Winter Distribution #3, January, 2021

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello and Happy New Year from the Windflower Farm team!

I write this note following an extraordinary day. As the farm team washed, sorted and bagged vegetables yesterday, we were glued to reports of the U.S Capitol being stormed by a mob who were convinced by a lying president and his enablers that the election was stolen. Today, when we reconvene in the greenhouse to harvest your kale and spinach, my staff and I will no doubt relive the day’s remarkably sad events. It was a day we won’t soon forget.

I interrupt your day to remind you that your January share will arrive this Saturday, January 9th and to share some related information. See below for distribution times and locations. Please plan to arrive within the time allotted for the distribution or send a friend, neighbor, or family member to pick up your share for you.

Your January share:

  • Yellow (and perhaps baking) potatoes and garlic in a bag
  • Sweet potatoes and a butternut squash loose in the box
  • Carrots, beets and kohlrabi in a bag
  • Toscano and Red Russian kale and spinach in a bag
  • Empire (the darker red) and Ida Red apples in a bag
  • A jug of apple cider  

A favorite feel-good soup:

At our house, we really like The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon. Try the “On the Mend Spiced Red Lentil-Kale Soup” if you are looking for something delicious to do with your kale and carrots: https://ohsheglows.com/2012/11/07/spiced-red-lentil-tomato-and-kale-soup/. You’ll note that carrots are not actually a part of the recipe, but we have found that it is much improved by the addition of three or four chopped carrots. Sweet potatoes and butternut squash are also great additions!

Important distribution notes:

Your share will come pre-packaged in a box that you may take home. We are happy to take boxes back and to recycle them when we return in February. Check in with your site coordinator to find out how this can be done at your site. My apologies for the plastic packaging this month. Our paper bag delivery was late in coming.

The apple cider in your share does not fit in the box and is packaged separately. Make sure to grab yours. If you’d prefer, and while supplies last, you may choose to take a second bag of apples instead of a jug of cider.

If you’ve ordered eggs or a maple share, please remember to seek them out – they will not be packaged in your box. Check in with the site coordinator.  

Finally, we cannot help you if you have failed to pick up your share on time. We will be in a box truck making our way back home, and we won’t get there until late evening. Please make a plan to pick up your share or to have someone come in your place.

We hope you enjoy your share! Your next one will be delivered on Saturday, February 6th.

Wishing you a healthy and happy winter season,

Ted and Jan

Distribution #2, December 12, 2020

Winter News from Windflower Farm

Happy winter from a snowy Windflower Farm. Your second share of the season will be delivered on Saturday, December 12th.

What’s in your share?

  • Assorted kale and chard greens in a plastic bag
  • Cabbage (primarily green and pointed)
  • Yellow onions, a small handful of shallots and garlic in a paper bag
  • Carrots, beets and yellow potatoes in a second paper bag
  • Butternut squash
  • Apples – Jonagolds and Empires from Borden Farm – in a third paper bag
  • A jar of honey from Harry’s Honey House

My apologies to you if you got spoiled broccoli in your share last month. The spoilage was the result of freezing and thawing in the field. Some of the broccoli was apparently still frozen when it was harvested. 

Next month, you’ll get three new winter vegetables: a storage variety of kohlrabi, celeriac and spinach. You’ll get our mainstay vegetables – potatoes, carrots, beets, onions and kale. And you’ll get sweet potatoes, apple cider from Borden Farm, along with more of their apples. 

Site hosts have asked me to remind you to pick up your share during the appointed time frame. Pick up times are posted below. Your next deliveries will arrive on January 9th and February 6th.

Yesterday, we harvested and bagged the greens in your share. We celebrated the fact that it was our last harvest of 2020 and that Saturday’s delivery – our 48th – will be our last of the year. Eight of us harvested from 10:00 in the morning until 2:00 in the afternoon. The greens were growing in “caterpillar” tunnels, and I’ve posted some pictures on Instagram for anyone wanting to see where they have come from. It takes four days to prepare for a winter share delivery, and the day we work in the greenhouses to harvest your greens is my favorite. Sunshine, physical exercise, green plant life, good company. I hope you enjoy them.

Distribution #22, Week of November 2, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello for one last time this season from Windflower Farm (where just a few winter CSA shares are still available!) 

This week’s share

Cabbage

  • Kale
  • Lettuce or Swiss chard
  • Parsley (or cilantro)
  • Onions
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Peppers
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots

What’s new on the farm

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is an increasingly vital part of organic farming, and hundreds of small farms in the Northeast thrive because of CSA members like you. Thank you for being a part of our CSA – we hope you enjoyed the experience. I’d especially like to express my gratitude to the volunteers who spend countless hours organizing the CSA. Their work in recruiting members, maintaining websites, managing distributions and in performing countless other tasks is the critical stuff that makes the CSA work. If you think that you’ll be with us next year, consider joining the core group at your pick-up site.   

We at the farm are celebrating our last CSA delivery. As you know, the season comes to an end this week. Victoria, our distribution coordinator, hosted us at her house around a bonfire to celebrate the end of the season. The farm team has been working long days since early March and are ready for a break. I’m very proud of them. Much of the staff will be back at it in a couple of weeks to prepare the first winter boxes. Snowfall bookended the farm season, with a couple of inches in early May, just after planting, and a couple more just last week. Candelaria and her sisters, who are new to snow, had a brief laughter filled snowball fight. Soon, they’d be in the warmth of Central Mexico. For us, there are winter projects that we’ll now have time to turn to, Jan in her studio, and Nate and me in our workshop.

Jan and I hope you have a healthy and happy fall and winter season. We look forward to seeing you before long.

Take care,

Ted and Jan

For more winter share information, please click here: https://windflowerfarm.wufoo.com/forms/m1xr27rk05nzoa8/.

Distribution #21, Week of October 26, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello from Windflower Farm (where winter CSA shares are still available!) 

This week’s share

  • Savoy cabbage
  • Swiss chard
  • Kale
  • Garlic 
  • Ginger
  • “Rainbow’ carrots 
  • Red potatoes
  • Leeks
  • Butternut squash 

Next week’s share will include shallots, red cabbage and more sweet potatoes along with more of the usual suspects.

If you are an odd week CSA member, this week’s share is your last of the season. On behalf of everyone here at Windflower Farm, many thanks for being with us. We hope you have enjoyed your share of our farm’s 2020 harvest. It is because you decided to be with us that we were able to pursue the work that we love for another year. If you haven’t had enough of our produce, and want to help keep my staff and me from running wild on the back roads of Washington County, consider joining us for our four month, four delivery winter share. It will begin on the Saturday before Thanksgiving Day and run through early February and include hardy greens from our unheated greenhouses, a wide variety of our stored root vegetables, apples and pears from neighboring farms and something sweet (cider or jam or honey) with each delivery. For more winter share information, please click here: https://windflowerfarm.wufoo.com/forms/m1xr27rk05nzoa8/

What’s new on the farm?

Jan, Nate and I have just come in from washing carrots and ginger and it got me thinking about soups. The cookbook, Soup’s On, has one of our favorite recipes featuring these two crops: Coconut Carrot Soup with Ginger and Dill. The only thing better than reaching a beautiful mountain lookout on an October hike is digging into your daypack and finding a thermos full of hot carrot ginger soup with which to admire the view. Nate will post the recipe on our Instagram page.

Many of the ingredients of a potato leek soup can be found in the week’s share, too. Our favorite comes from Moosewood, where carrots are also an important part. This week’s variety of carrot is called ‘Rainbow’ and they are from the last bed on our farm. Then there is butternut squash, which makes one of the very best “feel good’ soups I know. With a pot of soup on the stove, no winter day is too cold, no sky too bleak.

Jan is now napping, Nate is again baking pumpkin muffins for the farm crew – a triple batch for a cold day! – and the Medinas are wrapping up the harvest of some leeks and cabbages. The local staff are off today. They’ll be here tomorrow morning to offload whatever returnables are on the truck, wash tubs and the greens that will be in shares this week, and then fill bags, the heavy vegetables in one, and the light and leafy vegetables in another. 

Our season began in March, which feels like a very long time ago. We welcome the change in seasons and what that portends for those of us whose lives move closely with them. Our last CSA harvest will take place on Wednesday of next week, and although the to-do list is still long, we see an end to the work, or at least a change in the nature of the work. In the next ten days, we’ll plant the final three acres of rye cover crops, transplant the last 20,000 or so of our fall onion sets, cover our strawberries, garlic, onions and winter greens, and tuck away our pumps, unneeded row covers, sand bags and irrigation lines. We expect a low of 17 degrees by week’s end. 

The Medinas will head off to Mexico next Saturday and what appears to be a calendar full of fiestas in celebration of weddings, births and faith. I don’t think they care one way or another about the election here. They expect corruption and division in politics, having had little experience of anything else. Family and community are at the center of their lives. After work today, young Martin came to ask if we would employ his spouse next year. They are hoping to work on a house of their own before starting a family. I told him it was something we would try to make work. 

I believe our election matters. I bet you do, too. I can’t believe that nearly half of us don’t vote. Please tell everyone you know to get out to the polls next week!

Take care, Ted

Distribution #20, Week of October 19, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello from Windflower Farm (where winter CSA shares are now available!) 

This week’s share

  • Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Bok Choy or kale
  • ‘Covington’ sweet potatoes
  • Red and yellow onions
  • ‘Rainbow’ carrots
  • Cilantro
  • Chiles (small, HOT, not sweet!)
  • Potatoes
  • Eggplants (or sweet peppers)
  • Ginger

Your fruit share will be a mix of early ‘Fuji’ and ‘Empire’ apples from Yonder Farm. The ‘Fujis’ are the lighter colored apples.

Please use care in handling the chiles in your share, particularly around children – they can be painfully hot. The small, blocky orange-yellow ones are habaneros and are very hot. They will be the last of the season. You might find a way to combine these with the cilantro in your share.

Some shares will contain eggplants, others will have sweet peppers. This week’s eggplants, also the last of the season, may not be the prettiest, and I’m sorry about that, but I hope you’ll still enjoy these last flavors of summer. Try to ignore the spots – a good deal of the waste in our food system can be attributed to shopping too much with our eyes. Breaded and fried, they make great additions to any pizza, especially with dollops of Ricotta and pesto. They are also an excellent addition to any vegetable lasagna.   

You’ll be getting some of Nate’s ginger this week, and very likely again next week (the pieces won’t be large). He ordinarily gets his planting stock from a guy called “Biker Dude” in Hawaii, but he had a crop failure last winter and referred Nate to a Peruvian supplier. Have fun with it. One of my favorite ways to enjoy this tropical crop is in the form of a gingersnap cookie. 

Winter share news

To learn more about our winter share, please click here: https://windflowerfarm.wufoo.com/forms/m1xr27rk05nzoa8/

What’s new on the farm?

I took a road trip on a rainy Friday last week to a farm in northern vermont. Earlier in the year, I mentioned that I might more frequently include the produce of other organic farms in your summer shares beginning next year. (The idea, by the way, received overwhelming support.) Among the best candidates for that are beans and carrots. Beans because a friend and experienced organic farmer – Martin Stosiek – has a bean harvester. Carrots because we do not have a soil suitable for growing carrots, at least not on a commercial scale. Ours is too stoney to grow straight carrots or to cultivate a carrot crop using tractor mounted tools. 

My trip north took me to Jericho Settlers Farm, just east of Burlington, VT, near Mount Mansfield’s backside. The farm sits on 90 acres of Winooski River bottom soils, level, stone-free and well suited to the production of carrots, parsnips and beets. The winter share’s carrots will come from them this year. My hope is to barter onions, which grow better here, for their carrots.  

There is a third crop I’ll mention – potatoes. We have never had to buy potatoes before, and I don’t intend to include them among the crops we’ll source in the future, but I have just purchased some to help finish out this year and to have them for the winter share. Our own potatoes were planted in a back field that our irrigation system could not reach and yields were miserable. Sometimes things don’t work out. The potatoes I have purchased came from Williams Farm and are certified organic. You’ll get more next week.

Have a great week, Ted

Distribution #19, Week of October 12, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

This week’s share

  • ‘Covington’ sweet potatoes
  • Red and yellow onions
  • ‘Romance’ carrots
  • ‘Bouquet’ dill
  • Sweet peppers, mostly ‘Carmen’ 
  • Butterhead lettuce
  • ‘Kalebration’ mixed kale
  • Arugula
  • ‘Fordhook’ Swiss chard

Your fruit share will be ‘Fortune’ apples (‘Empire’ crossed with ‘Northern Spy’) and ‘Bosc’ pears from Yonder Farm.

I’m imagining tacos de camotes – thickly sliced slabs (or cubes) of roasted sweet potatoes, black beans, avocados, and onions placed in a hard corn taco, with my favorite Mexican sauce drizzled over everything and topped with fresh greens. You’ll find a dozen recipes online. 

What’s new on the farm?

Sweet potatoes are not difficult to prepare. Roast at 400 degrees in a pan with parchment paper until they begin to ooze their caramelized sugars and take on a bronzing around the edges, then serve. If cured properly, they won’t need anything. (Jan, who looks for any excuse to pull out the maple syrup, will tell you that a spoonful never hurts.) For fans of butternut squash soup, sweet potato soup is an excellent alternative. For the more adventurous, sweet potato lasagna is out of this world. 

This week’s batch of sweet potatoes is the first to come out of our makeshift curing room. When harvested, sweet potatoes are all starch. But a week to ten days at 80 degrees turns those starches to sugar. It’s not unlike what a week in the Carribean might do for any of us after a long winter. Connor, who is new on the farm this year, came to us after his Peace Corps work in Ghana was interrupted by the pandemic. His aunt MaryJane owns some of the land that we use to grow your crops. He tells me that the weather in Ghana permits in-ground curing of the roots. In our case, we cordon off a corner of a greenhouse with a heater, turn the temperature up, flood the floor so as to achieve a humidity of nearly 100%, and wait for ten days. That’s usually all there is to it. You can ensure that curing is complete by letting them sit on your counter for another week.   

Our sweet potatoes started their lives in North Carolina. Farmers there plant full size sweet potatoes in the field in early spring and then harvest “slips” – the little sprouts that emerge from the roots – and either plant them or sell them to other farmers for planting. My friend Tim, who grew 24 acres this year, drives his box truck all the way to North Carolina every spring to get the best slips, and he brings ours, too. His farm is called Laughing Child Farm, named for his four happy daughters, and on it he produces nothing but sweet potatoes. I admire the simplicity of his business, but I don’t envy it. Nate and I washed and sorted 80 bushels of sweet potatoes today (the yield from three 375’ beds), which I think will be enough for this week’s CSA deliveries, and I would have been done in by the tedium if it wasn’t for the excellent Sunday lineup on our public radio station (Le Show, Splendid Table, Afropop Worldwide and Freakonomics Radio). I prefer the challenge of the wide variety of crops we grow for the CSA.

Winter share information and a signup form should be available next week.  

Have a great week, Ted

Distribution #18, Week of October 5, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

This week’s share

  • Probably your last tomatoes 
  • Sweet peppers
  • Leeks
  • Potatoes (or beets)
  • Acorn squashes (or butternuts)
  • Parsley
  • Lettuce
  • Bok Choy
  • Kale
  • Possibly other salad greens

Your fruit share will be apples from Yonder Farm and cider from Borden Farm. Next week, you’ll get carrots, arugula, red onions and sweet potatoes, among other goodies. More potatoes to come.

What’s new on the farm?

Fall colors are at their peak now, a week ahead of normal, perhaps because of the unusual heat and drought of summer or those early frosts – who really knows? – and they are stunning. We are living for this briefest of moments in a picture postcard. We know that these red and orange leaves will blow away in the next big wind, and that we’ll be in a monochromatic landscape for the next seven months – seven months! – but it’s all pretty terrific for now.

Winter greens planting is underway this week. Tomatoes are being yanked out and tossed in the compost pile, and winter hardy greens are being planted one by one into freshly composted, newly tilled and highly fragrant earth, in straight, nearly perfect rows (Salvador and Candelaria lead such a fantastic team!). Soon, we’ll place hoops and floating row covers over the greens. And soon after that we’ll begin lowering the sides on the greenhouses to keep the greens warm enough so that they continue growing, but not so warm as to prevent them from becoming hardened enough to withstand the cold of winter. These greenhouses are unheated, and a tender plant won’t survive.  

Next week, we’ll begin planting next year’s garlic and covering next year’s strawberry plants to protect them against the extremes of winter. Squirrels are burying nuts and we, too, are making preparations for winter. 

Have a great week, Ted

Distribution #17, Week of September 28, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

This week’s share

  • Assorted tomatoes
  • Winter squash
  • Eggplant
  • Shallots
  • Chiles
  • Cilantro
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Koji
  • Kale

This week’s fruit share will be Gala apples and Bosc pears from Yonder Farm

Next week, you’ll get butternut squash, sweet potatoes, garlic, sweet peppers, onions, a variety of greens and the last tomatoes of the season, and your fruit share will be more apples and a half gallon of the Borden’s cider.

What’s new on the farm?

It has been very dry throughout September, but it’s raining as I write this and, because we sowed several acres of cover crops this past week, we are pleased. Soon, winter rye, hairy vetch, oats and pea seedlings will emerge in fields that grew this year’s vegetables. The cover crops will protect the soil from erosion during the winter, and they will capture nitrogen and carbon, enhancing soil organic matter. The rain means that our fall greens and new strawberries will also have a little more of what they need. There are still five weeks to go in the CSA distribution season, and the greens need regular watering.

Next week, we will remove all of the tomato plants from our tunnels so that we can transplant winter greens into them. This is something that we’ve done for the past fifteen years or so. It’s always a little sad to see summer tomatoes disappear from the share, but the shorter and cooler days mean that tomato flavor has begun to deteriorate anyway. And October 10th is the last day to plant greens before we run the risk that they won’t have developed before the cold stops them altogether. And so, after a last harvest, we will yank the tomato vines out one by one, throwing them in a heap on the compost pile. Then we’ll add fresh compost to the beds, work them with our smallest tractor, a Kubota 3700, and plant the greens, four rows to a bed, nine inches apart. With any luck, they will be fully grown six weeks later.

Have a great week, Ted

Distribution #16, Week of September 21, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

Happy fall from all of us at Windflower Farm, where one of our hottest and driest summers ever has given way to the cold temperatures of fall and warnings of early frost. By Thursday of last week, we had harvested all of our winter squashes. This week, you’ll get Delicatas. Acorns will be in your shares next, followed by butternuts. It’s become cold enough here to move back into the kitchen, and roasted squashes, squash soup and squash muffins are all on the menu. Yesterday, Nate made pumpkin muffins (with dried cranberries and chocolate chips) from a recipe he found at lovelylittlekitchen.com.

This week’s share

  • Assorted tomatoes
  • Colorful sweet peppers
  • Carrots
  • Dill
  • Delicata squash
  • Red and yellow onions
  • Greenleaf lettuce
  • Tatsoi
  • Swiss chard
  • German Red garlic        

Your fruit share will be a bagful of Pete’s Macintosh apples and Bartlett pears.

What’s new on the farm?

Killdeer have begun their flocking, and their numbers appear healthy to me. I like to think that they have found a safe haven here, but how can I know? I noticed them last week while working a field in preparation for cover cropping. Soon, they’ll head to Mexico, and they are looking to bulk up for the flight. The disc brings soil dwelling insects and worms to the surface and the flock swarms down to scoop them up. In the spring of the year, Killdeer would dread the coming of the tractor. They make nests on the ground after we’ve plowed but generally before we’ve planted. Because of their broken wing ploy, we can usually find and flag their nests so that we can avoid them as we pull the transplanter across the field. For a few days, their hatchlings are little flightless puffballs and a year or two back Jan could not resist the temptation to catch one in her hands (she is similarly hands on with snakes and baby rabbits). She may have frightened the little thing for a moment, but it was soon off doing what its siblings were doing, eating seeds or bugs. And now I imagine it as part of this flock making plans for Mexico.     

A week ago, the trees in our hedgerows were deep green. Today reds and oranges are peeking through, and in a week or two they’ll be in full color. We expect our first frost tonight. And so, a little too soon, summer is over. The Hudson River, which lies five miles west of here, at the end of our road, sits at an elevation of about 90’. Our farm lies some 800’ above the river, and that is what gives us some protection against the first frosts, which tend to snake along valley floors. I visited a friend whose farm is a mile east and perhaps 100 or 150’ above the level of the river. He told me that his first frost occurred two days ago and it caught him by surprise, spoiling a large portion of his winter squash crop. We had a little more time to prepare. Nate and I spent half a day on Wednesday dropping sandbags in all of the places where we intended to put row covers, and then a full day on Thursday rolling out covers, spreading them over the top of the cold sensitive crops and then repositioning the sandbags along their edges. The farm team helped with the last pieces – draping covers over the peppers and eggplants that now stand up to my shoulders. Had we not taken these steps, we’d be hard pressed to fill our truck during the final weeks of the season. Often, if our crops survive the first frosts, they will continue to grow for another three or four weeks, or as long as the Indian Summer lasts. In the meantime, it’s time to sharpen your skis!

Have a great week, Ted

Distribution #15, Week of September 14, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

Every other week, I throw eight five-gallon diesel cans in the back of my pickup truck and head into town for a refill. By my back-of-the-envelope calculation, this translates into less than half a gallon per share per year, which has not changed much over the years. Our bigger use of fuel has to do with trucking from the farm to sites in the city, and that has likewise remained steady at about four gallons per share per year. As I drove to the filling station today, I thought about this week’s tasks. We will try to finish strawberry planting and continue seeding greens for the winter as we have been doing for the past couple of weeks. The greenhouse is full again with benches of spinach, Swiss chard, kale and other very cold hardy greens. It takes about an hour each day to do the watering. We’ll plant them out in our unheated greenhouses in early October, hoop and cover them with row covers and irrigate them twice a week. They’ll be ready for the first winter share delivery on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. More information about the winter share will be coming soon.  

This week’s share

  • Assorted tomatoes
  • Colorful sweet peppers
  • Assorted potatoes
  • Rosemary
  • German White garlic
  • Yellow or green beans
  • Dill
  • Squashes or cucumbers
  • A mix of red lettuces
  • Spinach
  • Kale

Delicata squashes will be in some shares this week, and in every share next week. Eat right away – they do not keep very well. Simply wash, cut in half lengthwise, and bake face down for 45 minutes at 375 or until fork soft. Add a little butter and a pinch of salt or cinnamon. The skin is edible. Your fruit share will be Pete’s last peaches on Tuesday and his last plums on Thursday.

What’s new on the farm?

Two crops were particularly hard for us this year: carrots and potatoes. Hot and dry weather was the chief culprit in both cases, but several growers have pointed to the poor quality of seeds as another possible cause in the case of carrots. You’ll get the first of our potatoes this week. We’ll send our own carrots for a second time next week, and again the following week, and then we’ll be out until our late fall harvest (which was timed for winter shares).

We have purchased crops from neighboring farmers in the past. We set aside some money for the purpose. We don’t have success with every crop we grow, and we don’t want you to have a bad CSA experience. If our radicchio or celeriac or kohlrabi don’t work out, we are not going to go to the market looking to replace them, but if an important staple like carrots or onions or potatoes failed, we would go searching to fill the gap. We have only done this a few times in all of our years as CSA farmers, and we limit our purchases to local growers.

I’ve been trying to buy organic carrots with which to fill out your fall shares, but it turns out that we were not alone in having had challenges. And the local crop is lean. My friend Brian, who farms with his wife Justine, believes they will have some carrots for us, and Jody and Carrie, sisters who farm in Columbia County, expect to also have some. They are excellent farmers and farm on good soils, making them good candidates, with some prior planning, to help with the carrots in our 2021 shares, too. I’ll keep you apprised as to the source of carrots (and any other non-Windflower crops) as they show up in your shares.      

Have a great week, Ted