Seed Catalogs Everywhere: What We’re Ordering for 2017

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:

  • 18 different lettuces;
  • 24 varieties of pepper;
  • 37 types of pumpkin (and that’s not counting the gourds!);
  • 43 tomato varieties and
  • 186 different kinds of flowers — including
  • 100,000 sunflower seeds, for those summertime bouquets.

harvest greens lettuce crewLettuce 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:

  1. Field allocations: Each year we rotate our crops, so the first step is to map out where everything will go in the new season.
  2. Crop plans: Once we’ve decided where we will plant each crop, we need to plot how long the rows will be.
  3. With the crops planned, we calculate how many seeds we’ll need to plant them.

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:

  • Our first tomato seedlings of the year are several inches high and growing strong.
  • We’ve poured the foundation for our new staff dormitory (photos to come).
  • We’re hiring! See our jobs page for more information.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

Last-Minute Christmas Gifts from Martha’s Vineyard

Need some inspiration to round out your gift-giving this holiday? These presents will warm the heart of anyone who loves Martha’s Vineyard: Morning Glory's Farm Food: recipes by farm chef Robert Lionette, photographs by Alison Shaw

1. Morning Glory’s Farm Food: Stories from the Fields, Recipes from the Kitchen, with photographs by Alison Shaw, is a handsome softbound book full of recipes and information about the food we grow and cook. It’s available at the farmstand until Dec. 28, and at bookstores. And please don’t forget our original book, Morning Glory Farm and the Family that Feeds an Island, with recipes for Zucchini Bread and other farm favorites.

2. A subscription to The Vineyard Gazette, the Island’s newspaper of record since 1846, will do more than just keep your giftee well-informed about MV news and events: In collaboration with the nonprofit Island Grown Initiative, the Gazette is purchasing a row of school garden vegetables for every new or renewed subscription this holiday season. The proceeds from this calendar benefit Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary on Martha's Vineyard.

3. Proceeds from the 2017 Felix Neck Wildlife Calendar, illustrated by top Island nature photographers, benefit Mass Audubon’s Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Edgartown. You can find it at local bookstores and our farmstand.

4. Food! It’s not too late to put together a festive basket of cheeses, nuts and preserves, perhaps with some indulgent holiday cookies like Cherry Amaretti. The farmstand is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. this week, and from 9 a.m. to noon on Christmas Eve (Saturday). We’ll reopen Dec. 27 and Dec. 28 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for our last two days of the season.

Christmas cookies are wrapped and ready to give.

Our Annual Sale is Underway

Beemster Vlaskaas Aged Gouda is one of the few imported cheeses we carry at Morning Glory Farm.With Christmas days away, we’re preparing to close the farmstand Dec. 28 for our annual off-season break. Till then, we’re marking down many products by 20 percent — including ALL of our cheeses, dried fruits and nuts. Here are a few of the deals you can take advantage of, while supplies last:

  • Abbaye de Belloc, a French raw sheep’s milk cheese made by monks in the Basque Pyrenees: regularly $25.99/lb, now $20.79/lb
  • Alpha Tolman, an Alpine-style raw cow’s milk cheese from Vermont: regularly $23.95/lb, now $19.16/lb
  • Ascutney Mountain, a hard, Alpine-style Vermont raw cow’s milk cheese: regularly $28.00/lb, now $22.40/lb
  • Beemster Vlaskaas Aged Gouda from the Netherlands: regularly $16.50/lb, now $13.20/lb
  • Landaff, a Vermont raw cow’s milk cheese in the Welsh Caerphilly tradition: regularly $28.00/lb, now $22.40/lb
  • Olga, a hard Maine cheese made with raw cow’s and goat’s milk: regularly $28.00/lb, now $22.40/lb
  • Reading, a Raclette-style raw cow’s milk cheese from Vermont: regularly $17.95/lb, now $14.36/lb
  • Tarentaise, a Vermont raw cow’s milk cheese not unlike Gruyère: regularly $25.95/lb, now $20.76/lb

This is also the time to save 20 percent on Kalamata and Castelvetrano olives, cornichons, hot and cold cereal and beach plum jelly. Come in and see what else we’re putting on sale as we head into our final days of 2016!

When to Order Your Christmas Pies

We’re taking pie orders until 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 23. The varieties:Maple Walnut Pie from our bakery.

  • Apple Pie
  • Harvest Pie (apple cranberry with raisins and walnuts)
  • Pecan Pie
  • Maple Walnut Pie

Pie orders must be picked up by noon Saturday, Dec. 24. We close at noon Christmas Eve!
Till then we’re open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. We’re closed Dec. 25-26; on Dec. 27-28, we’re open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for our final days of 2016.