Harvest by Hillary

Blogging about my journey to living a more sustainable and organic life


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Week 11: Lunch in the Garden, Tomato Weaves, and a Field Trip

I can’t believe there are only two more weeks of work in the garden! This summer has flown by and pretty soon all the other students will be back on campus. With the start of school right around the corner I am just realizing that everything Emma and I have grown will soon be used in the dining hall. I will be so excited to go to Barone (Fairfield’s dining hall) and see cherry tomatoes from the garden in the salad bar, or the carrots in a side dish for all of Fairfield to enjoy. I cannot wait to tell everyone that those weren’t just from the campus garden but, they were the product of Emma and I’s hard work!

So, with the summer coming to a close this week there was no planting to be done, only watering, maintenance, and pest hunting. Monday, I really focused on watering the new seeds and checking up on all the plants. Emma freshly mowed the lawn to prepare for lunch in the garden and I made sure the beds were all weed free and looking nice. I also wove the tomatoes, which was actually a really fun task. I don’t know why I enjoyed it so much…but I did. I liked it so much I decided to weave my experiment tomato plants as well.

woven tomato row

I don’t think I have talked about my experiment in a while. I wanted to make sure everything was up and running before I began talking about it to not jinx anything. But, now that my tomato plants are transplanted into pots with each individual treatment I feel confident that this experiment is going to be awesome!

Half of my research tomatoes

Half of my research tomatoes

All the plants are doing well and right now I am just keeping track of how many flowers each plant has because there is no tomato fruit data yet. Eventually I will be counting tomato numbers and looking at the tomatoes quality: color, size, shape, etc. I also am in the process of finding a lab to analyze the individual fruits for vitamin and nutrient content so I know how the soil conditions (salinity and nutrients) affect the nutritional quality of the fruits.

A close-up view of one of my research tomato plants

A close-up view of one of my research tomato plants

I have thoroughly enjoyed working on this project and I really think a lot of people will be interested in what I am testing.

Tuesday was lunch in the garden and Emma once again created another “garden inspired” recipe from our kale and onions. She called her dish “Sweet Kale and Onion Salad” and it was amazing! She was experimenting with the recipe in our kitchen Monday night, so I got to taste test and I loved it. Make sure you check out her blog to get the recipe! http://eatingwithemma.tumblr.com/

We had quite the crowd Tuesday. First, three former Fairfield U basketball players working at the basketball camp stopped by. They told us that they had been meaning to show their support and come to lunch in the garden. After giving them a tour of the garden and a taste of Emma’s salad we agreed to come to their games to show our support for their team as they did for us.

I was so happy to see people from Fairfield Athletics show their support for the garden. Being an athlete myself I know how important nutrition is for athletic success. I hope in the future more athletes will become involved with the garden.

I think one of the most important goals for the campus garden is how it is meant to build the Fairfield community. Being a Fairfield student I think it is so important to get students of all types interacting and working toward common goals. I have met so many new and interesting people this summer and I am so glad I was given the opportunity to branch out of my comfort zone and expand my interests and activities on campus.

It is really easy for people to shy to their comfort zones. If there are any freshmen reading, take this advice and take advantage of all your campus has to offer and don’t be afraid to do something different then you are used to!

Besides the basketball girls we also had some graduate students and faculty attend the lunch. We had a gorgeous day of weather and everyone enjoyed having Emma’s salad.

Wednesday, Emma and I had a meeting with a member from Fairfield’s media department. Fairfield wanted to write an article on the campus garden and so Emma and I were interviewed about our summer experiences. I can’t wait to see how the article comes out and I will post the link to the article on my blog so you all can read it as well!

After the interview Emma and I checked on the squash for pests and cut back two of the chive plants. We cut back only two of the chives so that the chives would be all growing back at different growth times.

Our butternut squash row

Our butternut squash row

Thursday, Emma and I did something a little out of our usual routine and took a trip to the Westport Farmer’s Market. We have been meaning to go to a local farmer’s market and I am so glad we did. The Westport market was amazing. Emma and I went to town talking to the vendors and asking about their local businesses.

Take a look at the pictures below for everything Emma and I purchased!

Westport Farmer's Market Purchases

All of our amazing purchases! We love supporting local businesses and farms!

Carrot basil hummus and organic carrots

Organic carrots with carrot basil hummus. Best snack combo ever.

chocolate mint

Chocolate Mint. This special ingredient will be used in Emma and I’s upcoming lunch in the garden recipe!

Organic Peaches

Juicy and sweet organic peaches

 

Emma's Farmers Market Purchase

Emma’s purchases: zucchini, apples, berries, mixed lettuce, and edamame protein salad (amazing by the way)

Probably my favorite thing I bought at the market was my carrot and basil hummus. I had a free sample of it at the stand and I fell in love. It tasted so hearty and fresh I needed to buy a container of it. Right when I got home I actually made a salad and used it as a dressing. The salad was made from veggies found in either the campus garden, or the farmer’s market. I loved knowing exactly where all my veggies were coming from.

My lunch made from everything either found in our garden or the Westport Farmer's Market

My lunch made from everything either found in our garden or the Westport Farmer’s Market

Emma and I were raving about this for probably the entire time we were eating lunch…We discussed how we think it is so strange and disturbing that people rarely question where their food is coming from. If I could I honestly would buy and use only locally grown food or my own grown food. The only problem with this is that at times it can become quite expensive, but I think if you never waste your food and are smart about what you buy you can buy a lot of your food locally at a decent price.

Maybe I should do a post about how students can buy their groceries locally without emptying their wallets? That would be fun!

Well, that brings us to today. It is Friday everyone, but what a dark and dreary day it is… It doesn’t look like the weather is going to be very promising today, so Emma and I will probably just focus on our blogs and researching garden information today.

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend and I will be back next week!

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Week 5: Birthday Week!

What a week it has been! This week was especially special because it was the week of my 21st birthday!!!

But, before I get to my awesome birthday inspired section of my post, let’s go over what was accomplished this week!

Monday Emma and I spent most of our time preparing for the freshmen orientation activities fair . We decided to have a herb tasting”station for our booth at the fair. We made three different herb infused olive oils for taste tests. We harvested chives, thyme, and rosemary fresh from the garden and served the oils with fresh-baked baguette pieces for dipping. Check out Emma’s blog to see how we made the oils! http://eatingwithemma.tumblr.com/post/53924838024/herb-infused-olive-oil

For the fair we also had to make a poster, which looked awesome! I will be sure to post a picture of that sometime soon because Emma and I are so proud of our craft skills.

Tuesday was the day of the fair so, I headed down to the student center to set up. To my surprise there was more interest in the garden than expected! I made sure to talk to a lot of people and I found that even though some students didn’t like the physical work of gardening, they loved how the garden helps with good nutrition and sustainability.

I’m hoping through the students’ different views of what the garden means to them Emma and I can work to draw more students to the garden.

Overall this week has been a good week for the garden’s publicity. Not only did I educate the incoming freshmen of the garden and its benefits, but I also gave a garden talk on Wednesday at the Sigma Xi summer research lunch series. The Sigma Xi summer research lunch series is a way for science and math research students and faculty to meet and discuss current research.

I love going to these talks because not only is there free food…BONUS! But, I can see who is on campus and what other science students are doing.

I love going to talks like these, especially when there are biology presentations. It’s a great way to stay engaged in the science world over the summer.

My garden presentation ended up consisting of two-parts. First I discussed the overall garden plans for the 2013-2014 year and then I talked about the cherry tomato research.

Everyone loved my talk and I got asked so many questions. I took this as a sign that my research project is headed in the right direction! I wanted to do research that was relatable for all people and what is more relatable than food, nutrition, and health!

Now, I just need to get my tomatoes going and I will be ready to delve into this experiment!

After, the lunch talk I went down to the garden to clean up some of the pieces of our old fence because WE GOT A NEW FENCE! This fence is supposed to last much longer than the first and it looks a lot more durable. Now Emma and I just need to pick up the mess the fence crew made and the garden will look stunning!

New Fence

In plant news, the baby carrots and jalapeno are beginning to sprout and the row of winter squash popped up the other day along with the row of cherry tomatoes! The garden keeps growing and pretty soon everything will be filled!

Baby Jalepenos

Baby jalapeno

Thursday morning rolled around and when I woke up to this sweet surprise from Emma!

Emma's Present

Being a gardener and healthy eater I sure enjoyed getting strawberries as a birthday surprise! Shout out to Emma for being an awesome intern partner!

I enjoyed the rest of my 21st birthday by hitting the track for a solid workout, working in the garden pruning and weeding, and finishing by going out that night with friends and family for a nice dinner at Old Post Tavern in Fairfield. 🙂

This was my birthday meal:

Pan-Seared Scallops Fava Bean Puree, Sauteed Mixed Mushrooms, and Truffle Tomato-Caper Vinaigrette

Pan-Seared Scallops Fava Bean Puree, sautéed Mixed Mushrooms, and Truffle Tomato-Caper Vinaigrette

It was amazing! I also had a cup of clam chowder before the main meal and after the tavern surprised me with a massive brownie sundae and a little pink specialty drink from the bartender. The brownie sundae was awesome, but the drink…not so much. The waitress said it was fruity, but I could taste no fruit in that to save my life. Let’s just say I’m going to stick with lemon water for now on. 🙂

Overall I had a wonderful birthday and thank you to everyone who made it such a special day!

For this weekend Emma and I are just going to focus on weeding, cleaning, mowing, and watering. Sunday, if weather permits,  Tod and Jen will be coming in the help fill my pots with soil for the research project! I am so excited!