Field notes - V18N12 - September 24 & 27

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upcoming events DIY Series: Livestock 101 Monday, September 30, 2013 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Ever wonder what the difference between a cow and a heifer is? Here is your chance to find out. This intensive class covers everything from farm jargon and basic animal anatomy and physiology to basic husbandry, through a combination of classroom and barnyard instruction about the various heritage breeds preserved by the Accokeek Foundation.

field notes

Volume 18 | Number 12 | September 24 & 27, 2013

Ecosystem Farm at Accokeek | 301-283-2113 |

Volunteer: Service Saturday Saturday, October 5, 2013 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Our October Service Saturday project is all about putting our gardens to bed for the winter. We’ll be mowing, weeding, pruning, mulching, and planting to prepare for the change of seasons. We’ll also be tackling some painting projects as we create signage for the site. For details on any event, please visit

Hello CSA Community, I’m writing to you on the Autumnal Equinox, September 22, after harvesting for the day. The abundance of the farm is astounding right now, as the greens pop up tender and sweet (and spicy!), the tomatoes continue their last gasp at fruiting, and the winter squash and pumpkins lie prone and mature in the fields for collection. I want to tell everyone: eat, eat, eat! But I also know much of what is out there in the fields can remain stored in our homes for months to come, or preserved for later. Please enjoy the good food and good company of your loved ones during this tipping point in the season. Happy Equinox! love and fall breezes, Farmer Becky

Ecosystem Farm Manager Rebecca Cecere Seward Farm Apprentices Alex Binck, Holli Elliott Farm and Garden Coordinator Daniel Michaelson Volunteers Rosemary Zechman, Amanda Truett, Tom Ellwanger, Mary Lynn Davis, Yvonne Brown, Terrance Murphy, Ethan Carton, Cairna Bode

day begins buzz fruit chirp leaves wind night closes

Celestial Cycles By: Daniel Michaelson We understand our place in time by referencing the cycles of the Sun, Earth, and Moon. On Sunday, September 22, we passed from summer to fall through the autumnal equinox. In science speak, an equinox is either of two points on the celestial sphere where the ecliptic and the celestial equator intersect. In other words, it’s one of two times a year when the sun’s equator crosses the Earth’s equator, and the day and night are of approximately equal length the world over. The word equinox is used in a broader sense in reference to the day when such an intersection occurs. So, on Sunday Jimmy Joe Bob, camping on the equator would have no shadow, but on Monday and thenceforth until around the vernal equinox around March 20 his shadow would be cast onto the northern hemisphere. Plants “understand” their place in time without thinking about it through a process called photoperiodism. This is a physiological reaction to length of day or night. Some plants require a long or short enough daylength to flower (obligate photoperiodism) whereas others are only more likely to flower under the appropriate light conditions (facultative photoperiodism). For example, oats, clover, and ryegrass (all important food, forage, or cover crops) only flower if the length of day exceeds their critical photoperiod. These are known as long-day plants. Short-day plants like cotton, rice, and hemp are more likely to flower when the day length is less than their critical photoperiod. Some agriculturally relevant plants, such as cucumbers and tomatoes do not flower based on photoperiodism at all.

Plants aren’t the only ones whose lifecycles are dictated by day length. Together with temperature changes, photoperiod stimulates changes in color of fur and feathers, migrations, entry into hibernation, sexual behavior, and even resizing of sexual organs. For example, in song birds such as the canary, singing frequency depends on the photoperiod; hence, the explosion of song in the springtime. During autumn when daylength decreases, the male canary’s testes regress and androgen levels drop, resulting in decreased frequency. The importance of photoperiodism in humans is still contested, but I have a hunch that, like our friends the canary or the deer, celestial cycles play a direct role in our physical reckoning. So, as we slip into autumn try giving greater heed to the sun and see what happens.