The weather is improving, crops look great and in a couple weeks the plants will catch up with the calendar. First on this list is strawberries. If we get some heat they could be ripe next week, if it is cold they may take another (this is a solid two weeks behind our usual date). Zucchini, cabbage and kohlrabi are doing their best and will be sizing up soon. Tomatoes and peppers are enjoying the protection of our field greenhouses and have no idea what all the fuss about cold and wet is.
Add-on Shares Start this Week!Want to sign-up but haven't yet? Eggs, mushrooms, cheese, flowers, bread, and yogurt shares are available. Sign up online and we will add you to the list.
Fourth of July is on a Tuesday Pick-up will be Wednesday July 5th!Since many of you will be in a hammock, an inner-tube, or the other side of a grill on the afternoon of Tuesday the 4th, we will move the pick-up to Wednesday (July 5th) 2:00-7:00 p.m. See you there!
Flower Bouquet Share Kick-off This WeekSecond year apprentice and assistant manager Virginia has created the flower bouquet share this season. She has put together a dizzying asortment of rare and exceptional varieties all grown in our dedicated kitchen garden by the farmhouse. Each week she will be harvesting and arranging bouquets for the share (and a few to sell as well). If you'd like to sign on for a weekly share (or any of the add-on shares), follow this link.
What's in the Share
What's in Upic
- Winter Savory
- Strawberries Soon!
Plants, like people, take time to adjust to change. After the extended spring that just ended on Saturday our crops are doing their best to get with the new season. Unlike us they don't have the option of taking a break in the shade with a cool drink but instead must buck up and make the best of it. Peppers, tomatoes and zucchini are up for the task; lettuce, broccoli and cabbage need to protest a bit by wilting and looking sad for a few days. Eventually everyone is on board but what this means for all of us is that we need to be patient. This is a long winded way of saying we have a good but less diverse harvest for you this week. Thankfully we put many hundreds of pounds of beet in the cooler last fall and will be able to share these with you this week in addition to some greens.
Add-on Shares Start Next Week: There is Still Time to Sign Up!Egg, Bread, Cheese, Mushroom, Cheese, Yogurt and Flower Bouquet shares will start next week which means there is still time to make your weekly farm produce that much more complete. Here's the link to look at what we have to offer for add-on's.
Cows are Back. At Least for a WhileIn addition to our ever popular piglets we also have 11 heifers (young cows that have not borne calves) who are doing their level best to graze back the pastures along the CSA parking lot. On loan from our friends at Old Crow Ranch they will be with us for the next month or two. Old Crow separates their steers (young males) from the heifers to give the girls a break from the pestering of the boys. These young females thrive on good grass away from the boys for the summer (think all-girls boarding school). Beyond the gender politics we are happy to have them on the farm. Take a stroll on the trail off the CSA parking lot to get a closer look.
Make Hay While the Sun ShinesThere is nothing zen about farming. Instead of being where you are at this moment the true art of agriculture is to be thinking many steps and or many days ahead of where you stand. In addition to growing 140+ vegetable varieties we also grow 60 or 70 tons of grass to feed our neighbors' animals thoughout the winter. Cutting this much hay and making silage (wrapped "wet"hay that is preserved by fermentation) is nothing more than a game of timing and chance. Cutting grass and drying it down from 80% moisture to 15% moisture using only sun and wind is an absurd game that puts inordinate trust in meteorology (it takes 2 days of sun and dry), equipment (we have a 30 year old mower pulled by a 40 year old tractor that also runs our 25 year old baler) and force of will (with 93° heat this past Sunday we forgot we were in Maine). If all these planets align we can bale up 30 thousand pounds of grass in couple days. Thankfully our kids are available to fall into the workflow; wrapping bales or loading them in the barn.
What's in the Share?
- Storage Beets
- Bok Choi
What's in Upic
- Winter Savory
It's dark. It's cold. It's rainy. Things are growing! Mother nature is persistent and even with the less than perfect weather of the last six weeks we are starting the CSA on schedule. That said the share is a bit light on diversity this week and most likely next as well. Please remember that the value of your CSA share comes over the course of the whole summer and that the harvests of strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon, and basil (just to name a few) will be filling your bags and boxes soon. See you this week on Tuesday or Friday from 2-7pm.
Shares AvailableFor the first time in five years we are starting harvest with farm shares available. Is it the weather? Is it the news cycle? We're not sure but we hope both change soon and that all of you will tell your friends, tell your neighbors to join us for the season. We are happy to sign up new members and prorate until we are sold out.
Add-on Samples This Week at Pick-upTry out the bread, cheese and yogurt or take a look at samples of our eggs, mushrooms and flower bouquets before we start these shares the week of the 19th. Remember you can still sign up for these great additions. Follow this link.
What are Storage Carrots?We grow carrots for a couple local restaurants and supply them through the winter. When we have a good crop there are some to share with you this time of year. These sweet roots were harvested in November and kept in our big walk-in fridge at 33° and 95% humidity through the cold months. Our new crop will start coming in by July but these taste pretty good. Upic Open with Bountiful Herbs Our perennial herbs in the epic field had a great winter. They are exploding. (What's their secret?) Head out to the field and cut a few to make a new salad dressing or season the carrots in this week's share (thyme and carrots go great together).
What's in the Share?
- Lettuce Mix
- Storage Carrots
- Hot Mustard
What's in Upic
- Anise Hyssop
Come to the Farm Tuesday or Friday from 2-7pm next week for our first pick-up.
The sun is shining today and we are underway. Look for an email Monday with a list of produce in the first share. The crew is excited to start harvest and despite the cool and wet we have some beautiful stuff for you to take home next week.
Add-on SharesWe will have samples of the add-on shares for you to try so make sure and look for cheese, yogurt, bread, flowers
New Member OrientationNew members of the farm are welcome to join us this Saturday or Sunday at 3pm for a farm tour and orientation. See the piglets, learn about the upic field and get the lowdown on the where and how of picking up your produce. If you can't make these times we will be happy to show you around when you come for your first pick-up.
Still Haven't Signed Up? Want an Add-on Share? There is Still Time!Look for the orange and green buttons on the right hand margin of this page for links.
Shares Still Available!We have shares available for both Brunswick and our delivered CSA. If you've been waiting to sign up, a great time to get on board is now! Please also tell your friends about our fresh organic produce, picking flowers in the upic field, eating with the seasons, or whatever you love most about your farm share. It has been a reluctant spring. Dreary days that slow to warm have been the norm. But all of that is behind us and no matter what is happening in the turbulence of our local, state, or federal political scene you still have to eat and you might as well eat great food. Here's the sign-up links for both Brunswick and delivered shares.
When does it start?It's a bit early to make a hard prediction of our start date. As always we plan and plant to harvest the first week of June but we will know more after another week of real growing weather. Stay Tuned...we will keep you informed of start dates via email.
Add-onsWe have an amazing line-up of add-on shares for you this season. Cheese from 5 different Maine creameries, Maine-raised mushrooms, artisan bread from James Beard award winning Standard Baking, delicious farmstead yogurt, pastured organic eggs, and new this year, our on-farm flower bouquet share. In addition, Brunswick members can order fresh Maine landed fish delivered to the farm. Follow this link for more information on adding these great shares to your weekly produce.
Like to watch your produce growing?Follow us on instagram @crystalspringcsa for regular photo posts of what we are up to and beautiful shots of the food that is soon to be on your table.
New Member OrientationsNew to the farm this year? Come out to the farm on Saturday June 3rd at 3:00 p.m. or Sunday June 4th at 3:00 p.m. to meet the farmers, see the lay of the land, and learn the ins and outs of being a member. See some behind the scenes stuff and best of all meet our new piglets! Don't worry if you can't make one of these times, we are happy to show you the ropes when you come for our first pick-up.
We are fully underway! After a very slow and cold April we have been in the fields for the past few days. When spring doesn't follow the schedule we get a backlog in the greenhouse as the seedlings wait to go in the ground. Last week every square foot of space was filled by plants and we were hatching plans like using mirrors to redirect sunlight on the snow still covering many fields. Luckily we were able to import some Florida weather for a few days and thaw out!
Open Fields!The crew has been working hard planting beets, chard, spinach, broccoli and cabbage the past few days. This time of year as the weather swings up and down planting also means covering with large fabric row covers to protect the seedlings from both temperature swings and numerous pests that emerge and have little else to eat but our tender crops. This step slows the process of planting our backlog of seedlings but Virginia, Alessia, Sarah and I have been powering through. There is nothing more exciting than trying to get a 40 by 350 foot piece of fabric to lay down in fifteen mile and hour winds at the end of the day. All in all, even with the slow release of winter's grip this year, we are on track to begin harvesting for all of you the first week or June.
Shares Going Fast...We still have both Brunswick and Portland-area delivered shares available although they have been going quickly the last week as everyone realizes winter is actually going to end this year. As always please sign up online (look for the green and orange buttons to the right of this page) where we have payment options.
Add-on the Best of MaineIn addition to vegetable share there are also some great add-on shares to make your weekly trip to the farm or delivered box even more satisfying. These are products that we love and want to share with all of you. Here's a list of this season's add-ons and the farms/artisans that produce them. Sign-up for them all here!
- Farmstead Yogurt Share: Cream at the top style from grass-fed Guersey cows at Wholesome Holmstead Farm, Manchester, Maine
- Farmstead Cheese Share: Hard and soft cheeses from Winter Hill Farm, Tide Mill Creamery, Wholesome Holmstead Farm and Barred Owl Creamery
- Organic Egg Share: Brown eggs from pastured hens at Sparrow Farm, Pittston, Maine
- Organic Mushroom Share: Maine grown organic mushrooms from Mousam Mushroom Co. in Sanford, Maine (new grower this year)
- Artisan Bread Share: Rotating Artisan Loaves from Standard Baking Co. in Portland (recent James Beard Award winner)
- Late Fall Vegetable Share: Our own storage and greenhouse produce November-December
- Fresh Fish: Order fresh fish weekly from Port Clyde Fisherman's Coop and pick it up with your share.
- Flower Bouquet Share: New this year!
Abundant Bouquets along with your produce! The best Mother's/Father's Day Gift!This year we are offering lush flower bouquets each week with you share. For twelve weeks from late June-September your bouquets will be cut and arranged from our dedicated flower garden (not upic). Anemones, exotic poppies, dahlias and sweet peas are just a few of the varieties. A weekly bouquet as a gift for your Mother or Father on their day will knock their socks off! This is a starter project by dedicated crew member and second year farm apprentice Virginia. More info and sign-up here.
- Spring is right around the corner here at the farm. Even though the snow is falling today (heavily) it won't stay around for too long and in no time the plants in the greenhouse will be out in the field and the season will be underway. As the farm comes out of its quiet season we have lots to talk about.
- 2017 CSA sign-ups
- Add-on shares
- What's happening these days at the farm
Sign-up for 2017 SharesThanks for all of the sign-ups for 2017 so far. Our new online payment system has worked like a charm with both full payments and the payment plan. If you haven't signed up yet click here. As always you have the option of paying online or sending us a check.
Add-on Share Sign-up Open:Add Great Local Food to Your Produce Each WeekOur 2017 add-on shares are now available for sign up. Eggs, yogurt, bread, mushroom and cheese are all listed and look for a note in the next week about flower bouquet shares as well. These shares are an easy way to add unique and outstanding products from our local farm/artisan friends to your weekly share. Follow this link for more info and to sign-up.
Fish at the FarmWe have partnered with a fisherman' cooperative to offer fresh fish picked up at the farm every Friday. Starting in June you can preorder from their long list of ground fish (plus crab and shrimp) and take home you catch with your produce. Order whenever you like and pay each time right on their website. Fish will be delivered on Fridays by 3pm. Here's a link where you can sign-up for a weekly email listing what they are landing and how to pay.
The Farm Transitions...Once the sun melts off all this new white stuff we are ready to kick into high gear. As always our first task outside is turning over ground from late last season, adding fertility (either with compost or organic fertilizer) and forming up new beds. By burying last years debris and turning up dark aerated soil help the ground warm faster, which is the only thing I use as a gauge as to when to start planting. Soil temperatures have become my touchstone in this new age of hyper-changable weather. I liken this standard to swimming in Maine. It doesn't matter if the air temp is 80 degrees June 1st, the water will quickly make you hypothermic at 38 degrees. The plants feel the same way (and they don't have the luxury of getting out!). Many damaged or lost crops in the spring have come from planting when its warm outside but not under our feet. First in the ground are peas (40°) then onions (45°), broccoli/cabbbage (50°), greens (50°), tomatoes/cucumbers (60°) and lastly the very sensitive peppers/melon (65°).
For now though winter is still here. It was slow to arrive this year but I have to say I'm happy to have a bit of snow and some cold to force me out of the fields and inside. For most of the year the office is a pit stop between pressing tasks outside. But when the blizzards start I can get deep with tying things up like making budgets, tax prep and general organization. Before the snow started in earnest Kristin and I were able to spend many days in the barns cleaning and sorting everything from bolts to tractor manuals, rebuilding the systems of organization that slide towards chaos over the season. Once things are organized it allows me to work on a new project or two before we hit the fields next month. For many years we have needed a better system to germinate seeds that do best with higher temps than we run in the greenhouse. Heat mats have been the solution but they dry out the soil in our soil flats and ultimately heat unevenly. Last year we had a double door reach-in freezer die and instead of sending it to the recycler I kept it, knowing it had a greater purpose. These freezers are super insulated and humidity tight- a perfect place to germinate seeds. After I had the refrigerant drained from the system I pulled out the compressor, evaporator and lots of associated wiring, leaving me with a metal box full of shelves. A friend welds aluminum so I had him make me a watertight pan to fit on the floor of the freezer and I added a water heater element wired to a waterproof thermostat. Once the pan was filled with water the element heats it up and maintains the temp that the thermostat is set to inside the cooler. Since the heat is made from warming water the chamber runs at about 99% humidity, which is perfect for seeds in flats. I added a few waterproof led lights and our first round of leeks germinated almost perfectly in just 4 days. Many more projects like a composting toilet, road repair and hay equipment service are just a few to squeeze in before March comes to an end. Stay warm, find your optimism and enjoy the strengthening sun (it will be back tomorrow). Seth and Maura
The winter routine has settled in here at the farm as we batten down, give everything a deep clean and make long lists of what to organize, repair and replace. Farming in the north is a privilege in many ways but this time of year makes me so thankful to that we have a couple months to "pull the ship out of the water" (unlike our California or Florida friends who just keep cranking away). About half of my December days are spent crunching the books from the closing season, finalizing budgets for the year to come and getting our seed orders sent off. This process of reflecting and reimagining, stitching two years together, is very satisfying (especially when the seeds start to arrive). The other half of my days this month are spent working with Kristin and Virginia who are here part-time through much of the winter. They are working through these last few snow-free weeks mowing fields, breaking down field tunnels and pulling row fabric. As a group we will do many things like inventory our seeds on hand, re-wire the greenhouse, repair and endless list of machines and weld up a whole mess of new racks for moving transplants.
Rain catch up...into snowWe have had nice regular rain the past couple weeks and while we haven't caught up the ground is wet and the farm waterways are moving. Refilling our water table (which for us is the massive Brunswick Aquifer) is vital to us maintaining soil microbiology and fertility. A good snow load would be really helpful in keeping the positive trend moving in the right direction. I know I'm not popular when I say this but, BRING ON THE SNOW!
Late Fall Share a Grand SuccessWe are two pick-ups into our late fall share and the response for those who signed up has been overwhelmingly positive. It's lots of great storage produce like squash, beets, cabbage and carrots along with greens from our field tunnels. Everyone's bags have been very full on the way out the door. We hope to expand this program next year. Look for sign-up option coming next month.
Shares for 2017Thank you to all of you who have signed up with us for 2017. Your support now is so important as we have already started dipping into our 2017 budget with potting soil from Vermont, greenhouse and tractor biodeisel (from the best deep fat fryers in Portland) and seeds from Maine suppliers (Johnny's and FEDCO). As a member of this CSA, your family and the farm are linked. Your memberships now provide cash flow throughout the season and allows us to focus on growing the best food. If you have not signed up yet but would to here's the Brunswick link and the Portland area Delivered share link for our easy online system. *NEW THIS YEAR - For those who like to pay via credit card online, we now use a system that will AUTOMATICALLY charge your credit card. When you sign up and enter your credit card information, you will be charged at that time ($113 for Brunswick On-Farm Share, $115 for Delivered Share) , and then it will automatically charge that same amount ($113 or $115) until your balance is paid. We put many hours into this new system and hope it makes the payment plan process easier for all.
Thank You.Another farm season comes to a close this week. Farming is never boring and almost always challenging. 2016 will go into our books as the driest by far. We can be proud that we produced a strong crop and got more skilled with our irrigation systems. One of the great things about farming in the Northeast has been the regular supply of rainfall. The average for Brunswick is about 36" a year and for the most part this has been spread evenly over the whole season. Not this year. We invested in an irrigation system 12 years ago and have used it at some point during the season each year to keep us at one inch of water a week. Our current setup runs off of a well that we connect to our many fields via 30 lengths of aluminum pipe. This is labor intensive as we have to break down one field to set up the next. Two of our fields are over 1000' from the well so in 30' increments you can do the math...its a lot of pipe to move. Usually not a big deal but this year we were moving pipes and irrigating all the time...it was a big deal. Apart from a massive effort to move water this season we also saw the frost dates pull back in both spring and fall, giving us a longer season and new possibilities in the coming years for earlier plant dates in the spring as well as more successions of tender crops in the fall. Our crew this season was spectacular, putting in endless days pulling tons of food from exceptionally hot and dusty fields. But most important above everything we did was seeing you each week here excited about the harvest - we are ever grateful.
Oysters?This is the last week we will have Long Reach Oysters available. These are outstanding raft raised native oysters making a very short trip from Harpswell to your table. Pre order by 9pm tonight via email...$16/doz, $9 /half.
Sign-upsThanks again for the overwhelming signup enthusiasm. Your support now makes a huge difference for the farm. Still need to get on board? Here's the link.
What's in the Share?Lettuce Kale/Chard Cabbage Carrots Winter Squash Parsnips Turnips Rutabaga Onions Brussels Sprouts Sweet Potatoes
Red Turnips make a bold appearance this second to last week of the csa. When I say turnips many of you tune out but wait... These are the close relatives of the white salad turnips we have had the past couple weeks. Smooth and creamy they lend themselves to eating raw (we like to slice them thinly and bathe in vinegar for round the clock nibbling). Don't pass up the greens either. Feeling southern? Coarsly chop and stew with onions and a touch of butter and all you need to add is the barbecue.