Winter Share Distribution #1 – November 20, 2021

Winter News from Windflower Farm

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Windflower Farm! Thank you for purchasing a winter share – we hope you enjoy it!

Please mark your calendars for our four distributions on the following Saturdays: November 20th, December 11th, January 8th, and February 5th Your pick up time and location is noted below:

Central Brooklyn (1251 Dean St., 4:30 to 6:00)

Please note:

  1. A friend, family member or neighbor can pick up your share for you if you are not able to make it to distribution. Please ask this person to sign-in under your name.
  2. Site hosts are not obliged to save shares for members who miss the distribution window. Any shares leftover after distribution will be donated to community fridges or food pantries and will help other community members in need.
  3. The farm is not able to send you a make-up share if you miss a distribution. The farm will send your shares on the distribution dates only.
  4. The farm will send you a newsletter a day or two before distribution. Please save these two emails to your preferred contacts list: windflowercsa@gmail.com and tedblomgren@gmail.com and check your SPAM folder if our newsletter does not make it into your inbox.
  5. Watch for updates from site hosts on social media. Many sites post updates about the share on Instagram and Facebook.

What’s in your share?

  • Carrots
  • Russet potatoes
  • Yellow and red onions
  • Shallots
  • Butternut squash (some from Windflower and some from Daren Carroll)
  • German Red or White garlic
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Boc choy and Koji
  • Red Russian, Lacinato and Red Ruffles kales
  • Ginger (the last from Nate’s summer crop; freeze if not needed right away)
  • Honey Crisp and Empire apples (Borden’s Orchard)
  • Apple cider (Borden’s Orchard), packed separately

If you’ve ordered shares of eggs or maple items from the Davis Farm or grains from Kristoffer Ross at Hickory Wind Farm, please ask your site coordinator where these can be found. Attached, you’ll find a bread recipe from Kristoffer.

What’s new on the farm?

On this unusually warm Thursday, we harvested greens from five of our Caterpillar tunnels. A white-stemmed choy, a green-stemmed choy and a trifecta of kales, including Red Russian, Lacinato and Red Ruffles. Our winter greens are in unheated greenhouses, nevertheless, by midmorning, most of us were down to tee shirts. If the next four weeks remain mild enough, the greens in your December share will be the same. We are trying to reduce our use of plastic packaging. To that end, we’ve decided not to bag your greens. Everything in your box should be thoroughly rinsed before eating.

With all of the Medinas in Laguna Prieta, Mexico this winter, we are a small group, which is part of why we limited our winter share membership this year. Another reason is that the organic produce pipeline, like supply chains everywhere, is severely limited this year, making it hard to fill gaps in our production. The rainy 2021 season was difficult for everyone who farms. We have good quantities of the winter staples – squashes, potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes – and just enough of the crops that make it interesting – celeriac, leeks, kohlrabi, turnips, shallots. And, at least for now, we have heaps of very pretty greens. Your November and December shares will come almost entirely from Windflower Farm. Exceptions will always be noted in the What’s in your share? section. We have done a little horse trading with our organic farming neighbors in recent weeks, swapping some of our extra shallots, leeks, onions and sweet potatoes for the carrots, beets and potatoes that will help fill out your January and February boxes. You should expect to have a hefty box to carry home!

We hope you enjoy the first of your winter shares and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Best wishes, Ted      

Distribution #22 – Week of November 1, 2021

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello from Windflower Farm, where cold fall weather has arrived in earnest and we are celebrating the end of the farming season!

What’s in your share?

  • Garlic (2 large bulbs)
  • Ginger root
  • Lettuce
  • Kohlrabi
  • Koji
  • Mustard mix
  • Red Russian kale
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Leeks
  • Shallots
  • Eggplants or red cabbage

This week’s share is the last of the regular season. Thank you very much for being with us. The farm team and I hope that you’ve enjoyed your CSA experience. 

I’d like to extend a special thanks to the members of the core group in your neighborhood whose commitment make this CSA possible. I cannot express how much I appreciate their efforts to build community and help safeguard a small Hudson Valley farm and its people.

Nate, our oldest son, was in the first grade when we purchased our farm twenty-two years ago. He now works with Jan and me, side by side. A note from him about ginger follows. 

Take care and stay in touch, Ted

What’s new on the farm?

Hello! This is Nate with a note about the ginger in your shares.

We started growing ginger a few years ago, inspired by our friend Sue at Blue Star Farm. We order ginger seed stock from a farm on Hawaii’s Big Island, called Hawaii Clean Seed, also known as Puna Organics or Biker Dude. They say they live with the chaos of Pele, the volcano goddess. In 2018, the eruption of Kilauea brought them months of ash cloud, and lava to within a mile of their plantings. There was damage to their turmeric crop, and many days spent in what Biker Dude calls a “Trial by Fire,” but for the most part they were unharmed and undeterred. Since then, they’ve expanded their operation, but as demand for their stock has grown they’ve been importing from Peru, and so this year (and last year) we’ve been planting Peruvian Yellow Ginger. This variety has been doing well here.

The part of ginger usually used for eating is a rhizome, a below-ground horizontal stem with nodes that send out roots and leaves. A next generation of rhizome forms by budding in the following year, after a period of dormancy. One of these winters we may experiment with keeping a portion of our crop in dormancy, to see if we can produce our own seed stock next year. The challenge seems to be keeping them just warm and dry enough and preventing diseases.

Your ginger arrived on the farm in mid-March, as cut pieces of dormant rhizome. Daren and Connor helped me pot these in a soil mix on heated benches in the greenhouse, where they were kept to germinate over two to three months, producing shoots up to two feet high by June. The Medina family then transplanted them into a caterpillar tunnel and a low tunnel in the field. The Medinas also did an early season weeding, and I did a later weeding. In previous years I’ve added compost and hilled the soil, but did not this year and they seem to have fared fine without. We usually harvest in early October, using pitch forks to pry them loose, shaking off dirt, clipping roots and leaves, and washing not too long before delivery. As I write, the harvest sits in crates outside being rain-washed.

In our experience, the fresh ginger isn’t quite as spicy as the more aged ginger you would find at a grocery store, so you may want to use more in a recipe. It also does not store long, shriveling if unrefrigerated, and becoming rubbery after a week or so, so if you aren’t able to use it soon we recommend grating and freezing it, or, if you have use of a dehydrator, Victoria recommends dehydrating it and making it into a powder.

Apart from being enjoyed as spice, ginger has a good reputation for its health effects. The Herbal Medicine publication from the NIH tells us ginger helps inhibit oxidative damage, inflammation, nausea, cancer, and other ailments. It has been cultivated and used for over 5000 years, possibly originating around India and China.

It is fun to welcome a part of the tropics to the farm, and we hope you enjoy eating it!

Best wishes, Nate

Distribution #21 – Week of October 25, 2021

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello from Windflower Farm!

What’s in your share?

  • Garlic (2 large bulbs)
  • Ginger root
  • Green Romaine or red leaf lettuce
  • Tatsoi
  • Mustard mix
  • Radicchio
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Sweet peppers

This week’s News comes from Daren Carroll, a member of our staff. Next week we’ll send your last Windflower CSA boxes of the season. You’ll get Daren’s squashes, more ginger, garlic and sweet potatoes, a whole lot of greens and more.

Don’t forget to sign up for our winter share here: Windflower Farm’s 2021-2022 Winter Share (wufoo.com)

Have a great week, Ted

What’s new on the farm?

Hi! This is Daren Carroll, guest-writing for Windflower Farm this week. You may remember my name mentioned earlier- I’m a long-time worker at the farm (14 years? 15? Not sure), and I also grew some of the butternut and delicata squash you have received (or will next week). I operate my own farm in my spare time- and as I like to joke with the Blomgrens, I now come into Windflower a few days a week as my “recovery days.”

I thought I’d share a bit about how I grow my winter squash. My interests have included history,anthropology, and agriculture, so I like studying pre-chemical revolution farming, when everyone was organic by default. So I went and studied how the Haudenosaunee (pronounced Hoh-deh-noh-SHAW-nee, listen here) grew corn, pole beans, and squash together. This is commonly known as a Three Sisters system. Most of upstate New York was farmed and hunted by the Haudenosaunee, so I figured their system would work best for the climate. Native Americans from Central America to Canada used this system, but it contains many variations for latitude and rainfall. Very few people use it on any scale larger than a garden, since it’s not friendly to mechanized planting or harvest techniques. I do almost all the work by hand. I adopted the spacing as recorded in Parker on the Iroquois, by Arthur C. Parker, written in 1968, who interviewed folks who had learned the pre-colonial techniques directly from Seneca practitioners in the 1800’s.

So, my butternut and delicata was grown in the partial shade of corn hills. Seven or eight corn plants are sown together in hills that are 6 feet apart in either direction. The corn enjoys full sun, and while the hills are a bit crowded, they’re still able to yield well. Squash is then sown or transplanted, one or two plants between every corn hill. Squash generally likes full sun, but by the time the corn is casting shadows in late July, heat stress can be an issue in squash- so, a little shade now and then is actually helpful for the plant.

For the corn, I grow an heirloom landrace called Hopi Blue. I retail some as seed online, wholesale some to Fedco Seed Company, and finally, I make all the grits and tamales I want out of the remainder. I selected an heirloom pole bean called Iroquois Skunk Beans (named for their coloration), which I retail as seed. The squash understory provides weed control for those other two crops, so it’s nice to cart off several hundred pounds of it, long after it’s already paid for itself. Not that I don’t charge for it- Ted and I have a trade deal going!

These final squash deliveries are paying off the Farmall 140 cultivating tractor I got from him. If you’ve followed the newsletter already, you know of Ted’s fun projects in building new cultivating tractors, or modifying the various “Gs” that have come to the farm. So I scooped up one of the retired clunkers of the fleet, the old 140 I used to clock a lot of time on, hilling Windflower potatoes. These 140s used to be the workhorses of many row crop farms across America, and now they get scooped up by organic farmers. The wheelbase is 6 feet, 1 inch wide, so I adapted the Seneca corn hill spacing around that so the 140 can do some of the early weed control. I largely manage it with a weekly wheel hoeing ‘til early July, when the squash takes over.

If you want to learn more wonky details about how I do the Three Sisters plot, I have a page about it on my website-  (https://gradentalunfarm.net/pages/growing-a-three-sisters-plot) The site is also my portal for ordering the corn and bean seeds, and the many garlic varieties I grow. I specialize in heirloom varieties from around the world, and also a few newly bred types from true seeds via flower pollination- which is rare, but still possible. I am a bit of a garlic nut, and that’s the main focus of the site, but you can learn more about the Three Sisters systems and the varieties I grow. Meanwhile- enjoy the winter squash and other veggies coming- I know I’m loving butternut season! 

My main page- https://gradentalunfarm.net/  

-Daren 

Distribution #20 – Week of October 18, 2021

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello from Windflower Farm, where fall temperatures have finally arrived. Time to pull out the woolies!

What’s in your share?

  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Koji
  • Mixed mustard bunch
  • Carrots
  • Sweet peppers or eggplant or zucchini 
  • Squash (acorn, butternut squash, or delicata)
  • Sweet potatoes

Your fruit share, the last of the season, will consist of Bosc pears, Empire apples and apple cider from Borden’s Orchard.

Next week’s vegetable share will include Nate’s ginger.

Winter share

Kristoffer Ross is a new organic grain grower, and his rolled oats and hard red winter wheat flour, among other things, will be offered during our winter season. To sign up for the winter share, and to learn more about Kristoffer and the other farmers who are part of our winter share, click here:  Windflower Farm’s 2021-2022 Winter Share (wufoo.com)Please see your confirmation email for details about how to pay for your share. Central Brooklyn CSA has a limited number of subsidized shares available to current Tier 1 members. If you are interested in a subsidized share, please let us know in the notes section of the registration form. 

What’s new on the farm?

Jan and Nate sorted sweet potatoes yesterday. Jumbos, larges, and mediums. The small roasting pieces were set aside for another day. First they sorted by size, then they ran them through the produce washer, the machine that one of our membership likened to a car wash for vegetables. We have several hundred bushels tucked into our curing greenhouse, and another couple of hundred left to harvest. – enough to include in our last three deliveries and all four winter shares, plus enough to swap for winter squashes or more beets. My friend Brian, who is also a CSA farmer, dropped in yesterday. Although we can spend hours together paddling our canoes on the nearby Battenkill without once bringing up the subject of vegetable farming, that was not the case yesterday. First, we agreed to a swap our onions for his squashes. Then we talked about sweet potatoes, which we both enjoy growing, and in particular about how to harvest them most efficiently, deploying mowing machines, vine cutting coulters, root undercutters and bed chain lifters.

This morning, Jan and Nate sorted acorn squashes while the Medinas harvested red leaf lettuce, arugula, koji and various kales. None of the winter squashes appear likely to keep for long, and these acorns are no exception. Wet seasons – and the 2021 farm season has been one of our wettest – are especially difficult for the Cucurbitaceae, the family of vegetables that include butternut squashes, zucchinis, watermelons, cantaloupes and cucumbers among others. Fusarium and Rhizoctonia root and crown rots are early season problems. Phytopthora fruit rots kick in when puddles last long enough for spores to multiply. Angular Leaf Spot, Bacterial Speck, Powdery Mildew and Downy Mildew are just a sampling of the foliar diseases that can cause damage. The number of pathogens that complete their life cycles by infecting these crops is so numerous that any success seems improbable. And yet they grow, and often thrive. We have reached out to neighboring farmers to help fill out this category. Many of the Acorn squashes in this week’s shares will have come from Markristo Farm. And in the winter, Brian’s butternuts and kabochas will fill in. Both are excellent organic farmers.

Jan and Nate are now sorting shallots. Good, bad and good enough for the house. The variety we grow is called Ed’s Red, which we produce from organically grown seeds purchased (via Fedco Seeds in Maine) from an Idaho farmer-breeder name Beth Rasgorshek, who has been improving the open pollinated variety for many years. It’s a wonderful variety. Shallots generally store well, but wet conditions at harvest have led some to rot. I suspect that you have already noticed that our yellow and red onions have had some internal rots. These are inevitable and hard to detect. If there were such a thing as forensic plant pathology, one could trace a rotten onion scale back to the blemished leaf associated with it and, in turn, to the day an organism took advantage of the blemish to move in and multiply. Much of this year’s rots – called slippery skin and sour skin – have had to do with wet harvest conditions in July and the opportunistic bacteria that took advantage of them.    

Many of you have asked what Jan has been up to since she hasn’t been growing flowers. When she is not sorting malformed or rotten vegetables from good ones with Nate, and she isn’t on the packing line putting onions or potatoes or greens into CSA share boxes, she has been expanding the gardens around the house, finishing the interior build of a tiny house she and Nate started last year and remodeling a cabin.  She isn’t ready to say whether she’ll be growing flowers next year. After thirty years of flower growing, she needed a break, a chance to rethink and time to try new things. She has yet to decide whether it’s time to get back to cut flowers, but after so many hours on the vegetable team this year, she has a number of ideas about how I can improve my vegetable farming!

Have a great week, Ted

The News from Windflower Farm

Distribution #19 – Week of October 11, 2021

Hello from Windflower Farm!       

What’s in your share?

  • Parsley
  • Garlic
  • Tokyo Bekana
  • Kalebration kale mix
  • Green lettuce
  • Yellow and red onions
  • Sweet peppers
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Assorted winter squash (some from our farm, some from Markristo Farm, and some from long time employee Daren Carroll’s farm – all organically grown)

The fruit share will consist of a bag of ‘Empire’ apples from the Borden’s Orchard.

We will be offering a winter share again this year, consisting of four once-a-month deliveries beginning in late November and ending in early February. Deliveries will take place on Saturdays. To register for a winter share, please sign up here: Windflower Farm’s 2021-2022 Winter Share (wufoo.com)Please see your confirmation email for details about how to pay for your share. If you are requesting a subsidized share, please wait until you hear back from us before you submit a payment. 

What’s new on the farm?

We picked up our truck at Penske of Parsippany on Thursday night, happy to be back behind the wheel of what has been a comfortable and relatively reliable vehicle. About five miles out, in the dark and the rain, yellow and red dashboard lights started blinking and an alarm started blaring. We returned to the garage with the headlights beginning to fade. The problem was easily solved – the mechanics had just to finish tightening the bolts on the cables running to the new starter they’d installed – and we were on our way, my faith in the Penske organization a growing question.    

It’s that time when geese are beginning to congregate but before the goose migration is seriously underway. They are not yet flying in the right direction and their V formations are disorganized, but they’ll get it together. Jan saw a killdeer today, which was odd because its party left weeks ago. We watched them in the early days of their flocking, too, and were happy to see their relatively large numbers, a sign, I think, of a successful reproduction season.

Heading south is also a theme among the farm staff. Tomorrow’s administrative task is to purchase four airplane tickets to Leon, Mexico for early November. Daniel, the young man who helps Don and me make our CSA deliveries, tells me that nearly a dozen quinceaneras and another dozen weddings will take place in Laguna Prieta this December and January and there is much excitement – a celebration every second or third night for nearly two months! His own big sister Brenda is among those getting married, and his cousin Claudia will be celebrating her 15th year and, according to the tradition, her passage into womanhood.

We logged 16 miles on our bikes today, not far, but far enough to see that the corn harvest is well underway, soybean fields have turned golden, and that the fall foliage has become lovely, if somewhat muted compared to last year. I think that we are still a week away from peak. The brightest colors in our neighborhood can still be found in the swamps, and looking south from Center Cambridge Road offers a spectacular display. Some of the most vibrant red comes from woodbine, or Virginia Creeper, a vine that reaches nearly to the tops of the trees they climb.

Brenda, our organic certification inspector, comes tomorrow for her annual visit. I’ve spent some time today getting my paperwork in order. Seed purchases, soil amendments, sprays, harvest records, field maps – all of these must be done in accordance with the National Organic Program rulebook. It can be a bit much, and to help me navigate all of this, Jan has given me a tall glass of Good Fortune, from a talented brewer in South Glens Falls. Perspective restored, it’s time to get back to work – there are ‘I’s to dot and ‘T’s to cross.

Have a great week, Ted