At the farm

Sister Melissa Scholl (background), president of Canticle Farm, helps a customer on Tuesday with her selection of vegetables grown at the all-natural farm and sold at the facility’s market in Allegany, N.Y.

ALLEGANY, N.Y. — Staff at Canticle Farm report the all-natural farm continues to do well this winter despite the weather.

Sister Melissa Scholl, president of the farm, said the high tunnels located on the South Nine Mile Road property continue to grow vegetables despite sub-zero temperatures that settled on the area weeks ago.

The all-natural farm, owned by the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, has community shareholders and provides shares to several area charities.  

Mark Printz, farm manager, said vegetables in the high tunnels are protected by a triple “row cover” which helps them weather the bitter cold.

“We cover the plants inside the high tunnels with this fabric called row cover,” Printz explained. “It’s like a very, very thin (cheesecloth) and it can give 2 to 3 degrees of protection per layer.”

He recalled that when it was minus 18 degrees outside one night, the temperature inside the high tunnels was 18 degrees.

“That is low and there was some loss of vegetables, but the majority of the stuff did bounce back,” Printz noted.

He said winter vegetables grown in the high tunnels include lettuce, spinach, chard, kale and arugula. The market also sells vegetables that were harvested in November and stored in coolers for sales during the winter months.

On a related note, Printz’ expertise in growing all-natural vegetables during all times of the year was recently called upon when he was invited to attend the 36th-Annual Organic Farming and Gardening Conference this past weekend in Saratoga Springs. Printz attended the event with Kimberly LaMendola, chairperson of Canticle Farm. The Northeast Organic Farming Association is described as an organization of farmers, gardeners and consumers who work together to create a sustainable regional food system that’s ecologically sound and economically viable.

“I sat on a panel with farmers and we discussed high tunnel production of cucumbers,” Printz said of the event. “I don’t know if it was my expertise (presented), we just gave another example of what is possible.”

The Canticle Farm market is located at 3809 Old State Road and is open during the winter from 2 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the first Saturday of every month through April.

The market will begin summer hours in May.

Scholl said the market is also currently selling Canticle Farm shopping bags for $5 to raise additional funds for the nonprofit.

“We started selling them at Christmas and they’ve sold very well,” Scholl added.

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