Every autumn, we celebrate the harvest with our Pumpkin Festival. It’s a day of fun on the farm with pumpkin games, live music, fresh food, family hayrides and, out in the fields, our famous trebuchet launching pumpkins into the air. Based on a weapon of siege warfare that originated in the Middle Ages, our trebuchet is strictly for fun — but it takes a great deal of force to pull back the throwing arm.
That’s where this tractor comes in. Read More
We purchased our very first tractor in 1973, for $700 from a farmer in New Boston, Mass. It saw heavy use cultivating corn, beans and peas before our purchase of a larger two-row cultivator in 2004. These days, the Ford 2N often runs the sickle bar mower for small mowing jobs or for harvesting corn stalks. It’s so light, we can haul it in the back of the farm truck. And it’s great for pulling the hayride wagon at our festivals.
Engine 2.0L 4-cylinder
HP 23 PTO, 22 drawbar
Special tools not independent clutch
Meet the fleet:
Did you plant peas this spring? The first person to bring us a measured cup of mature shelled peas will be crowned winner of our fourth annual First Peas to the Table contest.
Bring your peas to the farmstand manager and if you are the winner, you will receive a $50 Morning Glory gift certificate plus a voucher for a free trip to the salad bar, and Meg Athearn will make you a delicious pea risotto using your peas! We will crown you and place the honorary sash upon you, and take a photo for our archives.
This contest was not our original idea. Thomas Jefferson and his farming neighbors near Monticello used to vie for the first peas every spring, with the winner hosting the rest of his competitors for a fine dinner.
But the Morning Glory contest is making its own kind of history: This year’s Fedco Seeds listing for the shell pea variety named Topps reads, in part, “In West Tisbury, MA, Tom Hodgson and Christine Gault shelled their first Topps on June 8 and won the Morning Glory Farm First Peas contest.”
That’s Tom smiling in victory in the photo above. He and Christine have won our contest for the past two years. Will they be unseated in 2017? Only time will tell.
We didn’t know quite what to expect when a video crew from the nonprofit OxfamAmerica asked to film at the farmstand Thanksgiving week. But we knew we wanted to help, and we were thrilled that the star of the video would be our friend, fellow Island farmer and accomplished cookbook author Susie Middleton, a.k.a. Six Burner Sue.
As it turns out, we barely knew they were there. A crew of two people, plus Susie, spent a few minutes roving inside and outside the farmstand and then they were off. Months later, in mid-February, we got word that the video was out. You can watch it here or, with the accompanying recipe and a great article complete with kitchen tips, at closeup.oxfamamerica.org/stories/eat-good-six-burner-sue.
Susie’s article is focused on how she saves money in the kitchen by planning ahead and developing recipe “templates” that she can customize depending on what ingredients she has on hand, instead of running out for a dozen different grocery items to fulfill one specific recipe.
The article and video are part of an OxfamAmerica campaign called Eat for Good, aimed at helping families eat well with less expense and waste. That’s something we’re always trying to do at Morning Glory. Our farm kitchen makes use of what’s abundant, which is why you’ll see so many different soups, dips, salad dressings and carry-out main courses throughout the growing season. And we keep a tight leash on waste, composting, recycling and feeding the pigs and chickens.
Find out more about the Eat for Good campaign, with recipes from Alice Waters and other prominent cooks, at www.oxfamamerica.org/take-action/campaign/food-farming-and-hunger/eat-for-good.
One of the year’s first tasks at Morning Glory Farm is to order seeds for spring sowing. It’s a big job: For 2017, we’re buying more than 500 varieties of vegetable, herb and flower seeds. To mention just a few, this year we will be planting:
Lettuce is the first crop that’s ready for market at Morning Glory. This year, look for more mixes made with the very productive Salanova lettuces from Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Waterville, Me., our #1 supplier.
We appreciate the Salanova types because they give us shapely, baby-sized leaves with mature lettuce flavor. This makes a real and very tasty improvement over picking baby leaves from regular lettuces before they’ve had the chance to develop their flavor. Our customers loved Salanova in 2016, so we’re doubling production this year.
Along with Johnny’s, our seed providers include Rochester, N.Y.-based Harris Seeds; High Mowing in Walcott, Vt.; the Fedco Seeds cooperative in Clinton, Me. and Kitazawa Seed Co., a small firm in Oakland, Calif. that sells unique Asian vegetables. All of these companies have pledged to sell no GMOs, so we can be confident the crops we grow are not genetically modified.
Before we can place our seed orders, we need to have a few things lined up:
To help decide which seeds to choose, we keep detailed notes on yield, flavor and performance throughout each growing season, using a three-year rolling average to account for weather variations from year to year. Was a particular tomato variety prone to leaf spots in both wet and dry summers? We’ll try a different one this time. Backing up these copious notes, we have our farmers’ long memories. Seed prices have risen steeply in recent years, and we want to make the wisest choices we can.
In other farm news this February:
You can also sign up below to receive farm news by email, such as our official farmstand opening date, First Peas contest deadline, festival dates and details and more. We look forward to being in touch.
We grow four “generations” of tomatoes every year on the farm, two under cover and two in the fields. The 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.
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.
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:
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.
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.