We Made a Thing! Mobile Cooler

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Mobile Cooler

As many of our Spring Share members my have noticed, we now have a cooler by the farm stand.  This cooler serves many purposes and was fairly straightforward to build (especially since we have built a few coolers now).

We bought a lightly used, enclosed landscape trailer and added 4 inches of insulation to the walls and ceiling, and two inches to the floor.
kevin building cooler

We also cut a hole in the front to insert an air conditioner.  We use a tool called the CoolBot, invented by a farmer in Upstate NY and his engineer friend, to essentially utilize the AC to achieve lower, sustained temps than wouldn’t be possible with just the AC (and for a lot less $ than a commercial unit).  It works great.  We have the same set up in our stationary, 8×10 cooler we built last year.

So why on wheels?  Lots of reasons, but primarily to pick up produce less:

  • Our wash station is rather far from our distribution area.  Instead of taking everything off the harvest truck, washing it, putting it in the cooler, taking it out of the cooler, putting it back on the truck, driving it down to the CSA wagon, taking it off the truck . . . . we now just take it off the harvest truck, wash it, load it into the mobile cooler and drive it down and leave it there for when we need to re-stock.
  • We go to the Ashland Farmer’s Market on Saturdays and we have to pick everything on Friday.  Which means it has to go into the cooler over night. We used to have to put it into the cooler then get to the farm with enough time to take it out of the cooler and put it on the truck.  Now we can load it straight into the mobile cooler on Friday and just drive it to market Saturday morning!
  • We like to keep our produce fresh.  Down by the farm stand it was hard to keep produce looking its best if it was especially hot or windy.  Now it can just chill out until it’s ready to be used!
  • We need extra storage space for our Winter Share.  It would be hard to keep produce from freezing in this cooler if temps got really low (but we could figure it out).  So, we will basically use it to store the December CSA share then turn it off until next May.  The January and February produce will go into our stationary cooler which is undercover, has better insulation on the floor and also has a small heater on a thermostat (which worked really well last winter!)

Our time and the time of our crew are the most valuable assets of this business.  Although I love to carry heavy things around, I’m not adding any value to the customer, or increasing our profit.  We will spend roughly 4-6 less hours each week carrying produce around.  That’s a lot more time we can be planting, weeding, cultivating, mowing, and even doing things like building other new, cool tools to help us in the future.

Special thanks to Erin and Kevin for doing almost all of the work on this (I got to do the fun work like sending invoices and updating the website . . . )

Spring CSA – Week 3

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Planting Tomatoes in the Tunnels. We are picking all of our Spring Share vegetables from the fields now, and the tunnels are full of early tomatoes! Photo credit: Bob Durling

Well, this is the halfway mark of this little Spring Share.  We hope to have more greenhouse space so we can start earlier next year, but for now, a 5 week share full of fresh greens is a great way to start the season.

Thanks to everyone who came out (or tried to come out) for our Tasting Tour this past week.  Tuesday got rained out (hard) but Thursday was lots of fun.  If you missed it, mark you calendars – they are always the third Tuesday and Thursday of the month until September. Tours start at 4:45 and last about an hour.  All ages welcome.

May is more than halfway done (YAY!).  We love May and we are having a great season, but its a go, go, go month.  Everything for the spring share is already well on it’s way to maturity and we are focused now on major plantings of sensitive crops like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumber, zucchini and even looking towards fall as we prepare beds for winter squash and sweet potatoes.

We hope you are enjoying the greens, because there are a lot more coming your way!

This week’s share:

Kale
Spinach
Head Lettuce
Lettuce Mix
Herb Choice*
Scallions
Green Garlic**
Broccoli Raab
Bok Choy

*Herbs will include cilantro, dill, oregano, garlic chives and some lemon balm which you can use to make fresh tea!!
** Green garlic is just baby garlic, usually the small, extra cloves left over from garlic planting that we plant with the intention of harvesting as green garlic.  You can eat the whole thing, just chop and use like a scallion or garlic in any recipe.  Don’t be afraid – if you like garlic you’ll love green garlic.

CSA Member Recipe (she loved it and we’ve got most of what you need for it) : 15 Minute Sesame Ginger Noodles (uses bok choy, garlic and scallion).

Spaghetti with Broccoli Raab, Toasted Garlic and Bread Crumbs

Baked Kale Chips

Fresh Spinach Recipes to Bring Out Your Inner Popeye

Pan Grilled Scallions (if you need help using them up!)

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Harvey was inspecting our water pump – it passed!

We hope you enjoy this weeks share!

 

 

Spring CSA – Week 2

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Picking pea tendrils. Photo: Bob Durling Photography

We’ve got some important information you need to read if you’ve got a Spring CSA Share:

Pick Up is EVERY Week! I know we do every other week in the fall, but in spring, the greens are fresh and growing fast so we need to cut them every week.  In the fall we have a lot more storage produce which keeps much longer, making the every other week pick up more effective.

Put these dates in your calendar and you won’t miss a pick up:

Tuesday Pick Up: May 15th, May 22, May 29, June 5
Thursday Pick Up: May 17th, May 24, May 31, June 7th

Tasting Tour this week: Tour leaves from the farm stand promptly at 4:45pm Tuesday and Thursday

We are going to do our first Tasting Tours this week.  Tasting Tours are really just a short 45-60 minute gentle walking tour of the farm where we get to taste a few things here and there.  Your farmers will talk about what’s going on in the fields and help you get to know your food a little better.  It’s a lot of fun.  No need to RSVP.  Read more here.

Seedlings are for sale during CSA pick up hours this week and next.  We’ve got awesome seedling this year!  Feel free to peruse and purchase during CSA Hours.

CSA Spotlight: What did you do with your share last week?
This is a great way for members to share what they did with their share on a given week to give other members and potential members ideas of what to do with a CSA share. Thanks to our friend and CSA member, Carrie Marsh for the idea and for being first!  Want to be in the spotlight?  Send me an email and we’ll get you signed up: brittany@upswingfarm.com.

CSA Spotlight: Carries has a Family of 5, two adults, three kids ages 8, 6, 3.5 (and yes, the kids eat all the veggies too!)
Family food motto: “waste not, want not” “picky eaters are made, not born”
Tuesday afternoon: pick up veggies, snack on a few micro greens in the car… yum! 
Wednesday breakfast: Bok Choy Smoothie (Bok Choy, banana, mango, blueberries in the Vitamix) 
Wednesday snack: cheese sandwich with basil micro greens 
Wednesday dinner: pasta salad with herbs de Provence chicken, chopped spinach, green onion, and basil micro greens 
Thursday: radish refrigerator pickles — keeps for several months in the fridge (radishes, rice vinegar, salt, honey) 
Thursday lunch: Bok Choy Waldorf Salad (chopped Bok Choy, apple, raisins, nuts, dressing)
Thursday dinner: side of pea tendril salad with oil and vinegar, toasted pumpkin seeds
Friday dinner: lettuce salad to go with our homemade pizza
Saturday and Sunday: hungry for more fresh veggies! 

This Week’s Share:

Lettuce Mix
Arugula/Mustard Greens
Radishes
Scallions
Micro Cilantro (in a pack like micro basil)
Fingerling Potatoes
Rosa di Milano Heirloom Onions
Mizuna
Spinach
Choice: Baby Boy Choy, Baby Kale, Pea Tendrils, Micro-Greens

What to do with the share:

TACOS. This share definitely screams tacos.  Toppings: Finely chopped radishes and scallions, cilantro, lettuce/arugula/spinach and your choice of cheese, beef, chicken, beans . . . . you name it!

Salads are also a mainstay of the spring share.  Think about stocking up on your favorite salad dressings for the next month, or maybe make your own.

Warm Roasted Baby Potato (fingerling) and Arugula Salad

Mizuna Salad With Miso Dressing.  Mizuna is a very tender green and can either been enjoyed raw in a salad or very gently braised/tossed in at the end of a stir fry.  It has a fresh, sweet flavor.  Taste a leaf!

Spinach and Scallion Risotto

Enjoy!!

 

 

 

Spring CSA: Week 1

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We’ve got Harvey picking spinach already!

Well, I’m waiting for a 300 gallon bulk tank to fill with water so we can keep transplanting.  The crew is currently planting kale, they already planted 900 lettuce, with scallions, escarole and leeks to follow. May is a crazy month for us on the farm. I love the feeling of needing to go, go, go, falling asleep exhausted and knowing that it doesn’t last forever. May is full of seedling sales, planting, transplanting, weeding and harvesting for our spring CSA! I won’t finish this email until Harvey, our 16-month-old, is in bed tonight, but it feel nice to take a moment to start it now.

This was the hardest spring I have experienced as a grower in New England. It was cold, gray and nerve wracking, but we’ve got veggies!  We are filling in a little bit of the next share with some heirloom onions and fingerling potatoes that were extra from our winter CSA share, but we have lots of the fresh, green veggies you are looking forward to ready for week 1!

Spring 2018 Week 1
Photo: Bob Durling Photography (missing micro basil)

What’s in the share:

Arugula
Pea Tendrils
Micro Basil
French Breakfast Radishes
Bok Choy
Green Onions
Spinach
Lettuce Mix

What to do with it:

Arugula: Great as a simple salad with light olive oil and salt or add goat cheese and sliced radishes to make it a little more “fancy”!
Arugula Pesto

Pea Tendrils: Great as a simple salad (could be mixed with arugula).  Toss in at the end of a stir fry (say green onion, radish and bok choy and pea tendrils).  Don’t over cook!  These only want to be wilted, so add after you have taken the stir fry off the heat. Also make a nice greens bed under chicken or fish.
Pea Tendril and Arugula Balsamic Salad

Micro Basil: So, we did the micro basil because we were worried about having enough product early and it’s something we can grow in the GH in flats.  We are giving it to you to harvest at home.  We do recommend using it (or at least cutting it) in the next 3-5 days.  It great sprinkled in an Italian pasta, or on a pizza (with green onion and arugula!). Or on a sandwich! Don’t be afraid, just cut the stalks just under the leaves, rinse with water and pat dry and use however you might use basil.  Think of them as fancy herb sprinkles.

French Breakfast Radish: I love these radishes.  They are an heirloom and they are beautiful and taste great.  They do, however get what we call “pithy” inside when they grow really fast (like during that blistering heat of last week).  Pithy is perfectly fine to eat, it just means that radish grew so fast it couldn’t fill itself in.  To make your radish last longer twist off from the greens and store in their own plastic bag in the veggie drawer of the fridge.
French Bread and Butter Radish Sandwiches (uses arugula too!)

Boy Choy: This is glorious bok choy. If you aren’t already a fan you will be soon.  Try grilling it if you are unsure, but it is also great as salad or steamed or in a stir fry.

Green Onions: These are actually onions we planted from last year that sprouted and started to divide. They give a great, early onion flavor and are very delicate! Use like scallions or onions in any recipe!

Spinach: You can cook this spinach down, but know that when cooked it will not seem like very much spinach!  We recommend enjoying this spinach fresh, or lightly wilted.  Chopped finely and stirred into hot pasta with some micro basil would be delicious!

Lettuce Mix: We think you know what to do!

We hope you enjoy this week.  Don’t be afraid, just dive right in.  Over the years I’ve learned that a lot of people stress about preparing and cooking food.  Just take a deep breath, know that you have chosen food grown with love, without chemicals that is as fresh as can be – every meal you make might not be your best ever, but you are nourishing yourself and investing in your community by supporting our farm.

Feel free to share recipes you love on our facebook page, or email them to me and I’ll share them in the blog.

Thanks so much for joining, and if you missed the cut-off for the Spring CSA there is still a little time to sign up for Summer!

 

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Spring Fields (what’s going on under the row cover)

Reminder of Spring CSA Details

2018 Spring CSA Starts Tuesday May 8th and Thursday May 10th.
(The subject of this email tells you which day you signed up to pick up on.)

Pick Up Time: 12pm-6pm
If you need to come later than 6 please let us know and we can make special arrangements
Pick Up Location: 28 South St, Ashland, MA
please use caution driving in and out of the farm, we are on a small, narrow road and people tend to drive too fast

What to Bring: Two grocery bags, extra plastic bags.
We will have the vegetables displayed market style, with signs telling members what to take.  We will have extra bags but encourage our members to bring reusable bags or containers to pick up their vegetables.  Some people use boxes, crates, baskets or tubs instead of bags.

How it Works: When you get to the farm park in the small parking area just before or after the farm wagon. (Yes, we added more “paved” parking area this year!) Please, please drive slowly.  Many people bring children to pick up vegetables.  Consider the speed limit on the farm 5 mph.

1. SIGN IN BY CROSSING OFF YOUR NAME – this is a very important step!  If you don’t cross off your name, I will think you haven’t come at the end of the evening and start to panic that I don’t have enough vegetables!!

2. Collect Your Vegetables. The wagon will be loaded with the CSA vegetables.  Walk around the wagon and read the signs in front of the vegetables telling you what to take.

  1. If you would like to make any trades check the trade bin or ask the stand attendant. Please understand that this has been the most challenging spring to produce food in that I have experience in my last 9 Springs growing CSA vegetables in New England. There won’t be many trades available this spring, but we will do our best to be accommodating.What if . . . ?

I’m going to be late?
If you are running late call or text my cell phone (857)-383-7020 and make sure to include your name in the message.  I will put a share aside for you to pick up later that evening or the following day.

I can’t make it?
If you can’t make it please feel free to send someone in your place.  Just make sure they know to cross off your name.  If you can’t find anyone else to come, you can switch to the alternate pick up day of the week (like from Tuesday to Thursdays or Thursday to Tuesday).  I just need to know by 7am on the first day of the switch.  You can text me, no problem.

If you know in advance you can’t pick up your share on your pick-up day please let me know that week.  It is easy for us to let you pick up the next day.

If you email or text after we have already harvested your share, you will need to pick up your share that day, or we can hold it for a Wednesday pick up.

If you have any questions feel free to email.

Weekly Emails

I send an email once/week, usually on a Monday, to let you know what will be in the share for the week.  Please know that I do my best to be accurate but sometimes during harvest things change, either because yields are lower than I anticipated, or there is a pest or disease issue that wasn’t apparent during my field scouting.

Treat your vegetables like ice cream!  Don’t leave them in the car and put them where they belong as soon as you get home!

TIPS FOR VEGETABLE CARE

• Most vegetables prefer to be stored in plastic bags in the bottom of the fridge.
• If they come twist tied, undo the twist tie before storing in a plastic bag
• Roots should be separated from greens (by either twisting or cutting) and stored in separate bags (yes you can eat beet greens, radish greens, turnip greens, etc)
• Some vegetables don’t want to go in the fridge – we will let you know as they come up, but NEVER store tomatoes in the fridge