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September is wistful, watching as summer slips away. Kids are in school. The schedule locks in and gets busy for everyone. Thoughts of winter and everything that needs to be fixed and buttoned up before snow flies, begin to creep in. For us on the farm, September is also the end of our year. Even though we have more than a month of harvest yet to share with you, our production and budget year is coming to a close. Most of our 2017 expenses are paid out by the 30th (short of payroll) and starting in October we begin to look forward to and take on the expenses for the year to come.

Beside growing things well, us farmers are entrepreneurs. Not like the Silicon Valley types that are backed by seemingly endless venture capital, but the type that makes budgets and writes checks to keep things running in the black. Each fall we buy heavily for the coming season. Just like anything in our “free-market” economy, we save money by paying early and buying in bulk. Greenhouse soil for our 342,000 transplants comes from Vermont and ran $6,484 last year, which is %10 off when paid before December 1. Our seed orders from Johnnys,  Fedco and High Mowing came in at $8,370. For the last four years Fedco and Johnnys have run out of stock in January on many seeds sold in larger (i.e. farm) sizes. We work hard to put in our order in before the end of December so we can be sure to get the varieties of carrots, broccoli, onions, etc. that grow well here. The purchasing list continues with diesel and heating fuel, field row covers, irrigation supplies, etc.  This eager push to buy early allows us to save money. That’s good for us as a business but it’s also good for you, as it allows us to harvest great food for your family at a very affordable price. In 2016 the price per pound of the produce we harvested for the CSA was $1.44.  The next time you are in the produce aisle keep an eye out for anything there that you can find for $1.44 per pound, much less anything freshly harvested and certified organic. We know that most of you are not members of the CSA solely because it makes sense on paper.  Perhaps like Maura and I,  you love the farm, cherish the community here each week, and thrive on being creative in the kitchen with what you bring home. The value of our produce helps catalyze all that other important stuff.  I’m going deep with this today to remind you why we need you to sign up for your shares — so we can make everything else that is so important here work.

This past fall we fell short of our membership goals for the first time in many seasons. In addition we had many late sign-ups and late payments. Our theories as to why this came to be run from a cold spring to a general malaise (due the political climate?). Whatever the reason we want you to know that we are here growing for you, even when the ground is frozen and you can’t even begin to dream of greenery outside. Thank you to all of you who are a part of the farm and please know that we are honored to be your farmers and can’t wait to get to work starting our new season.


Sign up for 2018!

We have a new sign-up site. As technology advances we move with it. In addition to automated credit card and echeck payments you can also access your balance at anytime and store your payment info for later. Thanks again for letting grow food for you…here’s the link for 2018 Sign-up.


Farm to Table Dinner Party -October 1

We have teamed up with our friends at Dirigo Public House in Yarmouth to host a farm to table dinner here at the farm Sunday October 1 from 3-7pm. Farm produce and pork along with craft beer pairings will make a meal in the fields the perfect way to spend a fall afternoon. Look for more info and tickets via email in the next few days.


Fall Shares Still Available

Keep eating with us through the end of the year with our fall share. Come to the farm every other Tuesday in November and December for storage vegetables like onions, squash, potatoes and carrots as well as fresh greens like spinach and lettuce cut from our greenhouses. Not ready to quit in October? This share is for you. Here’s the link to sign up.


What’s In The Share

  • Tomatoes
  • Baby Bok Choi
  • Mustard
  • Onions
  • Kale
  • Onions
  • Red Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach

What’s In Upic

  • Cherry Toms
  • Tomatillos
  • Flowers
  • Herbs
 

 

Loving fall is easy to do this year. Warm days, cool nights, regular rain -this is the climate we all want! I’m trying to soak up these days. Our late season crops feel the same way as they are looking great. Cabbage and broccoli, spinach and lettuce, it’s all exploding out there.

While we are loving this fall the crew is also getting ready for what comes next. We start prepping one of the tomato tunnels this week for the greens that will go into the last fall share. This involves pulling out the spent tomato plants and their trellising as well as turning over the ground and fertilizing. We are also trialling a fall transplanted onion variety that winters over and is harvestable in June. These onions spend the winter outside, growing slowly. More on this next spring…

 

With fall also comes the back to school/back to work busy. A CSA member

forwarded a favorite slow cooker recipe using upic tomatillos for

the heavily scheduled:

Tomatillo Chicken

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 quart of tomatillos
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 1/2 lbs chicken breasts (legs and thighs work too)
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh pepper
  • chopped cilantro to top

Start slow cooker on low, add olive olive to coat bottom. Remove tomatillo husks, wash and halve. Lay chicken into cooker followed by onion slices then tomatillos, garlic and jalapeño. Pour in broth and finish with salt and pepper before closing the lid and cooking for 8 hours. Remove chicken and blend the contents of the cooker. Shred the chicken and top with blended sauce.

Fennel -it’s not licorice really!

Fennel makes and appearance in the share this week. We always walk on eggshells when we offer this vegetable as it is not universally loved. Like most scorned things, it is misunderstood. Yes it smell like licorice but when cooked it becomes sweet and complements everything from apples to onions. Here’s a great way to get started with fennel for the uninitiated:

Fennel, Kale and Rice Gratin

  • 1 hearty handful of stemmed kale
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 -2 bulbs fennel, trimmed, quartered, cored and chopped (about 4 cups chopped)
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup milk 
  • 1 cup cooked rice, preferably short-grain
  • 3 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (3/4 cup) (sub any cheese here)
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs, or a mixture of breadcrumbs and freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, add a generous amount of salt and add kale. Blanch for 2 to 3 minutes, remove from the water with a deep fry skimmer or a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of cold water. Drain and, taking the greens up by the handful, squeeze hard to expel excess water. Chop medium-fine or cut in thin ribbons.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet and add onion. Cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes, and add fennel. Cook, stirring often, until the fennel begins to soften. Add salt to taste and continue to cook, stirring often, until the fennel is very tender and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and kale, stir together for another minute, then stir in dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.
  3. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 2-quart gratin or baking dish. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in milk and salt to taste (I use about 1/2 teaspoon). Stir in fennel and kale mixture, rice and Gruyère, and combine well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Scrape into baking dish. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top if using, and drizzle on the remaining tablespoon of oil. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until set and the top and sides are beginning to color. Remove from oven and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. This is good hot, warm, or room temperature.

 

Late Fall Shares Still Available

Don’t want the fun to end in October? Sign up for our late fall share. Storage vegetables like carrots cabbage and potatoes along with fresh greens out of our tunnel. Sign up online here.


Farm Raised Pork For Your Freezer

We have filled almost all of our orders for pork. If you are considering filling your freezer with some outstanding farm raised bacon (and a few other cuts) don’t delay. Never had farm raised pork? It is like nothing the grocery store has to offer. Raised on pasture and fed organic grain (in addition to gelato) our pork tastes great and you know where the animals came from and how they lived.  Ask us for a info/sign-up sheet at pick-up or download one here.


What’s In The Share

  • Tomatoes
  • Fennel
  • Arugula
  • Tatsoi
  • Peppers
  • Onions
  • Melon
  • Garlic

What’s In Upic

  • Cherry Toms
  • Tomatillos
  • Flowers
  • Herbs
 

Cold nights and some rain (finally) tells me that we are in a new season. To make this transition even clearer we are sending you home with both tomatoes and winter squash! Here’s a great rainy day recipe that puts both together into a dish that will keep you warm.

Roasted Tomatoes and Winter Squash

6 large heirloom tomatoes, cored and quartered*
2 delicata squash, seeded, cubed and peeled (optional)
3 cloves garlic
2 fronds of fresh rosemary, branch removed
6-8 large fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp dry oregano
olive oil
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
bunch of rainbow chard, de-stemmed and chopped

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and in the meantime prep tomatoes and squash. In two separate 9×13 baking dishes spread tomatoes in one and cubed squash in the other. Drizzle each with olive oil and a sprinkle of pepper. Place tomatoes on top rack and delicata on bottom.

Bake for 30 minutes. Check that delicata is tender and remove from oven. Stir tomatoes and keep baking. Let delicata cool in dish. Bake tomatoes until juices have caramelized and tomatoes have crispy edges, about another 30 minutes.

Once tomatoes have roasted remove from dish and place in a high powered blender with 3 cloves garlic, rosemary, basil, oregano, sea salt and pepper. Puree.

In a medium skillet saute chard in a little olive oil. Once wilted combine gently all 3 components: tomato puree, roasted squash cubes and sauted chard.


Labor Day Potato Harvest…Done

It’s always a gamble to ask all of you to come out and toil with us on one of the biggest days off of the year…but we have never been disappointed! About 30 of us spent 2 hours pulling about 6ooo lbs of potatoes from a half acre of our fields. To have what would of been several days of work for the crew done in a morning was great. Thanks to all of you who came out and shared your day.


Late Fall Shares Still Available

Don’t want the fun to end in October? Sign up for our late fall share. Storage vegetables like carrots cabbage and potatoes along with fresh greens out of our tunnel. Sign up online here.


Farm Raised Pork For Your Freezer

We have filled almost all of our orders for pork. If you are considering filling your freezer with some outstanding farm raised bacon (and a few other cuts) don’t delay. Never had farm raised pork? It is like nothing the grocery store has to offer. Raised on pasture and fed organic grain (in addition to gelato) our pork tastes great and you know where the animals came from and how they lived.  Ask us for a info/sign-up sheet at pick-up or download one here.


What’s In The Share

  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Summer Squash
  • Arugula/Lettuce
  • Peppers
  • Delicata Squash
  • Onions
  • Carrots

What’s In Upic

  • Cherry Toms
  • Tomatillos
  • Flowers
  • Herbs
  • Edamame
 

Crisp air and clear skies…fall must be here. We have had several nights below 50 in the last week which is the true tipping point for our long-term summer crops. Once the nights drop below this magic number squash, tomatoes, peppers melons and the like stop growing until the sun warms them up each morning. If effect these heat loving crops go from a 24 hour growing period to one that is closer to 12 or less. As you can imagine this means the days for these summer favorites are numbered but as luck would have it the hearty fall crops like carrots, cabbage, spinach and broccoli are going full steam, unfazed by the cool evenings.

We finished the onion harvest this past week and got started on winter squash. Everyone’s favorite Delicata is looking good and will be making an early appearance in your shares very soon.

 


Edamame is ready in the upic field. These furry soybean pods are great steamed and tossed in soy sauce or salt. Pop the soybeans out of the pod in your mouth and enjoy (don’t eat the pod! its way too chewy).


Labor on Labor Day Potato Harvest

Our Crystal Spring Farm Labor Day tradition returns this year!  Join us on Labor Day (September 4) at 10 am to help harvest our potato crop. This is a great community event where we use our digging machine to lift the spuds and then you join us to help gather them up! Look for the trucks and tractors in the field on the North side on Pleasant Hill Road. Please join us!


Farm Raised Pork for Your Freezer

Orders are coming in for pork. If you are considering filling your freezer with some outstanding farm raised bacon (and a few other cuts) don’t delay. Never had farm raised pork it is like nothing the grocery store has to offer. Raised on pasture and fed organic grain (in addition to gelato) our pork tastes great and you know where the animals came from and how they lived.  Ask us for a info/sign-up sheet at pick-up or download one here.

What’s in the Share

  • Slicing and Roma Tomatoes
  • Summer Squash
  • Chard/Kale
  • Arugula
  • Peppers
  • Lettuce
  • Onions

What’s in Upic

  • Cherry Toms
  • Tomatillos
  • Flowers
  • Herbs
  • Edamame (one pint)
 

Collective sign of relief on the farm with our first rainfall of more than a quarter-inch since early June. Farmers and produce alike brightened up and stood taller after almost two inches fell on Friday. Look for fall crops to start coming in abundance soon. First of our storage onions are this week, no longer the sweet summer varieties, these are more pungent and cook down into sweet savory flavor better.  Greens are also coming back with lettuce and chard coming back onto the scene.


Labor on Labor Day Potato Harvest

Our favorite Crystal Spring Farm tradition returns this year!  Join us on Labor Day (September 4) to help harvest our potato crop. This is a great community event where we use our digging machine to lift the spuds and then you join us to help us gather them up! We start at 10am in the fields. Please join us!


Last Chance for fresh Organic Maine Wild Blueberries

Order organic Maine wild blueberries for this Friday! Quarts are $9 and will be delivered for Fridays pickup. Order online here.   **Please note we are not able to take orders via phone or email as in years past.


Farm Raised Pork

We will star taking orders for whole and half pigs this week. If you have never had farm raised pork it is like nothing the grocery store has to offer. Raised on pasture and fed organic grain (in addition to gelato) our pork tastes great and you know where the animals came from and how they lived.  Ask us for a info/sign-up sheet at pick-up or download one here.

 

What’s in the Share

  • Carrot/Beet Mix and Match
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Broccoli
  • Summer Squash
  • Chard/Tatsoi
  • Lettuce
  • Onions

What’s in Upic

  • Beans
  • Cherry Toms
  • Tomatillos
  • Flowers
 

More deep summer vegetables this week with basil, tomatoes and Italian summer onions leading the lineup.  Some great simple meals can come together here by adding a sharp knife and some olive oil. We have many lovely greens in the field; lettuce, chard and the like, but they are not quite harvestable this week. With hope and luck we are looking to some measurable rain as the week wears on into the weekend.

Harvest of our first fall crops has also begun as we have started to pull rows and rows of onions out of the fields and into the greenhouse to dry down and cure. This is one of my favorite farm tasks both because of the shear volume of onions we gather but also the process of setting them out in honeycomb patterns on the floor of our  propagation house. Over the next weeks the stems and leaves will wither and seal off the onion making it hardy and storable.

Labor on Labor Day Potato Harvest

Our favorite Crystal Spring Farm tradition returns this year!  Join us on Labor Day (September 4) to help harvest our potato crop. This is a great community event where we use our digging machine to lift the spuds and then you join us to help us gather them up! We start at 10am in the fields. Please join us!


Organic Maine Wild Blueberries

Order organic Maine wild blueberries this week! Quarts are $9 and will be delivered over the next 2 weeks. Order online here.   **Please note we are not able to take orders via phone or email as in years past.


Farm Raised Pork

We will star taking orders for whole and half pigs this week. If you have never had farm raised pork it is like nothing the grocery store has to offer. Raised on pasture and fed organic grain (in addition to gelato) our pork tastes great and you know where the animals came from and how they lived.  Ask us for a info/sign-up sheet at pick-up or download one here.


Flowers

Might you need flowers for an event or holiday? Or simply want to enjoy them on your table at home?  Send us an email and we can put together arrangements large or small. (info@crystalspringcsa.com)


What’s in the Share

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Basil
  • Summer Squash
  • Tropea Onions
  • Carrots

What’s in Upic

  • Beans (new planting)
  • Flowers
  • Mixed Herbs
  • Hot Peppers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
 

We have been teased with these little rain events over the past week. While these spritzes have helped in the short term we are still in dire need of a soaking, multi-inch precipitation event. We will have a lapse in our supply of salad greens due to this dryness as we had trouble getting lettuce to germinate. Luckily we will have lots of good summer produce to distant you with in the meantime.

The farm has been steaming ahead this past week under the able hands of the farm crew while I have been busy full-time raking blueberries. In addition to growing food here we also train farmers, and the crew we have this year is a solid lot. It is a great luxury for me to be able to focus on the flow of blueberries over the rakes and trust that the flow of  harvest, seeding, weeding and the like are in such able hands!


Potatoes…just a few to start

We pulled a few potatoes this week for the share. These Yukon Gems are a new variety for us…hope you like them.  Similar to a Yukon Gold, best for roasting but can be used how you like best.


Labor on Labor Day Potato Harvest

Our favorite Crystal Spring Farm tradition returns this year!  Join us on Labor Day (September 4) to help harvest our potato crop. This is a great community event where we use our digging machine to lift the spuds and then you join us to help us gather them up! We start at 10am in the fields. Please join us!


Organic Maine Wild Blueberries

Order organic Maine wild blueberries this week! Quarts are $9 and will be delivered over the next 2 weeks. Order online here.   **Please note we are not able to take orders via phone or email as in years past.


Farm Raised Pork

We will star taking orders for whole and half pigs this week. If you have never had farm raised pork it is like nothing the grocery store has to offer. Raised on pasture and fed organic grain (in addition to gelato) our pork tastes great and you know where the animals came from and how they lived.  Ask us for a info/sign-up sheet at pick-up or download one here.


Flowers

Might you need flowers for an event or holiday? Or simply want to enjoy them on your table at home?  Send us an email and we can put together arrangements large or small. (info@crystalspringcsa.com)


What’s in the Share

Kale

Chard

Tomatoes

Potatoes

Summer Squash

Leeks

Onions

Garlic

Carrots


What’s in Upic

Beans (new planting)

Flowers

Mixed Herbs

Hot Peppers

Cherry Tomatoes

 

August is here and it is hot. We have been running our irrigation well without stop for the last 11 days (literally). Rain dance, spells, cloud seeding; its all welcome — please!  On the vegetable side we are just starting to pick tomatoes (yippee!) look for them to be in abundance soon. Along with other summer faves like eggplants peppers and more of these lovely summer onions.

Still Have Kohlrabi in Your Fridge?

We will not have kohlrabi in the share this week, but there was a fair amount of chatter at pick up last week about great recipes people have tried with kohlrabi, or on the other end, a build up of kohlrabi in the fridge.  If you are in the latter category, here’s a couple recipes that we like. If you just want to wing it try using kohlrabi any way you would a carrots (slice, shred, saute).  We’ve been grating it and topping our salads with it for nice crunch.  Others have been slicing and baking or roasting them “french fry” style (with curry powder!), using kohlrabi in carrot soup, and making latkes with kohlrabi.  Hope these ideas help.   If you are ever feeling overwhelmed, or looking for ideas to use any of the produce, please let us know!   We’re happy to share ideas.

Kohlrabi Carrot Salad

  • medium sized kohlrabi, peeled
  • 2-3 carrots
  • Juice from 1 large lemon (or rice vinegar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • tablespoons olive oil
  • teaspoon harissa, sriracha or your favorite hot sauce
  • ~10mint leaves (Upic has mint)
  • ounces feta cheese

Julienne (cut into matchsticks) carrots and kohlrabi and toss together with the rest of the ingredients. Let sit for 15 minutes and enjoy.

 Kohlrabi Fritters

  • 1 large size kohlrabi, peeled
  • 1 red or yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • olive oil for frying

Grate Kohlrabi with food processor or box grater. Lay into a kitchen towel and squeeze out any excess moisture. Preheat large skillet over medium heat and add enough olive to cover entire surface. Toss kohlrabi with the rest of the ingredients. Once oil is hot enough to shimmer in the skillet and heaping tablespoon  size portion of kohlrabi mixture into the oil, using a spatula to lightly flatten. Cook until starting to brown and then flip. Continue to cook until lightly brown on the other side. remove to a towel and continue cooking spoonfuls until you have finished the batter. Enjoy with yogurt, soy sauce or your favorite sauce.

What’s in the Share

Bok Choi/Tatsoi

Chard

Pepper mix and match

Carrots

Sweet Onions

Scallions

Summer Squash

What’s in Upic

Flowers

Herbs

 

As July comes to a close and we have our first rain in almost a month (last one was but .22 inches) it’s time for the onion family to shine. Alliums are one of the first crops we start in the greenhouse (last week of February) and once they germinate their leaves start measuring the light they gather. Unlike leafy crops (lettuce or kale) or even most fruit crops (zucchini) that are ready for harvest after they gather a set number of light and heat hours, alliums will continue to grow until the hours of daylight stops lengthening  at summer solstice. Once the days start shortening the plants take notice and put all of their energy into making a bulb. This bulb is the onion’s attempt to store energy for the coming winter and kickstart the production of flowers and seeds next spring. Of course we don’t let this happen because we enjoy the eating these bulb so much.

We are harvesting our first sweet onions this week for Brunswick (delivered shares will see them next week). Sweet onions are available for just a short time as they don’t store well. This is the onion to chop raw into a salad or cut thickly to top your best grilled burger. Of course you can cook them but they really shine raw.

We also harvested garlic this week which is currently drying and curing in the barn. If you are on the way out to the Upic field you can check out out fan assisted drying contraption!  We should start seeing garlic in the share in about a month.


Flowers to Order

Need flowers for an event, dinner party or just to celebrate the week? Send us an email (info@crystalspringcsa.com) with the subject flowers and we can put together large or small arrangements with just a couple days notice.


What’s in the Share

  • Sweet Onions
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Baby Bok Choi
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Summer Squash

What’s in Upic

  • Green Beans
  • Flowers
  • Herbs (basil!)

 

 

Been adding irrigation to our todo list this week. Unfortunately this is not a small task and has been eating up a large chunk of everyday as we move our water delivery from plot to plot and field to field. Most of our watering is done with the help of 30 foot aluminum pipes we connect together in crazy configurations going up hills, around corners and under roads. We lay this pipe out each spring and in between those April days and now the mice move in. They stuff the ends with their favorite grasses and seeds, hoping these shiny metal houses will become the rodent equivalent of modern dream homes come winter. As we move the pipes and place them about the mice vacate, leaving behind all of their hard work. This means we have to flush these clogs from each 30 foot section as we link them so that their winter stores won’t clog the sprinkler heads or drip lines. Watching the matted lumps of golden hay pour forth like the drain clearing in that old Drain-o commercial with the see through kitchen sink. I think a lot about these mice and all of their hard work as I am waiting for clean the water every 30 feet. I’m glad I am not a field mouse, but I respect their labors.


Shishito Peppers

A new addition to the harvest list this year is the venerable shishito pepper. This is a thin walled frying pepper that lends itself to a quick blistering in a hot pan or the grill. Here’s our favorite way to enjoy them…..

1 teaspoon olive or sesame oil add to a small skillet. Heat under medium/high heat until oil shimmers and is almost smoking. Add peppers and turn every minute or two until the skin turns brown and blisters where the touch the pan. Don’t be shy with the salt (corse kosher or sea salt is great here) and enjoy immediately.

For those that want more we have about twenty plants in Upic….


What’s in the Share

  • Lettuce
  • Kohlrabi
  • Shishito peppers
  • Cukes
  • Scallions
  • Arugula
  • Carrots


What’s in Upic

  • Peas (waning)
  • Flowers
  • Herbs (varieties on the board)
  • Shishito peppers
 
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