Blighted

Farmers are are creative people. We take a mish-mash of variables every year (weather, plants, labor, etc.) and fit it together into an odd creation that this time of year we can stand back and look at. Every year is different and parts of the picture that we’re proud of one year may be embarrassing the next. Many of you may remember the great tomato blight of 2009 where almost every tomato plant in the northeast was destroyed by mid-August.  We all survived, but after that year most farmers took evasive action to try and prevent a repeat. For most of us that meant moving tomato production into greenhouses or plastic field tunnels. These structures are closable and allow growers to control the temperature and most importantly the moisture on the leaves of the plants where blight get started.

We’ve been quite lucky up to this point with a summer as warm and humid as it has been to avoid the dreaded tomato late blight. All summer there have been sporadic outbreaks of blight around the region and the state but most of us have avoided infection. This disease is amazing in it’s ability to rapidly take down large numbers of plants and their fruit. It’s a fungus that creates spores, like a mushroom, and these spores travel freely on the wind for miles and miles. The spores that by chance land on tomato plants then wait for a little moisture and germinate, making an ugly green lesions that look like the plant has been spattered with hot grease. These lesions grow, make more spores and in a very short time the infection spreads to every available host around. On Saturday I found five infected plants in two of our three tomato houses. By Monday all three houses had widespread infection. The crew quickly went to work and we picked heavily, harvesting over a ton of tomatoes during the morning. We picked fruit that had color of any kind knowing that the will ripen in the barn and a tomato in hand is worth two in the field. We hope the infection won’t spread to the remaining fruit right away and these tomatoes will get some color on the vine. It’s not all doom and gloom as we have a great tomato share for you this week and hope to have another next week as well. If we had been hit two weeks ago it would have been a sadder story….

 

Sauce Recipe to Try

This recipe calls for golden tomatoes but the ones you are receiving in your share will work great.  This comes highly recommended by CSA member Liz Pierson from the website 101 Cookbooks  http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/golden-tomato-sauce-recipe.html

Golden Tomato Sauce Recipe

I don’t bother peeling the tomatoes here, but you certainly could. You can also do a double or triple batch. The sauce will keep refrigerated for about a week. Also, the color of your tomatoes will dramatically impact the color of your sauce. I like to choose tomatoes that are bright yellow in color, like you see here. Alternatively, yellow tomatoes with a hint of orange make a striking sauce as well.

1 1/2 pounds / 24 oz / 680g ripe yellow tomatoes, cored and halved

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Run your finger along the inside of each tomato to remove and discard the seeds. Chop the tomatoes into 1/4-inch chunks, reserve any juice, and set aside.

Combine the olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper flakes in a cold medium sauce pan. Now, heat the ingredients, stirring occasionally, until the garlic begins to sizzle and take on a bit of color. Stir in the tomatoes and reserved juices, and bring to a simmer. Cook for just a couple minutes, long enough for the tomatoes to start breaking down a bit. Remove from heat, taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Makes 2 cups / 475 ml.

Prep time: 10 min – Cook time: 5 min

Potatoes Arrive in Force

Here’s the first share of potatoes. These are our ugly but tasty rose golds and they are amazing. Our favorite was to prepare them is to preheat the oven to 425, have the potatoes and pre-boil them until they just begin to soften. Drain the spuds toss them in butter/oil and add salt (a little more than you think you should) and bake them in a single layer in a cooking sheet until the begin to crisp around the edges.

Shallots are the Best

Shallots arrive this week as well and they do well anywhere you would use garlic or onions…

Willow Pond Farm Apples

Paula Reds are for sale by the 5 lb bag -this is a great early fall apple -crisp and sweet.

What’s in Upic…

Flowers

Herbs

What’s in the share this week….

Tomatoes

Basil

Shallots

Carrots

Asian Greens

Chard/Kale

Chickories

Eggplant

Peppers

Potatoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September Sunshine

Thank you to all of you that came to help with the potato harvest!  It was a great event and we will have a good crop of potatoes to share with you over the next couple of months. We have five varieties this year that range from red waxy to old fashioned grainy russet and after a week of curing in the barn you should start seeing them in your share.  2011 was the benchmark year for us in potato production with just over 14,000 pounds harvested. This year, while more challenging in moisture, weed pressure, and temperatures, still looks to be a good one as we expect somewhere between 12 and 13,000 pounds when we finish the harvest and tally.  The Maine potato harvest made the news this week  with harvests expected to be markedly down for the state, especially for commercial chip and french fry producers up in the county.  Here’s a link to the Portland Press Herald article and video doc.

In addition to potatoes we hope to get our winter squash crop in this week.  This crop looks great and if we can beat the deer this year we should have plenty of butternut, acorn, and sugar dumplings to fill your homes with that lovely fall smell.  Like potatoes, this crop has to cure for a week or two but instead of going in the barn we set them out in the now empty green house to gather warmth and sweeten up.

As we move into new crops we say goodbye to some of summers standbys.  Eggplant and cucumbers will make their last appearance of the season this week.  The last round of these crops, along with zucchini and summer squash in the recent weeks brings one of the hottest summers in living memory to a close.  It has been beautiful and a marked change to the abnormally cold and wet of the last few years.  Our hope as farmers is that we can adapt to the swings in temperature and rainfall that seem to be the new normal as opposed to “extremes.”

Red peppers arrive this week and while they look great it will be a short-lived season for this crop. We’ll enjoy them roasted and raw while we can as they did not fair well in the humid days of August.  The bells are sweet and wonderful but also try the pointed frying peppers -these are even sweeter!  We have another appearance of fennel this week and hope that you will be inspired to explore this great italian vegetable again. Here’s a simple carrot fennel soup recipe from the NY Times that would go great with sliced tomatoes and basil!

Happy First Day of School to all of our eager students and teachers!

What’s in Upic

Beans -this is the last week – the leaves may look weak, but keep your eyes open for the beans underneath!

Cherry tomatos – waning

Flowers

Herbs

What’s in the share

Basil

Lettuce

Chickories

Asian Greens

Arugula

Fennel

Eggplant

Tomatoes

Carrots

Cucumbers

Peppers

Community Shares

This program is in cooperation with Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program who connect the CSA program with local families that may not be able to afford a CSA share. Your donations are matched by us to offer shares at the farm in Brunswick. Last year we had three families who participated and hope to expand the program to include more families in 2013.

Labor on Labor Day

Each year at this time we celebrate the transition to fall with our annual Labor on Labor Day Potato Harvest Party.  This coming Monday, September 3rd, from 10am to 1pm in the fields along Pleasant Hill Road we will harvest our potato crop. This has come to be a favorite event for CSA members of all ages.  Join us in picking up spuds that our harvesting machine has already dug from the soil. Last year was a bumper crop and we were able to bring in over 14,000 pounds in a little over 2 hours with the help of about fifty folks! If you’re looking for something fun to do before the barbecues and picnics get rolling in the afternoon come out and jump in with us. Look for us (and the tractors and trucks) along the south side of Pleasant Hill Road and  park where you can.   Or ride your bike if you can!

First Potatoes

You’ll find the first of the year’s spuds in your share this week. These Rose Golds are my favorite potato hands down. Yellow fleshed and buttery they do well roasted or boiled. We’ll dig three more varieties next week and should have a steady supply in your shares from here through October.

The Pig Scramble

Wonderful children’s book by local author and CSA member Jessica Kinney – available for sale now!

What’s in the share this week…

Tomatoes

Chard

Carrots

Eggplant

Broccoli

Scallions

Peppers

Rose Gold Potatoes

Watermelon + Tomatoes = Summer

Watermelon is in the share this week and by the skin of our teeth. This heat loving crop is always a waiting game. We wait until the first warm week of June to set these plants out and then they start the process of gathering the long daylight hours and July heat to coalesce water and soil into this sweet goodness. Knowing when the growing process has finished and the sugars are right is a bit of trial and error, and for the past couple weeks we have been looking and sampling to find that right time. Everyone has there own ways of knowing when a melon is ready but we look for two signs. First is the spot on the underside of the fruit where the melon has been resting on the ground. For the past month this spot has been light yellow and when its ready to go the yellow turns slightly orange. The second sign is the bonk.  Taking your thumb and striking with the bony side of of the joint the melon should feel almost like a drum. The rap on its side resonates in the fruit and makes the whole thing vibrate in your hand (this takes a bit of practice).

When we harvest watermelon we harvest is all at once. This is unlike most of our other fruiting crops (tomatoes included) that are picked one by one over weeks and weeks.  When this crop is ready, it is all ready at the same time.  When this day arrives we head down to the field with huge 20 bushel wooden bins that fit on the tractor’s pallet forks and we clear the beds. When we come away with a good looking crop it is always a glorious thing to see a four foot by four foot crate of melon coming up the road. This year this triumph was all the more sweet as all of us were not the only ones waiting for the watermelon.  The crows that live well on this farm have also been waiting and testing this crop over the past weeks, pecking holes in countless numbers of these fruits trying to find just the right one (I should teach them the bonk technique as it might help save more melons).  In years past we have lost all of our melons to these birds that are too smart for their small heads.  This year the contest goes to the farmers.  Next year, your guess is as good as mine.

Pork

We still have a couple pigs left to preorder for your freezer. There’s nothing like chops, hams and bacon, glorious bacon to brave the cold winter months. Talk to us a pick-up for all the details.

What’s in the share this week…

Tomatoes

Lettuce

Kale/chard

Carrots

Eggplant

Summer squash/cukes

Watermelon

Broccoli

Chickories

 

Rolling In

It’s a busy harvest week for us, with plenty of new and exciting produce to enjoy as we move into the bounty of mid-August.  The crew has been racing to keep up with all of the harvesting demands. We used to be able to set aside half-days for transplanting or weeding but in this busy time we are struggling to fit in these other tasks as well.  In August we harvest many of our crops every other day to keep up with their growth.  Summer squash and cukes explode so quickly that we pick them almost too small to keep them from turning into baseball bats 48 hours later.   This year with the unusually hot days and absurdly warm nights have made keeping us fast growing crops a tough row to hoe

Tomatoes make their first appearance this week  and the one or two in your share is just a teaser. The plants are just getting going and there is quite a bit of green fruit for the month ahead.  The basil in your shares for a second week will go well any way you can imagine combining it with the tomatoes.

Beans Gone Wild

Speaking of harvesting madness…the next planting of snap beans is cranking in the UPIC field. Come ready to pick this week.

Green Garlic

Also new this week is green garlic. These heads are uncured and are meant to be used right away. Green garlic has a bright sweet flavor compared with the cured or dried heads you find in in the grocery store or locally later in the fall. Try adding some to salad dressings or sautéing a minced clove along with eggplant or summer squash. This garlic comes from Little Ridge Farm in Sabattus by way of a produce “swap” we are doing with them this season. We will offer them some of our potatoes and winter squash this fall in trade. Hope you enjoy.

Hot Weather and Hot Crops

Look for cantaloupe and jalapeños in your share this week. Both of these crops are heat lovers but generally do well in our normally less than hot environs.  The jalapeños are very good this year so use them cautiously but please try them.  Food that makes you sweat a bit is good in this weather.  While the jalapeños are hot this year the melon is not.  We usually grow sweet cantaloupe, but this crop we’re not so sure. The fragrance and flavor is good but it lacks sweetness. We questioned whether to share the melons with you at all and decided you can be the judge of its value in your menu.  We recommend refrigerating them and trying to eat them earlier as opposed to later.

More Eggplant and Zucchini?

Here’s a couple of recipes shared from a CSA member to get you inspired again. Zucchini Fritters and Eggplant Fritters  Delicious!

One more week to order Blueberries

Next week will be our last for blueberry deliveries so reserve your quarts this week for delivery next Tuesday (the  21st) and Friday (the 24th). Talk to us at pick-up for details.

What’s in UPIC

Flowers

Herbs

Snap Beans

What’s in the share?

Broccoli

Lettuce

Asian Greens

Arugula

Cukes

Summer squash

Eggplant

Jalapeños

Carrots

Onions or Leeks

Green garlic

Tomatoes

Cantalopes

 

Week of August 7th…

Another beautiful week ahead for all of us.

In need of some fresh ideas for the kitchen once you bring the harvest home?

  1. Think Pizza!  Saute any variety of your fennel (!), onions, peppers, eggplant, chard, leeks and top your pizza.  One member raves about pizza on the grill topped with fresh veggies. http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/grilled-pizza-recipe.html
  2. Cold Noodle Salads (like sesame or peanut noodles) tossed with cucumbers, shredded carrots, shredded kohlrabi, onions, leeks, chard
  3. Egg dishes like quiches – great with onions, leeks, chard.
  4. Stir fries.  Great for this week’s share.  If you’ve been making a lot of stir fry dishes, try some new sauces.  Mix and match some of the veggies as needed with the recipes found here: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/09/letting-vegetables-inspire-a-stir-fry/
  5. KOHLRABI! You’ll see kohlrabi again as a mix and match with the fennel.  Check out this article on kohlrabi from the New York Times:  http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/09/discovering-kohlrabi-its-a-vegetable/
  6. Speaking of fennel. Try it shaved on your salad.  Or sliced thin & grilled.
  7. Ask us!  If you are struggling with something in particular once you get home, please let us know; we are more than happy to share more specific ideas.

Pork for your freezer.

We are taking orders starting this week for custom pork . This is a great way to put quality local meat in your freezer.  These are our own pigs raised here at the farm and processed however you like at a USDA inspected butcher. This is a great deal for high quality pork for your freezer this winter. Bacon, ham, sausage and ribs all processed and packed as you like. Neighbors and families can split halves or quarters. Whole pigs are $3.50/lb. hanging weight and halves are $3.75. Talk to us at pick-up for more details.

 Blueberries Are Good.

Organic Maine blueberries arrive this week. If you pre ordered for Tuesday or Friday we will have your quarts waiting when you come for your produce baring bad weather for the raking crews.  If you would like to order for next Tuesday (14th) or Friday (17th) please sign up this week at pickup or email us by Saturday at noon for pickup Tuesday or Wednesday noon for pickup Friday. These are certified organic, raked in Oxford County and quarts are 1.7 pounds each (3 qts.=5lbs.) for $9.

Weeding is Wonderful

The need for weeding is not wonderful, but it can be quite mindful, relaxing, and gratifying.  The farm continues to have an abundance of weeds.  We appreciate any amount of help.  Wednesday mornings is a great time to join the crew but if you’d like to come another time please send us an email and we’ll see what we can coordinate.  Many thanks!

What’s Coming Around the Bend…

We’re looking at a few exciting crops that should be arriving in the next couple weeks. We have seen our first few ripe tomatoes; broccoli is just aroung the bend as are red peppers, melons, and our first potaoes varieties.

What’s in Upic:

Flowers

Herbs

What’s in the share with week:

Basil

Fennel

Kohlrabi

Eggplant

Sweet Onions

Cukes

Green Peppers

Leeks

Carrots

Chard

Summer, Italian Style

We have three great vegetables  in your share this week that really work well together: eggplant, sweet onions and fennel. These three will get you ready for tomatoes and peppers that are coming right around the bend.

We started harvesting eggplant last week and this vegetable goes with almost anything you can roast, grill, fry, or bake. The skinnier Asian varieties have thin skin and don’t need to be peeled.  Our favorite way to enjoy these is split with liberal amounts of olive oil brushed on before almost blackened on the grill.  Mark Bitman, NYT food writer has a great article on everything that can be done with grilled eggplant here.

Sweet onions are a summer treat. They don’t store like the ones you find in the produce aisle and really do best raw or with minimal cooking. The have a low sulfur content (that make you cry onion scent) and blend well with light summer produce like summer squash, cukes, and eggplant.

Fennel, like eggplant, really shines on the grill. Halve or quarter this bulb and slather with olive oil before hitting the grill. Cook until it starts to brown and is tender when pierced with a knife.  Roasting in the oven with eggplant is also great. Toss with some summer onions and you are in business.

What’s in Upic:

Flowers

Herbs

What’s in the share with week:

Fennel

Kohlrabi

Eggplant

Sweet Onions

Cukes

Zucchini

Lettuce

Chickories

Arugula

Chard

Tough on Greens

Life is tough for leafy greens this year. Many of you have surely noticed that the diversity and amounts of leafy greens we’ve had so far have been less this year. This is not because we think you need fewer greens or that we have devoted the time we used to spend on these crops to some other hobby, we quite simply have been struggling with them this season. Stress from heat, wet and pests have pushed several plantings to bolt before they were of size to harvest. Notable losses have tatsoi, boy choi, arugula and most painfully, kale.

We plant these crops in multiple successions over the season and hope to harvest one and seamlessly move into the next, providing a relatively constant supply. For example, we sow tatsoi nine times, kale ten and arugula eight between April and August. There is always the expectation that we will lose or have poor yield from a planting or two during the average summer. This summer has not been average. We have several good looking plantings in various stages of growth and hope that our greens supply will become more regular as we move into August and beyond. As always, we’ll continue to do our best to bring you the best produce each season will allow. Your support of the farm and our family makes all we do here possible. Thanks.

Praise the Weeding Crew!

Thanks to a group of almost twenty folks this past Saturday and another ten on Sunday we were able to clean up the weeds from the lettuce and bok choi you see this weekend get a good start on the parsnips. Everyone was hung ho and we flew through over a thousand bed feet of crops! Many hands…

Weeding Wednesdays 11-1 -meet us at the CSA barn.

What’s in Upic?

Beans…the last week for this planting

Flowers

Herbs

What’s in the share?

Kohlrabi

Arugula

Baby Bok Choi

Lettuce

Carrots

Beets

Scallions

Show Me Heat


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I grew up in the great state of Missouri where July is hot. Thinking back, I  have memories (not necessarily fond ones) of sleeping with my family on the floor of the living room under our one ceiling fan (no ac in 1977) and sweating so much that there was real concern of dehydration before the sunrise. This week has been hot, but not Missouri hot. That said, my blood has thinned in the twenty plus years since I lived in the midwest and I’m looking forward to some moderation.

Who loves the heat? Most of our crops have been soaking it up. Tomatoes, sweet potatoes and melons especially have been flourishing to the point that I can almost watch them grow. With all the heat irrigation has been a constant, running our watering systems at night to cut down on loss from evaporation and deliver water to the plants that has not been super heated by the sun first. The inch of rain we had last night (sunday) was a blessing as it meant we can take a break from running water for a few days at least.

Wheat Harvest

A few of us spent Sunday afternoon harvesting our trial wheat crop with great success. We have been growing out three wheat varieties supplied by researchers at UMaine Orono with the hope of adding a bit of grain into our rotation here. As this crop matured we had hoped to find someone local who could harvest this 1/4 acre crop mechanically but had no luck. We contacted our friend Jim Cornish of Harpswell and he managed to round up a few folks with scythes and in a couple of hours we had the whole crop cut, tied and loaded on the trailer waiting for the threshing machine to be fired up next weekend.

Weeding Wednesdays Are On

Come join the crew on Wednesdays from 11 to 1pm as week tackle weeds (which love heat) on the farm. Meet us at the CSA building and we’ll go down to the fields together. Thanks to Otey and Paul for their help last week.

What’s Orange, Crunchy and Sweet?

Carrots make their first appearance this week and we hope to have a pretty steady supply most weeks for the rest of the season. We are harvesting these sweet roots this week with the help of our farm camp kids and they did a great job today helping up pull over 300 lbs. in about 25 minutes.

What’s in Upic…

Flowers

Herbs

Snap Beans

Whats in the share?

Lettuce

Chard

Carrots

Summer Squash

Cucumbers