During the summer, we hire a group of five or six alumni and others with an excellent work ethic who are looking to immerse themselves in an intensive farm experience. For the months of June, July and August, the farm crew works to take care of every aspect of the Mountain School farm. They care for the animals, do daily chores, plant seeds and transplant seedlings, weed and weed and weed, bring in the hay and harvest the summer crops.
Because we do not use herbicides, farm crew spends a lot of time pulling weeds. It’s fair to say that a good portion of every day is spent protecting our crops from these competitors. Other techniques help as well: mowing around the perimeter of our vegetable gardens, using our own, high-quality compost, extensive use of various kinds of mulches: living cover crops, shredded leaf litter, biodegradable "plastic, and reusable landscape fabric. As our implementation of no-till systems expands, we expect that over time our weed seed bank will diminish. We also using a drip-line irrigation system that−in drier months−waters the crops but not the weeds.
Planting, Harvesting and Processing
Unlike commercial vegetable farms, we deliberately time much of our planting for late harvest, so that the fall semester students will be on-hand to put up and process much of the school’s food. The farm crew does a significant amount of planting in June. There are also a good number of summer crops to harvest and process: asparagus, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, zucchini and summer squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and others. Farm crew often helps put up these crops for the coming semesters.
Farm crew meets every morning before they have finished their daily chores. They review past work and examine the day’s to-do list. Farm manager Liana Horster helps to make these meetings fun, efficient, and inclusive. Taking care of the farm is a team effort, and everyone’s input and observations matter.