Italian Flavor

Fennel and Radicchio are sneaking into the share this week and both of them are great compliments to almost whatever you want to pair them with -as long as we’re not talking about a breakfast menu. Fennel gets a bad wrap as it is commonly lumped in with anise and bring back childhood memories of black jelly beans or bad holiday cookies. Unlike anise, fennel really mellows and sweetens with just a little cooking -especially if you are cooking in butter. As with all good things our kids didn’t like fennel but over the years we have slowly snuck it into many things, sautéing it in butter until soft and slightly browned. Try tossing  sautéed fennel with roasted beets and carrots. Follow our oven roasted beets recipe, adding coarsely chopped carrots before the beets go to the oven and tossing in the browned fennel when it comes out. Radicchio is that deep red leaf you may have seen shredded into a salad here and that but it also is a great cooked over high heat. We grill radicchio, bathing the cut side with olive oil and putting it cut side down alongside whatever else is for dinner. Cook until just starting to blacken around the edges and then drizzle balsamic vinegar whisked with a little maple syrup or sugar. This is great hot or room temp. If you are not grilling the broiler will also do a nice job here just put it cut side towards the heat.

Organic Maine Wild Blueberries…Preorder This Week for Delivery Next Week… 

Next week will be our last week to order these great berries…The Harvey family will be raking beautiful, high quality berries for us again this year in Oxford Co. They will rake the day before, if its not raining in western Maine,so the quality will be amazing.  Berries will be offered by the quart (quarts are 1.7 pounds each (3 qts.=5lbs.) for $9each. Pre-order at pick-up this Tuesday or Friday for delivery next Tuesday or Friday.  You can also order by email  (by Saturday at noon for pickup Tuesday or Tuesday at noon for pickup Friday). We usually freeze 10-15 pounds for winter muffins, crepes and pancakes…

Weeding Wednesdays in Effect…

The wet weather has really been helpful to the plants in the fields. Unfortunately the weeds are starting to out number the crops as the prevalent greenery this year. As in years past we would like to invite to out to join the crew as we beat back the competition in the fields. Look for us along Pleasant Hill Road east of the Farmstead from 9-11 each Wednesday in August (starting this Wednesday…July 31st). We will be in the fields near the blue or white farm trucks. Park where you can and jump in. We have a big crew this year and the work is fast and satisfying!

Pre-Labor Day Potato Harvest Save the Date

We are planning a mini potato harvest party on Saturday August 10th at 9am (more on this event as it get’s closer…) to pull early spuds. -Don’t worry we will also have our annual labor on Labor Day  potato harvest as well. But this one will give those of you with Labor Day travel plans another option to jump in. If you can’t get enough potato harvest come to both days!

What’s In Upic?

Green Beans



What’s In  The Share This Week?


Baby Bok Choi

Summer Squash/Cucumbers

Sweet Onions




Two Sides of the Coin

Beating the Beetles at Their Own Game

This week we practiced some radical triage on the farm. Colorado potato beetle is one of our worst pests year after year. They over winter in the boundaries of the field emerge and find our potato crop -no matter where we have moved them each summer. Starting in June we pick them off one by one and then at some point in July we usually reach the point where this method of control is no longer possible on our almost one acre potato plot. The next solution is to use an organic soil-born bacteria that we spray on the crop and knocks the beetles back, usually setting them back enough that we can get a good crop. The day we should have used this bacteria this year was day one of the most recent nine day stretch of rain we had. Needless to say we missed our window. In those nine days the beetles went to town and while we were able to apply the bateria, Last weekend it was very late for many of the rows. Much of the crop will bounce back but about 1500 row feet were virtually skeletonized by the beetle. When this happens there are just a couple options. Leave the plants as they are and hope for some leaves to regenerate or mow them off completely and harvest those rows early. You may have guessed by this point that we decide to mow off these rows and work to give the rest of the crop the best chance. The up shot is that we will we have potatoes starting in mid August -rather than mid-September! We are planning a mini potato harvest party on Saturday August 10th at 9am (more on this event as it get’s closer…) to pull these early spuds. -Don’t worry we will also have our annual labor on Labor Day  potato harvest as well.

Roll Out the Onions

Sweet summer onions appear this week and we are all so happy. Ailsa Craig onions are the north’s answer to the Georgia Vidailia, large and sweet, they lack the pungency of the storage red and yellow varieties coming later. Best suited to using raw or barely cooked, the sweetness is the real prize here. If you prefer your onions cooked try brushing these with butter/oil and grilling/broiling them or chopping them on top of something that will be in a high heat oven like focaccia or fritatta. This beautiful crop will be in regular supply for a few weeks and they will keep well in your fridge for a month or so. This open pollenated variety has been a prize winner since it was introduced in 1877…

Grilling Leeks…

We are teasing you with a few small leeks this week. We have several beds of leeks planted and one has been giving us a hard time, filling with weeds again and again. Rather than continue this battle we decided to harvest this one bed a bit early and give you something exciting to throw on the grill. Like so many things in life it is the preparation for, rather than the actual cooking that makes or breaks the experience. Leeks have a unique ability to gather soil on their leaves that then settles alongside the shaft of the plant and is almost impossible to wash away without destroying the leek. The trick to cleaning this vegetable  and also keeping it together on the grill or under the broiler is using the roots. Most of us are taught to cut the roots away first off as we prep any vegetable -don’t do it. Instead take the point of a sharp knife and starting 1/4 inch above the roots, slice the shaft longways all the way through the leaves. Now you should be able to clean the leek under the faucet, removing all of the dirt from between the leaves as the root end holds everything together. After this you can separate the two sides, again leaving the root in place to hold the leaves on each half together. If you are headed to the grill pat each side dry and generously bathe them in olive oil, adding salt and pepper just before they hit the fire. We like to cook them until the are almost black on the outside and the inside starts to caramelize. A hot pan or the broiler work well here too or you can also just use this sweet mellow member of the onion family as you would a scallion…

What’s In Upic?

Green Beans



What’s In  The Share This Week?



Summer squash




Sweet Onions



We are busy these days. So busy in fact I have just enough time for a nuts and bolts newsletter this week.

Kohlrabi, It’s Not Just for Aliens Anymore

This is a great vegetable. Peel it and grate, slice, or julienne it into salads, stir fries, or straight into your mouth! Out kids love it sliced with salt and a little vinegar. Here’s the link to the recipe page…

Egg share and Mushroom Shares begin this week…

Talk to us at the farm for more info…

Farm Store Open this Week

Maple syrup, eggs, goat cheese, and our own ground lamb are for sale starting this week. In the weeks to come look for gelato, bacon and sausage, as well as more cheeses…

Pigs Join the Party

10 pigs are part of the farm team as of last week. These guys are busy digging up the winters sheep bedding in the barn but will be heading into the fields soon.


Visit from the Congo

We had a big group of Congolese produce farmers visit last week. They are on a whirlwind trip to the Northeast to tour vegetable farms. We had a great time talking shop and showing them around Crystal Spring.  Farm talk bridges all gaps.

What’s in the share?

Lettuce mix











It is still May and we are underway with our first harvests for CSA this week. The sun has decided to show itself after a week of cold clouds and and all of us a really excited to start harvesting a week ahead of our planned date. This is our tenth year farming at Crystal Spring and the first time we have started before June!

Slow is Good

This slow spring has taught us quite a bit about the effects of stress on plants by way of erratic temperatures. After a decade of growing for CSA here we have a good handle on the dates we need to plant our first crops by to expect a harvest the first week of June. In the past ten summers we have started on time most of those years and in the other years by the second week of June (2009 was a nightmare -June 21st!). All of these years have had what I call the March-April heat wave. This is a stretch of 2-7 days of unseasonably warm days in at least the mid 70’s  (last year we had mid-80’s). This kicks the plants into high gear by convincing them that they are behind because true summer is here and they are late for the party. The resulting growth spurt is then put in check by the inevitable return to cold temps, frosting this new tender growth and sending the plant into stress which slows down its overall growth and in some cases causes the plant to stop producing leaves and jump right to reproductive growth – the dreaded bolt. Over the years many of our early plantings of arugula and radishes fell prey to this stress response and we ended up losing them before harvest. Bolting occurs when a plant, pushed by some sort of stress, responds by going into flower -skipping the development of healthy full leaves in favor of making seed with the hope the next generation will have a better chance to thrive.

The Greens of June

Thankfully this years crops are stress free! As usual the share begins with a majority of greens. Please look to our website (right hand margin) for a recipe listing by crop to help kick start your creativity. In case you missed last weeks recipe and video link here’s a familiar friend to get you started…Kale Chips.

Your CSA Share…

Come to the farm this week on Tuesday (today!) or Friday from 2-7pm for your share. Please park in the lot to the left of our driveway and come into the white building on the right. We will be ready for you and if you are a new member (or and old member who needs a refresher course) we’ll walk you through the pick-up process. Bring bags to carry your share home in…

Radishes…They’re not just for Breakfast Anymore!

This is a great crop of radishes…crunchy, fresh and just a bit spicy. We ate quite  a few out of the field this week dirt and all. If your bunch lasts beyond the ride home try this easy recipe for a radish salad. You can also toss then in a stir fry tops and all in with your favorite braising greens!

What’s coming up?

Look for Strawberries, broccoli and beets in the next few weeks!

What to look for in your share this week….





Flowering Cabbage


Asian Greens


Full Spectrum White

Greetings from the farm!

(Scroll down to make sure you see all the highlights & announcements…)

Believe it or not spring is right around the corner. The sun, especially on a clear morning after one of the frequent snowstorms, is strong and we can feel it burning off the cold!  We love being outside and just soaking it up.

Unlike last year, the past few months of cold and snow will help our season with fewer pests and diseases to contend with. All this snow seems to be having an effect on the local predators as well. Earlier this week I walked away from the dinner table to investigate a piercing wail coming from the front of the farmhouse. The sun was down at this point so I grabbed a flashlight and headed towards the sound coming from under the old maple trees in the driveway. The light caught a pair of green close-set eyes and as I got nearer I could see that a dark brown fisher cat was on the move, crossing the road in strange graceful bounds. I walked inside to tell the family my story, still shaken by the cat’s unearthly call, and almost tripped over Nell, the sheepdog, still sleeping on the rug. Two nights later I sat up from a deep sleep at 1:00 am to the sound of a coyote howling very near. My first thought was the lambs in the barn and I got downstairs quickly with Nell (I woke her up this time) and she bolted out the front door and around the back of the house, barking at full volume (she doesn’t always realize she’s a little 35 pound dog). Not knowing how many coyotes might be about I quickly called her  back and we checked that all the barns were secure. While we live on a farm, having contact with large predators is not common, especially two in one week.  Is the deeper and later snow pushing them further afield for prey? 

Winter Working

Its been a great winter and we have been productive amongst a bit of rest. Here’s a few of the things we have been working on…

  • As of writing we have 79 lambs in the barn and we are winding down, expecting somewhere close to 90 total.
  • In between snow events we put new plastic on our transplant production greenhouse – just in time to start sowing seeds next week. If you are interested in helping out with these first seedings send me an email.  It’s good fun and the greenhouse is always warm!
  • We’ve interviewed many interesting young people who are looking to work on farms in Maine this season.  We almost have a full team.
  • Snow plowing
  • Seth has been learning the art of the backyard skating rink, which translates into many a late cold night spraying the hose.  Our kids & their friends are lucky dogs – but of course they had to have something to do when the sledding hill was lacking snow.
  • Winter also provides Seth the chance to spread the good words about our work.  From his talk on cover crop rotations at professional farmer conferences to fun festive”Colors Week” at the Brunswick schools – and a few groups in between…it keeps the inspiration brewing for the coming season.
  • Dreaming the dreams.  This is why we have yet to start winter production.  Need time to dream the dreams.
  • Farm camp dates are posted and sign up has begun!  See link below for registration or hit our farm camp page on our website.  Kids ages 4 and up.  As always we’d love to have your teenagers join us for some leadership experience and fun on the farm as junior counselor volunteers.

Looking for another reason to eat fresh food?

Read this scary article in the NYTimes magazine about foods engineered to take advantage of our love for fat, salt and sugar.


CSA Memberships

Thanks to all of you who have signed up for a share already.  Your commitment to spend the summer with us helps us spend more of our winter days planning for the season instead of marketing the CSA.  This is an extraordinary benefit and we are so grateful.  If you haven’t signed up and plan to please don’t wait, you can still take advantage of the payment plans.

New Lambs Open House

New Lamb day for CSA members and friends of the farm will be Sunday March 17 from 1-3 pm. Come see our new arrivals – friends and family welcome to join you!

Crystal Spring Farm Camp Sign-ups Open

Farm camp sign up now underway!  Junior counselors too!  See our farm camp page on our website for more information.

New Member Orientation!

If you are new to the CSA this year, please join us for a CSA orientation Sunday June 2nd at 10am or 2pm. This is a great time to meet the farmers, get the lay of the land, and learn how CSA pickup and the Upic Field works.