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There is quite a bit of food coming off the farm right now, heading into late August after all.   This abundance can bring both excitement and anxiety.  So many different things to eat...how can we eat all of it?  What we try to remember is that vegetables harvested at the same time generally work well together in a dish.   This was the only way people could make a meal before the advent of air freight from South America and flash freezing.  This is the time to get creative and jump in.  A few ideas from this week's share that are simple and delicious... Tomatoes and kale braised in a heavy skillet with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Leeks and Broccoli roasted in a hot oven and tossed in butter and finished with fresh pepper. Carrots and Cukes sliced and allowed to sit for a few minutes in rice vinegar and sprinkled with sea salt.

Beef Shares

Starting this week we will have beef shares available for sale at pick-up. This is grass-fed, grass-finished beef from the cows we had here at the farm  over the past year.  Enjoy some great grilling before summer comes to a close and fill your freezer with Crystal Spring Farm Grass Fed Beef this winter.   Grass-fed beef is high in healthy Omega-3’s and cancer fighting CLA’s not to mention it tastes great.  This is a smaller beef package than last year and contains 30 pounds of cuts that come frozen and vacuum packed. The price per share is $225 and we have 15 to offer this season and they will be sold first come first served at Tuesday and Friday CSA pick-up. This amount will fit into the standard size family freezer. Each package will include:
  •  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

Pork for the Freezer IMG_7400

We have a great group of pigs this year. Fed on grain from Maine Beer Company and Allagash Brewing, all of them look great. Order forms for our first round of farm raised pork will be available this week. 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.

Farm Yogurt

Incredible farm yogurt will be a regular offering for sale at CSA pick-up...once again low for Tuesday unfortunately, but we will have a new delivery for Friday's pick-up this week.  This rich cream-at-the-top product of Wholesome Holmstead Farm in Winthrop is some of the best I have ever had.  Perfect with fresh blueberries!  We are gauging your interest with the hope of having them deliver a yogurt/cheese share next year, so please continue to give us your feedback - so far it's been very positive!

Crystal Spring Pork

We will have pork for sale by the cut  this week.  These are a group of pigs that spent the winter with us eating brewery barley and gelato-based dairy products and so far, they taste great. Browse through the freezer to shop for your next grilling event or Sunday breakfast.

What's in the Share this week?

Broccoli Leeks Watermelon Melon Tomato Kale/chard Carrot Lettuce/arugula Cukes  

What's in Upic?

Green Beans Flowers Cherry Toms
 
Tomatoes and cantaloupe today mean we are reaping our summer rewards. Enjoy!

Farm Yogurt

Incredible farm yogurt will be a regular offering for sale at CSA pick-up...we are currently sold out for Tuesday but will have a new delivery for Friday's pick-up this week.  This rich cream-at-the-top product of Wholesome Holmstead Farm in Winthrop is some of the best I have ever had. Perfect with fresh blueberries! We are gauging your interest with the hope of having them deliver a yogurt/cheese share next year.

Back by popular demand...This Friday Only!

Organic Maine Wild Blueberries

We are doing one last blueberry order with delivery planned for this friday at the farm only. Orders are due in by Wednesday at 6pm. Berries will be offered by the quart (quarts are 1.7 pounds each, 3 qts.=5lbs.) for $9 each. Pick-up this Friday during our CSA hours (2-7pm).

Crystal Spring Pork

We will have pork for sale by the cut  this week.  These are a group of pigs that spent the winter with us eating brewery barley and gelato-based dairy products and so far, they taste great. Browse through the freezer to shop for your next grilling event or Sunday breakfast.

Stargazing at the Farm

Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust will be hosting a Stargazing event for this week's pressed meter shower. Come to the parking lot this thursday and listen to astronomers as you watch the show. More info at this link.

What's in the Share this week?

Kale/chard Arugula Summer Squash/cukes Carrots Summer onions Lettuce Tomatoes Cantaloupe

What's in Upic?

Green Beans Flowers
 
We have garlic drying in the barn this year for this first time in a long time. Back in 2007 we grew a lot of garlic. That year we harvested a quarter of an acre and the yield was about 2000lbs. This was great crop for us and we used to put heads in everyone's shares for weeks and weeks. We grew two varieties that were very complimentary in flavor and in the years we had been growing them had improved in our soil to produce big head with big cloves. Then in 2008 everything changed. Trying to add some diversity to our crop we bought in some seed for a new variety from a grower in Canada that was supposed to be different in color and flavor. In addition to these traits it also had a fungal disease that we weren't looking for. That fungus infected the garlic we were saving for seed and wiped out our entire crop. Setbacks in farming are a dime a dozen but this one really hurt. Garlic, maybe even more than wine, is deeply influenced by new soils and climates. A sharply flavored white garlic grown in Maine may adapt into a sweet subtle red garlic if planted in Washington state or vice versa. About 10 years ago hundreds of known garlic varieties were genetically mapped and it turns out these are only seven all these varieties of hardneck, soft neck, sweet, red, etc. that are truly different. All these colors and flavors come from the plants reacting and adapting to their environment. So our garlic was truly "Crystal Spring garlic" and we felt its loss. Since 2008 we've been waiting.  Two things have kept us out of garlic: the fungus in the soil and a good source of seed. Five years is the standard time for the fungus to work its way out of the soil.  The real challenge has been trying to find a good source of seed. After many conversations with other growers I found a farm in Maine that grows garlic seed and has not bought any new seed in over 10 years, ensuring that her crop is clean of disease. We bought 25 pounds last year and planted about 100 feet of 3-row bed. Of this crop about 75% will go back to seed as we try and build our base along with another 25 pounds of new seed from the same farm.  Planting all this seed means we will not have garlic for the share this year but with luck the 350 foot bed we plan to put in this fall will year some for next year, heralding the return of "Crystal Spring garlic".

Farm Yogurt

We now have quarts of incredible farm yogurt for sale at CSA pick-up. This rich cream-at-the-top product of Wholesome Holmstead Farm in Winthrop is some of the best I have ever had. Perfect with fresh blueberries! We are gauging your interest with the hope of having them deliver a yogurt/cheese share next year.

Crystal Spring Pork

We will have pork for sale by the cut  this week.  These are a group of pigs that spent the winter with us eating brewery barley and gelato-based dairy products and so far, they taste great. Browse through the freezer to shop for your next grilling event or Sunday breakfast.

What's in the Share this week?

Kale/chard Baby Bok choi Summer Squash/cukes Carrots/beets Summer onions Lettuce Tomatoes

What's in Upic? (*Reminder - you can come to Upic anytime on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays!)

Green Beans (new planting) Flowers
 
Blueberry harvest begins this week and I can't wait for two reasons. Mostly because I'm excited for the process of pulling what will hopefully be thousands of pounds of berries from these little wild bushes, but also because I am tried of the preparation!  Since June, getting ready to harvest has consumed my spare time.  So much so that my family and the farm crew get glassy, uninterested stares when the word "blueberry" is mentioned.  Our lease on 70 acres of blueberry barren right next to the farm was signed this winter and after some spring weed control most of my efforts have been focused on the logistics of getting a whole lot of little berries off their mother bushes and up to Ellsworth where they will be cleaned, frozen and sold.  This involved buying a harvester, hiring folks to run it with me, lining up a trucker and lastly figuring out how to get the berries on the truck! The berries in your share this week are our first harvested this year. There are not certified organic (which is why the vast majority of them will be sold wholesale) but they are transitional. What does this mean? We took the lease on this field  knowing that it had been managed conventionally up until 2 years ago. For the past 2 seasons (including this one) the field has not had any herbicides or pesticides applied to it. The rule for organic certification is that three years after conventional management a piece of land is eligible to be called organic, which is our plan for next year. We will still have organic berries available for pre-order starting this week with delivery next week.

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

We are just doing one week of fresh blueberry orders year.  Order this week for a delivery next week.  Because our berries are not organic (yet) and are going directly to frozen, 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 $9 each. 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).  

Farm Yogurt

We now have quarts of incredible farm yogurt for sale at CSA pick-up. This rich cream-at-the-top product of Wholesome Holmstead Farm in Winthrop is some of the best I have ever had. Perfect with fresh blueberries! We are gauging your interest with the hope of having them deliver a yogurt/cheese share next year.

Crystal Spring Pork

We will have pork for sale by the cut starting this week.  These are a group of pigs that spent the winter with us eating brewery barley and gelato-based dairy products and so far, they taste great. Browse through the freezer to shop for your next grilling event or Sunday breakfast.

What's in the Share this week?

Blueberries Kale Tatsoi/Baby Bok choi Summer Squash Carrots Summer onions Kohlrabi/Napa Cabbage Lettuce

What's in Upic?

Snow Peas/Snap Peas (Last Week!) Green Beans Flowers
 
The heat is here to stay and everything is popping. Of note is our first harvest of summer onions this week. These are the vidalias of the north and are knock your socks off sweet. If you like a slice of onion on a sandwich, on the grill, or some chopped into a salad, this is your lucky day. These onions are only around for a short while and do not store particularly well so enjoy them now!

Balance Due?

If you know or wonder if you have a balance due check-in with Maura at pick-up. She will know all.

What's in the Share this week?

Kohlrabi Summer Squash/Cukes Carrots/Beets Summer onions Napa Cabbage Lettuce

What's in Upic?

Snow Peas/Snap Peas (still going) Green Beans (just starting)

Farm-Raised Chicken Still Available!

Kristin and Tom, our super-star farm hands are raising pastured chickens for sale here at the farm. These birds are fed fresh grass, organic grain, and Crystal Spring water.  Roasted or grilled there is nothing like a farm-raised bird. Pre-order birds for your freezer starting this week. A $5 deposit per bird will reserve your order. Finished price will be $4.50/lb. +3.50 for slaughter and packaging.
 
Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 9.37.43 PMMost Mondays I sit down to write this post and have to shake of the obsessive desire to talk about the weather. This one variable of what I do is so big, so uncontrollable that I can never get it completely out of my mind and quite often can't help but want to burden you readers to boredom with the tidbits of  rainfall per hour or sustained windspeeds.  Weather makes farmers feel like a kids on the playground trying to have fun amongst the next possibility of pain or humiliation at the hands of an older child. When I was a younger farm hand in Western Massachusetts I watched a hail storm blow through our farm and in the matter of 30 seconds take all the crops of late June and transform them into mud.  My boss, who was superhuman in his skill and insight, fell to his knees and cried in front of all the crew that day, then we started re-planting. Come to think of it that really tells the whole story of what its like to farm (minus the good days of course).

Carrots are Back

Our first carrots of the year are here and they are true babies. Unlike the baby carrots at the grocery store that are actually big, grade "B" carrots milled down to size, these are the real deal. Remember April? Remember it snowing the second week of April?  We are supposed to plant our first carrots the second week of April but could not until the first week of May, which is the date for our second planting of carrots. Needless to say both plantings went in the first week of May and if we don't start harvesting now you will be getting carrots the size (and flavor) of Louisville sluggers pretty soon. Enjoy the tender sweetness (no peeling needed) and take them to your next dinner party or neighborhood cookout and share the magic of real baby carrots.

Greens Break

We are in-between tender greens plantings this week. Salad greens will return next week.

Balance Due?

Is you know or suspect you have a balance due check-in with Maura at pick-up. She will know all.

What's in the Share this week?

Chard Scallions Kohlrabi Summer Squash/Cukes Broccoli Carrots/Beets

What's in Upic?

Snow Peas Snap Peas

Farm-Raised Chicken Still Available!

Kristin and Tom, our super-star farm hands are raising pastured chickens for sale here at the farm. These birds are fed fresh grass, organic grain, and Crystal Spring water.  Roasted or grilled there is nothing like a farm-raised bird. Pre-order birds for your freezer starting this week. A $5 deposit per bird will reserve your order. Finished price will be $4.50/lb. +3.50 for slaughter and packaging.
 
IMG_9997Working outside everyday I often forget the forest for the trees. The daily list of tasks and the infinite adaptations often needed to get them done is all-consuming to the point that I tend to hit my head on things a lot, focused on the task at hand and not the branch overhead.  Lately for some reason I have been looking up and finding some amazing things above. The sky has been particularly dramatic this year with color and clouds. Watching cold fronts blow in as solid lines of rolling grey or the heat of the morning sun evaporate away the fog, it's been a good year. Hopefully I can continue to keep my head up, at least to avoid the branches.

Upic

This is the official opening week of our Upic field with snow and peas as well as a few flowers. We are asking that you limit your pea picking to 1 pint this week to ensure that everyone can enjoy this crop. This does not include the peas you will eat along the way to sustain your picking 🙂 We will have pint boxes in the field. If you are new to the CSA and the upic field here's how it works... We prepare, plant, and weed this one acre plot just for you, the members of the farm. Growing there you will find 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 275 shares this year and we try very hard to plan each planting so that everyone will be able to enjoy 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 Upic 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 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 we have never been disappointed.  

What's in the Share this week?

Chard/Kale Arugula Scallions Lettuce Baby Cabbage Summer Squash

What's in Upic?

Snow Peas Snap Peas Strawberries (in the vegetable fields)

Farm-Raised Chicken?

Kristin and Tom, our super-star farm hands are raising pastured chickens for sale here at the farm. These birds are fed fresh grass, organic grain, and Crystal Spring water.  Roasted or grilled there is nothing like a farm-raised bird. Pre-order birds for your freezer starting this week. A $5 deposit per bird will reserve your order. Finished price will be $4.50/lb. +3.50 for slaughter and packaging.
 

IMG_4962 copySome interesting new items in the share this week...

Say hello to garlic scapes!  This is the flowering head of a garlic plant and looks like a curly-q scallion. Use them as you would a scallion. The give a great sweet garlic flavor when minced into dishes of salad dressings. We like to brush them in olive oil and toss them on the grill until almost black - carmelized garlic goes with everything! Also delicious is garlic scape pesto. Baby cabbage makes an early appearance. We plant our cabbage at tight spacing and they grow smaller faster. These "one meal" size heads are great for a quick slaw or stir fry. Our first zucchini have come in. We will add quality and variety in the weeks to come.

What's in the Share this week?

Strawberries Chard/Kale Lettuce Beets Scallions Garlic Scapes Baby Cabbage Summer Squash

Farm-Raised Chicken?

Kristin and Tom, our super-star farm hands are raising pastured chickens for sale here at the farm. These birds are fed fresh grass, organic grain, and Crystal Spring water.  Roasted or grilled there is nothing like a farm-raised bird. Pre-order birds for your freezer starting this week. A $5 deposit per bird will reserve your order. Finished price will be $4.50/lb. +3.50 for slaughter and packaging.

Fashion in the Raw

Many of you will remember the lovely Jacinda Martinez who was here at Crystal Spring Farm a few years ago.  Where is she now?  Check out this recent article in the Portland Press Herald to learn about her vegetable-based fashion design. She makes stunning art pieces from farm produce.  Follow this link for the full story.  

Regular Hours This Week!

 
IMG_9969The road ahead this season looks good. It's crazy that it takes almost the end of June to be able to say that, but that's farming. If we really looked closely at the just how little effect our planning and skills have on the outcome of a season none of us would probably do this for a living! With a few warm nights and a solid rainfall under our belt temperamental southern crops like peppers and eggplant are  finally in flower and it looks like they are back on schedule. We have been picking strawberries very hard this week and hope all of you enjoy this crop for the time that we have it. If you indulge in the grocery store version of this during the off-season make sure you taste your first local berry with our eyes closed. There is nothing quite like a native strawberry picked in season. Fruit set in this crop is exceptional and we are hoping for at least a couple weeks of abundance. Flowering of most of our fruit bearing crops look really good right now as if these plants came to an agreement that is now safe to pour all of their energy into feeding all of us. Peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and cucumbers are all exploding with new flowers, optimistically showing their hand for the months to good eating to come.

Mushroom Shares

Mushroom shares start this week! Look for them when you come for your share...

Take Me to Your Leader...

The extraterestrial looking Kohlrabi make its first appearance this week. This will excite many of you that we have introduced/converted to this vegetable. Those of you who are new to it, get ready. Sweet and crisp it goes on everything!  This of it like a large round carrot and slice, she or julien it onto everything.

Recipes...

Don't forget about our recipe listing by ingredient on the website. Look in the right hand sidebar. This is a great place to get started with new produce or find a different way to enjoy old favorites.

Make Hay While the Sun ShinesIMG_9951

We were able to cut 14 acres of hay this past week in-between the rain showers and deliver it to farms in Brunswick and Harpswell. This hay will feed local cows, sheep and horses on our IMG_9953neighbors farms. The first cut of hay fields starts a clock that moves slowly but surely towards the fall. We sell our first cut of hay so that we can cut these same fields later in the summer for our own animals. If we are lucky we can cut some of these fields 3 times and have plenty of forage for our sheep and over-wintered cows. If the fall comes early or September is filled with wet weather we can't always cut what we need, leaving us in a pickle. This year the gamble is especially risky as we waited intentionally late so as to avoid having to make forage during blueberry season which will monopolize our time the last week of July and the first week of June...

What's in the Share?

Strawberries Kohlrabi Chard/Kale Lettuce Beets Endive/escarole    
 
IMG_9946The formula is slowly coming into balance here at the farm. Just as our harvest started last week the heat and a little water from the sky came together with our warming soil and regular sun to get things going. Maura and I left the farm for a few days to attend my cousins wedding down in Georgia (it was hotter here on Friday!) and came back sunday evening to taller more robust fields of crops. This was heartening as last week's harvest was lighter than we would have liked, due mostly to the low temps and below normal rainfall.  We are slowly starting to build volume and diversity for your shares.  This week we add salad turnips and broccoli with strawberries and summer squash coming next week.

IMG_9950Upic Builds

Our Upic field is filling up with crops and growing steadily towards the first harvest out there. Our first couple plantings of beans are in and up, tomatoes have a first trellising and we seed our new star, edamame this week. Sugarsnap and snow peas will open the field this year, usually on or about July 4. Look to the newsletter for news of more crops out there and when/how to start picking these favorites for your share.

Egg Share Starts this Week

If you signed up for an egg share please grab a dozen and check your name off the list. We will usually have extra eggs available for sale as well.

Mushroom Share Starts Next Week!

It hasn't been a slow start just for us. Oyster Creek Mushroom in Damariscotta has also had a pokey start due to weather. The share will start next week (and go an extra week this fall). The great news is if you would still like to add a mushroom share go for it! Follow this link to sign-up online.

What's in the Share?IMG_9949

Kale/Chard Broccoli Lettuce Salad Turnips Asian Greens

Gelato Full-Circle

For the past few years we stocked Gelato Fiasco flavors in the farm store. Josh and Bruno, who own this local company, have used our watermelon, strawberries and cantaloupe to make their amazing frozen concoctions in years past. We love their Gelato as well as their commitment to using local milk and ingredients. This winter we were especially thankful to know them when we got a call that winter weather and trucking mishaps had left them with an oversupply of milk and cream.  Thinking on their feet they gave their local farm a call, hoping we could find a use for a large quantity of beautiful dairy products. We trucked right down to their Brunswick kitchen and loaded over a thousand pounds of dairy onto our trailer in the middle of one of the many brisk February days. Not everyone would be excited by a truckload of dairy products, but I knew our winter pigs would be! The cold froze the milk solid and we were able to share it with our winter friends, thawing a few gallons at a time.
 
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