences off-Island — always thinking about all the ways we can make things better here and help 2017 to be a banner year. The first tomato seeds get started in January, and by March our greenhouses are full of seedlings.

On April 28, we look forward to welcoming customers back to the farmstand with fresh herbs, greens and other spring vegetables, along with plants for your Martha’s Vineyard garden and “imported” groceries. Asparagus season begins in early May. Until then, Islanders and Vineyard visitors can buy self-service eggs from the fridge outside the farmstand exit. And for all our friends on the web, we’ll be posting recipes and news here at morninggloryfarm.com. Please follow us on Facebook and Instagram, too.

Asparagus season starts May 5. Photo by Alison Shaw.

Asparagus season starts May 5. Photo by Alison Shaw.

 

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Now Hiring: Farm Jobs at Morning Glory

Morning Glory Farm has Field Crew positions available for the 2018 season.

The Field Crew works as a team in a fast-paced, physically demanding environment to efficiently care for and harvest more than 60 acres of produce. All applicants must be comfortable lifting 50+lbs, working near machinery, and working with others. Crops are divided into the following five departments: Greens, Herbs, Fruits, Flowers, and Harvests.

Farmers and Field Hands report to each department’s chief. Crop-specific opportunities and positions are available. Click the highlighted titles below for complete job descriptions:

We are looking for people who want to work hard, enjoy the company of their fellow workers, produce a worthwhile product, enjoy the outdoors (rain or shine), and apply their energies to the success of our cause. Good workers will find themselves in excellent company. Compensation is based on experience.

Apply for any position

Mail your completed application and any reference forms to
Morning Glory Farm
100 Meshacket Rd
Edgartown, MA 02539

Now Hiring: Retail Jobs at Morning Glory Farm

We’re now hiring Farmstand Specialists and Farmstand Supervisors for the 2017 season.

Farmstand Specialists report to Farmstand Supervisors as part of a team responsible for exceptional customer service in conformance with established Farm policies, strategies and procedures. Learn more about this position »»

Farmstand Supervisors are team leaders, reporting to the Farmstand Manager and supervising Farmstand Specialists. Learn more about this position »»

Find out about other 2017 jobs at Morning Glory Farm »»

Applications for the new season are accepted online and by mail starting in January. Have them in by April 1, 2017 for best results. We receive hundreds of applications in January, February and March. Apply now »»

Apply to work at Morning Glory Farm.

We are looking for people who want to work hard, enjoy the company of their fellow workers, produce a worthwhile product, enjoy the outdoors (rain or shine), and apply their energies to the success of our cause. Good workers will find themselves in excellent company.

Honor Eggs Are Back

We’ve closed up the farmstand until next spring, but our well-fed chickens lay eggs all winter long and we still have some winter produce as well. So until we reopen, the honor fridge and cashbox are once again located outside the farmstand exit. Come by any time to pick up farm-fresh Morning Glory eggs and winter produce, and eat gloriously!

Morning Glory Farm eggs are fresh year-round.

Photo by Alison Shaw

Half-Price Produce on Our Last Days

Tuesday, Dec. 27 and Wednesday, Dec. 28 are our last farmstand days of the year. We’re open 9 to 5 with ever-deepening discounts.

  • Produce is now at 50 percent off, cheeses and repack 20 percent off, and many groceries are being marked down as well.
  • The salad bar is closed, but we still have carry-out meals from the farm kitchen.
  • Come in and let us wish you a happy New Year!
Blue Hubbard Squash makes delicious pumpkin pie.

Blue Hubbard Squash makes delicious pumpkin pie.

 

Thank You, Friends of the Farm

Dearest farm friends,

The cellar is full, the firewood is stacked, and winter projects have begun here on the farm. As we enjoy the slowing of the season, we remember to give thanks for all that preceded. We feel so grateful to all those who contributed to the farm this year. An impressive amount of food was grown, prepared, and delivered to so many people it is humbling. But I think what further binds us, customers and staff alike, is the farm’s emotional impact: the people behind it, our need to connect with the land and seas that sustain us. For all the wonderful compliments I have received this year about our produce, products, and staff, I would like to pass them on to you, the true recipients of this praise. Thank you.

The spirit of thanks and gratitude leads naturally into excitement to do it all over again. The seasons’ cycle is to be honored and used as each season intends us to. So, I urge you to gather with your family and friends, to be grateful for the abundance of the past season, and to brighten the dark days of winter with stories of the past and hopes for our futures.

In the spirit of “being the change you wish to see,” I feel very proud that we together are collaboratively improving our community and having a quiet impact on our green watery world. I wish you all a season of joy and a wonderful new year. My family and I look forward to seeing many of you again soon and in the mean time: Be merry, eat well, and laugh often.

Sincerely, Simon J Athearn

Our holiday lights are glowing, and so are our hearts.

No Pie? No Problem: Here’s Our Recipe

We use all butter for the flakiest pie crusts. Photo by Alison Shaw.

We use all butter for the flakiest pie crusts. Photo by Alison Shaw.

Our bakery is closed from Christmas until springtime, so we’re sharing recipes for a Morning Glory pie you can make at home. Invented by one of our head bakers, Harvest Pie celebrates the end of the growing season with apples, cranberries, walnuts, raisins and a hint of orange. It can be made with a double crust or a single crust with a streusel topping.