The last of our Spring Saturdays on the Farm was spent exploring in and around Fishkill Farms’ orchards and 5-acres of organic vegetable gardens learning about all of the amazing produce that is grown there. After reading a story and playing a web game illustrating the interconnectedness of the farm’s ecosystem, Mark Doyle, the farm’s overseer and jack-of-all-trades, took the kids on a tour that began with a visit to the greenhouse to see where all the farm’s seedlings are born. At the greenhouse we met up with Logan,one of the farm interns, and together we all hiked down the farm road past a stand of cherry trees whose fruit was partially damaged by a recent late season frost. We learned how cherries, which are composed of a lot of water, can freeze and die when a frost hits after they’ve begun to grow and saw first hand how susceptible produce can be to adverse weather conditions. We walked down to the gardens to see the onions, smell the garlic, identify last season’s broccoli rabe and learn about crop rotation. We talked about good bugs and bad bugs and rain and drought. And when our tour was over we hiked back up the hill to make some water color paintings inspired by what we saw.
Using the frost-bitten cherries as a jumping off point, we then dissected some cherry tomatoes and played a game that taught the kids about the challenges seeds face when attempting to become plants. We finished the day with the farm’s cinnamon-sugar donuts and a rousing reading of Grandma Lena’s Big Ol’ Turnip by Denia Lewis Hester. Fun and learning was had by all!
Several families stayed for a while afterward to picnic on the patio and shop in the farm’s market which opens officially for the season this coming Saturday, May 29th. As much as I love being at the farm during the off-season, I find myself looking forward to the bustle of the coming summer, not to mention the bountiful harvest that is just on the horizon. Summer at the farm brings strawberries, cherries, blueberries, peaches and nectarines to pick as well as a farm market filled to the brim with produce from the gardens. Salad greens are already available and the peas are coming soon. I’m so glad it’s almost the time of year when I don’t have to buy a single vegetable from outside of our local area–and Fishkill Farms is just the place to start! Check out the farm’s website to learn more about the coming season.