WESTFIELD-Tilling the land and pruning varieties of trees and bushes are currently on the to-do list for many local farmers – and despite the unpredictability of Mother Nature – several in the city are ready to be knee-deep in plantings that will nourish the souls of many local residents in the months to come.
“For us spring means we are finishing up with making maple syrup and starting to prepare equipment for field work,” said Randy Pomeroy of Pomeroy Farm. “We will start planting corn that will be used to feed our cows as soon as the soil warms up enough for the seeds to germinate.”
Pomeroy said the soil needs to be at least 50 degrees to ensure that corn seeds can germinate. He added that pumpkin seeds will go in the ground soon as well.
“When the frost thaws we start to spread cow manure on the fields,” he said, noting a tillage tool known as a disc harrow incorporates the manure into the soil while also smoothing the field in preparation for seeding.
“As the grass is starting to green up, we are checking and repairing fences to get cows out on pasture,” he said. “We are fortunate enough to have some great friends willing to help us, so we don’t hire any additional people for spring and summer.”
Pomeroy, who also runs the farm with his sister, Rachel Pomeroy-Monahan, noted he does have a herd-assistant who helps with milking and caring for the cows.
Also on-site is the Pomeroy Dairy, a store which is open every day from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. for self-serve.
“We offer maple syrup, cheese curds, yogurt and cream cheese, all made on the farm,” said Pomeroy-Monahan, adding, “right now we also have maple candy and maple cream.”
For Connie Adams and John Keilch of the Yellow Stonehouse Farm, they are waiting for their fields to dry out. Their farm is a USDA certified organic farm CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program.
“We really can’t go out into the fields since everything is so wet,” said Adams, adding, “We are growing thousands of transplants that will go into the ground the first good week of April.”
The couple will be planting a wide variety of vegetables including eggplant, peppers, lettuce, kale, several varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, Brussel sprouts, cabbage and okra. In addition, they are also eager to plant fruit trees including plums and peaches.
Adams noted their CSA share program starts the second week of June.
“We sell shares for pick up on four days – Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 3-6:30 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.,” said Adams, noting she also includes weekly recipes with each pick up.
Also new at the farm this year is their participation in the SNAP/HIP (Healthy Incentives Program) offered by the state.
“Part of our mission is to address food insecurity,” said Adams, noting she has at least six CSA plans that will be paid with SNAP/HIP benefits. “I would like to see more participation since this is a really wonderful program for families and seniors.”
Both Adams and Keilch are currently cleaning up the yard and flower beds.
“We have hired two-thirds of our summer crew,” said Adams, noting several are college students who will work until May.
As the couple marks 10 years of running the farm, Adams said there are a lot of rewards in farming.
“It’s amazing here,” she said, noting the “great pollinators, bees, butterflies and birds” she experiences up-close every day. “We feel really good about growing great food and preserving the farmland.”
It is also all hands on deck at Kosinski Farms with blueberry bushes, apple and peach trees being pruned and greenhouse work that includes preparing the flowers and vegetable plants for customer sales in the coming weeks. A projected opening date is April 24 – Earth Day – and CSA shares are also still available.
“They will start plowing within a week and a half for early wheat corn,” said Susan Kosinski, adding, “We will be able to plant in the ground as soon as the temperature stays warm and for germination at this point. Mother Nature makes that call.”
Everyone at the farm has also been “planting like crazy” for the last three weeks.
Farm offerings this season will include peppers (very hot to standard bell peppers), six to eight varieties of tomatoes and summer squash to melons and cucumbers.
The family is also known for its wide variety of flowers and is a certified Proven Winner retailer.
“The certification program ensures employees understand the quality of the plant,” said Kosinski, noting all of her employees became certified this year.
Flower offerings range from begonias, impatiens and zinnias to Gerbera daisies.
“We also have hanging plants that we are best known for,” said Kosinski.
Kosinski credits her family and dedicated employees for their success each year. Gene and Sue Kosinski bought the land in 1983 and the farm stand started in 1999.
“For some of my employees, this will be their fourth or fifth year with us and we are fortunate,” she said, adding, “I need to draw on my employees from last year but I have some vacancies including in the sales department and I have a part-time baker opening.”
Kosinski noted she enjoys farm life despite the long hours and hard work.
“The number one pleasure is having the farm available to my children and now my grandchildren since they learn what a good work ethic is all about,” said Kosinski, adding her grandchildren want to be on the farm during the summer.
“My grandchildren feel at home here and want to watch things grow,” she said, adding, “It’s a different lifestyle and very rewarding.”
Sharing that rewarding feeling with customers and their families is also important to Kosinski.
“We do pick-your-own with berries, apples, and blueberries and those customers and their children have a grand old time,” she said, adding she gives thanks to her customers and staff who supported the farm during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am very proud to be a business owner,” said Kosinski. “I have to recognize my employees and customers because without them we wouldn’t have had this business. It ended up being a good year as far as customer sales and employee participation.”