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.