Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hello from the farm. It's a week without Del and the banter is strangely sparse this week. Del's absence is Deleterious to our morale, but we'll keep on going :-) This week we have been going head to head with weeds in the fall broccoli and greens patch, tranplanting onions for a late season harvest experiment, and digging more potatoes while eagerly catching glimpses of the fall crop seedlings that are germinating in the fields. The end of August is a transition time as some summer crops are ending and the fall crops are getting their footing.

We miss you Del, but your indelible wit and quips are still here.

How do you Farm Organically?
A question we hear often from people, it is one which could receive a lengthy answer. However, for these weekly Notes, we'll keep it to a paragraph or so. Organic farming is something old come around again--our grandparents generation and earlier were accustomed to growing without chemicals. Chemical farming had its rise when munitions and chemicals left from WWII were discovered to be fast and efficient weed and pest killers, and people were hooked with the ease of spraying acres of crops instead of doing manual labor.

Ok, now a second paragraph...biological/sustainable/organic farming, whatever name you know it by, has it basis in healthy soil. If the soil is well-mineralized and healthy then the plants will be healthy. If the plants are healthy, they will not succumb to diseases usually. Healthy soil even has fewer weeds, as weeds are usually trying to balance something that is out of whack in the soil. So we make the soil healthy by taking soil samples and adding minerals to balance the soil, we also apply compost and like a modern-day Squanto, we use fish emulsion and seaweed to feed our soil microbes and crops. Do you notice that our food keeps very well and tastes better than the vegetables in the store? It's because of the super soil we are growing in. Now weeds, they can be the real Achilles heel of organic growing because we don't use herbicides. To deal with weeds we use crop rotation, soil balancing, flame weeding, tractor-drawn cultivating and yes of course, hoeing, mowing and hand-pulling, which are sometimes the bane of our existence! All in all, we hope you'll agree that our food is worth our careful and sometimes Hurculean efforts.

Dining in the Fields, 2013
Homefields, the founder and owner of this farm is putting together a local foods fundraiser Dining Event to preserve 14 acres of organic farmland in your backyard.

Sunday, September 15, 11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m., Drop in whenever, parking starts at 10:30, Rain date, 9/22.
Chef Steve and Sous Chef Barb from Miller's Smorgasbord present local, organic foods to feed your soul and please your palate. You’ll find old favorites and new twists on vegetables from Homefields, as well as:
Beef from Ironstone Spring Farm. Wine from Twin Brook Winery. Vegetables and fruit from Homefields. Fruits from North Star Orchard. Breads from Abendessen Bread. Cheese from Hill Acres Pride. Oils and vinegars from Seasons Taproom. Ice cream from Carmen and David's Creamery. Music by Indian Summer Jars. Kids' crafts from Lancaster Creative Reuse. And more! Adults, $50: Youth, 13-17, $10: Children under 12, free. To pre-register, email
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Getting ready for Dining in the Fields
Getting ready for Dining in the Fields--many hands makes light work.

Serving Suggestions for the Harvest:

Sweet Peppers: notice I didn't say bell peppers. There are other shapes that are sweet too. Diced sweet pepper is great on a salad, or pepper strips on a relish are sweet and tasty too. They also freeze well in strips or dices after core and seeds are removed.
Onions: mm, onions are exciting! The Ailsa Craig sweet onions are wonderful sauteed with butter and served with fried greens, atop potatoes or even plain. They are not a storage onion, so use within a week or two, or keep refrigerated.

Potatoes: yep, it's tater time. Potatoes are a wonderful source of nutrients, versatile to cook with, and very satisfying to the eater--they even help you sleep well at night. (Potatoes not Prozac book)
Carrots: A great carrot crops this year! Carrots are one of the most finicky crops for us to grow, so we are pleased to have a good year with them. Check out the Yellowstone yellow carrot. Farm fresh carrots are a tasty treat, much different from bagged store carrots.

Eggplants: Asian eggplants are mild and sweet. Slice and put on the grill rubbed with oil, soy sauce, and miso paste. Tasty and easy to use.
Beets: I have fond childhood memories of eating these still warm from being blanched, prior to them being turned into pickled red beets. great roasted with olive oil, grilled with oil and balsamic vinegar, or grated in salads.
Chard: remove the lower portion of the stalk as it is usually tough. Sautee leaves in butter, olive or coconut oil, add salt, and red pepper, top with Paresan cheese.
Greens: great greens to return in September


Watermelon: these did better than expected, but not as well as hoped for. A friend from Lancaster South Rotary told me that watermelon growers in Delaware lost 3/4 of their melons. June was cool and cloudy and the honeybees slept in and did not pollinate the watermelon's morning access-only flowers.
Cantaloupes: We hope to have enough for everyone to get some across two or three week's time. A super great taste of summer. Try eating with a just a bit of freshly ground black pepper.
Cucumbers: The crop was really good this year--these plants are plum tuckered out after a great run.
Cabbage: We'll keep finding a few of these over the next couple of weeks. Cut into wedges and serve with a sprinkle of salt, make sauerkraut
Summer squash/Zucchini: these all almost finished as well (some people cheer) stir fry, grate and use for zucchini bread or freeze for later.

Beans: The beans did well, and there is a chance we will have fall beans as well!
Scallions: goodbye until next year.
Broccoli: an awesome broccoli crop this year--will be back in the Fall.
Bok choi and Napa: these have run their course and we will see them again in October and November--a great time to make kimchee with the cool weather.
Cilantro: coming soon.
Turnips: coming soon.

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