Friday, October 9, 2015

Raise the Beds!

By Stacey Cooper, Co-op Farm Manager

I stumbled across an very interesting new method of growing veggie crops, which I have decided to try to incorporate in the gardens here at Shaker Village.
The method is inspired by Jean-Martin Fortier, reminiscent of the French Intensive methods used in Europe.
The theory goes that by creating permanent raised beds we can increase production, protect soil integrity and reduce labor and equipment needs. By raising the beds we aim to protect the soil from compaction, via rain and snow as well as human and equipment traffic.
In order to accomplish this on already planted and weedy soils, we first used the tractor mounted tiller to till up the soils, which helped to loosen them. Key to the second step, which was to then shovel soil from the areas that are to be paths up onto the beds.  After digging down the paths and building up the raised beds, we leveled them off with rake, spread our own compost, leveled them again, installed drip irrigation lines, spread newspaper and then put down mulch hay.
The compost is key as it provides long term nutrients.  In an un-tilled soil, compost and manure can be more effective in that the soil structure and microorganism populations are maintained, allowing the soil to stay healthy and better utilize the nutrients that are locked up in the compost.
Being that it is fall, I chose to layer the tops of the beds with newspaper to protect the newly loosened soil over the winter from rain and snow, which cause saturated soils and compaction, which would un-do all the work.
I wet down the newspaper and then spread hay mulch on top, essentially just to have something to hold the news paper in place.  Although we do intend to plant strawberries in these beds in the spring so the mulch will also be useful to suppress weeds. I may use temporary wood chips or compost if I run out of hay mulch, which can removed or raked into the paths in the spring at time of planting.
Our new beds are intended to maintained by hand tools, with occasional shallow walk behind tiller usage if need be to break up dense weeds.
By creating 30" raised beds, we can easily reach across the entire bed to plant and harvest without over extended ourselves, which is better for employees and volunteers in the long run.
The deep loose soils of the raised beds allow for more dense production practices.  The roots of the plants have more room to grow down and therefore can be planted closer together without competing with each other.  In addition, dense plantings more readily out compete weeds resulting in (hopefully) better growing conditions and less labor.
In the spring, once we have planted the rows, we can use cardboard or carpeting in the paths to keep weeds out of the aisles during the growing season.
Here is hoping that our hard work pays off!  A big thank you to Ray and Richard for helping out on a big project!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Newspapers wanted!

This fall we are planting a crop of garlic as well as prepping raised beds for strawberries in the spring.  I am collecting newspaper to help mulch the aisles of the garlic rows once they are  planted. This will help to supress weeds next season.  I will also be preparing the strawberries beds this fall by creating raised beds, spreading compost and then layering with newspaper and mulch.  Being that strawberries need to be planted very early in the season I am attempting to prep the ground for them this fall and then protect the soil with the news paper  and hay mulch in order to avoid compaction of the soil over the winter.
If you have newspapers to recycle you can drop them off at the Concord store, just make sure to take out the "shiny" advertisements for me. Look for the green newspaper recycling bin in the café area.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Preparing for Fall at Shaker Organic Garden

We are down to the last fall crops.  A bit of arugula, chard, kale, salad turnips, scallions and few brassicas that may or may not size up.
We can expect spinach, radish and arugula from the hoop house for late fall.
Our week was spent cleaning, emptying fields, pulling plastic and irrigation lines, disposal of field debris, seeding spinach and radish, delivering pumpkins and winter squash, potting perennials, weeding, and cleaning the education garden.
Kenn and I were able to dedicate a day to the education garden and made some great progress.  We weeded, transplanted, divided and potted up plants.  Another day of cutting back plants and potentially mulching and the garden will be set for the fall.
I will be limiting deliveries to the Co op to once per week as there is less produce being harvested. The farm stand at the Village will probably get stocked once more next week and then be done for the season, with the exception of pumpkins and maybe more apples if we get out to harvest more next week.
There is a lot of planning left to do in regards for next years crops, which I will start in earnest next week.


Friday, September 4, 2015

Shaker Organic Garden Update

Check out Stacey's latest update from Shaker Organic Garden...

This week we've been busily prepping for the Artisan festival and the benefit dinner next weekend. These activities include cleaning and hanging all of the ornamental corn, shelling heirloom beans, harvesting corn stalks, harvesting pumpkins and winter squash (it was an early crop and the groundhogs were starting to take a serious interest).
Most of these items are hanging in the attic of the garden barn, which is set up for drying crops.  Despite being on the third floor it is quite pleasant inside during the early part of the day.  It is really beautiful with all of the hanging plants!
I will be doing a demonstration for the festival on bean threshing and winnowing.  A farmer friend is trying to help me set up a bike powered winnower for the event, however we may not have time in which case I will do it the even more old fashioned way, by hand.
We have set up the farm stand nicely in front of the Box Lunch stand with hanging lattice structures to display some our drying beans, corn and herbs.
I've started harvesting fall root crops such as rutabaga, turnip, carrots, onions, celeriac and soon diakon.  Some of these I will put directly into storage and save for later fall for the Co-op and the Shaker Table.  It will give me a chance to catch up in the field a bit if I'm not packing and delivering quite so much for a few weeks and also help to extend the season a bit.
Soon I'll be planting some late fall crops of spinach and arugula in the hoop house.  The day time temperatures are still a bit too hot, so I'm waiting a bit longer than I might normally.
We have some beautiful red stem small turnips that you should look for at the Co-op early next week.  They are a beautiful magenta color.
My volunteers have really stepped up and helped out during the last part of the busy harvest season, which has been very welcome!


Friday, July 24, 2015

Summer Update from Shaker Organic Garden

Read the latest from Co-op Organic Garden manager Stacey...
A garden update for this week:
The beans are in full swing, it takes up to 2.5 hours a day to pick them all!  They should be tapering off soon.
The blood meal seems to have worked to keep the ground hog away for the time being. Japanese beetles are now the pest of the week.
I've dug new potatoes, which if I do say so myself are amazing. They are huge. I really think the combination of drip irrigation, straw hilling and side dressing with bone char was the magic combination!  While the soil test results read that our soil phosphorus levels are high, potato yields still benefit from a light side dressing of phosphorous.  They suffered severely from leaf hopper damage, however because they are an early variety it didn't' seem to affect the yield. I would love to do more next year.  Because of the leaf hopper damage, I may need to harvest the fingerlings for the September dinner early.
We've also started harvesting carrots (3 colors) and giant green bell peppers. Eggplant and tomatoes should be along soon, along with shell beans.  The tomato plants are loaded, just waiting for them to size up.  A few sungolds are ripening each day, just enough for a snack at this point.
I've seeded some experimental crops to see if we can create a really nice mix of fall greens for the harvest dinners including red stem salad turnip, baby beets, baby chard and daikon to go along (hopefully) a lot of head lettuce.
We've started cover cropping some of the fallow areas.  Luke, from Brookford Farm, will bring our tiller over next week and help me adjust the PTO shaft to fit our tractor on site.  I'll be able to till up larger sections of the field with it and get more cover crops in.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Take a Tour of the Organic Gardens

If you aren't able to make it out to Canterbury Shaker Village anytime soon to see the organic gardens, take a virtual tour with Co-op Organic Garden Manager Stacey Cooper instead! Watch the video below...

You can find fresh produce daily at the Shaker Box Lunch and Farm Stand, 288 Shaker Rd, Canterbury, NH or at the Concord location of Concord Food Co-op.

For more information about the strategic partnership between Concord Food Co-op and Canterbury Shaker Village visit...

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Shaker Farm Stand is Open!

Co-op Organic Garden Manager Stacey and her team of amazing volunteers are harvesting their efforts in the form of fresh certified organic produce and delivering it to the Co-op and the Canterbury Shaker Village Lunch Box Farm Stand.
You can find USDA certified organic produce picked fresh that morning!

You can even take a tour of the Village which includes access to see the working organic garden. Stop and say if you see Stacey and her volunteers working!
The Shaker Box Lunch and Farm Stand is at 288 Shaker Rd, Canterbury, NH.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Call out for Volunteers at the Shaker Organic Gardens

Do you enjoy spending time outdoors and working in your community? Do you have a few spare hours during the week to get your hands dirty? The Co-op's Organic Garden Manager, Stacey Cooper is in need of more active volunteers to keep up with the demands of the Co-op gardens at historic Canterbury Shaker Village.
If you can stick to a weekly schedule and can apply yourself to assigned tasks independently, Stacey is looking for you! In return you will learn valuable gardening skills to apply to your own home garden and the opportunity to take home some fresh produce when available.
Watch the video below as Shane, Co-op Outreach Coordinator lists what volunteer opportunities are needed.

For more information send an email to

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

This Summer at the Farm, to the Co-op

A Letter from Our General Manager, Paula Harris

Welcome to summer, the season of perfection when it comes to local produce! Our produce team is always dedicated to finding the freshest, most local, and preferably organic produce we can for  you to buy. We are incredibly grateful for the many local farmers who sell to us – from well-known New Hampshire organic farmers to Concord-area favorites and small backyard gardens.

In spite of all of these great farmers, it’s still a challenge to meet the demand of our veg-hungry customers with local goods. That’s why this year we’re positively thrilled to add our very own organic gardens to the local farm roster in our produce department

As you probably know by now, the Co-op has teamed up with Canterbury Shaker Villages to farm its certified organic land. Our Organic Garden Manager Stacey Cooper has been hard at work in the greenhouse and fields getting spectacular farm-fresh goodies to our shelves. While farming in New Hampshire can sometimes be unpredictable, here’s a list of some of the produce you can expect to see on our shelves this summer from the Co-op’s Shaker Organic Gardens.
  • In June, look for our very own spinach, lettuce, pac choi, scallions, radishes, arugula, and mustard greens.
  • We plan to have more lettuce and scallions in July as well as chard, kale, fresh beans, beets, summer squash, cucumbers, basil, parsley, cabbage, and broccoli.
  • Check out carrots, green onions, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, shell beans, potatoes, and rutabaga in August in addition to lettuce, scallions, chard, kale, fresh beans, beets, summer squash, basil, parsley, and broccoli.
  • We plan to harvest traditional fall crops in September alongside the last of the summer crops, including parsnips, winter squash, pie pumpkins, and leeks.
You might be wondering if, with all this new produce, we’re giving our regular farmers the boot. Hardly the case! In our goal of sourcing as many of our products from local farms as possible, we’re working with our regular farmers to bring in even more of their goods than in previous years.
Generation Farm (Concord, NH) salad mix will be in higher volume this year, so we should have it in the produce case all week.

Kearsarge Gore Farm (Warner, NH) will continue provide us with some of the most beautiful greens in the state, including their unmatched dandelion greens. (Hooray for the dandelion-pumpkin seed pesto that nutritionist Traci Komorek got us all addicted to!!)

Look for The Vegetable Ranch (Warner, NH) van with its cartoon farm animals printed on the side. We will continue getting wonderful produce from them as well as eggs and some meat products new to the Co-op this year.

We expect a high volume of beautiful broccoli to come from Harvest Hill Farm (Walden, VT) this year. 

We are also very excited to be expanding our relationship with Fred’s Farm (Alexandria, NH). They will provide us with some amazing lacinato kale and will also supply us with carrots deep into winter.

Unfortunately, this summer we will also bid adieu to our awesome Produce Manager Shawn as he follows his dreams to move back to his former home in Maine. He will be a department manager at the Gardiner Food Co-op, a new Co-op opening in June. He is excited to have the opportunity to help it get off the ground and help build the local food community in that area. They’ll be lucky to have Shawn, and we’ll miss him!

Please welcome Jay as he steps into Shawn's role as Produce Manager. You'll already recognize Jay as he has worked as both a produce clerk and in our marketing department prior to taking on the management role. He was eager to step up to the plate, and we're glad to have him!

Paula Harris

Friday, June 12, 2015

A little rain and help from Volunteers at Shaker Organic Gardens

An update from the Co-op Organic Gardens Manager, Stacey Cooper at Canterbury Shaker Village...

"Crops are looking great. Some initial pest pressure is starting to ease off as the plants are sizing up and able to hold their own for now.
Intermittent rain has helped cut down on irrigation time.
Zukes have set fruits, ancho peppers have set fruit, scallions are sizing up, kale and chard are almost in full swing.
The fields are about 95% full of crops at this point with just a bit of space for lettuce and bean successions.
Next week we will have available: parsley, basil, green kale, red kale, chard, lettuce, radish, beets, beet greens, arugula, and spinach.
We have good crops of dry, shell and fresh beans germinated.  So far, no one is eating them =)  A few of the kale on the orchard end have been nibbled (deer), but nothing serious so far.
Kenn, our new volunteer helped me fix the walk behind tiller and we were able to till between the crop aisles.  The fields are looking pretty tidy at this point.
I was able to rake up the field that Ray mowed last week and then collected the hay and used it to hill the potatoes and mulch the kale and chard rows.  Very helpful for weed suppression and moisture conservation.  It would be great to grow a grain crop in the empty portion of the field next year for this purpose, grain threshing and then use stalks for mulching.
I've been using fish/ kelp emulsion on some of the plants that are getting plagued by early fungus and pest problems, it seems to be fortifying them and making them a nice dark green.
I consolidated the compost piles at the hoophouse and turned them over.  It helped to tidy up the front of the hoophouse."

Friday, May 29, 2015

Fresh Produce Arriving from Canterbury Shaker Village

Stacey delivering Valentine radishes to the Concord store.
Find them in the fresh produce display and take some home!
Here is the latest update from Co-op Organic Garden Manager Stacey Cooper...

We have 95% of the rows planted at this point with a few open for lettuce/ pac choi and herbs and fresh bean successions.

I had to improvise and revise our crop map this week as the nut sedge has germinated in full force. I will be leaving some areas fallow and utilizing successive tilling to keep the tops down. From what I've read, we can aim for 80% eradication if we can keep it below the soil surface for one year. Only one portion of the plant can overwinter and it develops in the late summer into fall. By keeping the plants cut down/ tilled in all season, they hopefully won't have enough reserved energy to form new tubers and overwinter. Unfortunately the only way to accomplish this is to not plant anything, including cover crops.

We still have enough room in the smaller plots for a good diversity of crops. I have seeded some broom corn and ornamental corn in the non irrigated plot for fall décor.
Eric is excited to use fresh produce from the
Co-op's Organic Garden at Canterbury Shaker Village.

All of our pumpkins, winter squash and first waves of cukes and summer squash are in. Tomatoes, peppers, dry beans, shell beans are in. I still need to pick up our eggplant from Dave Trumbell of Good Earth Farm.

Ray, Alberta and Richard continue to help me out in the garden, usually on Thursday. (If you would like to volunteer in the garden send a message to, Stacey is looking for reliable people who can commit to one day a week)

I've set up a sprinkler in the hoop house, which is helping to cut down on watering time for me each morning.

We have kale and chard almost ready to harvest and some of the beets are sizing up.

Stacey Cooper

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Organic Certification Progress at Canterbury Shaker Village

Co-op Organic Garden Manager Stacey Cooper has been busy these past few weeks tilling the fields, transplanting seedlings and getting an irrigation system set up at Canterbury Shaker Village. Among other things she has been going through all the steps to have the fields pass their organic certification.
While Stacey is already using organic practices on the land to nurture her plants, there are a few tests that need to take place before the USDA give her the ok to use their organic brand on the label of the produce she will be providing us.
Watch the video below...

Some of the produce Stacey has been able to pick so far that you can find at the Concord Food Co-op is mizuna, radish's, beet greens, spinach, and arugula. Look for it in the fresh produce displays.
Stacey also planted potatoes last week along with parsnip and green beans. Looking toward the future she also planted for this fall pie pumpkins and squash.
If you have any questions for Stacey, leave her a comment below.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The DARK Act, GMO Labeling, and How You Can Take Action

Reprinted with permission from Ken Davis & the Co-op Food Store Co-op News

Murky debate, GMOs. Few food topics arouse such acrimony and zeal, even though the jury is still out on how noxious and harmful the things even are.

At the Co-op, we believe what most Americans do: consumers have the right to know the source of their food. That’s why legislation that threatens to undo hard-fought-for GMO labeling efforts gets our attention. Learn more and find out how you can take action.


What Are GMOs?

When we alter the genetic material of a living thing so it can do something new or different, we create a genetically modified organism or GMO.  A GMO may be a bacteria that puts out human insulin or an insect-resistant corn plant.


What’s So Bad About That?

Life-saving insulin. Disease- and pest-resistant crops. What’s not to love? GMOs have undeniable advantages, or they wouldn’t exist in the first place. But there is also a big, whopping unknown—and that’s what worries people.

Human meddling to modify nature is nothing new and often innocuous. Farmers for centuries have been tweaking breeding methods to produce greater yields, grow larger plants and animals, and so on. But these historical practices relied on the natural reproductive processes of the organisms themselves. In the case of GMOs, labs create things that nature cannot. Critics contend that unforeseen consequences are inevitable and potentially dire, with health risks to humans that may include exposure to new allergens or the transfer of antibiotic-resistant genes.


How Would Labeling Help?

Labeling doesn’t put an end to GMOs, but it does identify them. Mandatory labeling of GMO foods would, at the very least, give consumers the ability to know what they’re eating so they can make informed choices.

It’s an idea that has overwhelming, widespread support. In 2013, a New York Times poll indicated that more than 93 percent of respondents favored GMO labeling, and by 2014, 24 states were considering broad, sweeping legislation to label GMO foods. Vermont’s legislature led the way, passing the nation’s first law in 2014 mandating the labeling of genetically modified ingredients in packaged products.


Latest Legislation: The DARK Act

Introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), HR 1599, the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015,” allows for a national labeling system without actually requiring it—and therein lies the problem.

“Not a single company has ever voluntarily disclosed the presence of GMOs in its food,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, an environmental think tank and advocacy organization. “Voluntary labeling does nothing to solve the confusion consumers face at the supermarket, nor does it provide them with the information overwhelming numbers of consumers clearly want.”

Known by detractors as the DARK Act (Deny Americans the Right to Know), HR 1599:
    • blocks state labeling laws.
      While a uniform national labeling standard is simplest to enforce, the lack of such a standard prompted several states to develop labeling laws of their own. This bill prevents states from establishing future labeling laws and blocks any existing laws, too.
    • closes the door on a national GMO labeling standard.
      The bill not only eliminates state labeling laws, it also restricts the FDA’s ability to mandate national labeling laws—an authority the FDA currently holds.
    • muddies the “natural” label.
      As if “natural” wasn’t bewildering enough, HR 1599 requires the FDA to define “natural” in the next two years, and GMOs just might be covered in the definition. HR 1599 also blocks any state provisions that make it illegal to label foods containing GMOs as “natural.”
    • establishes a weak review process.
      HR 1599 establishes guidance for reviewing the safety of new GMO products, but the bill includes loopholes to automatically approve products that aren’t assessed by the FDA within 180 days.


What Can You Do?

Take Action
E-mail or call your legislators today and tell them to oppose HR 1599, or the DARK Act. Find your legislators here.

Get Involved
Join the New England Farmers Union and advocate for a transparent and sustainable food system. A special membership discount is available to members of food co-ops that are part of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association. Join here.



Just Label It
NH Right to Know GMO
Vermont Right to Know
New England Farmers Union
The Neighboring Food Co-op Association

Thanks to our friends at New England Farmers Union and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association for contributing to this post. Ken Davis is a writer for the Co-op News. Contact him at kdavis at coopfoodstore dot com.

Monday, April 20, 2015

First Harvest for 2015!

by Stacey Cooper, Co-op Organic Garden Manager

We have transplanted our first seeded flats into the hoop house raised beds at the Shaker Organic Gardens, in addition to the direct seeded crops. I have utilized floating row cover to help conserve moisture in the beds as well as buffer the plants from extreme heat during the day and cold at night. The spinach is finally germinating.

We harvested our first crop last week, being pea tendrils. Having clipped them about an inch from the soil surface we should look forward to a second crop soon. Look for them in the produce section of the Co-op's Concord store! I will then incorporate the remaining tops and root systems into the soil to help build organic matter and return nitrogen to the soil.

Watch the video below...

I have started to harden off some of the seeded flats to prepare them for transplanting into the outside raised beds. I have removed the row covers, lessened watering, and I am putting them outside for a few hours each day to expose them to direct sunlight. Often if crops are transplanted directly from inside to field conditions, the sun is too strong and scalds the plants.

We should have pac choi, spinach, scallions and arugula ready to transplant outside this week.

The fields have been tilled once and are looking good. The relatively dry weather has allowed us access to the fields earlier than I would have anticipated, which is giving me a chance to break up the weeds. I will amend the field soil based on soil test results and then we will till a second time to break up the clumps of soil and weeds.

A good portion of the field will remain in cover crop the first season to help break up the weed regime as there is significant yellow nutsedge established in a portion of the field. This section was seeded to white clover last week.

I hope to be able to use white clover in the sections of the field that are transplants, as opposed to direct seeded, as an in row cover crop. This will hopefully help to reduce weed pressure in newly turned soil as well as reduce compaction.

To read more from Stacey and her developments at the Canterbury Shaker Village hoop houses click here.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Planting the Seed in the Hoop House

Concord Food Co-op Organic Garden Manager Stacey Cooper has been busy planting the seeds for future produce, even while there is still snow on the ground! The hoop house located on the historic Canterbury Shaker Village grounds has been staying warm enough as the days are getting longer to begin the first of many plantings. Watch the video below to find out what Stacey has planted so early in the season and she also has some helpful tips for the home gardener.

If you have any questions for Stacey, leave them in the comments!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Future of the Hoop Houses

Co-op Organic Garden Manager Stacey Cooper has some big plans for the hoop houses at historic Canterbury Shaker Village. Watch the video below to see what she envisions...

If you have any comments, leave a comment for Stacey!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Building Raised Garden Beds in your Hoop House

by Stacey Cooper, Organic Garden Manager

Raised beds can be built and back-filled with a variety of materials.  It is usually handy to utilize materials you have access to on site or at your home.  Some examples of reclaimed materials that you can utilize to help keep expense down are concrete blocks, untreated barn boards, re-bar, sand, compost, or topsoil.
I choose to use wood to build the raised beds in the Shaker Organic Garden hoop house largely because access is an issue in the winter and spring months.  Concrete blocks would have been a chore to get on site, while lumber could be carried to the greenhouse by hand or with the tractor.  To facilitate using the tractor to move materials, I pre-cut the lumber into 6' lengths. This helped in a few ways: I was able to fit the lumber in the tractor bucket to move it, the shorter lengths allowed for more flexibility with the varying grade of the hoop house floor, and it readily marked where 25% were needed to stabilize the lengths of the beds.
I chose to construct the beds at 3' wide, which is about a foot more narrow than the average raised bed.  I choose to do this because it is easier to reach across for fertilizing, weeding, and harvesting without needing to rest my arms on the soil surface, which can lead to compaction. 

I also set the raised beds in about 2' from the outside edge of the hoop house. This allows the outer area to be used as an access path. The outside strip of soil around a hoop house collects the run-off condensation that is produced inside the house and leads a strip of soil with leached nutrients.  This outside edge is also the first to freeze and last to defrost.  By setting the raised beds in a little, I am able to use the least conducive soil for access and the best for growing plants.
The weight of growing medium along the length of a raised bed can cause the boards to bow out and eventually break.  By placing stakes or rebar hammered into the soil, every 6' or so, we have alleviated this pressure.  I prefer to place stakes on the inside of the beds.  This allows easier weeding and cultivation of aisles and also keeps clothing and equipment from snagging on the sides of the beds when working around them.
To backfill the beds I used some onsite loam, stockpiled from the existing floor of the hoop house that accumulated from grading and leveling the area along with compost, sand and greensand.  The approximate ratio for the 10" beds was 2" of loam, 2" of sand, 5" of compost and then appropriate amounts of greensand to improve drainage and prevent clumping of the compost. A bit of balanced organic fertilizer is all that will be needed to get seedlings or seeds started in the beds.
The first crops I plan for these beds are beets, peas (for tendrils), and radish.  The heating system is not yet operating, so getting seedlings going and planting them is risky. I've selected cold hardy direct seeded crops to start the season to better utilize the space.  In a few weeks mizuna, lettuce, pac choi and kale should also be ready to transplant.
I have a few early season flats that were in need of sunlight, but not ready for the cold nights in the hoop house.  I experimented with digging out a section of the raised beds, placing the flats into the channel and then placing an on site Plexiglas door over the flats, creating an improvised seedling chamber. So far the experiment has worked as the seedlings were left in the chamber over the weekend and seem to be growing fine.  The mizuna and lettuce seem to be responding the best.  Since this system seems to be working I will get a few more flats seeded this week and move them to the chamber once germinated.
One of the most gratifying components of small scale farming for me is the constant need for improvisation.  Using what is on hand, creating new processes and sometimes finding success makes for a good days work!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Preparing the Shaker Organic Garden Hoop House for Spring

Tucked away behind the snow drifts at Canterbury Shaker Village you will find the Co-op's Organic Farm Manager, Stacey Cooper happily digging away in the dirt under the protection of the hoop house that will soon be flourishing with seedlings to produce fresh veggies and leafy greens.
Stacey has been busy cleaning and weeding to prepare the space for raised garden beds. Watch the video below to see the progress...

If you have any questions for Stacey, ask away in the comments below...

Monday, March 2, 2015

Reviving the Organic Gardens at Canterbury Shaker Village

The rumors are true! The Co-op has formed a Strategic Partnership with Canterbury Shaker Village to revive the historic Shaker fields with organic produce, cultivate beehives, and offer workshops and classes in the unique spaces available on the picturesque grounds in Canterbury, NH.

Starting this Spring 2015, the Co-op's newly appointed Organic Garden Manager, Stacey Cooper will work with Celery Stick Café Chef's, the Co-op's Produce Manager Shawn Menard, and Lakes Region Community College Culinary Arts Program Chef Patrick Hall to grow organic produce to meet demand. Fresh produce will also be available for purchase at the Co-op and at the Shaker Box Lunch and Farm Stand.

Stacey will be sharing updates via the Co-op's blog so you can follow the gardens progress online or visit the Canterbury Shaker Village to see it in person. Now let us introduce you to Stacey...

Hello and thank you warmly for welcoming me to the Concord Food Co-op! The collaborative efforts of the Co-op and Canterbury Shaker Village have everyone involved excited about the many ways we can more directly contribute to the local food system.
My journey into organic farming began with many years of field and office experience in the landscape architecture and horticulture industries. After finishing graduate school, I acquired the farming bug and decided to switch gears. In 2007 I joined Larry Pletcher at Vegetable Ranch, LLC and for years thrived in my new chosen career path.
The opportunity to work at Canterbury Shaker Village with the Concord Food Co-op's support and encouragement was a perfect fit for my interests and background. I'm very much looking forward to embracing the history of the Shaker Organic Gardens site while renewing the agricultural uses of the land.
The beauty of the site, even under 5+ feet of snow, has me invigorated already. To date my efforts have been focused on reclaiming the hoop house. Weeding, grading, pulling up old fabric, shoveling snow and general cleaning. Fortunately on a sunny day it is over 65 degrees inside and I have been getting my full dose of vitamin D.
I will continue to get the hoop house ready and begin seeding flats and building raised beds as the weather improves. I am also working towards getting the land re-certified as organic for the coming season.
I look forward to meeting more of you and I hope that as the season progresses you will be able to stop by the Village and see the results of our efforts!"
Stacey Cooper
Co-op Organic Garden Manager

Monday, January 5, 2015

Long Wind Farm: Vermont Organic Tomatoes

by Shawn Menard, Produce Manager

Just a few steps over the New Hampshire border in Thetford, Vermont lie the magnificent glass greenhouses of Long Wind Farm. Here, the growing season truly begins in early January, when most of us are still enjoying fresh snow on the ground and warm cups of tea.

Within the greenhouses, employees are busy planting thousands of tomato seedlings that have already been slowly growing in Emerald City, the farm’s largest greenhouse. All hands are on deck as the greenhouses see a rapid change in atmosphere. Rows upon rows of beautiful, glowing tomato seedlings fully grounded and by March will be producing fruit.

Once the tomatoes begin ripening, the greenhouses emit an intoxicating combination of aroma, color, and taste. The vibrant red can be seen from wall to wall. Nutrient-rich soil adds a wholesome smell to the air. And the taste, oh, the taste! If you’ve ever had a Long Wind tomato, you know that their taste is remarkable. Fruit and vegetables grown in a greenhouse often have a bad rapport due to the seemingly unnatural conditions that exist within the structure. However, it is here in the greenhouse that Long Wind Farm has been able to capture the very best conditions a tomato can thrive in.
Since 1984, founder David Chapman has been committed to growing the very best-tasting and healthiest organic tomatoes possible. He had always been struck by conflicting qualities he had seen in other greenhouse tomatoes. Fruit that looked spectacular was usually lacking is taste. Chapman knew that people were looking for both attractive and delicious tomatoes and he has become a master in growing such fruit.

Today Long Wind Farm is as committed as ever to growing organic tomatoes that taste amazing. Believe me, I eat these tomatoes throughout the growing season, and the flavor is never disappointing.

Along with paying close attention to the tomatoes, the farm also closely monitors its number-one resource, its employees. The farm invests a lot into its employees, knowing that people want to work hard and be happy. This is very evident to me each time we receive a delivery directly from a Long Wind Farm staff member. Our produce staff is kindly greeted with each delivery, and we enjoy seeing the Long Wind van pull into the parking lot each week.

Even though the seasons are rapidly changing your flavor palate, food cravings are still begging for fresh produce. Long Wind Farm’s “Good ‘n’ Ugly” variety is my favorite along with the smaller-sized “Vermatoes.” Also try the perfectly sized and wonderful-tasting Grade A’s. We hope you enjoy choosing Long Wind Farm tomatoes from our produce department every year from March through December.

Photos courtesy of Long Wind Farm. Learn more about Long Wind Farm at