Posts by: Seth

Hello and happy greetings from Crystal Spring Farm!IMG_1594

We hope you’re staying warm and able to enjoy the abundance of snow!   Three snow days in one week!  We’ve enjoyed some moments here and there of relaxing and reading by the wood stove, but we have ample work to keep us moving outside as well.

Animals

IMG_8288While the vegetable fields rest frozen this is time when the animals on the farm take center stage. We have a very active group of winter pigs who have turned over the house garden in between heavy feeding of brewery grain and kitchen scraps.  The 23 heifers (female cows who have yet to have a calf) on the farm this winter have spent most of the year on the back pasture behind the house but were happy to be indoors for the recent blizzard.

 

 

We know some of you are wondering when the lambs are arriving on the ground.  The blizzard brought our first set of twins.  As Seth was busy clearing snow for many (many) hours on Wednesday, Leila took charge of the care for the newborns.  Unfortunately the mother was not producing milk, so Leila took over the warming, drying, and bottle feeding of these two littles, whom she named Hugs and Kisses (after being licked in the face).  We make sure our pregnant ladies get plenty of fresh air and exercise by putting their silage bales away from the barn.   We’re ready and waiting for more lambing action in the barn!IMG_8668

Inside

Seed orders are done and the packets and boxes have been trickling in each day.  We are due to sow our first flats into our compost based potting soil (also just arrived) the first week of March.

We are very thankful that both Kristin and Tom, two of our star apprentices who are hunkered down with us this winter to assist with animal care, will be back for another season.  Tom will be on the farm part time and Kristin will be our first full time assistant manager.  She will be managing our farm crew and daily details of the vegetable fields to allow Seth to focus his attention on our new blueberry venture.

Blueberries

We just signed a lease on seventy-one acres of wild blueberries adjacent to the farm and are very excited to add this new farm product.  We have a lot to do before harvest begins in late July, including hiring weevers and rakers, buying harvest equipment and putting in a new freezer.

Barn Renovation

With the blizzard snow cleared by Wednesday, on Thursday and Friday Seth began to renovate one of the barns to add a new vegetable cooler and freezer. IMG_1596We have outgrown the beautiful antique cork cooler in the CSA barn we have been using for the last decade. By adding this new unit we will be able to keep everything cool without having to stack crates to the ceiling! To make space for the new walk-in he is pulling out 30-40 yards of concrete that was the old three cow milking parlour from the 1950’s.

Lease

Many of you may have seen an article in the local papers this fall regarding the completion of our long term lease agreement with the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust.  This was a team effort over many years involving blood, sweat, tears, many meetings, lawyers, consultants, revisions, and reams of paper, resulting in a fifty year lease. This a one-of-a-kind document will give us security that we can pass on to our kids or the next lucky farmer here.  As always, we keep you, our customers and supporters at the forefront of our gratitude list.  Your participation in this farm is the critical piece.  Continuing to value local, organic food and knowing your farmer is the root of success for all of us.  Thank you!

Sign up now!

If you have delayed signing up for 2015 now is the time.  We do have shares left.  The link to sign up is on our website, or you can click here.

Please contact us with any questions, we always like hearing from you!

Payment Plan

For those of you taking part in our payment plan, February payments are now due.  Look for an email today with directions and a link to our online payment page.

Farm Camp

The emails and phone calls have begun wondering about our dates for Farm Camp.  We will update all the information, with dates, details, and registration on the Farm Camp page of our website by Wednesday February 4.

Beer waste

For the past year we have been working with Maine Beer Company in Freeport to convert their brewing by-products into animal feeds and fertilizer. Twice a week we pick up spent barley and a pasty product best described as yeasty, hoppy glop. The barley is a great addition to our pigs ration and both the barley and the glop are stellar field fertilizers that exceed sheep manure in their nutritive value. If you like Maine Beer Company brews (Peeper is magic in a bottle) you can drink with satisfaction knowing you are supplying your vegetables with valuable fertilizer!

 

Another season comes to a close here on the farm.  Our last pick-up will be one for the pantry with potatoes and winter squash leading the way.  Read on for our bulleted list of how to store all of these year end items to enjoy into the winter months. By all accounts we have had a an exceptional year of produce and quite possibly the most pleasant in the past decade from the farmer’s point of view. We had regular rain, temperate temperatures, and no wild cards in the form of disease or pest invasions.  Our farm crew was top notch this year, working hard since we started in the snowy fields in April. When all of this comes together all we can say is thank you.

IMG_9366We hope that you can make good use of all this food in the weeks or maybe even months to come. Fall, especially in the northeast where we know that darker days are coming, is the season of gathering. Bringing together all the ingredients we need to make the winter comfortable and warm. Beyond the food you bring home from the farm we hope that your weekly visits this summer can also be stored away and enjoyed again when the snow flies and the days are shorter. When our kids were little we read them a favorite book about a group of mice preparing for winter. These mice would gather nuts and seeds, straw and grass, storing all of it away in an old stone wall where they lived. All of the mice worked very hard at this except for one named Frederick who would be seen just looking out at the sunrise or studying the fall flowers. The other mice asked him what he was doing while they worked so hard. He replied “I’m gathering the suns warmth because winter is cold and the colors of the fall because the months ahead are grey.”  As we all rush around filling our stores hopefully we can take a moment to gather up these lovely days and put them up as well.

How Do I Store these Vegetables?IMG_7687

  • Beets, Carrots, Potatoes, Cabbage– Plastic bag with a hole or two (they are alive and have to breath a little) in a cold part of the fridge.
  • Winter Squash and Sweet Potatoes– Pack loose in a box. Cool but not cold (60-55˚) and dry place with little air movement. A closet or garage with some heat is good.
  • Onions– Cold in plastic bag. Keep them away from other storage items (or everything will taste like onions!).

Crystal Spring Farm Grass-Fed Beef Almost Gone

We have but two beef freezer packages left as this newsletter goes out. If you are thinking about this act now! Here is the description of what we are offering: Fill your freezer with Crystal Spring Farm Grass Fed Beef this winter.   Our grass-fed and grass finished animals are raised on Crystal Spring Farm certified Organic pastures.  Grass-fed beef is high in healthy Omega-3’s and cancer fighting CLA’s not to mention it tastes great.  Family Freezer Packages are $325 for 45 pounds and come frozen and vacuum packed. This amount will fit into the standard size family freezer but without much space to spare. We ask for a deposit of $50 and we will be in contact with the date in December when your beef will be ready. Follow this link to make you deposit online.

Each package will include:

  •  Assortment of 10-14 oz steaks including Delmonico, Sirloin, and NY Strip
  •  Several 2-3 lb Roasts
  •  1lb packages of Ground
  •  1lb packages of Kebobs and Steak Tips
  •  1lb packages of Stew Cubes

Reserve Your Farm Share for Next Year!

Many Thanks to all of you who have signed up with us for next season!  We have had a great record turnout so far and will open up sign-up to our wait list later this week.  If you have not signed up yet and are planning on it please do!  We have an easy payment plan program to break up the cost of your share over the winter. Click here for the link.

What’s In the Share…

Carrots

Sweet Potatoes

Potatoes

Lettuce

Parsnips

Kale

Winter Squash

Onions

Brussels Sprouts

Cabbage

 

It’s Cold. Bring on the Root Crops

The grace period is over and we are into fall, for real. What’s the upside? Great tasting root crops. Beets, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, potatoes. Nothing warms like these starchy, sugary gifts.IMG_4533 Here’s the secret to enjoying root crops this time of year. Turn on the oven. We like 400˚. Chop all of them to to a 3/4-1″ size. Toss them together in you favorite oil (olive, peanut and sesame are lovely). Add salt, pepper, rosemary, paprika. Lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast them for 20-30 minutes. Turn them and leave them for 15-20 more or until soft and then enjoy. They will brown slightly and fill the house with warm smells.

IMG_6473Crystal Spring Farm Grass-Fed Beef

For the first time we will be offering a Family freezer package.Fill your freezer with Crystal Spring Farm Grass Fed Beef this winter.   Our grass-fed and grass finished animals are raised on Crystal Spring Farm certified Organic pastures.  Grass-fed beef is high in healthy Omega-3’s and cancer fighting CLA’s not to mention it tastes great.  Family Freezer Packages are $325 for 45 pounds and come frozen and vacuum packed. This amount will fit into the standard size family freezer but without much space to spare. We ask for a deposit of $50 and we will be in contact with the date in December when your beef will be ready. Follow this link to make you deposit online.

Each package will include:

  •  Assortment of 10-14 oz steaks including Delmonico, Sirloin, and NY Strip
  •  Several 2-3 lb Roasts
  •  1lb packages of Ground
  •  1lb packages of Kebobs and Steak Tips
  •  1lb packages of Stew Cubes

What’s Ahead: When is the last week?

We have two more weeks of harvest!   Our last pick-up date at the farm will be Friday the 31st (Halloween!).  Next week will be heavy. We have lots and lots of potatoes and winter squash to send you home with so please get ready. Clear out a space and bring a box!  Barring disaster, we will have Brussels Sprouts for the last week.

Reserve Your Share for Next Year

Many Thanks to all of you who have signed up with us for next season!  We have had a great turnout so far and will open up sign-up to our wait list next week.  If you have not signed up yet and are planning on it please do!  We have an easy payment plan program to break up the cost of your share over the winter.

Crystal Spring Rosemont Market Farm-to Table Dinner

We had an incredible meal this past weekend with four courses of our own produce paired with great wines and good conversation. Our first farm-to-table dinner was a great success and we hope to plan more of these for next summer.

How Do I Store these Vegetables?IMG_7687

  • Beets, Carrots, Potatoes, Cabbage– Plastic bag with a hole or two (they are alive and have to breath a little) in a cold part of the fridge.
  • Winter Squash and Sweet Potatoes– Pack loose in a box. Cool but not cold (60-55˚) and dry place with little air movement. A closet or garage with some heat is good.
  • Onions– Cold in plastic bag. Keep them away from other storage items (or everything will taste like onions!).

What’s In the Share…

Carrots

Beets

Sweet Potatoes

Potatoes

Lettuce

Kale

Asian Greens

Winter Squash

Onions

Radishes

Spinach

 

We have six new piglets on the farm as of last friday. We usually don’t keep pigs over the winter here for one simple reason, they eat a lot. The feed requirement for growing pigs when the temps drop below freezing goes up considerably because they require extra calories just to keep warm. For most farms that would have meant a significant increase in feed costs to keep them growing.  IMG_7926In the past year we have befriended a couple of local craft breweries and they have been sharing their “waste” with us which has offered us a solution to the winter feeding problem.  Maine Beer Company in Freeport supplies us with spent grain, mostly malted barley that comes from their tanks after the wort from their many stellar brews is made. This wet mash has had most of the carbohydrate steeped out of it but is high in protein.  Allagash Brewing in Portland has been taking delivered CSA shares for a few of their employees for a couple years.  They occasionally have of malted grains come in that don’t meet their high standards or have been in storage too long to brew with. When this happens they need someone to take these odd lots, which is where we come in. The best part about having both of these breweries as friends is that their waste grains come together into a perfect feed for our piglets.  Spent grain is low in carbohydrate but high in protein. Malted grain has very available carbohydrate but too little protein by itself. If we add these two together along with some essential vitamins and minerals we have a pretty good pig feed.  This time of year we can also round out their diet with culled vegetables which will ensure that these little guys should have a happy and healthy winter here with us.

 Sign-up for 2015…

Thanks to all of you who signed up so far. If you are planning on it and haven’t yet, don’t wait! Sign up here online. We have more folks on our wait list than ever before and we want to be sure current members who would like a share are signed up first.

Farm to Table Dinner at the Farm

Place_settings-_Crystal_Springs_Farm_posterWe are hosting a farm to table dinner Sunday October 19th with Rosemont Market and Bakery. The dinner will be made completely from Crystal Spring produce and meats with wine parings and a cocktail to sip during a pre-dinner farm walk. The butcher shop at Rosemont is where most of our lamb is sold and they have a very successful business in the Portland that is based wholly on quality local food. Here’s the info link for the event. Tickets are $85 and can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com.

 

Stock up for Fall

Our cupboards are full here at the farm. In addition to lots of vegetable to take home we also have plenty of great local products…

  • Dark Maple Syrup
  • CSF Honey– doesn’t get more local!
  • CSF Frozen Blueberries– Enjoy summer all winter long
  • Willow Pond Apple Cider– This stuff is too good
  • CSF Ground Lamb– Our own Grass Fed
  • CSF Ground Beef– Our own Grass Fed
  • Sparrow Farm Organic Eggs

What’s in the share…

Carrots

Beets

Potatoes

Winter Squash

Lettuce

Asian Greens

Arugula

Parsnips

Rutabaga

Onions

 

We finished harvesting all of our potatoes about a week ago which is out last big crop to get out of the ground this year. Its always a substantial effort as many of you know from years past when we invited members to our labor day CSA harvest. This year we planted our crop much later than usual, trying to miss some the destruction of the Colorado Potato Beetle and this change made a labor dayIMG_7834 harvest too early. We were resigned to having the farm crew spend a week on this crop when we got a call from longtime friend and farm advocate Rick Wilson. Rick is a teacher at Brunswick High and among other things teaches a service learning class to juniors and seniors. The focus of his class is to give high school students a hands on sense of the real world beyond the doors of the school as the class visits and works around the community. Two sections of this class came to the farm, had a tour and a question and answer session followed by a good hour of picking potatoes with the farm crew. During this time we were able to get most of the potatoes up and the students had a real farm experience. Rick had them write reflection essays which he shared with me. Here are a few notable quotes; “Crystal Spring was an experience like no other where we allowed to get our hands dirty”, “It (farming) definitely  isn’t a career I’ll be pursuing though it was pretty cool” and “Crystal Spring Farm definitely gives a person a sense of place because the work that you are doing is for the people, and the people are also the reason that the farm exists today”. I followed up the kids visits to the farm with two slide and lecture sessions at the high school that gave more detail about how the farm works as a business. The whole experience was a grand success and it’s always comforting to hear that what we do here is “pretty cool”.

When is the Last Share Pick Up?

At this point, baring extreme weather, we are planning to have our final harvest during the last week of October. The last day of pickup falls on Friday the 31st, Halloween!

Sign-up for 2015…Now!

Many Thanks to all of you who signed up in the last week. If you are planning on it and haven’t yet, don’t wait! Sign up here online. We have more folks on our wait list than ever before and we want to be sure current members who would like a share are signed up first.

Farm to Table Dinner at the Farm

Place_settings-_Crystal_Springs_Farm_posterWe are hosting a farm to table dinner Sunday October 19th with Rosemont Market and Bakery. The dinner will be made completely from Crystal Spring produce and meats with wine parings and a cocktail to sip during a pre-dinner farm walk. The butcher shop at Rosemont is where most of our lamb is sold and they have a very successful business in the Portland that is based wholly on quality local food. Here’s the info link for the event. Tickets are $85 and can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com.

 

Stock up for Fall

Our cupboards are full here at the farm. In addition to lots of vegetable to take home we also have plenty of great local products…

  • Dark Maple Syrup
  • CSF Honey– doesn’t get more local!
  • CSF Frozen Blueberries– Enjoy summer all winter long
  • Willow Pond Apple Cider– This stuff is too good
  • CSF Ground Lamb– Our own Grass Fed
  • CSF Ground Beef– Our own Grass Fed
  • Sparrow Farm Organic Eggs

What’s in the share…

Carrots

Beets

Potatoes

Delicata Squash

Lettuce

Arugula

Chard/Kale

Salad Turnips

Peppers

Shallots

Sweet potatoes

 

Sign-up for 2015…Now!

We have had a great year and this a the best time to sign up for next season. Help us plan ahead for the summer ahead and sign up here online. We have more folks on our wait list than ever before and we want to be sure all of you current members who would like a share are signed up first.

Stock up for Fall

Our cupboards are full here at the farm. In addition to lots of vegetable to take home we also have plenty of great local products…

  • Dark Maple Syrup
  • CSF Honey– doesn’t get more local!
  • CSF Frozen Blueberries– Enjoy summer all winter long
  • Willow Pond Apple Cider– This stuff is too good
  • CSF Ground Lamb– Our own Grass Fed
  • CSF Ground Beef– Our own Grass Fed
  • CSF Elderberry Syrup– Keep healthy this winter
  • Sparrow Farm Organic Eggs

What’s in the share….

Carrots

Beets

Potatoes

Squash

Cabbage

Sweet/hot peppers

Lettuce

Chard/Kale

Asian greens

Kohlrabi

Salad turnips

Onions

 

With the passing of the first day of Autumn I’m reminded as I walk outside why this is my favorite season in Maine. Dry, bright  days with views that go on and on run into cool nights that give me the best sleeps of the year.

 

September is also the month of Leila’s birthday; she turned nine this week.  On the morning of her birth, Maura and I walked down Pleasant Hill Road in the wee hours of the morning to Parkview Hospital in time for her scheduled delivery.  It was a morning much like today, we like to reminisce about enjoying a quiet walk in fresh air and anticipation before welcoming our baby (and a few days of rest).   Leila was born on a CSA pick-up day and our wonderful farm apprentice Leah (we only had one then) and our veteran volunteer Bob did all of the harvesting and washing that morning.  I came back to the farm after the birth, talking to CSA members and telling everyone about Maura and our wonderful new daughter.  We had not yet named her, and many of you threw out your two cents in that regard as well.  There are many of you who have been members since that time (and earlier!).  Nothing measures time quite like the rapid growth of a child.  You are still coming week after week, year after year, a vital part of this farm, and that little baby is now up to her mom’s chin and perhaps checking your name off when you arrive at CSA.  We are so grateful for you, all of our CSA members, long-time and new, for being a constant source of support and the reason we are still here.

The Frost Came

We did end up getting frosted on Friday morning last week.This slowed our harvest day considerably as we had to wait for all of the greens to thaw before we could begin cutting them. Thanks to the hard work of the crew in the days before the frost we were able to finish harvesting the sweet potatoes and the last of the winter squash, the last two crops that have no tolerance to freezing. The plus side of an early frost (the earliest in our 11 years here) is that the greens and roots from here on out will taste even better, sweetened by the cold.

Honeyhoneyjpg

We have honey for sale starting this week. These one and two pound jars are from the hives in the vegetable fields that our friend Ken Faulkner tends. Besides being sweet and wonderful, honey that is produced in the area where you live is full of pollen which can go along way towards inoculating you from the effects of seasonal allergies. Besides that, it tastes great.

What’s in the share…

Sweet potatoes

Kohlrabi

Broccoli

Sweet Dumpling Squash

Carrots

Red Onions

Lettuce

Asian Greens

Chard/Kale

Peppers

Eggplant

What’s in Upic…

Edamame…last week

Flowers…waning

 

Really feels like fall this week. The weather gurus are talking up the possibility for the first frost (even for us coastal folks) this Thursday or Friday. I personally don’t think it will happen as it will be the earliest frost by five days we will have seen on this farm in our 11 years here. That said we have been getting ready this week for the cold that will arrive one day or another. Harvesting peppers, eggplant and the last of the tomatoes is the easy part. Larger tasks are bringing in the ample winter squash and sweet potatoes.

Sweetening the CropIMG_7706

Harvesting sweet potatoes is complicated. Certain varieties of this southern crop actually grow easily here and the plants flourish all summer virtually pest free. The complicated part comes in when we harvest. First the crew has to cut away a think tangle of vines from the surface, allowing us to come in with a tractor and loosen the soil around the clusters of tubers. We have to be very careful handling  the potatoes at IMG_7705this point as their skin is very delicate and comes off if they are handled roughly. Because of this we pull the tubers by hand and grade them by size into vented lugs. These lugs are then packed into an insulated room and we crank up the heat to 85 degrees and let them cure for about 10 days. The curing hardens the skins making them easier to handle but more importantly it signals the potatoes to convert their starches into sugars -which is what we all love about this crop. This process started last week so with any luck all of you will see your first sweets in the share next week!IMG_7748

What’s in the Share…

Cabbage

Arugula

Asians Greens

Kale

Kohlrabi

Lettuce

Carrots

Delicata Squash

Potatoes

Peppers

Tomatoes

Onions

What’s in Upic…

Edamame

Cherry Toms

Tomatillos

 

Fall is here in all it’s crisp glory. Nothing feels better than working through a clear sunny day without the humidity that has been with us most of the last couple months. The change in the weather this time of year comes along with a change in our schedule as school has started and we are back to busy. During the summer we really never slow down on the farm, but other than being ready for all of you to arrive on Tuesdays and Fridays we don’t have to watch the clock too closely. With the start of school all of that changes and shorter days and bookended between getting kids out the door and transitioning them into homework or soccer practice, not to mention dinner. Historically this is a time when many of you tell of “falling behind” with your CSA shares for the sole reason that everyone is in transition and time is tight. With that in mind we are harvesting very storable crops this week and no greens (other than lettuce). Carrots, Chinese cabbage, beets, peppers and acorn squash will all “hold” until you have time to get to them. Put the roots and the peppers in you chiller drawers and the acorn squash will be fine on the counter for a long time (call it a fall decoration).

IMG_7687We will finish squash harvest this week and it has been a bumper year with plants yielding more and larger fruits that average. In our limited sampling to date it seems that the same factors that gave us great tasting melons will also be delivering superb quality for winter squash. Our biggest problem for the weeks ahead looks to be finding containers to harvest into as the squash crop will use up crates needed for potatoes. We usually pick into 20 bushel apple crates that we move with the tractors. The crates come from area orchards that sell us their old crates on the cheap. The apple crop is big this year and no one will part with their extras.

Chinese Cabbage

Chinese or Napa cabbage is in the share this week and this tender relative of green cabbage is very versatile. Shredded or sliced thinly, it makes a great salad with a light vinaigrette or peanut sauce, especially with carrots. Try making a rice gratin with your acorn squash and some cheese and using the napa as a wrapper. The “cabbage” link on our recipe sidebar has lots of good ideas as well.IMG_7686

Shallots

Ever make your own salad dressing? Mince half a shallot mixed with wine vinegar some mustard and oil and you are in business. Shallots can be used raw or cooked and are somewhere between the pungency of an onion and the sweetness of garlic. These little bulbs go with everything.

Apples, Pears and Comb Honey

IMG_7690IMG_7691With fall comes the work of the bees. Paula Red apples and Clapp’s Favorite pears from Willow Pond Farm are available this week along with comb honey from hives here on the farm. We hope to have jars of honey in a couple weeks as well. Nothing is better for you than local honey…

Whats in the Share…

Carrots

Beets

Chinese Cabbage

Melon

Broccoli

Peppers

Eggplant

Shallots

Acorn Squash

What’s in Upic…

Edamame

Beans

Flowers

 

IMG_7661 Back to school this week and the farm crew has been whittled down to the core group. Our summer crew is full of high school, college and grad school folks balancing out their studies with hard summer work.  Two weeks ago we had ten folks in the fields and this week we are down to five.  Our full season crew, Tom, Kristin, and Lauren are the professional farmers, starting the year as the last snow falls in April and finishing with the first in November.   You have met them here at the farm on CSA pick up days as they take turns overseeing the CSA barn.  Last week they enjoyed a few days without Seth on the farm.  The goal of the apprenticeship is to give the farmers the tools they need to operate their own farm.  By late August Seth is able to step out for a break and all the many parts keep moving without a hitch.  We are always so grateful to our smart, hardworking, and dedicated crew.  Labor, love, and learning.

Pork

We still have Pork available! Fed on grain from Maine Beer Company in Freeport and all the cull vegetables they could handle; all of them look great.  Pigs are sold as whole or half and processed into cuts as you like them (all bacon is currently not possible). If you have freezer space and would like to enjoy high quality farm-raised pork this fall and winter talk to us about the details at pick-up.

Frozen Blueberries

We will have frozen berries for sale at pick-up for the next few weeks. They are $25.50 for a five pound box.

IMG_7582Edamame in Upic…

These soybean pods are a new addition to the Upic field. If you have ever been to a Japanese restaurant you may have had them as a starter. The furry pod surrounds tender soybeans inside. Here is the recipe for them steamed, simple and tasty. This is another link to a long-winded food article about this crop with an accompanying snarky cooking video (everyone love the videos).  This crop is just getting started in upic so look for the really full pods and save the not full ones for another week.

What’s in the Share…

Tomatoes

Carrots

Cukes

Lettuce

melon

Chard/Kale

Eggplant

Peppers

Broccoli

What’s in Upic…

Tomatillos

Cherry Tomatoes

Edamame

Flowers

 
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