Jul 28, 2014
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Summer Apprentices Transform Ambler Farm's Gardens

Apprentices raised beds, expanded gardens and generally made the place more accessible to kids.

They certainly have been busy over at this summer, especially Ambler Farm’s Program Manager Kevin Meehan and his group of kids that are part of the Apprentice Program.

“We are in the process of redoing our education gardens,” explained Meehan. Presently at the farm there are five educational gardens which equal over nine-thousand square feet of land being used for educational purposes. In a little over a year, 95 raised beds have been built at the farm.

“It’s fundamentally changed how we work in the gardens,”said Meehan.

Raised beds means that it’s easier for kids, staff and volunteers to work in the gardens; productivity as a result has increased and pests have decreased. It's also aesthetically pleasing.

“It’s gorgeous,” said Meehan, proud of the work his apprentices have done this summer. Signs are now posted along the garden borders creatively announcing the Apprentice Garden and Berry Garden. “It draws you in now," he said.

It’s incredible to believe that, when standing by the chicken coop,  (was also recently upgraded), that only a few short months ago there were no raised beds in the Apprentice Garden. Meehan and his apprentices dug into the earth, expanded the garden, graded the land, placed the beds and filled them with compost. 

Plants were rearranged and positioned so that optimal sunlight can be utilized and plants have a larger area to grow. The pumpkin tendrils now have enough room to spread out and flourish, just in time for fall’s arrival.

The Raspberry Patch has also been redone and is now known as the Berry Garden because blackberries were planted there this summer. During the summer program at the farm, kids get three full weeks of picking, and eating, the juicy red berries.

“We put in 14 raised beds there,” said Meehan. “This garden will be phenomenally productive next year.”

On the other side of the farm, next to Farmer Ben’s garden, 12 blueberry beds were added. There are now 60 blueberry plants, made up of three different varieties of the nutritious berry.

Although the blueberry plants didn’t produce any fruit this year that’s all expected to change in the future.

“Within the next four to five years, we expect to get two-thousand pounds of blueberries,” said Meehan. “We are investing in our gardens for the future,” he added.    

Meehan is especially enthusiastic about a future plan he is hoping the farm will receive funding for.

“The most phenomenal thing we grow here is garlic,” he explained.

Not only is it pest-resistant, but since the rule of thumb for garlic is to plant it on Columbus Day and harvest it on the Fourth of July: It’s also an exciting fall program that the farm leads. Next month Meehan and the kids at Ambler Farm will plant 800 garlic bulbs, whether the farm receives funding for more beds or not.  

Apprentices at the farm in the springtime get to harvest garlic scapes, the tops of the plant which tastes like a cross between a garlic bulb and a string bean. Harvesting the garlic bulbs in the summer is a popular day for kids at the farm.

“So you get two crops out of it, you get a planting program in the fall, we teach from it all spring, and then parents buy it so you get a product to sell, and the deer don’t eat it. It is so much fun," said Meehan.

On Saturday, September 17th Ambler Farm will be hosting its Honey Bee Jamboree from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

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