Farm Newsletter October, 2014
Farm News Crop Forecast U-Pick
Bulk Produce for You Nuts and Bolts Recipes
The fields were white here on Thursday morning, to our surprise. Reading the forecast it looked like Thursday night was the time to cover, but this one snuck in on us. It got done to 22 and then 21 those three nights — that definitely qualifies as a freeze, not just a frost, and even if we had covered our covers aren’t enough to keep the tomatoes and peppers alive when it’s that cold. So they’re gone, melting back into the earth, except the fruits we picked right before, or the ones that were left to pick afterwards. The beans and flowers also didn’t make it.
We love it when they live this long into the fall. We know it can be oh so much shorter!
Thanks to all of you for your kind support with our news from the last newsletter. We are sometimes still surprised that yes, we do get to go out and do this every day for you, and yes, it seems to be working. Go figure.
In the fields lately we’ve been planting soil-building cover crops as fast as we can, continuing to make our first major investment in next year’s harvest. Those crops — oats, clover, rye, etc — won’t be harvested, but are essentially worm food. We’ll turn them back into the soil, to feed the insects and microbes that feed our plants with their excreta and dying bodies, slowly releasing nutrients and building soil quality at the same time. It’s a beautiful thing. We may actually harvest some of these small grains for seed next year, since the prices for them has skyrocketed with our country’s focus on planting more corn, and a couple years of weather challenges causing low yields in the small grains. We currently get most of them from an organic farmer friend in Farmington, but it would be nice to have our own supply. We’ll see if we can take our hands off the vegetables long enough next summer to get that harvesting job done!
It’s also time to plant garlic in a week or two. Garlic is as lovely, flavorful and smelly a plant as we could ever hope to grow. And throwing a clove — a discarded half a clove sitting on the edge of the counter, actually — into his water jar for a day helped pull Ben back from a cold last week too. It’s the last thing we plant in the fall and the first thing to poke up out of the ground in the fields in the spring. We’ve saved out the biggest, most vigorous cloves for planting, and will be sticking them one by one into soft healthy dirt, on our hands and knees, and usually with nowhere else we have to be! It takes only a couple hours but is one of the most loved jobs on this farm.
We grew a nice cover crop for that garlic, too — a thick stand of green that got plowed under this weekend. First though we took a trip to our friend Bob Strachan’s ranch in Castle Rock, to get some composted manure courtesy of his 100% grass-fed cattle. Since this year’s garlic heads were a little smaller we were generous with how much we gave that soil, to give those heads an extra boost to regain their usual size. We’ll see. The mysteries of next year are already starting, and this year’s are still unfolding! As our farmer friend Jennifer Nelson, flower queen of Humble Pie Farm so eloquently said, “And so it goes. Endings and beginnings. They do hold hands.”
The beginning of this week will see a few straggling tomatoes and peppers, that were harvested right before and right the frost (respectively). After that the share starts to look like fall for real, with a major focus on root veggies, squashes, and greens. This is a time to pull out old favorite recipes and try new ones and new combinations; for us these hearty crops make some of the most comforting, warming — and sweet! — dishes we love.
And year after year, over and over again, our jaws drop and we groan with excitement at the lunch and dinner tables with the incredible sweetness that fall adds to what so many people consider boring foods. But the intensifying flavors we get in our northern climate is a gift akin to the sparkle and blue of snow at 10 below. We aren’t simply trying to prepare you for winter or gloss over experiences of it that are clearly challenging, but we have had a couple people who’ve lived in milder climates tell us that while they clearly get more variety of produce, the flavors of many things can be very, very bland due to the lack of temperature extremes. So they look forward to eating here for the bursts of flavor in their mouths.
We try to take as much advantage of that fall and winter flavor as possible in growing and harvesting crops for you. As far as we understand it, many fall crops in our climate concentrate their sugar in their cells in response to colder and colder temperatures, in order to lower the freezing point and be able to survive until the sun thaws them out. Of course each crop has a “too low” temperature, or length of time it can handle a temperature, but we haven’t gotten there yet for most things. And this sweetness is not shallow or flat– it compliments and adds to the complexity of each crop’s own flavor. The spinach and kale have changed the most this week, and still have more sugars to make. The carrots have sweetened up a little too. The parsnips and brussels sprouts aren’t to the flavor we consider “ready’, but since they are yours we will start putting them in the share next week whether or not they’ve reached their full potential.
We plant plenty of broccoli and cauliflower for this time period, as they compliment the other fall crops nicely, but the harvest from now on depends on two things: whether they survived the freezes late last week, and whether there’s enough sun and warmth each week to keep the heads growing to full size. We’ve done all we can for them, now we let go and watch.
For winter squash, a similar mix. Spaghetti and delicata are done, we’ve just about run out and they don’t keep reliably past now so it’s good timing. Still tons of butternut, lots of ambercup and buttercup, and some acorn and carnival. Remember if you can’t eat it all now, eat the small ones first, since the bigger types store better. Butternut is the best keeper, usually lasting into January in a cool part of the house. (But don’t forget about it if you hide it!)
Sweet potatoes we wish we had a little more, but at present it is one of those crops we harvest very inefficiently, so growing more doesn’t quite make sense. It looks like we’ve got enough to get us through to the end though.
This week or next we’ll start harvesting daikon radishes (the long white ones), watermelon radishes (green and round, and yes they look like a watermelon when sliced), and black spanish radishes. If you like radishes there’s a hundred ways to enjoy their varied flavors. If you don’t like radish spice, the watermelon is the mildest. Try it chopped in a spinach salad, and if you cut off the green rind and just eat the pink flesh there is almost no spice, just radish flavor. Hopefully we’ll also be able to bring in some purple top turnips.
For those of you who needed a break from kale….hopefully the chard and mustard mix have helped. But now the chard isn’t re-growing; we may or may not be able to find some to bring in, we’ll see. We think this late fall kale is the best kale you’ll ever find anywhere though, so if you’re tired of it, or never liked it anyway, now is the time to give it another go.
Everything else should carry on without event, as they say to the cold “What doesn’t kill me only makes me sweeter!”
What’s for U-Pick?
It was a great run, but that freeze took the life out of the raspberries, cherry tomatoes, green beans and flowers.
For herbs, it’s just the hardiest– oregano, thyme, sage and parsley. Plus some dregs of the cilantro.
We so love seeing you enjoy the farm and picking your own. It will be sad to see you come and go faster now, without the (sometimes long list of!) picking to do.
Bulk Produce for You
To place a bulk order, simply call or email us at least 2 days ahead of the day you’d like to pick it up. Orders can be picked up at the farm during our regular pickup hours, but it doesn’t have to be your share pickup day. However there is no need to pre-order garlic, and we can usually pull together large amounts on the spot if you’d like to stock up.
This week’s selection is : Lettuce Mix and/or other Salad Greens for $5 / lb, Spinach $4 / lb, Carrots and Beets for $1 / lb, Kale for $3.50 / lb, Cabbage for $0.70 / lb, Butternut Squash for $0.70 / lb, Garlic $1 / head.
Storage Share 2014
Sign up for the November Storage Share — Thursday, November 13, 2014 10am – 6 pm
We still have 10-20 spots available.
You can sign up with one of us in the barn.
A deposit of $10, or the full amount, by Oct 24th will hold your spot.
For a price, we believe $90 is fair for all of us.
In general, this year’s storage share will be similar to the last five years’, varying according to this year’s yields. It is separate from the regular season share, a one-time pickup in November before Thanksgiving, and we hope it looks something like this: a big bag of super sweet fall carrots (our goal is 20 lbs), a smaller bag of mixed fall roots, 3-5 squash, +/- 10 lb potatoes, +/- 5 lb sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, garlic, onions and leeks, kale and maybe cabbage. For dried herbs, a selection of thyme, sage, oregano and rosemary.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes yields seem to be good. Cabbage is ahead of schedule but there should be enough left; brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale are cold-hardy but if we get January cold in early November then they might be in short supply. Everything else is certain as certain can be in an uncertain world.
All for $90, a fair and reasonable price for all of us. We provide info and inspiration on eating and storing all that goodness too! The picture below is most of one storage share. Let us know if you have any thoughts on it or questions about it, we’re happy to answer questions. If there’s any part of it you won’t be interested in having, just let us know on the pickup day and we’ll donate it to the food shelf. We love providing this food for you, we hope you enjoy cooking and eating it!
Renewing Your Share for 2015
Deposits or full payments can be given to us in the barn or mailed in. There’s lots of 2014 left still but we like to give you plenty of time to plan — it’s easier for us to do sign-ups this year, too. The letter has more details. As always we encourage your feedback, thoughts, questions etc and look forward to another year with you!
Nuts and Bolts
Last share pickups are Monday Oct. 27th and Wednesday Oct. 29th, with no pickup that Friday. To free us up for big final harvests, we ask that Friday folks come on Monday or Wednesday of that week (just for that week.) If your regular pickup day is Friday, you can email us or tell us in the barn if you’d like to pick up Monday or Wednesday of that final week. If you can’t make it here the 27th or 29th just let us know and we’ll make arrangements to set it aside for you to pick up when it works for you.
Share Pickup Hours
Monday, Wednesday Friday 2:00-6:00pm. You can U-Pick any time (when U-pick crops are in season.)
Please Drive Carefully and Slowly on the Driveway —Children are everywhere. On the note of children, please know where yours are at all times.
Thank you so much for eating in the ups and downs of what we can harvest on this growing farm!!
Erin and Ben, with Allia, Jesse, Daniel, Els and Kelly
To Top of Page
Sweet Curry Winter Squash Fritters
From Fair Share Coalition’s Farm-Fresh and Fast cookbook
These fritters are excellent party snacks. Serve with Greek-style yogurt or raita to balance the heat if you’ve used a healthy dose of cayenne. They are also delicious with homemade pickles and chutneys. They freeze well and can bee reheated in a toaster oven.
1 small winter squash (any variety)
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 egg, beaten
1 medium yellow onion, minced
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 Tablespoons cornmeal
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon paprika (or even more to taste)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Vegetable oil for frying
Preheat an oven to 350°. Slice the squash lengthwise into halves and place cut side down in a roasting pan. Fill the pan with about ¼ inch of water, cover with aluminum foil, and roast for 30-60 minutes. Halfway through the roasting time, remove the foil, turn the squash cut side up, and drizzle with olive oil. Roast until the flesh is completely tender and soft. Scrape the squash flesh into a bowl and let it cool (you should have about 1 cup of cooked squash). Mix the egg into the squash and add the onion.
In another bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and seasonings (flour through pepper) and mix well. Adjust the seasonings until the dry mix smells the way you’d like it to taste, or a little more intense. Mix the dry ingredients into the squash mixture and stir until everything is well incorporated.
Cover the bottom of a wok or cast-iron skillet with about ½ inch of vegetable oil and heat over medium heat. Drop heaping teaspoonfulls of the squash mixture into the oil and fry for 1-2 minutes. Flip the fritters after they turn golden brown around the edges, then remove after about 1 minute more; place them on a cooling rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Add more oil to the pan as needed, allowing the oil to come up to temperature before adding more squash mixture. Serves 4-6.
Brussels Sprouts in Pecan Brown Butter
From Fair Share Coalition’s Farm-Fresh and Fast cookbook
1 pound brussels sprouts
Salt for cooking water
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces pecans, chopped
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Trim the Brussels sprouts and cut an X in the bottom of each one with a paring knife. Boil the sprouts in salted water until tender, about 8 minutes, then drain. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat and gently cook until it begins to turn light brown. Add the pecans and toss to coat them with butter, cooking for a few minutes until lightly browned and fragrent. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring, until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.