Expanding winter harvest and sales for New England vegetable crops
Field-based educational programs in NH & MA reached 932 attendees including farmers and researchers who increased their knowledge of winter production and storage practices. This project helped to host the following educational programs in 2011 with a focus on winter production and sales and/or the storage of vegetable crops.
March 14, 2011 Brox Farm, 68 attendees, Growing & marketing greens in the wintertime, open discussion on winter production and sales.
April 5, 2011 Tangerini Spring Street Farm, 55 attendees, Crop Storage, Low Tunnels and Winter Markets.
July 14, 2011 Winter Growing Workshop in N.Haverhill NH, 17 attendees, Low Tunnels and Winter Growing
August 3, 2011 UMass Crops and Animal Research and Education Center Field Day, 70 attendees, Crops and systems for winter harvest and sales, Low tunnels and Storage Carrots
August 13, 2011 NOFA MA Summer Conference, 12 attendees, Crops and systems for winter harvest and sales, Low tunnels and Storage Carrots
September 14, 2011 4-Town Farm, 50 attendees, Season extension using minimally heated tunnels and greenhouses, Postharvest and storage for fall crops
October 13, 2011 Brookfield Farm, 60 attendees, Late-season crops in high tunnels, winter storage of fall crops, winter CSA shares
October 26, 2011 North Country Vegetable and Fruit Conference, 140 attendees, Winter storage of fall crops
November 18th, 2011, Inn at East Hill Farm – 460 Monadnock Street, Troy NH, 60 atendees, Post Harvest Handling and Crop Storage Workshop
December 13-15, 2011New England Vegetable and Berry Growers Association, 186 (AVG) number of attendees, Post-Harvest and Storage, 214 (AVG) number of attendees, Root Crops
Eight growers remain advisors to the project and continue to serve on an advisory panel. The advisory panel has attended twilight meetings, filled out surveys and are engaged in an ongoing discussion group (set up as a list serve) focused on winter production practices, marketing and other aspects of winter production.
At both the UMass and UNH research stations, low tunnel experimentation continues. Low tunnels consisting of a single layer of row cover plus a single layer of 6 mil greenhouse plastic are being utilized over the winter 2011-2012. Brassica greens, spinach and onions are being produced in the tunnels and will be evaluated in the spring of 2012.
At the UMass research station a carrot variety trial was conducted in the fall of 2011. Evaluation of six different carrot varieties was conducted at harvest and will continue over a four-month storage period. Extension staff is working with 3 local farms to monitor their crop storage facilities throughout the winter of 2011/2012. Project partners are organizing new and larger farmers markets to expand winter marketing opportunities for vegetable growers. The results of an ongoing survey of vegetable growers, strong attendance at grower meetings and increasing participation by vegetable growers in farmers markets and continued registration for the winter production discussion group all point to strong engagement of vegetable farmers in winter production, storage and sales.
75 vegetable growers in New England increase their annual income from sales of vegetable crops during the months of December through April, by an average $6750 per farm. This will be accomplished through extending their production and harvest season or through expanding successful storage of fall-harvested crops, or both.
We have collected our second year of data from 83 growers on the sales of vegetable crops during the winter months. We will use this data along with data collected during years one and three to measure an increase in annual income from sales of vegetable crops during the months of December through April.
In addition to the work reported on in 2010, the two university research stations are continuing replicated trials in 2011/2012 with the addition of crops suited for overwintering. Plants will be evaluated in the spring of 2012. Details for this year 1 milestone are included in the 2010 annual report.
In addition to the year one activities reported on in the 2010 annual report, 123 Growers attended twilight meetings with a focus on winter production in the spring of 2011.From November 2010 through April 2011, Seacoast Eat Local hosted 11 markets at 2 indoor locations – Wentworth Greenhouses in Rollinsford, NH and Exeter High School in Exeter, NH. Total vendors participating throughout the season: 70 (53 farms, 17 prepared food), with 25 farms selling vegetables.
The number of participating vegetable farmers has increased. In 2009-10, the average number of vegetables farmers participating in markets was 7.8 per market day. In 2010-11, that number increased to an average of 14.3 vegetable farmers per day. In deep winter, at the market held in early February, the number of farmers selling vegetables grew from just 4 farms in 2010, to 14 farms in 2011.
Winter Farmers markets supported by project partner Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture included Springfield Winter Fare, held December 18 2010, drew 16 vendors and 400 shoppers. Northampton Winter Fare, held January 15, 2011, drew 27 vendors and over 1,600 shoppers and the Greenfield Winter Fare, held February 4, 2011, drew 28 vendors and 1,200 shoppers.
Both UMass and UNH research stations repeated low tunnel trials. In addition the evaluation of crops and varieties suited for overwintering with an indented early spring harvest will be conducted in the spring of 2012.
At the UMass research station a carrot variety trial continued with evaluation at harvest and over the course of four months in typical storage conditions.
An evaluation of the effect of different postharvest treatments on carrots is being conducted in the winter of 2011/2012. Treatments include washed and unwashed before packaging and placement in typical storage conditions 32-34degrees F and 95% relative humidity.
932 farmers, extension staff and industry professionals attended farm tours, field days and workshops to learn strategies to increase harvest and sales of vegetable crops during the winter months.
At the March 14, 2011 Brox Farm twilight meeting 67% of those who filled out exit surveys reported in increase in knowledge of winter production practices after having attended the meeting and 53% reported that they will adopt new practices aimed at improving production and sales of winter vegetable crops.
At the September 14, 2011 4-Town Farm twilight meeting 63% of attendees who filled out exit surveys reported an increase in knowledge of winter production practices and 50% reported that they will adopt new practices aimed at improving production and sales of winter vegetable crops as a result of this meeting.
141 farmers have visited the Winter Harvest website.
83 growers responded to an online survey launched in December 2010. Results are currently being analyzed and a follow up survey is being developed.
We are making progress towards accomplishing this milestone. We have begun working with growers on evaluating current storage facilities, advising on the use of low tunnels and preparing for a day long program on winter production practices. Final milestones will be accomplished in year three of this project.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Growers reviewed our online survey (http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2WYDLPS) and gave feedback.
We discussed low tunnels, storage needs and concerns, and the best way to foster information exchange.
Growers gave input on the potential niche that low tunnels can provide (including taking pressure off higher-value hoophouse and greenhouse space, increasing yields and harvest for late fall and early spring, and overwintering crops as well as identifying their information needs and production questions.
Members of our advisory panel as well as other growers involved with winter production and sales hosted farm tours in 2011 that highlighted season extension, overwintering strategies and other activities aimed at increasing the production and sale of winter crops.
Regarding harvest and storage, growers continue to make do with lack of appropriate infrastructure to make storage and delivery of winter produce as efficient as possible. Over 60% of those who responded to our on-line survey indicated a need for more information on postharvest handling information for long term storage and 56% indicated that their farm could benefit from the development of new designs for crop storage facilities that meet their specific needs. Most are continuing to expand this aspect of their business so they face questions about scale and investment/return.
While they like live discussions at meetings for information exchange, many expressed that online information exchange (blogs, online discussions, Youtube videos) are very valuable for growers, and easier to access than travel to meetings. A listserve has been established for ease of communication. Grower attendance was up at all meetings held in 2011 indicating that face to face communication is still highly valued however finding the time to get away from the farm is a challenge for most. Workshops and twilight meetings with a focus on winter production that were held in 2011 were very successful.
Results from our 2010 carrot variety trial have been analyzed. See attached report for details. Results have been shared with project collaborators, seed providers and will be posted to the Winter Production website. Results will be adapted into an article for publication in the Vegetable Notes Newsletter in 2012.
Temperature data from the 2010 low tunnel trials has been collected and used to determine covering for 2011 trials. See attached graphs for a summary of the collected data from each location.
Both UNH and UMass research stations continue to experiment with low tunnels. Experimental Design for UNH trials are attached.
Attached are 2011 annual reports from project collaborators Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture and Sea Coast Eat Local. The reports include a summary of work done in the winter of 2010/2011 and results from vendor and consumer surveys that were conducted.
- Results from UMass 2010 Carrot Variety Trials
- south deerfield minimum temperatures under various covers
- Seacoast Eat Local Report
- CISA annual Report
- market photo 1
- market photo 3
- market photo 4
- UNH winter production workshop
- Miilis, MA minimum temperatures under various covers
- RI minimum temperatures under various covers
- market photo 2
250 Natural Resources Rd
Amherst, MA 01002
Office Phone: 4135773976
Associate Professor, Dept of Plant Soil and Insect Science/ Postharvest physiologist
University of Massachusetts
204A French Hall
University of Massachusetts
Amherst , MA 01003
Office Phone: 4135455228
250 Natural Resources Rd
Amherst, MA 01002
Office Phone: 4135773976