Saturday, December 12, 2009

Happy New Year!

January 1st, 2010. . . The snow is coming down every-which-a way out there. The cows are in the barn, the chickens in the coop and the farmers in the house. At the moment, I should say.

We have been busily tying up the loose ends of 2009 in this last week. Figuring, tallying, and analyzing all the many sets of numbers of the past year. Not only dollars and cents but pounds, bunches and yields, row feet and amounts of seeds. We are turning the corner into 2010 informed by the 2009 records. As seed ordering deadlines (for discounts) loom, we need to know now how many seeds we will drop into the soil nearly a half a year from now.

News from November and December: Before Prentice returned to his off-farm/winter work as a cabinetmaker, he and his father, Tony, spent several days erecting a used hoophouse frame that will hopefully house our seedlings come spring. We really would like to burn farm-raised fuel to grow our seedlings. That sounds simple but it is not. He has been trying to figure out the thermodynamics of heating such a structure with firewood and the various boilers and storage tanks needed to do so. Stoneset Farm of Brooklin loaned us one of their farmers, Nathan, for a day of greenhouse construction this November. I guess he loaned himself to us. . . Thank you, Stoneset!
This trench that Nathan hand-dug (just kidding!) will bring power to the new structure for fans and thermostats, and of course, the radio.

Hannah Converse worked with us for six weeks this fall and it looks like she will be returning for the 2010 season. We are really happy to have one piece of the apprentice puzzle figured out for the coming season and even happier that that piece is Hannah!! Digging trees from the nursery in mid-November can be an arduous task but the digging proceeded at a great clip and nearly 1000 trees and shrubs were delivered to FEDCO Trees of Waterville. The dormant "whips" will hang out in bundles with their roots in moist sawdust until spring when FEDCO will send them to mailorder customers and sell them from their sub-terranean warehouse. We are proud to be members of the FEDCO Trees Growers Cooperative. Their spring sale in Clinton, Maine each spring is a bookend to the summer for me. See their website for ordering info and sale dates.

These are red maples dug, bundled and "heeled-in" to the garden until delivery day.

Another November event, popular with the little boys around here was when Joe Fortin, a dairy farmer from Albion, used a deep tillage plow on our new vegetable ground. After plunging a penetrometer into the new plots on the west side of the driveway, it seemed clear that there was significant sub-surface compaction (leftover from pre-2001, when 25 of our 40 tillable acres were cropped to corn) and that using this "paraplow" could fracture the hardpan. Though farmers everywhere saw their fields fill with puddles this past spring, we speculated that our drainage problems in 2009 may have been due in part to this layer of hardpan that acts as an obstacle and catchment for rainwater between the soil surface and the subsoil. The results of this tillage action, of course, will be hard to measure but we will be watching how these fields dry out in the early spring and we will again test with the penetrometer. We will wait and see.

2009 CSA Members will receive a letter from us in the next few weeks with some specific year-end details from 2009 and an invitation to purchase a farm share again in 2010. We are in the process of doing some website and brochure updates but please direct any interested friends to our website's CSA page for prices and details. The price of the shares will remain the same in 2010.

We will be attending a CSA-CSF Fair in Belfast on February 28th from 1-4 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 37 Miller Street (right behind the Library). Farmers and fisherpeople will be promoting their offerings and answering questions. It's a great event that we will be publicizing widely in the weeks ahead.
Best wishes to one and all in the new year ahead.
For all of us,


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Garlic planting tomorrow and an ode to brussel sprouts

Did you think we'd forgotten you for the shifting of the season? No! We miss you! Things here are good. The season is certainly shifting. We're cleaning up the gardens and organizing the outbuildings. Harvesting some for various wholesale accounts and wrapping our heads around the possibility of putting up a seedling greenhouse to go online this Spring. We also need to plant roughly 2400 garlic seeds (cloves) for 2010, and we plan to start

Please come and join us if you are able and so inclined. We would be happy to have you.
Also, we have brussel sprouts. We planted nearly 400 plants this Spring and intended to have them for everyone in the CSA with some additional for wholesale. They, however, were among the crops (also, notably, sweet corn, peppers, eggplant, and winter squash) which really suffered for the cold, wet early summer. However. . . .we did save a few plants and they have matured respectably. If anyone is a brussel sprout fan (I am!) and would like to come by the farm for some, please do. (Belfast and Camden sproutheads, we could make arrangements).

Here's the ode, as promised:
Oh fine, tender sprout
for our pleasure you unfold
in dappled light
resist temptation to overwhelm
You are no tomato! No!
we worship your humility and
prepare you with heavy cream (and nutmeg)

Take care, Prentice (and co.)

And some new pictures. . .

Hannah driving Allis Chalmers G in from prepping garlic beds. Late October. Picture by Joseph.

Joseph took this picture of Hannah peeking out from behind the bolted parsley.

This is Hannah incorporating compost and amendments in next year's garlic beds.

The chickens have been helping with the garden cleanup. Their eggs will be showing up at the Belfast Coop and at Farmers Fare (Rockport) soon. They are always available from the green dairy fridge in the shop, too!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Our last distributions of 2009!
Friday, October 9th in Belfast and Tuesday, October 13th at the Farm.

Thank you for being a part of our farm!!!


This link can help you store all these vegetables for the weeks ahead. Some like it cool, moist, dry, etc, so if you are not sure, take a look!

A note about winter squash. We are big squash fans, so it is enough to make us cry to see the dozen or so bushel boxes of winter squash that our farm produced this year. It should have been, could have been, dozens and dozens of bushel boxes. Last year we loaded a trailer towed behind the tractor with pumpkins and winter squash . This year we planted 6X that amount! You have heard enough about the cool temps, cold, wet soils and held back seedlings. . .let's just say, the winter squash crop took the biggest hit. You will all get a few varieties.

Also, conspicuously absent or rare were a few other vegetables: Peppers, sweet corn, eggplant. We grew LOTS of all of these but they, too, seriously underperformed this season. Each fall we tally what we distributed to "basic" and "abundant" shares and calculate a relative share value. We believe, despite the few "failed" crops, that the CSA distributions were bountiful and diverse and still afforded all of you a good value.

To put a brighter spin on things, may crops did well! We trialed many zinnias this year and had hundreds of blooms each week to sell to our wholesale accounts.

Prentice and I are already looking forward to next year.

Did you ever watch that pig video? Well, Prentice has been at it again.

What do we do when we aren't tending, picking, cleaning, packing or delivering vegetables?

Hang out together in the woods. The woods ask nothing of us. They provide playthings, beauty, space, quiet and so much more. Here is our "Special Spot" in the woods of Village Farm. Developing the trails through the 80 acre woodlot is a goal of ours in the years ahead. Quite a few neighbors enjoy daily walks on the existing trails but we envision a few miles of loops that could be used by many more people. If you like to walk, snowshoe or X-Country ski, you are invited to use the trails anytime!!

Prentice and I will be facilitating a discussion at the Belfast Library on Nov 3rd (election night) after the film, Fresh, The Movie. See the trailer here. We would love to see any CSA members there and we would hope that you might participate in the discussion about the CSA concept and how it worked (or didn't) for you.

Other than that, we have more harvesting of root crops still to do. Planting garlic, cleaning up the barnyard and we will be constructing a heated greenhouse this fall. The four pigs and a steer or two will go to slaughter, we will dig our trees that we sell through FEDCO Trees, and we will do some more preserving (applesauce, jam from frozen berries, greens and pesto to the freezer. . . ) Prentice will fill his winter days with some woodworking projects and I will settle into winter bookkeeping, farm planning and boy tending.


We look forward to collating your comments and suggestions that come through the evaluation/survey form and will be in touch with a 2009 wrap up letter when we can "do the numbers." We will also be in touch in early 2010 with CSA information and offerings for next year. We are thinking about a 2010 Flower Share and will most likely have seedlings for pre-order and sale at the farm.

Eggs are rolling in and though the Rhode Island Reds' eggs are not full sized yet, we are pricing the dozens lower to reflect that. Stop by anytime and grab some from the fridge in the shop (money box on top of the fridge) or be in touch and we can rendezvous in Belfast on Thursdays.

As always, be in touch with thoughts or questions. We love hearing from you.

We are grateful for your support and patronage this season. We are also grateful for the wonderful efforts put in by our farm crew: Andy, Amanda, Laura and Hannah. Some of you pitched in at our work parties and we hosted 50 or so college students from Colby and Unity for brief work sessions. Many hands!! Friends and family delivered meals around Abe's birth and as always, our parents helped in all ways imaginable.

Best wishes for a lovely fall and winter,

Polly, Prentice and all at Village Farm

Friday, October 2, 2009

Work Party postponed!

Due to the rainy forecast for tomorrow, we are postponing the Work Party from tomorrow to Wednesday afternoon, October 14th from 3-6 p.m..

Hope to see many of you Tuesday (October 6) for the Autumn Potluck at the Farm starting at 5 p.m. Always a good time . . .

Take care, Polly

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I "HEART" CSA Members

Want another clue? Or this title could read-- "I *HEART* (imagine a big red heart) Bumper Stickers"

Getting closer?

Yes, it is true. Not only are those Village Farmers blogging (Gasp!) but now they are having a bumper sticker printed! (And we are SOOooo excited about the latter.)

It was just a little email from one of our Belfast members-- and I hope it is okay to thank (and link) her here--Arielle Greenberg. Though I could offer a long list of words describing some of Arielle's talents and titles, "Poet" and "Ideawoman" are the two that come to the top of the list for me. And now I can add: Bumper Sticker Creator. Thank you , Arielle! What started as just a little sweet idea and offer on her part has turned into a real live Village Farm bumper sticker.

My only questions are:
1. how many can I put on our car?
2. should we sell them or give them away?

Well, I tried to post the pdf image right on here but that didn't work, so just click here to see the bumper sticker.

Hopefully, they should arrive before our last distributions which will be:
Friday, October 9th for Belfast members and

Tuesday, October 13th for Farm members.

This week's vegetables:


The bok choi is the only vegetable you haven't seen yet this year. They are large and luscious and are the stars of many asian stir fries. ( has dozens of recipes. Click here!)Chop stalks and greens into smallish chunks and add them a couple of minutes before the rest of the vegetables are done so those crunchy stalks retain their crispiness. The stalks can be served as celery "ants on a log" with herbed cream cheese. . .enjoy!

Belfast members will see (along with other staples like carrots, lettuce, etc.) green tomatoes and leeks on 10-2-09 and the first of two installments of winter squash. Our winter squash harvest made us want to weep. Maybe 1/10 or less of what we should have gotten from all those hundreds of plants. . .they really suffered in the wet conditions.

We are thrilled to have Hannah Converse, a recent Colby grad and friend of Andy's, here with us for the next month or so. It has been lively in the barnyard today with the laying hens relocated to the orchard by the house and a class from Unity College spent a few hours here this morning. They saw the farm, spoke with Prentice and helped in the gardens and in prepping garlic (for Saturday's planting party--see below!). We enjoy the opportunity to interact with students very much and appreciate the extra hands. Thanks to member, Gary Zane for including Village Farm in his syllabus!

Lastly, I am sending an email about these to everyone but it bears repeating. . .

Farm Work Party this Saturday, 10-3-09 from 9 a.m.-12 noon Lunch provided. Come for some or all of the time. We would love to see you!

Farm Potluck next Tuesday, 10-06-09 at 5 p.m. Come out and enjoy the lovely evening light which streams across the fields. Fill your belly with fine food and enjoy some lively company. I am going to ask Prentice to recite a Holman Day poem and welcome other forms of entertainment. We are looking forward to it.

That seems like a wrap.

All the best from here and thank you for your support!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September 19th: Clear and Breezy


D'Avignon RADISH

Oh my, it has been a few weeks since posting a message from the farm on this here blog. Certainly, the fact that I have not dealt with my malfunctioning camera cord has contributed to the delay. . .new pictures are fun to share! But, I have dug into some old-ish ones to color today's news and hope to figure out the glitch soon. (But I have been told that I have to bring the whole computer brain into the shop, and as most highly wired people nowadays, I have a hard time imagining being "unplugged" for more than a few hours. Yikes. . . . It would probably be good for me.)

On to the vegetables!!

Melons. The plants did not kick the bucket during all that rain but it certainly stunted their growth. Now, as the fruits reach size and ripeness, there is not the day and nighttime warmth to really make them sweet. Heat leads to sugar production, so though they look and feel like melons, they (probably) won't be the sweetest things you have ever tasted. We had a great one for breakfast this morning so I hope CSA members received ones at least as good as that one.. .

It is dry out there now, but we are still registering losses from the early summer monsoon. We tilled in all the corn. Sad. So sad. Joseph had some multi-colored dry corn he was jazzed about, and we had many dollars and hours into sweet corn transplants that we had hoped would provide the CSA households with dozens and dozens of ears. Due to the weather stress, it just didn't grow taller than Benjamin and that is too short (for a corn plant) to produce anything worth eating. So we fed the plants back to the soil and cover cropped the large corn blocks with oats and vetch.

We fared extremely well in the tomato department this year and have been harvesting many pounds of multi-colored and shaped fruits for nearly two months. Many farmers and home gardeners had total crop losses due to the late blight wafting around in all that rain, but our applications of organically allowed copper fungicide and some luck seemed to have spared us. . . and you. The CSA model puts farmers and member-consumers in the "same boat," and after this year's weeks of rain, we have new found respect for a farmer-member "contract" which makes the shared risk aspect of supporting a farm through a CSA program very clear. In the past, we have felt that protecting our CSA members investments (i.e. providing you all with food equalling or exceeding your membership costs) could be accomplished by:

overplanting for the CSA

  • maintaining wholesale accounts (again, having extra vegetables planted acts as a buffer for the CSA.)
  • investing in irrigation equipment so that crops can get watered if necessary
  • keeping "up to date" on best practices so that we continue to be good stewards/growers
  • constantly putting the soil first. . .investing in the future crops by feeding and tending the soil well.

But after this year's deluge and season-long ramifications, we are thinking that it would be best to make sure all members and potential members understand the shared risk part of the CSA model at sign up time. We all fared well, considering all the stresses from weather and disease this year.

Prentice just took a few hours with his clipboard to walk through each garden, noting variety issues, row spacing, planting dates, tillage, amendments, etc. In many ways, autumn finds us planning for next spring and summer.

A neat and tidy row of fennel in the evening light. In the lower left hand corner you can see the neat and tidy rows left by the Brillion seeder, our new-used piece of equipment that drops, rolls and tamps-in cover crop seeds like winter rye, oats, barley, vetch, peas and buckwheat. All season long, as soon as a bed is harvested for the last time, we lightly disk or till it and then plant it with the Brillion so that there is never bare ground for long. Holding the soil in place for the winter months and spring freeze-thaw cycles is best done with plant roots. So we are busy planting those soil-holding plant roots now so they have a bit of time to grow and establish this fall.

Pasturing poultry is one of the many "chores" around our place June-late September. Prentice moves the "chicken tractors" three times a day, keeping the birds in/on fresh grass. We choose to organically feed our chickens (and all the other farm animals except the dog and barncat) because we believe in supporting organic grain farmers but also to cast our vote against genetically modification of crops. Most non-organic corn, soy and wheat are a genetically modified these days. If you are interested in buying some birds for the freezer, let us know soon. They are almost all sold for the year.

Basil. I sent out an email about FREE Pick Your Own basil for as long as it lasts (it is black goo when we get even a light frost). It is in the garden on the driveway closest to the hoophouse, so come on out and fill you freezer with PESTO for the long winter ahead.

Coming soon
I know our sporadic postings haven't helped any one's shopping and meal plannings this summer, but should you want to stock up on Eggplant Parmesan ingredients, you will be receiving eggplants for the next few weeks. Also coming in the weeks ahead will be leeks, winter squashes of various stripes and shapes, celeriac, cabbage, potatoes, kohlrabi, chinese cabbage, spinach, kale and other greens and onions.

Dates for the calendar

We need to change our fall work party from the 10th, as advertised in the member handbook to Saturday October 3rd from 9 am-12 noon. We serve lunch to all workers at 12!! Please join us for garlic planting, a great job for many hands. We would love to see you.

End of season Village Farm Potluck will still take place Tuesday, October 6th at 5 p.m.. We look forward to hosting as many of you who can make it.

We will let you know soon when the last distributions will be. For now, count on going until at least the 6th of October. A lot depends on Jack Frost these days.

People news

We heard from Amanda, safely at home in Indianapolis, that her mother is still struggling with some health problems. We send our best from Village Farm. Andy and his girlfriend, Emily, came for a night last weekend. Andy milked Lucy in the morning and wrestled with the two little Grassi boys, just like old times. Emily read book after book to the boys, and oohed and aahed over their Lego creations. They are both at Colby for the fall semester, so we hope to be seeing them often in the weeks ahead. Laura Pyles will continue to work with us four days per week through October. Her company, music choice and help are all most excellent. She made a late afternoon delivery to Rockport and Lincolnville last week which put her home much later than her normal quittin' time. Thanks, Laura.

That is it for now.

With all best wishes to one and all,


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Thank You, Amanda!! and other news



Belfast members will receive eggplant and perhaps a few peppers this Friday, the 4th of September. More to come for farm members!

Beets, at long last. We tilled in a planting of beets that got swamped in June's monsoon, so these are our first sizable beets of the year! We shred beets on salads, in sushi/nori rolls, in quesadillas and enjoy them quartered and roasted in the oven with olive oil and garlic. Pickled, did I mention picKled beets? Celery for the first time this year. It is so sweet though not as watery and tender as "super market" celery, its flavor makes up for its texture. Celery is wicked easy to freeze for winter soups---just chop it (greens and all!) and put it in a bag--no blanching required!

Having just bade Andy farewell last week, we were all caught off guard by news that Amanda was leaving, too. Unfortunately, she needed to return to Indiana to be with her family through a health emergency. We wish her and her family well and will miss her easy smile and chuckles around here. She worked really hard this summer and we thank her for choosing to learn and live here for the season. Best wishes, Amanda!

We spend many hours these days in the polebarn-- washing vegetables. Joseph , Ben and Abel all join the crew there, from time to time, and the two elder boys enjoy a bit of play around the edges. Here, they are playing "KERSPLOOSH!" with the vegetable wash water and a few cull summer squash. Both of them ended up soaked from head to toe, of course, but cooled off on a hot day, too.

Finally got some oldish pictures off my camera and so here are a few of the garlic harvest. Prentice looks like a proud Garlic Papa to me.

All the hundreds and hundreds of heads that we pulled at July's work party are strung up in the polebarn overhead. Some you will see in your fall harvest shares, but most are for seed. We will plant them in October and they will over-winter in the ground to spring forth, verdant and true, next April.

This is Abe at 10 weeks old, sporting a canning jar label on his delicate skin. . .. Benny was labelling all his people with "tickers," as I told you in the last posting. Here is the proof.
Warm wishes for a lovely week to one and all.
As always, we welcome and value your questions, comments and thoughts, and thank you for your support.
Polly and Prentice and Laura, the Big Farmers and Joseph, Ben and Abe, the Little Farmers.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thank you Andy!! and other news.


This is what Belfast members on Friday, the 21st of August will receive in their weekly share. A bit different than this past Tuesday's Farm members, but such is the nature of weather and crop readiness. Big bunches of cilantro for all. . .Click here to see my cilantro pesto "recipe," or should we call it cilantro pesto "guidance". . . from an earlier blog posting. It shows up on our lunch table at least once a week. Great on bread or with rice and beans, Indian curries, chicken, fish, or as a fresh topper for almost any grilled thing. YUM!

This is Amanda digging garlic at with farm member, Judy. Thanks to Gail Chase for sending along some pictures from last week's work party and potluck. We had such a nice timeat the farm potluck!!! Thank you to those of you who came out and brought delicious foods to share. We will host another farm gathering on October 6th at 5p.m., so mark you calendars now.

This week of hot weather has felt like July to all of us and so it is causing some confusion that late August is actually where we are at, calendar-wise. This not only means that we will not taste fresh peas until next year but also that it is back to school time for our farm intern, Andy Smith. He returns to his Biology major and other studies at Colby College in a few weeks after heading south to his homeland of Pennsylvania for a vivit with family. To say we have enjoyed having Andy here is way too much of an understatement but we don't want to embarrass him by gushing about what a great guy he is. Intelligent, thoughtful, hard-working and driven. . .funny and kind. . .are a few words that come to mind. A HUMONGOUS Thank You to Andy for spending his summer with our farm and family, for teaching and inspiring us, and for allowing us to teach him what we know about this art-science-gamble called "farming."

Here is Andy, back in July. . . wiped out after planting corn???

Our farm kitchen was a busy beehive of activity last week with lots of preserving the harvest going on. Frozen green beans and peaches, dill pickles, blueberry jam, strawberry-blueberry jam and strawberry-raspberry jam were all put up in one way or another. Benny decided all things needed labels, so at one point, Abel, Mama, Ben, Daddy and Joseph all sported canning jar stickers with our names printed on them. Ben stuck Abe's right on his bare chest! (I got a picture of this, but due to techinical difficulties, I can't upload them right now.)

Here is a sunflower picture from Gail. More flowers at distributions in the weeks to come. . .

And one more beauty of a beauty of a pig. I love this photo.
For now, that is the news from here.
All the best,
Polly and all at Village Farm

Monday, August 10, 2009

You Say Tomato. . . .

Week of August 10th
Tomatoes ~ Yellow Beans and Green Beans ~ Vitamin Greens or Hon Tsai Tai ~ Cabbage ~ Cucumbers ~ Fresh Garlic ~ Lettuce ~ Summer Squash and/or Zucchini ~ Cilantro or Dill or Sage ~ Basil

(Sorry, no new pictures at the moment. I am not able to download the camera for some reason.)

Vegetable notes: Tomatoes are beginning to ripen in the hoophouse and everyone receives them this week. We should continue to have them weekly for you into September. This variety is Early girl and I will try to let you know of other varieties coming ripe as we distribute them. In the spirit of full disclosure, we have been spraying our tomatoes and potatoes weekly for the last three weeks with an organically allowed Copper hydroxide fungicide (Champ WG is its name). But don't be fooled, just because it is allowed under organic certification, doesn't mean it is benign or harmless. We "hummed and hawed" over this decision and put it off for a few weeks but eventually realized that the late blight spore, rampant in the Northeast this summer, was going to reach Village Farm. Our intern, Andy, was among the first to report it in the state. He found it in the Community Garden of Waterville and soon after that at the Colby vegetable garden he oversees (in his spare time). We have found one bit of it in the hoophouse tomatoes and because of its ability to rapidly spread (its spores love the moist conditions this summer), we feel that the copper applications have protected our crops well. Copper can build up in soil with longterm use, though most Maine soils are Copper deficient. It should not be ingested, of course. The "Pros and Cons" have been the topic of many a lunchtime discussion here. . . we all seem to have come to the realization that if you eat a potato or tomato at all this summer, fall or winter that has been grown in the Northeast, it WILL have been sprayed with some form of copper (either organically allowed or a conventional copper fungicide). Yes, we could have not sprayed and kissed our potatoes and tomatoes goodbye but we were not willing to do that this year. If the late blight becomes an annual issue, we will have to reevaluate.

You should know that we have washed all the fruits in a vinegar and water solution but an extra wash in your kitchen is advised.

I highly recommend reading this article in Saturday's New York Times called cleverly, of course, "You Say Tomato, I Say Agricultural Disaster." The author's main point that when it comes to airborne diseases like late blight, gardeners and farmers and big box retailers and anyone handling plant hosts all comprise "one big farm" is a welcome example of the interconnectness of all life. Have a look, it is a great article.

Well, that was a lot about tomatoes! This week's harvest also includes beans of four colors (though until we pick them it is hard to say which colors you will actually get): green, yellow, purple (which fade to green when cooked) and Dragon's Tongue, a beautiful flat bean with magenta streaking (also fades when cooked).

The Vitamin Greens or Hon Tsai Tai are a members of the vitamin-rich broccoli and cabbage family and can be stir-fried alone or added to your favorite other vegetables. We tend to cook them with garlic and oil and then sprinkle them with tamari/soy sauce. They are great stri-fried and tossed in with pasta, also. These freeze extremely well and can be either blanched (instructions below) or simply chopped and bagged up. They add greenery and vitamins to a winter soup so nicely.

I admit that I often cook without recipes and also in answer to a craving. I guess this "sushi salad" is doing something for me becasue I have made it three(?) times in the last week. "Sushi Deconstructed," as a friend called it. Here is the idea: Sticky rice, cooked and cooled. Add raw chopped carrots, scallions (or chives), chopped, raw snow peas, and chopped raw cucumber. Dress with tamari and a bit of vegetable or toasted sesame oil and sprinkle on toasted sesame seeds and chopped fresh cilantro. I whisk up three eggs and pour this into a buttered pan, flip it and cut this omelette-without-the-cheese into strips and serve it on top of the salad. You can also serve with a drizzle of watery wasabi paste and torn up nori seaweed, if you want, but it is good without these.

A note about freezing vegetables: We freeze a lot of vegetables without much of a fuss, so if you find yourself overrun with vegetables, consider putting some by for later use. I use the book "Putting Food By" for all my canning and freezing guidelines but briefly, here's how to freeze a few vegetables. (As always, we welcome your questions. . .) And if you would ever like to purchase a great quantity of some herb or vegetable for processing, we give all CSA families wholesale prices. Just contact us at or call us.

  • First, always freeze FRESH, clean, unblemished vegetables, not icky ones that have been around for too long.
  • Beans: Remove stems and leave whole or snip into 1" pieces. Boil in a pot of water for 2 minutes ONLY and then remove from the pot with a strainer and dunk into very cold water to cool them quickly. Drain and bag in pint or quart ziplocks, squeeze out the air, label and freeze.
  • Greens (Spinach, chard, kale, collards, escarole, vitamin greens, etc) Wash greens and remove big tough stems, tender ones are fine to just chop up with the greens. Boil a big pot of water and boil greens for 1 1/2-3 minutes. 1 1/2 for tender oens like spinach, vitamin greens and chard, and 3 for thicker ones like collards. Drain and cool immediately in very cold water. Drain and squeeze out some water then bag in ziplocks, squeeze out the air, label and freeze.
  • Zucchini and summer squash, peppers and tomatoes do not require blanching in boiling water. Just shred (zucchini and ss), or chop (peps and tomatoes) and bag, label and freeze.
  • All of these should last one year in the freezer.
The farm crew is off at Stoneset Farm of Brooklin for the day. Raking and winnowing wild, lowbush, organically certified blueberries! We will have berries for those of you who ordered some and some extras for sale this week at the Tuesday farm distribution/potluck. If you want to get some for the freezer directly from Clara and Nathan Rutenbeck, email them at

We had a great turn out for the workday on Saturday and I am glad to report that all the year's garlic was dug and tied in bundles--ready to hang. It is now hanging in the pole barn where it will cure for three weeks. The crop looks outstanding, you can look forward to some lovely garlic in the weeks ahead. Thanks very much to everyone who helped out on Saturday!!!

This is Chris laying out garlic that is ready to be tied up. Picture by Bliss Weathers. (thanks!)

And lastly, please come on out to the farm Tuesday at 5p.m. , August 11th for our first potluck of the season. Taste the first tomatoes, see the gardens, animals, curing garlic, new eggmobile, etc. Visit with the farm crew and other CSA members . . .it will be a very good time--GUARANTEED!

Whoa--thanks for reading all that!!

And enjoy the week and the food !


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fresh vegetables and new tricks

Hello to one and all. This week's harvest includes things you have seen before. Folks at Tuesday's farm pick up liked seeing all three varieties of kale offered. The blistery, dark green variety is the Lacinato, an Italian favorite. Delicious and fresh, but no surprises, this week.
We were hoping to have cucumbers and beans but alas, they are taking their sweet time. Next week you will definitely receive cukes and fennel (we will see about beans. . .). Fennel is a pungent but mild vegetable that has the delicious flavor of licorice. I love a fresh tomato and fennel sauce over pasta but since the tomatoes are still ripening, the fennel will have to find another way to our plates. The Belfast Coop has been serving a "shaved fennel and citrus salad " in their deli case which is yummy. Here is a link to a recipe that seems close. I also linked to a really great piece from the NYT on our "Resources" page called 101 salads, basically recipe-less combinations of vegetables for this season. Some very good inspiration!
I never did make that Mediterranean Stuffed Escarole--we have enjoyed escarole (in case you have one lurking in your fridge) sauteed for 10 minutes with some garlic added at the end. Gail Chase enjoys putting it in soups and Diana Avella was so excited, she took two! I will ask her how she made it. I am afraid some CSA members may have mistaken it for lettuce. Uh oh. It is soooo bitter if you tasted it raw, but cooked well, the bitterness subsides and the flavor is delicious. You may see that large green head again in a few weeks.
Pad Thai for lunch today: chock full of scallions, snow peas and cilantro. Laura made chinese cabbage and sesame seed slaw along with a potato salad for lunch yesterday. Looking forward to our first tomato sandwich of the season.
The tomatoes in the hoophouse are ripening and the first red one was plucked from the 8 foot tall vines today! Once again, we may have to take Benny out of the state for a few days for anyone else to ever get a ripe Sungold cherry tomato. That boy finds every one. Last year he called them "num nums" and this year they are "little 'matos." There looks to be a bountiful crop of tomatoes of all shades coming on.

A first for us last week: Impromtu picnic on a horse wagon. Neighbors and friends, Neil and Gwyneth and their two boys and two mares showed up in our barnyard and one thing led to another and we found ourselves enjoying an evening picnic on the wagon.

The other new trick: Abel smiles. They are making everyone giggly. Both boys ask "Got any smiles in there?" many, many times each day.

And the last new trick: Prentice taking pig videos. There are more where that came from if you like the "pig cam." By the way, pork is all sold out for the year but we do have pasture raised chickens for sale from the freezer and fresh again in a few weeks.

One last thing: Special Vegetable Action Team a.k.a. Work Party on Saturday, August 8th from 8-11 with a lunch provided. Join us for a fun morning of work in the gardens. It really is a good time and we get a LOT done!

Also, the first Farm Potluck and garden walk: Tuesday, August 11th 5 p.m. with an all-important Tomato Tasting!!!! We will lay out a veritable rainbow of tomato slices and provide slips of paper for comments. You bring the poetry.

That is all for now.

Hope you all are enjoying the vegetables and as always, be in touch with questions any time.

Polly, for all of us at Village Farm

P.S. Flower bouquets coming soon!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Weeks 5 and 6

Greetings from Village Farm.
Thanks to those of you who made it out to the farm on July 11th for the work party. The second batch of corn transplants got planted and so let's hope for a nice long fall to make up for the lack of early summer. The two images above were both taken by "Amma" Sally, Prentice's mother and give you a look at some of the scenes from that day. Next work party is August 8th, from 8-11 a.m. Join us if you can!!

Also, the first of two Farm Potluck dinners will happen on August 11th. 5p.m. garden walk then we eat. We are fond of taste tests around here, so we are planning a tomato tasting, complete with comment cards and crowning of Best Tasting Tomato.
Last week everyone received a very odd and beautiful vegetable called a KOHLRABI which was purple with green leaves attached to it. It is a member of the brassica family, a cousin to broccoli, and if it is still floating around in you fridge, dig it out--it is delicious!! The leaves are edible and resemble kale and the "orb" can be peeled and eated raw with hummus or dip, peeled and shredded into any slaw or salad or sauteed in a vegetable stir fry. I have heard its flavor described as a cross between an apple and a turnip.
Most people got broccoli last week and every one got edible podded snap peas.
Likely to be in your share this week: (it is hard to know exactly until harvest day, but we try to guess, anyways!)
I looked up escarole on and my mouth was watering. There are many delicious sounding recipes on there, many Quite simple. I am going to make the Mediterranean Rice Stuffed Escarole for farm lunch today and will let you know how it is. Last year, our first with this crop, we just would sautee it until tender(10-15 minutes) in oil and with garlic or an onion and serve it as a cooked green. It appears from the recipes on that it pairs well with Parmesan cheese and sausage and can be used in soups and raw in salads.
The new potatoes are a farm favorite. We pan roasted a big mess of them the other day in a thick pan, with Albion grown and processed sunflower oil (more on that later!) on high heat, swirling them around so they got browned, then covering the pan and turning it down for 5 -10 minutes. Salt and pepper. So moist and sweet. They make a great potato salad, as well.
Shelling peas. This is the last of the shell peas, so grab a chair, take those shells off and steam them up for the quintessential New England treat. My mother always served new potatoes and peas bathed in a butter and cream sauce. Wow.
COMING SOON: Cauliflower, cukes and zukes, snow peas.
Farm news:

We have been extra busy around here with all the sunshine making many more things possible.
The farm crew spends most mornings picking and washing for our wholesale customers and for the CSA families and then they switch gears to vegetalbe maintenance mode and work on such tasks as thinning carrots, cultivating crops with tractor or hoes, mulching or transplanting. Peas are in, so most days they are filling buckets with snows, snaps or shell peas. We have seeded our last lettuce, scallions and brassicas (broccoli family) in the greenhouse where they will grow in plug trays until they are big enough to transplant in to the garden soils. I think I heard someone say "that's sad" when Prentice pointed out our last transplants for the year.

This is the "egg mobile" FINISHED! It has been homesweethome to the flock of 60+ hens and one rooster for a few weeks. Before the move in day, Prentice and I seriously thought of parking it down by Freedom Pond and using it as a lakeside cabin. It is that nice. But now it has been broken in, and is truly a chicken coop. The Rhode Island Red pullets (young females) have just started to lay so watch for more Village Farm organic eggs at pick ups soon! Thanks to Tony Grassi, Prentice's father, for all his help from stripping the rotted trailer bed off to putting on final touches like the doors and chicken ladders.
We also used up lots of leftover paint colors from neighbors Geoff and Abby--thank you so much!

Also, CSA member and top-notch neighbor, Paul Foisy who is a metalworker extraordinaire, put in time at the welding torch installing the "deck" that holds the grain bin and watering contraptions.

That is all for now. Best wishes for a great week.

Friday, July 10, 2009


July 10th, 2009

We hope to see many of you on the farm tomorrow from 8-11 for a Work Party. Bring your hand tools and hoes, we hope to form a formation of weeders! Farm tour and lunch from 11-1230. Come for any or all of it!!

Here is what is ready this week:


Another gigantic chinese cabbage for your stir frying pleasure. The turnips are best enjoyed raw, grated or diced into salad or served with hummus or dip. They are crispy and yummy! We have expanded our color palette in carrots this year to include pale yellow and purple roots. We think the flavor is just as good as the traditional orange. We grow three types of peas: shell, snap and snow. Shell peas need to be taken from their shells. Snap and snow are edible podded peas and can be enjoyed raw or cooked. We will most likely not have salad greens or lettuce next week. Our next planting has suffered from the wet fields and may be late in coming. Choice of herbs this week: cilantro, dill , parsley. Garlic scapes are the flower buds of garlic plants. We snip them to encourage the garlic plants to put more energy into the underground garlic bulbs. Prentice's parents chopped and sauteed theirs last week in a bit of butter and olive oil, cooking them for 5 minutes or so. Then they added a little basalmic vinegar and reduced that over the heat for a couple of minutes. Sounds like a Village Farm lunch dish today!!

Sunshine this morning on the farm. Sweet relief.
The series of pictures in this entry were taken by Prentice's mother, Sally. I know Prentice wanted to acknowledge all the family support we enjoy and are grateful for, so you may hear more from him at some point (if he ever sits down!) but for now, I will just say that this farm could not, would not, happen in its present form without the help of both of our families. Our three boys are so lucky to have four loving and involved grandparents, all within 45 minutes of Freedom. Whether it is fixing up old Tonka trucks for their sandbox, mowing our neglected lawn, hanging our laundry, documenting our farm and family with a camera, fixing us meals or playing with the children here or off the farm, our parents are what we call The Village Farm Varsity Support Team.

This is Amanda who has joined us from Indiana for the season. She is "pricking out" winter squash seedlings, removing the root balls from the trays in which they germinated. These young plants have been in the "waiting room" with thousands of others while the rains have been here.

This is our farm crew: Andy, Laura, Prentice and Amanda. Looking pretty jazzed to be wearing cotton as an outerlayer rather than a vinyl product.

Prentice is poking holes in the black plastic mulch into which the squash seedlings will be planted. We used black plastic for the first time last year. We avoided it as yet another petroleum product until our Extension Agent, Rick Kersbergen said "you use as much oil driving from here to Belfast as is in one roll of black plastic." The landfill issue isn't addressed by that fact, but we feel because strive to generate as little waste as possible, we would take the benefits of black plastic in exchange for having to throw it away.
~additional soil warmth
~weed suppression
~moisture retention

Compromises we hate to make. . .

Remember all that talk about staying out of wet gardens? Well, the winter squash garden got a little sloppy in the center. I don't know if Andy was playing in the mud or if this mess is genuine work mud. Not ideal to be in wet soils, but the seedlings had to go in. More compromises.

Now, this would have been the year to be in the frog and bog business, if there is such a thing. Joseph has a lot of frog and toad friends. Snakes and salamanders, too.

For now, that is all the news from here.

Best wishes to one and all.

Polly and all at Village FarmPosted by Picasa

Thursday, July 2, 2009

WEEK 3 Another 1.5 inches of rain last night. . .

It is never good to hear the word "disaster" associated with your line of work. Reading the Bangor Daily News cover story, "Crops in Crisis" today, we were reminded that it is not just our soils that are so soggy. Indeed, open soils everywhere in the state are saturated with water and cold. And many farmers, many cropping, or trying to crop, hundreds of acres of corn, potatoes and grains, are experiencing a disaster. We have not used the "d" word here on Village Farm yet. It is not pretty out there, don't get me wrong, but we have not registered any mortalities yet.

Not only did we invest in irrigation pipe this spring, but we also purchased a vintage and very slick cultivating tractor, an Allis Chalmers G. The G was in constant use forming beds and marking rows earlier in the season but for the last few weeks has been gathering dust in the pole barn. (We do not ever drive on wet soils and try to stay out of the gardens altogether when things are so wet to avoid soil compaction. ) The hope for this tractor was to be able to cultivate (weed) whole beds and rows of crops with sweeps and baskets mounted under the tractor. Because of the wet conditions, the weeds grow but the tractor is parked. If you recall in the MEmber Handbook, we set a work party date for Saturday, July 11th. 8-11 am with a simple lunch provided. We would love as many helping hands as possible that morning to get some weeding done. We will have other projects as well that do not involve getting down in the dirt, if that is not your thing. Please join us!!

Chinese Cabbage (chop it fine for a fresh slaw or lightly cook it in a stir fry)
Young carrots
Snap (edible podded) peas (delicious raw or lightly steamed or stir fried)
Beet greens
Garlic scapes
Salad greens

Monday, June 29, 2009

WEEK 2: Weathering the weather.

Rain is certainly the name of the game around here. The cows and pigs do not seem to be phased at all. The chickens are growing and grazing just fine. But the farmers. . . soggy and dripping with one eye always to the sky. . . . would welcome some high and dry weather. A silver lining to this weather business. . . little did we know when we agreed to work with Andy for the summer that he would be our own personal meteorologist. As a youngster, Andy had his own website where he compiled radar images and his knowledge and pumped out his own forecasts. We have learned that this last slug of rain and wet is called a "cut-off low" and that there is no real end in sight.
We are trying to not stress about the waterlogged soils and our succession plantings getting pushed back. We schedule all of our seedings in the winter months and follow a strict calendar to make sure we always have greens, baby lettuce, cilantro and young carrots coming along. When we can't prepare soil to seed these crops, our schedule gets messed up. This means, for us and for you, that there will be some gaps in the supply of salad mix and beans and perhaps other direct seeded crops.
"You can't change the weather" is what I keep reminding myself. Prentice related an anecdote from a Canadian grain farmer this morning and it is something like this: "10% of stress is from the event/situation itself and 90% is from our reaction to it." This rings true to us, so we are trying to think creatively, work on other projects, hope for a brilliant high pressure system to blast through, and/or divine intervention. (And we are trying to not stress out.)

This little farmer doesn't mind the rain a bit. He has been sighted recently in the baby carrier visiting the pigs, chickens, and even helping with some barnyard projects. He is catching some ZZZZs in the laundry basket; his second favorite spot -- the best place being in someone's arms.


Belfast members picked up beet greens bunches, lettuce heads, spinach, cilantro and scallions this week. Farm members will enjoy the same array Tuesday. We devoured a huge "mess" of beet greens for lunch the other day. Amanda scored the biggest beet roots with a knife (helping them cook faster) then steamed the greens and roots whole for 10 minutes. We like lemon juice on top or butter and salt and pepper. Laura recommends honey mustard, which will be our next taste test.


Snap peas are ready to harvest.
as are a rainbow of radishes.
Baby carrots are already being picked by the two big Grassi boys
Chinese Cabbage for fresh slaw or for stir frying
More herbs and scallions
Salad greens/lettuce/spinach

As always, be in touch with questions or comments.


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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

First Greens: Week 1

Week One of the 2009 Season. First of all, a sincere thank you to one and all for allowing us to be your farmers for the growing season ahead. It is truly our pleasure and we look forward to sharing the bounty with you in the weeks ahead.

A bit of news to begin with. Abel Grassi joined the farm team here on June 8th. He is a strapping lad weighing over 10# at birth and gaining by the day. His big brothers are nothing but love and kisses (so far) and his days seem to pass quite blissfully. Joseph and Ben are out and about much these days, catching toads and frogs, picking flowers and helping on carpentry and garden projects.

Prentice, Andy, Amanda and Laura have been transplanting like crazy. Getting corn transplants in, cukes, winter squash, the fourth batch of brassicas (broccoli and relatives) which we succession plant to provide you with broccoli, kale and cabbage all summer long. 1000 lettuce get transplanted every other week and new ones get sown in trays every other week. Truly a revolving door of baby plants these days.

The new "egg mobile" is almost finished and will be quite an abode for the new flock of pullets getting ready to produce eggs come August. It is getting a paint job and a "porch" and will be ready for animals in a week or so. Just in time!! A fox got 5 broiler chickens a few nights ago. More secure housing for the layers will be good for everyone. (Except Foxy).

At last, some green goodness from the Village Farm!

This week you received:

Kale (a sub for the chinese cabbage which really needed another week to size up)


and Salad greens

  • The spinach is so tender and flavorful, we sometimes don't even dress it. To try the Shyka family classic spinach salad: red onion chopped fine, shredded cheddar, bacon (if you are inclined) and vinaigrette.
  • Kale, a cousin of cabbage and broccoli, is most often enjoyed sauteed in a stir fry or sauteed solo with some garlic and oil. You may steam or blanch it first then sautee or toss with oil after that. It can also be chopped and added to soups.
  • Cilantro is a traditional, beloved herb in many cultures. We use it liberally around here, but most often it finds its way atop beans and rice, into fresh salsa or black bean and corn salad. Here is a recipe for Cilantro Pesto, delicious alongside a curry or as a sandwich spread. I learned this from an Indian woman I apprenticed with, so thanks to Sheila. . .

Cilantro Pesto

In blender or Cuisinart: 1-2 garlic cloves, 1" of fresh ginger root, peeled if you care to, and as much fresh jalepeno pepper as you dare (or none at all) . Blend well. Add 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped coarsely on a cut board first, 1/4 cup sunflower or other vegetable oil (olive oil is too strong tasting), juice and zest of one lemon or a lime, and salt to taste. Adjust texture with more oil. Enjoy!

Also, from the Resources tab on our website:

Vegetable Identification and Storage Guide is a very entertaining link to Angelic Organics' CSA site.

Recipes galore, developed by a CSA farm, for using all of your vegetables.

COMING: Radishes, more greens, kale and herbs then we will add peas, broccoli, scallions, carrots and tender white spring turnips.

As always, be in touch with questions or comments and check this blog weekly for news and recipes from your farm.

Fondly, Polly

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Work Day and Farm visit POSTPONED

This picture is from a few weeks ago, but also captures what we are up to these drippy days of early May.

Hello again!

We are POSTPONING the onion planting detail planned for this Saturday due to the amount of moisture in the ground. We just cannot get the ground prepped for planting. We would like to invite all of you NEXT SATURDAY, May 16th, 9-12 for the same gig and this time, we will do it rain or shime. If it is too wet for planting we will have another task to work on as a group and some time to see the animals, woods and share a bit of food.

Have a good weekend. Happy Mothers' Day to all the mothers out there.
and all at Village Farm