Last Resort Farm
An April visit to Last Resort Farm in Monkton to see what's springing up!
Located on the northeast corner of Addison County in Monkton, Last Resort's 272 acre family farm was purchased by Sam Burr and Eugenie Doyle in 1986 from the Shattuck family who had been dairying there for 150 years. The Doyle-Burrs operated the farm as a conventional dairy until 1993 when low milk prices prompted them to sell the Jersey herd and re-imagine the farm as an organic hay and produce operation. After the 3-year transition period they became certified organic and quickly established a strong reputation for quality. In the winter of 2017, son Silas took over farm operations and now raises 80 to 90 acres of hay for sale, collects maple sap from 1,200 taps and grows 20 acres of small fruit, vegetables, cover crops & hemp. The farm operates an on site farmstand, a Farm Share program, retails at three local farmers markets, and wholesale to area schools, restaurants, and to food stores in Burlington, Williston, Winooski and Bristol.
Hardneck and softneck garlic is already looking strong. Planted in the fall, garlic over-winters and is one of the earliest crops to show up come spring. Scapes (the long, curly green stem and flower bud of hardneck garlic) are typically ready to harvest mid June and will start appearing in our produce packages and shop offerings around then. They store incredibly well, lasting in refrigerated storage until September! Fresh garlic bulbs will be harvested sometime in July, and also needs to be refrigerated as it isn't dried and cured for long-term storage yet. Once cured, garlic will last throughout the winter until it's all eaten up!
Ginger sprouting! We were thrilled to offer baby ginger last year from Last Resort Farm - what a special treat. The small sprouts at the tip of a mature ginger rhizome (what we often and inaccurately call a root) will become both roots (growing down) and shoots (growing up). More rhizomes will form from the roots, creating a cluster. These new rhizomes are harvested mid summer and come to the food hub to be enjoyed. This 'baby ginger' isn't able to reproduce, as it is harvested before it's fully mature. That's why it looks and tastes different than fully mature ginger: no rough outer skin, a milder taste, and more tender texture.
Lots of new growth and color happening within the warm, bright hoop houses. Trays of onions and rows of raspberry canes (pictured) take advantage of the balmy temps within, getting a much-needed jumpstart to spring. Tender greens also grow directly in the warm soil, making their way into Last Resort's farmstand. The onions will be transplanted outdoors once warm enough, while the raspberry canes will produce fruit a bit earlier than their outdoor brethren, extending the growing season and giving us lucky neighbors an early taste of summer.
In the warmth of the hoop houses at Last Resort Farm, strawberries are already beginning to flower. It takes about three weeks from flowering to a fully developed strawberry, so these will be ready in early to mid-May, weather dependent! (There's only a small amount growing in the hoop houses, so you'll have to take a trip to their farmstand to get your hands on the early berries.) The yellow center of each flower will become a strawberry once pollinated. Each strawberry branch has about three to eight flowers.
Outside in the real world, the strawberry plants look quite different! Surrounded by - you guessed it - straw, the berries are insulated from the elements, protected from weeds, and kept moist and warm. Each plant spends three seasons outside. In its first year, all flowers are removed, redirecting energy into the vegetable part of the plant (leaves, stems, and roots) to support a stronger, more resilient plant. Flowers are left to become berries in years two and three, after which point the plant is depleted and the cycle begins again. Each plant receives a great deal of TLC from Last Resort's crew and, come mid-June, the fruits of their labors will be reaped! (Fingers crossed.)