Thursday, August 20, 2015

Diversified farming

Hello from the farm, 
It's mid-August already, how did that happen?  The season is flying by but we still have all of the way to mid-November for harvesting, so hold on to your hats!  There are many more crops and harvests to come.
No two seasons the same:

The beautiful thing about a diversified farm like ours is that you aren't putting all your energy into one crop. (this wide variety can also be a greatly challenging thing, but that's another story)  In any one season, a lot of what we grow does well, some things go crazy gangbusters well, and a couple of crops just do really badly.  You'll hear us says things like "it's a really good melon year" or "this has been a great season for popcorn or tomatoes or pumpkins."  This season is no different:  it's a fantastic year for blueberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, cantaloupes, sweet peppers and pick your own flowers and hot peppers.  While the cantaloupes went pretty crazy this year, the watermelons weren't nearly as abundant as last year when we had three or four solid weeks of them. The potato crop which is usually Old Faithful for us, is turning out to be "small potatoes" for us, so next week please enjoy the ones that we are managing to eke out slowly with a lot of hard work. If you remember back to the six weeks of clouds, cool temps, rain and mud that was the second half of May and all of June, the weeds were growing so well that we couldn't see the potato beetles that were devouring our potato plants until they they were almost all eaten up.  There's always next year, with its new set of challenges and successes.

Seasons of Change: 

As the seasons change, I will be making some changes this fall as well.  After fifteen years here at the farm, I am preparing to step back and move into a part time support role, while a new farm manager named Taryn  takes the reins in mid-September.  Look for her introduction in a couple of weeks in the newsletter.  I have long had a desire to reinvent my family's dormant farm, operating it with my wife and children. My growing skills with mushroom cultivation and aquaponics will be the starting path to that dream.  It has been an honor to serve and work with farm staff, trainees, shareholders, Homefields, Goodwill and many other friends of the farm who became my close community through growing, soil, vegetables, conservation, ecology, repairs, inventions, fabrications, ideas and wise counsel.  

Stephanie at Abendessen bread is baking Chocolate Chip and Cinnamon Sourdough for $5 a loaf.

Coming Up in September! 

Picnic in the Fields  
Sunday, September 27 11:00 am to 2:00 pm
Join us in a celebration of food to preserve 14 acres of farmland.
Music, child-friendly activities, and a spirit of community!
 ADULTS: $25 in advance, $30 at the door YOUTH 13–17: $10 UNDER 12: FREE Drop-in whenever — Gates open at 10:30 — Rain date: 10/4


Buy tickets at

A limited number of tickets may be available at the door. Questions? Email 

Okra has beautiful flowers. You can tell it's in the hibiscus family

The Sentinel Sunflower stands watch over the Pick Your Own field

Suggestions for the Harvest: 

Sweet Peppers: sweet peppers come in all shapes, colors and sizes.  Carmen, a long horn-shaped pepper is a perpetual favorite among your farmers.  We like to snack on them as if they were candy. 
Tomatoes: tomatoes seem to stand for themselves without words of introduction, but here are some words anyway: delicious, great in sandwiches, BLTs, tomato & cucumber salad, cooked down for sauce, chopped in salad, fresh or canned salsa and more.  
Green/Purple/Yellow Beans: these beans are so amazingly good it almost puts frozen beans to shame.  The purple variety is beautiful--if heated they turn green, if used in salad their purple looks great.  To cook, bring to a boil in an inch of water or so, then turn down to three lines or so until tender. Yum yum! 
Garlic: woohoo for our farm's garlic, so fresh and tasty. It goes really well in the tomato cucumber salad I talked about last week. 
Storage Onions:  the red and white storage onions should keep for a month or two in cool dark storage.  
Eggplant: The Italian and Asian types differ only in shape and color, they are used in the same manner.  I like them sliced and grilled or pan fried with soy sauce, oil, miso etc until browned and crispy.  
Scallions: These mild-mannered onion family folks give an easy onion flavor to salads, sandwiches, stir fries and more.  Or you could do the old classic buttered bread and sliced scallion treat: my grandparents talked a lot about enjoying them in spring.  "A good spring tonic" says my 101 year old grandma. 
Chard: this cousin to the beet is appreciated for its leaves instead of its roots.  Use for salads, or as a spinach or kale substitute in cooking.  


Cantaloupes:  the cantaloupes had a fantastic run, but their time in the sun is done. Law Reh mowed down the spent and weedy patch with quiet glee.   

Cucumbers:  these are all done and and vines shredded to compost them back into the field 
 Beets:  We grow red, orange and striped beets, beautiful.  mmm, I used to love to eat these after my mother had blanched them and slipped the skins off and they were cooling on the counter.  Super nutritious, they can be roasted, grated for salad, boiled or steamed, then eaten hot or cold, and of course, made into pickled beets or used for pickled beet eggs.  Makes me hungry writing about them.  
Kale/Collards/Senposai:  these are surrendering to the hot summer weather as usual.  We like to fry these in a skillet with butter or coconut oil until crisp, add some onions and saute them as well--a superb topping for rice, fried eggs or stand alone too.
Cabbage: great for a cabbage and chopped peanut with vinegar salad. Simple and surprisingly good in spite of its simplicity. 

 The Pick Your Own Field update:
There are amazingly nice flowers in the Pick Your Own Field. Feel free to pick abundantly. There are also green and ripe chili peppers, okra, tomatillos and Sungolds and other gourmet type tomatoes
General rules of thumb:

If plentiful, take a little more, if scarce, go easy on the crop
For herbs--pinch only the tops of stems so that they can regrow. 


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