Winter has left the building and we are busy! It’s been a while since we updated you on the comings and goings at the farm…read all the way down for payment info, new member orientation and other offerings at CSA pick up.

IMG_5923Its May and we are now caught up on our planting schedule. The first two weeks of April were quite February-like but then overnight the snow left, the fields dried out and we were able to get some seeds and plants in the ground.  I’m brimming with optimism as late springs have generally turned in to mild, temperate summers with fewer long stretches of cold rain, heat or drought. This time of year brings to the forefront the great wager we have with the weather. Starting plants in greenhouses covered in snow and feeding animals the last bales of hay seamlessly transitions into the ground thawing and first blades of grass appearing. Every year it always renews my trust in the calendar.

We have a great looking crop of tomatoes this year. They are still in the greenhouse but will be heading out into our field tunnels in about a week. The past few years we have been experimenting with a new process for this crop called grafting. When we graft plants we take a strong rootstock and put it together with a fruiting top from a variety we like. The root stock is IMG_5966IMG_5925specially bred for resistance to many common diseases but doesn’t make good fruit (in this case tomatoes). The fruiting top or scions come from several tomato varieties we have grown for years and think have great flavor. The problem we have found recently is that we are having a harder and harder time keeping these varieties we love healthy (especially the heirlooms),  which is why we are grafting to the disease hardy rootstock. To make this happen we start seed for both the rootstock and the scion and once they are a few inches tall we cut the tops off the rootstock and attach the tops from the scion. Nothing is more unsettling than taking your beautiful tomato seedlings, cutting them in half and hoping the will live stuck onto another plant. After a couple years of trials we have figured out the pitfalls and have been able to do this successfully.

Fish, Egg and Mushroom Shares…

We will have Fish and Mushrooms shares available again this year. Next week’s newsletter will have all the details!

Spring CSA payments and Shares

We have just a handful of Brunswick Shares left for the year and Portland shares are getting close. If you have been putting off signing up please don’t wait. Many thanks to those of you who have signed up.

  • If you put a deposit down and have made your payments (due February and April) you last payment is due June 1.
  • If you are unsure what you owe and cannot locate your own records, let us know.
  • The total for a 2014 Brunswick share is $525.
  • The total for a Portland area delivered share is $315.

Make a payment by clicking here

  • If you would like to make another payment by electronic check or credit card please follow this link.
  • If you have fallen behind in your payments you can still make a April/May payment here online or mail us a check for the balance.

Brunswick Share New-Member Orientation

If you are a new Brunswick on-farm pick-up member we will have orientations days Saturday May 31st and Sunday June 1st at 4pm. This is not a mandatory event but it is a great time to see the farm, meet the farmers and get the inside scoop on how to pick up your share this summer. We will have a upic field orientation for Portland members in July. Look for more info and a date soon. Hope to see you…

Lambs and Piglets

IMG_6265We are overflowing with small animals these days. We have a litter of 12 piglets and spring group of over thirty lambs to add to our winter group of 75. As the grass greens up everyone will be heading outside to enjoy the bright and start working on the grass that is growing fast.IMG_5950

 

 

 

Happy March!

We’ll do a more complete newsletter soon but for now, in brief:

Farm Camp

Dates and registration are now available on our website.  The link to that page is here (registration is a link at the bottom of the page)  http://crystalspringcsa.com/farm-camp/

For 10-12 year olds we are offering an exciting opportunity to join Farmer Seth and the crew.  One week, afternoons only, see the description on the webpage for more info on our Junior Apprenticeship.  We’ll also have some spots open for junior counselors ages 13-16.  Any comments or questions let us know.

Lamb Open House

Come visit the newest members of the farm in the barns.  As of this writing we have 70 lambs with six more ewes still expecting.

Saturday March 15 11-1 open to the public

Sunday March 16 11-1 for CSA members and friends of the farm.  Bring your friends and family.

CSA Memberships

Still available if you have not signed up yet!

Seeding is Underway…

We’ll get some pictures out soon just to prove it to you, that under the frozen tundra, in the warmth of our heated greenhouse, seeding has begun.  Onions, leeks, beets, celariac, flowers and herbs all going in this week.

Spring is fifteen days away folks…here’s hoping!

More coming soon…

Seth & Maura

 

 

 

High of twelve today, but the sun is warm and the sky, blue. It seems never to be able to get so blue during any of the other seasons. We’ve been busy since our last newsletter in November. Busy in the winter is relative as our work is bookended by a later sunrise and an earlier sunset (and this winter by sub-low morning temps and a cold afternoon wind). My enthusiasm for sitting in front of a keyboard and making phone calls goes way up this time of year. Proof of this is our complete seed order, 2013 taxes and a barn full of supplies for the coming summer. Now if I had only cut more wood for the stove last summer!

What’s New for Next Summer…IMG_5172

IMG_0369Between holiday preparations, making lunches, feeding sheep, and youth basketball games, I spent December looking at seed catalogs and rereading your surveys, searching for new ideas to improve what we grow. This last year we had 43 different crops and over 140 different varieties of vegetables flowers and fruit (wow). During each year we are putting seeds into soil in the greenhouse or in the field every week between the beginning of March and the end of August- so there are many places to make changes. Sometimes we like a particular variety but feel like to came too soon on too late so we’ll adjust its planting time forward of back a week. Other times we find a variety just didn’t perform on this farm and we look to replace it entirely. What’s more complicated, but ultimately the most satisfying, is when we find crops and varieties that go well together like greens in our mix and match, or different tomatoes that ripen at the same time, giving us a good supply to please everyone, whether they like them firm and acidic or soft and meaty.

  • We’re trying a few new greens varieties to keep everyone interested in their weekly salads and stir fries. There are a host of new Asian varieties that offer new color and texture that we think you’ll like.
  • Eggplant and peppers will both have new varieties with varied color and size this year and we’re trying some new planting dates to allow us to mix and match them instead of flooding you with one or the other for weeks in a row.
  • After a couple years of trials we are jumping into the latest craze and grafting all of our tomato varieties. This is the process where you take perfectly healthy tomato plants and cut them off at the stem and stick them onto rootstock that you have cut the tops off of. The rootstock is bred for vigor and disease resistance, the tops (scions) take this vigor and produce more fruit that stand up to disease longer. This technique has been used in fruit trees for centuries but is now spilling into annual vegetables in a big way to improve yield and disease resistance in our increasingly variable climate.

IMG_5390Sheep

Ewes are big and healthy these days as we are due to start lambing in about a week. Those of you that drive by the farm may have noticed the white plastic round bales arranged in several fields. These wrapped bales are ensiled (fermented) grasses cut green in the summer and IMG_0391preserved for use by the flock in the winter. Unlike hay which is dried, the bales are lush and green. The high nutritional value of this feed has allowed us to transition our ewes and lambs off of grain supplements completely which is great for these animals that were made to digest grass and great for us as it disconnects our flock from the increasing variability of the global commodities markets.

CSA Lamb Day March 16 from 11-1

Come join us at the farm for our lamb open house for CSA members and friends of the farm. We’ll open the barns and show off the new arrivals, which should number between 85-100. Dress warm and wear shoes that will serve you well on the farms slippery and muddy tracks.  Bring your friends and family.

Farm Camp

We’ll have Farm Camp dates and registration open on March 1st.  This will be posted on our webpage.   All the dates will be in July this year.   No camp will be offered in June.

We will be looking for junior counselors again this year as well!

Lamb Sausage and Maple Syrup Available at the Farm

We have our own Lamb Sausage available for pick-up at the farm. This spicy natural cased sausage is packaged in 1 lb packs for $11. We also have qts. of grade B dark Maple Syrup for $16 each. This is the same great stuff we have in the summer. Pancake, lambs sausage and eggs sounds like a powerful Maine lumberjack breakfast to keep you warm on a cold day in the woods… Send us an email with your order and when you’d like to come by.

February Payments Due

Those of you who are on our payment plan, your February payment is due next week ($150 for Brunswick shares/$80 for delivered shares). Here’s a link to our online payment form that will allow you to use a credit card of e-check to pay. This link is also on the website. Look for the green “make a payment” button. You can also mail us a paper check but we would prefer payment via the web as it cuts down on our administration time.  As always please let us know if you would like to make other arrangements for payment.

2014 Farm Shares Still Available…

If you haven’t signed up yet or if you have a friend, neighbor or relative who would like to be a part of the farm go to our website and click the orange “Join” button or follow this link. Its quick, easy and then its done.

 

 

IMG_4818All good things must come to an end, and as we start our last week of harvest and CSA distribution….

Thanks to all of your for your support of all of us here and what we do. This is your farm and we are very proud to be your farmers.

This has been a good year for all of us eating what the farm has grown. While every crop didn’t perform perfectly, as farmers we are happy with the season as a whole. This fall has been one of a kind. In the ten years we have farmed here we’ve never seen a September or October that was so dry and so mild.  The greens we have been cutting the last few weeks have been so abundant and such high quality they looked like they were grown in May, not October.

What a gift all of these greens have been. As winter approaches we all have full fridges and can eat healthy, fresh meals when we sit down to eat during our busy  fall days.  Trying each week to either eat or find storage for food, especially greens is challenging.  We hear you and this is our reasoning behind offering these crops in such consistently large quantities – we have it.  In the late summer we plant absurd amounts of greens for the fall, knowing that in a normal year many things will be lost to frost or the disease that come with abundant fall rain. Well this year we had neither and the greens flourished.  Rather than not harvest them at all, we chose to offer them to you. Many of you “old timers” who have been members for many years have learned not to take more than you can use, knowing that much of this overabundance will be passed on to the local food pantry or be added to our compost – which will nourish next years crops.  In seasons past we have also had folks not renew, feeling like “it’s too much.” Please understand that farming is a great gamble and while our experience allows us to beat the odds many times, if you don’t sign up again because we are doing our job too well – we all lose out.

Crop Diversity Blow-out

As you work with your share this week, making meals out of all of these different things please remember to use out website as a resource.  In the right hand menu bar is a recipe listing by vegetable. Each crop has at least two or three ideas and quite often the recipes include other crops from the fall -helping to make great meals with many of your farm ingredients.

What’s Missing

Amongst the bounty of many crops we have had a few conspicuous poor performers this year, butternut squash being the most notable. This crop was a total loss for us due to the heavy rain and heat of July. Other notes are less than expected yields in tomatoes (they tasted great) and onions.

Survey Time

Please take a moment to fill out our annual CSA member survey. We use your responses and ideas to shape the year to come and a few minutes of your time goes a long way to making the farm better each year. Follow this link to the 2013 online form.

Local Pastured Turkey

Our neighbors and fellow farmers Mike and Lucrecia Woodruff here in brunswick raise birds for thanksgiving. Our family has celebrated with their birds for many years and we are always happy. If you are interested call them @ 725.4554

Upic Has Come to an End This Year…

What’s in the Share?

Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Winter Squash

Carrots

Beets

Turnips

Leeks

Onions

Cabbage

Chard

Kale

Lettuce

Brussels Sprouts

Parsnips

Kohlrabi

 

The tsunami of fall roots begins this week with turnips and parsnips, added to the assortment of carrots, beets, celeriac and sweet potatoes we’ve been in up to this point. If you are feeling overwhelmed or even just a bit challenged by all these roots there are 3 simple things to remember. One, all of these crops keep forever in a bag in your fridge, giving you lots of time to work with them.  Two, roots go well with just about all other roots. You can roast, braise and mash your way into some pretty great meals on the blustery days and nights coming up soon. Remember to check the website for recipes. Here’s the link to the best simple roasting recipe.  Last, we have come into soup season.  Surprisingly easy.  Simply chop up your roots, sauté some onions & garlic, and then cover with water or broth, and simmer until the veggies are soft.  We use a hand blender to puree, sometimes adding coconut milk and Indian spices.

IMG_4783We dug the first of the parsnips yesterday and its been a long wait. Parsnips are generally the first crop we sow into the fields each spring, generally in early April. The seeds germinated very slowly -about three weeks, and don’t begin to look like something we planted deliberately until almost mid-summer. During this time they have been setting insanely long tap roots, penetrating about four feet underground. By the fall the foliage is bushy and about eighteen inches tall and the taproots average 8 feet long. Luckily we only harvest the twelve inches or so closest to the soil surface!  Yesterday we dug two 350 foot rows, using the tractor and a undercutting blade to get underneath the roots and lift them, making it possible to pull them easily.

From the field we bring them up to the farm and run them through the same root washer as the potatoes, carrots, etc. and then get them into the cooler, waiting for you to come and take them home at long last.

The End is Near…

Next week will be our last week of harvest and CSA for the season. It’s been a good year all in all. With a great fall to cap it off. Thank you for your support of what we do here.  We never really know what to expect from each season.  Farmers juggle so many variables in the process of growing good food.  We don’t take you, our loyal customers, our farm share members, for granted.  Thank you for being the steady component on the farm!

Sign up for 2014

Thank you for signing up for 2014!  We appreciate those of you willing to throw your hat in with us again this fall.  If you have yet to sign up here’s the easy link to our online sign-up.

Please don’t delay in signing up – once again we have accumulated a long wait list and will be opening that up this week to new members.  We truly don’t want you to miss out if the CSA is full next Spring.  Please be in touch if you do want to sign up but something is getting in your way (uncertain plans, share partners, money, etc) so we can hold a spot for you.

Pork

For those of you that missed our pork order or who don’t have the freezer space for a side will be happy to know we have hams, chops steaks and shoulders for sale in the freezer.

 Winter Shares

Wolf Pine Farm once again will be delivering their winter shares right here to Crystal Spring Farm.  We are just a drop off host & all the info can be found on their website: http://wolfpinefarm.com

Upic

Cherry Toms

Flowers

Herbs

What’s in the Share

Dumpling Squash

Sweet Potatoes

Asian Greens

Lettuce

Carrots/Beets

Kale

Chickories

Chard

Peppers

Red Onions

Parsnips

Turnips

 

Reprinted from the NYT

INGREDIENTS
  • 3 pounds assorted root vegetables: carrots, parsnips, celeriac, potatoes, turnips, etc.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Chopped rosemary, thyme or parsley, plus more for garnish

PREPARATION

1.
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Peel vegetables (optional) and cut them into 1- to 2-inch chunks, put them in a baking pan and toss with the oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
2.
Put the vegetables in the oven and roast without stirring for 20 minutes, then check. If they look dry and are sticking to the pan, drizzle with more oil. Continue roasting, stirring or turning the vegetables once, for another 20 minutes or so. Stir in the herbs, then return the pan to the oven for another 20 to 40 minutes, until crisp. Remove from the oven. Garnish with rosemary or thyme.

 

 

Mother nature still has her finger on the hold button for fall with another week of crazy warm weather. The leaves are coming off the trees and the wind is picking up but the temps are still more like early September. Besides being quite pleasant to work in for us humans, the plants are soaking up this weather and growing like gangbusters. We have lettuce heads that are twice the size and weight of our standard for this time of year, kale and chard are leafing out with the vigor of our August crop and the grass in our pastures is keeping the sheep busy trying keep up.

Kristin running the sorter

Kristin running the sorter

Sydney waiting for clean spuds to come out of the washer.

Sydney waiting for clean spuds to come out of the washer.

While the leafy crops are a large part of our weekly harvest, we have slowly been spending more and more time sorting and washing crops that were harvested in September and are coming out of storage. Winter squash, onions, and potatoes are all taken out of the fields en mass and we work away at them each week, cleaning and sorting them for the CSA. One of our biggest tasks is sorting the potato crop. Unlike most vegetables, potatoes are sown each spring using tubers from the previous years crop. “Seed” potatoes we save over the winter are set out and the new crop grows from these tubers. Unlike our other crops that come from true seed that is the product of a flower and pollination potatoes are clones, genetically identical to the previous years crop. While we grow spuds for all of you to enjoy in your share this fall, we are also growing our seed for the coming year. The whole crop is harvested and when we wash them to give to to all of you, the smaller tubers are sorted out to save. Many years ago we were lucky to find some old potato equipment that sorts by size, sending the bigger spuds into our washer and the smaller ones into bags that go into the cooler. The cooler keeps everything at about 35 degrees for the winter -cool enough to keep the potatoes asleep but not below freezing, which would kill them. Farmers are like squirrels, storing away the bounty on hand for the coming year….

Sign Up for 2014

Thanks to all of you who have signed up for the CSA again for the coming year. If you haven’t reserved your share yet follow this link to our no frills online sign-up page. The process takes just a few minutes and provides easy options to reserve your share for next summer. If you have friends, co-workers and neighbors who are interested in joining we will open sign-up to non-members on October 21st.

Order Lamb for the Freezer

We have order sheets for whole and half lambs for the freezer available. Pre-order and have the butcher process your cuts as you like them. Talk to us at pick-up or send us and email for a copy of the order form….

Upic

Cherry Toms

Flowers

Herbs

What’s in the Share

Broccoli

Delicata Squash

Potatoes

Asian Greens

Lettuce

Carrots/Beets

Kale

Chickories

Chard

Peppers

Red Onions

 

One  morning of frost is a small price to pay for this string of outstanding fall days and nights we have been having.

We have been living it up on the farm these cloudless days. Getting all of our major crops in and slowly beginning the task of closing down the fields bed by bed. This time of year we transition from crazy harvest mode to long-term mode like mowing fields one last time, gathering/organizing equipment and strategizing where all of our stuff will rest for the coming winter. Bring the farm and all of its parts to a slow halt where we can pick them up and use them again next year.

The great weather is giving all of us the chance to dream we are still in living in the Mediterranean with eggplant, fennel, tomatoes and peppers still trickling in. Please make a point to prioritize these ingredients in your cooking so that you can soak up the last of the summer sun and it’s produce together this week.

Sweets

Sweet potatoes make their first appearance this week after spending the past 10 days sweetening up at 85 degrees in our curing room. This crop, like winter squash, needs to rest for a while after harvest to come into it’s full sweetness. These orange tubers like high temps and humidity to transition their starches to sugars. The process also helps them keep in your kitchen for longer as well. Our favorite way to enjoy these is to brush them with butter/oil and  just roast them at 375 until they are soft and the skin starts to separate from the flesh…

Much Lettuce AgainIMG_4644

So much lettuce right now. All of our leafy heads for the next month are starting to come now so bone up on your vinaigrette recipes and get ready. Aside from all of it coming at once, this is a great crop and has none of the toughness that the post-hard frost heads will in the weeks to come. The heads keep well in plastic bags in your chiller drawer.

Many Thanks

We are so grateful to all of your who have thrown joined the CSA again for the coming year. There has been a record number of sign-ups so far and your enthusiasm has buoyed some tired farmers, giving us vigor to start the process of imagining the bounty another season ahead. If you haven’t reserved your share yet follow this link to our no frills online sign-up page. The process takes just a few minutes and provides easy options to reserve your share for next summer.

Pumpkins No More

After growing jack-o-lanterns for the past ten years we made an executive decision this past winter to drop them from our  list of crops. We have so many great memories of kids picking out their own pumpkins and the site of the hay wagon overflowing with orange was always amazing against the fall leaves but we felt we needed to take this crop off our list. For a couple of functional reasons this growing pumpkins has become tough to justify. One, it requires a lot of space, almost half an acre, and two, it is a huge attractanct and host to one of our more significant pests, the cucumber beetle. We hope this early warning gives you some time to find some local pumpkins before halloween is upon us .

Upic

Cherry Toms

Flowers

Herbs

What’s in the Share

Broccoli

Sweet Dumpling Squash

Sweet Potatoes

Asian Greens

Lettuce

Radishes

Carrots

Kale

Chickories

Eggplant

Peppers

 

 

-Half, seed, and peel 1 winter squash–or other winter squash–with a sharp knife (the skin is actually not too hard to peel if your knife is good). Cut squash into 1/4 inch chunks. Similarly, carefully peel and chop 1 celery root into 1/4 chunks. Set aside.

-Heat a large pot over medium heat with 4 tablespoons of olive or coconut oil (I like coconut for this recipe) and toss squash and celery root in with:

1 large white onion, chopped3 cloves of garlic, minced2 medium carrots2 tablespoons of fresh, grated ginger1 teaspoon of salt

-Saute veggies for about 15-20 minutes until tender.

-Add 1 tablespoon of curry powder and 1/4 teaspoon (or more) of red chili flakes. Mix well and cook for 2 minutes.

-Add 1 cup of lentils (any type will do), 1 cup of water or chicken stock, and 1 cup of coconut milk. **Coconut milk can be omitted…just add stock or water instead.

-Cover and simmer mixture for 25-40 minutes until lentils are tender. Adding more stock or water if the mixture is getting to thick.

-Let cool slightly and serve with brown or wild rice. Garnish with a fresh herb like chive, cilantro or parsley! ENJOY!

Serves 4 to 5 large portions.

 

 

IMG_2701The end of another farm year feels real this week. We are rushing to gather up the last tender crops of summer so we can give them out to you over the next few weeks. Winter squash, eggplant, fennel, tomatoes are all coming in, ripe just in time to be brought out from under the cold nights that are getting colder. The last couple weeks of September are always a bit crazier than normal as we move in several directions, closing one season and getting ready for the next. With one eye focussed we harvest like mad all these tender crops, while with the other we are look ahead to the next summer. Adding compost to fields to enrich them, mowing high grass in the pastures to allow the young grass to emerge and sowing fertility enhancing crops to gather this year’s lost nutrients and protect the soil over the winter are all acts of devotion to the season to come. These late season sowings of what we call “cover crops” (meant to cover the ground for the winter) always seems the craziest task we undertake. The season is closing, we are overflowing with food and yet we work extra-hard to sow hundreds of pounds of seed over acres of ground all in the name of next year’s fertility. Most of these cover crops are a combination of traditional grain crops (rye, barley, oats and wheat) combined with a legume (peas, clover and vetch). The grain quickly covers the ground, shading out late season weeds and soaking up nutrients left behind after the vegetable crop. The grain crop also provides a protected environment for the slower growing legume to develop slowly in the understory. As the legume gets larger it gathers nitrogen and outgrows the early grain crop until both die over the winter or become late season sheep feed or wake up and grow stronger next spring.

 Sign Up for 2013 Now!

We’ll be sending out a sign-up email later today about signing up for your 2013 CSA share. If you are interested in joining us again next season we urge you to sign up now. Your commitment now allows us to plan, purchase and hire for next year.  We will start taking new members from the wait list on October 21st but would like to give you, our current members the opportunity to renew with us first.  Sign ups will be online with a new system that is easier to understand but still allows for the use of credit cards, electronic checks and payment plans. It is also possible to sign-up online and mail us a check the old fashioned way.

Lamb for the Freezer

There are still order forms for whole and half lamb for your freezer. these are our grass fed lambs, processed with your directions to the butcher. Pickup a order form at pick-up or email us for a digital copy…

What’s In Upic?

Cherry Toms

Green Beans -last week

Flowers

Herbs

What’s In  The Share This Week?

Broccoli

Tomatoes

Lettuce

Chickories

Chard

Beets
Eggplant
Peppers
Cabbage
Celeriac
Scallions
 
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