Posts by: Seth

With the cold season solidly in place the race to clean-up and close up is on. The days of dry and not really frozen weather are numbered so we have been scurrying about. Our days look like this: first thing when the frost is heavy, we clean and organize building by building and machine by machine. Then with the mild middle part of the day, we harvest roots for the fall share and Wild Oats Cafe (they love our carrots too). We had couple great high school groups come help this week. Then as the day settles into afternoon we pour over records from the year, looking for winners and losers amongst the varieties and successions of so many vegetables. 

Soon the crew will be gone and I will move inside to work on the books, flip through the seed catalogs, and dream up the year to come as the snow flies. 

Late Fall Share Tuesday 3-6pm

Great produce this week. Lots of family pleasures for the holiday or just to hoard away for yourself!

2018 Shares

Sign up for next summer now! Payment plans that make it easy are available. Click here.

What’s in the Share

Napa Cabbage

Kale

Carrots

Beets

Butternut Squash

Spinach

Onions

Shallots

Sweet Potatoes

Russet Potatoes

 

 

Dramatic. That’s the word I can put to the past five days. After the power and fury of Sunday night its been a rollercoaster of clean-up, repair and triage. When the sun came up on Monday morning we were able to take stock of a farm that was tossed, turned and spread all over the place. One of our prized sugar maples in the driveway lost it’s top, 3 barn doors were destroyed, the chicken house (no chickens in it thankfully) was picked up and carried 100′. The most painful thing to discover was that our 3 field tunnels, that produced so many great tomatoes this summer, were pulled up and strewn over the landscape. After the awe wore off we set work cleaning up and putting it all back together. The farm crew was great. Everyone jumped in and reconstructed the tunnel with our winter greens before Tuesday night’s frost could add insult to injury (the greens will recover from the storm). 

After the structures were put back together we realized the compressor powering the walk-in freezer holding our blueberry crop had died in the outage surge. This was replaced quickly (to the tune of $3200) only to find out the new equipment was larger than our old generator could handle… thanks to CSA member Perry Esatbrook we were able to borrow his until CMP got us back online late Thursday evening. It’s never boring here.

While I have a hard time shaking the feeling that we lost this whole work week, we are still here and with most of our good humor in place. 

Thanks for Another Successful Summer Share

Another summer of great food has come to a close. Thanks to all of you who were a part of the farm this year. It was dry but we grew some outstanding food. Have a great winter and we look forward to seeing you around town!

Late Fall Share 

Our late fall share starts this week. If you signed up for a fall share, come to the farm Tuesday 3-6pm for the first installment! We still have a few shares left. If you have been hesitating act quickly…here’s the sign-up link.

2018 Shares

Sign up for next summer now! Payment plans that make it easy are available. Click here.

What’s in the Share

Broccoli (lots of it)

Cabbage

Kale

Chard

Carrots

Beets

Acorn/Kubocha Squash

Kohlrabi

Lettuce

Spinach

Onions

Sweet Potatoes

 

 

The end of another season is here. We look forward to seeing you all at the farm one last time. The crew have been a buzz of activity getting ready for CSA pick-up this week. Harvesting the last of storage crops like parsnips and beets and sorting through winter squash and sweet potatoes. As this big storm is about to roll in, it is really feeling like the close to a season that I will remember most for its dryness. Our area of the coast has had a “D1” designation for a few weeks now (drought level 1), which means the official measure has caught up to what we have been feeling since July! If this weather system delivers the 2-3 inches expected it will equal all the rainfall we have had since the first week of June. Let it rain.

Thanks to all of you for taking another trip through the summer months with us. The art of farming is taking some seed and turning it into something beautiful and nourishing. We love this job and have only gratitude to all of you for supporting us in doing it. Have great winter!

Not Ready to Stop?…Late Fall Shares Still Available

Our late fall share runs during November and December with pick-ups every other Tuesday (Nov. 7, 21 and Dec. 5, 19). This is the storage crop (carrots, squash, potatoes, etc.) and fresh greens (spinach, lettuce, kale, bok choi, and chard) lifeline for the last two months of the year. Great holiday meal foundations! Follow this link to sign up.

Sign up for 2018!

We have a new sign-up site! In addition to automated credit card and echeck payments you can also access your balance at anytime, include your add-on products in the payment plan and store your payment info for later. Thanks again for letting us grow food for you…here’s the link for 2018 Sign-up.

What’s in the Share

Spinach

Kale

Chard

Kohlrabi

Carrots

Winter Squash

Lettuce

Potatoes

Sweet potatoes

Onions

Parsnips

Beets

Leeks

What’s in Upic

Flowers 

Herbs

 

As we start our second to last week of harvest for the summer share there is so much to do. The temperature flip flop of fall is at an extreme this year. Days in the 80’s and nights dipping to 30 have sent many of the crops on a stressful roller coaster. These swings push even the most fall hardy crops like kale and chard, both of which saw damage from the frosty night last week. The crew spent several hours laying out row covers over the past few days which gives us about 5 degrees of protection. If we stay above the 20’s we will be in good shape. 

Lots of good stuff coming your way this week. Butternut and potatoes confirm the season. Go ahead and preheat the oven now! 

Late Fall Share…shares still available

Our late fall share runs during November and December with pick-ups every other Tuesday (Nov. 7, 21 and Dec. 5, 19). This is the storage crop (carrots, squash, potatoes, etc.) and fresh greens (spinach, lettuce, kale, bok choi, and chard) lifeline for the last two months of the year. Two of the deliveries fall in the same week as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Follow this link to sign up.

 Sign up for 2018!

We have a new sign-up site! In addition to automated credit card and echeck payments you can also access your balance at anytime, include your add-on products in the payment plan and store your payment info for later. Thanks again for letting grow food for you…here’s the link for 2018 Sign-up.

What’s in the Share

Cabbage

Kale

Chard

Bok Choi

Carrots

Butternut Squash

Lettuce

Potatoes

What’s in Upic

Very frost dependent…

Flowers 

Herbs

 

Summer continues as we move solidly into October. That one night of frost a week ago may be all we get for a while here. Thinks are really growing, including the greens we have set in our tunnel for the Late Fall Share. Spinach, lettuce, kale, bok choi, and chard are all on track to keep fresh greens in your share if you signed up for the late fall. 

Ahead in the share for next week look for green cabbage and more beets. We have a massive amount of broccoli that is almost ready but not quite…with luck it will keep growing with the warmth and form heads just in time for some cold to sweeten it up. 

Late Fall Share…shares still available

Our late fall share runs during November and December with pick-ups every other Tuesday (Nov. 7, 21 and Dec. 5, 19). This is the storage crop (carrots, squash, potatoes, etc.) and fresh greens (spinach, lettuce, kale, bok choi, and chard) lifeline for the last two months of the year. Two of the deliveries fall in the same week as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Follow this link to sign up.

Upic is Still Cranking…

By far the latest we have still had a supply of cherry tomatoes. Come by and take advantage of the abundance and grab a handful of cilantro, dill, and rosemary while you are at it!

What’s in the share

Sweet potatoes

Baby Bok Choi/Tatsoi

Lettuce

Onions

Kale/Chard

Carrots/Beets

Arugula

Salad Turnips

Sugar Dumpling Squash

Hot peppers

What’s in Upic

Cherry toms

Tomatilloes

Flowers

Herbs

 

The first frost came Friday evening and it was just a light touch but is the beginning of good things. Everyone assumes I am happy about frosts as they mean the end of the farm season and a slowdown in my workload. While there is some truth to this, my happiness when I awaken to white mornings in early October is really about vegetable quality. That touch of frost is like the princess kissing the frog (a beautiful and very tasty frog to keep the analogy on task). Little doses of cold flip the switch in our fall crops and they go from tasting good to great. All these cold-tolerant vegetables like cabbage, carrots, leeks and broccoli respond to temperatures just below freezing by sweetening up; converting starches to sugars. It’s not instant but over the next week or two we will see a big change in flavors. Trying to get someone at your table to try kale or eat more cabbage? This is the strategic time of year for success.

Dinner

We had a perfect farm-to table meal on Sunday evening. Blue sky and a windless afternoon made our four courses and three Maine Beer Co. pairings taste even better. Hats off to those of you that could join us as well as Dirigo Public House for taking our good produce and making it great. This meal was a trial run for what we home will be many more next season.

Maple

After a long hiatus the dark maple syrup quarts are back. Look for them in the egg cooler…I’m dreaming on pancakes now.

Blueberries!!

Our own organic blueberries are back from the freezer in Ellsworth where they have been cleaned and frozen. We are working on getting our berries into some local stores along with some new packaging and labels. In the meantime we will have 30-pound boxes ($105) and 5-pound bags ($25) in the freezer at pick-up. 

Saving Crystal Spring Farm and Many Places Like it

As many of you know, Crystal Spring Farm is owned by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT) and Maura and I have an innovative long-term lease with the trust that allows us to run the CSA as our independent business.  The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust saved this farm from the threat of development twenty years ago. In the last two decades, BTLT has continued to protect and preserve over 2,500 acres of open space and farmland in our community along with offering recreational and educational programs that allow all of us to get out and enjoy the beauty of this great place we live in.  The trust is a community-based non-profit, staffed by committed local folks that work hard to keep our towns beautiful and accessible. BTLT also runs the Saturday Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm. Please consider supporting their work by becoming a member of the Land Trust. To learn more about BTLT’s mission and support their programs please follow this link.

2018 and Late Fall Share Sign-up

Thanks to everyone who has thrown their hats in with us for 2018. Your commitment now makes a huge difference for us as we plan and finance the coming season. Still haven’t signed up? Easy payment plans for both shares and add-ons available. Follow this link.

We also have Late Fall shares open. Come to the farm for produce every other Tuesday in November and December, including the Tuesday before Thanks giving and Christmas.  sign up here.

What’s in the Share 

  • Lettuce
  • Napa Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Delicata Squash
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Tatsoi/Baby Bok
  • Radishes
  • Peppers
  • Arugula

What’s in Upic

  • Cherry tomatoes/tomatillos
  • Flowers
  • Herbs
 

What a weekend – we hope you made it to the beach or enjoyed the warm sun where ever you could!  Produce is really growing fast for this time of year -almost like June except that the days are shorter. It’s all good news as it should make the fall crops like carrots and cabbage really size up. With any luck we will get a little rain too and then at some point a bit of frost to sweeten everything up!

CSA Upgrade…More Choice Next Season! (and your thoughts?)

This September some of you are in the home stretch of your very first CSA season!  Others, we are honored and grateful to say, have been with us here at Crystal Spring Farm for thirteen seasons!  We know there are lots of great reasons why people participate in our farm – appreciating great local and organic produce (at a relatively low cost);  valuing the role of a local farm, coming to Upic, and more.  We also have recognized and acknowledged the challenges of CSA – primarily the lack of choice in what you bring home to prepare and enjoy.   While this can be a welcome adventure in some cases, we understand it may not be ideal. While we try to offset this by offering “mix and match” with the greens and other veggies as much as possible, we have been strategizing ways to make the CSA experience even better in regards to choice.  

As we flesh out the possibilities for increased choice we will let you know about changes to come for next season.  In the meantime we welcome your thoughts!  

Farm to Table at the Crystal Spring

Join us for a farm to table multi course meal on the farm this Sunday 3-7. Our produce, pork and craft beers will be offered along with beautiful views and good conversation. For more info and to sign up follow this link.

Fall Shares Still Available

Keep eating with us through the end of the year with our fall share. Come to the farm every other Tuesday in November and December for storage vegetables like onions, squash, potatoes and carrots as well as fresh greens like spinach and lettuce cut from our greenhouses. Not ready to quit in October? This share is for you. Here’s the link to sign up.

2018 Signups Underway 

Thank you to all of you who have signed up during the last week. Your support at this time of year is really appreciated. Here’s the link if you haven’t gotten to it yet… 

What’s In The Share

  • Radishes
  • Tomatoes
  • Mustard
  • Onions
  • Kale/chard
  • Acorn Squash
  • Eggplant/Peppers
  • Lettuce
  • Chickories
  • Spinach

What’s In Upic

  • Cherry Toms
  • Tomatillos
  • Flowers
  • Herbs
 

September is wistful, watching as summer slips away. Kids are in school. The schedule locks in and gets busy for everyone. Thoughts of winter and everything that needs to be fixed and buttoned up before snow flies, begin to creep in. For us on the farm, September is also the end of our year. Even though we have more than a month of harvest yet to share with you, our production and budget year is coming to a close. Most of our 2017 expenses are paid out by the 30th (short of payroll) and starting in October we begin to look forward to and take on the expenses for the year to come.

Beside growing things well, us farmers are entrepreneurs. Not like the Silicon Valley types that are backed by seemingly endless venture capital, but the type that makes budgets and writes checks to keep things running in the black. Each fall we buy heavily for the coming season. Just like anything in our “free-market” economy, we save money by paying early and buying in bulk. Greenhouse soil for our 342,000 transplants comes from Vermont and ran $6,484 last year, which is %10 off when paid before December 1. Our seed orders from Johnnys,  Fedco and High Mowing came in at $8,370. For the last four years Fedco and Johnnys have run out of stock in January on many seeds sold in larger (i.e. farm) sizes. We work hard to put in our order in before the end of December so we can be sure to get the varieties of carrots, broccoli, onions, etc. that grow well here. The purchasing list continues with diesel and heating fuel, field row covers, irrigation supplies, etc.  This eager push to buy early allows us to save money. That’s good for us as a business but it’s also good for you, as it allows us to harvest great food for your family at a very affordable price. In 2016 the price per pound of the produce we harvested for the CSA was $1.44.  The next time you are in the produce aisle keep an eye out for anything there that you can find for $1.44 per pound, much less anything freshly harvested and certified organic. We know that most of you are not members of the CSA solely because it makes sense on paper.  Perhaps like Maura and I,  you love the farm, cherish the community here each week, and thrive on being creative in the kitchen with what you bring home. The value of our produce helps catalyze all that other important stuff.  I’m going deep with this today to remind you why we need you to sign up for your shares — so we can make everything else that is so important here work.

This past fall we fell short of our membership goals for the first time in many seasons. In addition we had many late sign-ups and late payments. Our theories as to why this came to be run from a cold spring to a general malaise (due the political climate?). Whatever the reason we want you to know that we are here growing for you, even when the ground is frozen and you can’t even begin to dream of greenery outside. Thank you to all of you who are a part of the farm and please know that we are honored to be your farmers and can’t wait to get to work starting our new season.


Sign up for 2018!

We have a new sign-up site. As technology advances we move with it. In addition to automated credit card and echeck payments you can also access your balance at anytime and store your payment info for later. Thanks again for letting grow food for you…here’s the link for 2018 Sign-up.


Farm to Table Dinner Party -October 1

We have teamed up with our friends at Dirigo Public House in Yarmouth to host a farm to table dinner here at the farm Sunday October 1 from 3-7pm. Farm produce and pork along with craft beer pairings will make a meal in the fields the perfect way to spend a fall afternoon. Look for more info and tickets via email in the next few days.


Fall Shares Still Available

Keep eating with us through the end of the year with our fall share. Come to the farm every other Tuesday in November and December for storage vegetables like onions, squash, potatoes and carrots as well as fresh greens like spinach and lettuce cut from our greenhouses. Not ready to quit in October? This share is for you. Here’s the link to sign up.


What’s In The Share

  • Tomatoes
  • Baby Bok Choi
  • Mustard
  • Onions
  • Kale
  • Onions
  • Red Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach

What’s In Upic

  • Cherry Toms
  • Tomatillos
  • Flowers
  • Herbs
 

 

Loving fall is easy to do this year. Warm days, cool nights, regular rain -this is the climate we all want! I’m trying to soak up these days. Our late season crops feel the same way as they are looking great. Cabbage and broccoli, spinach and lettuce, it’s all exploding out there.

While we are loving this fall the crew is also getting ready for what comes next. We start prepping one of the tomato tunnels this week for the greens that will go into the last fall share. This involves pulling out the spent tomato plants and their trellising as well as turning over the ground and fertilizing. We are also trialling a fall transplanted onion variety that winters over and is harvestable in June. These onions spend the winter outside, growing slowly. More on this next spring…

 

With fall also comes the back to school/back to work busy. A CSA member

forwarded a favorite slow cooker recipe using upic tomatillos for

the heavily scheduled:

Tomatillo Chicken

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 quart of tomatillos
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 1/2 lbs chicken breasts (legs and thighs work too)
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh pepper
  • chopped cilantro to top

Start slow cooker on low, add olive olive to coat bottom. Remove tomatillo husks, wash and halve. Lay chicken into cooker followed by onion slices then tomatillos, garlic and jalapeño. Pour in broth and finish with salt and pepper before closing the lid and cooking for 8 hours. Remove chicken and blend the contents of the cooker. Shred the chicken and top with blended sauce.

Fennel -it’s not licorice really!

Fennel makes and appearance in the share this week. We always walk on eggshells when we offer this vegetable as it is not universally loved. Like most scorned things, it is misunderstood. Yes it smell like licorice but when cooked it becomes sweet and complements everything from apples to onions. Here’s a great way to get started with fennel for the uninitiated:

Fennel, Kale and Rice Gratin

  • 1 hearty handful of stemmed kale
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 -2 bulbs fennel, trimmed, quartered, cored and chopped (about 4 cups chopped)
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup milk 
  • 1 cup cooked rice, preferably short-grain
  • 3 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (3/4 cup) (sub any cheese here)
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs, or a mixture of breadcrumbs and freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, add a generous amount of salt and add kale. Blanch for 2 to 3 minutes, remove from the water with a deep fry skimmer or a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of cold water. Drain and, taking the greens up by the handful, squeeze hard to expel excess water. Chop medium-fine or cut in thin ribbons.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet and add onion. Cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes, and add fennel. Cook, stirring often, until the fennel begins to soften. Add salt to taste and continue to cook, stirring often, until the fennel is very tender and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and kale, stir together for another minute, then stir in dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.
  3. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 2-quart gratin or baking dish. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in milk and salt to taste (I use about 1/2 teaspoon). Stir in fennel and kale mixture, rice and Gruyère, and combine well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Scrape into baking dish. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top if using, and drizzle on the remaining tablespoon of oil. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until set and the top and sides are beginning to color. Remove from oven and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. This is good hot, warm, or room temperature.

 

Late Fall Shares Still Available

Don’t want the fun to end in October? Sign up for our late fall share. Storage vegetables like carrots cabbage and potatoes along with fresh greens out of our tunnel. Sign up online here.


Farm Raised Pork For Your Freezer

We have filled almost all of our orders for pork. If you are considering filling your freezer with some outstanding farm raised bacon (and a few other cuts) don’t delay. Never had farm raised pork? It is like nothing the grocery store has to offer. Raised on pasture and fed organic grain (in addition to gelato) our pork tastes great and you know where the animals came from and how they lived.  Ask us for a info/sign-up sheet at pick-up or download one here.


What’s In The Share

  • Tomatoes
  • Fennel
  • Arugula
  • Tatsoi
  • Peppers
  • Onions
  • Melon
  • Garlic

What’s In Upic

  • Cherry Toms
  • Tomatillos
  • Flowers
  • Herbs
 

Cold nights and some rain (finally) tells me that we are in a new season. To make this transition even clearer we are sending you home with both tomatoes and winter squash! Here’s a great rainy day recipe that puts both together into a dish that will keep you warm.

Roasted Tomatoes and Winter Squash

6 large heirloom tomatoes, cored and quartered*
2 delicata squash, seeded, cubed and peeled (optional)
3 cloves garlic
2 fronds of fresh rosemary, branch removed
6-8 large fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp dry oregano
olive oil
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
bunch of rainbow chard, de-stemmed and chopped

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and in the meantime prep tomatoes and squash. In two separate 9×13 baking dishes spread tomatoes in one and cubed squash in the other. Drizzle each with olive oil and a sprinkle of pepper. Place tomatoes on top rack and delicata on bottom.

Bake for 30 minutes. Check that delicata is tender and remove from oven. Stir tomatoes and keep baking. Let delicata cool in dish. Bake tomatoes until juices have caramelized and tomatoes have crispy edges, about another 30 minutes.

Once tomatoes have roasted remove from dish and place in a high powered blender with 3 cloves garlic, rosemary, basil, oregano, sea salt and pepper. Puree.

In a medium skillet saute chard in a little olive oil. Once wilted combine gently all 3 components: tomato puree, roasted squash cubes and sauted chard.


Labor Day Potato Harvest…Done

It’s always a gamble to ask all of you to come out and toil with us on one of the biggest days off of the year…but we have never been disappointed! About 30 of us spent 2 hours pulling about 6ooo lbs of potatoes from a half acre of our fields. To have what would of been several days of work for the crew done in a morning was great. Thanks to all of you who came out and shared your day.


Late Fall Shares Still Available

Don’t want the fun to end in October? Sign up for our late fall share. Storage vegetables like carrots cabbage and potatoes along with fresh greens out of our tunnel. Sign up online here.


Farm Raised Pork For Your Freezer

We have filled almost all of our orders for pork. If you are considering filling your freezer with some outstanding farm raised bacon (and a few other cuts) don’t delay. Never had farm raised pork? It is like nothing the grocery store has to offer. Raised on pasture and fed organic grain (in addition to gelato) our pork tastes great and you know where the animals came from and how they lived.  Ask us for a info/sign-up sheet at pick-up or download one here.


What’s In The Share

  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Summer Squash
  • Arugula/Lettuce
  • Peppers
  • Delicata Squash
  • Onions
  • Carrots

What’s In Upic

  • Cherry Toms
  • Tomatillos
  • Flowers
  • Herbs
  • Edamame
 
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