August 2020 Newsletter

Earlier this month I went away from the farm for a couple days to spend some time with my wife’s family at the beach. While it was a very enjoyable time, there is always a lingering fear in the back of my mind when I am away from the farm about problems that might arise in my absence: a sudden infestation of pests, a destructive storm, or perhaps an unexpected issue with the irrigation system. On one morning during my time off, I stopped by the farm only to find my volunteers busily harvesting and efficiently working on other necessary farm tasks.
Witnessing this scene not only eased my concerns about being away, it also reaffirmed for me that the farm is fundamentally volunteer-driven. Quite literally, we could not do what we do without the help of dozens of generous people who spend their free time picking okra, shoveling compost, or pruning tomato plants. It feels cliché to say "it takes a village..." but the farm truly is a community effort. 

In gratitude,

Matt Jones
Farm & Outreach Coordinator

P.S.: Please feel free to share this with others who might appreciate it! If you were forwarded this email, please subscribe to receive future emails. 

What's Growing

Rows of carrot seedlings recently planted by seed
The farm has been firing on all cylinders lately! In the past month we have planted fall or winter crops in 25 beds, with still more to come over the next few weeks. These new beds include carrots, arugula, Brussels sprouts, onions, leeks, and lettuce, among others. 
Yellow heirloom tomato
Leaf lettuce
At the same time we are harvesting hundreds of pounds of food every week: tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, lettuce and more. 
Harvesting okra
Harvesting carrots
Finally, last week we somehow found the time and energy to build 15 new beds on the north end of the farm - a team effort which included broadforking every bed (more on this below), laying down cardboard as a weed barrier, then hauling an estimated 200-plus wheelbarrows of compost and woodchips for the beds and pathways, respectively. These beds will all be planted with a cover crop of winter rye and hairy vetch to improve the soil and hold it in place over the winter months.
If you ever find yourself with a lot of cardboard boxes laying around, please bring them to the farm! We use a lot of cardboard as a mulch material in various ways, so we’d greatly appreciate anything you can provide. The only exceptions are cardboard with a waxy surface and/or cardboard with a lot of colored ink, as these contain toxic chemicals. Cardboard can be dropped off right next to the green portable restroom. If you have any questions, you can email Matt at

Farm Facts

The most feared tool on the farm
If you drove past the farm any morning last week, you may have seen a volunteer or two using the tool pictured above, known as a broadfork. The user stands on the broadfork itself and jumps, rocks, and wiggles back and forth — anything to penetrate the tines deep into the soil. When the handles are pulled back, the soil is gently lifted. Then, the tool is pulled out and the process is repeated one foot at a time down the entire bed.

This important yet exhausting process is a key component of our no-till practices on the farm. As we have discussed briefly in a previous newsletter, we avoid tilling so as not to disturb the soil ecosystem that supports healthy plants. Unlike a rototiller, the broadfork gently lifts and aerates soil without inverting soil layers or breaking down the soil structure formed by organisms like fungi and earthworms. Although this is a very demanding task when used to help break new ground, especially in our heavy, compacted clay soil, we hope that it will become easier as we work to improve the health of our soil. In fact, we have already seen that the beds formed and broadforked last year were much easier to broadfork again in the second year. For the sake of our soil health (and our volunteers' backs), we hope this continues! 

Food for Thought

Mushrooms emerging in a pathway on the farm in the morning light
"Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer. It presupposes faith and love. 

Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer. 

If we turn our mind towards the good, it is impossible that little by little the whole soul will not be attracted thereto in spite of itself." 

- Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace
Copyright © 2020 Little Portion Farm, All rights reserved.

Little Portion Farm is a ministry of the Franciscan Friars Conventual, Our Lady of the Angels Province.

Visit us at:
12280 Folly Quarter Road, Ellicott City, MD 21042

Contact us at: 
(443) - 585 - 8005 or

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