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A Note from Mimi | Updates from Quail Hill Farm

February 8, 2024

By Mimi Wong

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Farms for the Future
Quail Hill Farm

Happy Winter… or should I say Happy Early Spring (thanks Punxsutawney Phil)!

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For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Mimi (some of you may have seen me harvesting flowers on Birch Hill last season or around the Shop during the winter share this season). I started at Quail Hill Farm in July and I’m staying on for the next season as the Operations Coordinator and flower grower, so look forward to more flowers this upcoming season; I know I am :)

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A rainbow was a nice reward after securing landscape fabric with cinder blocks.

Admittedly, I’m looking forward to some warmer weather and feeling ready to get back into the field. Overall, this winter has been all over the place — we’ve had our share of subzero days, 80 mph gusts, snow (!!!), and of course, lots of rain. We’ve been in the midst of an El Niño climate pattern since summer 2023 which looks to be continuing into the 2024 season. For those of you who don’t know, El Niño is a naturally occurring weakening of trade winds, which are lower-altitude winds that blow east to west around the equator. This is important because it results in warmer ocean temperatures in the eastern Pacific (towards the west coast of America), which then pulls the jet stream down southward. What this means for us on Eastern Long Island is warmer and wetter weather, as some of you might’ve observed last summer and this winter. Learn more on the NOAA website.

For us, the wetter summer is a bit of a mixed bag. While you might think wetness is preferable over drought because of irrigation, too much rain can actually be more of a problem. Too much precipitation means we can’t drive our vehicles in the field due to vehicles becoming stuck in the mud, which can delay crucial tractor work. Wet conditions can also adversely impact crop health and harvest quality, as so many plant diseases come from fungi. As we saw this past summer, too much rain can cut our tomato season short since tomatoes are prone to splitting and spoilage in the wet conditions. Some crops actually thrive in drought — for instance, watermelons become sweeter in drought conditions since excess water dilutes the sugars.

Regardless, we’re still working away here at the farm. Most of the work in this part of the season consists of a lot of admin work — we’re discussing last season’s performance and how to improve for next season, as well as putting the final touches on the crop plan and placing seed orders. We’re currently in the process of hiring our 2024 apprentices.

In terms of field work, we’ve been doing small harvests for the winter share, but due to the slow regrowth of our in-field greens (kale).

Special thanks to the folks who came out to help us mulch garlic on 1/23! It was a pretty last minute ask so all of your help was greatly appreciated! We plan to be better about keeping you all posted for future volunteer opportunities with the farm for the 2024 season. You can find us on Instagram at @QuailHillFarm.

I want to take this moment to thank all of our CSA members! We can’t run this farm without your support and we’re happy to welcome you back for the 2024 season. Sign-ups for individual, family, and box shares will be available the week of February 19th.

Stay warm (and dry!),

Mimi

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