News and blog
Dear CSA members and Farm friends, It has been a rollercoaster week of weather on the farm. First it was in the 50’s washing produce last Wednesday, a hard frost on Saturday morning and 89 on Tuesday and Wednesday. All we need now is a good, soaking rain to ease the drought. On Thursday the plumbers came and pulled up our pump from one of our ag. wells. It lives 450 feet down the shaft. The plumbers used a mechanical puller to get the pump to the surface. It pump was 10 years old and worn out. About a third of the cost of a new pump is just getting the thing in and out of the well shaft. We figure the total cost is about $2000. Now the water is able to cover 50% more ground than before the replacement. When it does not rain we have to irrigate 24 hours a day. Our market garden soils are very well drained. Our pastures and hayfields are a mix of soils varying from gravel to clay based. They all need rain to boost the forage yields and to keep the herd in feed. The upside to hot, dry weather is that the weeds grow slowly in the garden. We have been planting corn, beans, leeks, lettuce and more greenhouse tomatoes this week. The horses can cultivate in closely to the baby plants. We then go through with narrow hoes and get the close-up work done by hand. On the cow side we had a herd health visit from the vet. She was here to do required public health testing-TB and Brucellosis. Even though Vermont is free of both diseases we are required test. This helps keep the state and region disease free. She also tests out heifers for Leukosis, a blood born disease. We are a Leukosis free herd and need to stay so to keep our cows, heifers and AI hopeful bulls healthy and saleable. Our vet checked heifers and cows for positive pregnancy using an ultrasound. Everyone is pregnant that she checked. A big question we get each year is “how do I keep my vegetables fresh”. Harvesting and storing home garden vegetables By Cindy Tong, Extension post-harvest horticulturist What are the best conditions to store your homegrown vegetables? This fact sheet provides some information that will help you make decisions on harvesting and storing your vegetables. When harvesting vegetables, be careful not to break, nick, or bruise them. The less vegetables are handled, the longer they will last in storage. Harvest only vegetables of high quality. Rotting produce cannot be stored for very long, and could spread disease to other stored vegetables. Different vegetables need different storage conditions. Temperature and humidity are the main storage factors to consider; there are three combinations for long-term storage: cool and dry (50-60°F and 60% relative humidity),cold and dry (32-40°F and 65% relative humidity), and cold and moist (32-40°F and 95% relative humidity). For cold conditions, 32°F is the optimal temperature, but it isn't easy to attain in most homes. Expect shortened shelf-lives for your vegetables as storage conditions deviate from the optimal, as much as 25% for every 10°F increase in temperature. Some vegetables, such as cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes, require cool (55°F) and moist storage. These conditions are difficult to maintain in a typical home, so expect to keep vegetables requiring cool and moist storage conditions for only a short period of time. Where can the different storage conditions be found in a typical home? Basements are generally cool and dry. If storing vegetables in basements, provide your vegetables with some ventilation. Harvested vegetables are not dead, but still "breathe" and require oxygen to maintain their high quality. Also, be sure they are protected from rodents. Home refrigerators are generally cold and dry (40°F and 50-60% relative humidity). This is fine for long-term storage of garlic and onions, but not much else. Putting vegetables in perforated plastic bags in the refrigerator will provide cold and moist conditions, but only for a moderate amount of time. Unperforated plastic bags often create too humid conditions that lead to condensation and growth of mold or bacteria. Root cellars provide cold and moist conditions. As with basements, provide ventilation and protection from rodents when storing vegetables in cellars. Materials such as straw, hay, or wood shavings can be used as an insulation. If using such insulation, make sure that it is clean and not contaminated with pesticides.
Specific harvest and storage information for some commonly-grown vegetables. Expected shelf-life times are only estimates.
Vegetable When to Harvest How to Store Expected Shelf-life Comments
basil when leaves are still tender at room temperature 5 days keep stems in water; will discolor if kept in refrigerator for 10 days
beans, snap about 2-3 weeks after bloom when seeds still immature cold and moist 1 week develop pitting if stored below 40°
beets when 1.25-3 inches in diameter cold and moist 5 months store without tops broccoli while flower buds still tight and green cold and moist 2 weeks -
brussels sprouts when heads 1 inch in diameter cold and moist 1 month - cabbage when heads compact and firm cold and moist 5 months -
carrots when tops 1 inch in diameter cold and moist 8 months store without tops cauliflower while heads still white, before curds "ricey" cold and moist 3 weeks - corn, sweet when silks dry and brown, kernels should be milky when cut with a thumbnail cold and moist 5 days -
cucumbers for slicing, when 6 inches long cool spot in kitchen 55°F in perforated plastic bags; storage in refrigerator for a few days okay 1 week develops pitting and water-soaked areas if chilled below 40°F; do not store with apples or tomatoes
eggplant before color dulls like cucumbers 1 week develops pitting, bronzing, pulp browning if stored for long period below 50°F
lettuce while leaves are tender cold and moist 1 week -
muskmelons (cantaloupe) when fruits slip off vine easily, while netting even, fruit firm cold and moist 1 week develops pitting surface decay with slight freezing
onions when necks are tight, scales dry cold and dry 4 months cure at room temperature 2-4 weeks before storage, do not freeze
peas when pods still tender cold and moist 1 week -
peppers when fruits reach desired size or color like cucumbers 2 weeks develops pitting below 45°F
potatoes when vine dies back cold and moist; keep away from light 6 months cure at 50-60°F or 14 days before storage, will sweeten below 38°F
pumpkins when shells harden, before frost cool and dry 2 months very sensitive to temperatures below 45°F
radishes when roots up to 1.25 inches in diameter cold and moist 1 month store without tops
rutabagas when roots reach desired size cold and moist 4 months do not wax spinach while leaves still tender cold and moist 10 days -
squash, summer when fruit 4-6 inches long like cucumbers 1 week do not store in refrigerator for more than 4 days
squash, winter when shells hard, before frost cool and dry 2-6 months, depending on variety curing unnecessary; do not cure Table Queen
tomatoes, red when color uniformly pink or red like cucumbers 5 days loses color, firmness and flavor if stored below 40°F; do not refrigerate!
turnips when roots reach desired size, possibly after light frost cold and moist 4 months can be waxed
May 21,2015 Dear CSA members and farm friends, It’s been very busy on the farm the last few weeks. The newsletter is back with two great recipes starring Cabbage. We have planted 12,000 red and yellow onions with a flash mob planting crew finally on a Sunday afternoon. Our 3rd grade students from the Upper Valley Waldorf School helped plant 650 pounds of potatoes. Our helper Ellie carefully recorded where each type was planted. We have direct seeded in the fields-shell, snap and snow peas, carrots, beets, spinach, mesclun, radishes and turnips. We have transplanted broccoli, cauliflower, kale, celeriac, leeks, lettuce, scallions, Brussels Sprouts and parsley. The greenhouse tomatoes have moved into the high tunnel. We have been harvesting lettuce, mesclun, spinach, cilantro, and chives for the shares. It has been very dry in April and May. We are watering from 2 wells to cover the garden. One well pump is failing and has to be pulled 450 feet out of the ground this week. The pastures still have moisture in them. Our cows have water from a gravity fed spring built by neighbor Matt Dow. This allows the cows to have water near each paddock. The dairy cows, bred heifers and steers had their first day out on pasture on May 6th. They spent a week going out by day and staying in at night. This allows their rumens to adjust to eating fresh forage. Each type of grass has its own set of bacteria to help digest it. The cows are out day and night now. They no longer want to eat hay at the barn during milking. The whole group comes in twice a day, they get their grain and the cows get milked. We move the fence every afternoon so the herd gets a new paddock of grass in the evening. We have to make a paddock big enough for the herd to get 1500lbs of dry matter or 2600lbs of grass every day. Our younger animals stay in the barn until the heifers are pregnant and the steers are about 1 year old. We received another Outstanding Quality Milk Award from Dairy One Coop. It’s great to have a hard working farm team and cows to make this milk.
Adapted from Well Plated by Erin Healthy Asian Ramen Salad
A healthy version of the classic crunchy Asian Ramen Salad that everyone loves, made with real ingredients.
Yield: Serves 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Ingredients: For the Salad
2, 3-ounce package of ramen noodles
2/3 cup sliced almonds
½ cup peanuts
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cabbage, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups shelled frozen edamame, thawed
1 cup shredded carrots
4 scallions or chives, thinly sliced (both white and green parts)
1 orange cut into segments
1 bunch cilantro
For the Dressing
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Directions: Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Crumble the ramen noodles onto a baking sheet, then spread them in a single layer, along with the nuts. Bake for 5 minutes, remove from the oven, add the sesame seeds and toss, then bake for 1 to 3 additional minutes until fragrant and golden. Watch closely so that the mixture does not burn. Set aside.In a small bowl, briskly stir together all of the dressing ingredients: rice vinegar, olive oil soy sauce, salt, and pepper. (Alternatively, you can shake them together in a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid.)In a serving bowl, toss together the thinly sliced cabbage, edamame, cilantro and scallions, drizzle the dressing over the top, then toss again to combine. Sprinkle the oranges over the top, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Leftover Asian Ramen Salad will last in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Sesame Ginger Sautéed Cabbage & Carrots
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Serving Size: Serves 4
Healthy, vibrant sautéed vegetables loaded with the flavor of ginger and sesame. This simple side comes together in less than 20 minutes and can be adapted to any vegetables you have on hand.
2 inch piece ginger root - minced
2 garlic cloves – minced
6 cups shredded cabbage
2 cups shredded carrots
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce – low sodium
4 scallions – thinly sliced (tops and bottoms)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil black
roasted sesame seeds and chopped cilantro – optional garnish
Heat a deep skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Add ginger, garlic and cook for 30 seconds to release flavors. Add shredded cabbage, carrots and salt to the pan. Saute until slightly wilted, 7-9 minutes. Add the rice vinegar, soy sauce, scallions, and sesame oil. Saute 1 additional minute. Serve warm, garnished with sesame seeds and cilantro.
Dear CSA members and farm friends,
Reminder: We are hosting the first Wednesday May 13th farm tour and potluck dinner of the season. Join us at the farm at 6PM for a farm tour followed by dinner at 6:30 in the common house. RSVP,
Kerry for the farm crew.
Dear CSA members,
The Winter CSA season is over. Thank you for supporting the farm. Our farm stand is open daily and fresh vegetables are available every Wednesday afternoon.
This is not a drill, there are real, live, green things coming out of the ground, people! Not only in flats in the propagation tunnel, but also in the big high tunnel (different in that the high tunnel is unheated, more on this later), but even more exciting than this is the garlic sprouting in the field. That's outside. In the actual ground! It is such a big relief to see life reemerging from the earth, reassurance that the world has not resigned itself to being a frozen wasteland for the rest of time. Stephen has begun doing fieldwork with the horses, and we are all terribly excited to get planting. The spectrum of growing here at the farm is essentially a three class system. We have, as previously mentioned, the propagation tunnel, the high tunnels, and the field to grow things in. Here's how we use each growing space: The propagation house is a 12 by 50 foot space encapsulated by a double, walled, inflated structure. The inflation serves to insulate the space and retain heat. We heat the house with a propane heater. When we only have a small number of things started, we section off the heated end of the tunnel with spare greenhouse plastic to conserve energy. As the greenhouse fills, we remove the plastic divider and set up fans for air circulation. Good air flow discourages disease, and helps strengthen the growing seedlings. We water by hand two to three times daily and carefully monitor the temperature in the house. Seedlings that get too hot or too cold do not grow well and can even die. If there is enough solar gain, we can shut off the heater, and even open the door and roll up the greenhouse walls to regulate the temperature. Once plants are ready to be transplanted, they move out of the house to harden off in the high tunnel. We have two structures called high tunnels, which is a term used to describe an unheated greenhouse. Ours are modestly sized, one about 100' and the smaller less than half of that, though some can be much, much longer and taller. We use ours mostly for season extension and to provide a more beneficial habitat for heat-loving crops. We've seeded cold-weather greens already like spinach, arugula and lettuce mix, and already they are sprouting. We've also transplanted lettuce and cilantro. We will transplant greenhouse tomatoes later in the season as well. The high tunnel provides just enough protection (8-10 degrees) and generates just enough solar heat to lengthen the growing season by a good few weeks. This can mean having fresh greens well over a month before they would be ready outside. We will start planting onions and potatoes as soon as the weather warms a bit more. Planting things in the field requires more patience and caution than the greenhouses. A cold night can really damage plants in the field, so we have to make sure that the temperatures are warm enough for the transplants or seeds to survive. We will direct seed some crops, like the potatoes (a whole potato serves as the “seed”), while others will be transplanted. The onions were started months ago, one of the first things to get going in the heated propagation tunnel, and now they are almost ready for their outdoor home. Other crops will follow, lettuces, broccoli, cabbage, other greens, scallions will go out first. Then, when the weather is truly warm, all the more tender plants will go out, the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. So there's a bit about the ways and places that we grow the food that sustains us. As always, we welcome questions so ask away!
**Events** Monthly potluck will be held on Wednesday, May 13th at 6:30. Please contact Kerry or Jada to let us know you're coming, and what you might like to bring.
Yankee Dirty Rice
2 cups rice
1 cup lentils
1 red onion, chopped
3 medium sized carrots, cubed (could throw some turnip in, too if you've got one lying around)
1 lb our ground beef
2 links of our beef Andouille sausage cut into pieces
1 tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp dried thyme
a pinch of dried mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Mix the rice and lentils and get them cooking while you brown the ground beef and cook the vegetables until soft (I did this is separate pans, but feel free to streamline). Add the ground beef to the veggies, and toss in the Andouille. Add your spices and cook until fragrant. When the rice and lentils are done, add them to the other ingredients and go on your merry way. This could also be used leftover as stuffing. What's cooking? Send us your recipes: email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org. OR bring a print copy by the farm!
Dear CSA members and farm friends,
We will be taking CSA sign-ups until Monday May 4th. We start the Localvore season next week.
Can you imagine a world without the potato? And yet, for people of European descent, the potato is a relative newcomer in their cuisine. The potato was first cultivated in the Andes Mountain region some 7,000-10,000 years ago where it became a staple food of the Incan Empire. It is now an essential staple food across the Americas, Europe, and increasingly in Asia, with nearly 1/3 of the world’s annual crop being grown in China and India. The potato is a preeminent member of the nightshade family (Solanaceae). The edible portion of the plant is the starchy, nutritious tuber. The leaves, shoots, flowers, and berries of the potato plant contain noxious alkaloids that can cause severe poisoning and even death when consumed in sufficient quantities---but as long as the tubers are not exposed to direct sunlight (greening) they contain insignificant amounts of these toxins. In the Andes hundreds of regional varieties were developed. When the potato was brought to Europe a relatively limited number of cultivars were introduced. The potato quickly became an important staple and was partially responsible for the population boom that occurred in Europe between 1700-1900. A combined diet of potatoes and cow’s milk contains enough protein, starches, vitamins and minerals to sustain a healthy human. However, the limited number of varieties initially introduced to Europe left the crop vulnerable to disease, particularly funguses such as the late blight that was the initial catalyst of the horrific famine that struck Ireland---beginning with a near complete crop failure in 1845.(1) In this article I will describe potato cultivation at Cedar Mountain Farm, where we grow four acres of vegetables with the help of our Norwegian Fjord horses. I will also provide information on alternate potato production strategies used on other contemporary horse-powered farms.
Preparing the Ground
Most commercial growers buy in seed potatoes to grow their crop. Seed potatoes are guaranteed to have been cultured in a laboratory to ensure your crop is disease free at the outset (and also more resistant to disease once growing in the field). In other parts of the world farmers still save their own seed potatoes. Although the potential risk for disease is higher, this method has the advantage of developing regionally adapted varieties. Home gardeners and some commercial growers cut their seeds into pieces (with two or three “eyes”---sprouts---per piece) and cure them spread on tarps or a barn floor for 24 hours prior to planting. We have found it economical and time-efficient to plant uncut seed potatoes. Also, one of my early mentors in gardening was a Mayan gentleman from Guatemala. He felt strongly that one should use the whole potato for seed. We agree with him that the plants get off to a better start with the extra energy boost of a whole seed. Within our annual garden rotation potatoes follow onions. The onions are usually harvested by mid to late August which gives us plenty of time to establish a catch crop of oats in the ¼ acre section that will become potato ground. We choose oats because it is a cover crop that puts on quick growth in the cool fall weather but then winter-kills when freezing temperatures set in---this makes for easy incorporation of residue prior to the early season planting of potatoes. Soon after establishing the catch crop we spread the field with finished compost at a rate of about 9-10 tons/acre. For delivering the compost we are using a John Deere “H” series single axle spreader (hitched to the forecart) which has an approximate 60 bushel capacity. In the spring we will give this ground a moderately deep plowing to make the soil friable for potato production. If soil compaction is an issue in your garden you might want to invest in a chisel plow to break up the deeper layers of the soil profile. Generally speaking, you will need two horses to pull one shank of a chisel plow penetrating to a depth of 8”-10”. After plowing we go over the section with disc harrows. For the discing we use a 6’ single action disc pulled behind a forecart. This disc is on the large size for a team of Fjords, but as we are only asking them to work up a ¼ acre section at one time, they are able to handle it. Next, the field is worked with a 3’ section of spring tooth harrow. As with all the implements described above, we also use a team to pull the spring tooth harrow and usually hitch it directly off the doubletree and walk behind as we drive the horses. A final smoothing and pressing prior to marking out rows is accomplished with a cultipacker/roller, which is also towed behind the forecart.
From a CSA member
SMOKY BEET BURGERS // Makes 8 Recipe
barely adapted from The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, very roughly chopped
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup grated beets
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tsp. sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup cooked green lentils
2 cups cooked short grain brown (or white) rice
1 cup/ 8 oz. feta cheese
1/4 cup whole milk greek yogurt
squeeze of lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
few grinds fresh ground pepper
buns, sliced cucumber, greens, tomato for burger building.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the onions and cook for about 10 minutes until just golden. Add the walnuts, raisins, beets, garlic and paprika and cook another 10 minutes, stirring often. Let the mix cool slightly. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and pulse a few times until chunky. Put the mixture in a large bowl and stir in the salt, pepper and half the lentils. Replace the food processor (dirty is fine) and pulse the other half of the lentils, egg and rice together a few times to make a coarse puree. Note: Louisa has you add all the lentils whole to the mixture, I felt like some of them in the rice puree helps it all hold. Add the rice mixture to the onion mixture and mix well. Make the feta spread by mixing all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Set aside. Use lightly oiled hands to form 8-10 small patties just under 1'' thick. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet or cast iron over medium-high heat and add oil to coat the bottom. Place the burgers in the skillet (doing so in batches if necessary) and cook undisturbed for 5 minutes. GENTLY flip the burgers, turn the heat down, cover and cook for 10 minutes until the burgers have a firm, brown crust. Serve warm with your favorite condiments.
Have a recipe you want to share?
Email email@example.com or Jhaas7@gmail.com
We've got a new member of our farm team for 2015!! Levi Fioravanti comes to us from Royalton, VT. Born and raised in the Upper Valley, Levi is passionate about learning to run a diversified farm and work with dairy cows. We're proud to have him join us for the upcoming growing season. In other, way less exciting news: seeding is happening in earnest in our heated greenhouse. Tomatoes, Brussels sprouts and lettuce are all in the mix. Plenty of baby photos to come as our little seedlings break into the world. Make sure to stop in the barn to check up on expecting cow mothers Dora and Daphne. Seeds never cease to amaze me – the potential of life in each tiny vessel and the variety of forms that sprout from those simple shapes. I love planting seeds in little pots in the greenhouse and obsessively checking them for moisture and temperature levels. I love planting seeds directly into the earth and protecting them with from pests with row cover and defending them from infringing weeds with lots of hoeing. I love when crops get left growing for too long and the next generation of seeds appear (not that this would ever happen here...). What Jada really likes most of all is saving seeds from her favorite crops, or better yet from “sports” which are off-types that sometimes pop up within a crop. Some veggies are easier to save seed from than others, while certain cultivars are near impossible (hybrids, for example will not produce true-to-type offspring from their seeds). Here is the first in a series on how seeds work and how to save your own seeds. First, let's decode some buzzwords you might hear in relation to seeds: Open Pollinated means that a plant is pollinated by natural means. This can be wind, insects, birds, a human with a Q-tip and a lot of dedication etc. Heirlooms are varieties that have been passed down from seed-saver to seed-saver for a long time. This phrase is amorphous and has no concrete definition. Heirlooms must be Open Pollinated, but not all OP varieties are heirlooms. Hybrids are the result of two genetically distinct varieties cross-pollinating. F1 hybrids are the first generation of such a cross. F1s are often quite vigorous but the seeds they produce are not viable. They are the mule of the seed world. Hybrids can become open pollinated through years of breed and selection, but typically this is done on large scale, specialized farms. Sports are off-type vegetables that appear by chance in a crop. An example of this would be a striped tomato growing on a tomato plant that typically does not have stripes. Perfect flowers contain both male and female components and often self-pollinate. Other flowers contain only male or female components and must cross pollinate to produce fruit and therefore seeds. Plants with imperfect flowers are more difficult to save seeds from because they often require isolation or hand pollination to ensure that no unintended crossing occurs (squash are an example of this). Look out for more seed talk throughout the season.
Events: Pizza Night will be on Friday in the Common House at 6:30. Please let us know if you're coming and what you'd like to bring.
***Recipe*** Roasted Veggie Tart
1 small-medium turnip
4 carrots scrubbed and peeled if that's how you like them
2 beets scrubbed
2 potatoes (try all blues for a veggie rainbow affect)
1 small red onion
2 or more cloves of garlic
salt, pepper to taste
bleu cheese or goat cheese
1 pie crust
Preheat oven to 425. Cut up the veggies into equal size chunks. Toss with oil and seasonings and spread on a baking sheet. Roast 'em for 45 minutes or until you can pierce them with a fork. Meanwhile, make up your pie crust, roll it out and place it on another baking sheet, flat. Mix the brown sugar and balsamic up in a small bowl. When the veggies are done, take them out of the oven and spread them evenly in your pie crust, leaving about two inches of crust all the way around. Sprinkle your brown sugar mixture, and cheese on top and fold the crust over your veggies. You can brush the crust with melted butter if you're fancy. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 and bake about 30 minutes until you can see some bubbling action in the veggie juices. Remove and let sit for a few minutes.
What's cooking? Send us your recipes: firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com. OR bring a print copy by the farm!
Dear CSA members and farm friends,
This is the last chance to sign-up for our Spring and Summer CSA. You can sign-up online, download a paper form or I can mail you a paper copy. We are busy planting all the spring broccoli, cauliflowers, tomatoes and lettuce.
Kerry- for the farm crew
Dear CSA members and farm friends,
Thank you to everyone who signed-up so far. We would like to have everyone new and returning to sign-up by the end of the month. This will help us order to right amount of seeds and make the best farm plan possible. There are many choices for the CSA:
see all the details on the website.
Kerry for the farm crew