It is long overdue that we introduce Patrick to our friends, families, and followers. Patrick Hennebery has been here at Stony Creek Farmstead since December of last year. He came here after working a full season at Mountain Dell farm in Hancock, where they grow 5 acres of greens for NYC restaurants.
Patrick endured a long winter of caring for animals, chopping wood, and moving from place to place around the farm. And then the spring crept up on us just like it does on all growers. Just when you think you still have a few weeks for planning your crop rotations and how many beets you will be growing, the weather becomes warm and your days quickly shift to 10-12 hours in the fields instead of the short 8 hours between barns and houses.
Now, when I wake up in the morning at 5:30, I often see Patrick already out in the gardens picking off cucumber beetles or transplanting lettuces before the summer sun climbs the sky. We used to eat a meal together everyday in order to check in and share the bounty of the farmstead. Now, we stand together in the milkhouse and eat leftovers from the fridge in between garden, animal, and guest chores. He is the most diligent, caring, and dedicated worker that we have ever had at the farm. (of course the next blog will be about Jenna, our full season apprentice who has been a rock of a worker all season)
We are thrilled that he is planning to spend another year with us as the Gardens Manager. Here are some things he told me about the state of vegetables on our last garden walk:
- We have a huge problem with cucumber beetles on the farm. They are our major pest in the gardens. They are the worst on our cucumber plants but also damage our winter and summer squash as well as melons and pumpkins. The worst things they do is transport bacterial wilt from plant to plant. So far, nothing we can do to cure bacterial wilt. We have to pull the entire plant. So Jenna and Patrick have been in the gardens before sunrise picking cucumber beetles for weeks straight. He thinks they have them under control.
- The tomatoes in the hoophouse have already grown higher than Jenna is tall - over 5’!! So now the job of pulling suckers off of the tomatoes goes to Patrick who measures 6’7”. I wonder if they will get too tall for him?
- Patrick is sure that the field tomatoes are going to grow to 6’ as well. I had my doubts early in the season, but with the careful care - weeding, pruning and mulching - I am starting to believe him!!
- We had our first red tomatoes before July this year!!
- Patrick says he is not going to grow red turnips again - “they don’t taste like anything.”
- He has experimented with interplanting beets and carrots within existing rows of onions.
- Our green garlic is up! - remind us to plant it earlier next year...it is so yummy!!
- We picked out the spot where our 2012 garlic will go - right next to where the current plot is in the compost garden.
I can’t say enough great things about Patrick. He has helped move our farmstead along into a different echelon of production. We hope he is here with us for many years to come!
PS. He is growing food for 16 local families this year and he hopes to grow for 25 next year!!
Patrick with one of his incredible weekly bounties.