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.

Upic Expands…and so does late blight

What’s in Upic?……
Snap Peas and Snow Peas
Thyme        Chives        Basil
Parsley    Cilantro    Beans (one pint Plz)
Flowers with signs

The Upic field adds many new items this week as summer arrives with a vengeance. This field has been a real bright spot this year as it has really started to look great even with the poor weather. The flowers are coming in early this year and thanks to many hours of help from CSA members Bob Leezer and Barb Harvey we have the healthiest looking plants we have had in many years.
Those of you new to the upic experience at the farm here are a few points and guidelines to keep these crops going strong all summer:
•    Picking is open on Tuesday, Fridays, and Sundays from dawn to dusk. Please pick just once a week.
•    Look for the signs we post in the field indicating what is ready to pick. If you don’t see a sign, please don’t pick it.
•    Scissors are provided to help in cutting things that need to be cut (not peas). Please use them –clean cuts help keep the plants healthy and productive. Please don’t put scissors in your pockets! You’ll remember them when you get home. The loop on each pair is to go around your wrist and keep them handy for picking.
•    Be gentle with the plants when picking and use both hands, one to hold the plant and one to cut or pick. Parents please teach your little ones how to do this before letting them loose.
•    Be aware of where you are walking and try to walk between the beds and not on them.
•    Know and teach your young ones that all of the fencing at the farm is electrified, including the fence around the upic field.
•    Make sure the kids (and adults) stay out of the buildings and off of the tractors and farm equipment. The farm is old and there are numerous serious dangers to be found.
•    Weeding, picking rocks and squashing bad bugs are always welcome. If you question whether a bug is bad leave it be: it could be an ally.
•    Find a farmer and ask us if you are unsure how or what to pick.

The bad news for the week is that late blight has arrived in our tomato crop. We are trying to prune out the unhealthy foliage and pull whole plants that have the disease in their stems but we’re not sure if this will work. If the weather improves we may have enough healthy plants to make a season out of it. We just have to hope.
I mowed a third of our potato crop on Saturday trying to minimize the loss in the plants that are still healthy. We will begin digging really small potatoes in mid-August, which is about a month earlier than usual.
The tactics for managing this disease out break have really evolved over the past couple weeks as the infection has spread to pretty much everyone we know in the northeast. Usually we try to pull infected plants immediately to stop the spread of the disease to other farms, but the level of infection is so widespread that farmers are starting to now try and save sick plants with the hope of bringing in some kind of crop.

Late Blight Arrives Early

What’s in Upic?……
Snap Peas and Snow Peas

The upic field starts its second week with snow and snap peas open for picking. Flowers are blooming early this year and we hope to open them up for next week. Snap beans are coming along as well and the first planting has flowers and the good flush of beans starting. Please remember not to pick anything that is not labeled with a sign.
Dreaded late blight has arrived to this farm. Over the weekend we discovered late blight in our potatoes. This fungus is very destructive to potatoes and tomatoes and when conditions are right can take down an entire crop in a few days. We are trying to manage the infection in the potatoes and hope to keep it localized to a few varieties but it will affect our yields considerably. Late blight is something we deal with almost every year but usually don’t see it arrive until September or October –once the affected crops are done with harvest. This year the infection is earlier and stronger than usual because infected seedlings were brought into the northeast from the Alabama to be sold at Walmart, Home Depot and Lowes. These plants quickly released spores into the air, which the cold wet weather provided the perfect conditions to spread. There is currently late blight reported from Maryland to Ohio to Northern Maine. You can read more about this problem in a NY Times article http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/18/nyregion/18tomatoes.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=late%20blight&st=cse  Please try and buy your plants from local producers next year!
On a farm scale we are dealing with this fungus using two organically approved controls, one that kills the germinated spores on the leaf surface and another that kills the spores as they land on the plants. We are hoping to keep the loss to a minimum but there will be loss. If you have tomatoes or potatoes in your home garden please check you plants every few day for greasy looking splotches on the leaves and stems. When the weather is damp the splotches will be ringed by white mold. Pull these plants right away and either put them in a plastic bag and throw them away or bury them –don’t compost infected plants! The Fungus can survive in the compost pile but not underground. I’m sure I’ll have more to say on this problem in future newsletters.
We’re happy to be harvesting what we can from the fields right now. Those of you wondering when more crops will be coming in…we are too. The farm is still paying the price for five weeks of rain. There have been stories of other CSAs who have stopped harvest and distributions altogether until the crops return so for now we’ll count our blessings.
Carrots are a bright point and it looks as if we will have them for a while to come. Last week’s harvest was seeded on April 12th and, unlike many other things came in right on time –although they are a bit smaller than we like. There is nothing like a fresh local carrot after eating the stored and shipped varieties from the supermarket. My kids have been eating so many I’m thinking about having their blood sugar levels checked.
Seal Cove chevre is back in the share room as is nitrate-free bacon from Maine Farms. We are still waiting for more A to Z cookbooks…we’ll let you know when they arrive.
Frontier resturant and cinema www.explorefrontier.com is showing a great new film tonight and tomorrow about why we all need to eat local. Food Inc. explores the industrial food system and its effects on consumers, farmers, workers and the environment. Great interviews with Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food), as well as farmer/celebrity Joel Salatin (Everything I Want to Do is Illegal).

Peas Please

What’s in Upic?……
Snap Peas and Snow Peas

The long awaited opening of Upic is this week with just one crop to start out…Peas! These are sweet eat-the-whole-pod snap and snow peas that rarely make it to the car, much less all the way home to family members. As we open the upic field with just one crop we ask that you only take a pint (will be provided) per share this first week. This will ensure that everyone can take some of these home to enjoy. We will open up some of the other crops next week as well.
Here’s the skinny on how Upic works. We prepare, plant, and weed this ½ acres plot just for you, the members of the farm. Growing there you will find cherry tomatoes, green beans, herbs, flowers, and most notably this week, peas. These are crops that are particularly rewarding to harvest and can add a lot of value to your share as they often are great accompaniments to the “field crops” we harvest and wash for you each week.
The important thing to understand about this field is that it belongs to everyone who has a share in the farm. There are 225 shares this year and we try very hard to plan each planting so that everyone will be able to sample every crop. The idea is that all of these crops are compliments to the field crops and not necessarily staples in and of themselves. While we would love to be able to plant enough basil for everyone to make pesto for the winter or sow enough beans to share with your neighbors, it’s just not possible in the space we have to work with. Those of you that split shares, we ask that you be particularly aware of your picking quantities.
With the exception of these first couple weeks we will not suggest amounts for you to take from the upic field. The idea is that we all take our share and consciously leave behind enough for everyone else. The upic field has always been our grand experiment in community spirit and in eleven years of CSA growing all over the Northeast we have never been disappointed.
Here are a few points and guidelines to keep Upic going strong all summer:
•    Picking is open on Tuesday, Fridays, and Sundays from dawn to dusk. Please pick just once a week.
•    Look for the signs we post in the field indicating what is ready to pick. If you don’t see a sign, please don’t pick it.
•    Scissors are provided to help in cutting things that need to be cut (not peas). Please use them –clean cuts help keep the plants healthy and productive. Please don’t put scissors in your pockets! You’ll remember them when you get home. The loop on each pair is to go around your wrist and keep them handy for picking.
•    Be gentle with the plants when picking and use both hands, one to hold the plant and one to cut or pick. Parents please teach your little ones how to do this before letting them loose.
•    Be aware of where you are walking and try to walk between the beds and not on them.
•    Know and teach your young ones that all of the fencing at the farm is electrified, including the fence around the upic field.
•    Make sure the kids (and adults) stay out of the buildings and off of the tractors and farm equipment. The farm is old and there are numerous serious dangers to be found.
•    Weeding, picking rocks and squashing bad bugs are always welcome. If you question whether a bug is bad leave it be: it could be an ally.
•    Find a farmer and ask us if you are unsure how or what to pick.

Stunted growth

Hey everyone…July is underway this week and we have a few more interesting vegetables to add to the mix. The downside is the conspicuous absence of greens, mainly that CSA share staple lettuce.
The lack of light and the vast amounts of water we have been dealing with has really slowed up the growth in most things out in the fields. Unfortunately this slowdown is most apparent in things we try and harvest for you every week –like lettuce. These crops are planted every few weeks and go through a cycle of cut and re-cut before a new planting is ready for harvest. The timing of the harvesting and planting is time tested, based on my last ten years of growing in the northeast. Unfortunately the poor growth is a testament as to how far off the average we really are this year. This morning we went down to the field and decided that the new lettuce mix planting was just not ready. The older planting that we have been working on has some re-growth of size but we all found it to be tough and a bit bitter. As a rule when faced with deciding to give low quality food
or not, we opt to hold back. Taste, keeping quality and most importantly, nutrient content are all reflected in the flavor and texture of the produce we grow.
We are hoping that lettuce  (along with many of our other “staple” greens) will return next week. In the meantime let’s talk about Kohlrabi! This is a great old European vegetable from the cabbage family that excels in many ways beyond its obvious good looks. The swollen stem or crown is what we eat and we have chosen this variety because of its superior taste. The color and shape make kohlrabi appear to have been invented in the proctor and gamble fun food lab –but no it is the result of a few generations of farmers with good tatste and a good sense of humor. Please try this vegetable! It’s fresh and crisp raw and rich and creamy cooked. There are a few good recipes to try on the website http://crystalspringcsa.com/archives/category/recipes/kohlrabi . Don’t forget to use the leaves! They have the texture and flavor of kale.
The Upic field is coming along and thanks to a lot of great work by CSA members Bob Leezer and Barb Harvey it looks like it will be the best looking Upic in recent memory. Peas are in deep flower and we hope to be able to let you into them soon. Some of the flower varieties are also coming along, as is the first planting of snap beans. More on the upic field, what’s ready to pick and how it all works in the next newsletter.

Great local products at pick-up. Eggs, organic milk, cheese, fresh bread, lamb sausage, bacon, pork sausage, ground beef, fair trade coffee and organic gelato, all locally produced, will be available.
Pre-order bread, milk, and eggs this week for next week’s pick-up. Talk to one of us at pickup if you would like to preorder and reserve these items for next week. Let us know how much you would like, what day you will come for pickup, and if it will be a standing order. Wild Oats bread flavors are six grain and anadama on Tuesdays and honey wheat and molasses oat on Fridays.
Maples Maine made organic gelato is here! This is good stuff. Look for vanilla bean, carmelized banana, dark chocolate sorbetto and many other flavors.
Crystal Spring Blend Coffee. That’s right, our own blend of fair trade locally roasted coffee from Brunswick roaster Wicked Joe’s Coffee. Twelve oz. bags are $10 with all profits going to retrofit the farm buildings. Drink deeply.

Roasted Kohrabi

1 1/2 pounds fresh kohlrabi, ends trimmed, thick green skin sliced off with a knife, diced

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic (optional, to my taste)
Salt
Good vinegar

Set oven to 450F. Toss the diced kohlrabi with olive oil, garlic and salt in a bowl. (This can be done on the pan but you’ll likely use more oil.) Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and put into oven (it needn’t be fully preheated) and roast for 30 – 34 minutes, stirring every five minutes started after about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with a good vinegar (probably at the table so the kohlrabi don’t get squishy).

Kimchi

Cut one head of Napa (chinese) cabbage  crossways so that you have 1-2 inch pieces. Soak in 1 gallon of water in which you have dissolved one cup of salt (kosher). Let soak up to 8 hours, then drain and lightly rinse and drain again. Shake off any excess moisture and pile into a bowl. In a smaller bowl mix 1 tbsp sugar, 1-2 tsp kosher salt 1-2 tbsp cayenne or other hot pepper powder, 1- 4 tsp of red pepper flakes or comparable amount of chopped fresh peppers, 4-8 cloves of garlic sliced or minced, one large onion cut in half and thinly sliced. Mix all together then pack cabbage mixture into screw top jars that you have sterilized (don’t need canning jars; the Koreans don’t have them!), leaving about 1/2 of head room. I let them sit for 6-8 hours and then refrigerate. Start tasting after 4-5 days . Usually by the 2nd or 3rd head, you have perfected the mix that works best for you. Keeps a long time in the fridge; bubbles indicate fermentation, which you want.

Rain and Other Four Letter Words

This week I’m not going to say anything about the weather, as there is nothing nice to say. Hope for sun, as we all need it. Instead of bemoaning crop health I thought I’d dig into the heart of cabbage, one of the only crops that seems to be enjoying our present atmospheric conditions.
Cabbage is an old standby for most civilizations around the world. What we think of as cabbage, the green or red heading plant (you are seeing it in abundance for yet another week) is actually just one variation on an ancient plant group known as brassicas. This group includes kale, broccoli, collards, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kohlrabi (look for this one next week in your share). All of these European crops derive from a single plant that was most likely a wild mustard and looked somewhat like kale. This original plant was native to either the western coasts of Europe or the Northern Mediterranean coast. Because cabbage and its close friends are so nutritious (they contain some of the highest concentrations of vitamins B1, B2, and C in the vegetable realm) they have been a prized part of the human diet since documented times. The Greeks and Romans grew many varieties and wrote extensively about their cultivation and uses. Cato the Elder declared, “It is the cabbage which surpasses all other vegetables.”
Much has been written about the healing properties of cabbage, including its anti-inflammatory properties, blood cleansing abilities and cancer suppression. Recent research around a compound sugar protein called glucosinolate (which is found in high concentration in brassicas) has revealed a link between eating these crops and the inhibition of cancerous growth of many kinds. Oddly enough it is this protein and the sulphur that is a part of its compound that also give cabbage and its close relatives their distinctive smell and flavor. Cabbage has been used for centuries in folk medicine to reduce inflammation of the skin and muscles and it is still used by nursing mothers around the world to reduce painful swelling of the breasts.
The last great thing to say about cabbage is that it is the one of the keystone crops to eating well and eating local in Maine through the winter. This crop stores great and if we could get everyone in the state to eat two heads a month this winter we would all be healthier and the state could take a major step forward in feeding itself for the snowy months.
Knowing all this about cabbage will hopefully entice you to find a new way to enjoy it this week. It goes great with sauted scallions (in your share this week) and or lamb sausage (in the freezer). Here’s the link to our cabbage recipes on the website it you need a few ideas: http://crystalspringcsa.com/archives/category/recipes/cabbage

Great local products at pick-up. Eggs, organic milk, cheese, fresh bread, lamb sausage, bacon, pork sausage, ground beef, fair trade coffee and organic gelato, all locally produced, will be available. Try out local Pastry chef Annemarie Curnin’s rosemary butter cookies this week as well!
Pre-order bread, milk, and eggs this week for next week’s pick-up. Talk to one of us at pickup if you would like to preorder and reserve these items for next week. Let us know how much you would like, what day you will come for pickup, and if it will be a standing order. Wild Oats bread flavors are six grain and anadama on Tuesdays and honey wheat and molasses oat on Fridays.
Maples Maine made organic gelato is here! This is good stuff. Look for vanilla bean, carmelized banana, dark chocolate sorbetto and many other flavors.
Crystal Spring Blend Coffee. That’s right, our own blend of fair trade locally roasted coffee from Brunswick roaster Wicked Joe’s Coffee. Twelve oz. bags are $10 with all profits going to retrofit the farm buildings. Drink deeply.

The Weather

Five inches. Not a big number taken by itself but when we’re talking a single day’s rain on the farm, it’s monumental. Those of you who came to the farm last Friday (or spent anytime outside at all for that matter) will not forget the intensity of that rain anytime soon. The farm crew started our harvest day as usual that morning at six o’clock with an inch and half already in the rain gauge. The gushes kept coming and by breakfast at eight o’clock we were seeing small rivers running between each bed in the fields. Major rainfall can be a bit fun if you’re ready for it. The fields are a bit weedy right now which goes a long way towards slowing down the runoff and keeping the soil where we want it (not in Maquoit Bay).Here’s to the positive side of weedy fields! All of us have good rain gear (except for me – my left boot sprung two leaks that morning) and the day was going well until it came time to load the trucks with cabbage and broccoli. We harvest these crops into half olive barrels that weigh up to 60 pounds each when they’re full so we drive around the field and pick them up with the trucks. I had to practice Hollywood stunt driving in 4WD, gunning the old Ford up to a good clip to launch it through the eddies of water and soil between each barrel. Several stops later we had finished harvest and spent most of the remaining morning trying to hear ourselves think while the rain pelted the aluminum roof over the washing barn.
Past the drama of rainy harvest, all of this water and the multiple days of darkness on either side of it has been making this job of growing food a challenge. Wet ground is hard on young plants -which at this time of year is all we have. Without strong root systems all of our crops start to run out of nutrients as the rain washes them from the soil and the lack of sun cools the ground and stops the soil’s biological life from making new nutrients available. I have to look on the bright side. I know that it will come to an end and the likelihood of us completely losing any crop is small at this point.  What I would expect from

this biblical period is some reduction in yield for some crops.  Exactly which crops will be impacted and the extent of the losses are unknowns at this point; we will have to wait awhile yet for those answers.
Double cabbage begins this week…nothing like coleslaw. Look for the right hand sidebar on the website and scroll down for cabbage recipes (click on “cabbage” for seven suggestions). Chinese cabbage is also known as Napa and you can use it just like you do the old familiar stuff.
Look for our new “greens key” handout at pickup this week. It tells you what we’re growing in the way of greens and the best ways to use them. We sized them to fit handily on the fridge as a reference for the months to come.

Great local products at pick-up. Eggs, organic milk, cheese, fresh bread, lamb sausage, bacon, pork sausage, ground beef, fair trade coffee and organic gelato, all locally produced, will be available. Try them out to compliment your vegetables.
Pre-order bread, milk, and eggs this week for next week’s pick-up. Talk to one of us at pickup if you would like to preorder and reserve these items for next week. Let us know how much you would like, what day you will come for pickup, and if it will be a standing order.
Crystal Spring Farm Day Camp has a few space spaces available both weeks (July 6th-10th and July 13th-17, 9am-3pm), kids ages 6-10 are invited to join us here at the farm. Read more and register for camp at our website:  http://crystalspringcsa.com/farm-camp or contact Maura at maura@crystalspringcsa.com or 729.1112.
Crystal Spring Blend Coffee. That’s right, our own blend of fair trade locally roasted coffee from Brunswick roaster Wicked Joe’s Coffee will be available this week. Twelve ounce bags are $10 with all profits going to help put a new roof on our barn, re-wire the outbuildings and retrofit our water supply. Drink deeply.