The Art, Science, and Craft of Profitable Onion Production

NOFA Summer Conference

Saturday August 12, 2017

Amazing alliums, unsung farm hero, nutrient rich onions are capable of grossing $40,000+ per acre. We’ll review production steps and techniques to ensure a successful harvest. From start to finish: variety selection, propagation, transplanting efficiency, beneficial insects, nutrient management, pest and disease management, cultivation, harvest and post harvest systems.

Derek Christianson: Farmer and community educator at Brix Bounty Farm.

Workshop attendees – here are copies of the powerpoint and handout…

Brix Bounty – 2017 NOFA Summer Conference – Profitable Onions Powerpoint

Brix Bounty – 2017 NOFA Summer Conference – Profitable Onions 6 slides per page

Brix Bounty – 2017 NOFA Summer Conference – Profitable Onions 2 page handout

5/26/2017:  Quick Farm Update

Planting season is progressing very well; we have about 3 acres of veggies in the field, including:  arugula, basil, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, celery, chard, cucumbers, dandelion greens, dill, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, leeks, onions, pac choi, peas, potatoes, radishes, scallions, shallots, tomatoes, zucchini.

Next week eggplant and peppers will transition from the greenhouse to the fields and we’ll start seeding carrots for the late summer.  Melons and winter squash will be set out the first week of June.  We’ve enjoyed a cool and relatively wet spring, with soil temperatures warming up the crops are jumping and cultivation work is becoming a priority.  Fieldhouse cucumbers are coming along nicely and should be a feature of our June harvests…

Summertime CSA

Registration for our 2017 Summertime CSA is still open, we have a few more spots for new and returning members.  Distributions are scheduled to start Tuesday June 6th and Friday June 9th.  Don’t miss your chance to guarantee a share of a delicious harvest this summer.

Farmstand Schedule

Our Farmstand will be open Saturday, Sunday, and Monday of Memorial Day Weekend (10AM ’til dusk) with a special selection of spring veggies.  On Thursday June 1st we’ll officially open for the 2017 season and thereafter we will be open daily through the fall.

Field Crew Positions

We are hiring full and part-time crew members for the 2017 season.

Please contact us (phone or email) if you are interested in applying for a field crew position.

$8-$14 per hour to start + veggies!

Part-Time Positions:  15-25 hours per week, mornings.

Full Time Positions:  40-60 hours per week

Tasks will include harvesting, seeding, transplanting, cultivation, and field projects.

celery starts

We are in the process of drafting “Crop Pages” to help our community make the most of the Brix Bounty Harvest.  Over the course of the next year, we’ll be updating individual crop pages with availability, nutritional notations, and recipe suggestions.

We’ve started with Cabbage.

Check it out and Enjoy!

The busy time of spring is upon us… lots of bed prep and planting so no time to “spell check” the following, but here’s our handout (aka “cheat sheet”) for Saturday’s workshop 11AM at the Helfand Farm Community Gardens (Chase Road in Dartmouth).

BB Accelerating Spring Growth in the Garden (and Building Complete Proteins) – April 2016

Using a high tunnel or fieldhouse is a guaranteed way to accelerate spring growth.  Exhibit A:  Our Fieldhouse tomatoes 2 weeks after transplanting (they were set out April 1st) are looking great!

Tomatoes April 15, 2016

Brix Bounty Farm Invites You to:

    invest in health…
        invest in flavor…
            invest in the joy of seasonal eating…
Join our 2016 Summertime CSA!

The seedling house on the farm is filling up fast…. time to start transplanting!

After a successions of cool springs, we are poised to make the most of our opportunities for a spring bounty in 2016.  We’ve been placing our poker chips on the table, or in our case our seeds into the soil with a calm confidence.  Every year the potential for bounty improves as we continue to make fertile investments in the fields on Bakerville Road.  This spring we’ve started our growing season focusing our planting in the “Old North Pasture” which we’ve dubbed the “Reams Field – named in honor of visionary agronomist Carey Reams”.  March tasks have included:  rock picking aplenty, spreading foundational fertility, initial field preparation, and planting!

snap peas germ field march 26 2016snap peas gh march 26 2016 snap peas tp march 26 2016

Given the opportunity to work the soil in early March, we decided this would be a good year to give Sugar Snap Peas focused attention.  We tracked down organic seeds of the classic variety “Tall Vine Sugar Snap” and have hedged our plantings through 3 successions.  Our first planting was seeded in the greenhouse on March 12th and split into two groups:  one provided with a bit of bottom heat for germination and the other limited to the heat the sun provides.  Of these two groups, the plants on heat germinated in just 72 hours and were off to the races, growing quickly and yielding field ready transplants by Thursday morning the 24th of March.  We’ll set out the slower group later next week.  The third succession was direct seeded into the fields on March 16th and is just germinating as we write.  The hope is that these 3 successions will provide a nice harvest of peas for our planned Father’s Day CSA Pick Your Own Event on June 19th.  Now that the tall vine peas are planted, we’ve turned our focus on our traditional planting of bush peas, direct seeding 3 beds of Sugar Ann Peas on Thursday afternoon.  Depending on soil conditions we’ll plant a couple more rounds of bush peas by mid-April, ensuring our June pea crop yields an appreciated bounty of delicious snap peas for our CSA members.

red russian kale march 26 2016 greg & josh seeding march 24 2016 chard march 26 2016

This past week we seeded an astounding variety of summer crops in the greenhouse:  beets, broccoli, cauliflower, celeriac, dill, eggplant, hot peppers, husk cherries, lettuce, peppers, spinach, tomatoes [Pictured above is Brix Bounty crew member Greg Veitch and workshare member Josh Louro, seeding the season’s third round of scallions].   In addition to the early planting of peas, this past week we transplanted our first crop of spring beets, early scallions, parsley, and dandelion greens for the die-hard greens lovers.  We also direct seeded a very early round of Mokum carrots [Pictured below, is Brix Bounty crew member Matt Walsh spreading a bit of compost ahead on the to be planted carrot bed].  Next week we’ll be setting out early crops of swiss chard, spinach, russian kale, and pac choi.  The transplants will be buffered against the cold nights ahead with a protective layer of row cover, which will accelerate their root growth and provide an early season boost so they can capture as much April solar energy as possible.  Also slated for transplanting next week is an early round of tomatoes which will be planted in our fieldhouse.

early tomatoes march 26 2016  matt spreading compost for carrots march 17 2016lettuce mix true leaves march 26 2016

With all the greenhouse activity on the farm and fieldwork proceeding on schedule, April is going to be a blast this season!  We hope you’ll join us as we prepare to celebrate the health, flavor, and joy of the seasons ahead.  Send along your 2016 Registration Form and secure your position in Brix Bounty Farm’s Summertime CSA.

With Gratitude,


The abundance of beauty sculpted on the glass each morning is one of the true pleasures of February farmwork.  It might even be a fair trade for the fierce round of poison ivy received as we renovated the small glass greenhouse at the King Farm earlier this month.   Thought we would share them with you as we make a call for CSA Members to send in their registration forms.

We Invite You to Invest in Health, Make a Downpayment on Flavor…

Join Our 2016 Brix Bounty Summertime CSA.

As we start the seeds which will grow into this season’s bounty of vegetables, we ask for your support to help us reach our full potential as a neighborhood vegetable farm.  Sales of our CSA shares provide the farm with the necessary capital to purchase seeds, equipment, and fertilizer at the beginning of the season.  More importantly income received now helps us invest in the farm’s greatest resource – our crew members. 

Full farm update below…


The fleeting tundra of February will ease its grip after the weekend and we are set to start seeding our onions Tuesday morning February 18th, in the greenhouse of course.  We’ll be starting two rounds of onions this spring, one set will be guided by optimism while our second round will wait ’til early March as a hedge against another cool spring.  The long range forecast is also to be considered; currently, stormy and on the cool side into early April.  Along with our onions, we soon be seeding our earliest field plantings of lettuce heads, spinach, swiss chard, and kale in the greenhouse, which will be ready for transplanting around Easter.

The Weight of Potential is Buoyant, Each Seed Brings Opportunity for Health and Nourishment to Our Community and Dare We Say Pleasure

The crop plan nearly finished remains soft set, a malleable template of bounty and diversity.  Jockeying hard for acreage is the crowd favorite but temperamental sugar snap pea.  When spring comes early the Southcoast’s climate is a perfect season-scape for the sweetness of a garden pea.  If soils remain cold and your farmer shies away from irrigation, as we do, then peas provide a challenge sometimes best left in the package.  Conventional growers rely on fungicide treatment for their seeds slated for cool soils, seeds shaded unnatural colors to provide overt warning to the handler.  If May or June rains are scarce and irrigation is withheld, the pods will struggle to achieve top quality.  And then there are the deer, Odocoileus virginianus…

In 2015, we made a long delayed decision to invest in electrical deer fencing and the results were terrific – unfortunately installation in late June was too late to positively impact our snap peas.  We set our sights on June 2016 with renewed excitement… maybe this will be the year of the pea?  We are going with a “buck-shot” approach, diversifying our seed selections in hopes of bringing in a couple robust harvests.  We’ll be sowing one bed of tall-vined Sugarsnaps, along with multiple beds of bush varieties.  We’ll include Sugar Ann which has been a staple of pea planting for me since 2004.  Additionally, we’ll bring back Cascadia, a larger podded pea which I haven’t planted in nearly 10 years but other local growers have deemed well suited for our bio-region.  Finally, we’ll trial the stocky Sugar Heart which will be entirely new to Brix Bounty Farm.  Cascadia and Sugar Heart are noted as 62 day varieties, nearly 10 days slower to produce than the speedy Sugar Ann.  We’ve steered clear of them in previous seasons because we couldn’t reliably seed early in the wet fields on Tucker Road, and the specter of late June heat is always haunting.  We are going to work to help accelerate the microclimate and conditions for early season germination by pre-warming our pea acreage with row cover and perhaps a bit of old greenhouse plastic.  We learned a hard lesson in 2014 that row cover is best avoided after seeding, less we build too much humidity in the soil and invite seed rot.  If are plans ring true, we aim to get a majority of our peas seeded by mid-April and if all goes well, we’ll feature a short lived bounty of peas for our CSA customers in early June.

If the peas don’t yield heavy or impress the critical metes of our taste buds, we’ll still have a dazzling array of veggies to satisfy from June through October.  At this year’s Soil & Nutrition conference at the Kripalu Center I was greeted by an audience member who shared the following story, which I’ll paraphrase:  “Our daughter lives in Dartmouth and a couple of years back she spoke of a nearby farm which produced amazing vegetables, vegetables her kids adored, they came from a farm on Bakerville Road… we asked her the name of the farm and she said Brix Bounty… and we said – oh yes Brix Bounty, of course we’ve heard Derek speak about soil fertility.”

Nature’s Beauty and Bounty

Soil fertility is the lens which at times threatens myopia for me as a farmer… crops not performing well?  Diseases or pests blemishing your fruit?  It must be the minerals, or more accurately their availability must be lacking.  So fully do I place our farm’s prospects on the importance of minerals and the critical need for soil biology that we will make a silent pledge, one we’ve been making since we started the farm – we will not use any chemical fungicides, herbicides, or pesticides to produce our crops.  Our focus is always to start with soil as the foundation for health, of our plants, our customers, and our environment.  When speaking with other farmers, I often share my decision to invest in “full spectrum fertility” as a humble nod to the complexity of our natural systems; our efforts our guided by a notion that nature has tremendous capacity to create health, if we only provide the right conditions for complete expression.

Just one small piece of evidence our decision is well place; last week’s Reuters article linking Cuba’s avoidance of pesticides with unmatched health in their honeybee population.  Our approach leads us to direct a significant portion of our resources toward improving our soil fertility each season.  Through application of minerals and stewardship of biology we have set our farm’s sights on top notch nutrition and a bounty of flavor in 2016.  Diversity in our intended harvest provides the seasonal notes of Summer, which we share each week with our community.

Investing Our Labor in Our Community

There are a surprising number of customers at our farmstand who don’t fully realize that every single vegetable we sell at Brix Bounty was grown and produced by us on the farm.  Quite literally dozens of folks will ask each season, where do we get these veggies, misdirected by the vista of grass which sets the backdrop for our stand.  Maybe we need one more sign, which states what we have always take for granted:  We Grow All of Our Vegetables at Brix Bounty Farm, Each Crop is Seeded, Tended and Harvested by the Brix Bounty Crew Right Here on Bakerville Road.  I reckon we might also pay a little better attention to the conditions of our South Field as the potential for showcasing our production rather than sheltering weed species.  The field has been neglected at times the past two years as we labored to bring a new field into production at the farm and directed the bulk of our efforts to land out of sight and out of mind for our customers.

The reality is reflected in agriculture as a whole, most of the work which goes into producing food in America is out of sight and out of mind.  On vegetable farms, this labor starts long before the summer or autumn harvests.  Each season’s harvest builds on collective knowledge stewarded through generations, is made possible through prior investment in infrastructure, and for some vegetables starts with the sowing of a tiny seed well ahead of spring’s arrival…

We invite you to Invest in Your Health, Make a Downpayment on Flavor…

Join our Brix Bounty Summertime CSA

As we start the seeds which will grow into this season’s bounty of vegetables, we ask for your support to help us reach our full potential as a neighborhood vegetable farm.  Sales of our CSA shares provide the farm with the necessary capital to purchase seeds, equipment, and fertilizer at the beginning of the season.  More importantly income received now help us invest in the farm’s greatest resource – our crew members.



We are presenting a short workshop on Foliar Sprays – Mid-Season Corrections & Considerations at the 2016 Soil & Nutrition Conference.   Here is an archived copy of our handout from Tuesday’s workshop >> Foliar Sprays – Soil & Nutrition 2016.

Basil - August 2015Basil is one of the few crops on the farm that we rarely apply foliar nutrition, only during the plant establishment phase…  Check out the handout for a quick overview of our current foliar spray thoughts at Brix Bounty Farm.

Basil - August 2015

Saturday January 16, 2016

Worcester, MA

NOFA/Mass Winter Conference

Making Major Money with Minor Crops: 

Producing Profit on the Edges

Local demand for fresh goes beyond tomatoes; we’ll examine a selection of crops which are consistently high profit producers for us at Brix Bounty Farm. Using in-season monitoring and enterprise analysis, we’ll cover our key levers to success producing basil, cilantro, choi, parsley, scallions, shallots, and summer leeks profitably on a small scale…

Jan 2016 Powerpoint – 6 Slides       Jan 2016 – Powerpoint – Full Slides

Basil (in Focus) – Jan 2016      Shallot Enterprise Budget – Jan 2016

Please Join Us …Brix Bounty Farm Presents:

We Care Wednesdays  2015

On the final Wednesday in June, July, August, September, & October we’ll donate 50% of our farmstand sales to an exceptional agricultural organization which is making a difference in our community & across the country…

We invite you to join us in showing your appreciation – just click on the links below and find out more about these terrific organizations (and if you are feeling so inspired make a donation)…


Wednesday June 24thBiodynamic Association

Wednesday July 29thBionutrient Food Association

Wednesday August 26thNOFA/Mass (Northeast Organic Farming Association)/Mass

Wednesday September 30thSharing the Harvest Community Farm

Dartmouth YMCA – 276 Gulf Road, Dartmouth, MA 02748

Wednesday October 28th – SEMAP (Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership)

A letter from our farming neighbor Geoff Kinder about his 2015 RTB Meat CSA offering:

Hello everyone,

Many, many thank-yous to all of you for your commitment to my meat CSA.  It brings me peace of mind knowing that so many of you are committed to my product and trusting enough to pay ahead of time and wait patiently for your returns.  I hope that you have been satisfied with the quality of your experience.  Please know that your commitment has allowed me to continually focus on animal and land health without having to spend a whole bunch of time peddling meat.
So, it is a thank you from Geoff Kinder.  But more importantly I believe; a thank you from our local ecosystem and human community and the future of agriculture.
The farm is under snow…. amazing how different it is from season to season!  Cows, pigs, and sheep are all snuggled in down by the barn with dry bedding and feed and hay that has all been harvested from less than 1/4 of a mile from the farm.  Everyone is healthy, expecting lambs soon, just weaned our latest litter of pigs.  The daily routine of barn chores gives life a structure that is a welcome change to the chaos that can ensue during the growing season.
I have gone around in circles a few times about how to construct next year’s CSA offering and have settled on a very similar model to last year’s. (lamb optional). I was feeling as though the sheep business was not the best fit here at RTB, but my tune was changed when a neighbor from down the road offered their property as a place to graze.  And so, the sheep will have new ground to graze on next year and will hopefully have a lesser internal parasite load.  I am hopeful.
I hope this email finds each of you healthy and happy and doing what you love.  As CSA members you have first priority to sign up again.  I will be sending it out into the big wide world in about a week….. so please consider signing up sooner than later.   Please also, and always, feel free to give feedback about your experience and what you may like to experience in the future.
Thank you all,

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