Friday, November 25, 2011
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 each others' company,
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
Saturday, October 22, 2011
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,
Thursday, October 13, 2011
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. firstname.lastname@example.org 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
Monday, October 10, 2011
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
Friday, September 23, 2011
Goodbye to Zelie from the Village Farm Crew!
- 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
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!
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
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.
More farm news and share news coming. . .
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Goat feta, tomato, cucumber, basil and olive oil salad.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
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.
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.
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
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.
Monday, June 27, 2011
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.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Next week will have hakurei turnips and more salad fixins as well as garlic scapes and hopefully beet greens.
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
Friday, June 10, 2011
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
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
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.
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,