Week 15: Big News

Well, the cat is basically out of the bag, we are not going to be able to renew our current lease at Upswing Farm’s current home base, 28 South St.. For those of you who haven’t heard, we may grow a reduced crop of vegetables up the road next year to 22 Elliot St, in Ashland. We’ve had a lease on that two acre parcel, owned by the town of Ashland, where we have been cover cropping for the last two years.

Kevin, Erin and Melissa planting the last transplants of 2019, and the last transplants Upswing Farm will plant in the fields at 28 South St. Still more transplanting to do in the greenhouses for our fall and winter shares.

Our business will shift, with Erin taking the lead on summer crop production for the Ashland Farmers Market and a reduced summer CSA, while Kevin and I solidify plans for a fall and winter share (we are deciding between a few options). We will still hold the seedling sale, we have several other places to either construct our greenhouse or rent greenhouse space. But we will not be able to meet our current demand – we will be cutting the amount of land we farm by 80%.

We were hoping to have some perfectly defined plans before we officially broke the news, but since it made it to the local paper under the headline “Upswing Out, Out Post In”, I guess now is the time to say something. It’s still September, I’m still farming full time and Mom-ing almost full time (no afternoon sitter anymore! We miss you Leah!) so there isn’t a lot of time to sit and draft this exactly right.

It’s ok. Really, it’s ok. Accessing farmland in the Metro-West area is next to impossible. Our time at 28 South St has been precious, and we will cherish memories from the last four years for the rest of our lives. We are so grateful for all of the wonderful customers who have supported us and who we have built relationships with.

I’m not sure how to communicate the whole story, it is long and leaves me winded just to think about it, but here is what I want your take-away to be:

  1. We were invited to lease the land in January, 2016 when the tenants, Out Post Farm, decided not to renew their lease on the land. This was less than a month after I resigned from my role at Medway Community Farm. At the end of 2016 we were invited to try and purchase the property for $2.5 million and given an option to purchase for that amount, with a timeline of three years.
  2. We tried our best preserve this farmland, and build a business from scratch, and raise a baby, and stay true to our values. We made contact with the Sudbury Valley Trustees and together worked with representatives from the towns of Ashland and Holliston to get and appraisal and create a collaborative plan to preserve and purchase the property. We were a part of a preliminary offer in the spring of 2018 for the full appraised value of 1.8 million which was rejected.
  3. We believe that our work to save this property was an essential part of convincing the landlord that preserving the farm was a real possibility. When we started in 2016 it had always been his intention to allow the land to be developed after his passing, not believing there was money to preserve it. Now the development rights are being sold to the Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program (APR)- a strict program that will keep important land farmed in perpetuity.
  4. We gave up our option to purchase the land so we would not put the preservation of the land in jeopardy.
  5. If you live in Holliston you should vote to approve the town spending $500,000 of Community Preservation Funds for the APR restriction on the property. If you live anywhere else, you should ALWAYS vote to preserve farmland as ACTIVE farmland. Even in my position, I would vote yes if I lived in town.

This is just a transition period for us now, we knew it would be a risk to take on this project, and we gave it all we had to give. This is the second farm in a decade that we have built from scratch . . . and we are tired (and just a little downtrodden).

We have decided that scaling down, but maintaining our presence at the Ashland Farmers Market (the coolest market ever) and giving Erin a chance to take on more management responsibility is a great way to keep the business going while giving ourselves space and time to get some perspective and find a permanent place to farm.

Thank you for all your support over the last four years.

We are fortunate and privileged to be able to choose this lifestyle, even though it can be a struggle. We are grateful that we can live our values on a daily basis – or at least do a good job trying. And our son, at two and a half, knows about ripeness, and roots and seeds. That apples come in September, strawberries come in June, and where the compost pile is. He says he wants to be a farmer like mom, and I’m like, no way, you’re going to have to be an investment banker so you can support us in our old age!

Well, that’s that. The vegetables still need to be picked and enjoyed.

What’s in the share:

The deer ate all the zucchini this weekend. Or at least they took a bite out of every one. Sorry guys. They also ate almost all of the fall dandelion greens. Not sorry?

Choices: Corn/Tomatoes/Cherry Tomatoes/Spaghetti Squash/Other Pints
Choices: Bok Choy, Kale, Chard, Kohlrabi, Sweet Turnip, Radish, Carrot, Herbs
Lettuce
Arugula
Choices: Onion, Fennel, Peppers, Eggplant

Jess’s Recipes

COWBOY CAVIAR

I had a delightful visit with fellow CSA member Anne Buckley last week and she served up some of this delicious Cowboy Caviar brimming with CSA ingredients. Side note: if you ever have an issue with the NY Times recipes (like it tells you that you have to subscribe in order to view the recipe) just open a new browser window and do a search for the recipe or do the search on your phone. I find that that solves the problem for me.

ROASTED CARROTS WITH HERBES DE HOLLISTON

I was quite the social butterfly this week and also got to spend a lovely afternoon at Broad Hill Lavender Farm right here in Holliston. If you haven’t tried any of their products yet – they’re amazing! Carrie made us some delicious treats all with their very own, Holliston grown, organic, culinary lavender (check their website https://www.broadhilllavender.com/ for which Farmer’s Markets they’ll be at so you can pick some up). Among these were some mouth-watering roasted carrots. She sliced them into thin “fries”, tossed them with olive oil, salt and pepper and Herbes de Provence (with lavender of course and other Upswing Farm herbs) and slow roasted them at 400 for 40-45 minutes. They were amazing.

SHAVED VEGETABLE SALAD

Hakurei Turnips (or salad turnips) are back this week. This is a super versatile recipe that will use lots of your share items. Slice them up super thin along with zucchini, carrots, beets, fennel, kohlrabi, etc. and toss with a zingy lemon-dill vinaigrette.

SAUTEED JAPANESE HAKUREI TURNIPS WITH BOK CHOY

Here’s another quick way to use your turnips AND bok choy in one recipe.

STUFFED MINI PEPPERS

I’ve heard the mini peppers are delicious this year. I haven’t actually gotten to try them as my son eats them all before I get a chance. I’m going to try to beat him to it this week and make these for an after-school snack after I pick up my share this week.

BAKED “FRIED” EGGPLANT

Here’s a twist – instead of me sending Brittany recipes this week, she sent me this one! Great on its own or layer it into an eggplant parm.

KALE SALAD WITH DATES, PARMESAN AND ALMONDS

I love the combination of sweet, salty and crunchy and this salad accomplishes all of that. One of my favorite things about kale is that you can dress it and it will still keep for a day or two and not go all wilty like lettuce does.

SPICY CORN AND SHISHITO SALAD

Trying to make the most of the last few weeks of corn for the summer!

SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH SWISS CHARD, DRIED CRANBERRIES & DIJON VINAIGRETTE

This fall spin on spaghetti squash with swiss chard and dried cranberries sounds like a must try!

Summer CSA: Week 14

(Three more weeks of Summer Share, including this week. This is the last week of the flower share.)

Hey everyone. I’m not going to bore you with my moral dilemas or ethical drivel this week. Just some great pictures and a few updates.

One, potatoes are in the share this week! We were late planting the potatoes this year because of wet fields and yields of new potatoes really suffered, but we did a test harvest of all the mid and late season potatoes on Friday and yields look good. Not quiet as good as last year, but surprisingly good, when I had dramatically lowered my expectations based on the new potato yields. We’ll put some cool ones in the share this week. Adirondack Blue and Red are just that, blue and red. Well, maybe more accurately purple and pink, but they are delicious, beautiful and fun to eat.

Sorry for the late notice on onion cleaning. It wasn’t on my radar, and then when it was I didn’t realize how soon it was. So, thanks to those of you who came, we had a great time and cleaned as many crates as last year. It really helps that the onions are bigger, so it takes less onions to fill a crate. French onion soup is something you should all be thinking about making sometime soon . . . we have a LOT of onions.

Zucchini and cucumbers and tomatoes are on their way out. There will still be some for a few more weeks but there will be limits on how much you can take. Although we love having as much choice as possible, when crops naturally start to slow down, we like to make sure everyone gets a chance to get some of the more popular crops. We will be moving into less of a free-for-all choice scenario for the last few weeks of the summer share.

The carrots are outstanding right now. We are having everyone take a bunch this week. If you haven’t ever tried it, grilling carrots whole and then dipping in dressing or your favorite dip is delicious!! I am very proud of the fall carrots.

Peppers and eggplants are still coming in strong. And corn is back this week! We will be picking the ears just slightly under developed because as soon as they reach full maturity the coyotes start eating them, and they can eat hundreds of ears over night. I tasted an ear this morning and it was so, so close. We will wait until just before CSA tomorrow to let them size up just a little more for Tuesday members.

We hope you enjoy your Week 14 share!

Whats in the share:
Carrots
Lettuce
Corn
Potatoes

Melon or Spaghetti Squash
Greens Choice: Arugula, bok choy, kale, chard, cilantro, dill (1 small, 2 large)
Pint Choice: mini sweet peppers, shishito peppers, cherry tomatoes, tomatillos
Tomatoes, Cucumber and Zucchini: Mix and match choice (1 pound small, 2 pounds large)
Eggplant, Green/Purple Peppers, Fennel, Red and Yellow Onions: Mix and match choice (1 pound small, 2 pounds large)

Jess’s Recipes

15 CREATIVE WAYS TO UPGRADE THE CLASSIC STUFFED PEPPER RECIPES

Lots of peppers this week! Luckily they’re super versatile so you can eat a ton of them in a week and never get bored. I was going to share a stuffed pepper recipe but then came across this article and each stuffed pepper recipe sounded more delicious than the last and I couldn’t decide on just one.

ROASTED (OR GRILLED) BELL PEPPERS

Another favorite way to use peppers is to roast them. You can either cut them in half and broil them skin side up for 15-20 minutes until charred or roast them on the grill whole until they’re soft and blackened and then put them in glass dish covered tightly with plastic wrap until cool enough to handle and then peel off the skins. The possibilities are endless with these: frittata, hummus, pasta sauce, pizza, soup, sandwiches.

SAUTEED PEPPERS & ONIONS

Another idea is to sauté the peppers and onions and make fajitas, or a breakfast hash, serve them over an Italian sausage or burger, make a sandwich with grilled chicken and some melty cheese.

FROZEN BELL PEPPERS

As a last resort, if you STILL have more peppers than you think you can use up just slice them into strips and freeze them on a cookie sheet. Once they’re completely frozen toss them into a freezer bag and you can use them all winter in soups, stews or sautés.

ROASTED CORN, ZUCCHINI & JALAPENO SALAD

I love new and different summer salads and this one fits the bill. I’ll probably switch out bacon for the “pork cracklings” but don’t let me stop you!

LASAGNA STUFFED SPAGHETTI SQUASH

I’ve gotta say, I don’t know if anything can top the 4 Cheese Pesto Stuffed Squash that was in last week’s recipe list, but I’m going to give these a try.

SWISS CHARD AND WALNUT STUFFED TOMATOES

These look AMAZING. Sauteed swiss chard, pancetta and the sweet-tart hit of balsamic vinegar.

ROASTED TOMATILLO ENCHILADAS

If you’re into cooking Mexican food then you’ve probably heard of Rick Bayless. This recipe is one of his (so you know it’s going to be good). I made up batch after batch of these last year with the tomatillos we got in our share. I like to make a double batch of the sauce and freeze half.

ROASTED CARROTS WITH CARROT TOP PESTO

While my chickens prefer it when I share the greens with them, I do love a recipe that uses the entire carrot. Oh, and pesto. I love pesto.

Summer CSA: Week 13

Quick note: there are 4 more weeks (including this week) of the summer share. Fall Share starts the first week of October. Flower share has two more weeks including this week.

Hello, Everyone. Last week I avoided talking about EEE (eastern equine encephalitis) and the aerial spraying of Anvil 10+10, but now I feel like I need to say something. The farm was sprayed on Tuesday night, the 26th, at least based on the MDAR (Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources) maps, posted here. We did not harvest produce on Wednesday until after the plants had dried (which is common practice for fruit crops) and didn’t harvest leafy crops until Thursday, all of which were washed, as usual with town water and several of which were covered overnight with products we already use to exclude pests/deer.

Yes, EEE and mosquito borne diseases are scary, and I don’t want to diminish the fear people feel, especially since I am someone who faces exposure on a daily basis. Some of the fear is real, some of it dredged up by dramatic reporting and gossip. If you a concerned about contracting EEE, the best thing to do is avoid mosquitoes. MDAR has a table, that you can use to make sure you are inside during the times mosquitoes are most active, and other tips for how to protect yourself.

For those more scared of the impacts of the aerial spraying of Anvil 10+10 on your health, I feel fairly confident that this was a low impact spray. Anvil 10+10 (based on reading I did last week when I found out about the aerial spraying) contains two active ingredients, one is a chemical replica of pyrethrin, a substance approved for use on certified organic farms that many organic farmers rely on to control certain pest populations. It has been thoroughly tested on mammals and in low doses shows no adverse health impacts. This is what MDAR has on its FAQ page:

Are there any restrictions on consuming fruits and vegetables from home gardens or local farms?
No. The US EPA has established a tolerance (acceptable level) for the product that allows wide-area mosquito application on food crops, fodder crops, pasture and grazing areas. The application is not expected to leave a detectable residue on food crops, pastures, or forage crops. Livestock may graze in treated areas following the application. As always, consumers should rinse any homegrown or purchased fruits and vegetables with water before preparation or consumption.”

I’m not saying I think the aerial spraying was a good thing, but honestly, I don’t think I have the expertise to make the call. I also don’t think we should just accept the decision of the authorities (in fact, I firmly believe the opposite – always think critically, challenge and question, especially when fear seems to make the answer to a complicated question easy) but in this case, based on my understanding of the pesticide used, and the way it was going to be applied, I don’t believe any of us will experience adverse health effects.

I am curious, though, about what monitoring will be done to evaluate the effectiveness of the spray. In our fields, pests that I know would succumb to a direct application of a pyrethrin pesticide showed no noticeable reduction in population after the aerial spray. But, the spray was designed to target flying adult mosquitoes at night, and many of the pests that might succumb to an application of pyrethrin, like the striped cucumber beetle, take cover during those hours.

Also, for those of you imagining pesticides falling like rain, the ultra low volume (ULV) method used to apply Anvil 10+10 essentially creates a fine mist, that falls very slowly, increasing the chances that it will come in contact with a flying adult. The half-life of the active ingredients in this product is less than 12 hours when exposed to sunlight and air. Yes, there are still risks to other, non-target species, which I believe to be the single, greatest argument against broad area applications of pesticides, but this is a pesticide that does not persist nor are they spraying it on a regular basis.

I will admit I got bit by mosquitoes 4 times on Friday, 4 days after the spray. I didn’t realize what was happening because I’m so used to pushing through discomfort, it took me until the 4th bite to notice. Also, it was only 4pm, but I was in the shade, near the wash station making bouquets for market. I got some bug spray which I would otherwise never use.

Of course an aerial spray will not kill all mosquitoes. So how do we know it killed enough to justify the effort and potential adverse impacts to non-target species that are also susceptible to the toxicity of the pesticide?

It is not my intention to sound like an advocate for aerial pesticide applications, especially on such a wide area, I am, on principal, strongly opposed. But this is something that happened, and I’ve done probably four hours of reading in the last ten days to try and learn more about EEE, Anvil 10+10 and the risks/effectiveness of aerial spraying and I can’t come to a conclusion on whether it was the right thing to do. My gut tells me no, but then again, my loved one didn’t just die from inflammation of the brain, and I do worry for my family. But, I doubt the aerial spray actually decreased our risk, or at least I doubt it decreased it enough to be worth the effort, cost, and potential ecological impacts. We live across from the Charles River in Bellingham and they regularly spray the river/marsh at night from a truck. We still can’t go out in the evening without being eaten alive by mosquitoes, so I just can’t understand why the spraying is even worthwhile, if so many can survive.

It might be that when people want to live close together in areas with lots of mosquito habitat (both natural and human made), they need to accept one of the repercussions is mosquito borne diseases and then the subsequent applications of pesticides that will be used in an attempt to control them. Or figure something else out. The main principal of organic agriculture is doing the work up-front to create an environment where plants/animals will thrive, reducing or eliminating the need for chemicals to control pests, diseases and weeds. I’m sure there is something that can be extrapolated from this philosophy and applied to future management of mosquitoes and mosquito borne diseases.


A little weedy, but the sweet potatoes are looking good.

It was quiet the whirl-wind last week, despite my email about exiting the ‘exponential season’. Harvey has been spending more time with us on the farm. It’s such a joy to find ourselves finally able to be mostly productive and have him around, but its definitely still a challenge. Thanks to everyone who was flexible and patient with us while we tried to give you change and keep Harvey from coloring on himself with markers and that sort of thing.

The share this week is great, as usual in early September (although we love all the vegetables of all the season . . .). We appreciate the variety of this time of year and we hope you are able to thoroughly enjoy the vegetables we are harvesting now.

What’s in the Share:
Tomatoes
Carrots
Lettuce
Choice:Arugula, Bok Choy, Kale, Chard, Celery, Cilantro, Dill
Mix and Match by weight: Zucchini/Squash, Beets, Onions (the last of the fresh onions!!), Eggplant, Peppers
Pint choices: cherry tomatoes, tomatillos, shishito peppers, mini sweet peppers
Melons and Spaghetti Squash

Jess’s Recipes

WHAT TO DO WITH THAT SPAGHETTI SQUASH

I wasn’t too familiar with spaghetti squash until I started with Upswing. It just wasn’t on my radar. Now I adore them! They’re super easy to roast up. Just slice it in half and scoop out the seeds, brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper (and maybe a pinch of brown sugar if you’re into that sort of thing) and place them cut side down on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 until tender – about 45 minutes. When they come out, let them cool for 10 minutes or so and then scrape out the flesh which really is remarkably spaghetti like. You can top it with pasta sauce and meatballs just like regular spaghetti, toss it with pesto or try this recipe with fresh herbs and toasted hazelnuts (it’s one of my favorites):

ROASTED SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH HERBS

SPACHETTI SQUASH AGLIO-E-OLIO WITH RAINBOW CHARD

Here’s another one that combines more of our CSA bounty into one delicious dinner:

SPAGHETTI SQUASH 4 CHEESE PESTO “LASAGNA”

This is what I’m going to be making this week with my spaghetti squash – it has all the flavors of a hearty pesto lasagna without all the work of an actual lasagna.

CAPRESE SALAD WITH HEIRLOOM TOMATOES AND BURRATA

This gorgeous salad is a new spin on a traditional caprese salad, using burrata cheese instead of mozzarella. If you’ve never tried burrata, you’re missing out.

ORZO WITH SMOKEY TOMATO VINAIGRETTE

This pasta dish is one of my favorite ways to use cherry tomatoes. Not only ridiculously easy but also delicious and different from your typical pasta with sauce.

JALAPENO BAGELS

If you’re wondering what to do with all the spicy (or mild) peppers I’ve got a great solution. My son came home from school at the end of last year with a recipe for jalapeno bagels. I still haven’t gotten the full story on why exactly they got this recipe as a handout, but he has been eager to try them. We made some up last weekend and they are DELICIOUS. He loved helping to make them and while they aren’t “quick”, there isn’t a lot of hands on time. We used half white whole wheat flour and I added salt to the water bath and then pressed some flaked sea salt on them before I baked them. They’re amazing with a little cream cheese (you could even make some scallion cream cheese with your extra scallions) and some everything seasoning or a bit of Mango-Habanero jam from Tangerini’s.

MUSHROOM BOK CHOY SOUP

Whenever I see bok choy my first thought is usually a stir-fry but I came across this recipe and it looks ridiculously good with ginger, lime and cilantro.