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.