- 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.
2017Thanks 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.
The Last Week...Brussels SproutsLots of other good stuff coming too don't miss the last pickup...bring a box.
PotatoesWe finally have potatoes this week. As you may have guessed it was a less than successful crop for us this year. Biblical beetles and drought gave us very small tubers. What she have tastes great though...
What's in the ShareLettuce Asian Greens Kale/Chard Butternut Squash Acorn Squash Potatoes Carrots Beets Garlic Parsnips
Hurricanes that miss their mark, first frost, and the last two weeks of harvest. So many things to sigh and or exhale about this time of year. Like the trees this fall the season seems to have turned with the flip of a switch. Last week we were still in our short sleeves at 7am and now we are rolling out the row fabric to keep the greens going while the temperatures dive. It's all dramatic and exciting if we step out of our working, but minute by minute we make our small adjustments and keep getting the day's work done. With all of my worrying and wondering about water this this year I have not had a moments doubt about our crew. We somehow ended up with some of the best people on the planet this season and their efforts every hour of each day made this season a great success.
Stock the Freezer SaleWe have a fall "Stock the Freezer" sale going the next couple weeks. Buy 10 pounds or more of our ground pork, ground beef, or ground lamb for a dollar off per pound. 10lbs Pork or Beef for $70, 10lbs lamb for $60... We also have 10lb flats of frozen tomato seconds for $10.
Last Week of Mushroom Share...Our mushroom farmer had a calendar error and did not deliver the last week of mushrooms last week. Make sure not to miss yours this week.
Thank you for signing up for 2017!!Our appreciation is deep for everyone who has signed up with us for 2017. CSA is a unique collaboration between your families and this farm. By joining now you put your money where your mouth is, supporting local organic food. You also get a great deal. Where else can you buy fresh local organic produce for around $1.50 per pound, pick flowers and strawberries, and swap recipes with the people who grow your food? Thank you! Still need to sign up? Here's the link.
When is the Season Over?We are planning to have our last harvest of the regular farm season the week of October 24th. The last pick-ups will be Tuesday the 24 and Friday the 28th.
What's in the Share?Lettuce Asian Greens Jale Arugula Chickories Carrots Sweet Dumpling Squash Kohklrabi Hakuri Salad Turnips Red Cabbage
Be careful what you wish for. For a couple weeks I have been hoping out loud for a couple three days of hurricane blow off. This is that nice fine rain that comes soft and constant and soaks the soil without washing a grain of sand away. We commonly get this kind of precipitation in the month of September and in many years it catches us up from a dry August and also signals the end of summer as it brings in our fall fungus infections riding that tropical wetness. With September behind us this year I had resigned myself to irrigating right through Halloween (another first). I've been watching Matthew develop and grow since last week, hoping that it would stay alive long enough to spin a few plumes of wetness our way. Little did I know it would grow into the largest October hurricane on record and defy all the models as it keeps moving west (instead of east into the cold Atlantic). What this means for the farm is that you are getting some lovely red veined spinach this week instead of next. Small greens tend to fair poorly in heavy rain, spinach especially as it yellows quickly after having all it's nutrients washed from the soil. For the rest of the farm...we will watch as the forecast tightens through the week and look to lashing down greenhouses and tunnels, getting things under cover that could blow away in high winds, etc. Welcome to our new climate.
Thank You for Signing up for 2017Thank you to those who have signed up online in the past week! Knowing we can count on your shares early allows us to refine our plans for crops, order seed before the winter rush, and take advantage of end of the year pricing on big ticket items like soil, fertilizer and supplies. Most importantly it helps us focus on making the farm productive and healthy. If you haven't signed up yet here's the link.
Cipolinni OnionsThese little flat onions are pure magic. Sweeter than your standard onion they are great roasted in the oven, cooked slow on the stovetop or caramelized.
What's in the ShareLettuce Mix Tatsoi Baby Bok Choi Chard Spinach Carrots Delicata Radishes/salad turnips Cippolinni Onions
A PoemThings we don't have to worry about in a hurricane...
Problems with Hurricanes
A campesino looked at the air And told me: With hurricanes it’s not the wind or the noise or the water. I’ll tell you he said: it’s the mangoes, avocados Green plantains and bananas flying into town like projectiles. How would your family feel if they had to tell The generations that you got killed by a flying Banana. Death by drowning has honor If the wind picked you up and slammed you Against a mountain boulder This would not carry shame But to suffer a mango smashing Your skull or a plantain hitting your Temple at 70 miles per hour is the ultimate disgrace. The campesino takes off his hat— As a sign of respect toward the fury of the wind And says: Don’t worry about the noise Don’t worry about the water Don’t worry about the wind— If you are going out beware of mangoes And all such beautiful sweet things.
Another summer comes to a close and a light frost comes in on cue, even after a couple of blistering days last week. Expect it when you least expect it... Look for great greens in the weeks ahead as we move into our last month of harvests. We have the last of our tomatoes this week and they are green. Those with some southern roots will look at this with excitement. True New Englanders - get ready for a taste sensation! Fried green or pickled tomatoes are a great way to send off this stellar tomato year. Click here for a couple starter recipes. To keep the southern theme going we also have the first installment of our sweet potato crop, fresh from the 85 degree curing room. They are sweet and nutty. Lots of great ways to enjoy these but 40 minutes at 400 degrees, salt and butter can't be beat.
Time to Sign Up for Next Season!It's been an extraordinary season with some of the best crops of tomatoes, melon and squash we have seen in twenty years of farming. As we work through the unknowns that make up a successful farm season the one thing we can count on is all of you coming to the farm, happy to see what we have done. As farmers we love knowing exactly where our food is going and sharing stories with you each week about your fantastic grilled veggie pizza, wowing your dinner guests, or the successes in figuring out how to get the kids to eat cabbage (roast it!) In turn, we hope that you value knowing and seeing where your food is grown and the weekly experience of just being here in this beautiful place. Maura and I hope you will join us again for another year of great food and real community here at Crystal Spring Farm. Follow this link to sign up for the 2017 season.
Oysters come to Crystal SpringFor few weeks this fall we are offering a preordered oysters from our friend Lincoln Smith and Long Reach Oysters in Harpswell. These are native eastern oysters grown from seed over the past year on rafts off Great Island. We have sampled a few and they are briney with great flavor and good size. They will be delivered to the farm each Friday and ready for CSA pickup. Prices are 1/2 dozen for $9, a dozen for $16 and 3+ dozen for $15/per. Please send me an email order by the end of Tuesday for delivery on Friday. Here's a link to Lincoln's website.
What's in the ShareLettuce Mix Asian Greens Kale Napa Cabbage Chickories Green Tomaotes Sweet Potatoes Watermelon Radishes Onions
What's in UpicHerbs and Flowers...both waning
2-3 green tomatoes about a tablespoon kosher salt 1 cup cider vinegar 1/3 cup brown sugar 1 1/2 tablespoons whole mustard seed pinch of celery seed 1/2 teaspoon turmeric 1 yellow onion sliced 1 green and 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced Slice tomatoes to about 1/2" thick, removing stem and blossom ends and place evenly on a baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with salt and refrigerate overnight. Drain in a colander for about an hour. Combine sugar, vinegar, mustard, celery seed and turmeric in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Add onions and simmer for about 5 minutes before adding tomatoes and peppers. Return to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour everything into a sterile mason jar and refrigerate for at least two weeks. Enjoy as you would a pickle along with your meal or as a stand alone snack...
Its the last fews days of an exceptional summer. Sometimes I speak of biblical plagues on the farm like unstoppable pests, unrelenting drought, etc. This summer my references trended more toward the miracles. Like wine from water or feeding everyone with a few loaves and a couple fish, we have pulled an amazing amount of great flavor and quality from a hot dusty few months. Years like this (once we pass through them) make me believe again in the strength of the farm as an organism, resilient beyond a bad season. As the days shorten and we move into cooler days (and hopefully some rainfall) I look forward to giving the fields a rest, planting them with something other than hungry vegetables and dreaming up another season. How appropriate that we have winter squash and watermelon the same week of equinox? What could be better? This watermelon is one of my favorites. Peace is the variety and it is meant to be yellow (don't worry).
Watermelon RadishThis new addition to the farm lineup is a favorite. These big radishes and flavorful and beautiful. It's hard not to take a photo before you enjoy them. Our favorite way right now is sliced thin with a splash of rice vinegar. We put them out anytime of day and the kids go nuts.
What's in the ShareLettuce Fennel Kale Chard Arugula Chickories Hot mustard Gold Beets Peppers Watermelon Watermelon Radishes Bok Choi (big!) Acorn squash
What's in UpicButter beans (use like edamame) Flowers Herbs...
The transition to fall is here and we have the produce to prove it. After a rip snorter of a storm on Sunday the switch was thrown and here we are. The farm woke up to 39 degrees this Monday morning and I had to start my day finding the hoodie I have forgotten about since I put it down in the barn in May. (Just as a note, this is the kind of farm problem I love). Enjoy the Sugar Dumpling squash in your share this week. It's a favorite of ours and does well simply roasted in a 375 degree oven face down for about and hour. I love to pull it out, bathe it in butter, salt and maybe a bit of brown sugar or maple syrup before eating the whole thing (skin too, it's thin and tasty). Nothing says fall like a good excuse to turn on the oven and smell something lovely filling the house. Greens are back too. Spinach is in abundance this week along with some of our more interesting asian greens, all topped off with spicy watermelon radishes (they as very red inside).