Wet weather dampens planting progress at community farm
"We're off to a bad start" as a result of two weekends of rain, said farm manager Bob Sutton, who along with a staff of volunteers is trying to plant the remaining acres of the community farm at the corner of East Shore Road and the old Eldred Avenue.
Volunteers typically get together each Saturday morning and on Tuesday and Thursday evenings to plant, then weed, then harvest tons of vegetables that eventually get trucked to area food pantries, soup kitchens, and senior centers.
Sutton, a former Jamestown town administrator, said Monday that the recent downpours have forced the cancellation of two Saturday sessions as well as two evening sessions when the teams would have been putting in their seeds.
The volunteers will plant the vegetable beds this Saturday, June 17, from 9 a.m. to noon.
"No experience is necessary," Sutton said about who can be a volunteer at the four-acre patch. He has even developed a "fail-safe" method of putting in seeds that is so easy "anyone can do it, and it's fun," Sutton said.
The seeding method, which will be employed this weekend to plant green beans, cucumbers, and pumpkins, involves a tool "which we invented" that is dragged behind a tractor and makes perfectly spaced rows of the correct depth, he said.
"Then we give everyone a 4foot length of pipe," Sutton explained, adding that the volunteers are then told to "walk down the row and drop a seed every few inches."
"You don't even have to bend over," Sutton said about those who may be concerned about their aging backs.
Sutton said the tomatoes, peppers, and other vegetables started from seedlings have already been put in the ground, but they really need to get the seeds started to begin seeing some produce by mid to late July.
Over the past few years, Sutton said, the farm has a core volunteer group of about eight people who come to nearly every session. But, he noted, over the course of the growing season, they can see up to 150 or 160 people - some who come just once or twice.
For the first time last year, the Jamestown Community Farm set up a farm stand to sell vegetables, sunflowers, and honey, fresh from the farm's own bees.
Sutton said the stand "did good considering we didn't advertise or even put out signs," and he expected the stand to open again sometime in July.
All farm stand sales as well as donations go back into the farm for the next season.
"Just please come" was his answer when Sutton was asked how many volunteers it would take to get the remaining vegetables in the ground.
Volunteer hours are Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon, and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 p.m. to dusk.