Thursday, June 26, 2008

4th Week of June

*Special days and hours for the July 4th Holiday*
Wednesday, July 2, 3-7pm
Thursday, July 3, 9am-7pm
Closed Friday & Saturday, July 4 & 5

A Week at the Farm

Nine hundred pumpkin seedlings and 1800 winter squash planted…all in a days work. Yesterday was a full and pleasantly tiring day as we planted all of those seeds in little nests of moist compost mix and Brian and Jeff and Bob laid a network of trickle irrigation to keep the vegetables from becoming stressed by the current high temps, low humidity and lack of rain.

So who cares for the farm and grows the food? Let’s meet the people behind the food. This week I’ll write about the staff and next week about the trainees: Brian Martin, a senior at Millersville, is the newest staff member and has been doing excellent work with irrigation management, weed control, and cultivation among other things. Amy Finnegan, who did great seasonal work last year, is able to be here again, mostly on weekends this year. Elizabeth Swope, the Assistant Farm Manager, continues here again thankfully, doing superb work with the trainees, field operations, harvest, accounting, and things too numerous to mention. And myself, going on eight years of farming here, working on the overall function and planning for the farm program—work distribution, soil and crop management, equipment operation and systems, repairs, and this being a farm, myriad odds and ends.

Serving Suggestions for the Harvest
  • Garlic scapes: milder than bulb garlic, it is great in pesto, stir-fry or salads.
    See: from member Sharon Sacks. Thanks.
  • Beets: excellent grated raw in salads, roasted coated with olive oil, or steamed til tender.
  • Radish: adds a nice "kick" to salads.
  • Cilantro: prominent in Vietnamese cooking and also salsa—great in soups, salads, etc.
  • Swiss Chard: cut off ribs, steam lightly and add garlic, oil and parmesan cheese, nuts, etc.

Did you know? - 1 tablespoon of soil may contain more than 1 million microscopic organisms, including bacteria, protozoa and fungi.

Farm Seminars and Workshops Update from Heather

Hi everyone! Just wanted to recap that we had about 9 families participating and about 10 kids. We learned about simple kids' gardens that the kids could start, and the importance of using our senses in the garden, and about composting, and then we all planted seeds (and some of us took repeated trips through the sprinklers!). Many thanks to Master Gardener Michelle Bunce!

Our next seminar will be Saturday, July 12 (7/19 raindate), at 10 am, and the topic is *Home gardening*: pruning, composting, patio gardens, vermicomposting, organic gardening, & natural pesticides/herbicides, presented by Tom & Susan Smith, Master Gardeners, from the Lancaster County Extension Center. There is a sign-up sheet in the the pick-up area at the Farm, just so we know we have enough attending. Questions? Write to Heather at, or call 808-7060.

Enjoy, and have a nice 4th of July!

Monday, June 23, 2008

3rd Week of June

It is great to be in full swing harvesting, with a lot of crops looking and tasting great. The red lettuce heads are beautiful and we are thrilled that the milkshake-scented deer ribbon is effective thus far. Deer had made lettuce heads, beets, soybeans, chard and sweet potatoes almost impossible to grow, so this is excellent! (Also the neighbor to our east kindly planted 8 acres of soybeans which are pretty much deer candy, so that may be helping us too.)

The experimental crop roller donated last season by Flanagan Welding performed its magic well this week on its maiden voyage, rolling and crimping tall rye plants into a "living mulch" that will keep the tomato, pepper, and eggplant field tidy and relatively weed-free.

Serving Suggestions for the Harvest:

  • Garlic scapes: milder than bulb garlic, it is great in pesto, stir-fry or salads
  • Beets: excellent grated raw in salads, roasted coated with olive oil, or steamed til tender
  • Cilantro: prominent in Vietnamese cooking and also salsa—great in soups, salads, etc.
  • Bok Choi: this cabbage family member loves to mingle with peanut butter sauces and is usually stir-fried. *See recipe at the bottom of this email for a peanut sauce recipe
  • Swiss Chard: cut off ribs, steam lightly and add garlic, oil and parmesan cheese, nuts, etc.

Weather update
Weather as always effects our crops in both helpful and not so beneficial ways. Yesterday’s rainfall was a boost to the crops that have been seeded in the last few days. The cooler weather is good for the early crops like broccoli, cabbage, bok choi and beets.

All Things in Their Season
If you are new to seasonal eating, here is a basic snapshot of the season:

  • June: greens, radishes, lettuce mix, lettuce heads, beans, strawberries
  • July-August: blueberries, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, onions, beans, watermelon,
    butterscotch and Galia melons
  • Sept-November: broccoli, cabbage, pumpkins, winter squash, leeks, turnips, garlic

Did you know?
A single rye plant has 400 miles of hair roots that we rely on to aerate the soil and alleviate compaction. The allelopathic properties of rye residue also keep weeds seeds from sprouting.

Thank you for enjoying the harvest and making the farm program possible!

*Thai Chicken Stir-Fry with Peanut Sauce
Makes 4 servings
Peanut Sauce (recipe follows)
3/4 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
oil for coating pan
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons water
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 package (10 ounces) fresh spinach leaves, washed and torn
--could substitute with half or all bok choi here--
2 cups hot cooked white rice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, mint or basil leaves

1. Prepare Peanut Sauce. Slice chicken breasts crosswise into thin strips.
2. Oil to cover bottom of the pan; heat over high heat. Add chicken; stir-fry 4 minutes or until no longer pink in center. Remove chicken; set aside. Add onion and water to same skillet; stir-fry 4 to 5 minutes or until water cooks away and onion is crisp-tender and golden. Stir in Peanut Sauce. Add bell pepper and chicken; bring to a boil. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and heated through.
3. Meanwhile, place steaming rack in large Dutch oven. Add water just to base of rack. Bring water to a boil over high heat. Place spinach and bok choy on steaming rack. Turn greens with tongs until bright green and beginning to wilt. Divide rice among 4 plates. Place greens on top of
rice. Spoon chicken mixture over greens. Sprinkle with cilantro, mint or basil.

Peanut Sauce
Makes about 1 cup
1/4 cup reduced-fat creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
1/2 cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice
1. Stir peanut butter, sugar, sesame oil, paprika and coconut extract, if desired, in small bowl until blended. Add chicken broth, soy sauce and lime juice; stir until smooth.