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 http://www.epicurious.com/ 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 epicurious.com 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