First week of the Spring CSA! April 20th-21st

What's Available This Week

This week you can choose from yellow potatoes, fingerling potatoes, green cabbage, carrots, baby carrots, beets, rutabaga, Gilfeather turnip, spinach, baby lettuce mix, baby arugula, pea shoots, scallions, and cilantro. (Scallions and cilantro are both half items.) We have sadly decided that the garlic that is left has become too hard to accurately grade for farmer quality or customer quality. We are happy to share our garlic with you, so if you want some, it's a bonus, not an item. It's like free garlic, just know that you may get bulbs that have bad cloves in them. (To be clear, we still use it with gusto, it's just not something we can stand behind selling anymore since people have gotten some bad cloves.)

 I need to get around to potting up all these teeny peppers into their larger cells... More time in the day, please! (Next to them are the tomatoes who are ready to transplant as soon as we are, photo by Adam Ford.

I need to get around to potting up all these teeny peppers into their larger cells... More time in the day, please! (Next to them are the tomatoes who are ready to transplant as soon as we are, photo by Adam Ford.

CSA Details

You can pick up your share at the farm on Fridays from 8 am to 7 pm. (Veggies will be displayed in the cooler to pick out, rather than having a pre-packed bag at the farm.) You can pick up your share from the Rutland Farmers' Market on Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm. If you want your share delivered to Ludlow, use this form by 9 am on Friday to select the veggies you want for the week: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSewzn_VdO-qNORGtls6yuqaubDZ7mUtrc-UcSx1SSVvvKnWhQ/viewform?c=0&w=1. Then you can pick up your share from Four Season's Sotheby's International Realty between 2 pm and 5 pm. They are next to Java Baba's in the shopping plaza across from the main entrance to Okemo Mountain. 

 Not efficient harvest posture, but when you are pregnant you get to change it up into whatever position you want, photo by Adam Ford.

Not efficient harvest posture, but when you are pregnant you get to change it up into whatever position you want, photo by Adam Ford.

Payment Due

If you have only paid your deposit, half your remaining balance is due. If you need a differnt payment schedule, that is not a problem, just let me know!

Farm News

Well, it's definitely spring even though it feels like winter! We have been busily seeding and re-potting plants in the greenhouse, some of which are eager for the fields to start drying out so we can prep their bed space and get transplanting!

Most of our time and energy has been consumed by the big project of installing ground heat in one of our high tunnels to start being able to have earlier tomatoes. Ryan has been a super champion (but when is he not?) working almost literally non stop, trenching  water pipes, connecting the plumbing to the pellet boiler, and hooking up the electric for the whole system. He has certainly gotten great help from our employees, a skilled machine operating CSA member, and even some oversight from a professional plumber.

 Ryan at our super fancy plumber's station, photo by Adam Ford.

Ryan at our super fancy plumber's station, photo by Adam Ford.

 Whatever the heck all this magic is that Ryan put together to make heat go from the boiler into the soil, bravo for specializing... I am going to keep hiding in the seed starting greenhouse where I know what to do! photo by Adam Ford.

Whatever the heck all this magic is that Ryan put together to make heat go from the boiler into the soil, bravo for specializing... I am going to keep hiding in the seed starting greenhouse where I know what to do! photo by Adam Ford.

We had hoped this would be ready and hooked up a bit over a week ago, but it's finally ready, and as of Tuesday night, he fired up the pellet boiler and has started warming the soil! Ideally we would give the soil several days to warm up from the ground pipes, but our early tomatoes are so big, and have outgrown the covers in the propagation house, so we hope to transplant them today or tomorrow.

 These are rolls of pipe that went in the ground after we harvested out that tunnel and made all our trenches with the excavator, photo by Adam Ford.

These are rolls of pipe that went in the ground after we harvested out that tunnel and made all our trenches with the excavator, photo by Adam Ford.

 Excavator in action, digging and filling in trenches once pipes are laid! photo by Ryan Fitzbeauchamp

Excavator in action, digging and filling in trenches once pipes are laid! photo by Ryan Fitzbeauchamp

If you are curious how this new system works, the simplified explanation is that we use a pellet boiler to heat water to 120 degrees. This water is traveling through 1-inch pipes that are looped 18 inches down in the soil. We bury them so deep because we want to be able to continue using our broadfork in the tunnel to always manage compaction in the soil. (If a broadfork is a new word to you, imagine it as a 3 or 4 super beefy pitchforks welded together to make a giant pitch fork with longer tines that can loosen the soil deeper down.) There are two pipes per bed in the tunnel that loop up and back. The hot water heats the soil and provides enough warmth to support the tropical tomato plants in our ridiculous northern climate. On coldest nights, we can also have the boiler send warm air into the tunnel above ground that would be circulated with our ceiling fans to keep the tunnel space warm enough for the tomatoes to thrive. 

 Morgan broadforking the tomato beds after Ryan finished filling in all the trenches and amended the soil, photo by Adam Ford

Morgan broadforking the tomato beds after Ryan finished filling in all the trenches and amended the soil, photo by Adam Ford

We have always been disinterested in using supplemental heat in our tunnels because we feel unexcited about superfluous energy use when it comes to veggie production. The whole point of what we are doing is to create a safer, healthier future for the earth, so normally burning extra fuel isn't our cup of tea. But we came around to this project because we feel comfortable with the source and use of wood pellets Also, this ability to have some earlier tomatoes will likely improve our business's profitability which we are hoping to do to be able to pay our employees more. Growing vegetables has a pretty slim margin, so it is hard within the food production sector to pay employees good wage. I am participating in a monthly workshop with female farm employers around the state, and one topic in that came up last night was around the common desire to increase employee wages, and talking about our creative ways to make our businesses more profitable to get there. It's really exciting to be a part of a group of women who have all been running a farm business close to a decade or more to discuss our common hurdles and strategies for success. 

 Sky always, always wants to be ourside! WHen it's too cold and sleety out, one of his favorite things is to climb up to the window to see what is going on outside. Don't worry, there is a hard to see Nonna in pink keeping him safe up there! photo by Adam Ford

Sky always, always wants to be ourside! WHen it's too cold and sleety out, one of his favorite things is to climb up to the window to see what is going on outside. Don't worry, there is a hard to see Nonna in pink keeping him safe up there! photo by Adam Ford

And lastly, but perhaps most flashy and exciting, I took a break from writing this newsletter to pop out and assist one of my goat's births. She just birthed super cute triplets, and I was glad I was there: the little buckling couldn't break his sac before he took a big deep breath, just breathing in fluid. After popping his sac for him, I noticed he wasn't breathing. His heart was still pumping so I had time to assist. I got his airway clear, and some good coughs, and he eventually started taking his own breaths. It was definitely the longest I have had a little babe not take his first breath, and the last few minutes before it happened, it started looking a bit bleak. But all is well, and now they are all hopping around outside. Pictures of these cuties will follow next week!

Have a great week!

-Kara and the ESF team

Shredded Carrot Salad

 photo from mommypotamus.com

photo from mommypotamus.com

1 pound carrots, shredded 

1 beet, peeled and shredded

1 bunch scallions, chopped finely (use the green and the white parts)

4 TBSP olive oil

1 TBSP lemon juice

2 TBSP white wine vinegar

2 tsp maple syrup

3-4 crushed garlic cloves

salt and pepper

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp parsley

1/2 tsp basil

1/4 tsp red pepper

1/4 tsp paprika

Mix all the ingredients together for a bright, delicious, Italian dressing flavored carrot salad. Great as a side dish, on sandwiches, in wraps, or on a green salad!

 

Last Week of the Winter CSA Share: March 23rd-24th

What's Available This Week

This week you can choose from yellow potatoes, fingerling potatoes, green cabbage, garlic, red onions, carrots, baby carrots, beets, rutabaga, Gilfeather turnip, spinach, meslcun mix, baby kale, and cilantro. 

 Japanese lettuce growing in the tunnel, photo by Adam Ford.

Japanese lettuce growing in the tunnel, photo by Adam Ford.

CSA Details

This is the last week of the winter share. If you haven't finished paying for it, please try to do so this week or let us know you need a different payment schedule. The Spring CSA Share starts on April 20th, so now is a good time to sign up if you are interested. There are a few weeks between the winter share and the spring share that we are offering a bridge of veggies between. Send me an email if you are interested in accessing the continuous veggies.

 We plowed snow away from the sides of the tunnels so the snow could continue to shed from the sides. With so much snow last week, the snow built up and couldn't fall away! Photo by Adam Ford.

We plowed snow away from the sides of the tunnels so the snow could continue to shed from the sides. With so much snow last week, the snow built up and couldn't fall away! Photo by Adam Ford.

Farm or Ludlow Pickup

Please use this form if you want to pick up your share at the farm or in Ludlow. Thanks!

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSewzn_VdO-qNORGtls6yuqaubDZ7mUtrc-UcSx1SSVvvKnWhQ/viewform?c=0&w=1

Farm News

Br!! It's been so cold! It's so nerve wracking to leave all our baby tomatoes in the propagation house on these nights that are below zero, but we have been doing it for years, and it works. We rely on temperature sensors that are in important places around the farm that send alerts to our phones if things are getting too cold. Even though we probably don't need to, on these cold nights, I get up to check those alerts in case I have slept through any important ones. Our sleep is messed up enough with a 1-year old, so why not wake up to check the temperature of the tomato table?!

 Ryan setting up the plumbing for the hot water bench in the propagation house, photo by Adam Ford.

Ryan setting up the plumbing for the hot water bench in the propagation house, photo by Adam Ford.

The heated bench is full of scallions, onions, leeks, shallots, salad turnips, baby bok choi, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, celeriac, parsley, and oregano. Probably by the end of next week, as we continue to seed some of the earlier outdoor crops, the heated bench will get full and we will have to kick some of the cold tolerant crops off to make space for more warm items. It's not ideal for things like onions to get booted to the cold tables that freeze solid at night, but they can survive it, so we do it.

 Scallion starts under the plastic on the heated bench, photo by Adam Ford.

Scallion starts under the plastic on the heated bench, photo by Adam Ford.

Next week we will transplant some baby bok choi and salad turnips into the tunnels, and continue to plant thousands of seeds in trays getting ready for spring that promises to come at some point!

Have a great week!

-Kara and the ESF team

Best Roasted Potatoes Ever... for real

 photo and recipe from Serious Eats

photo and recipe from Serious Eats

Even though roasted potatoes are an easy, basic thing to make, I highly recommend trying this recipe. We made an over the top fancy dinner for Ryan's birthday, so I skeptically tried this "best roasted potato recipe ever." And it really is.

3 pounds yellow potatoes (2 items worth), cut into 1-inch chunks

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 TBSP salt

2 tsp rosemary

3-6 cloves of garlic, crushed

5 TBSP olive oil

salt and pepper

Bring 2 quarts of water to boil. Add the baking soda and 2 TBSP of salt. Add the chopped potatoes, and cook until you can just pierce them with a fork, slightly under done. Strain the potatoes, and let air dry in the strainer. Meanwhile, cook the garlic and rosemary in the olive oil over low heat in a thick bottomed pan. When the garlic starts to lightly brown, remove it from the heat. Strain the oil from the herbs, saving both. When the potatoes have air dried (for at least 10 minutes), stir the herb infused oil into the potatoes in a bowl, gently. As you stir them, you should notice that the potatoes look like they create a thin layer of "mashed potatoes" on the outside of each chunk. When the potatoes are well coated, spread them on a baking sheet and bake at 400 until they are crispy and lightly browned. Remove from the over and toss with the saved garlic and rosemary, and add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

 

11th Week of the Winter CSA: March 16th and 17th

 Wild little Callie trying to make a break for it in the snow! photo by Adam Ford

Wild little Callie trying to make a break for it in the snow! photo by Adam Ford

What's Available This Week

This week you can choose from yellow potatoes, fingerling potatoes, green cabbage, garlic, red onions, carrots, baby carrots, beets, rutabaga, Gilfeather turnip, spinach, meslcun mix, baby kale, Japanese lettuce, and cilantro. 

 The botanical name for Japanese lettuce is "Tokyo Bikana," and is a tender, mild salad green that I use like a baby romaine leaf lettuce, photo by Adam Ford.

The botanical name for Japanese lettuce is "Tokyo Bikana," and is a tender, mild salad green that I use like a baby romaine leaf lettuce, photo by Adam Ford.

Farm or Ludlow CSA Pickup

Please use this form if you want to pick up your share at the farm or in Ludlow. Thanks!

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSewzn_VdO-qNORGtls6yuqaubDZ7mUtrc-UcSx1SSVvvKnWhQ/viewform?c=0&w=1

 The tunnel gets so hot on sunny days in the winter, when there is so much snow, and we cannot roll up the sides to cool it off. The best we can do is put this giant fan in teh front door way to pull in cold air to cool it off, photo by Adam Ford.

The tunnel gets so hot on sunny days in the winter, when there is so much snow, and we cannot roll up the sides to cool it off. The best we can do is put this giant fan in teh front door way to pull in cold air to cool it off, photo by Adam Ford.

Farm News

All our plants are moved to the propagation house and out of our bathroom, hooray! I have started the lengthy project of potting up all the tomatoes from their small cells into large cups, so they can take off from their 3-inch size, and start booming. For this early tomato plan to pan out, we have to install the used pellet boiler within a month to start heating the soil for early tomatoes. Ryan visited two other farms this weekend who use a similar ground heat system to do a bit more research before he sets up the plumbing for this big project. It's a blessing to have such a skill set on our team.... I wouldn't know where to start with setting up this boiler or getting all the tubing installed correctly in the ground. And as he focuses on that, all I have to do is pot up and take care of a couple hundred tomatoes so they are ready when he picks up his head from installing the boiler!

 Scallions popping up in their cells, photo by Adam Ford.

Scallions popping up in their cells, photo by Adam Ford.

Meanwhile, more and more seeds are growing in the propagation house. Right now we have bok choi, salad turnips, scallions, onions, shallots, leeks, hot peppers, sweet peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, celeriac, oregano, and husk cherries eagerly growing on the heated table in there. Our ginger tubers should arrive soon, but we keep those in a special 80 degree chamber (in our bathroom, again!) for a couple months: as a tropical plant, they need to be kept extra warm.

 Irrigating the tunnel, which we do about twice a winter on a warm enough day, photo by Adam Ford.

Irrigating the tunnel, which we do about twice a winter on a warm enough day, photo by Adam Ford.

The biggest accomplishment from this week is that I finally submitted our 30+ page organic certification application! We are hoping to be certified some time this spring! We have always followed organic standards with our growing practices, and the main reason we dragged our feet in the past has been my reluctance to add more office work to my life. As our business has expanded, and our data collection and paper work has become more of a routine within the daily production of the farm, it has made sense for me to get over my paper work aversion and start compiling the records we are already keeping and submit them for certification. The main motivation at this point in the business to certify is that the Rutland Farmers' Market no longer has a certified organic vendor. Boardman Hill Farm had been certified organic for many, many years, but after they stopped doing it, we felt compelled to make sure customers had at least one certified vendor at the market. There are so many, many reasons to support the organic label, and so we took the plunge. Since our veggies are now sold to a wider audience than just people who get to know us or the farm, it felt important to have a third party approve our growing practices. As a consumer of the foods I don't grow, purchasing organic is a hard line for me, so I felt like I wanted to offer that assurance to anyone who eats our food. I could write long essays on the importance of organic agriculture, and the evolution of my thought process to join the establishment label, so perhaps you will get snippets of those ideas in future newsletters!

 Dope picture of a paw print in the snow, photo by Adam Ford

Dope picture of a paw print in the snow, photo by Adam Ford

Perhaps the other newsworthy story I keep forgetting to share with our wider community is that we are preparing to welcome another baby into our lives this July! (And I can't keep it hidden in my sweatshirt anymore.) Definitely not the best timing for our line of work, but we are excited anyway. We haven't put enough planning into how I will be able to take some time off in July to birth a child and then recover from that, but I imagine even if we don't get around to planning it as thoroughly as we are used to planning everything else, it's going to happen one way or the other! It's been fun to notice all the differences already between Sky and whoever is growing in me this time: When Sky was growing inside me, I craved all the goat milk and greens in the world, making great use of food we produce here. (And now he is a goat milk vacuum and we enjoyed a garlicky spinach salad together yesterday... He prefers the stems, but impressed me that he ate quite a bit of the leaves, too! Check out the recipe below for the dressing we were enjoying.) This new human that I am growing now wants me to consume all the tropical fruit and dark chocolate I can find. (Between being due in July, and craving tropical based food products, I don't think this baby got the memo that it's being born on a veggie farm in the northern hemisphere.) 

 Next round of mesclun mix just emerging in the high tunnels, photo by Adam Ford.

Next round of mesclun mix just emerging in the high tunnels, photo by Adam Ford.

Next week we hope to collect all the shiitake logs Ryan cut down for inoculation last week, as well as continue seeding and repotting all our baby plants. 

Have a great week!

-Kara and the ESF team

 Some of the trays on the heated table in the propagation house, photo by Adam Ford.

Some of the trays on the heated table in the propagation house, photo by Adam Ford.

Garlic Yogurt Dressing

(With all these great salad greens, we have been enjoying a salad with every meal these days, which inspires me to keep a few different dressings in the fridge to change it up each time. We especially love this dressing for it's creaminess, and garlicky-ness. Imagine it as a probiotic-infused Caesar dressing!)

 Mesclun for this yummy dressing, photo by Adam Ford

Mesclun for this yummy dressing, photo by Adam Ford

4-7 cloves of garlic (based on how much garlic you like)

1 cup olive oil

1 cup lemon juice

2 tsp maple syrup

salt and pepper

1 tsp dried parsely

2 cups yogurt

In a food processor, blend the olive oil and garlic until smooth. Add everything except the yogurt, and blend. Transfer to a jar and whisk in the yogurt. (Blending the yogurt too forcefully makes it a bit more watery.) Keeps in the fridge at least 3 weeks.

10th Week of the Winter CSA Share: March 9th-10th

  last week's cilantro bunches, photo by Adam Ford

last week's cilantro bunches, photo by Adam Ford

Weekly Availability

This week you can choose from yellow potatoes, fingerling potatoes, green cabbage, leeks, garlic, red onions, carrots, baby carrots, beets, rutabaga, Gilfeather turnip, spinach, meslcun mix, baby kale, Japanese lettuce. 

Please use this link to fill out your form to pick up a share in Ludlow or at the farm: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSewzn_VdO-qNORGtls6yuqaubDZ7mUtrc-UcSx1SSVvvKnWhQ/viewform?c=0&w=1

  fast spinning greens in the converted washing machine! photo by Adam Ford

fast spinning greens in the converted washing machine! photo by Adam Ford

Farm News

Last week, on one of those gorgeous, warm, sunny days with no wind, our power went out at 7 am. We usually assume people care about power more than us, so we didn't bother calling the power company to report the outage, assuming they got plenty of calls. After two and half hours of no power, and us starting to really need it with the seeding work we were doing in the propagation house, I decided to call and see when we were projected to have power turned back on. Well it turns out we were the only ones without power, so it's a good thing I finally decided to call! When the truck came out, the workers noticed the cause of the power outage was a squirrel who must have gotten into the transformer and got zapped. They said it happens all the time. It was wild to see, because when the squirrel got zapped, it got flung a distance and landed upright on a rock, frozen in place. It looked so alive that when a neighbor walked by it later in the day, she thought it was just frozen in place out of fear of her dog. I was sad... I know there are plenty of squirrels out there, but I can't help but think about that squirrel's sweet squirrel buddies who have no idea why he never came home...

  sorry squirrely

sorry squirrely

All of our onions, leeks, shallots, and first round of scallions are started and growing well in the propagation house, as well as all the first rounds of tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, and hot peppers. Hot peppers are never really a large part of what we move through CSA or farmers' market, but Ryan and I both LOVE spicy food, and we make many variations of hot sauce in the fall. This year I am trying to up my hot sauce game, so I started a wider array of hot peppers this winter to try different flavors in the fall. If you are a spicy food lover as well, definitely be in touch in the summer if you want to make some of your own hot sauce. One spicy type we love is called a Shishito pepper. I don't use this pepper in hot sauces because it isn't reliably spicy enough for me. The best way to enjoy them is to quickly pan fry them in hot oil, and remove them before the skin chars too dark. Then you just eat them. They range from sweet to hot, so who knows what you will bite in to, but as you enjoy a plate of these wonders, you will enjoy their full flavor spectrum. 

  filling flats to seed onions, photo by Adam Ford

filling flats to seed onions, photo by Adam Ford

The greens continue to grow like wild in the tunnels. Feel free to request as many bags of greens as you want in your share. The newer plantings of greens are coming along slow and steady and will be ready for the spring share as these winter ones peter out.

  meslcun mix with new plantings of spinach to the left, photo by Adam Ford

meslcun mix with new plantings of spinach to the left, photo by Adam Ford

Early next week we will have to pot up all the earliest tomatoes into their larger containers. That means they will move from our bathroom (hooray!) out to the propagation house (brrrrr....) So we have to set up our backup heat systems to get ready to send out the all important tomatoes to the outdoor set up!

  walking in and out of the propagation house door, photo by Adam Ford

walking in and out of the propagation house door, photo by Adam Ford

Hope you have a great week!

-Kara and the ESF team

 

Sauteed Spinach with Slow Cooked Garlic

Our dear friend Hannah who worked here two years ago and her partner, Nic, came for a visit last weekend. Nic is an amazing cook, specializing in Italian food. He made the most delicious spinach dish I have literally ever eaten in my life, and I have been trying to eat it every day since then! It is so simple, but so perfect. It's a great side dish, and this volume served 4 of us as a side. (But then I made this amount for myself as my entire dinner the next night!)

  photo from Good House Keeping

photo from Good House Keeping

2 bags spinach

5-8 cloves of garlic, peeled, kept whole

olive oil

salt

Peel garlic, and toss whole cloves in a nice thick bottomed pan with olive oil. Put on low heat (uncovered), and let garlic cook slowly until it lightly browns on the outside. Then dump two bags of spinach in the pan, and cook slow, uncovered. Toss it every few minutes to cook evenly, but don't ever cover it. Once it is all wilted, add salt to taste and enjoy the best spinach ever. 

 

9th Week of the Winter CSA Share, March 2nd-3rd

This week you can choose from red potatoes, yellow potatoes, fingerling potatoes, green cabbage, leeks, garlic, red onions, carrots, baby carrots, beets, celeriac, rutabaga, Gilfeather turnip, spinach, meslcun mix, baby kale, and cilantro. (Cilantro bunches are half items, so if you only want one bunch when we pack it up, we can turn one of your other items into an item and a half, if that makes sense.)

Sky knows it's time to work in the tunnel, but that sled looks pretty enticing, photo by Adam Ford

  Lettuce reacting to the longer light, photo by Adam Ford

Lettuce reacting to the longer light, photo by Adam Ford

The high tunnel greens have started responding to the increased light of the season, and of course these mild temperatures. It's fun to watch them grow well and to start being able to harvest so many more greens each week!

This week we have been busily preparing the propagation house for the bulk spring seeding. So far, we have been starting all our spring greens and early tomatoes in our little set up in our bathroom with grow lights and heat mats, but once we start the thousands of onions and leeks and shallots seeds, it's time to have the bigger outdoor space ready. At the end of every fall season the prop house has been taken over by a big bulk fall and winter planting of pea shoots, as well as piles and piles of onion and garlic debris from when they were curing in there at the end of the summer. So our project began with emptying all the pea shoot trays and removing all the allium debris to the compost.  Then we sweep all the tables and floor area to remove older potting soil and plant debris so we can effectively sanitize the prop house to make sure we aren't starting the season with plant diseases present to infect our new baby plants. We organize the seeding station to make sure all our tools are ready and in good shape, and disinfect all our seeding trays. 

  Why walk on the driveway when I can get my boots soaking wet? photo by Adam Ford

Why walk on the driveway when I can get my boots soaking wet? photo by Adam Ford

Our seedlings are kept warm enough by lots of tiny tubes of hot water that run in loops on top of the warm table. These tubes are heated by a hot water heater, powered by our solar panels. This table has a layer of plastic that gets rolled over it to keep that area warmer than the rest of the prop house. This time of year, we fill that system back up since it is drained for the winter when we don't use it.

  washing mesclun mix, photo by Adam Ford

washing mesclun mix, photo by Adam Ford

We also turn our germination chamber back on. The germ chamber is a large chest freezer on it's side (big insulated box) that we installed racks in to store trays, and a pan of water at the bottom with a heating element, that creates steam from the pan to keep the air in the germ chamber at 70 to 80 degrees, depending on what we are germinating. 

Seeds get started by spending a few days in the germ chamber, then as soon as the first seeds pop, all the trays get moved to the table with the small hot water tubes on them for better air circulation and, most importantly, light.

  My boot doesn't taste as good as the carrots, photo by Adam Ford

My boot doesn't taste as good as the carrots, photo by Adam Ford

We are almost done cleaning and setting up the prop house, but we have already started a few trays of bok choi and salad turnips. And any day now we will start our onion seeds!

Next week we hope to start harvesting logs for shiitake mushroom inoculation.  It is best to harvest logs when their sap runs are most active, which is the late winter/early spring window... essentially the same as maple sugar season, so now! We take down maples and oaks, and cut them into 4 foot sections, and then begin inoculating the 200 new logs anytime between now and late April. We wish there was a little more freezing so that when we head into the woods, we don't muck up the ground much with equipment, so we usually save this project for a couple hours every morning after a hard freeze, and then stop before the ground gets too soft. 

  Ryan harvesting mesclun mix, photo by Adam Ford

Ryan harvesting mesclun mix, photo by Adam Ford

It certainly feels like we haven't finished wrapping up last season, but this season is eagerly and persistently getting it's running start into the chaos of spring that will unfold before we  realize what's happening!

Have a great week!

 

Early Spring Lunch Wrap

  photo from Joy Food Sunshine

photo from Joy Food Sunshine

  • 2-3 carrots, cut lengthwise into 2-inch long pieces

  • 2-3 beets, cut lengthwise into 2-inch long pieces

  • 1 leek, cut lengthwise into 2-inch long pieces

  • Sauekraut (optional, but so good)

  • Greens (mesclun or spinach)

  • Olive oil

  • Balsamic vinegar

  • Salt and pepper

  • Your favorite cheese, grated, crumbled, or sliced, optional

  • Large tortilla wraps

Toss sliced veggies with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Roast at 400 until lightly browned, tossing as needing. Let veggies cool to room temperature. (These store great in the fridge for awhile, so feel free to make a larger batch for future sandwiches.) Lay your wrap out, and decorate with greens, sauerkraut, cheese, and roasted veggies. Wrap up and enjoy!

 

9th Week of the Winter CSA Share, March 2nd-3rd

This week you can choose from red potatoes, yellow potatoes, fingerling potatoes, green cabbage, leeks, garlic, red onions, carrots, baby carrots, beets, celeriac, rutabaga, Gilfeather turnip, spinach, meslcun mix, baby kale, and cilantro. (Cilantro bunches are half items, so if you only want one bunch when we pack it up, we can turn one of your other items into an item and a half, if that makes sense.)

 Sky knows it's time to work in the tunnel, but that sled looks pretty enticing, photo by Adam Ford

Sky knows it's time to work in the tunnel, but that sled looks pretty enticing, photo by Adam Ford

The high tunnel greens have started responding to the increased light of the season, and of course these mild temperatures. It's fun to watch them grow well and to start being able to harvest so many more greens each week!

 lettuce reacting to the longer light, photo by Adam Ford

lettuce reacting to the longer light, photo by Adam Ford

This week we have been busily preparing the propagation house for the bulk spring seeding. So far, we have been starting all our spring greens and early tomatoes in our little set up in our bathroom with grow lights and heat mats, but once we start the thousands of onions and leeks and shallots seeds, it's time to have the bigger outdoor space ready. At the end of every fall season the prop house has been taken over by a big bulk fall and winter planting of pea shoots, as well as piles and piles of onion and garlic debris from when they were curing in there at the end of the summer. So our project began with emptying all the pea shoot trays and removing all the allium debris to the compost.  Then we sweep all the tables and floor area to remove older potting soil and plant debris so we can effectively sanitize the prop house to make sure we aren't starting the season with plant diseases present to infect our new baby plants. We organize the seeding station to make sure all our tools are ready and in good shape, and disinfect all our seeding trays. 

 Why walk on the driveway when I can get my boots soaking wet? photo by Adam Ford

Why walk on the driveway when I can get my boots soaking wet? photo by Adam Ford

Our seedlings are kept warm enough by lots of tiny tubes of hot water that run in loops on top of the warm table. These tubes are heated by a hot water heater, powered by our solar panels. This table has a layer of plastic that gets rolled over it to keep that area warmer than the rest of the prop house. This time of year, we fill that system back up since it is drained for the winter when we don't use it.

 washing mesclun mix, photo by Adam Ford

washing mesclun mix, photo by Adam Ford

We also turn our germination chamber back on. The germ chamber is a large chest freezer on it's side (big insulated box) that we installed racks in to store trays, and a pan of water at the bottom with a heating element, that creates steam from the pan to keep the air in the germ chamber at 70 to 80 degrees, depending on what we are germinating. 

Seeds get started by spending a few days in the germ chamber, then as soon as the first seeds pop, all the trays get moved to the table with the small hot water tubes on them for better air circulation and, most importantly, light.

 My boot doesn't taste as good as the carrots, photo by Adam Ford

My boot doesn't taste as good as the carrots, photo by Adam Ford

We are almost done cleaning and setting up the prop house, but we have already started a few trays of bok choi and salad turnips. And any day now we will start our onion seeds!

Next week we hope to start harvesting logs for shiitake mushroom inoculation.  It is best to harvest logs when their sap runs are most active, which is the late winter/early spring window... essentially the same as maple sugar season, so now! We take down maples and oaks, and cut them into 4 foot sections, and then begin inoculating the 200 new logs anytime between now and late April. We wish there was a little more freezing so that when we head into the woods, we don't muck up the ground much with equipment, so we usually save this project for a couple hours every morning after a hard freeze, and then stop before the ground gets too soft. 

 Ryan harvesting mesclun mix, photo by Adam Ford

Ryan harvesting mesclun mix, photo by Adam Ford

It certainly feels like we haven't finished wrapping up last season, but this season is eagerly and persistently getting it's running start into the chaos of spring that will unfold before we  realize what's happening!

Have a great week!

 

Early Spring Lunch Wrap

 photo from Joy Food Sunshine

photo from Joy Food Sunshine

  • 2-3 carrots, cut lengthwise into 2-inch long pieces

  • 2-3 beets, cut lengthwise into 2-inch long pieces

  • 1 leek, cut lengthwise into 2-inch long pieces

  • Sauekraut (optional, but so good)

  • Greens (mesclun or spinach)

  • Olive oil

  • Balsamic vinegar

  • Salt and pepper

  • Your favorite cheese, grated, crumbled, or sliced, optional

  • Large tortilla wraps

Toss sliced veggies with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Roast at 400 until lightly browned, tossing as needing. Let veggies cool to room temperature. (These store great in the fridge for awhile, so feel free to make a larger batch for future sandwiches.) Lay your wrap out, and decorate with greens, sauerkraut, cheese, and roasted veggies. Wrap up and enjoy!

 

2017 CSA Info is Up! Plus a farm update...

We are hoping that you find our brand new website (thanks for your help Katie Hamlin!) easier to use, and as requested by many folks, the newsletters we send out to members will also be archived there so you can look for old recipes that you enjoyed during the season.

And most excitingly, we have our 2017 CSA options listed on the site for our spring, summer, and fall options. 

Snow covered field, cover crops and fall brassicas. Photo by Adam Ford

Shiitake mushroom log stacks covered under the snow. Photo by Adam Ford

Farm News

This time of year our days are filled with a surprising amount of office work: ordering seeds, supplies, soil amendments, posting job openings, making a new website, getting our brochure out, writing budgets, planning projects, attending conferences, and strategizing on improving growing methods for certain crops.

Some of the things we want to tackle in this upcoming season include:

  • establish a reliable backup heat source for our seed starting green house,
  • keep making improvements on our crop production
  • experiment with growing oyster mushrooms on logs
  • replace plastic on our high tunnels
  • improve some irrigation systems
  • experiment with more grafted tomatoes
  • continue to experiment with tiny amounts of exciting crops that may one day be rolled out for larger production on our farm
  • hopefully (and finally!) finish filling out our organic certification paperwork)
 Sky overseeing the work of washing winter greens on a sunny January day.

Sky overseeing the work of washing winter greens on a sunny January day.

And also raise a little human--Sky Lyon Fitzbeauchamp.  

The other major thing we work on this time of year besides planning and repairing things is harvesting firewood. This winter we are trying to significantly ramp up our harvesting to be ready for whatever wood heating system we establish for our seed starting greenhouse. Our chainsaws may be working overtime this winter!

We hope you are all doing well. Let us know if you have any questions about this year's CSA options. We are still offering $10 off the summer share price if you pay in full by April 1st. 

Have a great week, and we hope you eat well!

-Kara and the ESF team

 Sky sleeping on our friend's daughter

Sky sleeping on our friend's daughter