The End of the Season

The last week of the season has arrived and with the last harvest we hope to send you home with some great produce and a feeling of accomplishment.  Whether his is your ninth year with us or your first there’s reason to pause, reflect and celebrate having eaten your way through a  Maine summer.  We as a society spend so much time rushing from one experience to the next, rarely having time or consciousness to devote to processing or feeling what is happening along the way. Having a CSA share can be one of or maybe our only experience where we look, feel, and taste the season as it’s happening.  Hopefully you can look back on the past months and mark at least a few of the days with the meals that you’ve had from your produce from the farm.

As farmers, we can definitely link many days with the meals we’ve had whether at our weekly crew lunches, nightly family dinner, or taking produce to friends and family.  The great flavor of his years tomatoes alone fill my mental calendar for August and September. We also have the weekly experience of watching you take our work home to share and enjoy and in the cold days ahead that, as much as the meals, keeps us warm and keeps us working and dreaming up the flavors of the season to come. Happy eating.

Goodbye to a Friend

The farm lost a good friend this last week with the passing of Larry Nies.  Larry and his family have been members of the farm for many years. He and his share partner Fred were always the first faces in the door each Tuesday, and in true New England Early bird fashion, they were 5 minutes early! Always warm and excited, and usually with a question about the food or fields Larry could be counted on for a positive spin on the weather or the produce.  Our thoughts go out to his family and friends. He will be missed here at the farm.

Sign-up for 2013!!

If you are thinking about a share again for next year I encourage you to take a moment to sign up this week.  We have the longest wait list we have ever had and will begin taking new members this week.  A separate email will include all the details, including a link to sign up online.  You can always give us a check at distribution to hold your spot if that is easier for you.  We’ll be available to answer any questions.

THANK YOU to all of you who have signed up to join us again!


Here’s a link to our annual survey. It’s very short and is quite helpful for us as we look back over the season and plan the year to come.  We will also send out the link in a separate email.

Winter Eating

Our friends Tom and Amy of Wolf Pine Farm down in Alfred, Maine are offering a winter CSA share that will be delivered to Crystal Spring every 3 weeks during the winter.  Local produce, eggs, meat and bread are available in this share and its a great way to stay connected to Maine’s farms even though the snow is deep. Check out their share at

Thank you for a great season – for showing up and for making this community farm successful for us all.  We will continue to be in touch over the coming weeks and months ahead.

What’s in the share…

Pumpkins -2 per share, share on or both with larger families at our pumpkin swap table.







Lettuce mix



Sweet potatoes

Frost, The Real Thing

Friday night was cold, really cold. By the looks of the burning the crops and perrinials around here, I would guess we had a temp somewhere around 26. I could have given you a more exact number but I as not here…more on that later.  This kind of cold usually doesn’t really hurt the crops we have around this time of year except when it comes out of nowhere. Frost-hardy crops like kale, chard and cabbage that we’ve been enjoying the past couple of weeks usually do fine with anything above twenty.  The exception is when we have really mild temps and then we get a crash – just like last week when we had balmy days and nights prior to friday night’s cold. The plants get used to the warmth and can’t adjust to the quick drop – especially when the drop is so far below freezing.

The good news is that most of our remaining kale, chard, cabbage, leeks, parsnips and turnips are doing well. The heartbreaker is that the broccoli we had hoped to harvest this week and next is a total loss. The upic field as well is done, as you can see from the photo of the Zinnias below.










As we wind down the CSA season Mother Nature is assuring us that our timing is right and winter is on its way.

Two Weeks Left…

Next week will be our last harvest and we hope to send you home with a good load of stuff including two pumpkins, potatoes, parsnips and turnips. Its always sad to come to them end of a season but winter helps us make the most of the summer to come.

Sign up Now for 2013

The time has come to sign up for 2013. Some of you may know that our CSA filled up early in the spring and many members from 2011 who intended to sign up were disappointed to miss the opportunity.  In fact since late spring we have been maintaining a growing wait list of people who are not currently members who would like to join for 2013.  With this in mind we would like all current members who are interested to sign up in the next couple of weeks before we open it up to former members and then new members on the wait list on October 22nd.

What Happens to the Farm in the Winter?

I wish I could report that us farmers begin our hibernation sleep on November 1st, eating mashed potatoes for every meal and barring the door until the next spring, but it’s not true. While winter is a slower pace than our 80 hour weeks during the season, once the last harvest is done we begin the process of getting ready for the season to come. Almost everything you could imagine that goes into making the CSA work during the summer is usually broken, lost or in desperate need of updating this time of year.  If we’re lucky a lot of this rebuilding is done during November and December.  Before the end of the year we start planning the season to come; signing up new CSA members, ordering seeds and supplies, hiring apprentices, working on the website and catching up on sleep.  With February comes lambing (we expect somewhere near 100 lambs next spring) and by March we are back in the greenhouse starting the first seedlings of the year. The new farm crew arrives in April and then the momentum starts again, finally coasting to a stop right back where we are in October.

Farmer Seth in Haiti

I was lucky enough to travel to Northeastern Haiti this past week. There I met several groups of farmers and learned about their crops, seasons, pests, and livelihoods. One of the many things I worked on was the identification of a pest that has been ravaging almost every crop they grow for the past couple seasons. These farmers have no access to entomologists, USDA scientists or cooperative extension agents and as a result have been just suffering through the damage this one pest has done to their livelihoods. Within 24 hours of taking a photo of the bug and sending it off to a USDA research station in Puerto Rico I had the it identified and was tracking down sources for two beneficial insects that have been used effectively to control this pest on neighboring islands. In the next few weeks we hope to import a population of these beneficials to the area and hopefully impact next years crop for the farmers of this area.

If you missed the description of the trip in last weeks newsletter here’s a link. I also hope to send out a mid-week posting with photos and more information about my travels.

Pumpkins for the People

We will have pumpkins for you this season. The crew  harvested over 700 many weeks ago and have been curing them in the barn.  This year’s crop is only jack o’lanterns.  In the past we grew pie pumpkins but the feedback we received was that people were using the pie pumpkins for decoration.  We should have enough for 2 per share but if you would like to donate one or both of yours to a family with more than 2 kids let us know.  Look for pumpkin distribution to happen next week.

Turnips and Parsnips Are Great. Read on and you’ll believe me.

You are lucky enough to be getting not one but two kinds of turnips this week. The small turnips that you’re getting by the bunch are japaneese Hakurei and the are great raw, sliced into a salad or eaten right off the greens. Sweet and creamy these are great. We also have the classic purple top turnip that is a great high vitamin starch root that goes great with mashed potatoes or greens. Here’s  a few recipes from the website.

Also this week are New England’s best kept secret (vegetable), parsnips. This sweet and nutty root is a relative of the carrot and gets sweet and delectable when roasted or mashed. Here’s a couple recipes from the website as well.

What’s in the Share







Hakurei turnips

Sweet potatoes

Butternut squash

Mashed Turnips and Potatoes With Greens

Adapted from The New York Times

This is inspired by colcannon, an Irish mix of mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage. This lightened version is a mixture of two-thirds turnips and one-third potatoes, with the greens stirred in at the end.


  • 1.25 lbs turnips
  • .5 lbs. greens: Kale, cabbage, etc.
  • 1 pound russet or kueka gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup milk, or as needed
  • Freshly ground pepper


Peel the turnips and quarter if they’re large; cut in half if they’re small. Stem the greens and wash in 2 changes of water. Discard the stems.
Combine the turnips and potatoes in a steamer set above 2 inches of boiling water. Steam until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the steamer and transfer to a bowl. Cover the bowl tightly and leave for 5 to 10 minutes so that the vegetables continue to steam and dry out.
Fill the bottom of the steamer with water and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste and add the greens. Blanch for 2 to 4 minutes, until tender. Transfer to a bowl of cold water using a slotted spoon or skimmer, then drain and squeeze out excess water. Chop fine. Drain the water from the saucepan, rinse and dry.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in the saucepan and add the leek and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until leeks are tender and translucent but not colored. Add the milk to the saucepan, bring to a simmer and remove from the heat.
Using a potato masher, a fork or a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, mash the potatoes and turnips while still hot. Add the turnip greens and combine well. Beat in the hot milk and the additional tablespoon of olive oil if desired, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot, right away, or transfer to a buttered or oiled baking dish and heat through in a low oven when ready to serve.
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish.

Orange Glazed Turnip

Adapted from the New York Times

TOTAL TIME: 45 minutes

  • 1 1/2 pounds white turnips
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons grated orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves


Peel turnips and cut into one-and-a-half-inch pieces. Put them in heavy saucepan with orange juice,  stock and one tablespoon butter. Season with salt and pepper; simmer uncovered until the turnips are tender and the liquid has evaporated (about 20 minutes). If more liquid is needed to cook the turnips, add a little more water.
Add the remaining butter and the sugar to the turnips and continue cooking them, turning them with a spoon, until they are glazed. Sprinkle them with the grated orange peel and thyme leaves. Correct seasoning and serve.

Jack Frost

This week the cycle of seasons has hit home. Leaves are filling up every bin bucket and tractor seat left out for more than a  few hours and the sun, even when the skies are cloudless, has lost it ability to really warm us in the fields. We’ve all watched the trees change color for a few weeks now but the grass in the pasture is also beginning to yellow. The weeds that have geminated late are quickly changing their focus from growing leaves to producing as many seeds as possible, even though they are only an inch or two tall.

On our weekly field walk we’ve noticed the crops we still have in the ground have slowed in their growth and we come to the point where we can’t expect much more out them this season. That said we have lots of food out there still. Parsnips, leeks, turnips, cabbage, broccoli and hundreds of feet of greens look great and with the frosts we have forecasted for the coming days will only get sweeter.

Join the Farm for 2013

Current members can sign up using the link we will send via email. If you are interested in joining us again next season please sign up now.  We will start taking new members and past members who are interested in joining again on October 22nd but would like to give you, our current members the opportunity to renew with us first.  Sign ups will be online, (which many, but not all of you, used this past year) which makes electronic/credit payment and payment plans a  breeze.

Pumpkins for the People

We will have pumpkins for you this season. The crew  harvested over 700 many weeks ago and have been curing them in the barn.  This year’s crop is only jack o’lanterns.  In the past we grew pie pumpkins but the feedback we received was that people were using the pie pumpkins for decoration.  We should have enough for 2 per share but if you would like to donate one or both of yours to a family with more than 2 kids let us know.  Look for pumpkin distribution to happen the week before Halloween.

Sweet Potatoes

Our first round of cured sweet potatoes come in this week. Nothing warms you like one of these. Here’s our recipes.

When is the Last Harvest?

The last pick-up will be the last full week of October, the 23rd or the 26th.

The Farmer is Away…

I will be away this week on a short trip to Haiti. Maura and I have a friend who is coordinating a group of NGO’s involved in several social entrepreneur projects around Ouanaminthe which borders the Dominican Republic in the north of the country. My job will be to help talk with a local farmers cooperative and identify problems they have with all stages of planning, planting, harvesting and getting a crop to market.  Once we can understand the core problems the larger goal will be identifying where micro finance and social entrepreneurship models might be of help.

I’m quite excited to be able to meet and work with farmers and will report back next week with photos and more information. If you would like to read more about The organizations I’ll be working with or an article from the New York Times about social entrepreneurship here are a few links –  Community Enterprise Solutions Earthspark  NY Times

While I’m away you can trust that the farm will be in tip top shape under the skilled eyes of Ailish, Jacqueline and Mike.


Upic is in it’s twilight this week as the weather cools. There are still lots of flowers and hardy herbs like thyme and dill so feel free to take these home before Jack Frost does.

What’s in the Share?

Asian greens


Buttercup/Acorn/Sweet Dumpling Squash

Potato mix and match





Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potato Leek Soup


45 minutes
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white part only (4 to 6 leeks)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, in 1-inch dice
  • 1 1/2 cups milk or half-and-half
  • Salt and ground white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced cilantro leaves for garnish


Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Add leeks, and sauté slowly over low heat until tender but not brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic.
Add sweet potatoes and 3 cups water. Simmer about 20 minutes, until tender. Purée.
Return purée to saucepan, add milk or half-and-half, bring to a simmer, add 1 to 1 1/2 cups more water to make soup no thicker than heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper and serve with a dusting of cilantro.

October is here…

I  misspoke last when I said that you were getting the last tomato. In fact you were getting the last red tomato and this week we have the last green tomato. Now if you are not from south of the Mason-Dixon this may seem like a horrible suggestion but with a open mind and some hot oil I think you may come around.  Here’s our fried green tomato recipe.

We have picked the plants clean in anticipation of next week’s colder weather and to save what fruit we can (green as it may be).  All in all this was a pretty good tomato season.  Flavor was the best we’ve had in ten years and except for the end our yield was good as well.

 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. This year we sold out of shares in early spring and some longtime members who waited were unfortunately not able to join.  These folks along with a long wait list of new members are ready to sign up this fall. We will start taking new members on October 22nd but would like to give you, our current members the opportunity to renew with us first.  Sign ups will be online, which many, but not all of you, used this past year, which makes electronic/credit payment and payment plans a  breeze. Look for our email shortly with all the details.

What’s In The Share?

The last green tomato

Asian greens



Acorn/Delicata/Sweet Dumpling


Kueka Gold Potatoes






Fried Green Tomatoes

From the New York Times…
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced onion
  • 2 medium green tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and saute over medium heat until they are golden brown and beginning to crisp. Remove the onions from the skillet and drain on absorbent paper.
Slice tomatoes horizontally one-half-inch thick. Dip slices in milk, then coat with flour.
Heat remaining oil in the skillet, add the tomato slices and saute until golden brown on one side. Turn and saute until golden on the other side, drain briefly, season to taste with salt and pepper then serve sprinkled with fried onions.




After two weeks n the greenhouse squash arrives this week with our first offerings of both acorn and delicata. The acorn are deep green and the delicata are oblong with green stripes. The delicata have very tender skins and if you oil them prior to roasting you can eat the skins right along with the squash. Both do well in the oven for a fast simple meal. We like  to halve them, scoop out the seeds and cook them cut side down on a baking sheet at 400 degrees. For an added bonus and to further entice reluctant diners, after baking until tender, turn them cut side up and brush with butter and or maple syrup and broil until they start to brown.

Cider is here. Who needs water?

What goes better with squash than a crisp glass of cider?  We now have the world’s best cider from Willow Pond Farm in Sabattus.  Jill and Charlie are like magicians with their apples blending together just the right amount of tart and sweet to deliver a consistent outstanding product.  If you haven’t tried this stuff take home a couple gallons (one for the freezer) and toast the  fall.

Fall Color

You’ll find some great color in your potatoes this week as we bring out the red and blue varieties. Mix and match them equally and roast, fry or coarsely mash them together for a feast fit for the eyes as well as the taste buds. Both varieties keep their color when color when cooked!

Radishes are beautiful this week…they go with everything. Sliced and tossed with rice vinegar is particularly lovely.

What’s Coming…

We start harvesting sweet potatoes this week. This is a crop we been growing for the past four or five years and we have really come to love them. Sweets are from a radically different climate than coastal Maine but a few short season, tasty varieties have made them somewhat common on our local produce scene. Like squash and onions, this fall crop needs curing before they can be eaten. After we get them out of the ground this week we will pack them into our second produce cooler. Instead of cooling them we’ll add a heater and bring the temp up to 80-85 degrees and hold them there for a couple weeks until the skins harden and they start to taste like sweet heaven…start dreaming up your meals now.

Whats in Upic?





What’s in the share?

The last tomato

Asian greens



Acorn/Delicata Squash


Red/Blue Potatoes








Fall is here. These beautiful days we have been enjoying are some of my favorite of the year. The sun is still warm enough to make us sweat but the nights are cool and the air is dry.  We woke up Monday morning to our first frost of the year. It was light and gone by 9 am but was enough to put a little color on the basil and keep us out of the fields until the sun had warmed everything up. I have yet to see a frost, light or not, this early before.  The farm  crew is beginning to question both my memory and my honesty as many times I as I have said “I’ve never seen this before.”   It’s never boring at the farm.


Russet spuds arrive in your share this week. This is the all time best baking potato, so fire up the oven to 400 on one of these cold nights, rub the potatoes with butter or oil and let them go for 30-45 minutes. There will be more of these to come so enjoy.

Tomatoes Continue

The cold and dry has slowed the spread of late blight in our houses and we are picking fruit that is just starting to turn and letting them finish ripening in the barn. Enjoy these with the last round of basil this week.

Squash Cures

We hope to start sending out squash next week. We finished harvesting last Friday and will let them cure and sweeten before they arrive in your share.

What’s In Upic…



Whats in the Share…

Russet Potatoes




Asian Greens



Lettuce Mix