Another cool week for growing food here. While everything is growing it would be great to get some warmer days, or even better warmer nights. Nights in the 40’s go along way to slowing down the growth of of of the crops we have here. Soils cool and nutrients become less available to roots and the whole process of growing does’t start full steam again until the temps get above 55-60. The cold days are tough on the crew as well as we bundle up each morning, braced against the wind. These layers fill the farm trucks during the midday hours and as the day comes to a close we put them back on again, a process that we usually know well in April and October, not so much in June.

IMG_1961We have a really outstanding looking tomato crop this year thanks largely to Kristin and Corinne, our field and crew managers, who took on changing our system for planting and trellising this crop. Strong, stout plants and pumping out fruit and flowers ahead of years past and with a vigor we have not seen in a long time.

Better than a Radish

Mentioning the crop turnips is not something that makes most people get excited. We all think of the corse storage root and maybe register it’s place in history, keeping northern europe alive during many centuries of dark winters, but generally turnips don’t excite anyone. This week we will try to change that with the out of this world salad turnip. This is a turnip but it is sweet, creamy and nothing short go incredible. Used them interchangeably as you would a radish. On our weekly field walk yesterday I was bowled over by the IMG_5976flavor, sweetness and creaminess. Give these a try sliced raw on a salad, splash them with a light vinegar (rice or apple cider) or just hoard them and eat them all before your family finds them.

Garlic Scapes

our garlic is growing well and our teaser offering for the real thing is the scape. This is the garlic flower and is quite tasty and an easy way to add some sweet garlic flavor to a salad or dish. Our usually get used a couple ways, tossed in the blender when we are making salad dressing or brushed with olive oil and tossed on the grill until they are soft and slightly charred.

What’s Coming…

Lots of great stuff on the way in the next couple weeks. Look for strawberries, zucchini, cabbage, scallions and beets soon.

Upic

Our Upic field will be opening soon and members are welcome come pick on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays all day. Keep an eye out for the official opening in the newsletter or in a special email notice if the strawberries come in before the beginning of the week!

Add-0n Shares

Thanks to all who signed up for our add-on shares. We are looking forward to having al of this great food paired up with our produce this year. If you still are interested in adding one of these shares let us know via email and we can add you in the coming weeks. Many folks have suggested that we offer a wine and toilet paper share too and then they would never have to go to the grocery store!

What’s in the share…

Lettuce

Spinach

Salad Turnips/Radishes

Chard

Broccoli

Tatsoi

Garlic Scapes

Kale

Storage potatoes

Chickories

 

IMG_1889What a difference a day makes. We had 2.65 inches of rain at the farm Sunday evening and both plants and farmers could be heard breathing out a long sigh of relief. The past month has been so unusually dry and until recently quite cold, that our crops in the field have been a bit stressed and not growing on schedule. That said we have a stellar lineup of produce for your first share. For the first time we are offering storage carrots in our starting share. We harvested this crop last fall for Wild Oats Cafe in Brunswick, who we supply with carrots year round (morning glory muffins are my favorite). It was a bumper crop and we had more than they could use this winter and spring so we are sharing them with all of you. They are remarkably sweet and are just a teaser for the fresh crop that we hope to start harvesting in July.

Welcome (Back) to the Farm

Pick-ups begin this week on Tuesday or Friday between 2-7:00 p.m. As always we will be in the CSA barn to check you in, keep the produce fresh and chit chat about food and farming.

What’s in the Share?

Lettuce Mix

Endive/Escarole

Arugula

Radishes

Spinach

Kale

Chard

Baby Bok Choi

Tatsoi

Hot mustard

Storage Carrots

What’s Coming…

In the next couple weeks look for zucchini, scallions, garlic scapes and everyone’s favorite…strawberries. This is the first time since 2007 that we have had strawberries in the upic field. After almost 10 years we are hoping that the Strawberry root maggot has moved on and we are again safe to have to pick this crop when you come to the farm. Keep an eye out in the newsletter for more info on what’s to come both in the share and in Upic.

Need Some Cooking Creativity…

Look to the right sidebar on our website for a recipe listing by ingredient. Here you will find a few recipes to get you acquainted with the produce in your share and kickstart your creative cooking process. Look for a sauce to go with this week’s baby bok choi, irresistible kale chips, chard quesadillas and more. Send us your favorite ways to enjoy our produce and we will add them to the archive.

 

IMG_1806IMG_1785IMG_1804We will have great produce for you next week. The greens look astounding and everything is healthy and happy. Its amazing what a few days of warmth will do. The full crew is cranking along here working towards our first harvest.

Farm Camp at Crystal Spring

There are still spaces available in Farm Camp. We have 3 sessions running in June and July for ages 5-10. Feed thew pigs, harvest carrots and everything in between! More info can be found here.

Still Time to Add Local Products To Your Vegetable Share….

Organic eggs, Artisan Bread, Maine mushrooms, farm yogurt and Maine cheeses can all be added to your weekly vegetables. These are outstanding local products that are not available in the grocery store! Check out all of these shares here. Our newest add-on share is Maine cheese. Over twenty weeks you will receive cheeses from four outstanding Maine creameries. Camembert, cheddar, blue, feta and chevre, etc from these great creameries. Here are links to their websites…

New Member Orientation

Saturday June 4 and Sunday June 5 at 3pm we will have new member orientation here at the farm. This is not a required event but if you are a new member and are available, its a chance to meet the farmers, see where pick-up will be, see our Upic field, tour the greenhouse, and visit the pigs. If you can’t attend, no worries, we will be on hand at each pick-up to show the the ropes!

Delivered Share Members

We are working out the logistics of the delivered share this week. Maura will be in touch with details of delivery times and other logistics shortly.

Follow Our Progress On Instagram

Ever wonder what’s happening at the farm while you are watching the rain fall or the sun shine somewhere else? Get the Instagram app and follow us (crystalspringcsa). This week we had a movie of mustard mowing, a hummingbird in the tomato house, the wind on the hay field and more…. https://www.instagram.com/crystalspringcsa/

 

IMG_1703 IMG_1695 IMG_1693Spring is into summer this year like the flick of a switch. We had 82 here Monday, five days ago was our last frost and five weeks ago it was snowing. All of this makes for some exciting times to bank on predictable growing rates for plants. That said things look great, just moving a bit slow. Many of the fields are still covered in row cover fabric for cold protection. These sheet give us 5 degrees extra at night and fifteen when the sun is shining.

First Pick-up Tuesday June 7 or Friday June 10, 2-7pm here at the farm.

 

More info next week about what to expect in our first our first share of 2016!

 




Add great local products to your vegetable share….

Organic eggs, Artisan Bread, Maine mushrooms, farm yogurt and Maine cheeses can all be added to your weekly vegetables. These are outstanding local products that are not available in the grocery store! Check out all of these shares here. Our newest add-on share is Maine cheese. Over twenty weeks you will receive cheeses from four outstanding Maine creameries. Camembert, cheddar, blue, feta and chevre, etc from these great creameries. Here are links to their websites…

New Member Orientation

Saturday June 4 and Sunday June 5 at 3pm we will have new member orientation here at the farm. This is not a required event but if you are a new member and are available, its a chance to meet the farmers, see where pick-up will be, tour the greenhouse, and visit the pigs. If you can’t attend, no worries, we will be on hand at each pick-up to show the the ropes!

Follow our Progress on Instagram

Ever wonder what’s happening at the farm while you are watching the rain fall or the sun shine somewhere else? Get the Instagram app and follow us (crystalspringcsa). We post a few times a week shots and clips of cool stuff we are doing, weather we are enduring or just funny stuff that happens. Join the ag-voyeur trend!  https://www.instagram.com/crystalspringcsa/

 

 

IMG_1103What a wild ride so far this spring. If I could distill all of my big and small decisions from a farm season more and more I would find all I think about is weather. Its always been the great unknowable for any farmer but for the past few seasons, especially in the spring, mother nature has gone manic. So much of running a farm relies on general predictability. It takes a lettuce seed 5-7 days to germinate and another 3-4 weeks in the greenhouse before we can plant it out and another 45-50 days in the field before we can harvest it as a full head. If the lettuce stopped following these dates or stopped and started growing erratically we would have a very hard time keeping salad greens in your share week after week.

IMG_1148Spring has always been the most erratic season. The sun gets higher and the days get longer, slowly pushing the cold out of the ground and allowing the air above to stay warm even when the sun goes down. This process of warming the greatest insulator (the soil) is a battle and all of that warm and cold energy mixes into volatile expression of wind and air pressure, pulling in weather from Canada one day and Alabama the next. Our snowstorm this past week is a perfect example. The crew was in t-shirts on Monday and we all huddled in the greenhouse on Tuesday watching the snow pile on in disbelief.

Luckily we have a really great crew this year. Kristin and Corrine have returned and with their experience here are hitting the ground running.  We have two top-notch apprentices, Hannah and Virginia, and hourly staff including Anne who has been with us for a several weeks already and Emma due to start next week. With a team like this we can do anything!

Empty BarnsIMG_8148

The biggest change for us in the past six months has been the absence of our sheep. Selling the flock has given us more time for family and a quieter winter. But we miss them. The barns are quiet (parked tractors do not bleat and require no daily care). We also miss seeing our friend and partner in the sheep business Tom Settlemire. We moved Tom’s flock to this farm back in 2005 and began ten years together raising healthy, happy lambs on the farm’s pastures. Tom mentored me in the process of raising animals and shared a lifetime of knowledge along with his daily good cheer and enthusiasm for everything agricultural. He just returned from some snowbird travel out west and we hope we get to see him even when there isn’t work to do (or better yet, create some work for him to do).

New Food

Dairy-e1398111098578We have been busy the past month partnering with many local food producers to bring a smorgasbord of possible farm share add-ons. In addition to organic eggs and Maine mushrooms we also have artisan bread IMG_1119from Standard Baking in Portland, organic yogurt from Wholesome Homestead in Winthrop, Maine. We are still working on a cheese share which we hope to have ready for sign-up next week. All of these Maine products are, in our opinion, outstanding and they pair up with our produce to make summer meals even more of a celebration. For more info on these add-on shares and to sign up follow this link.

Let the Sun Shine

In the next month we hope to break ground on our next big step in farm sustainability. The front pasture will soon hold enough solar panels to meet close to 100% of the farm’s electrical need. We have been working on this effort since last summer along with a group of committed friends of the farm. Our solar array will be a net-metering solar farm, producing energy every time the sun shines and dumping that power back on the grid, producing a credit against our electric bill. We were able to make this work using the economy of scale, teaming up with several other Brunswick residents and building solar array that is large enough to support the power needs of not just the farm but seven other households. Our part of the investment in the array will be paid for over the next 10-12 years and was made possible through some creative financing and generous donations. Soon the sun will not only grown your produce but help keep it cool by pumping water to our washing station and running our coolers!

Farm Camp

IMG_3725Crystal Spring Farm Camp has a few spaces available for all sessions!  If you know any interested families please send them our way!

Kids get their hands in the dirt and participate in many stages of growing vegetables and caring for farm animals.  We also play games, cook, create art, and explore the trails and woods.  See the farm camp webpage for more info.

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year!

Well the longest fall in my memory has made a quick turn the past few weeks. The unusually warm weather in November and December kept us outside working on projects and doing clean-up. But this means we are way behind on office stuff like seed orders, taxes, field planning and the like. Luckily, like real winter is here so no excuses!

IMG_0509Giving a farmer in New England an extra month of warm, snow free weather is overwhelming. We didn’t know what to do first or just how long the clear days would last. After we planted the garlic the second week of November we settled down and got organized. Kristin spent almost an entire week flail mowing pasture and hay land, knocking down dead growth that will keep next years hay clean and highIMG_0491 quality while I tore out the rotting wooden side boards and end wall of our seedling greenhouse and replaced them with new lumber. I also stained and prepped some beautiful pine to finally (after 12 years) finish out the inside of the CSA barn. Add to this a few days of barn clean out, massive potting soil delivery, some machinery repair and the month of December went by very quickly.

IMG_0535The Time to Jump in is Now…

Thank you for joining us for another season of organic produce!  We have had a record number sign ups so far for 2016.  Memberships that come in during the winter help us save money and time by allowing us to make our orders of seeds, soil, and supplies early and and at a discount.  If you haven’t signed up yet, please do. We will run out of shares!  You can go to a link on our website or  follow the links here for Brunswick or Delivered shares.

Payment Plan February Payment Due

On that note, it is also time for February payments for those of you on our winter payment plan. For on-farm Brunswick members this payment is $155. For delivered share members this payment is $85. Here’s a link to our payment form but you can also find it on our website (green “make a payment” button on the right). Remember you will need your member number to make a payment (look for the confirmation email that followed your deposit in the fall). If you have paid in full we thank you!

Real Men Don’t Eat…

We know you’ve been wondering what Tom, Gisele, and their kids eat.  For those of you who missed this short article, they are huge fans of organic vegetables…I mean if Tom and Gisele are doing it, it must be good. Pat yourselves on your back, we are on to something here folks. Go Pats!

Big Changes…

IMG_6639After eleven years we decided this fall to sell off our sheep flock. While we loved these animals and will miss them on a daily basis we came to the conclusion that we needed more time for family. This is especially true in the winter months when daily care and lambing during subzero temps and frequent blizzards could often take the entire day (and night). Like all changes on the farm it will take an entire season to make and understand but for now we are enjoying some extra time. More than half of our flock went to Kris Coleman’s farm in Yarmouth and we hope to be able to continue offer her lamb for sale starting this fall.

Not having sheep on the farm will mean a couple of major changes to the farm’s production systems.  For one, without animals to harvest the grass from our pastures we will be cutting a lot more hay and silage to sell.  We are looking for new customers for these products. Another concern is on the other end (pun intended) of sheep — manure. We have leaned heavily on 30-40 yards of compost made from sheep bedding each winter and another 100 yards of raw manure these animals would leave on the pastures. The fertility of the farm has been built around having animals and we are now having to adapt to new systems without them. A big part of our new plan is the relationship we have with local breweries Maine Beer Company and Allagash Brewing Company.  Both of them provide us with various waste products from the brewing process that include grain, yeast, and hops. We have been experimenting with these products and believe that they, if used in combination with green fallow periods, can help us to continue the farm’s growth in fertility.

Whats New in 2016

In addition to our popular egg and mushroom add-on shares we will also be offering a yogurt and cheese share from our friends at Wholesome Holmstead. Incredible farmstead yogurt and an delectable line-up of cheeses that will rotate each week. This is the yogurt that we sold here at the end of last season to rave reviews.  We are working out the details now and will let you know when sign-ups are available!

We are also planning a late fall vegetable share. This will be every other week for the months of November and December with greens, squash and roots. This first year we are offering this as a Brunswick pick-up option but hope to offer delivery to Portland area in the future. Price and produce list to follow soon!

We are thrilled to have our assistant manager Kristin returning for another season with us.  She and I have been hard at work on the field plan for the coming year and have several new varieties of tomatoes, peppers, flowers, squash, asian choi/greens and cabbage to grow for you this year.  Each winter the process of looking over our harvest records, sifting through academic reviews, and reading multiple seed catalogs consumes us for weeks. I still remember lettuce varieties I grew in California twenty years ago (some of which I still grow in Maine). This process is still fun for me and when we boil down everything we do, selecting the varieties we grow is the most important.

Here’s to spring and fresh produce!

 

 

IMG_0472 3 IMG_0471 3 IMG_0473 3The last week of the farm season has arrived and we have a lot of food for you. Please be prepared and bring bags, boxes and helpers. Potatoes, winter squash and onions are the big crops but we have more carrots, cabbage, and greens to fill your chiller drawers as well. This final week is always a decathlon of sorts for me and the crew. We work these shortening days that are bookended by frost, harvesting the last leaves and roots. Hauling full trucks up from the fields we wash, sort and organize these hardy crops putting together our last work of the year and what we hope will be some great meals for you in the weeks to come.

Thanks for being a member of the farm this year. Your willingness to travel through a farm season with us, eating our way from spring to fall is what makes this farm thrive. We will rest and rebuild for another season and we hope to see you again next June.

Dirty Potatoes

Your spuds this week are unwashed. The reason is that they store better without the handling it takes to wash them. A quick rinse in the sink with a brush or the palm of your hand and they will glow.

Spring and the 2016 season is coming…

Many thanks to all of you who have signed up for 2016 already. Throwing your hat in with us now makes a huge difference for us as we plan our way towards another great season. Those who sign up now can take full advantage of our winter payment plan (not to mention its just done – and you don’t have to remember to do it later!). Your share is great value of fresh organic food that you know is grown well. Joining early allows us to work hard over the winter so we all can have the produce that makes our Maine summer taste so good. Click here for Brunswick Shares and here for Portland Delivered Shares

Pumpkins for Pigs
Pumpkins for Pigs

Recycle your halloween pumpkins and make some pigs happy at the same time! Drop your pumpkins in the big bin at the end of the driveway starting Sunday morning and know they are going to good use!

Fill the Freezer

Buy five packages of our ground Lamb, Beef or Pork at $5 off our regular price. There’s nothing like local meat during the cold dark months…

Crystal Spring Honey

We have farm honey available at pick-up. This is from the hives in our fields that are managed by our friend Ken Faulkner. Great for what ails you and pretty good on toast too.

Last chance to sign up for…Pork

Bacon, ribs, chops; need I same more?  Halves and wholes will be processed and ready for your freezer right before Thanksgiving. We will have more info on how to order pork at CSA pick-up, shoot us an email or click here for the digital version.

What’s in the Share?

Potatoes

Winter Squash

Kale

Carrots/Beets

Onions

Brussels Sprouts

Kohlrabi

Spinach

Cabbage

 

IMG_0469

Change of seasons arrived with a vengeance this weekend with killing frosts three nights in a row. Sunday night was the coldest here with a low of 23 degrees. The flowers in the upic field were all burnt by cold and while we had some loss of greens in the field the vast majority of the greens and roots look great and will only taste better. The few cold nights we have had up until now have kickstarted these cold hardy plants to convert starches to sugars. The sugars dissolve into the water in the plants cells and the freezing temp of the water goes down, protecting the cells from freezing. Of course if we get really cold temps (below 20) this even the sweetest vegetables will freeze, but until then we can continue to enjoy some of the best produce of the year.

IMG_0467Parsnips

In the carrot family, these white roots are amazing when roasted. Here’s a few recipes….

Renew Your Share for 2016

Many thanks to all of you who have signed up for 2016 already. Throwing your hat in with us now makes a huge difference for us as we plan our way towards another great season. Those who sign up now can take full advantage of our winter payment plan (not to mention its just done – and you don’t have to remember to do it later!). Your share is great value of fresh organic food that you know is grown well. Joining early allows us to work hard over the winter so we all can have the produce that makes our Maine summer taste so good. Click here for Brunswick Shares and here for Portland Delivered Shares

Fill the Freezer

Buy five packages of our ground Lamb, Beef or Pork at $5 off our regular price. There’s nothing like local meat during the cold dark months…

Crystal Spring Honey

We have farm honey available at pick-up. This is from the hives in our fields that are managed by our friend Ken Faulkner. Great for what ails you and pretty good on toast too.

Pork for the Winter

Bacon, ribs, chops; need I same more?  We will have more info on how to order pork at CSA pick-up, shoot us an email or click here for the digital version.

What’s in the Share?

Sweet potatoes

Delicata Squash

Asian Greens

Kale

Chard

Potatoes

Carrots

Parsnips

Onions

Shallots

 

IMG_0459

October is unknowable, at least until we get here. Each year we plant spinach, lettuce mix, tatsoi, etc. in abundance, gambling on the weather for these last few weeks of the CSA. Warm days with rain once a week and nights that don’t turn cold too fast are perfect. Without the extremes all of these crops keep growing and sweeten up in the cool. If stays dry and or we get night temps that crash well below freezing the leaves burn and we are out the cost of seed (and the chance to keep the share diverse in the last weeks). Most of the time this bet pays off an we have some of our best greens of the year and it looks like this year was a good one take the risk.

How Do I Store All this Food…

If you are wondering how to keep the roots and squash in your share around this fall and beyond we have lots of advice on our vegetable storage guide page…

When is the Last Harvest?

Our last share will be the week of October 26th. That means there are 2 weeks of produce after this one.

Renew Your Share for 2016

Many thanks to all of you who have signed up for 2016 already. Throwing your hat in with us now makes a huge difference for us as we plan our way towards another great season. Those who sign up now can take full advantage of our winter payment plan (not to mention its just done – and you don’t have to remember to do it later!). Your share is great value of fresh organic food that you know is grown well. Joining early allows us to work hard over the winter so we all can have the produce that makes our Maine summer taste so good. Click here for Brunswick Shares and here for Portland Delivered Shares

Crystal Spring Honey

We have farm honey available at pick-up. This is from the hives in our fields that are managed by our friend Ken Faulkner. Great for what ails you and pretty god on toast too.

Pork for the Winter

Bacon, ribs, chops; need I same more?  We will have more info on how to order pork at CSA pick-up, shoot us an email or click here for the digital version.

What’s in the Share?

Radishes

Sweet potatoes

Beets

Red Cabbage

Acorn/Sweet Dumpling Squash

Asian Greens

Kale

Chard

Leeks

Potatoes

Carrots

What’s in Upic?

Flowers

 

Late season onions are built for long season storage in cold dry conditions. A garage or proch that doesn’t freeze will keep them for months. The chiller drawer in the fridge will do well too if you keep them in a bag as well. Beware Aware the strong flavor of onions will flavor things stored around them. Potatoes, carrots, etc. will taste like onions if you keep them together without a barrier (plastic bag).

 
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