Tuesday, July 31, 2012

start 'er up, again!

I am so excited, it's almost August and today marks the first day of the Late Summer CSA season. 

This week brings us summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, onions, greens, and a hint of spice with some peppers. 

The green of the week (yes, we are still way into greens, despite the yellow and deep purples also included!) is amaranth. There has been quite a bit of buzz over this little plant lately... Jenny Rowe, our former director, recently sent me an email from her CSA farmer in Portland talking about amaranth:

"Amaranth is cultivated and consumed all over the world! Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, India (used in curries; greens steamed and mashed with light seasoning of salt, red chilis, and cumin; stir-fried with spices, onions and red chilies), China and Vietnam (stir-fried or in soups), East Africa, Uganda, Congo, Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia, Trinidad and Jamaica (stewed with onions, garlic and tomatoes), Greece (boiled then served with olive oil and lemon like a salad, alongside fried fish), Fiji, Sri Lanka (cooked and eaten with rice), Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, among many others!... it provides roots, leaves, and seeds that are all edible. The flowers have also been used by the Native American Hopi to create a deep red dye."

Also, one of our graduates, Mary Kgopa, who is also working a bit on the farm this summer, told me that she eats it in South Africa. They boil it then mush it into cubes, then set it in the sun to dry and be stored and eaten all winter. 

Treat this green just like you would spinach (I call it wild spinach... it takes the heat of summer much better than spinach does!)

Here is a recipe for stir-fried amaranth with coconut from Asia Society:

4 cups green amaranth leaves
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
6 tablespoons grated fresh coconut or 3 tablespoons desiccated coconut 

Wash the leaves and roll in a towel or dry in a salad spinner. 
Roll them in a bundle and shred finely, or chop in food processor. 
Heat the oil and fry the onion, garlic and ginger over low heat until fragrant, stirring frequently. 
Add the ground spices, then the leaves. 
Stir-fry for a minute, then sprinkle with salt and a few tablespoons of water. 
Mix in coconut. 
Cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates. 
Serve with rice.

big, green, but not a hornworm!

I found this big green wiggler in with the pigs yesterday afternoon. I thought it was an escaped hornworm... but when I picked it up, I noticed it's amazing, colorful spikes. 

Thanks to the power of google, we found that it is a cecropia moth caterpillar:
(photo of the moth from google images, I found the caterpillar!)

Monday, July 30, 2012

July in Review

We are trying a new schedule this year with the CSA:
We started mid-May with high tunnel goodies from kale to peas, carrots to swiss chard. When June rounded the corner into July, we paused our CSA harvest to focus on the garden.
While it may seem counter-intuitive to 'pause' CSA harvest in July, we found it allowed us to accomplish a lot, still feed quite a few families, survive heat waves, educate many young minds, celebrate mid-summer, and even take a little time out for ourselves!

Weeding was a major focus, as was bug killing. But with hot temps keeping us 'high' and a drought keeping us 'dry', we also had to focus quite a bit of energy keeping things watered... keeping EVERYTHING watered, and cool and alive. From the pigs + turkeys to the tomatoes + the late-season seedlings, water was key. We ran drip irrigation as quickly as we could and used a sprinkler in emergencies and in the AM and PM, when the sun was low and evaporation was, too. This past weekend has brought us a little rain, but boy - could we use some more!

A new Wednesday market in Sandwich started at the end of June, giving us an opportunity to reach more mouths and have a mid-week market. Last year we went to the Wolfeboro Area Farmer’s Market, which was a lot of fun... but it took a HUGE amount of time from morning harvest to driving, set up, market, tear down, driving home and cleaning up, I was gone from the farm the entire day. With the Sandwich market being so close, and in the evening, I can spend more time on the farm and still have a mid-week market! Come check us out at the market: 4p-7p Wednesday nights. Big Love is there, too!

We also started harvesting for the Sandwich and Tamworth food pantry in July. What a fantastic idea, indeed: fresh, local, organic produce available to lower-income members of our community. We’ve been givin’ them cukes, zukes, carrots, scallions, basil, even kale! There is definitely a lot to learn (and teach) in this process, but what an exciting process it is.

Speaking of teaching, educational tours have been bumpin’ here on the farm. Camp Robindel, a girls’ camp out on Moultonboro Neck, came a few times with a range of ages and focuses. The young girls learned about the pigs + turkeys, the middle girls got a feel for carrots and kohlrabi - snacking from the garden, and the older girls rounded out their exploration of local food by picking lots of fresh veggies and making a HUGE salad for lunch:
Robindel’s brother camp, Winaukee, also stopped by... boys are SO different from girls! The pigs were popular, but storming the compost pile might have been the highlight:

Last week, Kennett middle schoolers came out, too. They have weekly camps focusing on various career paths like carpentry and agriculture. Though many of the kids have home gardens or have spent time on local farms like Sherman’s, seeing the scale at which we produce organic food (and getting to snack on it right out of the ground) was fun for them and me!

The past two weeks have included some awesome TCS events - Farmer's Table Dinner and the Bluegrass Concert. The Farmer’s Table Summer Dinner was July 18th, and in case you haven’t heard, it was AMAZING! Over 300 people came out to eat local foods from spring rolls to fish cakes, kale salad to sesame noodles. SO YUMMY! I was able to spend the afternoon and evening in the kitchen, getting food prepped, plated, and out to the people. Our interim Director (and chef extraordinaire) Lianne did an incredible job planning, prepping, gathering, cooking, inviting, and welcoming all for this event!
And that just about wraps up July! Pat + I did steal away for a weekend to Chicago to celebrate a friend's wedding. It was a BLAST and such a treat to get away in July.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

what color are you?

I simply had to share this, it is such an awesome idea!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

garlic harvest

We pulled the garlic last week... it was a blast!
The ~ 2000 cloves we planted in October yielded a fine harvest this summer. 
Considering the little snow cover we had this winter (less moisture in the ground in the spring for growth) and the very wet June (causing garlic rot for some farms) and the very hot and dry July (causing early maturity and the possibility for small head formation) our garlic looks GREAT!
garlic harvest 2012
And, compared to last year’s take, we’re in it! *And safe from vampires, too!
garlic harvest 2011

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

They grow up so fast

Hornworms have been the focus of recent days (we are working in the tomatoes a lot lately to prep them for to ripen!). 
I have a love-hate relationship with these squirmy, green garden critters. They are very beautiful but oh-so-destructive. 

Thought I do find them a bit charming, at least I'm not raising them... I fear revealing that one of my incredible volunteers is actually keeping a couple alive at home, feeding them tomato leaves and everything! Yikes, I can't imagine helping the critters grow into adulthood... We've been feeding them to the pigs!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

get 'em while they're small!

It's hornworm time, again. We've actually been catching the moths in the greenhouse for a few weeks, now. But today was the first true hornworm hunt. And we're getting to them early and small this year (not to say we won't see any bigg'ins!)
Here is today's find:
And here is last September's:

Monday, July 16, 2012

201st post!

I just happened to notice that this is my 201st post! Since starting this funny little blog (and amazing new career) 3 years ago, I have posted two hundred times!

In celebration of that time, I would like to give you this advice: wear sunscreen. Kurt Vonnegut didn't tell MIT grads to do so... The American Cancer Society highly recommends it... and as someone with fair skin who spends a LOT of time outside, I also feel it is important!

But this image sends the point home: 
This 69 year-old man drove a truck for 28 years, exposing the left side of his face to the sun (through the truck window). The right side of his face was not exposed to the sun... WOW! According to the New England Journal of Medicine, he suffers from unilateral dermatoheliosis. Sunscreen is recommended to lessen further damage... and probably should have been recommended 28 years ago!

Turkish housing

The Turkeys are getting BIG. So they need to graduate from dog crates and greenhouse life to real, outdoor life. 
A few weeks ago, work on a real house for them started with a friend bringing over his backhoe and moving an old shed across the farm. 
I then clad the shed in some inch-board planks to class the place up a bit (carpentry, one of my favorite parts of farming). 
I am borrowing some poultry panels from the same friend mentioned above (Boy, do I have some fantastic friends - to say the least!) and we built an outdoor "turkey run" for them. 
Because these birds are a heritage breed, Bourbon Reds, they can fly. There are two options in dealing with this: 1. clip their wings or 2. roof them in so they don't fly away. I choose option 1 so that in the event that they need to 'fly' up and away from a predator, they can. Also, you have to clips their wings multiple times throughout the season (like fingernails) and I just don't have time to maintain feather-do's.
So, here they are in the new space, loving life:  eating bugs, bathing in dirt, perching in the sun...

Monday, July 9, 2012

breakfast of champions

The piggies got an early morning treat today: cheerios, frosted mini wheats, raisin bran, and chex... if I can't eat it up, they sure can!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

pink, the new green?

We had an AMAZING work day today.A full crew of students, alum, and garden staff weeded like mad, freeing the Swiss chard, brassicas, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers and summer squash from the pressures of witch grass, amaranth, lamb's quarters, and purslane. While the last three of those are edible, and I had a huge bunch for lunch!, we aren't growing them and they needed to be evacuated. 

Tuesdays might prove to be the most productive in the coming weeks. We've got three alum (if you count Jared) and three current students on-farm from 8-12. Focused, energetic, busy hands make light work of all that needs to be tended these days. 

Mary + Siobhan showed off their farmer-girl fashion today in John Deere pink:

Monday, July 2, 2012

Pesto? Presto!

Last week was the 7th and final week of the Spring Share for the CSA. It feels weird to be 'done' with a CSA season July 3rd... but it is also allowing us to focus on other important farm things: weeding, bug squashing, educational farm tours, and harvesting for the food pantry!

But, I know we are going to miss our weekly member visits... so we are adding another week, sort of, to the harvest:

Let’s keep eating!
Come to the farm Thursday afternoon, July 5th to get some extra garden goodies and make garlic scape pesto.
Bring a mason jar or container of your choice, nuts (if you want them) and a bit of olive oil to share.
We will be in the kitchen from 1-4, but if you can’t make it during that time, veggies will be in the farmstand all afternoon.