Fall Share - Extend the Season!

Back by popular demand!  Our regular CSA season is expected to go through the week of October 22 (last pick ups Tuesday Oct 23 or Friday Oct 26).  However, fret not, we will once again offer an extended Fall Share!  Four pick ups, every other week in November & December (Tuesdays Nov 6, Nov 20, Dec 4, Dec 18).  Pick up times will be 3:00-6:00.  We'll have hearty amounts of fresh greens, carrots, squash, onions, potatoes, cabbage and more.  $160

To sign up follow this link - scroll down and contact us with any questions!

 

Blueberry Order Now!

Order blueberries following this link now

Pick up over the next two weeks only - Tuesday September 25/Friday September 28 or Tuesday October 2/Friday October 5th.  After those dates, our frozen berries will only be available in two pound bags.

These berries were harvested here at Crystal Spring Farm, in the fields between the farm and the high school.  They are organic and have been flash frozen.  Thirty pound boxes are $115.  The boxes measure 15.5" x 11.5" x 8.5".

 

Edamame!

A treat in the upic field - some people have not had a chance to try it, or don't know how to prepare it.

It can be an easy appetizer or lunch box item.  As Mark Bittman sums up: "boil, drain, salt, serve." But he elaborates further regarding edamame, read it here

Eggplant!

Another item beginning with the letter E, I thought I'd share a recipe we have not yet tried, but is on my radar.  Eggplant "meatballs."  Some people are not sure what to do with eggplant beyond the ratatouille standby.  This recipe for eggplant meatballs is also from Mark Bittman, and calls for a tomato sauce (think Roma tomatoes...).  If you try it let us know!

The harvest this week:

Lettuce Mix

Baby Bok Choi

Tatsoi

Arugula

Lettuce Heads

Chard

Kale

Bok Choi

Roma tomatoes

Beets

Eggplant

Scallions

Carrots

Summer squash

Cucumbers

Peppers

Onions

Delicata Squash

Russet potatoes

 

 

Fall Share - Extend the Season!

Back by popular demand!  Our regular CSA season is expected to go through the week of October 22 (last pick ups Tuesday Oct 23 or Friday Oct 26).  However, fret not, we will once again offer an extended Fall Share!  Four pick ups, every other week in November & December (Tuesdays Nov 6, Nov 20, Dec 4, Dec 18).  Pick up times will be 3:00-6:00.  We'll have hearty amounts of fresh greens, carrots, squash, onions, potatoes, cabbage and more.  $160

To sign up follow this link - scroll down and contact us with any questions!

 

Blueberries coming - get your freezer ready!

As many of you know, Seth spent fifteen consecutive August days harvesting organic blueberries right here at Crystal Spring Farm.  And yes we will be taking orders next week.  This will give you some time to make room in your freezer!  We will have thirty pound boxes available for $115.  Order information will be sent out via email and newsletter next week and we're hoping to have the berries here the following week or two. The boxes measure 15.5" x 11.5" x 8.5".  Stay tuned.

(And we will have two pound bags available in the coming weeks as well.)

9,000 pounds of potatoes! 
We had an enthusiastic & determined crew on Labor Day for our annual potato harvest.  All age groups were well represented - from toddlers to 70-somethings!  And it was hot!  We gathered up 9,000 pounds of potatoes while catching up with pals and making some new connections!  We love our community -- thank you!

 

September Harvests

With the return to school our crew has downsized in number - we are grateful for our four strong and steady women who keep the farm chugging along into the fall season.  We've been harvesting winter squash like crazy.  What we left behind in the field will be picked up by volunteers with Merrymeeting Gleaners to share with our neighbors at the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program.

What's in the Share this week:

Kale

Fennel

Tatsoi

Arugula

Chard

Lettuce

Scallion

Carrots

Cukes

Summer Squash

Delicata Squash

Peppers

Onions

Russet potatoes

My kids have been glumly reminding me that this is their last week of summer. They have been working the farm in the mornings this season since school ended in June with breaks for hiking trips and  preseason sports. As most of you transition out of summer mode we are also transitioning into fall which means big harvests. We have most of our onions in (about 8000 pounds) and this next week we start on winter squash. Both of these crops go into our greenhouse to cure where they sweeten up and dry down so that they will keep for the fall and early winter. Look for a few new onion options in this weeks offerings.

 

Competition

We have been struggling with pests a bit this year. Each season we have to manage insects that enjoy our crops but this year we have also been grappling with larger pests, mostly deer. For 15 years we have had very little damage from deer but this year they seem to have developed a real passion for our produce. Over the last few weeks we have lost about 800 heads of lettuce and they also like carrot tops, chard and radicchio. We added a few thousand feet of portable electric fencing to the fields this week and the last few nights have seen no damage. From experience we know there is no checkmate move here but hopefully we can protect the next round of lettuce long enough to get some into your boxes.

 

Labor on Labor Day

We invite all of you up to the farm to help us harvest the potato crop on Labor Day starting at 9:00 am. This is a longstanding farm tradition and a great way to chat with neighbors old or new along with the farm crew while we pickup a few tons of potatoes. We have a vintage potato digger that will lift the roots and drop them on top of the soil where we can come through with buckets and bins to collect. Its a great time and for a few hours you and your family can get your hands dirty shoulder to shoulder with the crew. Here's a link to find the field.

 

What's in the Share

Carrots

Potatoes

Peppers

Scallions

Kohlrabi

Fennel

Beets

Cucumbers

Summer Squash

Eggplant

Roma/Slicing Tomatoes

Onions

Melon

What's in Upic

Basil

Dill

Perennial herbs

Cherry toms

The last week of summer is upon us. Hope fully you will get in a couple more swims and some afternoons with your feet up. I know that is our goal.

The end of the heat and humidity is so welcome. It has come a bit late for a few crops that are suffering from diseases that we usually don't see for another month. Heat stresses out the plants and the humidity opens the door for some very happy fungal invaders. Our leafy greens have been hit the hardest, losing their older leaves and trying to keep up with younger ones. Luckily the forecast is for temperate cool and dry air.

We have had lots of good feedback on our sunflower cover crop. The field has been challenging the Saturday Farmer's market for most congested traffic spot in town. We have another week with them so enjoy the view while you can. Building soil was never so beautiful.

Late Fall Share

Our Late Fall Share is still available. It's an easy way to continue with our great produce through the end of the year. Fresh greens and hearty portions of carrots, winter squash, onions, cabbage and more every other week in November and December (including the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas) $160 this share is available if you are currently a member or not.   To sign up  click here  and sign in (current members) or "sign-up now" ( those without a current summer share.

What's in the Share, week of August 21th

Carrots

Potatoes

Collards

Peppers

Scallions

Kohlrabi

Fennel

Beets

Cucumbers

Summer Squash

Eggplant

Roma/Slicing Tomatoes

Basil

What's in Upic

Basil

Dill

Perennial herbs

Cherry toms

August 14, 2018

Blueberry Harvest Vortex Comes to a Close!

As some of you may know, three years ago we started harvesting blueberries here at Crystal Spring Farm, in the blueberry barrens that lie between our fields and Brunswick High School.  Since we began we've had poor to mediocre harvest numbers.  This year has proven to be a welcome increase!  Seth began putting the blueberry harvester together the week of July 23rd and began harvesting berries on July 30th.  He has been sitting on the tractor all day, every day since then, and today marks the 16th and final day of the job.   Its a two person job - one to drive (Seth) and the other to manage the bins, stacking the full ones and moving the empty ones as the berries come in off the moving belt.  Our two kids, along with a few neighborhood kids have done the bulk of the work.   35,000 pounds of berries have been harvested here and sent up to Ellsworth to be flash frozen and placed on the commodity wholesale market.  We will buy back several thousand pounds to sell locally.  Being in the organic market, we'll be somewhat protected from the significant blueberry price drops you may have been hearing about in the news lately.

While the blueberry harvest has been all encompassing for Seth for the past three weeks (oh, and he was on vacation the week prior), the rest of the farm demands have kept coming (August!!) and our steady, competent, knock out crew has been harvesting, washing, packing, sorting, cultivating, seeding, watering...etc etc.   The experienced dedicated women of this farm have allowed Seth to essentially be "off the farm" while bringing food to your kitchen & keeping everything alive and flourishing.  Gratitude to them abounds.

 

Support the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust and Win Beautiful Piece of Art!

To follow up on our notes last week, one of our CSA members, talented artist Maria Castellano-Usery is showing her appreciation for our CSA and support for the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust by offering a Brushstrokes with Impact Paint-a-thon! on Saturday August 18th.  I'm sure many of you are familiar with her vibrant art and generous community work, or learn more here.  She painted our beautiful and inspiring Little Free Library at the bottom of our driveway by the farmer's market parking lot.  For details about this event please see this link

On Saturday, August 18th, she will be setting up her easel at the *brand-new* location of Monarch Massage and Wellness (41 Main Street, Topsham) and painting from roughly 9:30am-5:30pm; at the end of the day, the completed painting will be raffled off, and 50% of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust.

How can you help?  It's easy!!

  • This week when you pick up your produce, consider buying a raffle ticket to support the BTLT and a chance to win Maria's painting!
    •  $5 each ticket or 3 for $10
  • Choose one of her prints to take home with you for $35 (10% donated to BTLT)
  • Visit Monarch Massage and Wellness (41 Main Street, Topsham) on Saturday where she'll be painting and will have other art work available for purchase.

Thank you - on behalf of Maria & BTLT & all of us

What's in the Share, week of August 14th

Lettuce

Kale

Collards

Chard

Broccoli

Onions

Peppers

Shallots

Scallions

Kohlrabi

Fennel

Beets

Leeks

Cucumbers

Summer Squash

Eggplant

Tomatoes

What's in Upic

Beans

Basil

Dill

Perennial herbs

Cherry toms

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.

Carrots are back and the people are happy. It takes anywhere between 90 and 120 days to get a carrot to grow from a seed to sugary root. We worry about them as they germinate slowly, are poor competitors with the many fast growing broad leaved weeds and grow below the soil (where we can't easily monitor them). once they are ready it means that we can relax a bit knowing we will have some orange to go with all the green in the share.

I can't tell you how many kids ran across the barn with glee this past week when they saw the return of the carrots. As farmers we are always  caught up looking intently at the trees and each pickup day all of you remind us of the beauty in the forest as a whole.

What's in the Share

Lettuce

Asian Greens

Spicy Mustard

Kale

Collards

Chard

Basil

Onions

Shallots

Scallions

Red Cabbage

Carrots

What's in Upic

Beans

Basil

Dill

Perennial herbs

Cherry toms

What's in the Share

Lettuce

Asian Greens

Kale

Leeks

Onions

Scallions

Daikon

Carrots

Basil

What's in Upic

Beans

Basil

Dill

Cilantro

Perennial herbs

Flowers

Prior to farming in Maine, two decades ago I worked on a farm in California.  Of the many differences between west coast agriculture and east, I was most  looking forward to two things, winter (i.e. vacation) and regular rain. Midcoast Maine's 36 to 40 inch annual average put the monthly rainfall at three to four inches, perfect for the one inch weekly needs of most vegetable crops. We knew we would still need irrigation (as averages are always just averages) so we put in one well, assembled a makeshift system to move water between fields using portable pipes, and ran water a few times a year in the early seasons. The past three years we have been running water about twenty weeks of our thirty week active growing season. This increase has caused us to improve the irrigation system, burying some of our above ground pipes and adding new ways of delivering water to crops that are more portable and put water on faster. Over the past 3 years we have spent about $13,500 in new equipment, and increased labor time running the system, which is a significant addition to our annual budget. We are just a little postage stamp of a farm in Maine. When I think of all the changes farms large and small across the country have had to make because of our changing climate my mind goes into astro physics mind blown mode. 

Thankfully I am grounded everyday on the farm by the incredible people I have the deep honor of working with in the fields. Our crew is simply the best. Focused, committed, and with a sense humor through it all, they make this farm live and breathe. Every day that we have a crew that is willing to share their passion and vigor with us in the field is a day that we make this little postage stamp a better place.

What's in the Share

Arugula

Lettuce

Baby Boy Choi

Tatsoi

Grilling leeks

Scallions

Summer onions

Chickories

Daikon

Summer Squash

Cukes

Broccoli

Kohlrabi

Cabbage

Baby Kale

What's in Upic

Peas (waning)

Herbs (basil, dill, cilantro, sage, parsley, chives, oregano)

Flowers!

 

Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Newton must have worked a farm crew as a kid, getting that first law percolating in his young brain (maybe that pushed him to hit the books a bit harder to get off the farm). This time of year if we stop our forward motion we are done for.  The rails that guide our inertia are the lists of things to harvest, weed, pick-up and put down.  The process of making them and checking them off is almost tidal. Tasks wash up one day and are swept away the next.  From the passer by it might look static but to those of us rolling in the surf the gain and loss is constant.

Our full hearted crew has been plowing through the backlog of tasks in pouring rain and blistering heat. Smiles and laughter are present from 6:00 am until 5:00 pm. If they are in any way representative of the future I feel confident the next generation will kick this country back on track. 

What's in the share

Kohlrabi

Summer onions

Scallions

Red/green Cabbage

Broccoli

Cukes

Summer Squash

Kale

Arugula

Garlic scapes

Lettuce Heads/Mix

Mini Daikon

Chickories

What's in Upic

Snow/Snap Peas

Basil

Cilantro

Thyme

Marjoram

Savory

Chives

Parsley

Adjusting to Change?!

As most of you may have noticed (with the exception of those who came later on Tuesday) we have made some adjustments to the way you are putting your weekly produce together.  Our hope is that we will have a wide enough variety of vegetables each week to allow you to choose the vegetables that you want to take home, and not feel compelled to take home food that you don't particularly want.  

We appreciated that the vast majority of you last week were excited about the potential to have more choice in your weekly harvest.  While we had scallions last week, some people still had theirs from the week before and didn't want to double up on this in the fridge.  However we know  a few of you were less than pleased - this tended to be people who have been coming to our CSA for years, and were quite happy with the system in place.  

Why are we changing things up?  

We ask CSA customers for feedback at the end of the season.  While feedback is always quite positive, (thank you!) we always hear both, "Too much kale!" and "I wish there was more kale!"   Each year we are always looking to improve and make this CSA model work for as many people as possible.  So to solve the too much kale - not enough kale problem (in addition to always seeing people leave the CSA to shop at the farmer's market where they can get what they want) we researched current trends in CSA models.  We visited friends of ours in NH who offer this "choice" model CSA where you take a certain number of items each week, choosing from a wide variety of options.  We liked it so much we decided to give it a try.   That being said, there may be some weeks where we are not able to offer as much choice - this will really depend, as always, on all the elements that go into growing and harvesting. 

How am I going to keep count of how many items I take?  How am I going to decide? 

When we visited the NH farm and saw their system of choice - one of the first things I (Maura) thought of was the challenge of keeping track of the number of items as you make your decisions of what you want.  As I observed over the course of a few hours, I was surprised to not see anyone struggling with the counting.  They seemed to choose their items with ease.  This system has been in place for some time, I suppose they've gotten used to it.  Our hope is that we will get used to it as well.  We will try to post on this blog by Monday night what we expect to harvest, and as always, this is subject to change as we harvest hours before the pick up.  Please keep in mind that the foundation of our farming practice is our relationship with you.  Our goal is to make this farm experience the best it can be for you.  As we go forward please continue to talk with us so we can troubleshoot issues together.  

Speaking of too much not enough kale...

I've had some questions about how to prepare the vibrant kale we've had for the past few weeks.  Some easy go to ideas that are staples in our house include:

  1. Chop & saute kale with olive oil and garlic (and/or onions/scallions).  Add to frittata or omelet for a quick option, or a quiche if you have more time.  Of course this allows you to add other veggies, herbs (in the upic!), or of course, bacon. 
  2. We use variations of spanikopita recipes using any of the greens we have on hand.  I always use lots of basil (coming soon in Upic!). Also, I usually don't have time for the fillo dough topping, so I just top with toasted bread crumbs or panko, toasted sunflower seeds, or even crushed up tortilla chips (a little more kid friendly).  
  3. Pesto!  You can steam (or not, but the hearty greens might be good to steam) greens & throw in the food processor with basil, garlic, walnuts, cheese, olive oil - however you like to make a version of "pesto" and toss with pasta or other grain dish.  Kids and those "learning" to like kale love this. 
  4. Pizza toppings!
  5. Smoothies! 
  6. Let us know if you're still not feeling the love for the kale or other greens and we'll try to help!

Whats in the share

Garlic Scapes

Scallions

Cabbage Kohlrabi

Arugula

Radishes

Spicy Salad Turnips

Spicy Mustard

Overwintered Onions

Cucumbers

Zucchini

Chickories

Whats in Upic

Sage

Parsley

Chives

Oregano

Strawberries

Snow/Snap Peas