Spring’s In Full Swing at Hilltop Hanover Farm: Learn how to grown your own food or reserve an organic CSA.
Hilltop Hanover Farm
Spring may not officially begin until March 20, but the staff and volunteers who operate Hilltop Hanover Farm in Yorktown Heights, NY, have been working for weeks preparing for another bountiful season.
The winter wheat and rye that were planted to protect the soil in cold weather will soon be tilled, and heavy mounds of rich compost are ready to be spread. The farmers will also create mulch and recycle it into the earth as nutrients for the Farm’s next generation of organic produce. Meanwhile, in the greenhouse, long lines of trays have been seeded and the first young sprouts readied for transplant.
Hilltop Hannover Farm is owned by Westchester County and operated in cooperation with the not-for-profit Friends of Hilltop Hanover Farm.
Among more than 100 varieties of vegetables grown on the Farm every year are chard, kale, beets, turnips, radishes, carrots, squash and tomatoes. “Hilltop Hanover Farm has an amazing selection of sustainably grown produce that continues to gain in popularity,” says Lu Munz, director of Hilltop Hanover Farm & Environmental Center.
Hilltop Hanover Farm runs a weekly farm stand and U-Pick program for area residents, and it also participates in the weekly Yorktown farmers’ market. The Farm offers 150 shares of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), which guarantees members 20 weeks’ worth of produce for a one-time cost.
“Each week CSA members walk away with bags filled to the brim with enough veggies to feed a family of four—and often enough extras to share with their neighbors,” Munz says.
Part of the Farm’s mission is to educate the community about sustainable farming practices. “For us, sustainability is as important as growing delicious produce,” Munz notes. This spring the Farm will host a series of workshops to help area residents prepare their vegetable gardens and get the most out of their backyard farms.
Upcoming workshops include the following:
Seed Saving in the Home Garden (March 2): Shanyn Siegel will lead a fact-packed workshop on the ins and outs of successful seed saving. Topics will include seed saving basics, selecting varieties, plant spacing and harvest techniques.
Vegetable Container Gardening (March 9): This workshop is for those interested in growing their own vegetables and herbs, but short on time and space. Doug DeCandia, food growing project coordinator at the Food Bank for Westchester, will explain how to grow a variety of plants in a minimal amount of space. Topics will include choosing plant varieties, sunlight requirements, temperature control and soil nutrition.
Starting & Caring for Seedlings (March 23): The best way to ensure a bountiful garden is to grow hardy plants. This workshop covers how to raise healthy seedlings for transplant, and how to give plants a helping hand when they need it most. Topics will include choosing varieties, preventing disease and thinning techniques.
Planning Your Vegetable Garden (May 4): Participants will learn all about spring preparation from seasoned farmers. Topics will include seed choice and transplant scheduling, space management and succession planning.
Other workshops will include starting a berry patch (March 30), beekeeping (May 18), establishing a backyard chicken flock (February 23 & May 25), beer making (April 13), canning and preserving (July 20), and planning a flower garden (April 13).
For those looking for a deeper understanding of farming, the Farm offers a certificate in Sustainable Vegetable Production in conjunction with Westchester Community College. All classes are held at the Farm and taught by Farm staff and other local farmers.
Munz says one of last fall’s highlights at the Farm was a series of couple’s cooking classes. “Due to popular demand, our couple’s classes will be back for the spring, featuring a rotating series of chefs,” she says. The classes will start March 15 and be offered the third Friday of each month.
As a county-owned farm operated by a not-for- profit, Hilltop Hanover Farm is always in need of volunteers, she adds. For anyone wishing to lend a hand on the Farm, volunteer workshops will be offered March 16 and April 6.
Details of all workshops and classes can be found on the Farm’s website, HilltopHanoverFarm.org. For more info call 914.962.2368.