The Greenhouse and Gardens
by Katie Herbst, Garden Program Coordinator
Spring is officially under way and the garden has started to enliven itself and our spirits. Sunny days full of blooming flowers, budding trees, and singing birds have got us all looking forward to the abundance that is to come from our Stanton Home gardens.
We have been very busy seeding and nurturing hundreds of trays of our favorite foods and flowers, while turning over the winter bounty from the greenhouse and high tunnels to prepare for our heat-loving crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and eggplant. Through the winter months, Marshall and Nora handled all of our seeding, transplanting, and harvesting in our three indoor growing spaces. They are eager to welcome other participants to join them as we prepare new fields for cultivation this season.
Sami and Tessa are excited to continue their hard work in the Food Hub, distributing delicious produce and local meat, eggs, and dairy, out to our homes. Eli and Lily have started adding a fresh layer of mulch to the pathways in our Sensory Garden and to some of our other farm paths. All in all, it is a busy and beautiful time here on the farm!
by Leslie Groff, Weavery Program Manager
This spring has been busier than usual in the Weavery, with new projects, more participants and a different group of residents coming every day. With more people weaving than ever before we have found that we need more and more yarn and material to work with. We have always been big fans of using recycled materials to weave our unique creations, and this year we have started recycling yarn from a new (to us) source: unravelled sweaters! It has become one of Lisa’s favorite activities to turn a section of an unused sweater into a neat ball of yarn full of potential. Julia is now working on weaving some fabric made from all recycled yarn. When she is done, it can be sewn into towels, napkins, and table runners.
One of our favorite ways to use recycled materials is in our rag rugs and rag tote bags. Jarrid recently finished weaving a big warp of rag rugs here at the Weavery. The warp is the continuous length of yarn threaded through the loom which the weft material is woven into. This one pictured is 9 yards long! The yarn for this warp is from our friends at the Woolery and the weft is reused fabric from a variety of sources, almost all of which is recycled or scrap fabric that would otherwise be thrown away. A large portion of the material for these rugs came from some bedsheets with a few rips and tears that had passed their useful lives as bedding, but will now live on for many years in their new form. For the past several months Jarrid has been working hard on the many steps to create this weaving: he ripped the fabric into strips, stitched the strips together into long lengths on the sewing machine, then wove them into the warp on the loom. As he was weaving we measured sections to become 3 rugs and 4 tote bags. Then it all came off of the loom in one long length of fabric to be cut, sewn, and finished on the sewing machine. Jarrid helped with the sewing to turn the flat woven sections into tote bags, and three are now available in our online shop. Good work Jarrid!
Mushrooms, Compost & More
by Nate Davis, Land Manager
Starting in June of 2020, Stanton Home started a new partnership with Berkshire Compost to receive all of the food scraps collected on a local route and from our friends at Guido’s Fresh Marketplace. In order to be able to receive food scraps from off site, Stanton Home registered with the MassDEP and follows strict regulations which require daily management of the compost operation and record keeping of incoming materials and how they are processed into a finished compost. Since then we have partnered with the town of Great Barrington to receive food scraps from town residents at our site and have been working to partner with other businesses and institutions to grow our operation.
We had our first batch of stabilized compost tested and ready for sale in October of 2020 and sold 8 cubic yards before winter hit. The rest of the batch was used in our greenhouses and potting soil mixes for seed starting and over the last month we have sold 30 cubic yards of compost to residents of Alford, Egremont, Housatonic, Great Barrington and West Stockbridge.
We anticipate having more bulk compost available for sale in June and plenty on hand for prepping gardens in the fall. We hope to be able to increase the options for different compost mixes as we move forward and also start brewing compost tea. For now we are happy knowing we have the best black gold in town!
Currently Stanton Home is growing four varieties of mushrooms in our greenhouse to distribute amongst our houses. We have three varieties of oyster mushrooms, Grey Dove, Italian and Pohu, which are all grown in pasteurized straw and wood chips in 5 gallon buckets. On the east side of our greenhouse and underneath the oyster mushroom buckets we are growing Wine Cap mushrooms in wood chips. We have been able to keep a steady supply of mushrooms going out to our houses 1-2 times a week. In addition to the greenhouse mushrooms, we have 2 outdoor Wine Cap beds that will be fruiting soon and will have Shiitake log mushrooms to harvest from this fall.