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 !