From the Field: June CRAFT Tour at Westhaven

What were you doing this past Father’s Day? Well, whatever you were doing, just remember you missed out on CRAFT – West Haven where you could’ve been picking sweet, sweet strawberries…

Sunday June 19, 2016

Now what is CRAFT? C.R.A.F.T., Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training, is a cooperative model for sharing complementary farm training in collaboration with participating farms. Participants visit a host farm for a tour, a talk, or demonstration on a specific topic. These visits offer beginning farmers a chance to see how different operations work, to develop practical skills and to network with other farmers and farm interns.

Finger Lakes CRAFT was initiated by the Groundswell Center in 2010. Our CRAFT group was developed through the guidance of our mentor farms and they have helped sustain these meetings over the years by leading exciting, interactive sessions that continue to inspire the next farming generations.

West Haven Farm was started by John and Jen Bokaer-Smith in 1992 and has been serving the community since the early ‘90s by growing NOFA-NY Certified Organic produce for the farm’s CSA and the Ithaca farmer’s market.

sethstrawberry
Seth of West Haven farm talking strawberries in the field at the CRAFT tour in June.

The first part of our tour was led by Seth, West Haven’s farm manager. He showed us around the heart of West Haven’s operation, the veggies.  We explored everything from the solanaceae in the hoop-houses to the strawberries in the fields

Seth also gave us a taste of the decision making process at a CSA. West Haven is dedicated to and is here to serve its community throughout the growing season. Part of that dedication requires its 10 acres to be in production for most of the year so customers can get what they need.

Without much of a break over the past two decades, West Haven has developed a nasty weed seed bank. Seth showed us what the farm has been doing to control the weeds, but they persist.  As a Certified Organic producer, West Haven has had trouble finding land nearby to rent and utilize that fits into the Organic requirements.

Next year, West Haven is going to be able to move some of its production to another

chrisappletree
Chris, West Haven orchard manager talks trees with our CRAFT tour attendees.

site at EcoVillage, giving its main ten acres a well-deserved break.

Chris, West Haven’s orchard manager, rounded out the tour by teaching us about apple tree growth patterns and how to effectively prune fruit trees. We even got a taste of early cherries!

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