Expanding winter harvest and sales for New England vegetable crops
Field-based educational programs in NH and MA reached 555 attendees including farmers and researchers who increased their knowledge of winter production and storage practices. See Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes for a detailed list of educational programs with a focus on winter production and sales and/or the storage of vegetable crops this project helped to host in 2012.
Eight growers remain advisers to the project and continue to serve on an advisory panel. Conference calls with the advisory panel were held in the Spring and Fall of 2012. Members of the advisory panel were invited to see the end results of research trials conducted at the UMass Research Farm and were asked to advise on the direction for future research investigations. They have also attended twilight meetings, filled out surveys and are engaged with ongoing research trials looking aimed at improving the post-harvest life and quality of storage crops.
Results from 2011-2012 low tunnel and carrot variety trials have been posted to the Winter Harvest website. 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 2012-2013. Beets, carrots, spinach and kale are being evaluated at UMass for their responses to different late fall plant dates. Success measurements including survival, bolting and damage will be taken in the spring of 2013. Separate low tunnels host a continuation of an onion variety trail. Quality measurements will be taken in the spring of 2013. Temperature, light and relative humidity are being monitored in each tunnel.
During the fall and winter 2012-2013 Extension staff will be working with 4 diversified vegetable farms to monitor their crop storage facilities using carrots as a model crop. Carrots grown at the UMass Research Farm were placed in the storage facilities of the 4 separate farms and will be evaluated over a four-month storage period. Storage conditions are being monitored used wireless sensor technology working closely with Larry Manire and the SARE Farmer Project Evaluation of Inexpensive, Wireless Sensor Networks for Managing Small Vegetable Farms. Results from this study will be used to create cost effective improvement strategies for next season.
Postharvest treatment evaluation is being conducted at UMass using carrots as a model crop to investigate washed or unwashed as a post-harvest treatment over the course of a four month storage period. Carrots from both treatments will be assessed for quality on a monthly basis from December 2012 through March 2013.
The Winter Harvest website http://extension.umass.edu/vegetable/research-projects/winter-harvest-sales continues to expand. More content has been developed and posted to the site with over 1400 individual visits to the site in 2012. Wintergreens, a UNH blog, located at http://wintergreensatunh.blogspot.com/ has an average of 10-20 visits per day, from viewers located worldwide.
Project partners are organizing new and larger farmers markets to expand winter marketing opportunities for 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.
Performance Target: 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. A third set of data on the sales of vegetable crops during the winter months will be collected during the winter of 2012-2013.
Milestone 3: Four farms and research stations repeat low tunnel trial; two farms host tours. 200 farmers attend farm tours, field days and workshop and learn strategies to increase harvest and sales. Forty growers improve storage facilities or change production or storage practices. 40 farmers expand winter sales. 500 farmers visit Winter Harvest website, 1000 receive fact sheets and articles. Advisory committee reviews and adjusts project activities. (Year 2, June 2011 to May 2012)
Both UMass and UNH research stations repeated low tunnel trials. In addition the evaluation of crops, varieties and plant dates suited for overwintering with an indented early spring harvests were conducted in the spring of 2012. * See attachments for results of this trial and more information.
At the UMass research station a carrot variety trial, planted in late July 2012 and harvested throughout November of 2012, continued with evaluation at harvest and over the course of four months in typical storage conditions. * See attachments for results of this trial and more information.
255 farmers, extension staff and industry professionals attended farm tours, field days and workshop to learn strategies to increase harvest and sales from January to May 2012. See the Expanding Winter Harvest and Sales for New England Vegetable Crops 2011 Annual Report for more information on number of attendees on farm tours, field days and workshops attended in 2011.
The Winter Harvest website has been updated with results, pictures, factsheets and resources for growers interested in expanding the production and sale of winter crops. The site received 1437 visits during 2012 up from 141 in 2011.
Milestone 4: Eight farms use low tunnels for overwintering crops, including four who are new to this technology. 20 additional growers improve storage facilities or change production or storage practices and report impact; 35 additional farmers expand winter harvest and sales. 200 farmers attend winter farm tour, field days at research farms and winter vegetable workshop. 500 farmers visit Winter Harvest website, 1000 receive fact sheets and articles. (Year 3, June 2012 to May 2013)
In 2012 and 2013 low tunnels experimentation continues at both UNH and UMass research stations. At UMass, the objective of the year 3 trials are to test planting dates of direct seeded crops including kale, spinach, beets and carrots. Crops were selected based on feedback from the grower advisory panel. One of the goals of this planting system is for the majority of growth to begin in February with and intended harvest in March/April. Quality measurements and yields will be taken in the spring of 2013. Results will be posted on the Winter Harvest website in the spring of 2013.
At the UNH research station low tunnel experimentation continues looking at onions as a model crop. Trails are a continuation of a variety trial conducted in the winter 2011/spring 2012. * See attachments for results of this trial and more information.
The use of low tunnels for season extension and protected field production during the winter months continues to expand across New England. The availability of more information regarding plant date and suitable varieties along with increase consumer demand for access to local produce year round, has made the use of low tunnels more appealing to local farmers. We are seeing more growers adopt this technology and continue to work closely with those interested on ways to implement low tunnels into their production or improve their current systems.
During the fall and winter 2012-2013 UMass Extension staff will be working with 4 diversified vegetable farms to monitor their crop storage facilities using carrots as a model crop. Carrots grown at the UMass Research Farm were placed in the storage facilities of the 4 separate farms and will be evaluated over a four-month storage period. Storage conditions are being monitored used wireless sensor technology working closely with Larry Manire and the SARE Farmer Project Evaluation of Inexpensive, Wireless Sensor Networks for Managing Small Vegetable Farms. Results from this study will be used to create cost effective improvement strategies for next season. Results from this study will be applicable to any farming operation looking to improve storage facilities or change production or storage practices. Results will be available to growers via the Winter Harvest website and through UNH and UMass newsletters.
Postharvest treatment evaluation is being conducted at UMass using carrots as a model crop to investigate washed or unwashed as a post-harvest treatment over the course of a four month storage period. Carrots were planted at the UMass Research station at the end of July 2012 and harvested in November 2012. Samples of carrots from both washed and unwashed treatments will be assessed for quality on a monthly basis from December 2012 through March 2013. Results will be posted on the Winter Harvest website in the spring of 2013.
Since June of 2012, 300 farmers, extension staff and industry professionals attended farm tours, field days and workshop to learn strategies to increase harvest and sales.
The Winter Harvest website has been updated with results, pictures, factsheets and resources for growers interested in expanding the production and sale of winter crops. The site received 1437 visits during 2012 up from 141 in 2011. Wintergreens, a UNH blog, located at http://wintergreensatunh.blogspot.com/ has an average of 10-20 visits per day, from viewers located worldwide. Fact sheets and articles regarding winter production were published in both UMass and UNH newsletters Veg Notes, (circulation 1475 and 500 respectively).
- UMass Low Tunnel Overwintered Brassicas 2011/2012
- UMass Carrot Variety and Storage Trials 2011/2012
- UNH Overwintering Onion Trials 2011/2012
- UMass Low Tunnel Overwintered Onions 2011/2012
- UMass Low Tunnel Overwintered Spinach 2011/2012
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Field-based educational programs in NH & MA reached 555 attendees including farmers and researchers who increased their knowledge of winter production and storage practices in addition to a poster presentation on Temperature Moderating Effects of Low Tunnels over winter in Cool Climates was exposed to an audience of 875 at the American Society for Horticultural Science annual conference. This project helped to host the following educational programs in 2012 with a focus on winter production and sales and/or the storage of vegetable crops.
February, 2012. Winter growers’ workshop. Concord, NH. 30 attendees.
March, 2012. Presentation: Low Tunnels: State of the Art, at Maine Vegetable School. Portland, ME. 125 attendees.
March, 2012. Presentation: Low Tunnels: State of the Art, at Maine Vegetable School. Bangor, ME. 80 attendees.
April, 2012. Using Low Tunnels for Overwintering Crops. SARE Project Collaborator Meeting. South Deerfield MA, 20 attendees
June, 2012. Using Low Tunnels for Season Extension and Overwintering. Flats Mentor Farm, Lancaster MA, 50 attendees
August, 2012 Student Farm at UMass Research Farm – Growing for Fall and Winter Harvests, NOFA MA Annual Summer Meeting. UMass Research Farm, South Deerfield MA, 40 attendees
August, 2012 Poster Presentation, Temperature Moderating Effects of Low Tunnels Over Winter in Cool Climates, American Society For Horticultural Science annual conference, Miami Florida, 875 attendees * See attachments for poster.
October, 2012 Making and Using Low Tunnels to Extend the Vegetable Growing Season, UMass Research Farm, South Deerfield MA, 25 attendees
November, 2011. Postharvest handling and crop storage workshop. Troy, NH. 25 attendees.
October, 2012. Presentation: Winter greens for off-season greenhouses , at Horticulture Field Day, Durham NH. 100 attendees.
December, 2012. New England Vegetable & Berry Growers Association Meeting. Portsmouth, NH. 85 attendees.
Based on input from growers in the advisory group we have established a listserve to serve as one conduit of information exchange for grower interest groups. This list will became active in early 2011, beginning with the project advisory group and expanding to include a wider circle of growers. The list serve has had limited success, but has allowed us to discuss other ways of direct communication with our advisory panel. Other means of communication that will be explored in 2013 include, blogs, twitter accounts with automated phone alerts and accessible on line data bases that growers can input production information as well as download information from. This information will be applicable farmers looking to expand their operation into winter production and increased cop storage.
Survey instruments continue to be developed for baseline information about grower practices and incomes, to help us to measure our impact and our performance target. Project partners Sea Coast Eat Local and Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture continue to survey both customers and vendors at local winter farmers markets. * See attachments for survey results and annual reports from these groups.
In order to increase grower’s ability to sell high quality produce in winter, we are continuing to conduct research on carrots in storage. The quality of carrots in long-term storage depends on many factors including cultivar, production practices, temperature and conditions before and during harvest, postharvest handling, and storage conditions. We are working closely with growers and industry professional on the use of new wireless storage monitoring technology that is measuring temperature and relative humidity inside on-farm storage facilities. Growers can now access this information on line at any time to closely monitor storage conditions and avoid crop losses due to storage facility malfunctions. These devices are also monitoring the same conditions at the UMass research stations low tunnels. Log-in information for the website hosting this information was made available to project collaborators.
Attendance at winter farmers markets in New England continues to rise indicating an increase and strong demand for local produce year round. * See below and attachments for details and more information. More farmers continue to build upon successful innovations in cold-season growing as well as the production and storage of vegetable crops. Attendance at meetings focused on winter production remains high for both farmers and home gardeners.
Seacoast Eat Local (SEL) is in its sixth year organizing winter farmers’ markets. In 2007 we started by sponsoring 3 markets during the winter months, and have expanded to a series of 11 or 12 markets each winter, running from late November through April. Each market features 38 to 55 farmers and food producers.
For the 2011-12 winter market season, we returned to the same two indoor locations that have worked well for us in past years: Wentworth Greenhouses in Rollinsford, NH and Exeter High School in Exeter, NH. The market calendar included 12 market dates, alternating between the two sites. The Rollinsford location is a larger space with adequate space for 55 vendors, while the Exeter location holds 38 vendors.
Vendor participation and consumer support for Seacoast Eat Local’s markets has grown steadily over the years, and is holding strong. As winter marketing gains traction, other new winter farmers markets are getting established around the region. With increased capacity for winter production and storage on many vegetable farms, we’re also seeing a growth in winter CSAs, winter sales to restaurants, and other year-round marketing strategies. * See attachments for details and more information.
SEL Winter Market Photos:
Carrot Day, January 28, 2012
Kale Day, March 10, 2012
Pumpkin Day, Nov 17, 2012
Cabbage Day, Dec 1, 2012
Sample SEL Email Newsletters are attached.
March 10, 2012: http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=7d23c221cc144a2db97744f5d&id=4978985983&e=55b969c1d8
April 28, 2012: http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=7d23c221cc144a2db97744f5d&id=d6c55d6b56&e=55b969c1d8
December 1, 2012: http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=7d23c221cc144a2db97744f5d&id=c4e05b59cb&e=55b969c1d8
CISA continues to promote seasonal eating through a variety of tools. CISA’s “Valley Bounty” newspaper column focuses on a different seasonal food each week in the Daily Hampshire Gazette and provides recipes local sources, and storage tips. Our website features up-to-date lists of winter farmers’ markets, winter CSAs, and farmstands that stay open during the winter. These pages, combined, receive about 700 visitors per month during the winter season. We promote seasonal eating with recipes and resources to help consumers find local sources through our Facebook page, which currently has over 1,500 “likes,” and out monthly e-newsletter, which is sent to nearly 5,000 households.
In early 2012, CISA conducted a study of the farmers’ markets in the Pioneer Valley. Through consumer surveys, vendor surveys, and conversations with market managers, CISA was able to draw conclusions about the growth potential of the rapidly-expanding winter farmers’ market landscape. * See attachments
2012 Winter Markets Host by CISA
Springfield Winter Fare, held in partnership with the Springfield Winter Farmers’ Market at Forest Park on January 28, 2012. Drew nine vendors (the regular vendors at those farmers ’ markets) and 445 people.
Northampton Winter Fare, held January 14, 2012, drew 22 vendors and 1,000 shoppers.
Greenfield Winter Fare morphed into a monthly market in 2011-2012 and CISA shifted away from providing staff time.
Amherst Winter Market
Establishing the Amherst Winter Farmers Market, 2010-2012
In fall 2010, we helped to get a new winter farmers market up and running in Amherst MA. The idea had been percolating. Amherst town common hosts an outdoor Saturday farmers market that is over 20 years old, has 25 vendors and a vendor waiting list, and is regarded as one of the most desirable marketing locations in the Pioneer Valley area. The concept of expanding market opportunities for farmers from Amherst and surrounding town by setting up a winter market was discussed at farmer meetings sponsored by Amherst Agricultural Commission in March 2009 and 2010. Local state Representative Ellen Story and Senator Stan Rosenberg hosted a meeting with several farmers, Ruth Hazzard (chair, Ag Commission and educator, UMass Extension), Jay Healy (USDA Rural Development, former MA Dept. of Ag Resources Commissioner), Leslie Cox (Hampshire College farm manager), David Ziomek (Conservation Dept, Town of Amherst) and a representative of CISA. Rural Development offered startup funds ($5000) to help cover costs for startup organizing and first year’s market manager, and publicity. Suitable space with room for 25 tables was arranged at the Amherst Middle School Cafeteria. Vendor fees and sponsorships would cover rent, insurance, publicity, and other expenses. UMass Extension became a sponsor. Farmers wanted to see a weekly market that could become a regular shopping venue, and they were ready to stock it. Dec 4, 2010 the doors opened with over 20 vendors from about 8 different towns, selling meat, eggs, cheese, vegetables, apples, various value-added food products, wool and woolen products, prepared food and coffee, and a guest program for crafts. Live music brightened the atmosphere every week. A skillful market manager was supported by several UMass student volunteers mostly agriculture majors. A steering committee of farmers as established. (see Press Release, Report to Amherst Select Board, Farmers Market Flyer 2010). On one day, CISA did a customer count and survey, and gathered the following information:
? Estimate customer count was 420
? Sixty percent came weekly or biweekly; 23% were new customers
? Sixty percent came from less than 5 miles away, 85% from less than 10 miles away.
? What drew them to the market was supporting local farmers, and the quality and variety of their goods.
? They spend on average about $20 per customer
? Of things they would like to see improved about the market, ‘pricing’ was the largest category (43%).
The market customer base has grown each year. Most vendors returned in 2011, and the market was open from December through March in 2011-12. The market opened again on December 1, 2012 with thirty one vendors including seven vegetable farms. The opening drew over 1,000 customers, a record for this market, and made the local evening news (http://www.wwlp.com/dpp/news/local/hampshire/local-winter-farmers-markets-open). This season, the SARE project through UMass Extension, CISA, the UMass Student Farm and the market manager will work together to track vegetable availability through the winter, to promote the market and draw more customers, and to survey farmers about changes in their income and their production practices as a result of this and other new market opportunities in the region.
- CISA Annual Report
- Report On Amherst Winter Market Start Up
- ASHS Low Tunnel Poster- Sideman
- SEL Recipe Card- Pumpkins
- Amherst Winter Market Opening Announcement 2010
- Sea Cost Eat Local 2011/2012 Summary
- SEL Recipe Card- Beets
- SEL Recipe Card- Cabbage
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