Monday, December 19, 2011

Winter Finally Here (sort of)

The moderate temperatures (it wasn't below 20 at night until last week) have allowed me to button the farm down for winter. Every little thing from the chaos of summer is picked up and tucked in. It was nice to have this time for firewood and projects before the drifts bury it all. The biggest accomplishment is by far the new road and recently cleared field. That means Solstice Hill will be doubling production for next year, four acres. Some bigger farms might think that "four acres" is a punch line but in our intensive multi-cropping (more than one crop on the same ground in a season) we can pull a lot out of a space like that. I shouldn't say doubling production. It's easy to look at that space, those extra acres, and think cash. We will need to put some of that land into cover crop to be sure we are caring for, not just mining, the land. 
 With the new ground I will be trying to get CSA members more corn and more peas. That seemed to be the main consensus from our surveys.
I will be putting out the call soon to let folks know it's time to join up for next season's CSA. Last year our first payment was in February. If you are new to Solstice Hill check out the "join the CSA!" page on the "home page" of the blog. I would say our lovely Kimberly did a great job of makeing all that clear.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Farm News for October 30th

Hi, Kimberly here. Well, well, well...three holes in the ground (bah dumm dum! that's one of my favorite bad jokes). But seriously, well, well, well, that was quite a one-two punch nature gave us early this year!! Though I am grateful that it waited until after market closed yesterday to begin again, and that we didn't get the two-feet of snow that areas of Connecticut received.

The cabbage in the front bed was done anyway,
but behind it are broccoli covered in reemay
and snow which we hope will survive.

Carrots peeking out from the reemay
just before harvesting.

We were able to harvest some carrots on Friday to bring to market, the reemay we put over them on Thursday kept the greens looking suprisingly lovely, and since they are underground even if the greens take a hit we should still have some for our last CSA distribution on Tuesday. Possibly even beets, for the same reason. What we had in storage in the garage (winter squash and onions) went into the house on Friday afternoon to be shielded from the repeated cold nights.

Some broccoli was harvested (a bit on the small side in an effort to get something out of the bed in case it was killed by the weather), and we noticed that the cabbage worms had infested it. The bright side of that is it's proof that we grow without pesticides, but I know most people don't consider them good eats so I'll also pass along that I hear that the best way to get rid of them is to boil the broccoli in salted water, they should float right to the top. Personally I pluck them off while I'm chopping it up, and bring them outside for the birds to eat (I don't like to boil food generally since nutrients leach away; I steam instead). A funny story from a couple of years ago, when I was helping run a large CSA distribution in Brooklyn: one young woman asked the week after we got broccoli about the small bugs on it. I mentioned the cabbage worms, and she said, no, no, much smaller than that. She added that they were also bright green and didn't move much and washed off easily, so she didn't mind them but was wondering what they were. I wasn't sure, I hadn't seen any small green bugs, so I promised to ask the farmer. About 30 minutes later, though, still at distribution but having that exchange run through my head, I realized she must have been referring to the cabbage worm poop.

In the greenhouse: some lingering snow
on the roof, and the tomatoes looking
sad and withered (though it's hard
 to tell because my camera lens fogged up)

Anyway, Clemens isn't sure what will survive the next few days, and so Solstice Hill Farm may not make it to the indoor Delmar market this year. On a personal note, my last day is scheduled to be this Tuesday, the last CSA distribution day, and so I will be heading back home to NYC for the winter this Wednesday. It has been a great pleasure getting to know all the CSA members, and all the regular customers at the Delmar farmers market, and on behalf of everyone at Solstice Hill Farm I want to thank all of you for supporting the farm this year, it wouldn't have been a success without you!!

P.S. to the CSA members: We would greatly appreciate your feedback, so please do remember to bring your completed survey with you on Tuesday.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Farm News for October 16th

Hi everyone, Kimberly here. The cold weather seems to be settling in after that beautiful week of warm, sunny weather; I guess that was Indian Summer, and winter really is on its way! The geese that fly overhead in ever larger groups are confirming this prognosis.

On October 6th, Clemens and I took the morning to attend the NYS Assembly's hearing on hydraulic fracturing natural gas drilling ("fracking") and stayed while they grilled the NYS DEC commissioner, Joe Martens, and his staff. (The photo above featuring your farmer, Clemens, is from the Times Union's coverage of the hearing. You can also catch a glimpse of us at the YNN coverage of the hearing.) I think they did a really solid job of raising all the questions, issues and problems. Many anti-fracking activists were there, and the hearing went well into the night as the Assembly allowed the public to comment and testify for the official record.

We at Solstice Hill Farm are very much against fracking because of its use of known carcinogens and other pollutants; how can one trust the drinking water near where that kind of drilling is taking place, or make a committment to farm organically nearby?! We encourage all of you to learn more about fracking, and to contact your local and state public officials if you are against fracking. Here are a couple of sources of information and how to get involved:
Catskill Mountain Keeper
Schoharie Valley Watch
Sharon-Springs-Against-Hydrofracking Facebook page

Back at the farm the broccoli  and cabbage are coming in nicely, the peppers in the field are hanging on nicely so far, and the kale and chard are still going strong. The greenhouse tomatoes are doing well, too. However, the peas we planted in the field for fall harvest are not faring so well; the deer came through and ate the tops off almost all the plants. The deer also methodically ate all the heads of lettuce in the field. Deer fencing is a top priority to put in place before the 2012 growing season!

This year Clemens and Jenny experimented with drying beans. We pulled up the first plants a couple of weeks ago, and strung them up with rubberbands and rope to hang in the garage. By hanging they should dry out so the pods become papery. The kids are looking forward to when they come down, when they can be stepped on in a large bunch to easily pop open the pods and gather the beans inside. The first batch were calypso beans (also known as orca, or yin yang, beans, see the picture for the reason why) and the batch last week were the gorgeous orangey-tan with deep red swirl tiger's eye beans.

We are also still working on preparing the field for winter. Clemens acquired a few large wire spools and welded a bar so it could be attached to the tractor. We were then able to put the spool on the bar and roll the irrigation system's drip tape onto it for reuse next year. This week we will also be taking the clips off the field tomatoes for reuse next year, too. The reemay has been rolled up and just needs storing, except for the few strips being used for the arugula out in the field.

This past week we also cut down a number of trees on the road up to the farm in preparation for the heavy equipment that has been hired to widen and regrade the road. The equipment will also be used to clear out the big roots from the land near the greenhouse which was cleared of stumps this year, as part of opening new farm land.

I've been updating the website and have posted a number of pictures in the Gallery, please check them out!Lastly, as this CSA season winds down we are very eager to get your feedback on your experience, and are planning a written survey which you can fill out anonymously. Of course we'd love to hear what you loved, but equally important are any ideas you have on what would have improved your experience. Thank you again for investing in the farm this year!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Farm News September 24th

Hi, Kimberly here. We hope you enjoyed the inclusion of some flowers in this week's share; the droopy pink sprays are "Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate" which apparently was first grown in the U.S. by Thomas Jefferson. This old-timey flower was new to me this year, and on a personal note digging up and repotting the self-seeded plants in the back part of the greenhouse was one of the first things I did here at Solstice Hill Farm. They were re-planted in the greenhouse and have really taken off, and they're quite tall, though perhaps not the 12-ft tall (!) that they can grow to be. Also from the greenhouse in your share was the eggplant.

Autumn has definitely arrived around the field. The plants are not growing as quickly as during the long, warm days of the summer (and this includes the weeds, yay!). As the temperature drops we've begun using oats as cover crop instead of buckwheat (the buckwheat in the picture above was mowed down shortly after it was taken this past week). The tomatoes in the field are beginning to wind down (though are surprisingly prolific considering how unhappy the leaves and vines look), and the tomatoes in the greenhouse have begun ripening. There's still plenty going on in the fields to keep us busy and harvesting, though, including a new snap pea planting that we're hoping will be ready before the first real frost.

The chick has gotten much larger, and likes to peck around in the front lawn for bugs and seeds, as long as there is supervision (no visits from the cats or big chickens are welcome). I was noticing how time has passed here, and I thought I'd pass along the observation that we have only 6 more CSA distributions this year (the last one is November 1st) so we're almost 3/4ths of the way through. I feel a sense of satisfaction for a job well done so far, but also sad about beginning to face the end of the season. I will definitely miss our Tuesday afternoons together!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Farm News for August 31st

Hi, Kimberly here. We were happy to see everyone at distribution, and happier still that we were able to bring you your shares this week amid all the havoc that was wreaked in Schoharie County by Irene! Our luck being on a hill rather in the valley area during this unprecedented storm makes us grateful, and we share the sorrow of the CSA members and their friends and family who have lost much!

As Irene approached, up here at Solstice Hill Farm we prepared by harvesting all the tomatoes that were just about to come ready, not just the ripe ones, in hopes that that would keep us in tomatoes for our CSA and markets (we hope you have been enjoying them so far) in case we lost the tomato plants to the storm. We would have harvested more (melons, lettuce, etc) if we had cooling facilities of any size, but without it there was no point, and we would just have to wait to see what Mother Nature brought. The greenhouse was also closed up and battened down as tightly as we could, as last year a storm of a smaller size ripped up the plastic and damaged some of the structural hoops. Our tomatoes were blown down, but not killed and we spent all Monday morning re-staking them up. The leaves were also stripped off the winter squash, and the summer squash (which was struggling already) pretty much died. We find ourselves in the awkward position of harvesting both melons and winter squash at the same time (both need to get out of the fields before they rot...we were able to repurpose an old refrigerator to store some of the melons), after this odd summer. We also had some minor flooding in the fields, but it was worse during the Spring rains.

Having been spared the fate of farms like Schoharie Valley Farms and Barber's, we started getting requests for veggies from Corbin Hill Road Farm which runs a set of CSAs in the Bronx and Manhattan. They had contracted with a number of Schoharie County farms to supplement what they would grow themselves, and with one of their major suppliers flooded beyond repair for the season they were looking to us to fill in a gap. We wish we could do more to help them, but we're not in a place where we can ramp up. We were able to get them 130 onions, 125 chard bunches and 50 kale bunches this week to help feed some lower-income New York City residents. We're also keen to continue to feed the greater Capital region, too, at the two markets we sell at, and of course our own CSA members!

In other news, most of the first batch of storage onions successfully dried, and we put out a second batch today. Last Saturday on the way back from market one of our farm vehicles lost the tread on a back tire; fortunately we were able to be towed and have the tire replaced, though it delayed our return to the farm and Clemens ended up battening down the greenhouse himself. Today one of our chickens was killed, it was found in the coop with its neck broken, it looked like some animal (a weasel?) tried to pull it through a small gap to get it outside. The deer have gotten into the beans and decimated the current planting, so the new rows which are just coming up were sprayed tonight with deer repellent. The young arugula and spinach plantings look like they weathered the storm pretty well, so in a few weeks we will probably be able to get them to you.

I didn't get a picture of this week's share, which disappoints me greatly because I was very excited about the fennel, but above is a pic of the previous week's share. If you used your fennel (or lemon basil, or any of the share items) in an interesting way you'd like to share with us and the other CSA members, please do use the comments button for this blog post! We always love to hear from our members, so you're welcome to comment here or call or email if you have any questions or concerns regarding the share.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Farm News for August 20th

Hi everyone, snap-happy Kimberly here again, but ashamed to say I forgot my camera for last week's distribution so I have no picture of last Tuesday's bountiful share (which included potatoes, cucumbers, zucchini/summer squash, onions, cherry tomatoes, slicing tomatoes, cilantro, lemon basil, chard, lettuce, bell and hot peppers, and lots of extras from Saturday's market). We always would love to hear how you used your share, but I'm especially interested how you used the lemon basil, and whether you liked it or not.

This past couple of weeks we've done some final fall plantings, of broccoli and storage cabbage as well as arugula and spinach, plus the ongoing staggered lettuce plantings to keep you all in cut lettuce for as long as possible. There hasn't been quite as much rain as we would like for planting, so we've walked a delicate balance of irrigating the new plantings while keeping the tomatoes from getting too much irrigation (the ripe ones tend to split if they get too much water).

We also worked on some season extension techniques: the tomatoes in the greenhouse were strung and clipped--soon we'll have to start closing the greenhouse at night to keep it properly warm--and we harvested a bunch of storage onions (as opposed to the green onions you've been getting the past few weeks) and put them out to dry. Some are in the greenhouse on pallets, and some are in the garage on appropriate surfaces we whipped up, but both have fans blowing on them; air circulation is important to keep them from molding while drying.

Sadly, one of the chicks died, but the other is getting special attention and is living in the house with a heat lamp in his little "room". In honor of it being a "free bird" it has been dubbed Lynyrd Skynrd. Little Lynyrd needs as much socialization as possible and so sometimes joins us for meals. S/he can't live with the adult birds yet as they would peck at her/him.

On a personal note, I finally spent a Barnes & Noble gift certificate I had received from a coworker as a going away present, and one of the books I bought was "You Can Farm" by Joel Salatin, with the intent of getting some more inspiration. Maybe you have heard of Salatin, he's a farmer who has been interviewed in the movie Food, Inc., and is featured in Michael Pollan's book "The Omnivore's Dilemma", both of which I highly recommend. I'd also like to recommend another Salatin book to you: Holy Cows and Hog Heaven: The Food Buyer's Guide to Farm Friendly Food. If you have any favorite food/farm books or videos you'd like to recommend, please use the comments button for this post!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Farm News for August 9th

Hi everyone, Kimberly here. It was great to see everyone who came to distribution today, and I hope everyone is enjoying the procedural change we made (where you pick out your own vegetables from the bins rather than having us choose for you)! If you have any comments, pro or con, we'd love to get your feedback!

Here's a picture of this week's share, which included 11 items including the first of our tomatoes. We had harvested basil as part of last week's share in the expectation that we would be able to give you tomatoes to go with it, but ended up with not enough to give everyone a pint so we had to scrap that plan. I'm sure you'll be happy to know that we have tons of green tomatoes that should be ripening in the next few weeks, so we should be able to give you generous amounts in the near future, including some Brandywines (an heirloom tomato with an excellent taste and often large enough when sliced to cover the entire hamburger bun).

Cilantro, radishes, carrots, corn, onions, cucumbers (green and lemon), tomatoes (slicing and cherry), summer squash (zucchini and pattypans), snap beans (green, purple, yellow and French), lettuce, peppers (green, purple and hot).

Those of you who arrived promptly today may have noticed that we were running just a wee bit behind schedule. Today Owen (Jenny's youngest child) discovered that one of our hens, who had been broody (i.e. sitting in the nestbox on eggs quite consistently,) had two chicks in the nestbox with her! While I was washing your onions, I kept hearing loud peeping, so I checked in the chicken coop and one of the chicks had fallen out and was much too small to make it back up to the nestbox, so while preparing for the CSA we were also trying to make an appropriate hutch for the hen and the youngsters to live in.

We're also happy to have made another small change in our workaday. We try to limit our use of plastics, but when it's impossible to avoid, we do try to re-use and recycle. So a couple of weeks ago we hung up a couple of ropes and found some clothespins so we can hang up the washed large plastic bags we use to transport things like bagged lettuce.

Land continues to be cleared for next year. Last week Clemens finished getting rid of the tree stumps using a stump grinder, and yesterday we were able to borrow a chisel plow from a farmer friend which will be used to pull up the roots (cultivating is near about impossible without removing them).

On a personal note, I enjoyed the Sunshine Fair and I saw my first tractor pull. We also took turns working at the Sharon Springs Against Hydrofracking booth there. Because gas drilling is an issue that worries us greatly because of its ramifiations on a basic necessity (clean water!) and agriculture, we encourage you to learn more about it and to contact your town and state government officials if you are against it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Farm Visit Recap & Farm News July 25th

We want to thank everyone who was able to come to the farm visit! We're sorry that more of you weren't able to attend, so here's a recap of what you missed.

The tour began in the washing area, where we prepare all the harvested veggies for CSA and market. Recently the washing machine we used to spin the washed greens dry died, and Clemens found a good deal on a used professional salad spinner, an improvement because it has a much greater capacity.

Here Clemens is showing the greenhouse to the group. This is where most of the seedlings planted in the field began their life (very early on the seeding began in the house, which is heated; the greenhouse isn't currently heated). The planting is mostly done for the year, so a few weeks ago we moved all the remaining seedlings outside and inside are 3 of 4 beds which are being used to extend the growing season for tomatoes, flowers and lettuce.

We walked the length of the field, stopping at various beds to talk about what was planted and how it was going. We got to sample the first sungold cherry tomatoes and sweet corn of the season!

At the very end of the field are the peppers. Here's the group looking them over, and here also is Clemens with his mouth on fire from the hot pepper he tried out! Don't worry, we grew bell peppers, too.

Back at the house, we dug into the potluck food which was really yummy, and finished the evening with a viewing of the documentary film Gasland.

In other news at the farm, last week Jenny and Clemens spent some time working on clearing more land for planting next year. They rented a stump grinder, here is Jenny using it.

Finally, here is the share for last week, which included carrots, onion, braising greens, red cabbage, green cabbage, 1.5 lbs. of string beans (green, yellow, purple and french), lots of zucchini, a pint of snap peas (sorry, probably the last for this part of the season, though we might plant some for fall harvest) and cucumbers. This week we hope to give you sweet corn; so far, we haven't seen any of the corn worms which are common in organically raised corn, but if you do see one just cut off the affected top and enjoy the rest.

As always, we welcome your feedback, questions and comments! Looking forward to seeing all of you tomorrow! ~ Kimberly

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Farm Visit Invitation & Farm News for July 17th

Solstice Hill Farm CSA Farm Visit, Potluck & Movie
Sunday, July 24th
Rain or shine!
Arrive: 3pm
Tour: 4pm
Potluck: 5pm
Movie: 6pm
Directions and parking arrangements to follow.

We hope you will save the date, we'd love to have you see how your veggies are being grown, and to get a chance to mingle with you all (and for you to mingle with each other) at the potluck! The movie will probably be Gasland (watch the trailer here).

This was the share for last Tuesday, July 12th: kale, broccoli, lettuce, cucumber, snap beans (two bundles: green beans, French green beans, and a few purple beans), sugar snap peas, summer squash (zucchini and yellow pattypan pictured here) and fingerling potatoes.

The potatoes were our first, and so far only, harvest of the potatoes. Clemens was very excited to dig them up and give them to you this week, but we're going to wait a couple of weeks before digging again to let them size up a bit more. The summer squash is beginning to come in strong; we hope you found the pattypan shape and color was a nice addition to the traditional green zucchini. Pattypans are a good shape for slicing and grilling, or even stuffing and baking. Here's a yummy looking (though defnitely not low calorie!) recipe for stuffing:

I haven't tried the above recipe, but I can report that we did try one of the Just Food Veggie Tip Sheet recipes, the one for stuffed chard, and I highly recommend it! Jenny used ricotta instead of the cottage cheese, but I imagine you could use any creamy/curdy cheese you have on hand, or even silken tofu. It reheats really well, too. We'll probably be giving you chard again soon, let us know if you try it out.

In other farm news, it's been a very dry and hot week, and so the sprinkler irrigation system was set up to water the newly direct seeded bean beds. The neighboring beds probably didn't mind getting a bit of water, too. We also added and moved some drip irrigation lines; we move the plastic drip lines when we're ready to till in an old bed so we can reuse rather than throw them out. The goal is to use as little plastic as possible. We also began using BioTelo, the biodegradable plastic mulch row cover film, instead of the traditional plastic mulch row cover film.

To wind this post up, I'd like to share a great story from member Eileen. A couple of weeks ago when we gave heads of lettuce (rather than the cut lettuce) her younger daughter was snacking on the leaves, going into the fridge and just taking some when she was hungry. One day when she came home from work, her daughter said to her, "The lettuce they gave us this week is really great, it tastes just like broccoli!"--turns out the head had been finished off, and the daughter had moved on to the cabbage without realizing it!

As always we welcome your questions, feedback and comments!
~ Kimberly

Share for July 5th

Carrots, radishes, kale, head of lettuce, head of cabbage, broccoli, sugar snap peas (2 pints), beets.

The sugar snap peas have been popular with even our youngest members, like this pair of sisters shown snacking immediately on the peas inside. But don't forget that these are snap peas so you can eat the pod (we don't grow shelling peas, the kind where you can't eat the pods)!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Share for June 28th

This week's share included radishes (valentine mix), our first harvest of carrots, rainbow chard, beets, peas, and (not pictured) lettuce.

Have you ever eaten beet greens? If not, please note that you can treat them like other leafy greens like spinach and chard. If you don't usually like beet greens, try adding them into your chard; the mild flavor of the chard cuts the slightly stronger taste of the beet greens.

If, like me, you generally find radishes to be too spicy, I want to recommend making them into a creamy radish salad. Jenny made it last week and it was delicious! I think all she used was some mayonnaise and dill, but here's a recipe online (I think it also helps to slice them very thin, so use your food processor or mandoline):

As always, we'd love to hear how you used your share, or let us know if you have any questions.

And most of you have been great about it, but here's a gentle reminder to please return your bushel each week.

Wishing you and yours a happy and safe Independence Day!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Farm News (June 19)

Hi everyone, Kimberly here.

This week we finally got just enough warm dry weather to do some more tilling, so that we could begin to catch up with the planting schedule. Some beds needed moldboard plowing first (it's only the 2nd year this land is in production, so there are still plenty of grassy and weedy areas that need this extra step; it's better for the soil to keep moldboarding to a minimum...some in agriculture believe in a system called "no-till farming"...) so we're hoping for the sun and warm to continue a little bit so those beds can get the second step of being harrowed. Some just needed harrowing.

The other big task this week was hoeing, and even some hand weeding, to try and keep up with the weeds, which are just loving this weather. Hoeing can be a solitary task, and I began to ponder why more weeds aren't things we eat; it sure would make farming easier! Actually, a number of weeds are edible, including lamb's quarter (which also goes by the uglier name of pigweed; Jenny thinks its leaves are tastier than spinach) and purslane and lemongrass (which I mistook to be clover until one of the kids pointed out the difference in the shape of the leaves).

Going in soon are more melons, more lettuce (to keep us in lettuce all summer long; our first plantings have already bolted, making for lettuce much to bitter to eat) and lots more tomatoes. A variety of tomatoes are ready for field planting, from cherry to large slicing tomatoes, and varieties including yellow, orange and red, including a few heirloom varieties like Brandywine, Moskovitch and Cosmonaut Volkov (interesting name, isn't it? I had to look it up; it's a variety from the Ukraine that was commercially named after a cosmonaut that died on a mission).

This week we hope to have our first harvest of beets for you. We were able to harvest a couple (literally!) of decent sized ones the other day, and shredded them raw into a green salad, I highly recommend that as a quick and easy way to eat young beets, though my personal favorite way to eat beets is oven roasted with fresh goat cheese and a little balsamic vinegar. Other likely suspects for Tuesday are chard, kale and peas, but as you know it's all tentative 'til we go out to the field on Tuesday morning and see what's ready. :)

As always, we look forward to seeing you (or whoever you send on your behalf) on Tuesday evening, and would love to hear your comments and feedback on your share, recipe ideas, or whatever food related issue is on your mind.

And by the way, this Tuesday is the summer solstice (for which the farm is named!) so we also want to wish you all a Happy Summer Solstice and hope you celebrate it by eating some great, fresh veggies from the farm!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

CSA share for June 14th

Share items from left to right.
Top row: kale & swiss chard
Middle row: lettuce (a full pound), arugula, spinach
Bottom row: peas (snap beans, two pints) & strawberries

If any of these are unfamiliar to you, you might find a Veggie Tip Sheet for it (see our earlier blog post).
Let us know if you have any questions about the items in your share!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Farm News (June 12th)

Hi everyone, this is Kimberly again. I got a chance to meet many of you at last Tuesday's distribution, and it was a real pleasure! Here are a few pictures I took (yes, I'll admit to being a little snap happy).

This first one is the set up. It was hot out so we decided to use the coolers rather than actual pre-made bushels so that your veggies would stay as fresh as possible.

This was a share last week, with kale, chard, spinach, lettuce, broccoli and mint. We'd love to hear how you used your share, so please comment if you have any recipes to share, or if you have any questions.

Here is Clemens with member Eileen, who can claim the distinction of being the very first Solstice Hill Farm CSA member to pick up a share. :)

HSCSAM = Happy, satisfied, CSA members. (I'm borrowing this from the bank, HSBC, whose teller once claimed stood for "happy, satisfied banking customer"; really it's something like Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corporation; ahhh, marketing...).

As a reminder, PLEASE REMEMBER TO RETURN YOUR BUSHEL if you took it with you. And of course if you don't want to deal with taking and returning the bushel, you can bring your own bags and containers to transport your veggies home from distribution.

In farm news this past week, Clemens and Jenny decided it was high time to invest in an irrigation system so we can spend less time on watering plants during dry spells and more time on seeding, planting, cultivation and harvesting. We installed and tested it out on the farm's well, but in the near future it will draw on pond water instead. In the picture below the main valves are shown; the bottom one will have a hose attached down towards the pond. The ones above (not currently attached) are for if/when we use overhead irrigation (basically a giant overhead lawn sprinkler which would stand out about 8ft high in the field and is supposed to spray about 160ft in circumference).

The low pressure hose (suitable for the drip irrigation we'll be doing) runs the length of the entire 2 acre field.

Here are the valves to the drip lines in the (future) melon beds. The plastic helps keep the warmth and moisture in the bed, while keeping weeds from growing.

We were very happy to have the dry, hot spell end on Thursday with a much needed rain storm, but we got something close to 2 inches of rain between Thursday evening and Saturday, so now we're hoping for a brief respite again so we can till the next planting beds.

The weather also brought some scary news for us. As Clemens was approaching home on Thursday evening after his trip to PA to pick up the new irrigation system, an emergency broadcasting system announcement broke in on the radio describing a severe storm just north of Richmondville (i.e. right where the farm is located!) and as he drove through patches of fog as the radio skipped in and out, he worried about the fields (Clemens tells this story much better). Sure enough the next morning, while checking the field, hail damage was discovered! Most noticably the big, beautiful chard leaves were torn, as were the leaves on the lettuce, but for the most part we were lucky, as it was a reminder that severe weather can completely wipe out a farm's entire crop.

So this seems like an opportune moment to thank you all again for investing in the farm this season! We (Clemens, Jenny and I) look forward to seeing you again this Tuesday, 4-6pm at Maranatha on Elm St.

And remember, if you can't make it during that time, you can send a friend or family member to pick up your share for you; otherwise, you can pick up your share the next day at the farm, though please be warned that the last bit of road to the farm and the roads in the farm itself are unpaved and currently rather uneven and a little muddy.

Veggie Tip Sheets from Just Food

Last week I posted the Veggie Tip Sheets that were created by Just Food for a few share items we expected, and I was gratified that one member mentioned them, so I'm hoping others of you also looked them over and found them useful, too.

If you haven't looked at one yet, they include
- background information on the food
- storage tips
- nutritional information
- recipes (three each, most are fairly easy).

They can be printed out double sided on a single sheet, and you are welcome to share them with friends and relatives as long as Just Food is given credit for them.

However, I realized late last week that there were additional Veggie Tip Sheets that could have been posted after distribution, since we were able to include things like broccoli, chard and kale in the share in addition to the items we knew for sure would be ready when I posted the original blog entry.

So for convenience's sake, I'm going to list all the Veggie Tip Sheets now for items we are either growing or hope to grow, and you can always refer back to them in this post later in the season when they actually arrive in your basket. Please note that there are not tip sheets for everything growing at Solstice Hill Farm (like corn and onions), and that my listing an item here is not a guarantee that it will be in your bushel later this season.

Braising Greens
Peppers (bell)
Peppers (hot)
Snap beans
Summer squash (incl. zucchini)
Swiss chard
Winter squash

And if you have any interest in learning more about Just Food you can visit their website here.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Looking Forward to Seeing All of You on Tuesday, June 7th

Hi, everyone! This is Kimberly, the apprentice (this is me with Lily, the younger of Jenny's daughters), writing to welcome you and remind you of the first Solstice Hill Farm CSA distribution:

Maranatha Physical Therapy
197 Elm St.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Clemens and Jenny, your farmers, will be there to greet you and guide you through the process.

We will have premade bushels full of yummy, organic veggies (and later in the season, some fruit) which you can take with you. However, we need you to return the bushel each week so we can fill it up for you again.

Alternatively, if you'd prefer to bring your own bags, you can fill them up and we will take the empty bushel with us that same day.

Please be prompt, we must leave at 6pm. If you cannot come, or send a friend or family member to pick up for you, you can come to the farm the next day to pick your share up directly. After that, I'm afraid that your share cannot be held.

This week we expect to have lettuce, arugula and spinach for you. At the beginning of the season things tend to be a little light, especially a cold, wet spring like this one, but don't worry it'll pick up really quickly. Coming soon are peas and beets and chard and kale, and we'd like to give each of you a sunflower to plant in your garden or container.

Also I'd like to give you a heads up on farm visit / potluck we're planning for July 24. We're looking into possibly including a screening of a food-production related movie (King Corn? Queen of the Bees? The World According to Monsanto?). So I hope you'll mark your calendar and come to see how your food is being grown, get to know your farmers and to mingle with your fellow CSA members.

In case you're wondering a little about me, I'm from NYC and I was a CSA member down there for 6 years, and it's VERY exciting for me to be on the growing side of the CSA equation! I loved being a CSA member, including the challenge of figuring out what to do with the goodies I picked up each week. If you need some ideas or background for lettuce, arugula or spinach, please click the links on the veggies and they'll open up a pdf of info prepared by Just Food, a non-profit organization based in NYC that does work on all sorts of food justice issues, including matching communities in NYC to farmers in the region.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Shares Still Available

Please disregard some of those due dates on the pamphlet below. We are going to keep accepting shares until our 15 people (families) have showed up. We are still holding at eight right now. Thanks to those who found us in the beginning. With those early payments we have ordered the seed and most of  the fertilizer. We also improved some or the cultivation (weeding) equipment and fixed up some of the vehicles so we can get all these veggies where they need to be, in your belly.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A few photos

 The greenhouse early in the season. Well, sort of early. We actually planted this just before July 4th since we used it for all the transplants.
Jennies friend Sarah came to visit. One of those "someday" jobs is get a little dock work done.

 This totally captures the place. It's great to farm on top of a mountain, that bottom land thing is so overrated, heh, heh. You might also say you deal with the cards dealt and this place produced well for us our first season.