Fall and the Long View

What’s in Upic?……

Thyme Chives Basil

Parsley Cilantro Beans

All Flowers

As the middle of September arrives we have begun to feel a tangible change in the season. The harvest focus we have been maintaining for the past six weeks or so has begun to slacken and we are able to look beyond to the work of preparing the farm for the coming winter. While there are still major crops to be brought in (winter squash is the heavy one that comes to mind) and weekly cutting for your share, during the next few weeks we will find our days filled more and more with the process of transitioning from production to rest. The most visible evidence of this work is the rows of vegetables slowly being replaced by blocks of dark green cover crops that will protect and enhance the soils over the winter. We have found time in the past month to plant about five acres of oats and peas, which are coming up strong in three of the fields. Most of our cover crops are, like oats and peas, a combination of legumes and grains. The two work together to produce and hold in soil nutrients that, come the spring, they will release and make available for the next crop.

These cover crops hold a second purpose on our farm –they feed sheep in the early winter after the grasses have gone dormant. Our ewes, which began breeding this week, will be between their second and third trimesters in late November-December. These first weeks of winter are crucial for maintaining the overall conditioning of the animals for the remainder of their pregnancies and the winter beyond lambing. The ewes mow these crops for us, fattening themselves while leaving seventy percent of the forage behind in a very available form, their manure. Now when you look out on those fields of green like we do, you can see baby lambs running in next years pastures and vibrant vegetables in next years fields.

Arugula. We have been doing well by this plant lately but it seems all of you are a bit cautious about taking too much home. Give it another try. This green is very versatile and the plantings we have been cutting lately are rich and relatively mild. Here’s a link to a couple recipes, including arugula salad and rustic pesto. http://crystalspringcsa.com/archives/category/recipes/arugula

Potato Alert Continues! We have another variety for you this week, but like the reds last week they may not keep well outside the fridge. Please refrigerate them if you are not going to eat them in the first day or two.

CSA sign-up for 2010 underway. Get on board early and beat the spring rush for CSA shares. Sign up now with a deposit and get on the easy winter payment plan. A $100 deposit will hold your share with payments in February, April and June of next year. Thanks to all of you who signed up last week, it’s great to have your support in this year of less than outstanding yields in the fields. We are very proud to be your farmers.

Organic apples for sale again this week from our friends at Willow Pond Farm in Sabattus. These Red Free apples are great. This is a high quality fresh eating and sauce variety that is certified organic. Available for sale singly and in 5lb. bags. More varieties (including clapp’s favorite pears) and their stellar cider will be available in the coming weeks.

Crystal Spring whole and half lambs for sale starting this week…see us at pick-up for all the details.

There was a great column about CSA by member Sarah Wolpow in the Times-Record. Here’s the link: http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2009/09/11/features/doc4aaa89e37a3ad730001720.txt

Dressing for Arugula Salad

  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel (zest)
  • dash of Freshly ground pepper
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Roasted red peppers (optional, but great)
  • 4 cups arugula

Wisk or blend together the cheese, lemon juice and zest and pepper. While blending drizzle in the olive oil. Toss lightly with peppers and arugula and serve. Take this recipe one more step and put this salad on a pizza crust and bake in a hot oven.

Crisp

What’s in Upic?……

Thyme Chives Basil

Parsley Cilantro Beans

All Flowers

A nip in the air and things start to perk up around here. Fall is arriving this week and the produce, animals and farmers are responding. You’ll find three new things in your share this week; watermelon, potatoes and shallots are ready for distribution. Both are good-looking crops with the melon nice and sweet (a lovely side effect of the hot dry August we had), the red potatoes creamy and smooth and the shallots big enough to choke Julia Child. In other timely events for the season, the pigs went to the butcher last evening and looked to be just the right size and very healthy (now we can focus on getting the barns cleaned out and manure spread on the fields to distribute our unexpected bumper crop, the flies). Thanks to all of you who ordered pork for the winter. The cold evenings and perfect days have added a new vigor to the farm crew as we move into the big harvest season. Pulling heavy crops like the rest of the potatoes, pumpkins and winter squash, and melons, all of which will total many tons, marks this time of year as we are reminded of all of the work behind us by the sheer volume of food we pull from the ground.

Potato Alert! It should be noted that while we do have many potatoes (more than we thought given the severity of the blight) the keeping quality is not expected to be very good. My suggestion is to try and use your share of spuds each week and keep them in the fridge before use. From what we have been able to learn about the blight this year (the worst in living memory), it will infect stored potatoes if they are kept at warmer temps (out of the fridge). There is nothing wrong with the tubers as far as their being edible –they will just rot quickly if the spores are given a chance to germinate in the warmer temps most of us typically keep them at in the garage, basement or that cool closet.

Shallots? What are they? Well in short they are the best qualities of garlic and onions combined in one vegetable. Sweeter than onions but with the same aromatic rich qualities, shallots can be used for anything that calls for onions but without the worry of overpowering the dish. Our favorite uses for them are diced and added to our own salad dressings or roasted whole with olive oil and eaten along side any dish. They keep relatively well –but rarely stay around long in our house as they get used for everything. Here’s a link to a simple recipe for potatoes and shallots http://crystalspringcsa.com/archives/category/recipes/shallots

CSA sign-up for 2010 underway. Get on board early and beat the spring rush for CSA shares. Sign up now with a deposit and get on the easy winter payment plan. A $100 deposit will hold your share with payments in February, April and June of next year. Thanks to all of you who signed up last week, it’s great to have your support in this year of less than outstanding yields in the fields. We are very proud to be your farmers.

Organic apples arrive for sale this week from our friends at Willow Pond Farm in Sabattus. The variety we will be starting with is Red Free. This is a high quality fresh eating and sauce variety that is certified organic. Available for sale singly and in 5lb. bags. More varieties and their stellar cider will be available in the coming weeks.

Race for Space this weekend. The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust will put on it’s annual run and fun walk to save open space in our community. For more info go to www.btlt.org.

Crystal Spring whole and half lambs for sale starting this week…see us at pick-up for all the details.

Roasted Potatoes and Shallots

Ingredients

  • 8 or 9 small or 4 or 5 large shallots, peeledare cut in half or quartered if large
  • 1 1/2 lbs potatoes, washed and cut in half
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. In a large baking tray mix the olive oil and balsamic vinegar (you can leave the balsamic vinegar out if you don’t have any or don’t like it), add the whole twigs of rosemary.
  3. Add the shallots and potatoes, stir so everything gets coated well
  4. Roast, uncovered, for approximately 1 hour or until the potatoes are tender. Depending on the size of the vegetables and your oven, they might take a little less or longer, it might be worth checking after about 45 minutes.
  5. Stir once or twice while roasting.

The Waning of the Light

What’s in Upic?……

Thyme Chives Basil

Parsley Cilantro Beans

All Flowers

August comes to a close this week and we enter fall in full force. This passing month is traditionally one of celebration as plants begin to fruit and all of us finally settle into summer. In Old World agricultural society this month was set aside for families to get together and eat, enjoying the first harvest of grains and baking the first bread of the new season. Lammas or Lughnasa are pagan holidays from English and Irish calendars that mark this special time when the harvest begins but before the preparations for winter need to be addressed. Interestingly the August vacations many of us take with family still address this need to celebrate before buckling down again with work, school and the rapidly approaching winter.

As a farmer I see other significance with this time as well, watching the light rapidly disappear. Both crops and weeds transform almost before our eyes at this time as they prepare for their last month of uninterrupted growing. As the days shorten, plants that in June or July would be twelve or eighteen inches tall before they began to set seed, start this process at three and four inches, sensing that there is no time to waste in fulfilling their reproductive responsibilities. At the farm we use the changing light to our advantage by seeding large quantities of greens for October. Plantings of arugula, lettuce mix, asian greens, and kale that would be sown three weeks apart at the height of summer are seeded just seven days from each other. The rapid loss of light speeds up the succession time between these plantings during the first days of their emergence from the soil. These same plants push towards maturity and then hold their quality in the cool October air, allowing us to cut them each week for you.

One crop that we hope to have through the end of the year is baby bok choi. This is a staple in our greens mix and match and is great by itself or paired with more substantial vegetables. Here’s a quick and easy recipe for stir-fry using bok choi http://crystalspringcsa.com/archives/category/recipes/bok-choi.

Hopefully by now you have all had a chance to chat with our stellar group of apprentices this season. Kate, Kelsey, Douglas, and Bethany are the one of the best groups we have had in thirteen years of farming. Aside from mastering the daily running of this place (my vacation a few weeks ago attests to this), they are just great people that Maura and I really enjoy having around.

Pigs for sale. Order your whole or half pig and fill the freezer for the winter. These are our own pigs raised here at the farm and processed however you like them at a USDA inspected butcher. This is a great way to have the best quality farm-raised pork all winter long. Those of you who have ordered lambs from us or freezer meats from other farms know by that by buying a whole or half animal you can save money without compromising quality or conscience. Bacon, ham, sausage and ribs are all included and packed as you like. Neighbors and families can split halves or quarters. Whole pigs are $4/lb. hanging weight and halves are $4.25. Talk to us at pick-up for more details.

CSA sign-up for 2010 begins this week. Get on board early and beat the spring rush for CSA shares. Sign up now with a deposit and get on the easy winter payment plan. A $100 deposit will hold your share with payments in February, April and June of next year.

Stir Fried Baby Bok Choi

This recipe from the web…

Baby bok choy has a sweeter flavor than adult varieties. For a lighter taste, feel free to stir-fry the baby bok choy in olive oil. Chicken broth can be used in place of water.

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 bunches baby bok choy (basically, 1 bunch per person)
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • A few drops sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil for stir-frying

Preparation:

Wash the baby bok choy and drain. Separate the stalks and leaves. Cut the stalk diagonally and cut the leaves across.
Heat wok and add oil. When oil is ready, add ginger and stir-fry briefly, for about 30 seconds, until the ginger is aromatic. Add the bok choy, adding the stalks first, and then the leaves. Stir in the soy sauce, sugar, and salt, and stir-fry on high heat for 1 minute.
Add the water, cover the wok and simmer for about 2 minutes. Stir in the sesame oil and serve. Serves 4.

Pigs and Voodoo

What’s in Upic?……

Thyme Chives Basil

Parsley Cilantro Beans

All Flowers

I made a big mistake this past week. I mentioned a few times that we could use a bit of rain. One would think that after the summer we have had I would have been able to contain the urge to vocalize such feelings…but apparently not. For my mistake we received two and half inches of rain on Sunday and another half inch Monday, just as a bonus. An inch would have been plenty especially given the fact we are still trying to get our June Hay into the barn. Now if I were to meet myself on the street I wouldn’t guess that I was the superstitious type. I have to say that for most of my life I have been a relatively rational person. Farming has driven me to believe deeply in any number of intangible forces greater than myself, the most hocus pocus of these being the power of suggestion. The farm crew has learned by this point in the season not to strongly praise one crop or even express relief about something going well until that crop is harvested or the task is done. To jump the gun is to invite a visit from Murphy (as in Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong probably will) or at least a loud shoosh from me.

Pig preordering starts this week. These are our own pigs raised here at the farm and processed however you like them 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 $4/lb. hanging weight and halves are $4.25. Talk to us at pick-up for more details.

More Leeks this week…Are you running out of creative things to do with them? Here’s another recipe idea…

Carmelized Leeks and Noodle Soup

· 2 medium leeks

· 1/2 Tbsp olive oil

· 1 Tbsp butter

· 1/2 Tbsp dark brown soft sugar

· 1/2 pound noodles

· 2 heaping Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

· 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

· Salt and black pepper to taste

Preparation

Split the leeks lengthways and wash each layer thoroughly. Slice across into thin strips, including the green part.

Heat the Tablespoon of olive oil and butter together over a gentle heat. When the butter has melted, add the leeks and toss well. Cook slowly, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until they start to soften.

Sprinkle over the sugar. After a couple more minutes, mix well. Continue to cook for 15 to 30 minutes, until the leeks have begun to collapse into a sticky mass. Add small amounts of hot water if required to stop sticking. While the leeks are cooking, cook and drain the noodles. When the leeks are done, add the parsley, olive oil, cooked noodles and seasoning to taste. Toss well and serve.

Carmelized leeks and noodle soup (from the web)

  • 2 medium leeks
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 Tbsp dark brown soft sugar
  • 1/2 pound noodles
  • 2 heaping Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Preparation:

Split the  leeks lengthways and wash each layer thoroughly. Slice across into thin strips, including the green part.

Heat the Tablespoon of olive oil and butter together over a gentle heat. When the butter has melted, add the leeks and toss well. Cook slowly, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until they start to soften.

Sprinkle over the sugar. After a couple more minutes, mix well. Continue to cook for 15 to 30 minutes, until the leeks have begun to collapse into a sticky mass. Add small amounts of hot water if required to stop sticking.

While the leeks are cooking, cook and drain the noodles.

When the leeks are done, add the parsley, olive oil, cooked noodles and seasoning to taste. Toss well and serve.

Grass and Blueberries

What’s in Upic?……

Thyme Chives Basil

Parsley Cilantro Beans

All Flowers

Summer has arrived with a vengeance this week…ah to be a ripening tomato in this weather. The heat has been a bit intense and the farm crew has wilted slightly. Like the crops that have shallow roots from the constant rain of the early season, we are not used to real summer weather. That being said it is nice to have things feel somewhat normal for the season. In between harvesting chores we’ve been spending a lot of time weeding. The weed family that seems to be thriving this year is grass, more specifically crab grass. I have been saying for the past two months that this is the year to have a lawn mowing business as the grass has been growing like never before. The sheep appreciate this growth in the pastures but the vegetables in the fields do not. Grasses are one of the hardest weeds to beat as they have great root systems and the get a hold fast. Most years we don’t have huge problems with the stuff as we can get in early with the tractor or the hoe and kill them young as they are just emerging. This year the constant rainfall caused us to miss many of those cultivating windows and early hoeing and hand weeding just moved the young plants around, allowing them to re-root in the wet conditions. Few things are as competitive with vegetable crops as grass. The plants make quick root systems that out compete almost anything for water and nutrients –think of your lawn. In areas where we have not been able to beat the grass back the vegetable plants are stunted and have poor color –mostly from lack of nutrients that have been washed out of our soils after so many soaking rains.

We hope to harvest a beautiful shallot crop this week. For those of you who are unfamiliar with shallots they are the close cousins of onions but they have a sweetness that likens towards garlic. Smaller than onions they are easy to do almost anything with we use them for salad dressings, soups and right in the pot when making rice. They store well and taste great raw, sautéed, and roasted. After harvesting they will need to cure in the greenhouse for a few weeks so that they will keep and then they’ll be ready to share with you.

Organic Blueberries will be available this week. There is still time to order for Friday’s delivery if you have missed out so far. Please let us know by this evening (Tuesday) at distribution or by email. These are certified organic, raked the day before berries from Stoneset Farm in Brooklin, Maine. The berry crop is plentiful this year and does not seem to be adversely affected by the poor weather at the beginning of the season. We will have a few quarts for sale in addition to the preordered deliveries and if there is enough interest we may do another order for next week. Let us know if you are interested in ordering for next week and we’ll start a list.

Berry prices are: quart (not pint) for $8.75, 5 lbs. for $25 and 10 lbs. for $48.

August is Summer?!

What’s in Upic?……
Thyme        Chives        Basil
Parsley    Cilantro    Beans
All Flowers

Summer it appears has finally arrived to Maine after an extended wet     spring. Some of our crops are fairing well, like the leeks you will be seeing this week, but others are not. The biggest loss to note, and I can hear the collective gasp as I write, is our tomato crop. Over the past 2 weeks late blight, fueled by rain and fog has taken the whole crop, about 850 plants. This breaks my heart. In the 13 years I have been farming I have never seen a year like this, and I hope to never see another. Potatoes have been another victim of the blight, but we hope to be digging them, small as they are, in the next couple weeks. Luckily the harvestable part sits below the ground and is less susceptible to the dreaded fungus. Needless to say, we are forging ahead with hope that the last few months of the season will yield some semblance of normal fall crops and yields.
The one product of this farm that I can praise unequivocally this year is your support. CSA is a relationship and in a normal year your trust in us pays dividends in produce as we meet and exceed our yield expectations. This year we will fall short of our goals and it is your understanding and enthusiasm for what we are bringing in that keeps us focused and looking up. Thanks for your kind words and support, it allows us to do what we love.
Leeks arrive in abundance today and we thought it wise to give you the scoop on them as we hope to be harvesting this planting for a couple weeks and we don’t want them to pile up in your fridge. Leeks are a sweet, tender, member of the onion family. They have a light flavor –unlike an onion, and can be used like a scallion, shallot or garlic to add sweet savory flavor to whatever your eating whether its raw or cooked. One of our favorite ways to have is on the grill. We slice them in half long ways, slather them in olive oil and put them right over a hot fire until the begin to blacken –the heat caramelizes them and turns them into candy. More info on grilling leeks and other vegetables are on our website http://crystalspringcsa.com/archives/category/recipes/leek .
The upic field is doing well this year and beans are the big story this week. There are eight rows of them ready to go right now –so please pick them! Flowers and herbs are also doing well. All the flowers in the field are open for picking right now. Herbs with labels are ready as well. When harvesting herbs please use scissors and try to only cut one third of the plant, leaving a third of the plant to regenerate new leaves for cutting again. Those that like a bit of work with their upic can pull Japanese beetles off the zinnias and put them in the buckets of soapy water next to the beds or pick rocks from the field and put them in the big blue barrel at the gate by the scissors. Many hands…
Milkweed Farm Pastured Eggs now available at distribution. Milkweed Farm is right down Woodside road from us and Michael and Lucretia Woodruff raise pastured animals and eggs. We think their eggs are some of the best we have tasted since we stopped raising them ourselves. They keep their birds on pasture twenty-four seven so they have new grass everyday which makes their yolks bright yellow and maximizes the “good” fatty acids that come from all the beta-carotene in the grass.
Organic Maine Blueberries . We will be taking orders for fresh Maine organic blueberries next week (August 11-15)…order in quart or 5lb. sizes. More info as well as prices and pick-up days coming in next week’s newsletter.