Fall CSA – 5th (and final) Distribution

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The pea tendrils are much bigger now, but Bob Durling got a great shot of them at the last pick-up.

Wow – last distribution of the fall share.  Can you believe it?  Thanks to everyone on Thursday who was flexible about picking up in the greenhouse.  You helped us make it work and we really appreciate it!  What cold weather!  Believe it or not, we are still managing to pick from the fields.  Your spinach, lettuce, kale, leeks and brussels this week are all coming out of the field! We use extra layers of row cover to keep them from dying during deep freezes like the ones we had last week.  They still freeze, but these crops can handle freezing and thawing if they are growing in cool weather, and it even makes them taste better!!

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We uncovered the spinach this morning and although there was some frost damage, we were able to get a pretty good yield out of these beds.  Looks like Kevin is getting a good stretch in!

We are so grateful to all of you for joining us and enjoying the fall bounty of a small, sustainable New England farm.  Although the weather this season was not perfect, we know that by choosing to farm in New England (and because of Climate Change) each year’s will bring new challenges.

We are proud to still offer abundant, high quality produce in spite of a challenging season.

Our Winter Share is full. If you signed up you will receive an email on a few days with details about pick up.  If you didn’t get a chance to sign up, we will email you in January with information about sign-ups for next year.  The Spring share sells out fast, so when you get the email I suggest signing up ASAP!

But, back to this share. You might still have sweet potatoes, potatoes and onions left (it was our intention) or you might have used them all up (good for you!).  This share is very green, so get ready for some great salads, a coleslaw and maybe a few sautés.

What’s in the share:

Lettuce (mini heads), roughly 3/4 pound

Spinach, roughly  1/3 pound

Kale, roughly 1/2 pound, these are “kale tops” or the tops of the kale plants.  We harvest kale like this when we know the plants aren’t going to survive much longer.  Just use the kale as you would any bunch of kale.  We suggest using the stems and all, just chop them finely, because they are so sweet at this time of year.

Pea Tendrils, roughly 1/5 pound – great for salads or very lightly stir-fried.

Arugula or mild baby mustard greens choice: roughly 1/3 pound (use first, slight frost damage on some leaves, but it still has fabulous flavor raw in salad or slightly steamed)

Cabbage, one medium head, savoy or napa

Leeks and celeriac, one pound mixed

Carrots, Storage Radish, Turnips, Rutabaga and Kohlrabi: 4 pounds mix and match

Butternut and Carnival Squash, roughly 4 pounds

Brussels Sprouts, one pint

You’ll also be able to take some popcorn instead of some squash, cabbage or root vegetables if you choose. Or you can just purchase extra if you don’t want to give anything up!

Eat lots of salads. The lettuce  and arugula/mustard greens should be used first. Spinach chopped and pea tendrils make great salads.  Try a Vinegar Based Cole Slaw instead of a mayo based slaw for a lighter feel.

Also, don’t forget about pesto. This Kale Pesto looks good, but you can use just about any greens (except the lettuce) to make a pesto. Or Pea tendril pistachio pesto.  Remember that pesto freezes really well (I suggested leaving the cheese out if freezing and add it in after  . . . or skip it!).

Winter is a great time for Kale Chips or easy Sauteed Kale, but you might want to go for something more warming, like Kale and White Bean Soup (with potato, carrots and tomato) or something fancier like a Phyllo Pie with Kale, Butternut and Goat Cheese.

Brussels Sprouts are pretty trendy, and delicious, but if you aren’t into them, or have bad childhood memories may I make a suggestion?  Choose a recipe that requires cutting the brussels.  A roasted, whole brussels sprout can have a creamy texture, which might not appeal to some.  By cutting the brussels you allow them to be crispier, which I think is more generally appealing.  Try this recipe.

As for the winter squash – we are still fans of cutting them in half, roasting them at 400 degrees until they can be stabbed easily with a fork and then scooping out and eating, usually just with salt, but butter or maple syrup or brown sugar or whatever is your thing is good too.  But if you want to take it up a notch, it’s great to try stuffing them! Try this recipe from a CSA member for stuffed Acorn Squash (you can use carnival). Here is another great How-To on Stuffing Winter Squash.

Again, thanks so much for joining us for the Fall Share – we really hope you enjoyed it, and if we won’t see you for the Winter Share, you can visit us a Weston Nurseries once a month for the Hopkinton Winter Farmer’s Market, starting December 15thfrom 9am-1pm.

And of course, we hope to see you next year!  We’ll send an email around the first of January with sign-up information!

 

Fall CSA: 4th Distribution

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The Third Distribution
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Plus All the Extra Potatoes, Onions and Sweet Potatoes!

Our awesome photographer took the time to take two shots of the share last week, one with 1/3 of the sweet potatoes, onions and potatoes, and one with ALL of them.  If you remember, we had you collect the rest of the potatoes, sweet potatoes and onions for the Fall CSA share, because they can be easily stored without refrigeration and we had run out of storage space at the farm.

So this week’s share will feel a tad smaller than the last one! 🙂

Remember, about 1/3 of the potatoes, onions and sweet potatoes you took home last time were planned for this distribution.

Ok, have I hammered on that nail enough times?

I’m very excited about this week’s share.  This is when crops start to get extra crisp and extra sweet!  They are storing sugars to use as food to grow seeds when the weather warms up, but little do they know that we will swoop in and harvest them before that can happen, taking advantage of all that sweet, stored energy to feed ourselves during these increasingly cool, dark days.

We have a special planting of smaller carrots that will be bunched and in the share this week.  I recommend washing, not peeling and just eating them straight up.  They are the sweetest carrots you can possibly get your hands on.  I don’t like to leave lots of carrots out in the field for very long – they are a magnet to all mammals, not just humans! Last year we lost about 2000 lbs to deer – luckily our yields were off the charts and we still managed to have a massive harvest even so. But they are so good when they’ve experienced several freezes!

And for those of you Tuesday members who are looking at the above picture and thinking, hey, how come I didn’t get broccoli last week – there will be a broccoli/brussels choice this week for Tuesday. We know people love broccoli and cauliflower, I even tripled my plantings from last year because of it, but it has been a horrific fall for broccoli on our farm.  We lost over 2000 heads to alternaria and brown-bead, both of which make the heads rot before they can be picked.  Bummer.  But I’ll do it again next year, because I know it makes you all so happy.  I’ve been to countless workshops and read numerous books that tell me not to grow the crops that aren’t profitable (read:broccoli), but broccoli is just one of the crops that I can’t help but keep on trying . . .

Spinach is actually going to make it into the share this week.  That’s another crop I try to have on a really consistent basis (we planted enough to have it every distribution, but crazy hot weather at planting then cold, wet weather has really stunted it in the field).

I know the big T-day is coming up.  It’s probably my favorite holiday.  I’m not going to do the big story this year, or tell you how to use this share for that day.  My recommendation is to anticipate eating a lot on the 22nd (and probably the 23rd and 24th if your holiday is anything like mine) and just enjoy your share as a healthy preparation.  Eating lots of raw veggies (like raw carrots, turnips, spinach, lettuce . . . ) is a great way to add some fiber and vitamins/minerals to your diet and flush your system – and it’s not a lot of work!!

If you are really looking for something for Thanksgiving we recommend coming to the Ashland pre-Thanksgiving Farmer’s Market.  9-1 at the Ashland Middle School.  It’s always a blast and we’ll have all the goodies, or you can stock up at the farm stand this week.

Here are a few pictures of what has been going on at the farm this fall:

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We ordered the potting soil for next year – I guess we’ll be doing this again!!
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We’ve been adding row cover to protect the rest of the fall share greens and winter share greens in the low tunnels!  21 degrees in the forecast this week!
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We taught Harvey how to turn the compost pile.

The Share

1 bunch “extra sweet” carrots

2 pounds (still very sweet) carrots

1 bag spinach (amount TBD)

1 bag lettuce mix (amount TBD)

1 head of lettuce

1 lb choice: leeks, celeriac, beets

1 bunch sweet turnips or radishes

3-4 lbs winter squash (butternut or carnival)

brussels sprouts and broccoli (broccoli only on Tuesday, brussels might be on the stalk or in pints, actually amounts TBD)

garlic/shallot pint

Plus aprox. 2.66 lbs of sweet potatoes, 2.66 lbs potatoes and 1.33 lbs onions which you picked up last time.

 

Recipes

Chicken and Sweet Potato Dumplings (I got the idea from my mom, but not the recipe yet, she said it was delicious – this recipe looked good but I’ll share the one she used when I get it)

Sweet Potato Gnocchi (another idea from my mom)

Honey Glazed Turnips (I recommend doing 1/2 turnips, 1/2 carrots for this one)

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Sauteed Brussels and Shallots

French Onion Soup (For those of you who use less onions and want to eat some up!)

Butternut Squash Alfredo Pasta

Enjoy!

 

 

Fall CSA: 3rd Pick Up

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Potatoes and Onions on their way to the root cellar.

We still have a lot of vegetables! Our 10×10 cooler is almost full of carrots (mostly carrots), beets, radish, kohlrabi, turnips, rutabaga, celeriac and cabbage. Our greenhouse has several tons of butternut squash and sweet potatoes, plus a few other varieties, and is growing lettuce and spinach.  The field still has more than an acre of crop to harvest, including lettuce, arugula, cilantro, kale, swiss chard, spinach, dill, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower (fingers crossed) and more carrots.

We borrow root cellar space from a friend (really fancy, built last year, “state of the art”) in Dover and we are allowed 2 pallets stacked 7 black crates high.  Last week we brought onions and potatoes, which stored really well there last year, 70 crates, roughly 3,300 pounds.  I picked up almost every crate twice in that process and had a lot of help from Erin and Kevin and our friends who lend us the space.  Yikes.  Plus we had to drive the produce to Dover, and now we’ll have to go back and forth to get them for the winter shares (yes, all of those potatoes and onions are just for the winter share).

Not having secure land tenure is the reasons for this great vegetable shuffle.  It is incredibly inefficient and my back won’t tolerate it much longer.  If we owned land, or at least had a long-term lease, we would build the storage infrastructure we need (and make sure we could put down entire pallet of produce with a tractor, or at least use a pallet-jack). I’d love a concrete floor.  Except I just saw this reminder on BBC News yesterday about how our culture’s desire for concrete is one of the many ways we are rapidly destroying our planet.  Luckily a quick google search shows I can source recycled concrete when the time comes.

All this is a lead up, to let you know that we are going to be giving you large quantities of sweet potatoes, onions and regular potatoes this week.  We had great yields on these crop this year and just do not have the make-shift storage needed to keep them all.  We will provide paper bags for the sweet potatoes and potatoes.  I wouldn’t wash them right away when you get home, they are better kept with soil on them until you are ready to use them.  But you can and if you use them all by the end of the Fall share (mid-December) they should be fine.  Keep the potatoes in the dark though, sunlight causes them to turn green. Onions are fine on the counter or in a cabinet, and we’ve got some nice variety so they will look pretty.

You’ll be picking up:

8 lbs of sweet potatoes (store in paper bag in cabinet)
8 lbs of potatoes (store in paper bag in cabinet, or basement, a cool place that doesn’t freeze)
5 lbs of onions (store on counter, or in bag near potatoes)
Plus the rest of the share.

This is your allotment of these items for the rest of the fall share.  For those of you worried about having space for these, know that they are pretty dense and don’t take up that much space.  Plus, you can feel really good about utilizing the temperature controlled space of your home to reduce your carbon footprint!!  Plus, you have more control over when and how you use these items.

This means your last two fall shares might feel a little smaller (about 7 lbs smaller each), but its because you’ll have already picked up of some of the vegetables this week.

We’ll have some cool varieties to choose from if you want to pack you own bag, and we will be pre-packing bags for those of you who want to grab and go.  Our sweet potatoes are all the same this year (the white and Japanese varieties are cool, but the yields are so low by comparison that we just couldn’t justify growing them again this year).

We’ll mark the varieties on the onions and potatoes so you know what you are picking from.  There is a variety of potato called pinto gold which we strongly recommend. And a flat white onion called cippolini which is definitely worth a try.

What’s in the rest of the share

Brussels Sprouts
Maybe Broccoli/Cauliflower choice
Carrots, 2lbs
Mix and Match Choice 2lbs: Rutabaga, kohlrabi, purple top turnip, beets, watermelon radish
Lots of lettuce, small heads and lettuce mix
Choice, 2 items: Kale, chard, spinach, escarole, frisee, cilantro, maybe a few other items
Winter Squash (5-6lbs): Butternut, pie pumpkin, carnival
Sweet potatoes
Potatoes
Onions

Recipe Ideas

Brussels Sprouts.  The sprouts are small and tight this year.  I prefer the larger, looser sprouts, personally, but these poor plants suffered through what we all thought was the July/August Brussels Sprouts Apocalypse.  No rain for about 3 weeks after planting and the WORST flea beetle pressure I have ever witnessed.  Somehow they pulled through, a couple varieties better than others, and we’ve had a few good frosts, so we are pretty excited about this first harvest.  We give them to you on the stalk.  It’s very easy to break them off with your fingers, which is what we recommend, or you can use a knife.  We’ll have a station a the farm so you can break them off there and leave the stalk for us to compost (we really want the stalks to be composted so if you don’t have a home compost, please consider leaving the stalks). This is a fun activity for your kids.

Storage Radish. We grow larger radishes that keep well in a cooler for winter use.  They are sweeter than their summer cousins and great shredded on salads or even cut up on a veggie plate.  Plus they are beautiful!

Rutabaga.  We didn’t actually manage to get any of these out for you guys last time, but there are lots now!  These are one of my favorite fall crops.  I love to roast them cut into small cubes with oil, maybe add a little thyme and salt.  They are great mixed with other veggies for roasted roots.

Chocolate Beet Cake. For those of you who have been with me for a while, you know I love chocolate beet cake but I haven’t made it in a while.  But after Harvey asked for red cake the other day, I realized I had the answer (the batter looks more red than the result, which looks like chocolate cake).  I had some leftover small beets that I had boiled and then forgotten about in the fridge.  I just cut the top and roots but left the skins and put them in the blender.  It looked like it would be about what the recipe called for so I didn’t measure.  I make the whole recipe in the blender so I don’t have to wash a third bowl and it works out well.

Purple Top Turnips. Harvey ate a whole one of these raw on Saturday.  He asked for it.  I’m serious.  We gave a friend some vegetables and Harvey saw us giving him the turnip (I think it was the first one he has seen) and really wanted to keep it for himself.  Luckily I had another in the fridge so we didn’t have to do a deep dive into a sharing and generosity struggle.  He carried his around with him for a little while, then handed it to me and said, “Mama, peel it.  Cut it.  Big pieces.” The boy knows what he wants. So I did and he ate almost all of it. I don’t usually eat them raw, but check out these 20 recipes that can give you some inspiring ideas for what to do with these super healthy roots.

Butternut Squash. These have had plenty of time to cure and sweeten (it takes about a month after harvest for butternut to realize the true potential of their flavor).  I’m sure most of you are familiar with this yummy winter treat provided by the cucurbit family (yep, this is cucumber and zucchini’s cousin). Here are 26 ideas of what you might do with your butternut squash (besides just roasting and eating, or soup, which are both amazing choices).

Enjoy!!

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Fall CSA: 2nd Pick Up

You know you’ve had enough rain when you pull a carrot and the hole left behind immediately fills with water. . . so we are going to talk about eating food, rather than growing food today. (Although we did have fun preparing and planting our last transplants in the big greenhouse last week!)

Despite the weather we still have some really great crops.  We are especially excited about the variety for this week’s pick up.  Here is some of the food we have been eating (most of the recipes are approximations I found online, we don’t typically cook with recipes – although using them as guides is definitely useful if I’m trying something totally new).

Simple vegetable soup (you can add chicken, white beans, lentils, barley, pasta, rice . . . ) We used onion, shallot, celery, carrots, fennel, potatoes, garlic and lots of thyme and oregano.  Some canned tomatoes would have been nice too.

Fish Tacos with Napa/Cilantro Slaw! These were really good.  I don’t like the looks of a lot of the recipes online, so I’ll try to write what I did – the slaw would be good on it’s own, no tacos needed:

Napa Slaw
1 head napa (very finely chopped)
1/2 bunch cilantro (very finely chopped)
1 small red onion (very finely chopped)
1 large carrot (grated)
(mix vegetables with a fork until evenly distributed)

Make dressing in a bowl:
1/4 cup mayo or mayo substitute (we use Veganaise – we like the flavor better than mayo)
2 crushed garlic cloves
2 TBSP olive oil
1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 TBSP lime juice
1 tsp salt (you can add more to taste after mixing)
Whisk ingredients together until well blended.  If you don’t like tang use less vinegar, or you can add sugar, but I try really hard not to use sugar because its not supposed to be good for me or something (says the lady who ate Oreo’s last night).
Taste the dressing BEFORE you put it on – if you don’t like it, doctor it first!
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour over the shredded vegetables and allow to mellow at least 1 hour.  I usually leave it on the counter, but if I need to leave it for longer than that I will put it in the fridge.

The Fish Part – we baked Haddok in tin foil at 375 in the oven until cooked through.

The Tortilla Part – we used soft, flour tortillas and warm them on the pan before eating.

The rest – we also had arugula, black beans sauteed with roasted sweet potatoes and garlic, shredded cheddar cheese . . . .

Simple Alfredo Sauce on Rigatoni with Sauteed Onion, Peppers and Kale and Roasted Eggplant

Harvey loves Rigatoni – the large, tube pasta.  He can look through them, put them on his fingers and I assume they also taste great . . . . he also like Parmesan cheese.  Like, he would chew on the block if I let him – which I did once by accident. So we make my version of an alfredo sauce and pasta once every week or two.

Simple Alfredo Sauce –  The way I make it is pretty similar to this, but I basically halve the recipe for 1 pound of pasta.  I find that a good coating is plenty, I don’t need the sauce dripping off the pasta. I also always add at least a tsp of oregano and thyme.  Probably not traditional, but so yummy.

*I also cut up a carrot into Harvey sized cubes and put them in the boiling pasta water.  He likes carrot and its a great way to get his veggies cooked at the same time. He’s not a big fan of the other veggies in this.

Roasted Eggplant – This is actually simple.  Don’t be afraid of eggplant.  Seriously.  This article also debunks the myth that eggplant needs to be salted.  It doesn’t.  I never do anymore.  This week is your last chance for Upswing Eggplant until next July.

Sauteed Onions, Peppers and Kale – I think you’ve got this.  Sometime I will add a dash of sherry or white wine after I have sauteed the onions and peppers, right when I add the kale and then cover for a minute or two . . .

Shishito Peppers – none of ours are hot.  They are mild, with subtle pepper flavor.  This is your last chance to try  them this year.  We suggest tossing them in oilve oil and baking at 400+ until they are blistered and cracked.  Then just sprinkle with salt and eat as soon as they are no longer too hot to eat.  Its a great pre-dinner snack, something to put in the oven while you are also roasting sweet potatoes.

Harvey ate his first sweet potato of this year, finally, last night.  He has ignored them, refused to try them, thrown them on the floor.  But last night, our computer, which is next to our kitchen table, was on slide show mode during dinner, and a picture of me from about 4 years ago came up.  In the picture I’m holding a big beautiful sweet potato up to the sky (its a great shot, definitely in my top ten favs).

When he saw it he said, “Mama. Sweet Potato! Eat It!” I began to explain to him that when you harvest a sweet potato you first have to cure it, then wash it and cook it before you can eat it.  As I was talking he turned to me with a big grin, fork held high above his head, then wham, down it came, skewering a roasted sweet potato cube which went immediate into his mouth!  Hazzah!!

We don’t typically worry when he does or doesn’t eat something, but I was like, come on, sweet potatoes?  They are the best.  We are into savory sweets over the sweet recipes, like with marshmallows, or maple syrup, but we do like to indulge on Thanksgiving!

Did you know sweet potatoes is one of the only plant food with enough nutrition for a human to survive on solely for an extended period of time? Here is a silly, but interesting Popular Science article about it. The take away: eat a wide variety of foods!

Butter Roasted Sweet Potatoes
This is a fancy version of what we do multiple times a week.  Many times we don’t even bother to peel our sweet potatoes.  You can cut them thinner than in this video and they will cook faster.  We usually just use olive oil.

Dad Dinner.  We call it Dad Dinner because Kevin usually makes dinner about once/week, maybe twice (because I love to cook and I find it therapeutic, not because we are gender normative and think women should do all the cooking, in fact, he made two fabulous dinners the last two nights).

Dad dinner is really good and healthy too: Sushi Rice with Pan Fried Tofu and stir-fried vegetables (whatever is in the fridge – napa, bok choy, kale . . . all would be good). Use the links for tips, but we feel like keeping tofu on the menu once/week is important, since for some reason it is one of Harvey’s favorite foods – and we really like it too.

Sauteed Escarole with Garlic and Parmesan – For those of you in the summer share, you will remember my blog diatribe about bitter greens.  Fall escarole is one of my favorite foods.  I can slurp down a whole head by myself when sauteed with oil, salt and garlic.  Yum.

Arugula salad with olive oil and salt. Wash it, drizzle a little oil, sprinkle a little salt, enjoy!

Roasted Root Vegetables
We especially like carrot, beet and rutabaga together right now!!

Pumpkin Soup

A lot of roasting, stir frying and fresh salads at our house.  We hope you are enjoying your fall share.   I can’t get this song out of my head.  It’s silly, but I think Weird Al said is best, to the tune of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”: Just Eat It!

What in the Share
We are attempting a lot of choice in this next CSA pick up – we will see how it goes.

Choose 7 items:

lettuce mix
arugula bagged
head lettuce
Shishito peppers
celery
bok choy
radishes
cilantro
swiss chard
kale
escarole/frisee
napa cabbage
mustard greens

Choose 10 Pounds:

Potatoes
Carrots
Sweet Potatoes
Acorn Squash  (these will be limited to one/share because they are the last of them!)
Carnival Squash (These are amazing!  Don’t be afraid – they are really simple to just cut up and roast, or you can try stuffing them)
Beets
Rutabaga (they are small this year!  not more 7 pound rutabaga!)
Red and Yellow Onions
Green Peppers (some) – last chance, the plants are going to die Wednesday night!
Eggplant (some) – last chance, the plants are going to die Wednesday night!
(don’t worry Thursday members, we will pick yours before they get frosted)

Broccoli/Ripe Peppers Mix 1-1.5 lbs (actual weight will be based on yield)

A Pie Pumpkin!

Just a note: from the top list, all loose, leafy vegetables want to be eaten first, while things like bok choy, napa, celery and radish will last until next week) So if you pick, for example: lettuce, arugula, kale, radish, shishito peppers, celery and napa, I would make sure to eat the lettuce, arugula and kale by next Tuesday/Thursday depending on your pick up day.  So plan your menu accordingly.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Summer CSA – Week 16 (Last Week!)

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Obligatory monarch caterpillar photo.  We had about 15 in the asclepias last Friday.  Can you see the one in the back ground too?

It’s fall.  I wonder if these soon-to-be butterflies will actually make it to Mexico?

This week marks the last Summer Share.  Thanks so much for being with us these 16 weeks of vegetable eating.  We don’t have exact measurements, and because of choices everyone’s experience will be a little bit different, but if you got a small share you’ve eaten at least 112 pounds of fresh vegetables, and if you got a large share it’s closer to 190 pounds. Nice work.  I know it can be a challenge to eat fresh vegetables, to create a flexible menu to incorporate what the farm has to offer each week.

We hope you have enjoyed it.  We are very grateful for your participation.

We are also grateful for our awesome assistant manager, Erin, and the rest of our crew who have carried all those vegetables around all summer.  (And seeded, transplanted, weeded, weeded again, harvested and washed them).

Erin was away this weekend, back in North Carolina for a wedding.  She went to school at UNC Willmington and did an Americore year with Feast Down East, a non-profit that does important work building a sustainable and just food system in southeastern North Carolina.  The small farmers they serve were dramatically impacted by the hurricane.  Erin’s intent was to volunteer on Friday before the wedding, but road blockages made traveling to the area impossible.

I’d like to share a link for you all to support a fundraiser her former employer started to help small farms and food-insecure families deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.  Donations will be used to purchase product from farms on the outskirts of Wilmington whose wholesale markets and retail customers were affected by the hurricane. Purchased product will compensate farmers for lost  Wilmington markets and be donated to hunger relief efforts in the area as well. Donations will also go towards helping the farms that don’t have product to sell due to the hurricane’s impact.

Additionally, here are two farms near and dear to Erin:

Kyle Stenerson of Humble Roots Farm lost the roof to his barn and is dealing with inundated pasture and crop fields. Here is a gofundme for his farm. https://www.gofundme.com/support-humble-roots
Morgan of Red Beard Farms lost many fall crops but is planting a late fall crop this week. No donation link, just interesting to see the before and after pictures.

Small, sustainable farms are an important counter-point in a state where massive, combined animal feeding operations (CAFO’s) had their waste management “lagoons” overflow into rivers and streams during the flooding caused by the hurricane.  There will be, as there has been in the past, massive die-offs in rivers and estuaries because of this pollution.  Read more about this topic in this article posted on the website of the Union of Concerned Scientists:

In a Warming World, Carolina CAFOs Are a Disaster for Farmers, Animals, and Public Health




Meanwhile.  Back at the farm (our farm, anyway).  We worked hard to cover more than 1/2 acres of field with row cover this morning.  This will help to reduce the impact of the rain tomorrow (it always rains Tuesday, doesn’t it?!) and also speed up growth on some of our latest planted lettuce and spinach.  They are intended for the November fall shares, so they have some time to grow, but we need to boost them along.

Last summer seemed to go on forever, this summer just came to a screeching halt.  We were glad to have such an abundant harvest of tomatoes while they lasted, but there won’t be any tomatoes in the share this week.

What is in the share:

Delicatta Squash and/or Acorn Squash

Sweet Potatoes

Bunch choices: kale, cilantro, sweet turnip, beets, turnip, carrot, parsley, kohlrabi, napa cabbage

Weight Choice: Potatoes, Onions, Leeks, Beets, Carrots (maybe peppers)

Choice: bagged lettuce or bagged arugula

Maybe some other odds and ends

Recipes:

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Kale, Apple Salad

Napa Cabbage Salad

Sweet and Sour Roasted Napa

Also, just roasting root veggies is delicious.

 

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Harvey may have gotten the last peppers today while I finished up putting on the row cover. 

Summer CSA – Week 15

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It’s starting to look more fall-like on the farm.  This field used to have sweet corn, beans, winter squash and a few other small crops like fennel, celery, lettuce and sunflowers.

This is going to be a short email.  We are working hard to get our storage crops out of the ground so we can get a healthy cover crop planted.  We managed to get rye cover crop down on almost all of the fields that are on the hill.  The rye will live through the winter, holding the soil together and scrounging up excess nutrients in the soil, which will be turned in when we get ready to plant next May and feed next years crop.

We still have 3.25 beds (450ish feet/bed) of sweet potatoes to dig.  They are amazing this year.  Not only are we seeing yields of about 2.5 lbs/bed foot, the tubers are situated right at the top of the hill, without much running under ground.  It makes excavation so much easier.

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Sweet potatoes growing together in the hill. We dug the soil away.
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Erin digging the sweet potatoes after we mowed the vines.
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Sweet potatoes vines.
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The total yield from one, 450′ bed. Roughly 1100 pounds of very nice sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes need to cure in the greenhouse for at least two weeks to sweeten.  Right now they are edible, but still very startchy. We will put a few sweet potatoes in the last summer share, but these impressive yields are going towards the fall and winter shares.

So, what’s in the second-to-last summer share?

Lettuce

Tomatoes

Carrots

Sweet Peppers

Choice: Kale/Chard/Cilantro

Choice Mix: Beets, Green/Purple Peppers, Eggplant (limited quantities), Potatoes, Onions, Leeks, Delicatta Squash . . . maybe a few more items

Choice Containers: Paste Tomatoes, cherry tomatoes (maybe), husk cherries, hot peppers, shishito peppers (maybe).

Just a quick note reminding you that although we love being able to offer choice, we sometimes don’t estimate correctly what people will choose or we simply don’t have enough for everyone.  We are grateful that you chose to participate in our CSA and we want you to have the best experience possible, while still honoring the intentions of the CSA, which is to eat what the farm has available.

You are on your own for recipes.  I might make fajitas, potato leek soup, carrot soup, salads, pasta with roasted tomatoes and onions . . . .

Enjoy!

Summer CSA – Week 14

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Last week was the last official flower share of the season.  For those who opted for an extra week instead of extra vegetables for the week we skipped this summer, this week will be your last week.

Hooray for rain.  We needed it. Kevin spent all of labor day in the heat getting our irrigation set up to use the hydrant at the top of the hill and then Tuesday when they came to turn it on it turns out the hydrant it broken!!!!!  (not broken enough so they couldn’t put out a fire, but broken enough for our purposes) I think that was the last thing any of us, especially Kevin, needed at this point in the season. But . . . what can we do?

We did manage to get some excellent cultivation in during that dry spell.  Erin got to get in some practice with the cultivating tractor. In the rain this week we will get in some much needed hand weeding, which will very quickly make things look pretty sharp.  Melissa hand weeded for about 10 minutes today and cleaned up 100 feet of savoy cabbage!

Hooray for our onion party!  Ten different individuals/families participated and we cleaned roughly 1300 pounds of onions!

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Just some of the onions we cleaned at Sunday’s Onion Cleaning Party!

We managed to clear enough space in the back of the greenhouse for the 6 bins of winter squash we hurried to harvest before today’s rain!

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I might be wearing my Boston Area Gleaners Shirt, but this harvest was all for our CSA.

Winter squash harvest is so fun. So fun. It’s like a combination between farming and softball. The yields are pretty good too, which makes it all the more enjoyable.

We are putting spaghetti squash in the share this week.  The woodchucks liked the spaghetti squash too, so this will be the only time spaghetti squash is in the share.  We got just one bin.  We almost always end up with a woodchuck family in the winter squash that we don’t notice until it’s too late.  I mean, could you find a woodchuck in this sea of giant leaves and vines?

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The winter squash at the end of July.

I think some of the plants may also have succumb to bacterial wilt, since there was some heavy cucumber beetle pressure at planting, and the spag. squash plants are wimpy, which makes them easy targets. (Cucumber beetle transmit bacterial wilt from plant to plant when they bite them.)

We will harvest the rest of the winter squash on Friday (we hope) after it has had a chance to dry out.

We also pulled a lot of tomatoes in from the field before the rain, we’ll still have a good amount in the shares this week (yay!). If you choose cherry tomatoes, especially the round varieties, eat them fast, or at least eat the split ones fast.  We were not able to pick them before the rain today/tomorrow so they will be bursting.  They are still delicious.

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Sunpeach and Sungold cherry tomatoes. They are delicious but delicate!

Also, if you picked up your share before 1:30 last Tuesday (about 36 of you) I completely forgot to put carrots out for the CSA until then.  So – you get an extra 1.5 lbs of carrots this week.  I ran to the list and starred all the names that had been crossed off, so I’ll be able to give you a reminder tomorrow. Sorry about that.

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We are still busy planting seeds for our greenhouse and tunnels.  Spinach, lettuce, bok choy and more!  Don’t forget to sign up for your fall and winter shares!

 

That’s it. Easy email this week. we’ve got some doozies coming up, so we’ll throw you an easy one this week.

This weeks share:

Tomatoes

Lettuce Mix

Weight mix: Carrots, Potatoes, the very last of the Zucchini/Summer Squash, Leeks, Onions

Container Choices: Cherry tomatoes, Saladette Tomatoes, Husk Cherries, Shishito Peppers, Hot Peppers (mostly jalapeno and anaheim), Shallots

Spaghetti Squash

Greens/Herbs Choices: Arugula bunches, Radishes, Swiss Chard, Bok Choy, Cilantro, Parsley

(kale will be back next week, sorry for the lapse for those of you who crave it.  The Brassica pests, particularly flea beetle, gave us a run for our money this summer)

Recipes

9 Restaurant Worthy Shishito Pepper Recipes (these are very trendy.  We just coat them with oil and roast at 400 for like 15 minutes until the are starting to char.  Make sure you are ready to eat them.  Think of this like an app. or a snack, or the last thing you want to finish when you are serving a meal.)

Carrot Soup Variations

Pan Seared Salmon with warm tomato, basil and arugula salad

Shallot Info and Recipes from Martha

And Ms. Stewart on Leeks

Grilled Mushroom and Bok Choy with Asian Cilantro Pesto

57 Spaghetti Squash Recipes (this seems a bit excessive, but it was fun to scroll through!)

Enjoy!!

Summer CSA – Week 13 (Labor Day Post)

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Last Thursday actually was cool T-shirt day.  (Luckily Bob Durling was also at the farm to capture this delightful photo). We still haven’t decided who won. We were going to have you all vote, but we aren’t sure you can see each of them clearly.  It was also Morgan’s official last day as his violin lessons pick back up since the school year started. 😦

Labor Day is upon us – I think it’s time for that labor blog I promised earlier in the season.  It’s a lot easier to write about what is happening on the farm, or about how to grow and cook vegetables, but I started farming because I want to make significant societal chance, and after ten years at this I accept I can’t do that by keeping quiet.

But this is the third time this season I have started to write about it and I get tripped up.  I could study and research my whole life and still not feel confident that I had come to any real conclusion regarding labor, compensation and affordable pricing in agriculture (or any industry). But agriculture in particular is tricky because we simultaneously want to pay people fairly AND we want food to be affordable.

I farm because I want to change the food system so that food is:

  1. Produced with minimal environmental impact
  2. Produced using a labor force that is both treated respectfully and fairly compensated
  3. Affordable for the majority of people in my greater community
  4. Fresh, high quality, nutritious and enjoyable

(The fact that farming itself is also enjoyable, stimulating and deeply satisfying are benefits of the job, not reasons why I do the job – in fact, they make my total lack of actual benefits more tolerable. Oh, and ConnectorCare and MassHealth help too.)

It’s really hard to work on a farm, especially as a crew member.  Most people, if given any other choice, don’t want to do it, especially not with the high expectations of productivity required to make a farm like ours survive. Not many teenagers or college students are interested either, and those who are frequently need training not only in how to farm, but also in how to be a functioning employee and adult.

Erin told me last week about her friends, traveling in Australia, who were fired from a blueberry farm because they couldn’t meet the minimum pick-and-pack rate (12 lbs per hour). I think that’s great. We raise our children to believe they have value, no matter what, which I believe is true.  But in many situations, there are clear metrics for success that need to be met, and I have a hard time finding people who are able, and willing to meet those metrics for the compensation we are able to offer.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just flit around the fields picking this and that on a whim, not go out in poor weather . . .

Those incredible people who do work on our farm and choose to be out in the blistering heat or pouring rain regardless of low pay and lack of benefits (besides produce), are there because of a passion for agriculture.  And they are subsidized by parents, a spouse and/or other jobs, because it would be next to impossible to afford to live in this community on a crew-member’s income.

You could try to simplify it and say, “just pay them more” but at this point, Kevin and I still make less than $15/hour ourselves.  Paying people more either means taking a cut from our own variable paychecks, or raising our prices, which makes food less affordable to other people who are also working low-income jobs (and we know our prices are already higher than some grocery stores . . . but not all and not always – we can talk economy of scale and external costs in another blog). We did just give our regular crew a raise, and we plan to give bonuses as we meet budget goals for the year, but it still doesn’t come close to making working on our farm a viable opportunity for most people.  You can get better pay working for a landscape company, or construction company, not because you need more skills, but because our society values manicured lawns and new buildings more than it values healthy food.

I obviously have not solved the puzzle, and I probably won’t, but I’m fortunate enough to be able to try. And I’m telling you this just because its a reality of what we do, and too often I feel that we gloss over some of the less savory realities of our line of work.

All this is to serve just as a simple reminder that so many things we need to survive are made available because of low-wage workers.  And those workers have some of the greatest work ethic you can imagine.  They are smart, and kind, and passionate, and valuable. Our society depends upon people who work for less – most people’s wealth wouldn’t exist without underpaid labor and resource exploitation as the backbone of our economy.

I’m not arguing against a competitive economy. I think competition has value – I am probably one of the most naturally competitive people you will ever meet.  But I think other people and our environment have value too – more value than short-term profits.

Can we have both?  I think so.  But it will take a lot of work, a lot of conversation, a lot of reflection and puzzling to get there. I choose to believe that given the opportunity people will be generous before they are selfish.

Thanks for reading.

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Zach and Erin definitely get the prize for prom photo posture.

We’ve got a cool event coming up at the farm.  September 9th is Farm Day in Holliston.  Since 98% of the land we lease is in Holliston, we are going to be at the stand hosting an “Onion Cleaning Party!”.

What’s an Onion Cleaning Party you ask?  Well, a bunch of people sit together, chatting and listening to music while trimming roots and tops of cured onions, and pulling away some dirt and extra skins in the process.  It’s easy work, but we have a LOT of onions, so we are inviting you to join us.  We’ll give you two pounds of onions for every crate you fill with cleaned onions!

Date: Sunday, Sept 9th
Time: 10am-2pm

What’s in the share:

Well, there is definitely a tomato slow-down happening, so no more 5lb tomato shares, but we hope to have tomatoes for the next 3-4 weeks in increasingly smaller quantities.  We are still waiting for the fall greens to come on.  We are actually putting the irrigation strategy we worked out during the June dry-spell – the town of Ashland is putting a meter on a hydrant which we can use to quickly fill an inflatable pool which we can pump out of to overhead water.  It’s not perfect, but its much better than driving up hill with just 250 gallons!

So we’re going to dip into some of the fall veggies that are doing really well and we know we have an abundance of.  We’ll have leeks, delicatta squash and purple potatoes in the choices this week, along with some larger red and yellow onions and garlic. Delicatta squash does not need to be cured to sweeten, so you can enjoy it right away, but if you don’t want to it will be good on your counter for at least a month, maybe even two months.

Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes – Consider just roasting these and tossing with pasta if you are slowing down on your cherry tomato intake.

Husk Cherries – 5 Recipes (if you don’t just eat them all)

Red Peppers

Head Lettuce

Carrot Bunch

Bunches Choice: Cilantro, Chard, Celery, Leeks

Weight choice: Adirondack Blue Potatoes and Anushka Potatoes, Red and Yellow Onion, Cucumber (limit one per share), Zucchini/Squash (limit one/share), Delicatta squash (limit one/share), Eggplant (maybe), Green Peppers

Garlic

Recipes

Blue Potato Soup

Leek and Potato Soup

Leek and Tomato Gratin

27 Leek Recipes that are like “Onions Who?”

Roasted Delicatta with Maple Syrup and Thyme

 

Summer CSA – Week 12

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Cool shirt day was cancelled last Thursday, but I wore mine anyway. We hand weeded the fall carrots (except for one bed) while we waited for the dew to dry on the tomato plants.
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Now the “yellow house field” is looking sharp (yes we need to finish one bed of carrots, can you see which one?).
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I spotted some lacewing eggs on the stalk of a carrot leaf while hand-weeding.  Lacewing larvae are great beneficial predators who feed on soft-bodied pests like aphids.  The carrots are right next to the brussels sprouts, which can sometimes get infested with aphids at the end of the season.  I’ve seen several adult lacewings recently, so I hope we’ll have lots of larvae to keep the early aphid population in check.

We’ve been busy, as you can imagine, harvesting, mostly tomatoes, but plenty of other veggies.  Last week we managed to sneak in a final hand-weed on the fall carrots and they are looking great.  We also seeded 32 flats of spinach, 10 flats of lettuce, 4 flats of kale and few other trials.  Those were our last seedings for the field – we will plant more trays for our low tunnels and greenhouse for the winter share, but it feels pretty weird to be almost done with seedling production work for the year.

I’m writing this late tonight, so I’m going to cut the blog a little short.  I actually started working on my Labor Day blog, but couldn’t get it together for this week, so I’ll send it on Labor Day!

There are some new veggies back in the share this week, and the volume will start to drop from the summer peak right around now.  Enjoy the transition in September, my favorite month to eat in New England.

What’s in the Share:

Tomatoes (again, and still, and until they are gone) – There are lots of heirlooms and paste tomatoes this week so get creative.  This is a great time to try an heirloom if you are afraid.  With your 20% added value in your CSA, your heirloom tomatoes are costing you just $2.40/lb.  That’s CRAZY talk.  We might need to reconsider our pricing . . . There won’t be heirloom tomatoes in the delivery share – we can barely get them out of the field and onto the farm stand without bruising them, but if you ever stop by the farm or the Ashland Farmer’s Market let us know and we’ll get you an heirloom if we’ve got them. Also, those of you who take a few tomatoes with minor blemishes, you are cool – thanks.

Sweet Peppers! Lots this week, they are delicious roasted, or sauteed with onion, or chopped into fresh salsa, or dipped in hummus, or just eaten like an apple!  The horn-shaped peppers are the best.  They have a juicy sweet flesh.  Don’t be afraid, they are my favorites.

Choice: Swiss Chard, Lettuce and Celery: An odd choice mix, perhaps, but we sell them all for $2.50/bunch/head so it’s easy for calculating value.  Small gets to choose one item, large gets to choose two.

Choice Mix: Carrots, Beets, Potatoes, Zucchini, Squash, Onions and Cucumbers (maybe the last of the year!  We spotted cucumber mosaic virus while picking today).

Herb Choice: Cilantro, Basil (definitely the last of the year)

Cherry Tomatoes and Husk Cherries

You’ve got this – no recipes this week – share your recipes on facebook or instagram if you’ve got some good ones for other members to enjoy!

 

Summer CSA: Week 11

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Olivia and Victoria are headed off to college this week – we are really going to miss them!

I want to take a minute to tell you how great our crew is this year.

It has been the grossest weather I have experienced as a farmer.  It has not been fun to be outside most days.  So muggy, so hot . . . yuck.  But our crew kept their spirits high throughout, even when picking tomatoes in a 100 degree greenhouse, or when they were picking their millionth bean or tomato, or pulling weeds for hours on end, or putting up with their crazy bosses’.

Your produce would not get to the stand without them, so if you get a chance, say thanks.  There are several crew members who just work mornings, 7-12 in the field, picking, planting and cultivating vegetables, who you don’t get to meet but who are just as integral to our farm – if you want me to pass any messages along, let me know!

We are still knee deep in tomato season, not quiet so many in your share this week, but still plenty to enjoy!  I made some great frozen sauce (well, just cooked tomatoes, I add the garlic and herbs when I thaw it out in winter). It was Sunday, my parents came to visit so they took Harvey to the zoo, and I got to do some great preserving.  I do more freezing than canning because of my limited time and excellent freezer space.

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We will have seconds tomatoes for sale in the stand this week, ask the stand attendant.  We sell them for $1.50/lb, minimum 5lb purchase.

My mom made Panzanella for dinner Sunday.  If you haven’t ever made it or tried it, it’s simple and good! I think this is the recipe she used. We used almost 3lbs of tomatoes and kalamata olives instead of capers. It was good today at lunch too.  You could also just make this as a salad and have toasted bread with it, it would also be delicious.

Also, Tuesday and Delivery Shares, I know the corn wasn’t ready for you last week – but it is this week, get ready for what most likely will be the last of our corn for the season.  Next year we will probably try to plant one more round.

What’s in the share:

Tomatoes

Corn (Probably just Tuesday, maybe a few ears on Thursday)

Cucumbers (probably the last big haul of the season, we will have smaller amounts for the next few weeks)

Choice Mix: Fennel, Beets, Zucchini, Squash, Carrots, Green/Purple Peppers, Red Onions with the option to sub in lettuce, lettuce mix and basil (definitely the last basil of the season, there is serious downy mildew out there, a sad annual occurrence on organic farms.  Not to worry, cilantro is almost back (along with hot peppers)!

Cherry Tomatoes/Sweet Peppers

Garlic – It was our intention to have massive amounts of garlic for the CSA this year.  A delivery of terribly weedy straw in later October (and nothing to substitute) left our garlic un-mulched.  In retrospect I think we should have mulched and dealt with the consequences. Frost heaves and the deep freezes of March killed about 1/3 of our seed – which has survived without mulch all other years, but the slight slope (probably only 1degree) allowed some soil to wash away from the garlic cloves, exposing them to cold temperatures.

That explanation is more for those in the know about garlic – if you aren’t ready to dive into garlic growing 301, just know that we don’t have as much garlic as we want, so we have been hoarding it to make sure we get the right amount for seed next year before distributing it (garlic is grown from garlic cloves, yes you can plant the garlic we give you – its a great choice if you like a bargain, you are getting it for about $8 a pound but if you tried to buy it as seed it would cost $18-$20/lb).

Recipes:

Baked Haddock with Tomatoes and Fennel

Roasted Tomato with Fennel and White Beans

Fennel and Cucumber Salad

Beet, Cucumber and Feta Salad With Basil

Enjoy!!