Friday, March 30, 2012

Life Abounds

Splitting greens and other colder weather vegetables
Trimming and repairing the Wala Wala onions

There is so much LIFE in this Bedford Greenhouse.  Our farmers are working very hard continuing to seed new vegetables,separating those that have germinated, and trimming our Wala Wala onions which have just flourished.  Like our plants, the farmers are also getting accustomed to the growing environment.  As they become more familiar with greenhouse procedures, you can see their confidence grow.  Juxtaposing these two components has resulted in nothing short of a miracle!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

We're Getting Pretty Too

Kelsey Prepping the Canvas

St. Anselm's Students Beginning the Art Work
Isn't this a beautiful thing?  Obviously our volunteers Kelsey, Aileen and Bianca but also the innovative and fun graphics they're adding to our grow boxes.  Their enthusiam and great hearts are proving contageous!  Thank you Kelsey, Bianca and Aileen... bring your friends, especially your artist friends!

Our seedlings continue to thrive even in this bitter cold.  Wait till all the graphics are completed, because I'm guessing it will prove motivational to both flora and people.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It's Getting Exciting

Family, Nick and Kaelyn, future volunteers

Our Bhutanese Farmers preparing to separate seedlings
It's getting exciting!  All four chambers are now filled to the hilt.  AND, we now have a hardening table that's filling up quickly.  Jeremiah thinks we'll exceed our 20,000 seedling goal for sure.  In addition to the onions, we now have collards, greens, kale, various peppers, and eggplants propulgating.

We're still working out kinks in our grow chambers but we're getting closer by the day.  We discovered some "grounding" issues yesterday while lowering the grow lights.  Fortunately, Jeremiah and Roger (neighbor) have come up with a plan to resolve this.  In the meantime, Gail's twitches from absorbing low voltage shocks while lowering the lights seem to be subsiding. 

So far the plants seem to love this hot weather, but it's a challenge for us human beings working in there.   Yesterday it was over 110 degrees!  The Walla Walla onions are running amuk!  Today it may prove worse.  A shade cloth for the top of the greenhouse is on order... it's only March! 

Peace be with you!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Grow Chambers are Growing

As promised, here are pictures of a grow chamber... we're still working out the kinks but we're now at 90%.  Pictured are primarily walla walla (sweet) onions which we're in the process of separating.  We started these first because they can be planted in the ground early, mid April, and can be stored after harvest to facilitate a longer farmer's market season.  Tomatoes seeds start soonest.   

Friday, March 9, 2012

Preparations Continue

David and Jeremiah building first chamber

Farmers Preparing Insulation for Installations

Roger Framing the Remaining 3 Chambers
Dick Ouimette, Master Electrician, increasing electrical capacity while friend/volunteer Dave assists

St Anselm's Students Volunteering over Spring Break

I promise the exciting stuff (live growing plants) is coming, but first the preparation work.  Lots of work to get this program going and fortunately there are wonderful people out there who want to make a difference.... and they are!  A special shout out to my friend Dave who dedicated two days to serve as electrician assistant, a job requiring both skill and patience.  Needless to say, I did not qualify.

Coming soon... completed chamber with plants.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The NEW Bedford Greenhouse Project Begins

Jeremiah and David aka Dr. Tomato

Friend/neighbor Roger proved a lifesaver in building the framing for chambers

Some of our Refugee Farmers working hard so we can get their seedlings going

This is the first of many blog submissions on our social justice initiative here at The Bedford Greenhouse Project.  I hope you follow along and pass it on to friends/family for their enjoyment.  I also encourage all readers to come out and see the excitement for yourselves.  Who knows, your picture could be included when you least expect it.

So, the season begins with a new growing concept.  For the third consecutive year I am partnered with the International Institute of NH (IINH) to generate seedlings for local community gardens which support those in need, particularly the refugee population.  Teena Hayden, my previous IINH partner, has moved on and I'm now blessed to be working with Jeremiah Vernon (pictured above). 

In the past we used radiant heat (hot water tubes) as our primary source of heat to grow the plants.  However, this year under the tutelage of Dr. Tomato (pictured above) we have constructed "grow chambers" to provide a more controlled growing environment for our seedlings. Each chamber (there are four this year) is 8' x 5' and 3' in height with 2" very tight insulation to ensure maximum efficiency.  Inside each box are four grow lights, an exhaust fan (heat/humidity control), very small portable electric heater, and temperature/humidity controls to ensure optimal growing conditions 24 hours a day... think an incubator for seeds.  Presently, one of the boxes is fully operational and we've been very successful at starting out our wala wala onions which will go into the ground in early April.  Our goal this year is 20,000 vegetable/herb seedlings. 

I am personally inviting you out to see and even volunteer if you wish... it's pretty darn cool.