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).
What's in the ShareSpinach Carrots Radishes Asian Greens Cabbage Winter Squash Tomato Leeks
What's in UpicEdamame Cherry Toms (waning) Flowers/Herbs
September is the busiest month for us. Not because of the farm, or rather not only because of the farm. This month our kids go back to school and Maura goes back to her counseling job at the middle school in Topsham. As luck would have it everyone began their school schedule today! Please find our produce list below and accept our apology for a very late newsletter...
What's in the ShareTomatoes Cabbage Fennel Carrots Garlic Beets Peppers Cucumbers Arugula Kale
What's in UpicFlowers Herbs Cherry Toms Edamame
What's in the ShareTomatoes Carrots Beets Watermelon Cukes/Summer Squash Peppers Tatsoi
What's in UpicCherry toms Herbs flowers Tomatillos
More good rain this weekend and after it a cool dry breeze that said very clearly fall is coming. That air felt great but are not quite ready to transition yet. We still have weeks of tomatoes, peppers and watermelon (solidly summer crops) coming to you. Our other big transition is the loss of our summer crew. This solid group of high school and college kids have all gone to register for classes, begin pre-season practices or take a last week at the family camp. These kids are always focused and have an inspired work ethic as they keep up with the seasoned twenty somethings (or forty somethings) day to day and week to week during June, July and August. Beyond the obvious first job or summer job experience for these folks they are also doing something that is not so common by working with us -they are learning how to produce food. 100 years ago more than 40% of america was involved in agriculture, currently that number hovers around 2%. Most of these summer hands are women and in addition to learning the concepts behind growing food they are also learning the mechanics, quite literally. Many of them run our trucks, some of them run our tractors and all of them learn manual skills that in todays world they may never get anywhere else. We've had folks who are amazingly fast harvesters but had never held a screwdriver or turned a wrench before they arrived here. For most of them that is why they end up here, consciously or otherwise. There is a real hunger to see how the gears turn in a world where more and more is hidden from us by gigantic industry and small screens. In my 20 plus years on farms, few of these summer hand end up as farmers (they are sensible as well a smart) but all of them take away manual skills, an ability to work fast and a deep appreciation of what it takes to feed a little part of the world.
Late Fall ShareWe still have shares in our late fall CSA. This is our "I don't want to stop coming to the farm just yet" share. Here's how it works... Every other Tuesday in November and December (including the Tuesdays before Thanksgiving and and Christmas) we will harvest fresh greens from our greenhouse along with carrots, cabbage, bok choi, chard and pair them up with storage crops like sweet potatoes, winter squash and beets to make a hearty share that will hold winter off. Like our yogurt, bread and cheese shares? You'll be able to continue these during these months as well (sign-up for these will be in September). For more info and to sign-up click here.
PorkWe still have some whole and half hogs available but they are going fast...if you are thinking about filling your freezer with high quality local meat that was raised with care grab a form at pick-up or fill one out here and get it back to us.
What's in the ShareTomatoes Lettuce Asian Greens Kale Melon Peppers Broccoli Scallions Basil
What's in UpicCherry Toms Herbs Flowers
All streaks must be broken and after setting a dryness record for us at this farm (14 years) we are so happy to have moisture. The storms on Friday and following rain on Saturday and Sunday brought us just over 1.5". Not enough to dig us out of a drought but surely enough save the broccoli, carrots and scallions (in your share this week). You will notice a we are without greens this week and this is the result of relentless high heat and the minimal moisture coming from only from the irrigation gun. Rest assured our greens supply will be back in your shares soon (next week baring disaster) but in the meantime we have lots of good summer stuff to keep you busy. Look for beets, melons and roma tomatoes in the next couple weeks.
What's in the ShareTomatoes Cukes Summer squash Carrots Peppers Broccoli Scallions Basil
What's in UpicCherry Toms Herbs Flowers
Drought is a word not to be used lightly. I say this mostly for my own benefit as in years past when we have been without regular rain for a few weeks (maybe even a month) I have trotted out the term along with the drama associated. But this year in the usually temperate, lush and water laden Northeast we are really there. By my measurement we had a little over an inch of rain in July (average is 4") and about two and a half for June (average 4.25"). This puts us behind about 4.5 inches as of this week, which for thirsty vegetables is pretty bad. We have been irrigating almost constantly for the past few weeks and keeping up with most things. To do this we have to move water from our well in the fields anywhere from 400 to 3500 feet. The farm has a good supply of aluminum pipe that comes in 30' lengths and connects together quickly much like the attachments on a vacuum (only a lot bigger and longer). We run these pipes up and down hills and under the roads to make lifelines that feed each field. To get the water to move and be able to spray it on the fields we have to pressurize the lines each time they are broken down and assembled, finding leaks and flushing dirt and detritus picked up in the moving. Once we have a field setup we water everything we can, trying not to lose the precious pressure that makes the flow from the well across great distances possible. Once we get to the fields we have guns that spray water on to a 60 to 120 foot swath at a time taking anywhere from 3-6 hours to saturate that area before they need to be moved over to wet the next swath. In this fashion it can take a day or two to water a field and this is with many late night gun movements. All in all there is nothing that difficult about irrigation, but it reminds us how much we like it when the water just falls from the sky.
What's in the ShareTomatoes Cukes/summer squash Eggplant Peppers Chard/kale Lettuce Leeks
What's in UpicCheery Toms Herbs Flowers
Water is so lovely when it falls from the sky. This week we have gotten back on the rain track and even though the systems bringing it to us have been on the violent side, we are oh so happy to have the water. The time and effort to set up and run water on many acres is happily spent in other places on the farm, like picking tomatoes. The tomato crop this year is looking really outstanding and this is due to the diligent efforts of the farm's field and crew managers, Kristin and Corinne. Starting with a research visit to Johnny's Selected Seeds last summer they have made it their mission to improve our system of growing tomatoes in field tunnels. Since the blight year of 2009 (we lost all 950 of our tomato plants) the farm has grown tomatoes (except for upic cherries) under movable tunnels, protecting them from disease. When we made this change we just moved our systems for growing out in the field under cover, which worked fine but wasn't really taking full advantage of the indoor environment. In the past five years there has been a lot of work done by farmers and researchers alike on improving tunnel grown tomatoes from new watering schedules, systems for trellising, techniques for pruning off unwanted growth, etc. Kristin and Corrine looked at all of these improvements and went to work creating a new tomato culture for us and training the crew in the weekly intricacies of maximizing growth and fruiting of this crop. When you are enjoying the best tomato ever, think of these two hard working farmers.
What's in the shareCarrots Tomato Green Pepper Eggplant Scallions Jalapeno Cukes Kohlrabi Lettuce Chard/Kale
What's in UpicBeans Cherry Tomatoes (just starting)
A little rain here and there and some gargantuan efforts with irrigation have got us on track with moisture on the farm. This week we crest a hill of sorts that separates the last 6 months of prep and planting from the next 4 months of harvest. Our days become very structured as we add tomatoes, eggplant, carrots and peppers to the harvest list and work in between to keep the weeds down and plant the last rounds of greens. We are hoping we are back in the rain track so we can make the most of the next few weeks before we start losing our long days in August.
Tomatoes and Eggplant...Must Be SummerOur first tomatoes and eggplant appear this week. For some reason one variety of our heirlooms are ahead of anything else (they are usually late). I had my first on a salad yesterday and after I was out of lettuce just kept going with balsamic vinegar and more tomato. The asian eggplant this week are my favorite. The skins are tender and don't need to be peeled. I love to halve these, brush with olive oil and set them on the grill to almost blacken. They also do great sliced into very hot oil and tossed until tender. Sweet soy/teriyaki or tahini/yogurt makes an easy finish.
Peas CookedI think we have had our shortest snap/snow pea season in my history here. They really did not like the Carolina weather we had and we actually saw them drop flowers instead of make peas. We watered over the weekend and the cooler nights/rain may give them a second wind. Let's cross our fingers.
Carrots Are BackOur first carrot harvest went well. They are a little small but we couldn't wait any longer, especially since we had a stellar group of exchange students from Spain wanting to help out. Watch your sugar intake on the days when you eat these... they are sweet.
Greens Are Good... but sometimes hard to keep up withSome of you are well-versed in world of greens while others may be having a stare down with those bags in your fridge wondering where to start. We are here to help! We encourage you to jump in with both feet and find your food muse amongst the leaves of chard, kale and spinach. Start simple and combine these greens with things you and your family already like to eat.
- Salads of course - and making your salad into more of a meal by adding other veggies, nuts, chicken, legumes or other proteins. We find that if we have a delicious dressing already prepared, we are way more likely to eat a salad for a quick lunch. Here's a link to our salads recipe page with an awesome balsamic vinaigrette.
- Stir fries and sautés. Try this article how to...
- Is pesto a favorite? Lightly steam your chard or kale, and throw it in the blender or food processor with garlic, onions, basil, or other herbs, toss it on pasta or pizza with oil or butter, and cheese.
- Bacon. We heard from a mom this week who cooks the bacon in a pan, and then adds in the greens. Her children devour every bite!
- Spanikopita. We've been making variations on this for years. I use kale, chard, or spinach, I use whatever cheese I might have, and I rarely use the filo dough due to time constraints. Sometimes I'll top it with bread crumbs, roasted sunflower seeds, or even crushed up tortilla chips. We call it kale pie. I like to steam the greens and then puree them in the food processor. And lots of basil.
- Smoothies!! Green smoothies are all the rage these days. If you're not doing it already, then get on the trend! Throw your greens in the blender along with fruit, juice, and you'll be powered up for the day!
- Here's a funny article about fashionable kale and another about a reluctant kale eaters conversion into the fold (with recipe).
- The internet of course has all the answers we need. Here is a list of recipes on Vegetarian Times with kale.
What's in the share...Zucchini Cucumbers Lettuce Scallions Asian Greens Chard Carrots Eggplant Tomatoes Kohlrabi Summer onion
What's in Upic...Snow and Snap Peas Flowers Herbs
Another hot dry week ahead. All this dry is slowing the crops (and us) down a bit. It rained enough this weekend to kill some barbecues but we gathered only .15 inches out of the dreariness. Over the past couple weeks there have been a few casualties in our asian/salad greens plantings to bolting. This is when the crop passes through vegetative stage (making leaves) quickly and moves right into reproductive stage (making flowers and seeds). This is always the result of stress, which in this case is due to the heat and dry. For these leafy crops it means we lose any chance to cut them and while we have not had a lot of this it does impact the diversity in the share. I don't want to farm in the mid-atlantic but I am coveting their rainfall this year. We have been waiting patiently for our first carrot harvest and while they are close they need another week to size up all the way. This is a great crop for us but it is not one that thrives in heat. That said many of our heat lovers like tomatoes, eggplant and melons are doing very well and should be coming along soon.