You’re invited to a Harvest Picnic!

Join us for a fall picnic with your fellow CSA members!

Please bring a dish or beverage to share and let us know what you plan on bringing on this form. Family, friends and dogs welcome!

Harvest Picnic!

When: Sunday, October 22nd, 2017, 2 to 5 PM
Where: Brower Park (Meet at the SE corner, near the intersection of Park Place and Kingston Ave)

CBCSA Newsletter: October 12th Week A

It’s a Week A Pick-Up This Thursday, October 12th!

This week’s share:
-Arugula
-Carrots
-Onions
-Lettuces
-Delicata squash
-Tomatoes
-Broccoli
-Leeks (or potatoes)
-Your choice between kale or tatsoi and dill or cilantro.

Next week, you’ll get your last tomatoes, your first sweet potatoes, plus acorn squashes, fennel, carrots, onions, broccoli, arugula, lettuces and various other greens and herbs. Your fruit share this week is Empire apples and Borden Farm cider. There are just four shares remaining in this season. Please consider joining us for the winter. A signup form will be available soon.

CSA News from Windflower Farm

Delivery #19, October 10 and 12, 2017

This week’s share: Arugula, carrots, onions, lettuces, Delicata squash, tomatoes, broccoli, leeks (or potatoes) and your choice between kale or tatsoi and dill or cilantro. Next week, you’ll get your last tomatoes, your first sweet potatoes, plus acorn squashes, fennel, carrots, onions, broccoli, arugula, lettuces and various other greens and herbs. Your fruit share this week is Empire apples and Borden Farm cider. There are just four shares remaining in this season. Please consider joining us for the winter. A signup form will be available soon.

Choice at the CSA distribution site is not as easy for us to manage as we initially expected. It is not difficult to offer choices, but it is difficult to manage them in such a way as to avoid some disappointment. The chief complaint about choice has been that the “good stuff” goes early, so that there really are no choices for those arriving late in the distribution window. Many people registered their appreciation for choices. A couple who wrote in response to my question about waste mentioned that greater choices at the pickup site helped them reduce waste because they chose items they knew they would use. There were two suggestions in particular for improving how we offer choices that make sense to me: first, seek weekly feedback from the site manager so that the farm team knows what is popular, and adjust quantities accordingly. Instead of sending equal numbers of eggplants and peppers, for example, perhaps, if peppers are more popular, it should be 1/3 eggplants and 2/3 peppers. And, second, hold some totes of vegetables from each of the choice categories to be opened later in the evening, so that those who arrive later also have choices. Those changes might help. But, as one shareholder wrote, because herbs and greens are the most important places to offer choices, perhaps we should limit the idea of choice to those categories. Our goal, of course, is to find the best way to give our CSA members what they want in a way that is equitable and enjoyable. Your feedback is always welcome.

We have needed a workshop for a long time. Vegetable farming is tough on equipment, and we use the off-season to piece it back together. We have a shop, but it’s too small, and it’s not heated. So, we are working on a space large enough for a full-size tractor. Nate, Adam and I poured the concrete floor last week. For those of you who have been here, you’ll know it as the barn where we have our potluck supper. Pouring concrete is nerve-wracking. There is something about the permanence of a large slab that ratchets up the pressure to get it right. And there is something foreign and stressful about having an item you’ve spent thousands on being delivered in a semi-liquid state, poured onto the floor via a shoot, in need of a good deal of shaping and cajoling to look and function the way you want it to, and to have a tight timeline in which to do the work because the concrete is rapidly setting up and is soon to be unworkable. I’ve done just enough work with concrete to know the importance of the setup: I choose calming music, say Eric Clapton or Stevie Ray Vaughan, and a Second Fiddle for my nerves. We get the tools laid out – screed, rakes, bull float, hand trowel, groover, wheel barrow, boots and gloves. In the days before, we framed the perimeter of the pour with lumber and lined it with 2” of blue foam so that it can float independently of the pole barn. We then lined the bottom of the pour with foam and a plastic barrier and placed reinforcing steel throughout. It is still under plastic – a slow cure is best – but we are happy with our work. Nate was working on doors during any spare time he had in September, and they are nearly ready to install. We’ll post something on Instagram soon. With a little more effort, including installation of the small Scandinavian squirrel stove we found last spring, we’ll have a snug space in which to work this winter.

Have a great week, Ted

Jan and the boys, pouring a fresh concrete floor

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CBCSA Newsletter: October 5th Week B

It’s a Week B Pick-Up ThisThursday, October 5th!

This week’s share:
-Spinach
-Butter head lettuce
-Your choice of cooking greens (including dinosaur kale, tatsoi, collards and Swiss chard)
-Yellow onions
-Delicata squashes
-Potatoes
-Dill or cilantro
-Chiles
-Tomatoes
-Green beans
-Summer squashes, and another item. Salsa vegetables – tomatoes, peppers, onions, chiles, cilantro – will be with us for just another week or two, but, as they give way, fall crops like Delicata squashes and sweet potatoes will take their place.

Your fruit share will include Golden Supreme apples and Bosc pears from Yonder Farm. Next week, you’ll get Yonder’s Jonagold apples and the Borden’s cider.

CSA News from Windflower Farm

Delivery #18, October 3 and 5, 2017

This week’s share: Spinach, butterhead lettuce, your choice of cooking greens (including dinosaur kale, tatsoi, collards and Swiss chard), yellow onions, Delicata squashes, potatoes, dill or cilantro, chiles, tomatoes, green beans or summer squashes, and another item. Salsa vegetables – tomatoes, peppers, onions, chiles, cilantro – will be with us for just another week or two, but, as they give way, fall crops like Delicata squashes and sweet potatoes will take their place. Today’s Delicatas (my favorite of the winter squashes) can be prepared by cutting them in half lengthwise, removing their seeds, and roasting them for 30-40 minutes in the oven until fork soft. Some people add a little butter and brown sugar or maple syrup, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Their skins, if washed before baking, are also edible. Acorn squashes or more Delicatas will arrive next week, and still more winter squashes will arrive the week after that, so there is no need to hold onto these. Your fruit share will include Golden Supreme apples and Bosc pears from Yonder Farm. Next week, you’ll get Yonder’s Jonagold apples and the Borden’s cider.

We have been removing spent tomato plants from our “caterpillar” greenhouses this week. We take out the old vines in order to make room for the winter greens we’ll plant next week. The volume of plant matter we’ve removed so far is huge, nearly doubling the size of our compost piles. We have organized those piles into windrows. We start the tomato vines composting in a way that reminds me of how we use a sourdough starter to make bread. We place the fresh green material on the ground, forming a new windrow, then cover it lightly with a layer of compost from the windrow next door. That compost is full of the microorganisms that get the process underway. In a few weeks, we’ll turn the compost for the first time, adding other organic materials, including old straw, hay, weeds and culled vegetables. The process is a slow one, taking an entire season from start to finish. The pile we are starting now is for next year’s fall crops. By the time we have tuned the compost six or eight times, the pile has taken on a uniform dark brown color, and it no longer looks or smells anything like the waste vegetables and plant matter that it is composed of. Once it’s spread, the compost will transform these tired greenhouse soils, restoring them to the healthy condition farmers call good tilth, and giving our winter greens a good start.

Have a great week, Ted

CBCSA Newsletter: September 28th Week A

It’s a Week A Pick-Up This Thursday, September 28th!

Order your Lewis Waite orders by Tuesday morning at 9 am!

This week’s share:
-Spinach
-Broccoli
-Carrots
-Herbs (choose between dill or cilantro),
-Tomatoes
-Chiles
-‘Salanova’ lettuce
-Your choice of cooking greens (Swiss chard, tatsoi or Dinosaur kale)
-Green beans (this variety is called ‘Valentino’)
-Your choice of one or two additional veggies from a list that includes cabbages, sweet peppers, eggplants and summer squashes. Your broccoli might have little green worms – do not fear, they are easily washed off.

Your fruit will be Paula Red apples. Bartlett pears, the Borden Farm’s apple cider, perhaps some plums, and more apples to come.

CSA News from Windflower Farm

Delivery #17, September 26 and 28, 2017

This week’s share: Spinach, broccoli, carrots, herbs (chose between dill or cilantro), tomatoes, chiles, “Salanova’ lettuce, your choice of cooking greens (Swiss chard, tatsoi or Dinosaur kale), green beans (this variety is called ‘Valentino’) and your choice of one or two additional veggies from a list that includes cabbages, sweet peppers, eggplants and summer squashes. Your broccoli might have little green worms – do not fear, they are easily washed off. Next week, you’ll get winter squashes and potatoes, but, because this unusually warm weather has prolonged the summer crop season, you’ll also get sweet corn and green beans and tomatoes. It’s been an odd year from a farmer’s perspective: yesterday’s 90-plus-degree temperature was the first day over 90 degrees since mid-June. The spring was cold and wet, the summer cool, and the late summer and start of fall have been strangely warm. Your fruit share will consist of apples. Pears and the Borden’s apple cider will be coming soon.

We don’t waste much at Windflower Farm. Everything that we can send to you, we do send. We don’t go to other markets – we are exclusively a CSA. About one in ten of our shares – our “pantry shares” – go to soup kitchens and soup pantries. The balance of our shares go to neighborhood CSAs like yours. Nothing is wasted in the CSA distribution model. We don’t bring home any unsold crops that have to be tossed out. When you can’t get to the pickup site, your share is hauled off to a nearby soup kitchen where it is used and much appreciated by your neighbors in need. If a harvest is of “seconds” quality here, we donate it to the food pantry in town. If a vegetable is harvested and then the processing team here culls it, it goes to our compost heap (a picture of which has just been posted to our Instagram page), from which it is returned to the soil as “fertilizer.” And if it isn’t good enough to harvest, it is returned to the soil in much the same way that a cover crop is turned under to feed the soil. Cover crops and compost provide nearly 100% of the fertility of our soils here, so they are subjects we take seriously. But we are also serious about waste. I’m curious, how much of the food you take home is wasted? Please let me know, and let me know what we can do in terms of crop selection, quantities and handling to help.

Like many people who work at home, I like to get away every now and then. Last weekend, I spent the day in a lot alongside Town Farm Bay, on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain, where I have been restoring a 40-year old sailboat its previous owner named ‘Destiny’. There is certainly something therapeutic about working with wood (I have been oiling the teak and painting the ceiling) and giving new life to something so long neglected, but I look forward to that point when my therapy takes on a slightly different shape: to casting off, hoisting the main and jib, watching the sails fill with an easy wind, and sitting back. The old boat is up on blocks, but with a little more work, it should be ready for the water next year. I took a break to paddle my canoe in a nearby backwater. A Foam IPA, a nap, and a swim later, and I was back to work on Destiny. The Dog Days of summer.

Here’s hoping your Dog Days are as enjoyable as mine, Ted

Newly turned compost soon to be ready

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CBCSA Newsletter: September 21st Week B

It’s a Week B Pick-Up This Thursday, September 21st!

We still really need extra plastic bags,
please bring any extras you have to pick up this Thursday!

This week’s share:
-Carrots
-Sweet peppers or sweet corn (beware the worms; cut the tip off before removing the husk)
-Yellow and patty pan squashes
-Yellow onions
-Tomatoes
-Cilantro
-Chiles
-Salanova lettuce
-Collards
-Your choice of Swiss chard or Red Russian kale
-Your choice between beets, eggplants and cabbages.

Your fruit will be Paula Red apples. Bartlett pears, the Borden Farm’s apple cider, perhaps some plums, and more apples to come.

CSA News from Windflower Farm

Delivery #16, September 19 and 21, 2017

We have begun pulling the black plastic mulch from the vegetable beds that have stopped producing. We grow squashes, cucumbers, onions, and garlic, among other crops, on plastic mulch and those crops have run their course. The mulch suppresses weeds, conserves nutrients and water and helps warm the soil. Certified organic production in the USA requires the use of plastic mulch over the biodegradable mulch permitted in Canadian and European organics. The biodegradable mulch, which looks, feels and functions just like the plastic stuff, contains a small amount of petroleum, and the USDA has decided organic farmers should not use it. Instead, they would prefer we use plastic mulch and send it to a landfill. I’m not sure it’s the right tradeoff. Wanting to abide by the organic rules, we have been using the plastic product. But it is awful to pick up, expensive to dispose of and fills up landfills. I suspect that we’ll have a truly biodegradable product in the future. In the meantime, we’ll simply mulch less, or mulch with something else. Straw, perhaps, or a living mulch like ryegrass or clover.

A gentle and welcome rain has begun to fall just as we are wrapping up our day and we all got a little wet. Adam got wet taking out the compost – the detritus remaining from our vegetable processing – but he didn’t seem to mind. Nate got wet moving a tractor from behind the box truck. Don, our driver, is not really a morning person, and Nate thought he might not see it when pulling out in the morning. He was already wet from head to toe because he had been washing greens all day. Heidi got wet putting potting soil in a planter from home. Andrea was already wet. She had been washing tubs outside the processing shed when the rain began, and may not have even noticed. She has the best rain gear of anyone on the farm. The Medinas and their boys were working in the corn patch when the rain came. They came racing back to the barn in their old golf carts. It was quitting time anyway, and they saw no reason to get any more wet. But they didn’t seem to mind either – the day was unusually hot for September. Jan just came in the door. It had been raining much harder in Greenwich, where she was getting supplies, and she was disappointed in how little it appeared we’d get. “Just enough to keep the dust down.” We have been irrigating through much of the last two weeks, and she was hoping for a break. I got wet, too. We had come up short in our eggplant harvest, and I dashed out to pick another two dozen fruits. Happily, refreshingly wet. When it has been dry on your vegetable farm, rainfall is a relief. It is still raining – a fragrant, gentle rain – and it might just be enough. A rain to send our carrot roots deeper, and a little straighter. A rain for an afternoon nap.

Have a great week, Ted

This Week: Umbrella House Apothecary Visit!

New Date!: September 21st

On September 21st, Parker from Umbrella House Apothecary will be visiting distribution to offer samples, and sell her handmade herbal products including herbal teas, salves, and tinctures. She mostly uses herbs she grows herself in her NYC rooftop garden! Bring cash to purchase that day or pre-order from her website for pickup on Sept. 21.
https://umbrellahouseapothecary.wordpress.com/

On site she’ll have:
– Syrups:
– Elderberry Syrup
– Ginger Syrup
– Herbal Teas (packages of 1 dozen hand-prepared tea bags)
– Nerve Support tea (Nettles, Oats, Damiana, Lemon Balm)
– Immune Support tea (Hibiscus, Rose Hips, Mint, Astragalus)
– Lung Support tea (Mullein, Elecampane, Thyme, Tulsi, Eucalyptus, Licorice, Peppermint, Ginger)
– Extracts: Dandelion, Nettle, Bitters, Elder Flower, Burdock, Calendula, Passion Flower, Burdock, California Poppy, Lemon Balm
– Salves:
– Repair Salve (skin healing salve with Calendula, Comfrey, Plantain, Yarrow, Lavender)
– Chest Clearing Salve (Eucalyptus, Thyme, Lavender, Peppermint, Tea Tree Oil, Olive Oil, Shea Butter, Beeswax)
– Dry bulk herbs

A Jar of Umbrella House Apothecary Healing Slave

CBCSA Newsletter: September 14th Week A

It’s a Week A Pick-Up This Thursday, September 14th!

We still really need extra plastic bags,
please bring any extras you have to pick up this Thursday!

This week’s share:
-Carrots
-Dill
-Various Tomatoes
-Bicolor sweet corn
-Onions
-Potatoes
-Beans (in most cases)
-A mustard mix
-Your choice of kale or Swiss chard, and more. (Some makeup shares may be available for people who weren’t able to get one of the choices last week)

-Your fruit share will be Zeststar apples.

CSA News from Windflower Farm

Delivery #15, September 12 and 14, 2017

We are entering the final third of the CSA season. This is a transitional period at the farm. By the end of September, the crops of summer will have given way to the crops of fall. The cool weather will make our tomatoes and basil disappear first, and then our beans and sweet corn. Frost typically arrives here in the last week of September and, by October, shares become dominated by winter squashes, root crops and hardy greens.

What’s to come in the weeks ahead? Beets and cabbage (along with eggplant) will continue to show up as a weekly choice (has that been working out?), and onions and potatoes will make regular appearances. After a late start, you can expect carrots to arrive every week, beginning this week. For now, we have summer squashes, but acorn and Delicata squashes will show up soon, once curing in the greenhouse has converted their starches into sugars. Butternuts, which require more time to mature, will arrive soon afterwards (we began harvesting them today). Leeks and sweet potatoes will be in your final four deliveries. They both need more time to attain the size we are looking for, and, in the case of the sweet potatoes, they also require a period of curing. Yesterday, we transplanted just over 25,000 seedlings, among the last we’ll put in the field this year. These will be the salad and cooking greens in your October shares and the first greens in the winter share. I’ll miss the crops of summer, but I enjoy fall weather and the foods that go with it.

We have seeded all of our winter greens in the greenhouse, and we’ll transplant them once we remove the tomato plants from our greenhouses and caterpillar tunnels and rework the soil.

We are currently getting three crops in place for next year: strawberries, onions and garlic. For strawberries, we’ve “harvested” the daughter plants – the plantlets at the end of the little runners you see in a strawberry field – and are now rooting them in the greenhouse. We’ll plant them in a week or so, mulch them in October to protect their crowns against frost heaving, ignore them until weeding in May, and harvest in June.

Like many garlic growers, we start over with fresh planting stock every couple of years. Garlic is susceptible to a number of problems caused by small creepy-crawlies like bulb mites and the fungus, Fusarium, and it’s a good idea to get a new start every so often. Ed Fraser, a master garlic grower, something that has come from years of attention to just one crop, is providing us with 300 lb of German White, a porcelain, and 200 lb of German Red, a spicy Rocambol. These are both “hardneck” garlic types, which means they produce their cloves around a central core from which a stalk of scapes emerges. Once we receive the garlic bulbs, we’ll break them into cloves, which we’ll plant right after the strawberries. The clove goes on to produce a new bulb in the year after it’s planted. And planting onions, the third crop we are putting in place for next year, follows immediately on the heels of garlic planting, and the technique is identical to that of garlic. The fall planting of onions is still relatively new here, but I’ve become a big fan. They perform better than spring-sown onions and the work takes place when things are beginning to slow down here instead of during the busy spring planting season.

Have a good week, Ted