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.

IMG_6043IMG_6027Our 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 Share

We 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.

Pork

We 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 Share

Tomatoes

Lettuce

Asian Greens

Kale

Melon

Peppers

Broccoli

Scallions

Basil

What’s in Upic

Cherry 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 Share

Tomatoes

Cukes

Summer squash

Carrots

Peppers

Broccoli

Scallions

Basil

What’s in Upic

Cherry 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.Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 5.54.50 AM

What’s in the Share

Tomatoes

Cukes/summer squash

Eggplant

Peppers

Chard/kale

Lettuce

Leeks

What’s in Upic

Cheery 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.

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What’s in the share

Carrots

Tomato

Green Pepper

Eggplant

Scallions

Jalapeno

Cukes

Kohlrabi

Lettuce

Chard/Kale

What’s in Upic

Beans

Cherry Tomatoes (just starting)

 

 

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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 Summer

Our 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.IMG_2447IMG_2446

Peas Cooked

I 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 Back

Our 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 with

Some 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Stir fries and sautés. Try this article how to…
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. Here’s a funny article about fashionable kale and another about a reluctant kale eaters conversion into the fold (with recipe).
  8. 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

 

IMG_2229IMG_2244Another 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.

GarlicIMG_2340

Garlic came out of the field this past week and with the help of a couple major fans is drying down in the barn. If it stays hot and dry we may see the first heads in your shares in next month. If the planets align as planned we will have basil tomatoes and garlic at the same time…the great summer trinity.

What’s in the share…

Zucchini

Cucumbers

Lettuce Mix

Scallions

Kale

Chard

Beets

What’s in Upic…

Snow and Snap Peas

Flowers

Herbs

 

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We have settled into our summer schedule here at the farm. All of our big crops are in the ground and while there is still some planting to do and an endless effort keeping up with weeds we have started down the road of spending the majority of our time harvesting. Tomatoes and peppers look great this year and our staple carrots are just a week or two away. As we add these crops to the mix they really fill up our schedule. In a few weeks our routine will look like this: digging carrots and bunching scallions on Monday and Thursday afternoons, picking tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and cukes Monday, Wednesday and Friday, everything else Tuesday and Friday mornings. You add the cleaning and sorting to all of these crops and soon we will really be working to carve out time for trellising tomatoes or transplanting lettuce. All of this reaches a crescendo in September when the summer crops keep coming and we add in 5 tons of potatoes and 3 tons of winter squash…but lets not get there too soon.

The World’s Best Yogurt…
Jars!IMG_2237

Wholesome Holmstead works some kind of magic to create their yogurt for us each week. I keep finding new ways to incorporate it into 3 meals a day, lately a dollop on top of everything from soup to ice cream. If you have been trying this stuff out and have a jar or six at home please bring them back. We worked hard with them to get rid of the cumbersome deposit system of last year but having jars and lids come back is a savings. You can place them in the milk crate sitting near the cooler in the CSA barn.

What’s in the share…

Zucchini

Cucumbers

Radishes

Lettuce

Kale

Chard

Cabbage

Broccoli

What’s in Upic…

Peas

Flowers

Herbs

 

 

Roasted Cabbage

1 cabbage (green, red savoy or napa will work)

1/3-1/2 cup olive or sesame oil

salt (corse kosher works best)

pepper

Pre heat oven to 425. Drizzle 1/2 the oil on a cookie sheet. Halve and then core the cabbage. Take each half and carefully slice it into 1/4″-1/2″ rounds being careful to keep the layers together. After each slice, transfer the layers intact to the oiled cookie sheet. Continue until the sheet is full. Fill all the spaces so the whole sheet is covered. Drizzle the remainder of the oil evenly on cabbage slices and finish with ample salt and pepper. Place the whole pan in the oven and set the timer to 10 minutes. Check for the beginning of browning at the edges and where the cabbage meets the pan. If you don’t see some browning keep cooking in one minute increments until you see browning. Napa will cook faster. You may want to brown the cabbage more (my kids fight over the crispy pieces).  Once you see browning take the sheet out of the oven and with a spatula carefully flip the slices, again trying to keep them together. This is hard as they are limp now. Return them to the oven for another 5-10 minutes (how crispy or not is up to you). This dish is great hot but we also keep some around in a container and add it to soups, salads or just as a quick cold or room temp side dish.

 

IMG_2177Promised rain is like expected MPG ratings or return on investment projections, it’s hard to count on them until the rubber meets the road or the check arrives. We have been looking to the skies via satellite and reading wonky NOAA forecasts for the past month and at this point are wondering if we need to sacrifice a chicken or convene some kind of drum circle to get some real precipitation. The past few events of clouds and showers have given the crew a break from the sun but not done much more for the soil than make the dust wet. Last night’s rains gave us .006 inches. This is not enough to get to the roots of anything we grow but it did go a long way towards rinsing the dust off everything, making for cleaner produce in today’s harvest. If anyone has strings to pull or a hotline to some greater power, throw your weight be hind some rain.

What’s in the share…

Cabbage mix and match

Scallions

Beets

Lettuce

Chickories

Chard

Asian Greens

Zucchini

Kale

What’s in Upic…

Strawberries

Flowers

 

 

 

This is the official opening week of our Upic field with strawberries as well as a few flowers. We are asking that you limit your berry picking to 1 pint this week to ensure that everyone can enjoy this crop. This does not include the berries you will eat along the way to sustain your picking! We will have pint boxes in the field. If you are new to the CSA and the upic field here’s how it works…IMG_0744

We prepare, plant, and weed this one acre plot just for you, the members of the farm. Growing there this season you will find peas, green beans, herbs, flowers, and most notably this week, strawberries. These are crops that are particularly rewarding to harvest and can add a lot of value to your share as they often are great accompaniments to the “field crops” we harvest and wash for you each week.

The important thing to understand about this field is that it belongs to everyone who has a share in the farm. There are 275 shares this year and we try very hard to plan each planting so that everyone will be able to enjoy every crop. The idea is that all of these crops are compliments to the field crops and not necessarily staples in and of themselves. While we would love to be able to plant enough Upic basil for everyone to make pesto for the winter or sow enough beans to share with your neighbors, it’s just not possible in the space we have to work with. Those of you that split shares, we ask that you be aware of your picking quantities.

With the exception of these first couple weeks we will not suggest amounts for you to take from the upic field. The idea is that we all take our share and consciously leave behind enough for everyone else. The upic field has always been our grand experiment in community spirit and we have never been disappointed.

 

What’s in the share…

Cabbage

Scallions

Beets

Lettuce

Chard

Asian Greens

Spinach

Kale

What’s in Upic…

Strawberries ( 1 pint)

Flowers

 
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