Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Roots, roots, and more roots!

Hi there blog followers! I write this many weeks ago and just realized that I never posted it! Oops! here's a little late fall news:

Greetings from Village Farm!

It was so very windy here on the prairie today. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we are looking forward to being with friends and family for a good feed and some moments of raucous thanks and some moments of silent gratitude for all the wonders of food, family, health and happiness.

We have some new-ish pictures that illustrate what is going on around here. Among the last jobs the HB and Les worked on before they left for other adventures in early November, was the Annual Digging of the Rosemaries. I have had some of these rosemaries for ten years and each fall, we carefully dig up each rootball and gently place them in pots. The rosemaries stay out in the fall air for a few weeks before moving into the sunny but cool basement where they will spend the winter months. We can't quite send these Mediterranean natives abroad or to Florida, so the basement has to do. They will get replanted (again) in the spring and we will snip their amazing flavored sprigs all summer. This year we dug some thyme, sage and lavender as well to see how they overwinter chez basement.

Yet another fine group of Unity College students joined the Village Farm forces for a day in early November. What a stellar day it was! We chose a task that fit the weather and the many willing hands: moving all the irrigation pipe from the fields to its winter pile by the greenhouse. We chatted and walked, all the while carrying 20-30 foot long pipes together. Thank you Unity College students! Come back and visit anytime!

The simple beauty of some purple cauliflower on a wooden cutboard. Still roasting all the crucifers: kale, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. . . I noticed the Barefoot Contessa had roasted brussel sprouts on her Thanksgiving menu. (We will too!)

The last BIG job each fall is to harvest the trees and shrubs we grow for FEDCO. It takes us a few days but is good, wholesome work and so satisfying to see such healthy roots and beautiful plants up close. Prentice did a lot of 'timing' of the digging operation. In an effort to watch our efficiencies and also our profitability, we are converting a lot of anecdotal "oh, that takes forever" or "that just takes five minutes" into actual timed efforts. We are not racing the clock, mind you. Just keeping the normal pace but writing down how long different tasks ACTUALLY take.

This is the borrowed horse trailer full of trees and shrubs. They are buried in wet sawdust and bound for FEDCO's basement warehouse where they will sit dormant for the winter until they are shipped and sold in April and May. Witch Hazel, Red Maple, Snowberry, Coralberry, Roundleafed Dogwood, Brown Ash. . . and others.

And saving the best for last, this is the most fun we have been having lately. We grew about 500 row feet of mangel beets in the house garden and harvested them along with all the other fall roots. They got washed but rather than getting bagged and sold or stored in the walk-in cooler, they went down to the barn. These beets are for the cows. We covered a huge mountain of beets on the dirt floor in the barn with a tarp and hay for insulation from the frosts. We have been chopping two buckets a day for the six cows of Village Farm and as you can see should you click on the video below, it is a pretty fun job! Uploading the video is taking a good bit of time, so only one for today. (And I have no idea why it is so small.. . . ) Will post one of the cows eating the beets soon.

Warm wishes to one an all for a cozy and delicious weekend.

From all of us at the Village Farm, Polly

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hard work, yes. But it's OUR work.

Hello out there, friends of Village Farm!
Below is a portrait of our tractor by Lily Piel. Lily, a Portland based photographer, visited us a few weeks ago to photograph our operation for The Carrot Project, an awesome funder of grants and loans to farmers. Lily's pictures and portraits make my snapshots look like just that--snapshots. Amazing how the skilled photographer can pull out a whole lot of beauty from the very ordinary.

Have a look at her collection here. This one is also by Lily.
At the end of another growing season, we shift into a slower gear, reflect on the months past and start to make lists of what we would like to learn/change for next year.

So many people, friends, family, customers and even strangers (who see me carrying boxes into the Belfast Coop, for example) say, "What hard work!" To which I say something like:

Yes, but I love it, so it doesn't feel like hard work all the time.
Heavy, hot, wet, and undervalued--yes. But I get to be outside, with my family, with the plants and birdsongs and . . .
I would find lots of jobs much harder work than this!

Freely chosen, being a farmer is a good gig. We are a tiny operation, in the scheme of things, so our days are incredibly varied. I think often when I am harvesting a whole 200 foot bed of broccoli or 30# of salad greens:

I am doing this one job for 30 minutes or so. Some people, farm laborers employed by the BIG agribusinesses out there, do this for 8 hours straight. And then again tomorrow. . . Or maybe a machine does this job. . .

Some jobs ARE hard. It's pouring and cold and your fingers don't want to work. It's steamy and the blackflies are biting. There are cucumbers to harvest and cucumber plants make you itch. And on and on. We all have our strengths around here, and we all have the jobs we'd rather leave to others. But, for the most part, there aren't many jobs that we detest or are too hard on us. The work here is not too hard. We would say it is just about right.

We had a great bunch of friends and CSA members here on October 6th for the Work Party. We call it a party because it is meant to be FUN. We choose a good job for a crowd, get out there, chat it up and do a task. Then we eat. This fine autumn day found us harvesting dry beans as the picture below illustrates, cleaning onions that were finished curing in the greenhouse and harvesting something else which I have forgotten. . . carrots?

I am still giddy with joy that one CSA member took it upon himself to not only wash all of the farmhouse windows (inside and out!!! --AMAZING) but also to sharpen all of our kitchen knives. I am not kidding. Big thanks to all the helping hands of the day and growing season.

Many of you apologized for or lamented not being able to get to a work party. It really isn't primarily about the work accomplished. Most important is to have members with us for a morning. It is our intention that our member/supporters feel that they are welcome, their skills are welcome and we are grateful for their participation in our life and farming business. So we invite you to come and work and eat with us a few times each growing season. . .

More soon about fall vegetables available for the holidays ahead.

Take care,

Polly for all of us at Village Farm

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The week's CSA vegetables:

Choice of winter squash, onions, white and orange carrots, fennel bulb, cilantro or parsley,

broccoli or cauliflower, kale or chard, Kennebec potatoes, green peppers.
This may be my favorite picture of the season. The "blossom end" of a butternut squash, of course, this beautiful mandala is on each squash but a bit different--like a fingerprint. The greenhouse, once full of seedlings is now full of onions and winter squash. The former being cleaned and bagged after a few weeks of curing and the latter, in the first days of curing. The heat and sun thicken the squashes' skin and thus make the fruits more storable during the long months ahead.

The picture below is of the glorious afternoon bringing in all the squash and pumpkins from the field. Note the yellow watermelon on the end of the trailer. A fleeting moment in the farm year when both melons and winter squash are harvested and eaten!

Below, you are looking south across the fall potato field. The ground between the potatoes was planted with oats, assuring that once the potatoes were dug, there would be something on the ground to hold the soil for the winter. We are doing more and more intercropping like this; experimenting all the time with what and when to plant the undersown crop, often clover or oats. There's something to be said for cleanly cultivated beds where there is a crop and then bare soil around it. But where there is enough fertility and water to support two crops, one a vegetable and one a soil building or soil holding crop, it makes much more sense. Nature doesn't like bare soil.

The potatoes are being dug, row by row, as needed. Other crops have "gone by" as we say, and those fields are in the rpocess of being cleaned up and planted to winter rye, a cover crop that will germinate in cool soils, grow a bit this fall and survive the winter to grow next spring. We enjoyed meeting another group of Unity College students last week and they graciously helped clean up the black plastic mulch from this filed of summer squash. There was one scary monster among them who put on a show for the children. I am told he is even a CSA member!!
Hauling in trailer loads of winter squash is one form of farm entertainment and excitement but cows on the loose and three wheeled tractors are another. We had not one but two after dark cow wrangling adventures. Er. . .actually, I should say some people had such adventures. In all honesty, I decline the cow chasing adventures whenever possible. . . especially after dark and when I am in charge of the children. Anyways, they were all collected, thanks to many hands and remain safe and sound inside their appointed quarters.

But the three wheeled tractor story and picture goes like this. HB was driving the tractor and POP! the front right wheel falls off. Down goes the front end and "WHOA!" says HB. "Just wore out," says Prentice. "What a pain," says Benny. Nice living 1 mile from a tractor repair business. It is back on the job.

Well, we heard from many of you that the escarole recipes helped tackle those escarole heads. We enjoyed pumpkin pie yesterday and are diving headfirst into roasted root vegetables these days. Have you tried roasting broccoli and caulifower? Just cut into chunks, drizzle with olive oil, s&P and put in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 min. They will get all crispy and yummy. It is our favorite way to eat those beauties these days. See this recipe for kale chips, too. There are lots of recipes on the web for kale chips. I just tear kale into 3" pieces, rub them with oil (they should be dry before you add the oil) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 350 degrees until they are crisp. stirring and baking in a single layer seem to aid crispiness.

Can't quite mention this past week without mentioning "the lottery ticket" I "won." I spent last Friday at the Common Ground Fair tasting food all day. My name was drawn as a "food judge" and so I got free samples from almost every food booth at the Fair. It was fun but also a lot of work (standing in lines!). Alex, HB, Les and Joseph all came with and weighed in on taste, texture, price, etc. and at the end of the day, we met up with the other four judges and agreed on the Best of Show, Best Vegetarian, etc etc. There was some really amazing food and some not so amazing. I have never made so many decisions in one day. A once in a lifetime day, glad to have the opportunity but glad that it is not everyday!!


End of season potluck will happen this Tuesday evening, October 5th, from 430-7. We will be mostly outside, so please dress for the weather. We are looking forward to a bit of "Farm Talk" so come ready to share your thoughts about our Village Farm season and the future. Pick out a Jack o Lantern, too! Come one and all.

Work Party October 9th from 9-1130 with a hearty lunch provided at noon. Always fun and productive times for all. Come on out for the day!!! (RSVP helpful in knowing how much lunch to prepare. thank you.)

As always, be in touch with any thoughts or questions. Best wishes from all of us,


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Late Summer pickings at Village Farm

This is HB carrying four FULL boxes (of something light, I hope!!) to the walk-in cooler!!

This week's harvest:
Bok choi, watermelon, musk melon, onions, a rainbow of cherry tomatoes, red and golden beets, salad turnips, spinach, thyme and sage bundles, and Abundant shares got parsley, too and maybe chard as well.

A Belfast member told me this morning that she made a leek and white salad turnip soup that was scrumptious. I looked online searching for "salad turnip recipes" and found this recipe on and this one on, my favorite recipe extravaganza. And, I know what we are having for lunch tomorrow!

This is week 13 with at least 5 more to go. . .and still coming: shallots, more leeks, winter squash galore, pumpkins, celeriac (celery root), celery, and other things you have already seen many times like carrots, beets, onions, garlic and the season's last flower bouquets.

2010 will go down in our book as the Year of the Melon. Wow. Seeds started in our greenhouse back in May grew to lovely seedlings, which were planted out into black plastic mulch, watered in, covered with remay row cover (protects them from bugs and adds a bit of warmth) and then left to grow and grow. They received rain water at just the perfect times, were uncovered at flower, saw many a honey bee and they set fruit. The fruit grew and swelled and were checked and prodded many a time before deemed "ripe." I couldn't tell you at this point how many thousands of pounds of melons we picked and gave out to our CSA members and sold to our wholesale accounts but it seemed like many thousands of pounds. But I am known to exaggerate, so if I ever figure it out, I will let you know.
If you missed the email where I sent out the Melon Salsa Recipe, here it is again.

Melon Salsa by Alex Fischer, 2010 Village Farm Intern
Chop and combine the following ingredients in a bowl and let chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. Enjoy!
1 musk melon (cantaloupe)
3 medium sized tomatoes
3 red onions
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
juice from 1/2 a lemon
1-2 TBS salt

I haven't made it with a watermelon but I am betting it would also be delicious with watermelon replacing the musk melon.

Over Labor Day weekend, we had the pleasure of having 12 Colby College students here for a few nights and days. An amazing number ( I count 7 in this picture) of them rose at the crack of dawn to bring in and milk Lucy, the dairy cow with Prentice and they didn't even go back to bed after that! That weekend was Hurricane Earl and all, so they pitched their tents in the greenhouse (of course) and everyone stayed dry. We had a grand time, working, cooking, eating and gaming with these 12 fine individuals and we are so grateful for their wonderful help harvesting all the onions, which are now curing in the greenhouse, cleaning garlic, weeding fall brassicas, erecting the walls of the new intern cabin, nicknamed, "the cube," and harvesting and freezing corn. Thank you Colby incoming students and their leaders!!! Come visit soon!

Unity College students have also been out to the farm in the past few weeks. We always enjoy this time with the next generation and we hope they get a good taste of what a small organic farm can look and feel like. Some work is usually accomplished, too. Great deal.

A few years ago, a neighbor gave us this truck. It is a Community Supported truck. If you ever need a truck to move things or borrow for some project, think of Brownie.
We use Brownie a lot, even though Brownie is getting up there in years and in rust accumulation. In this picture, Brownie is freighted down with all of the produce, boxes and flowers that need to get to Belfast members every Monday night.

We do drive Brownie a lot and though I often wish our deliveries could be made by horse and buggy like our Amish neighbors in Unity and Thorndike, I realize that we walk a lot, too. We use plenty of human powered vehicles to get a round and haul things. . . bikes, our bodies carry buckets to and fro, we pull gardenway carts (like this one with 50+ pounds of broccoli), we push wheelbarrows, and even the baby stroller is used as a harvest vehicle at times.
Prentice just told me last night that walking is one of his favorite things about being a farmer. For a guy whose Appalachian Trail nickname was "Strider" and whose legs are longer than some giraffes', this is maybe not a surprise. I found it a good anecdote to tuck away and tell the whole wide web world --and here I am, doing just that. Prentice likes to walk.

In the years ahead, we hope to walk more and more. Expanding the Farm pick-up CSA membership is the best way to accomplish this. About half of our CSA members pick up at the Farm this year, so that is not too shabby. Opening a farm stand or farm store is another possibility that seems probable. Dreams, dreams dreams. . .

I think that is it for now!

All the best from Village Farm


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Our blog: The Ghost Town

Hello out there!
We have been neglecting the blog these weeks and months, it is true. CSA Members can attest that though we may not be spending time with the keyboard and digital camera, we are most definitely spending time with the vegetables. NO neglect going on in the garden realms. We trust, with the web's nearly infinite recipes, you are finding good ways to cook all that the farm has produced thus far. We always love to hear from you and welcome your questions and comments. In fact, we save most of them for future consideration.

It has been and continues to be such a bountiful growing season. As compared to last year when we felt like cheerleaders--"Come on, cucumbers, you can do it!"--This year we are more like riders.. . it's more like trying to keep up with, or better yet, stay on without getting bucked off a wild horse. The Plants, as individuals, are all doing their things: germinating, growing, fattening, sweetening, ripening and finally senescing (shutting down) with only minimal input from their farmer-caretakers. As a collective, The Plants make up the vegetable part of The Farm. The Farm, with its vegetables, pastures, trees, bees, farmers, interns, children, dog, chicks, chickens, geese, cows, calves, is a hopping and happening place. Wow.

We have been eating. (An incomplete list. . .and in no particular order)

roasted garlic, roasted cherry tomatoes and fresh basil over pasta
corn on the cob
thai glazed chicken
tomato sandwiches
sushi salad
farm vegetable pizzas
yogurt-cucumber sauce
roasted zucchini with marjoram
pestos: cilantro, basil, parsley almond
more corn on the cob
watermelon warmed by the sun, right there in the watermelon patch
muskmelon cooled by the walk-in cooler
three bean salad
and scrambled eggs

Enjoying every bite, or at least striving to .. .

We have been building. A small sleeping cabin for the interns. Here are the walls being assembled in the driveway. Carpentry is a great change of pace for everyone these days. However, hammering is harder than it looks when using big nails and rough sawn hemlock, says HB.

And we have had machine visitors. Many of them. Our irrigation pond got a facelift this month, thanks to a USDA Water Development Grant for farms. There have been diggers galore: bulldozers, dumptrucks, the works. We also had a frost free hydrant installed as part of the same water grant, so we had a backhoe digging a trench right through our front yard! Then a combine drove through to harvest some barley in one of Andy's grain test plots! Then the Gold Top Farm crew drove in with their grass harvesters and clipped, wind rowed and collected the grass from the 25 or so acres of forage. The three boys have been entertained, educated and even given rides by these machines and their many operators.

And we have had the most amazing people visitors. HB and Alex, visitors for the season (aka Interns and Apprentices, interchangeably), arrived in early July and have not only fit right into the works here but brought their fabulous abilities to laugh and have a good time with them. It is a delight to have them here.
At this farm in summertime, visitors = helpers. Our dear cousin, Kathy, harvested dozens and dozens of herb bunches one 90 degree day and then played with the boys and cleaned the kitchen after that. (Pictured below.) Our friend, Meg, retrieved a Playmobile pirate ship (from her basement and from her youth!) one day and entertained the boys for hours with sprinkler games, sandbox creations and her unbelievably good nature. Our friends Michelle and Laura, played with Abel one morning so that I could harvest and work with the crew while Prentice was away. Other visitors have shucked corn, chopped tomatoes, weeded, watered and washed. We had only a few members for the work day last weekend but much was accomplished and we always say about these events, "It doesn't matter how many people come. As long as everyone knows they are welcome here, that is most important thing." Our farm potluck was well attended (message here? Eating is more popular than working?) however and there was an amazing spread of food and wonderful conversation going on. Thank you to all who came out for that!!
And weekly, our parents and siblings arrive to "visit" and get swallowed by the Village Farm vortex of vegetables, children, phonecalls, meals, clean up, laundry etc.etc etc. By default, they join the crew for the day. It is just how it has to be around here. I think by now everyone "gets it" but I do find myself daydreaming about stormy winter days by the fireside when a cup of tea might actually be enjoyed with a friend or relative.

CSA members have received a few emails of late. Blueberries from Stoneset Farm are in and are being distributed to those who ordered. Chickens are also still available. We have lots of basil that is good for processing but not too pretty to the eye. If you would like one or twenty plants to make into pesto, let us know and we will clip you some and have them for you at the next distribution.
We are at week 10 of our CSA season and members received:
Satina potatoes, onions, carrots, zucchini and summer squash, cherry tomatoes, slicing red and heirloom tomatoes, green beans, and a choice of either chard, kale or braising mix and a choice of herbs: lemon balm and stevia for tea (just cover leaves and stems with some hot water and cool on the counter, add ice and some lemon slices and serve!), lavender or marjoram for bathwater or potpourri, sage and thyme bundle or winter savory for cooking.
You can expect more of the staples next week but also: corn again, watermelons and muskmelons for the first time and more lettuce and perhaps spinach! Flowers will also be included again soon! So nice that people seem to love them as much as I do!!

We are looking forward to having a group of incoming Colby students here for a few days of farm work and learning over Labor Day weekend. Unity College students have come several times already this year and it looks like there will be another few groups this fall. We are grateful for these connections at both colleges. It is always amazing to have fun and interested young people here on the farm. We benefit from their willing, helping hands and we hope they benefit by seeing and experiencing the ups and downs of a small, organic farm.

As always, with so much gratitude for your support in the many ways you give it,
Polly and the rest of the Village Farmers.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Week One! 2010 CSA Season Begins!

Beet green bunches~ spinach bunches~ salad mix~ garlic scapes~radish bunches

Welcome to your vegetables, Village Farm CSA Members!

I grew up eating beet greens, steamed for 10 minutes with a pad of butter, squeeze of fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper. That is still my favorite way to eat not only beet greens but most vegetables, actually. Beet greens can be enjoyed, roots to leaves. Give them a scrub to remove any bits of earth that we missed, steam them , saute them or add them to a risotto, soup or even a stir fry. They are overflowing with Vitamins A and K and other good for us nutrients in their most natural and absorbable form--fresh food!!

Spinach bunches and salad mix are self-explanatory but the radishes we will recommend with a touch of vinegar and salt. Somehow that cuts the hot and spicy radish flavor that is exciting but a little much for some people (like myself).

Garlic scapes are the flower buds of garlic plants. The bulbs grow under ground and the leaves fan out above in a symmetrical array. At this time of year, the plants produce a flower bud that goes straight up from the leaves and then starts doing a lovely loop-de-loop. We snip these flower buds and they are mildly garlic-y in flavor and so artistic in their form. They can be chopped by hand or in a food processor and used as your would garlic. They can also be sauteed whole until tender and served as a side vegetable. I have not tried it but have heard that they are great on the grill: baste with a bit of oil and roast them up! A friend brought a garlic scape pesto that we all devoured. I do not have a recipe but I am guessing that it was pine nuts or walnuts, garlic scapes, olive oil, salt and parmesan cheese blended until smooth in a food processor.

Our "Resources" page of our website has links to several websites we like for identifying and enjoying many vegetables that we produce. I often use them myself for inspiration for farm lunches.

Next week: (Always a bit of a guessing game...) Peas? Cilantro, salad turnips, head lettuce, salad greens again. . .and more I am sure. Things are looking so good out there.

Please come and visit anytime!
And mark your calendars with the following dates:

Farm Project Parties--a great way to see the farm, visit and lend a hand on whatever is going on around here.

July 10 -- 9-11 am with a lunch provided

August 21-- 9-11 am with a lunch provided

October 9 --9-11 am with a lunch provided

Evening Potlucks--Walking Farm Tour with a potluck dinner on the porch.

August 17th 5pm

October 5th 5 pm

All the best from one and all,

The Village Farmers

Thursday, June 17, 2010

First CSA Distributions Next Week!

Planting continues here on the Village Farm. We installed some horizontal trellising for the zinnias this week which is looking pretty snazzy. (First picture below). The last of the nursery stock was planted. (Second picture below) These beauties are Cornus Rugosa, a native dogwood that I am so excited to watch grow. We grow about 3000 or so trees and shrubs each year and dig about half of that number in the fall to sell to FEDCO Trees of Waterville. The nursery is one of the many enterprises here that all add up to a biologically diverse farm, varied work through out the seasons and cashflow through out the seasons. Importantly, we find it fun to have different crops and are constantly noodling over how they and we fit together here.

The last of the peppers and eggplants were planted into black plastic mulch. We try to use as little of this "stuff" as possible but for the heat loving crops, it really makes a huge difference in vigor, yield and earliness. The field tomatoes (there are hundreds more in a hoophouse/hothouse) behind Andy are mulched with oat straw and will be trellised up the fencing. Most of these tomatoes are cherries and pastes.
Last fall, our wettest field was chisel plowed and then planted to rye and vetch. The rye is now flowering and will soon form viable seed--and lots of it. Andy is bushhogging it with the deck of the bushhog set high so that the rye will be mowed down but the vetch will be clipped and continue growing. Vetch is a legume and so gifts the farm soils with atmospheric nitrogen caught or "fixed" and then deposited into the soil.
Below is a snapshot of what can be harvested in about two minutes--a harvest for my parents. They came to visit and play with the children and so received their reward. Cilantro, beet greens and spinach. CSA members will also receive mesclun mix, radishes and salad turnips next week. And of course, whatever else is ready!
( I have no idea how the following got underlined, nor do I know how to Un-underline it!! The mysteries of this blog program!!)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

VF seedling sale days

If you still need a few seedlings or a whole garden's worth of seedlings, come over to Freedom for herbs, vegetables, and lots of flowers.

We have got winter squash, summer squash, melons, cukes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, basil, parsley, and dozens of flower varieties, just to name a few.
We will be open for seedling sales

Friday, June 4, 7 am to 5 pm

Saturday June 5, 7 am to 12 noon

Friday, June 11, 7 am to 5 pm

Saturday, June 12, 7 am to 12 noon.

Email us if you would like an availability list or need directions or have questions.

Hope to see you!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

May became June!!

Greetings from Village Farm.

( I began this post nearly a month ago and true to May-form, I am posting it, finally-- on June 4th!!)

Boy, is it ever May! This is the month when it ALL lines up in front of us: all the rows to be plowed and amended, all the seedlings to be planted, all the seedlings to be sold, all the animals to be fenced. And on and on.

We are getting the proverbial "job done" . . .as all jobs are ever done: day by day, row by row, and seedling by seedling.

These are our Chinese Weeder Geese. Actually, they are Andy Smith's. Andy was a 2009 apprentice who will be returning for another year with us in 2010. And Andy is into projects and experiments. So--There are a lot of high hopes for these big-little goslings. We plan to fence them in our tree nursery and never have to weed a single sprout. Technically, they are totally herbivorous and supposedly stick to green things growing from the ground, not from trees (good for our trees and shrubs in the nursery). Un-technically, they are cute, hilarious and easy keepers. We will report back.

Work in the greenhouse continues. This picture is from Early April. We have been very fortunate to have Alicia Billman working with us for the last week or so. She just graduated from Unity College. We are so enjoying her company and fine work. We are sad that she is only available to work with us for a few weeks!! She will be here for another week before heading off to new adventures, like getting married. Thank you and best wishes to Alicia!

Hannah and Andy both returned to the farm this week and have made quick work of the backlog of transplanting, seeding and greenhouse work. I hesitate to say "caught up" , but there, I said it. . .we are feeling caught up.

Now I am writing on June 4th:
Ha Ha Ha Ha!! "Caught up?!?!?" It really was early May when I wrote all that. We are up to our eyeballs in transplants that need planting and are trying to keep up with all the direct seeded crops like carrots, greens, sunflowers and cilantro that need planting every 10-14 days.

The rain, gentle and fine, has been wonderful for all the gardens and resident plants. The crew got the irrigation pump and pipe working last week so we are equipped to irrigate if need be in the future.

Last year, we posted a few videos that became cult favorites amongst some relatives and CSA members. Prentice has been up to some more video-ing tricks and he is quite fond of this one.

Prentice and Joseph have a project this year: Bees. I have witnessed Prentice reading from "Beekeeping for Dummies", aloud, to Joseph, in some unlikely spots over the last few months. They have been studying up: in the hammock , the tub, at the breakfast table. Ten years ago, some generous and thoughtful family members gave Prentice and me a whole bee set up, "soup to nuts." Everything except the bees, right? Well, we FINALLY ordered some bees! They arrived a couple of weeks ago and are doing great at the Village Farm!! Neighbor and great bee guy, Brian Jones has been of enormous assistance and encouragement, so thank you, Brian!!
The CSA will be starting up in a couple of weeks. Exact dates still need to be nailed down. Hard to know when that spinach and beet greens, cilantro and broccoli will be ready! We will contact all CSA members very soon with a first distributuion date. I know you all must be getting very hungry.
All the best from here,
Polly for all at Village Farm

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring spring spring!

Spring greetings to one and all!

The Village Farm people have been busy these
days of early spring. Joseph, Ben and Prentice collected some sap from the maples across the street in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery and boiled it down outside. It is dark and delicious. As you can see, Joseph was amply prepared for anything that might happen while tending the sap.

Sorry about the funky formatting in this blog. It seems to be beyond me to get the pictures and text exactly where I want them.

In March, Prentice and I took an excellent workshop on farm business management with Richard Wiswall of Cate Farm in Vermont. We got a lot of gems from Richard and from his new book including a renewed appreciation for
1. A clean office and desk (not perfected--yet!)
2. Dropping low-profit ventures (pork) and picking up high(er) profit ventures (seedlings)
3. THE FAMILY FARM. We are the real deal. Here is a picture of Prentice filling out our MOFGA organic certification paperwork. (It seemed like 200 pages of it.) Oh, and Ben is by his feet but not in the picture.

Our (new) greenhouse is up and going and I will have some luscious green seedling pictures to share soon. The morning we put the plastic on got a tad windy as we were buttoning up the sides. Some great neighbors helped lay the two layers of plastic on and Andy Smith even came out from Colby. Did we tell you that he will be joining our farm crew for a second season? We could not be happier about that!

We are still enjoying many fruits and roots of
last year's harvest. I put parsnips and peas in the red lentil curry this evening. The freezer is still green with spinach, broccoli, beans and peas frozen last summer and there are still carrots, beets, potatoes, cabbage and bottled kim chi coming out of our root cellar = the cemetery's crypt/tomb.

Word is getting out that we are using the crypt as a
root cellar. A fellow called this week to come photograph our vegetables in there! Sure!!

I am reading Michael Pollan's newest book,
Food Rules, in preparation for a talk I am giving on being an organic farmer and the environmental attributes of local food. What a great hero for the good food/real food/local food movement he is!
Three cheers for Michael!!

Many CSA members have signed up or let us know that they will be signing up for 2010. As always, your recommendations to your friends, family and coworkers are the best publicity for our farm. We are aiming for 50 households this year, so point folks to our website or call for a brochure. We are looking forward to growing food for our community for another season.

All the best from Village Farm,

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sunday's Winter Sleigh Ride Event and other Freedom activities CANCELLED.
We will hope that 2011 brings us more **SNOW**!

March 1st, 2010.

We had a great day Sunday, meeting people at two CSA +CSF Fairs: Rockland and Belfast. There was music by Dog Wants Out in Belfast--100% fun, that band! And they have a mission to support agriculture and food security. Thank you DWO!!
I am guessing 100 or more fair goers attended the Belfast fair. It was hoppin'.

News from the Farm: It can be pretty windy out here in the winter. Without much snow, we haven't had to contend with the drifts this year. We break out the kites often in the springtime and this sunny day last week seemed like a good first kite day for 2010.

We have onions, celery, parsley and celeriac and various flowers seeded. Work on the heated greenhouse will be happening this weekend. We settled on a two phase heating system: this year we will install a propane fired heater and build benches. Next year we will outfit those benches with tubing that will circulate wood-heated water beneath the seedling trays. Sounds cozy, doesn't it?

Most days Jip is "just" a pet (and a nuisance when he takes off!) but we have been putting him to work lately. He has been guarding the laying hens. We took down the flexible net fencing for the winter (to lengthen its life) and when we started seeing fox prints in the snow, we decided that our hens needed to have a body guard while they roamed and scratched about. So Jip has been spending some time with the layers. He seems to be enjoying the new responsibility and we are grateful for his contribution.

CSA sign ups are coming in. Let us know if you think of a place where a poster would be good.

All the best from here,

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Winter Fun in Freedom POSTPONED.

Please join the fun in bustling downtown Freedom on March 7th.

Here is what will be happening:
  • The Dirigo Grange will host a pancake breakfast with coffee, juice and sausage from 8:30-10:30.

  • Village Farm will host local teamsters for FREE sleigh rides from 10-2.

  • The Freedom Volunteer Fire Department will sell hotdogs, cocoa, coffee and sweets at the Village Farm during the sleigh rides. Proceeds will benefit the Department.

Let's all hope the farm fields look like this by March 7th!
Let it snow!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hello out there!!
It is winter on the farm.
King Winter keeps it interesting around here.

Current winter activities:
Keeping a hole in the ice open for hauling water for the cows and calves.
Listening to the cows munch their hay in a quiet barn.
Collecting frozen eggs from in the coop but only on the coldest days.
Ordering seeds, amendments, soil mix, tractor parts, and more seeds.
Selling organic eggs to the Belfast Coop
Getting our CSA brochures printed and distributed.
Planning for the CSA + CSF Fair on Feb 28 (1-4 at the UU Church.)
Planning for the Sleigh Rides!! (See below)
Enjoying our new logo (artwork by Siri Beckman of Stonington)
Updating our website.
Eating root vegetables from the cemetary's crypt (our root cellar!).

FEB 21st --Winter Fun in Downtown Freedom!!!
Dirigo Grange will host Pancake Breakfast 830-1030
Village Farm from 10-2. Free Sleigh Rides with local teamsters.
Freedom Fire Department will be selling hotdogs, cocoa, cookies and coffee at the farm during the sleigh rides.
Spread the word!
Hope to see you all soon!!
Polly and Prentice