The pencil, calculator, and brain have been getting a workout as we plan the 2013 season at Fat Moon at Meadowbrook Farm. Most people say ‘So…are you relaxing and enjoying time off this winter?’ The reality is that it takes 80 – 100 hours to plan for the growing season and to order seeds and supplies. Why so long, you ask? Well, if it were a series of word problems in math class, it would go something like this:

Question #1: If Farmer Elizabeth wants to sell 50 pounds of butternut squash, 100 pounds of carrots, 50 brussel sprout stalks, 10 jars of honey, 20 bags of spinach, 10 bags of salad mix, 10 heads of lettuce, 30 pounds of beets, 10 rutabagas, and 5 bunches of kale on Dec. 20, 2013, what seeds should she order in February?
Hint: Figure out the germination rates and days to maturity.

Question #2: If Farmer Elizabeth wants to sell the quantity of vegetables in Question #1 each week for three weeks in December, how much land will that require?
Hint: Figure out the required spacing between plants and rows.

Question #3: If Farmer Elizabeth wants to have spinach to sell every week from March to December, on which dates should she plant the seeds?
Hint: Figure out the days to maturity, remember to calculate for variability of day length and temperature.

Question #4: If Farmer Elizabeth wants to sell 50 pounds of tomatoes every week from July 15th to October 15th, how many tomato plants should she plant? Which varieties?
Hint: Calculate days to maturity, note projected yields of each variety.

Question #5: If Farmer Elizabeth wants to maximize production (and profit) on a given piece of land, she needs to grow and harvest three crops in succession off the same land. Give three possible sequences that will work at latitude 41.
Hint: One possible sequence: spinach, soybeans, radishes; consider seasons and days to maturity.

Question #6: Give a possible scenario of a harvesting schedule that gives a minimum of 10 varieties of vegetables each week from March through December. Include a field map that shows where each crop will be grown.
Hint: Use farming software!

There will be a follow up exam on labor and inputs of pesticides, fungicides and fertilizer.

Get to know Elizabeth Almeida (12 Posts)

Elizabeth Almeida is founder, head farmer, chief weeder, and top taster at organic vegetable farm Fat Moon in Westford. She also plans healthy living events for the farm through the Center for Healthy Living and Learning. Foodie magazines will give you the scoop on the tastiest and trendiest foods to eat, but Elizabeth will give you the dirt on food - how it is grown, what is good to eat, and maybe some insights into the giant food system that gets us whatever we want to eat in every season. Her passion and her businesses help folks untangle their way to health!