Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fall changes, asian pears, pawpaws and persimmons, Farmer Taryn

Hello from the farm, 
September=cool days and autumn rains right?  Well, not exactly.  MC Scottie B feat. Farm Crew D.R.Y are taking on the hot dry conditions with high energy.  This week we have been unceasingly watering the fields of newly planted fall crop seeds to get them to germinate.  Without water, there just isn't moisture in the ground to get these seeds to sprout!  The farm crew has been happily benefitting from Elizabeth's birthday last week with shared treats and some tasty cold stuff. 
We are at that transition point between summer vegetables and fall vegetables so you will notice a bit of a lull as the heavy hitters of summer fade away and the fall crops start to trickle in slowly and then strong like the tide.  
 We were pleased to see the pawpaw trees that were planted way back in 2006 come into strong bearing last season--every shareholder had the opportunity to try them. Pawpaws are North America's largest native fruit. They were a favorite of the Native American tribes, and they taste something like a mix of banana, mango and avocado--and they are super nutritious and also thought to act against cancer. We expect them to do even better this fall as they will continue to yield more and more as the trees get bigger. The jujube trees also did nicely last year and we  put in a new row of them this spring. 

September is pawpaw, Asian pear and persimmon time. This harvest timing coincides nicely with the lull between summer veggies and fall veggies. You'll be seeing these over the next few weeks.  Asian pears are very sweet and crisp pears that are usually round like an apple, while pawpaws are shaped like a green colored mango and have a soft banana/avocado/caramel complex thing going on.  The pawpaw seeds and skin are not edible. Pawpaws are great fresh when the fruit is soft.  Store in the fridge until soft but best before they turn dark.(like banana)  They are awesome in smoothies!
Fall Changes
After spending thirty-thousand hours or so at this farm, there is so much of the farm ingrained in me. I relish the routine of it, the development of better ways and tools for our specific needs, the sunrises when coming in to get critical work done, the joy of a difficult crop to grow prospering, the ten o'clock coffee with the crew, and the smiles, handshakes, voices, gaits, and wisecracks.

It has been wonderful to see many of these long term crops, goals, tools and systems come to fruition. The farm has grown deeply in the past sixteen seasons. We began in 2000 with 28 shareholders and what looked like a backyard garden--produce was washed in recycled bathtubs in those days. Sixteen seasons under our belt and the farm is very well established with dedicated staff, trainee program, and infrastructure, great growing techniques and pretty consistent harvests and loyal and pleased farm shareholders. You will see me stepping into a part time support role to help continue the good things going on here as Farmer Taryn joins the farm crew. 

Farmer Taryn arrives next week:
Next week we will be welcoming Taryn Hogeland to the farm to begin her new role as Farm Manager. I asked Taryn to share about herself so we can get to know her: 
"I live on a family owned vegetable farm that is owned by my father and his three brothers. My summers consisted of working on the farm with my family. After high school I started college at Penn State and finished with an agricultural science degree. The first two years of my college career I worked at a local dairy farm. During the summer after my junior year of college and after my senior year I had an internship at Southeastern Agricultural Research and Extension Center owned by Penn State. At this internship I worked with various vegetables and PA vegetable extension officers. Working at the Goodwill at Homefields Farm will begin my career and dreams within agriculture. Having a career at a CSA farm will give me the opportunity to educate the public about agriculture and the importance of having an understanding of who your farmer is."

Farmer Taryn is outstanding in her field 
Abendessen Bread this week: Stephanie is baking Apple Strudel Sourdough for $5 a loaf.  
When you buy a farm share you are supporting Goodwill and the farm program. When you donate to Homefields you are supporting the land and facility at the farm. 
Here is an opportunity to support Homefields and the land:

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 


Buy tickets at

A limited number of tickets may be available at the door. Questions? Email 
Suggestions for the Harvest: 
Beets:  Beets are back in town. 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.
Sweet Peppers: wow, it's been a great season for these lovely peppers. They are slowing down now with the shorter days. 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: these have also peaked and are descending:  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.
 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.  
Potatoes: well, that's the hardest we ever worked for potatoes and for not a lot of them unfortunately. We did get some, and for that we are glad. 
Scallions: We had a great run of scallions, but they are done now. 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.  
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.  
Green/Purple/Yellow Beans: they are a bit mature this week, but should still be pretty tasty.  Older beans can be saved for vegetable soup, which is what we did growing with vegetables that were a little on the mature side. 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!
  Watermelons: the watermelon plants have done their duty and given us some great melons.  Shareholders have told us that the Yellow Moon and Stars was not very flavorful, so we will not grow much of it next year.  Sorry it did not live up to its billing.  We may do a small test planting next year to see if it does any better second time around. 
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 
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. 
Garlic scapes:  these are the would-be flowering stems of garlic--soft, tender, easy to use for stir fries, diced for salad, really anywhere a mild garlic flavor is desired. We like to use it for pesto here at the farm. 
Napa cabbage: this Asian cabbage is main ingredient in Kimchee, a spicy kraut or relish of sort. The quality is great diminished so we are not harvesting it any more until the new fall crop. 
Bok Choi: the joy of choi, this is great for stir fries and goes well with peanuts, cashews, ginger, soy sauce, garlic, peanut butter, chicken.   This will return in fall. 
Lettuce heads: the lettuce did really well, we hope you enjoyed it.
Green garlic: this is garlic harvested before the base swells and becomes a bulb. It has a milder flavor than bulb garlic and can be used anywhere garlic is called for. Keep refrigerated as you would green onions/scallions. 
Rhubarb: rhubarb is harvested only in Spring and is then given a year's rest 
Parsnip: may have a late fall crop of these. 
 The Pick Your Own Field:
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. 

It has been an honor and pleasure to serve you and work at furthering the farm and its mission over the past fifteen seasons. Thank you for your support and encouragement. 
Scott and the merry band of farmers 

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