This hilltop is where most of the vegetable production happens. With around four acres under cultivation, we are able to produce an enormous quantity of vegetables and fruit: about thirty-five thousand pounds! While this glorious harvest feels like a triumph in itself, farm manager Liana Horster's most important goal is to continue building and improving soil health. To that end, we employ multiple strategies such as eliminating tillage, a drip-line irrigation system, many types of mulch including living "green mulch" walking paths between rows of vegetables planted in reusable fabric mulch. We also practice crop rotation and cover-cropping methods, allowing the land to rest every few years between heavy-feeding vegetable crops and helping replenish fertility and organic matter in our soils. Students help with every step of this process, thereby learning how to take care of soil health.
The spring semester preps garden hill for a summer of growing, clearing beds, spreading compost, sowing cover crops, direct-seeding root crops, herbs and corn and transplanting thousands of seedlings: onions, leeks, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, tomatillos, melons, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and many more. Spring semester students also get to harvest the first garden hill crops of the season: perennial fruits and vegetables like asparagus and rhubarb.
When the fall semester arrives, the fall harvest is in its full abundance, ready to be gathered and brought in for processing and storage. We deliberately time our plantings for late harvest so that the fall semester students will be on-hand to pick peppers and tomatoes, dig potatoes, pull beets and carrots, harvest melons, raspberries and fresh sweet corn. The extensive apple orchard on garden hill is also ready to harvest in the fall, when students spend many a work period picking fruits and pressing cider.
In addition to our abundant fall harvest, we have a good number of summer crops that our farm crew will harvest and process: asparagus, strawberries, blueberries, summer squash, zucchini, broccoli, peas, cucumbers and others.