After a three day delay at the State Forest Nursery, we were finally able to get our hands dirty. Due to the deep frost level and the ice and snow that were on the ground up until the week before our scheduled start, Howie Lewis, the forester at the nursery, made the call to add a few more days of warmer weather in the hopes of the ground thawing. As we arrived on that first day and met with Howie he told us that he almost cancelled that day. Due to cold temperatures the night before the ground started to freeze again and he didn’t know if they’d be able to lift the trees. Luck was on our side and the day warmed the ground. Howie has been the forester at the nursery for over 20 years and every year is a guessing game on the starting time. In the past they’ve been able to start as early as March 17thand as late as April 15th. We started on the 11thso we were at the later end of the schedule.
For those of you who have not been to the harvest, when the trees get lifted a tractor is used to drive over the rows, which are slightly narrower that the width of the space between the tires. There is an attachment on the tractor that is inserted several inches under the topsoil and it gently lifts the roots from below. There is a group of workers who follow the tractor and collect the trees to put them in tubs for us to sort at a later time. The UNH Cooperative Extension portion of the harvest ended on April 26, but the work is not over. The nursery is looking for volunteers over the next 2-3 months. The harvest will continue for several more weeks and once we get into the summer months they need volunteers to help with the weeding. If you would like to volunteer your time please contact Howie directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.