We finished harvesting all of our potatoes about a week ago which is out last big crop to get out of the ground this year. Its always a substantial effort as many of you know from years past when we invited members to our labor day CSA harvest. This year we planted our crop much later than usual, trying to miss some the destruction of the Colorado Potato Beetle and this change made a labor dayIMG_7834 harvest too early. We were resigned to having the farm crew spend a week on this crop when we got a call from longtime friend and farm advocate Rick Wilson. Rick is a teacher at Brunswick High and among other things teaches a service learning class to juniors and seniors. The focus of his class is to give high school students a hands on sense of the real world beyond the doors of the school as the class visits and works around the community. Two sections of this class came to the farm, had a tour and a question and answer session followed by a good hour of picking potatoes with the farm crew. During this time we were able to get most of the potatoes up and the students had a real farm experience. Rick had them write reflection essays which he shared with me. Here are a few notable quotes; “Crystal Spring was an experience like no other where we allowed to get our hands dirty”, “It (farming) definitely  isn’t a career I’ll be pursuing though it was pretty cool” and “Crystal Spring Farm definitely gives a person a sense of place because the work that you are doing is for the people, and the people are also the reason that the farm exists today”. I followed up the kids visits to the farm with two slide and lecture sessions at the high school that gave more detail about how the farm works as a business. The whole experience was a grand success and it’s always comforting to hear that what we do here is “pretty cool”.

When is the Last Share Pick Up?

At this point, baring extreme weather, we are planning to have our final harvest during the last week of October. The last day of pickup falls on Friday the 31st, Halloween!

Sign-up for 2015…Now!

Many Thanks to all of you who signed up in the last week. If you are planning on it and haven’t yet, don’t wait! Sign up here online. We have more folks on our wait list than ever before and we want to be sure current members who would like a share are signed up first.

Farm to Table Dinner at the Farm

Place_settings-_Crystal_Springs_Farm_posterWe are hosting a farm to table dinner Sunday October 19th with Rosemont Market and Bakery. The dinner will be made completely from Crystal Spring produce and meats with wine parings and a cocktail to sip during a pre-dinner farm walk. The butcher shop at Rosemont is where most of our lamb is sold and they have a very successful business in the Portland that is based wholly on quality local food. Here’s the info link for the event. Tickets are $85 and can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com.

 

Stock up for Fall

Our cupboards are full here at the farm. In addition to lots of vegetable to take home we also have plenty of great local products…

  • Dark Maple Syrup
  • CSF Honey– doesn’t get more local!
  • CSF Frozen Blueberries– Enjoy summer all winter long
  • Willow Pond Apple Cider– This stuff is too good
  • CSF Ground Lamb– Our own Grass Fed
  • CSF Ground Beef– Our own Grass Fed
  • Sparrow Farm Organic Eggs

What’s in the share…

Carrots

Beets

Potatoes

Delicata Squash

Lettuce

Arugula

Chard/Kale

Salad Turnips

Peppers

Shallots

Sweet potatoes

 

Sign-up for 2015…Now!

We have had a great year and this a the best time to sign up for next season. Help us plan ahead for the summer ahead and sign up here online. We have more folks on our wait list than ever before and we want to be sure all of you current members who would like a share are signed up first.

Stock up for Fall

Our cupboards are full here at the farm. In addition to lots of vegetable to take home we also have plenty of great local products…

  • Dark Maple Syrup
  • CSF Honey– doesn’t get more local!
  • CSF Frozen Blueberries– Enjoy summer all winter long
  • Willow Pond Apple Cider– This stuff is too good
  • CSF Ground Lamb– Our own Grass Fed
  • CSF Ground Beef– Our own Grass Fed
  • CSF Elderberry Syrup– Keep healthy this winter
  • Sparrow Farm Organic Eggs

What’s in the share….

Carrots

Beets

Potatoes

Squash

Cabbage

Sweet/hot peppers

Lettuce

Chard/Kale

Asian greens

Kohlrabi

Salad turnips

Onions

 

With the passing of the first day of Autumn I’m reminded as I walk outside why this is my favorite season in Maine. Dry, bright  days with views that go on and on run into cool nights that give me the best sleeps of the year.

 

September is also the month of Leila’s birthday; she turned nine this week.  On the morning of her birth, Maura and I walked down Pleasant Hill Road in the wee hours of the morning to Parkview Hospital in time for her scheduled delivery.  It was a morning much like today, we like to reminisce about enjoying a quiet walk in fresh air and anticipation before welcoming our baby (and a few days of rest).   Leila was born on a CSA pick-up day and our wonderful farm apprentice Leah (we only had one then) and our veteran volunteer Bob did all of the harvesting and washing that morning.  I came back to the farm after the birth, talking to CSA members and telling everyone about Maura and our wonderful new daughter.  We had not yet named her, and many of you threw out your two cents in that regard as well.  There are many of you who have been members since that time (and earlier!).  Nothing measures time quite like the rapid growth of a child.  You are still coming week after week, year after year, a vital part of this farm, and that little baby is now up to her mom’s chin and perhaps checking your name off when you arrive at CSA.  We are so grateful for you, all of our CSA members, long-time and new, for being a constant source of support and the reason we are still here.

The Frost Came

We did end up getting frosted on Friday morning last week.This slowed our harvest day considerably as we had to wait for all of the greens to thaw before we could begin cutting them. Thanks to the hard work of the crew in the days before the frost we were able to finish harvesting the sweet potatoes and the last of the winter squash, the last two crops that have no tolerance to freezing. The plus side of an early frost (the earliest in our 11 years here) is that the greens and roots from here on out will taste even better, sweetened by the cold.

Honeyhoneyjpg

We have honey for sale starting this week. These one and two pound jars are from the hives in the vegetable fields that our friend Ken Faulkner tends. Besides being sweet and wonderful, honey that is produced in the area where you live is full of pollen which can go along way towards inoculating you from the effects of seasonal allergies. Besides that, it tastes great.

What’s in the share…

Sweet potatoes

Kohlrabi

Broccoli

Sweet Dumpling Squash

Carrots

Red Onions

Lettuce

Asian Greens

Chard/Kale

Peppers

Eggplant

What’s in Upic…

Edamame…last week

Flowers…waning

 

Really feels like fall this week. The weather gurus are talking up the possibility for the first frost (even for us coastal folks) this Thursday or Friday. I personally don’t think it will happen as it will be the earliest frost by five days we will have seen on this farm in our 11 years here. That said we have been getting ready this week for the cold that will arrive one day or another. Harvesting peppers, eggplant and the last of the tomatoes is the easy part. Larger tasks are bringing in the ample winter squash and sweet potatoes.

Sweetening the CropIMG_7706

Harvesting sweet potatoes is complicated. Certain varieties of this southern crop actually grow easily here and the plants flourish all summer virtually pest free. The complicated part comes in when we harvest. First the crew has to cut away a think tangle of vines from the surface, allowing us to come in with a tractor and loosen the soil around the clusters of tubers. We have to be very careful handling  the potatoes at IMG_7705this point as their skin is very delicate and comes off if they are handled roughly. Because of this we pull the tubers by hand and grade them by size into vented lugs. These lugs are then packed into an insulated room and we crank up the heat to 85 degrees and let them cure for about 10 days. The curing hardens the skins making them easier to handle but more importantly it signals the potatoes to convert their starches into sugars -which is what we all love about this crop. This process started last week so with any luck all of you will see your first sweets in the share next week!IMG_7748

What’s in the Share…

Cabbage

Arugula

Asians Greens

Kale

Kohlrabi

Lettuce

Carrots

Delicata Squash

Potatoes

Peppers

Tomatoes

Onions

What’s in Upic…

Edamame

Cherry Toms

Tomatillos

 

Fall is here in all it’s crisp glory. Nothing feels better than working through a clear sunny day without the humidity that has been with us most of the last couple months. The change in the weather this time of year comes along with a change in our schedule as school has started and we are back to busy. During the summer we really never slow down on the farm, but other than being ready for all of you to arrive on Tuesdays and Fridays we don’t have to watch the clock too closely. With the start of school all of that changes and shorter days and bookended between getting kids out the door and transitioning them into homework or soccer practice, not to mention dinner. Historically this is a time when many of you tell of “falling behind” with your CSA shares for the sole reason that everyone is in transition and time is tight. With that in mind we are harvesting very storable crops this week and no greens (other than lettuce). Carrots, Chinese cabbage, beets, peppers and acorn squash will all “hold” until you have time to get to them. Put the roots and the peppers in you chiller drawers and the acorn squash will be fine on the counter for a long time (call it a fall decoration).

IMG_7687We will finish squash harvest this week and it has been a bumper year with plants yielding more and larger fruits that average. In our limited sampling to date it seems that the same factors that gave us great tasting melons will also be delivering superb quality for winter squash. Our biggest problem for the weeks ahead looks to be finding containers to harvest into as the squash crop will use up crates needed for potatoes. We usually pick into 20 bushel apple crates that we move with the tractors. The crates come from area orchards that sell us their old crates on the cheap. The apple crop is big this year and no one will part with their extras.

Chinese Cabbage

Chinese or Napa cabbage is in the share this week and this tender relative of green cabbage is very versatile. Shredded or sliced thinly, it makes a great salad with a light vinaigrette or peanut sauce, especially with carrots. Try making a rice gratin with your acorn squash and some cheese and using the napa as a wrapper. The “cabbage” link on our recipe sidebar has lots of good ideas as well.IMG_7686

Shallots

Ever make your own salad dressing? Mince half a shallot mixed with wine vinegar some mustard and oil and you are in business. Shallots can be used raw or cooked and are somewhere between the pungency of an onion and the sweetness of garlic. These little bulbs go with everything.

Apples, Pears and Comb Honey

IMG_7690IMG_7691With fall comes the work of the bees. Paula Red apples and Clapp’s Favorite pears from Willow Pond Farm are available this week along with comb honey from hives here on the farm. We hope to have jars of honey in a couple weeks as well. Nothing is better for you than local honey…

Whats in the Share…

Carrots

Beets

Chinese Cabbage

Melon

Broccoli

Peppers

Eggplant

Shallots

Acorn Squash

What’s in Upic…

Edamame

Beans

Flowers

 

IMG_7661 Back to school this week and the farm crew has been whittled down to the core group. Our summer crew is full of high school, college and grad school folks balancing out their studies with hard summer work.  Two weeks ago we had ten folks in the fields and this week we are down to five.  Our full season crew, Tom, Kristin, and Lauren are the professional farmers, starting the year as the last snow falls in April and finishing with the first in November.   You have met them here at the farm on CSA pick up days as they take turns overseeing the CSA barn.  Last week they enjoyed a few days without Seth on the farm.  The goal of the apprenticeship is to give the farmers the tools they need to operate their own farm.  By late August Seth is able to step out for a break and all the many parts keep moving without a hitch.  We are always so grateful to our smart, hardworking, and dedicated crew.  Labor, love, and learning.

Pork

We still have Pork available! Fed on grain from Maine Beer Company in Freeport and all the cull vegetables they could handle; all of them look great.  Pigs are sold as whole or half and processed into cuts as you like them (all bacon is currently not possible). If you have freezer space and would like to enjoy high quality farm-raised pork this fall and winter talk to us about the details at pick-up.

Frozen Blueberries

We will have frozen berries for sale at pick-up for the next few weeks. They are $25.50 for a five pound box.

IMG_7582Edamame in Upic…

These soybean pods are a new addition to the Upic field. If you have ever been to a Japanese restaurant you may have had them as a starter. The furry pod surrounds tender soybeans inside. Here is the recipe for them steamed, simple and tasty. This is another link to a long-winded food article about this crop with an accompanying snarky cooking video (everyone love the videos).  This crop is just getting started in upic so look for the really full pods and save the not full ones for another week.

What’s in the Share…

Tomatoes

Carrots

Cukes

Lettuce

melon

Chard/Kale

Eggplant

Peppers

Broccoli

What’s in Upic…

Tomatillos

Cherry Tomatoes

Edamame

Flowers

 

INGREDIENTS

  • Salt
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen edamame in their pods
  • Black pepper to taste

PREPARATION

1.
To boil: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it generously. Add the edamame, return to a boil and cook until bright green, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain. To microwave: Put the edamame in a microwave-safe dish with ¼ cup water and a pinch of salt, cover partly and microwave on high until bright green, 1 to 5 minutes, depending on your microwave power.
2.
Sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt and a little or a lot of black pepper. Toss and serve hot, warm or chilled with an empty bowl on the side for the pods.
YIELD
4 servings
 

IMG_7416The light has turned this last week and we have started to process of bring in fall produce to cure. Onions and winter squash are our big fall crops aside from potatoes and these first two both have to cure in the dry heat of the greenhouse for a few weeks before we can share them with you. Plants, like us and keenly aware of the change in season and prepare themselves for winter in one way or the other. Onions are a biennial crop that grow to size one year and produce seed the next, continuing the process of reproduction that is the plants ultimate goal, one that we interrupt by eating them. We all know onions have layers and each layer is attached to a leaf. Our goal as farmers is to have onions with lots of strong leaves which will translate into thick layers and big bulbs. As the light changes the leaves begin to loose their vigor and the neck that separates the leaves from the bulb becomes soft. The top of the onion then flops over. This is the sign to us that the onion is no longer growing and the leaves are beginning to die back while the layers of the onion start to harden. This is called dormancy and for the plant its a process of storing energy for the winter so that the onion can make flowers and seed in the spring. For us it’s the process of transforming a soft, fragile summer plant into a storable winter food.

IMG_7412Our winter squash plants still look great and there is a lot of fruit out there. In the next couple weeks we expect the foliage to begin to die back and the squash will be ready for harvest and curing in the greenhouse. The dry heat of the greenhouse will pull some of the moisture from the fruit and concentrate the sugars, making squash that is bland when we harvest it into sweet satisfaction in a couple weeks. Unlike onions squash is an annual and goes from a seed to producing new seed in one season. This plant’s reproductive strategy is to produce a sweet fruit that mammals of all sizes will eat, exposing the seeds that rodents can then bring into their winter storage areas underground. Like us, rodents can be forgetful or greedy and some of these stored seeds, buried in the ground will still be around in the spring, sprouting into new plants.

 

Pork

We still have Pork available. Fed on grain from Maine Beer Company in Freeport and all the cull vegetables they could handle all of them look great. Pigs are sold as whole or half and processed into cuts as you like them (all bacon is currently not possible). If you have freezer space and would like to enjoy high quality farm-raised pork this fall and winter talk to us about the details at pick-up.

Frozen Blueberries

We will have frozen berries for sale at pick-up for the next few weeks. They are $25.50 for a 5lb. box…

What’s in the Share…

Tomatoes

Carrots

Cukes

Lettuce

Cabbage

melon

Fennel

Chard

What’s in Upic…

Cherry Toms

Flowers

 

IMG_7394Blueberry season has come to an end for us. It was a great success and like all new things, the steep learning curve was exciting and laid the groundwork for what we hope will be a great crop for years to come.  After hand raking this year’s plot a neighbor came with a machine rake and cleaned out the berries from the really weedy areas. This last fruit we drove up to Ellsworth last week and had cleaned and frozen on a large processing line that can deal with the “duff” from the weeds much more efficiently than we can on our small winnowing machine. These berries are coming back this week frozen and we will have them for sale in 5 pound boxes at CSA pickup.

PorkIMG_7400

We have a great group of pigs this year. Fed on grain from Maine Beer Company in Freeport and all the cull vegetables they could handle all of them look great. Order forms for our first round of farm raised pork will be available this week. Pigs are sold as whole or half and processed into cuts as you like them (all bacon is currently not possible).  If you have freezer space and would like to enjoy high quality farm-raised pork this fall and winter talk to us about the details at pick-up.

Sweet Summer

We will be harvesting our first round of cantaloupe this week.  From the few we have sampled in the field it looks like a summer of regular rain has been good for this crop.  The only thing that rivals the taste of this fruit is the fragrance. Wow.

 

What’s in the Share…

Lettuce

Arulgula

Carrots

Peppers

Eggplant

Cucumbers

Melon

Tomatoes

 

 

Transitions are what we are all about here on the farm every year . Whether its the productivity of a day, measured in how well we move from one task to the next, or the timing of a greenhouse seeding that gives a harvestable crop just as another is fading. It’s that place between that makes or breaks us.   I am energized by these transitions, complete one thing, starting another. We have been feeling a little bit of fall in the air this week.  In between the walls of humidity and the cold fronts pushing the storms, there has been that crisp, dry air that rules the days of September and October.  Summer flew by this year but with my favorite season just ahead, I won’t really miss these hot days until February.

Tomatoes This TuesdayIMG_7374

We are moving into peak tomatoes this week and have a unusually large number of tomatoes seconds flats for sale today.  If you are thinking about making sauce or salsa this is your day.  Even if you are not going to pick-up your share today, come by and pick up a flat, 10 pounds for $10.

The End of Blueberries

It has been a quick season this year as the berries have slipped quickly from ripe to gone. We will be raking this week but have stopped taking new orders. All in all this new foray into our own native perennial crop was a success and we hope to add it to our annual list of offerings from this farm.

 Italiano Mindset

Eggplant, basil, tomatoes, arugula, and fennel in the share this week. Put them together and you have a trip to Italy courtesy of your local farm.  Any of these items go well with olive oil, lemon and fresh pepper. Fennel is usally the tough sell amongst these summer favorites.  Try shaving a little on top of your salad or temper and sweeten the anise flavor by roasting slices in butter.  We love to cut it into 1/4″ slices, dipping in egg and covering with breadcrumbs before roasting in ample olive oil until the fennel is soft and the breadcrumbs very brown.

What’s in the Share…

Kale/Chard

Lettuce

Arugula

Basil

Eggplant

Tomatoes

Scallions

Broccoli

Fennel

Carrots

Peppers

 

What’s in Upic

Flowers

Herbs

 

 

 
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