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!