Friday, November 25, 2011

Late fall 2011

There are still a lot of vegetables in our days and weeks. I harvested 20# of brussels sprouts this morning from the field; the hoophouse is green with succulent arugula and spinach; leeks, carrots, parsnips and more are holding well in the walk-in cooler for fall CSA members and for the produce department at the Belfast Coop.
This season is the end of a long fall exhale. Around the first of the year we begin the greater farm inhale again with seed orders, tax preparation, wholesale account meetings and of course, CSA brochures, posters and membership efforts.
For the moment, we are loving up the last days of 2011.
We have been building fairy houses with the children,

enjoying tracks in the snow,

spotting sunny spaces to play

chasing rainbows,

enjoying each others' company,
and the company of elders. . .

Wishing all of you the very best of the season.
Because of a certain burst appendix (Abe's) this fall, we did not properly send the crew off with a word on this here blog. Stay tuned for the Thanks to the Crew, coming soon.
All the best from here, Polly

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pasture raised and organically fed chickens!

Our pastured broilers live their lives on fresh green grass, in these breezy structures.

It is chicken time once more. We are getting 120 birds back from the butchers (a state inspected facility in Gardiner) today and so we will have fresh chickens available for the next 5 days or so. This batch are actually Red Bros, so red feathered rather than these white Cornish cross breed that we raised last year. These slower growing Red Bros have fewer growth issues (lame legs, etc) than the Cornish crosses and we like that they are far better grazers and not hyper-bred to size as quickly as possible.

Our customers repeatedly say that "that was the best chicken I have ever tasted."

So. They are large (4-6#) and at $4.35 /# that makes a hefty price tag but consider that one bird feeds four hungry adults with leftovers. Making stock with the bones, some onion skins, celery tops and carrot nubs really stretches the value and puts the yummiest soup base in your freezer.

Pass this on to others who might be interested, please and give us a call or email if you need any birds for your winter season ahead.
I can smell the chicken and rice soup bubbling away on the woodstove. . .
Best wishes from all of us,
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Late Fall and Winter Shares

Tuesday, October 11, was the last distribution of vegetables to our 17 week CSA season. Thank you for your part in making 2011 such a wonderful growing season. The work parties, visits from members and CSA potlucks are among our favorite summer times.
We farmers felt and continue to feel very much supported and honored by Village Farm's community of members. We are so glad to be growing some of the food that you are nourished by and enjoy!
Last year, when the distributions ceased, so many of you said "I don't want it to end!" and "What will I eat now?" that we got to thinking about continuing to serve up Village Farm's finest for a few more months through a Winter Share. So, we are going to try it. Twenty five of you have signed up for either a farm or a Belfast pick up beginning this Monday, October 17th and running through late December. We have over twenty different crops in the fields, under row cover, in cold storage and in the hoophouse. You will see some of them once or twice (e.g. fall radishes, fennel) and some of them nearly every week (e.g. various winter squash, carrots). Like our summer-fall CSA, we will aim to provide roughly the same value week to week, for a total of $200 value over 8 distributions: weekly in October and November, then every other week around the holidays. Unlike our summer-fall CSA's "farmer's market style" distributions where members pick out and bag their own produce, we will weigh and bag all of the produce for you.
Belfast members will pick up from an in-town covered porch (I will send directions and details in an email) and
Farm members will pick up from the farm's walk-in cooler
Mondays 4-6 pm

Here are the dates for your calendars: October 17, 24, 31, November 7, 14, 21, December 5 and 19.
Though we planned for 20 shares, we have a good inventory of crops available for the fall and early winter and so could take a few more members, if some of you are interested. is the best way to reach us.

We are very much looking forward to this experiment and to seeing and feeding so many of you over the coming few months!

Again, many, many thanks to all CSA members, friends and family members for your abiding support in our Village Farm (ad)venture.
Gratefully yours, Polly
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Monday, October 10, 2011

Autumn's Abundance

A fine group of CSA members and farm interns cleaning onions during our last work party. Many thanks!!

The winter sqauash and pie pumpkin harvest.

The farmers and farm children got away to the western mountains for a couple of days this past weekend.

Nate raking and Zac rototilling Hoophouse 2, readying it for 5 beds of spinach. Thanksgiving harvest?

Many small bottles full of flowers headed to a friend's wedding.

Autumn winds and autumn harvests, that lower light, and shorter days all trigger a new flow to our days here. The squash fruits are all safely in the greenhouse curing away; growing thicker skins for the months of storage ahead. We salvaged some colored peppers after that hard freeze Thursday night that wiped out even plants in Hoophouse 1. The work of digging and washing many, many roots is to come.
Tomorrow is the last CSA distribution of 2011's summer season. We have had a great year. Bounteous crops grown in the fertile loam of our fields have fed all of us and many of you. We are grateful for the favorable weather, excellent farm workers, support from friends, family and CSA members and for the earth's generosity.

I dare say we have had our busiest summer ever. A lot of crops and a lot of people here on the Farm. The revolving door of visitors, guests, college students, friends, CSA members and family has been a-whirling. It makes us very happy to think back on all the feet that have padded through our dooryard, farm fields and farmyard.
Like most Mainers, we relish summer's outrageous beauty and full days but we secretly yearn for wood fires and snow drifts as soon as the autumn chill starts up. Come January, you will find us hunkered down, alright. . .but working, too. There is analysis of 2011 to do and of course, taxes to prepare. And there is always another growing season to plan for.
We look forward to growing for you again in 2012.
With all best wishes and many thanks, Polly and Prentice

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Start Where You Are

Prentice and the lads sowing rye in between the potato rows. Sept 1st?
Goodbye to Zelie from the Village Farm Crew!

Nightly chores include tethering Pheona in the barn so that Phoebe will have milk in the mornings.

A bit of farm art. We slaughtered a dozen Bard Rock roosters that were supposed to be hens.

As the fall arrives, the weeks and crops fly by and I am aware how seldom I have posted here with news, recipes and photos. As I work in the fields, I often think, "Oh, I wish the CSA members could see this incredible bed of fall lacinato kale. . ." or you could insert any number of vegetable wonders for the kale, really. There is such a lot going on here, it is a challenge to stay on top of the blogging/sharing with friends, farm members and customers. I can let myself off the hook, however. We have been down an intern all season so it is not surprising that my precious few hours at the desk have been spent making deposits and invoices.

Hearing the words of Pema Chodron in my head, "Start where you are. . .", I will not attempt to catch you up an all of the news and workings over the last weeks but rather offer just a snapshot of some highlights and some present moment projects.

  • Welcomed Nate to our farm crew a few weeks ago. Most of you have met him by now. We feel lucky to have another fun and talented person in our days.

  • Bade dear Zelie, from France, a tearful goodbye in early September. Zelie entered our home, farm and hearts in July and after eight weeks, she was such a part of things around here, it was hard to understand how we were all going to cope and survive without her. She is on to attend university in France and we plan to see her here next fall. Merci, Zelie, and Abiento!

  • Entered several vegetables in the the Common Ground Fair's Exhibition Hall -- a showcase of farming and gardening, seed saving and Vegetable Beauty in Maine. Scored some blue ribbons --and other colors, too.

  • Prentice and the boys made hand rolled pasta, fresh pesto, tomatoes and salad for lunch last week. So festive!

  • Cleaned hundreds of pounds of onions with a group from Unity College. Thank you so much!

  • Sowed many many beds to winter rye, a cover crop, whose roots hold the soil from fall and winter and spring erosion.

  • Begun to dig fall turnips, beets and radishes for selling to our wholesale accounts, sharing with our summer CSA and storing and distributing to our Late Fall CSA members (sold out!)

  • Enjoying the last of the zinnias and sunflowers. Goodbye until next year!

  • Excited to harvest Brussels Sprouts, gargantuan (or ginormous, to be hip) cabbages and hopefully a whole new crop of broccoli and cauliflower.

  • Looking forward to shorter days, slower days and the foods from the fall fields, full freezers, root cellar and pantries.

CSA members are receiving winter squashes and the many sweet roots, also leaves like kales, chards, cilantro and the last of the basils. We have a hoophouse full of peppers of red and green, so everyone will see those again. A carving pumpkin will be on your way as well as a pie pumpkin--but not in the same week.

We are hosting a work party this Saturday morning 9-11 with a soup and bread lunch to follow. Please join us if you are able!

Harvest Potluck next Tuesday, October 4th here at the Farm. 5 pm. Take a walk, share some good food and listen to Prentice recite a Holman Day poem or two. Hope you can make it!!

And finally, we will have the annual CSA survey to you soon. This helps us evaluate how we did according to YOU. These are so important to our business and our planning for next year, so be ready with your suggestions, thoughts and the like.

Thank you for your support, friends!

Polly and the VF crew

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Thankful for Unity on the Farm

Two weeks ago we had the pleasure of hosting an orientation trip for 10 incoming Unity College students. We owe them, and their two wonderful leaders a great deal of thanks for all the help and good company they brought to Village Farm. They all arrived in the rain, set up camp down by the pond with smiles on and then pitched in on the farm each afternoon for four days. The picture above shows the packing shed pole barn abuzz with activity. Hanging garlic, I believe.

Hauling garlic from the greenhouse (where it was laid out for a preliminary dry-down) to the packing shed where it will be hung from the rafters until we get around to cleaning it. Doesn't this smile make you smile?

Packing scallions for the cooler--which means that the scallions were harvested because they were ready or we needed to incorporate the bed they were in, so we harvested and washed them for sale at a later date.

A watchful and laughing group of barn swallow nestlings watched from on high as all the garlic was put up in the rafters. They since have flown to other parts.
When my parents bought their farm in Orrington 45 years ago, a rafter in their timber framed barn was covered with dates. Somehow, my parents figured out that the spring and late summer dates marked the arrival and departures, for dozens of years (beginning in the 19th century, I believe, but will check on that fact), of the seasonal residents: barn swallows. My father has kept up the rafter-writ almanac with his own scritchety scratch of dates. These little nestlings make me realize that Village Farm is due for such a thing.
It has been a few weeks of vegetables for CSA members with no blog posting. . .such is farming around here with one too few interns for the year. All hands are on deck, I tell you.
The harvest is rolling in, literally, in the case of the melons. Everyone will receive at least a watermelon next week and possibly a musk melon/canteloupe. We have given out (organic and not wormy!) sweet corn ears and jumbo broccoli for the last two weeks and at last the tomatoes seem to be coming in bigger quanitities. New potatoes were also a new offering in the last few weeks. And everyone has received luscious baby lettuce heads, cabbage, celery, onions, peppers, and basil. Check out this beautiful, artful salad using a quartered baby lettuce head. We have yet to eat there, but our friend, Erin has been wowing diners at The Lost Kitchen in Belfast. She will be opening a larger venue soon in the old Gothic building across from the Post Office. Congrats, and Good Luck, Erin!

Flower share members received red and fuschia bouquets this week and it looks like everyone (not just flower share members!) will get a sunny sunflower bouquet in the next week or two.

Things look great for the fall. Cabbages are heading up and the potato crop is booming despite late blight all around us in Waldo County. They will get a misting of (organically allowed) Copper spray tomorrow to keep the devastating fungus from wiping them out. 2009 gave us a lesson in late blight and Copper as a fungicide. . .see this post from that summer for more details.

We are looking forward to our first evening potluck of 2011 this Tuesday evening, August 30th, with a walking tour beginning at 5 and eating around 530-6.
We will have a tomato and pesto tasting for you all to sample as well as other treats from the kitchen here. We would love to see as many of you as can make it. No RSVPs necessary! Come along and bring a hungry friend.

All the best from here, Polly

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Parsley Pesto from the Village Farmhouse

For those of you who have come for lunch here, chances are you have tasted our parsley pesto. It is wonderful, like most pestos on pasta but also on toast with some cooked greens, on crackers with cheese, mixed into a soup or dolloped onto any meat or tofu dish. Versitile and bright, this parsley pesto is great frozen and enjoyed mid-winter. Everyone gets a huge bunch of flat leaf parsley this week, with the hopes that you might try this recipe out.

Parsley Almond Pesto. (Warning: This is not a truly developed recipe but rather a ballpark figure that will get you something yummy. You can adjust consistency with more or less oil--I like lots--and a bit more or less lemon juice and of course, choose your salt level.)

  • Using a food processor or blender, chop 1/2 cup slivered or whole almonds and 1-2 cloves of garlic until lightly chopped but not pastey. (Do not over chop).

  • If you wash your parsley, make sure it is dry dry dry before starting (Once I used wet and it emulsified with the oil--not very yummy) Separate leaves from large stems from one large bunch of flat leaf parsley. Pack the processor with 4 cups of parsley leaves (and small stems are fine, but not big thick stems)

  • Add the juice and zest of one lemon (or 2 TBS lemon juice if you have that instead)

  • Add 1/2 cup safflower, sunflower or canola oil--not olive oil

  • Add 1/2 tsp salt

  • Mix in processor until combined and parsley is chopped. Add more oil until you get a slightly runny consistency. Less if you want a thicker experience. More salt to taste.

  • Enjoy!

More farm news and share news coming. . .


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Weeks 6 and 7 of 2011 CSA

Prentice next to the beeswarm that landed in our Linden tree.
Dear CSA Members and blog followers,

It is August! It has been so hot the bees decided to swarm. . .right into the barnyard as we were packing vegetables one afternoon! Their queen landed on a low hanging (thank you, queen bee!) Linden tree branch about 25 feet from all the action. Prentice clipped the branch and walked them straight home to their hive and they all seem to be staying put now that the temps are lower.

We have been tempted to swarm, too, in all this heat! I have found myself, more often than I care to admit, in the waters of Belfast Bay. Something about that deep cooling water sets me "back to rights." We have had sun and heat, thunder and lightning, blue skies and glorious breezes. The vegetables have appreciated the bits and pieces of rain that have fallen from above and despite a few weeks of malfunction, the irrigation pump is once again pumping out more water where needed. Everything is growing well, including the weeds.
Yes, we are seeing the effects of being down an apprentice all season. . .we are missing a third of our work force--that is serious! There are way more weeds than we are used to and they grow by the day so some of them are starting to be intimidating! We try to get to large weeding projects when time allows but between picking picking picking for the 70 CSA households and our wholesale accounts, and tending the animals, the weeding is often last to get our attention. We had an awesome crew of weeders tackle two huge beds of carrots last Saturday and a big THANK YOU! goes out to all of those who lent a hand.
Goat feta, tomato, cucumber, basil and olive oil salad.

We have bid farewell to The Three (not Billy, not Gruff) Goats. A few of us may have had tears in our eyes and lumps in our throats (but I won't say who!) We continue to offer them thanks as we enjoy the delectable cheeses that Zac and Willie and Zelie have produced. This morning's breakfast table held chive chevre, braised escarole, VF eggs and kimchi. Last week we made a salad of the first tomatoes from the hoophouse that featured goat feta, cukes and basil and olive oil and a bit of black pepper. So simple and sublime. Thank you goats. Thank you gardens.

Zac mixing up a gigantic batch of kimchi on the porch.

Yes, I did write that word: TOMATOES. They are indeed on their way. . . Long awaited, we will have tomatoes for many weeks to come. Everyone has had eggplant by now and Farm members got their first green peppers this Tuesday. We distributed the first cabbages, delivered as a half in a bag because they were so large and we didn't want to take up your whole crisper drawer with one of those beauties.

CSA members are commenting on the onions. Ailsa Craig is the mild white variety you have all received a few times now. Carrots keep all of us crunching and the summer squash and cucumbers keep a coming and so you keep receiving them. They form the base of many, many a meal around here. Today's lunch was curried coconut rice with a side of carmelized onions and strips of zucchini. Cilantro pesto (see the recipe I posted week one of 2009's CSA here) as a condiment, and also some cucumber, onion, tomato salsa.

How are the "bunch your own herbs" going for everyone? We will continue in this fashion, encouraging you to make mixed bunches of the herbs you use and enjoy, rather than us bunching too large or small bunches for your tastes.

Flower share members have received four or five bouquets so far and almost all vegetable share members have also received a bouquet. We will have bouquets this coming Monday for the 20 Belfast members who did not get them on 8-1-11. Perhaps it goes without saying, but I hope all of you are taking the rubber bands off the bunches each time. They will "relax" so much more beautifully into a vase with out that constricting thing. Also, please do change the water once or twice and if really ambitious, you could trim off 1/2 inch of stem at the bottom at that point. They will last much longer with both fresh water every 3 days and a bit of a trim. And one more thing, while I am on a roll here, the bouquets are yours to tinker with! Divide them into two or three smaller bouquets for bedside tables! Take out the stems you aren't crazy about or don't like the smell of (Bells of Ireland can kind of get to me. . .). Remove the blooms that go by, keeping the zinnias which seem to last for weeks at my house! Hope you are enjoying them!

It seems that there have been many people in our fields and around our tables this week, but it seems a blur at the moment. . . An attempt at recollecting includes. . .Amma Sal and Aunt Laurie who brought a huge and scrumptious dinner Tuesday night. There were the carrot weeders on Saturday, Beatriz on Friday, Shana on Monday and the grandparents who took the boys for several days of off-farm entertainment. . .Many thanks to each and all. And to those I forgot, thank you as well and forgive my memory, friends.

Sunday will bring a group of Unity College matriculants to the farm for an orientation trip. We will work with them each afternoon and harvest foods for their meals. It is always a good time, having service-learning groups here with us and we are looking forward to it very much.

That may be it for now!

Hope you all are enjoying the gifts of summer!

Polly, for all of us at Village Farm

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Week Five of 2011 CSA

Cherokee lettuce by Shannon Thompson

As we harvested this week's vegetables for you CSA members, the exclamations around the washtub were many. On Sunday, I picked, washed and packed 45# of salad mix (yeah, we usually don't work on Sundays. . .more on that in a bit) with the fantastic company of Shannon and John who came by "motorbicle" as Abel calls them. It was a gloriously blue skied day with a breeze and I wanted to be no where else on earth. . .and then Shannon rolled in, introduced me to John, chatting commenced and I got one notch happier. Love those visitors. They complimented the salad mix, too, so they get even bonus bonus points.

Shannon and John told me the storyline of a new documentary which you all might be interested in: Forks Over Knives. I will let you click on that link rather than giving a second hand report which I will botch. . .safe to say it is about health and good food. I look forward to seeing it.

We also had our first kohlrabi harvest and Zac snapped a few pics for his sister, who is, we hear, a kohlrabi fan.
We have hit 1200 row feet of carrots hard in the past weeks shipping many bunches to the Coop and giving them out at this week's and last week's distributions. You can see me sporting some high farm fashion here. I really wanted to wear the colors of the carrots.
Last week, we welcomed to the farm and family a young woman from France, named Zelie. Through a friend, Zelie has come to live with us for a few weeks, help with the children and farm work and work on her English. She is a delight to all, including her new friends, more farm visitors, The Goats. Despite my "no new species" rule, we agreed to goat-sit for a friends three white Saanans. Vegetables for week five. . .getting some crunch and color. First cucumbers and summer squashes, kohlrabi (best eaten raw, in my opinion--grated in a slaw, dipped in your favorite hummous or dip. It is like a sweet, tender broccoli stem and hails from the same family), your second take at viatmin greens, scallions, some got broccoli, some got beets, lettuce and salad mix and herbs for all. . .
This week coming up, we will have fresh (uncured) garlic heads for you, more cukes and zukes, escarole, an Italian cooking green which I will offer a recipe for, possibly peas again (can be hard to predict), possibly broccoli and more salad fixings and carrots and herbs, as usual.

Watering, watering to keep the plants growing these hot days. Everything is looking good. I walked the melons two days in a row and I think the vines grew 2 feet. There is so much more good food to come!!

Thank yous for the week include Thank you to a beautiful group of teenagers from Hidden Valley camp who worked for an afternoon planting our fall potatoes with Prentice. What a good time Prentice had. We were sorry not to be able to attend their end of the session party where they fired up an earthen oven they built. Hope it worked well, guys! Also on the farm were Levi, Lauren and Rowan for a day of picking, weeding and irrigation pipe hauling. We really enjoyed their company and help and look forward to more days in the future! My mother an brother came for a day of play with the boys and my mother and I actually got out and weeded a few beds of zinnias. Thank you Mom and Michael! Of course, Zelie and Zac and Willie--critical members of the team around here. We are having a lot of fun and getting a lot done, everyday.Truly a pleasure. My mother and father took Benny for a few solo days of fun and Josey has been in NH all week with Prentice's folks. Lucky boys to have such good times whilst the farm hums along and both parents try to keep up with it!
Let us know how it is going for you! We love emails, questions and posts to our Village Farm facebook page. Phone calls and visits are great, too!

Hope you are all staying cool and well fed.
Best wishes from all,

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

We say we don't work on Sundays

But then there is Monday to prepare for. . . .so we actually do work on Sundays, a bit. This picture of Prentice proves it. Dressed for a party but armed with the necessary papers to lay out Monday morning's picking and CSA distribution.

All is well here on the Village Farm. We have had a few nice showers lately and the irrigation pump and system have been employed, as well. The crops are loving this heat.

We slaughtered the first batch of 119 broilers this past Thursday over in Monmouth at a state certified and cooperative processing facility. Four of us went over for a long and hot day but we returned knowing each other a bit better and with a truck full of the most delicious and healthy birds around. We will have them available from the freezer all summer with another batch available fresh in about 7 weeks. Contact us if you are interested! Sunday night, After about 30 pizzas, we put two birds in Dutch ovens into a friend's outdoor cob oven (I want one and will build one. . .) and this is the view after the bake. Chicken salad for lunch on Monday. Last week was Week 1 of the Flower share. I tell you, I should be paying YOU for the privilege of crafting bouquets each week! This week's bouquets, like last week's, contained zinnias , larkspur, bachelor buttons, some celosias and statice. This week I also added some Bells of Ireland and a few had cosmos and some Irish Eyes rudebekia, a green-eyed black-eyed susan. Go figure.

The vegetable shares this week include:

Spinach, shell peas (Belfast), sugar snap peas(edible pods! Farm members) napa cabbage (Farm), rainbow carrot bunches, garlic scapes, hakurei turnips OR broccoli (Belfast), lettuce, and our new experiment: herb buffet or make your own herb bunches: parsley, cilantro and dill.

Hakurei turnips are the darlings of the farm crew. We eat them raw on sandwiches or grated in salads, mostly but have pickled them and steamed them, too. The greens are delicious as well, so saute or steam them and add them to eggs or a stir fry.
Napa cabbage is a big savoyed (crinkled) head of tenderness. We eat it raw, sliced thinly with a dressing or sauteed in a stir fry. They go well with toasted sesame seeds or toasted sesame oil, I think. Traditionally, it is the main ingredient in kim chi, A Korean saurcraut. We love the recipe from Sally Fallon's cookbook, Nourishing Traditions.

1 head Napa cabbage, cored and shredded

1 bunch scallions, chopped

1 cup grated carrots

1/2 cup grated daikon radish

1-2 tbs grated fresh ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp chile flakes

2 tsp sea salt

2 tbs whey, if not available, use 2 extra tsp salt

1/2 cup water

Place veg and ginger and chile flakes in a bowl and mash down with a wooden pounder to release juices. Stuff into 2 quart sized wide-mouth mason jars and press down with pounder. The top of the vegetables should be 1 " below the top of the jar. Mix water with whey and salt and pour over cabbage mixture.Add additional water if needed to bring liquid to top of cabbage. Cover tightly. Keep in a warm place for 2-3 days before transferring to the refrigerator.

We are still enjoying many batches of garlic pesto per week and adding garlic scapes to just about everything that comes out of the kitchen, except the oatmeal. I have been told, however, that my Russian grandfather enjoyed garlic in his oatmeal, so it might be worth a try. (He also soaked his feet in a garlic tea when he was sick.)

If you are in need of recipes, we are going to order a few copies of Farmer John's Cookbook to have for sale at distributions. This is our summer "got to" cookbook as it was written by a CSA farmer and his kitchen staff and is wonderfully funny, simple and has ALL the vegetables that we grow listed seasonally and with good information about each.

Next week we will have scallions, kohlrabi and zucchini and summer squash as well as cooking greens (kale or chard), salad fixins and more. .. .

We wish we could get it together enough to post weekly recipes but it just doesn't happen. If any of you wanted to post recipes or links to recipes to this blog, I would welcome that contribution and could share appropriate coaching and passwords. Blogger does not enable "cut and paste" action, so it is a commitment to typing in the recipes, I am afraid.

Thank Yous. We cannot forget the Thank Yous!!! The Farm was saved by Kathy Weathers this Monday, or at least it felt that way, when she showed up to be with the boys so both Prentice and I could pick and pack for the day. What a busy day! She even baked cookies!! Zoli and Becky have been doing childcare a few times per week, allowing both farmers to be farmers and that is always a treat and a good time. A friend of Zac's, Beatriz, put in a few days of good farm work last week, including the infamous and aforementioned chicken slaughter marathon. We are grateful to grandparents and aunties and uncles who often love up our farm boys with trips and stories and special times. Thank you to all those and the ones I have certainly forgotten. . .

Well, it is time to set up for this afternoon's CSA distribution on the farm, so I shall sign off with many best wishes to all of you for many a happy, healthy meal with people you love.

Polly, for all at Village Farm

Monday, June 27, 2011

Alicia, Willie, Zac and Prentice pause and pose over the red greens mix last week.

We have been so very fortunate to have had another willing worker around for the last 10 days. Unity College grad and rock solid human being, Alicia, joined our farm and family in the height of planting and harvesting and has been a HUGE help to the works. Abel calls her "Miss Alicia." We will all miss her sorely when she returns to Ohio tomorrow. Big, big thanks to Alicia from all of us.

Another big thanks to Tim and Clayton, Belfast friends and CSA members for their wonderful company and helping hands Monday morning. Tim's big laugh, and work in the packing shed was just what we all needed on a busy Monday morning. While 6 year old Clayton and our three boys went to the pond with Prentice, Tim worked away as part of the VF crew. With a 10 am deadline for one order and a slug of CSA shares to pick for in the heat, Tim got a crash course in skedaddle, VF style. At one point, when I realized that we needed to be picking for 10 more CSA shares than I had written on the pick sheet, I said, "I think I should sit down and take a deep breath." Tim: "A very good idea." Another favorite Tim quote: "Just keep picking, right?" (Yes.)

What a pleasure to have friends and CSA members join our days here.

This week's offerings: Lettuce heads, salad mix, spinach, kale bunches, hakurei turnips (Belfast) or beet green bunches (Farm members--whichever you didn't get this week, you will get next week!), garlic scapes and a choice of either dill or parsley.

Hakurei turnips are a favorite crop around here Fun to pick, fun to wash and bunch and so fun and sweet to eat. We often slice them up in salads or quick pickles (a dash of vinegar and herbs). No need to peel them. They can also be enjoyed steamed though I tend to slice off the turnips for fresh dipping or munching and then steam just the greens.

Tuesday's Farm members received beet greens as we let the hakuriei size a bit more.

Beet greens are an iron-rich treat that I grew up eating quite often. Our naturopath tells me beets are good liver cleansers. My parents always simply steamed them in a shallow bit of water in a big pan for 5-10 minutes and then topped with a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper. You can add them to a quiche or omelet, saute them in a bit of oil. We eat the itty bitty beet, stem and leaf all together. They are washed well here but you may want to give them a rinse to be sure there is no grit.

Garlic scapes are the buds of garlic plants' flowers. While the bulb sizes up underground, the flowers rise and then curl their delicate loveliness right out of the top of the plant. We snip them off to eat but also because snipping them supposedly allows more energy to go to the bulb. They can be used as a milder substitute for garlic, sauteed whole or chopped, pickled or used in a pesto such as this one:

1/2 cup garlic scapes chopped into 1" pieces

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast if you avoid dairy or are out. . .

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds or almonds (toasted if you like)

1/4-1/2 cup or more olive oil

Blend all in a food processor and adjust the consistency with more olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper and a splash of lemon juice if you like.

Serve on pasta or on a sandwich or crackers or eat with a spoon. So good.

Today's lunch a la Zac: Rice noodles tossed with garlic scape pesto, massaged kale salad (click on those words for a link to a recipe--thanks, Kathy!), pressed, herbed farm cheese, microgreen salad and John's Ice Cream for dessert. We are doing well, I tell you.

And one more recipe link for kale chips, if you have never made them. . .you must.

Next week we are looking to add snap peas to the offerings. Perhaps Napa cabbage? It can be challenging to predict. Beet greens for those who got hakurei salad turnips and vice versa. . .

And the flower shares will begin!! Ten weeks of blooms! I can hardly wait!

Also! We have a work party coming up on July 9 from 9-12 am with a lunch provided. RSVPs appreciated so we can plan for food. These work party (fun, like a party!) mornings are a wonderful way for us to visit and work alongside friends and CSA members. We take a walk around to see the sights, too. There are jobs for all ages and abilities, so please come on out if you are inclined. Hope you can make it!

For all of us at Village Farm, we hope you enjoy the week and whatever food makes its way to your table. We feel very fortunate and happy to be growing some of that food for you,


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Week One of 2011 CSA Season!

Well, let the fun begin!

Happy Summer everyone! Yesterday was our first CSA pick day and though we have been harvesting a bit over the last weeks, there is a certain giddiness to the first CSA pick days of the season. The CSA is truly the heart of our farm. Members are not merely customers. Those vegetables growing outside our farmhouse doors. . . that is YOUR food. It is ALL OF OUR food. For the months ahead we will all be nourished by the minerals and vitamins, flavors and colors and smells of nutrient dense vegetables grown from this earth. There is something powerfully cooperative about the CSA arrangement and we thrive knowing that so many of the vegetables we grow will end up on your plates. Thank you for supporting our farm.

So here we go!

The harvest: Members will be getting head lettuce, radish bunches, salad greens, vitamin greens, cilantro an micro greens. All but the vitamin greens are best enjoyed raw in salads, though the vitamin greens are lovely raw in a slaw or salad, too. I enjoy the vitamin greens sauteed briefly (so they maintain a bit of crunch and texture) in some oil in a hot pan. Add a bit of salt and enjoy. They are a bok choy relative so they also are great in a stir fry.
Next week will have hakurei turnips and more salad fixins as well as garlic scapes and hopefully beet greens.

Barnyard News: The new hoophouse is full of tomatoes and the original one is full of peppers and basil. And the new grain bin is up! Phew. Hundred of nuts and bolts and a few gray hairs (notice the power lines) later, it is full of chicken mash milled at Maine's newest farmer-owned, organic grain processor, Maine Organic Milling.

We are almost all sold out of seedlings for the year. It was a great second year of marketing at the Belfast Coop. These calendula are blooming in their pots and just looked so gorgeous on the back of the J-20, our new, old plow truck.

That is all for now. Be in touch with any questions, ideas or inspirations!

Polly for all of us at Village Farm

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Working Shares Available

Wanted: 2 people to join the VF crew every Monday or Tuesday morning from 8-12 a.m. for 17 weeks-- the CSA season-- in exchange for a vegetable share. Call or email us if you are interested!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Spring at Village Farm

Well, last night's thunder storms left a good bit of rain (and some hail) for all at Village Farm. As we all sat on the porch during a downpour, I came to understand where the term "high-tail" might have originated. Watching cows run in from pasture: seven long, strong tails held high off their running rumps. They took cover, as we had done a few minutes earlier.
Just as bringing an umbrella assures the superstitious that it will not rain, setting up an intricate, heavy and cheeky irrigation system assures farmers that it will rain. We are not complaining. Rain from above, natural rain is far better than any water we can deliver to crops. They all needed it, so we are breathing a sigh of relief. How quickly it can go from way-too-wet to way-too-dry!
We are diligently planting, planting, planting while also running the twice weekly loads of seedlings into the Coop. The last week was amazing for sales! We just brought yellow and red watermelons and will deliver another gaggle of those today as well as some cantloupe, some new herbs, okra, and some lovely looking zinnias. And as always, the top sellers: gem marigolds, sungold tomatoes and Genovese basil.
Harvesting has begun again. We had a few week hiatus since our hoophouse vegetables sold out, and today we will be bringing more micro greens and baby head lettuce into the Coop and to our favorite caterers.
Speaking of harvesting, the 2011 Summer CSA will begin its 17 week run on June 20th for Belfast members and June 21st for Farm members. We will begin flower share distributions in early July. There is still time to sign up for either the vegetables or the flowers, so be in touch if are interested!
I just read this wonderful article by Sara Jenkins in the Altlantic and thought to pass it on to all of you. It is titled "Why Home-Style Cooking Will Always Beat Restaurant-Style" and it rung so true to these ears. We cook so simply here and eat so well. Just the other day I was paging through one of those fancy, beautiful cookbooks and felt a little inferiority rising. "I should learn to bake bread better, " and "This curry looks so much better than my 'old standby curry'" and on and on. . .the voices chatter. Jenkins' article makes the elegant case that restauranteurs do not have to think about the day in and day out health of their diners. Salt, fat, wine and tricky processes (the kind I haven't the training or time for!) can lure any eater into gastronomic ecstasy. Not that gastronomic ecstasy is bad, but simply good enough is usually delicious and a whole lot healthier and easier. In this home/farm kitchen, balancing all the palates with what is available seasonally and from the pantry and freezers, is the name of the game.
Soft, herbed farm cheese shows up on every table. Fresh greens, last fall's kim chi and saurcraut. . .all staples. Willie has become the chicken roaster, scone baker, and brewer. Zac makes salads come alive with surprising ingredients and has used parsnips in more ways than I can count. Prentice can juggle three boys and still turn out a multi-course lunch "on time" (noon). I made some beef empanadas this week that were enjoyed by all and now there are murmerings and jingles being sung of "Polly's Hair Salon and Empanaderia." (Not sure the two should be linked like that. . . )
All this, just to say that eating simply and eating well can go hand in hand. No need for fancy equipment, processes, kitchens or those cookbooks.
More from Village Farm soon!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

More Comings and Goings

Some beautiful Cornus Rugosa cuttings that we are rooting for the tree nursery.

It is Full Tilt Spring here on the Village Farm and in the words of our dairy farmer friend, Jeff Bragg, "There is never enough time in May." And, I add, there's a LOT going on to report to our blog followers! All this rain has slowed our planting and transplanting down to a full stop but there is never a shortage of other building, greenhouse and harvesting tasks to do.

We got all of our alliums (onions, leeks and shallots) in before this week of rain as well as first sowings of radishes, carrots, salad greens, salad turnips, beets, herbs and lettuce. That was a bit of a push and even Ben, aged four, was out after dinner one night helping get the seeds in the ground. We don't work after dinner very often but in this case, staring down a week of rain, we thought every minute of daylight should be used to get our crops in the ground. There is no driving on our fields now, or even walking, really. Much too muddy. And so we are waiting for some sun and a warm breeze to dry things out (again!).

A few photo collages to capture more comings and goings. . .First the arrivals.

  • Two days ago a big bull calf was born to Charlotte, our Shorthorn beef mama. His name is Chico (in keeping with the custom of naming offspring with the first letter of their mother's first name) and he is a strapping and thrifty guy. He and Charlotte are in a box stall in the barn now, despite being born into that luscious green grass. They get a chance to bond away from the other herd members this way. They will be out to pasture within the next few days.

  • The new bulk grain bin is coming together thanks to Tony, a.k.a. Pop, Prentice's father who has been working all the metal and hundreds of nuts and bolts into a gigantic bin. Quite the erector set.

  • The plum trees are in bloom, tragically, as there seem to be NO pollinators out and about. . .so no or very few plums this year for the Grassi boys.

  • 120 chicks that will graze and laze and grow on VF's lush pastures and make the tastiest chickens for our customers. (Let us know if you would like to be on the chicken list. . .)

  • Leroy. He has already been introduced via our facebook feed but here is a picture of the sweet guy. He is about three weeks old now. We are awaiting one more calf in the next week.

  • And the "cuban" (cube+cabin), the newest intern dwelling.

And the departures. . .

  • We were all sad to see Laura head back to Alabama. She was here for a bit over a month and a few weeks into her stay, she realized she had made a mistake. A growing season in Maine wasn't adding up for her. She wants to farm in Alabama or Georgia and is on her way back there now to begin that adventure again. We were priveleged by her company, help, humor and sincerity and we wish her the very best.

  • Sold! Our old plow truck to Ginger and Daniel at Freedom Farm. . .Trucky served us well for 10 years and is off to a second or third or fourth life at another farm with its own snow removal issues.

  • Seedlings are a huge spring effort for us. We produce all of our own for the 4-5 acres of VF vegetables but we sell thousands at the Belfast Coop each spring. We deliver van loads twice per week and trust that they are giving many, many a midcoast garden a great start in their own food growing efforts.

  • Feeding hay. This was a picture from early April that I love and now that the cows are on grass, the twice daily chore of feeding out hay to the herd is a thing of the past. Until fall of course.

The CSA distributions will start sometime in June though we are waiting to see what the weather does in the coming week before announcing a start date. We still have a few shares left but are nearly full, so if you haven't signed up and would like to or would care to share the idea with a friend, we would love to be your farmers in 2011!!

It is May, and though we may be busy, we also find ourselves basking in the greens and the buds and the babies and all the glorious unknowns that the growing season ahead holds for us.

All the best from your friends,

The Village Farmers

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Another farm story.

For a few weeks, Prentice has been collecting and crafting. He was not making a physical piece of art but rather a story. He was asked a few months ago by a friend and CSA member to speak at the U U Church of Belfast's Earth Day gathering about being a farmer. Or he could just simply tell a favorite farm story. Prentice has been focusing his collecting and crafting around our first dairy cow, Jasmine, and her quirks, personality, and how she came to live and then die with us. That was the story he was preparing to tell.. . the one he was supposed to tell.

Well, our farm had a story of its own in mind for us Sunday morning and as you will come to understand, Prentice never made it to Belfast. (He was not hurt, so don't worry, but do read on . . .)

Saturday night was stormy. Wind gusts of 55mph were predicted and we feel quite certain we experienced those here "on the prairie" as our friend Paul, calls our farm. I lay awake that night for many minutes fretting over the two hoop structures, the greenhouse and hoophouse, the former is heated for our thousands of seedlings, the latter is unheated and full of salad greens. I did not go out in the night to check on anything. I just fretted.

Sunday morning, I did go out to do chores: feed the cows , chicks and layers. Usually, checking on the greenhouse is part of chores but as it was so windyrainy. . . and I had just wrestled four windowpanes back into their rightful places in the chicken coop, I headed inside for breakfast.

(Always check.)

Prentice was all dressed and ready to head to Belfast and he did check in the greenhouse before leaving for town. Joseph was also outside as he was going to go to town with Prentice. . .when Josey heard yelling "JoJo! JOJO!" from the greenhouse. Josey peeked his head in, was told to "Go get Mommy" and he sprinted for the house.

Needless to say I dashed, leaving Josey with the phone and the two littles. (Being a resourceful lad, he pulled two chairs up to the windows and all three boys watched the greenhouse for any sign of their parents -- or the danger that Josey must have felt in the air.)

The greenhouse was coming unglued. Breaking apart. Snapping. Etc.

The heavy winds had thrashed the plastic so that the metal straps that hold/held the hipboard (a shoulder height 2x8 that runs the whole length of the greenhouse) to the frame, had all snapped.

When I found Prentice he was inside the greenhouse, leaning over a whole colony of baby eggplants and holding onto the wooden hipboard with every muscle in his body. The plastic was blowing and heaving and were it not for Prentice's vice grip, it would have blown right off.

Like that group game in grade school where you all hang onto edges of a big blue parachute . . .but there was just Prentice and a mighty howl tugging at the huge plastic sheet over his head.

Luckily, there were ratchet straps underfoot (did Prentice get those?). After discussing the options, we decided to cut through the plastic, feed a strap through the plastic and around the hipboards and fasten the other end to the baseboards (also big boards, but these rest on the ground). I messed around with the straps for a few moments before realizing that we needed to switch places.

Prentice got two straps situated while I held onto the hipboard, rising and falling with the wind's gusts. We ran for more rope and tied the hipboard to the baseboard in four other places.

It was secure.

I ran in to check on the children, rather to make sure they weren't too worried and to give them an update. I knew they were safe in the house. They were in fine spirits and were all talking about the "silly chickens" which were (also) out in the gale.

As I replayed this morning adventure in my mind, I was struck by a new awareness of having a home based business. Our farm allows our children not only to work along side us on a daily basis, observe and participate in decision making and compromise (we often disagree!) but also, on this day they watched mother and father deal with a small emergency. I do hope the experience lives in them not as a fearsome one, but rather one where they felt safe inside, helpful to the cause, and pleasantly relieved when the crisis was over.

Being about as adrenaline-averse a person as could be, I was wiped out for the rest of the day. I also felt that I had to tell the story to everyone I encountered or spoke with by phone. And the telling continues on this thing called a blog. (Thanks for reading/listening!)

Farm drama. I might even say I would rather chase loose cows than do that again. Phew.

. . .another farm story that is now ours to tell.
Prentice may have his own version.
With warm, safe and calm wishes for all of you,

Friday, April 15, 2011

What I know about right now.

Here is what I know. It is spring. The grass is greening and the cows are restless. The greenhouse is almost full. Prentice and Laura and William have been working on sheathing the new cabin. They put a snazzy green roof on the cabin this week, too. It is cold today so I made parsnip, chicken, and garden pea soup for lunch. The soup had some warming spices and was accompanied by biscuits. Molasses ginger cookies were also consumed. We are enjoying eating and selling micro greens and we should have spring salad mix galore from the hoophouse in a few weeks. The baby chicks are getting all their adult feathers. We need to clean out a winter's worth of manure from the hen house, aka eggmobile. I am volunteering for that job. We are hosting a farm tour tomorrow that the Belfast Coop has organized. We cleaned up the yard and greenhouse today to ready for that. I also know that Willie, aka William, took the picture you see above. It is of Cosmos seedlings. All is well, basically. The farm pulses on. . .animals, plants and people. It is a good and optimistic time of year, that I know. With warm wishes to all of our supporters and friends, Polly for all of us.