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The Forestry Side of Levesque's Farm

March 2022 Edition The application window to join our CSA program will open March 1st and run through June 15th. If you have questions you can check our website,, under the CSA page. As for our Farmshare customers, we have not yet received our vouchers from the government for the sign ups. We expect to receive them sometimes towards the end of March, we will contact everyone on our list once we get our paperwork! The weather seems to finally be turning the corner into spring. As warmer weather finally begins to show up on the forecast, we are ready! Our Maple trees are tapped and our evaporator is cleaned! At the time of writing, we have already collected over 200 gallons of sap to boil for syrup. This year, we also have added a proper “syrup finisher” to our operation, along with a hydrometer to help make sure that our syrup is not only sweet enough, but consistent as well. We have a few updates before getting to our main article. Have you heard the saying, “the work is never finished”? Well we’re here to testify to that. Repairs will soon be underway on several greenhouses. We will be replacing baseboards, hip boards, and re-covering a few houses with new plastic to help with heat retention. As the ground thaws we also hope to be putting up a new greenhouse, bringing our total number of operation greenhouses to seven. We also have started our first batch of seeds for transplant! Our first batch of tomatoes has been started and is doing great. It won’t be long before they’re in the ground then on your plate!

The Forestry Side of Levesque’s Farm At Leveque’s farm we are known for our tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and beans, cucumbers, squash, and leafy greens. A less known part of our farming operation is the process in which we handle our woodlands, some would say we are also in the business of “growing” trees. On the farm we have roughly 60 acres of woodlands for which we must consider a handful of options. While our main priority for our woodlands is lumber and firewood we also consider maple syrup production, wildlife habitat and forest diversity. During any given logging season on the farm we will cut upwards of 20-30 cords of firewood to heat three households and our maple syrup evaporator. We will also cut anywhere from 300 to 1000 linear feet of mixed white pine, red pine, hemlock, spruce and balsam fir logs along with a handful of oak logs to saw into lumber for a multitude of building projects that include greenhouses, animal housing, equipment storage and repairs to our farm stand. To make sure the farm and its family’s needs are met we carefully manage our forest lands to make sure we have plenty of regeneration, and a healthy diverse forest that will not only support lumber and firewood and maple syrup needs, but also support healthy wildlife populations and diversity of tree species that include red maple, sugar maple, beech, basswood, iron wood, paper birch, gray birch, yellow birch and Ash. We are able to accomplish this by implementing a few different forest management strategies. The two main strategies used on Leveque’s farm are a shelterwood cut and a selective cut. For our pine forests we use the shelterwood cut. In this process we will remove the undergrowth in a woodlot that has a large amount of a desirable species of tree, in this case white pine, we remove all hardwood for firewood and the smaller pines for lumber. We will leave a minimal amount of large mature white pine trees for seed trees spaced out to about 50x50 feet. This allows ideal growing conditions for pines, they have moderate light while still maintaining plenty of shade and shelter for the regeneration that is provided by the large seed trees. When the regeneration grows to about 15 to 20 feet tall we will remove the large seed trees and allow the regeneration to grow and compete with each other to provide us with tall straight trees with minimal lower branches. Every 5 to 10 years we will reenter the woodlot to thin out the regeneration until the trees reach a desired spacing of about a 20x20 foot grid. This shelter wood technique can also be used in regenerating a sugar maple stand or establishing an oak stand to attract deer and other wildlife.

A selective cut is what we use when cutting trees for firewood. A selective cut is just what it sounds like, going into a woodlot to remove and cut a select species of tree or a select tree size over a variety of tree species to get a desired outcome. We prefer our trees to be no older than 30 to 40 years old when cutting firewood. We prefer our firewood to be oak and maple mix when it comes to what we burn and that allows us to use a regeneration technique called coppice. Coppice is using a tree's natural ability to grow multiple shoots from a cut stump. When using coppice to regenerate a woodlot you must cut the trees in the winter while dormant, during the dormant period of the year the trees will store all of its energy in its roots so come spring it can continue to grow. By cutting the tree during the winter the tree roots will put its energy into re-growing small regrowth shoots off the stump where if the tree was never cut it would use that energy to grow the crown of the tree. As these shoots get bigger we will either thin them, leaving 3 or 4 shoots on each stump to grow the ideal firewood size, or allow them to grow and naturally thin. An added benefit to these coppiced woodlots is it creates a very dense vegetative are allowing an ideal wintering and living area for a multitude of

wildlife including deer, woodcock, partridge and turkeys. The small shoots also allow plenty of food during the winter months for these animals.

Another example of a selective cut is entering a woodlot and selecting all species of trees except red and sugar maple of a certain size to provide a sugar bush of all the same aged trees. Lastly we leave certain parts of the farm's woodlands completely untouched. By leaving these sections of

forest to go through the natural successional stages of forest growth we allow there to be a buildup of seed trees, a safe haven for wildlife to live in and the ability of the forest's soil to go through its natural process of creating topsoil and soil horizons. We hope that this small look into the forestry practices of the Levesque family was insightful. While Levesque’s Organic Farm is a produce farm, and we take great pride in the healthy vegetables and animals we raise, we also take great pride in maintaining a healthy natural landscape on the parts of our farm that are not in agricultural use while still being able to use what we need. On the farm we believe that the woodlands are as important and beneficial to our world and the people in it as agricultural fields, and we will continue to manage our forest lands in a healthy and sustainable way for years to come.

Ingredients Canning Picked Red Onions 3 pounds red onions, trimmed and sliced thin 2 cups apple cider vinegar 3/4 cup sugar 1/2 cup water 1 tablespoon pickling salt Instructions

o Fill a boiling-water canner about 2/3 full with water and bring it to a boil. o In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil, add sliced onions and cook for 4minutes.

o Drain onions and set aside. o In a large pot bring apple cider vinegar, sugar, water, and salt to a boil, stirring until the sugar and salt has completely dissolved. o Add onions to brine mixture, stir and then remove from heat. o Ladle the onions and brine mixture into hot prepared jars, filling to within1/2 inch of the tops.

o Wipe the jar rims and threads clean if needed. Cover with 2-piece lids. Screwbands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner and then lower the rack into canner. Make sure the water is covering the jars by at least 2 inches. Place the lid on the pot and bring the water to a boil.

o Process the pickled onions for 10minutes. One recipe makes {4} pint jars o Remove jars and place on a towel to cool. After 24 hours check the seals. If the

lid springs back, onions are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.

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