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