CSA News from Windflower Farm – Week 17

CSA News from Windflower Farm

Delivery #17, Week of September 24th, 2018

This week’s share. Lettuce, radicchio, Dinosaur kale, cilantro, chiles, tomatoes, sweet peppers, leeks, delicata squash, beans, potatoes and carrots. Your sweet potatoes need another week in our greenhouse to sweeten – you’ll see them beginning next week. Nearly 100% of the vegetables in your shares are from our farm, and all are organic, but this week’s carrots are not ours. Our carrot crop was a failure. These carrots are from Brian and Justine Denison’s farm, and are certified organic.

Pete tells me his apples have been slow to develop color, which I gather is the final step in their development prior to harvest. I will not know for another day what Pete will have for your fruit share, but it will likely be something from his late plum crop.

Summer vegetables have begun to disappear with the arrival of fall. You’ll be getting the last of our beans this week or next. You’ve likely already had the last of our summer squashes and cucumbers and corn. Tomatoes are slowing down, and they’ll soon be removed to make greenhouse space for the greens that will fill out winter shares. But there are good things to come. The final six shares of this season will be comprised of sweet potatoes and potatoes, red and yellow onions and leeks, carrots and beets, winter squashes and various greens, including radicchio, endive, lettuce, arugula, kales, chard, koji and a mustard mix. You’ll also get more garlic and some fennel and celeriac.

We are beginning to prepare for cold weather here. We’ll be able to put up wood for the spring heating season, but we are too late for our winter supply. So, we’ve called Bob Bassett, the man who occasionally provides us with wood for the stoves that heat our workshop and cabin. Bob loaded four full cords onto his trailer by himself today and brought them over. He would have come earlier in the week, he said, but he had a fifty acre field of corn that he wanted to chop before the rain came. It’s a big project for anyone, but Bob is just shy of 80. He wears mutton chops and has bright blue eyes. He is someone Robert Frost or Leo Tolstoy might conjure. He’s one of those country gentlemen that I can’t help but admire. He is as happy at his work and in his place in the world as anyone I’ve met. It’s the simple things, he says. He tells me he has a wife who loves him, a nice little workshop off the barn and a view of the Helderbergs and the Berkshires from the high field where he splits his wood. The four cords are now stacked and covered, and it feels good to know we are a little more prepared for the coming cold.

Have a great week, Ted

CSA News from Windflower Farm – Week 16

CSA News from Windflower Farm

Delivery #16, Week of September 17th, 2018

This week’s share. You’ll get arugula, Winterbor kale, mustard mix, and sweet potato leaves. Your share will also include radishes, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, potatoes and delicata squash. Next week, you’ll get carrots, more delicata squashes, leeks and a variety of greens, among other vegetables. This week’s fruit will be Zest Star apples. Next week it might be plums.

The delicata squash in your share is unlikely to last, so eat it up! Delicata is my favorite squash. I simply cut them lengthwise, clean out their seed cavity, place them cut side down on a moistened cookie sheet or pie dish to catch the juices, and bake at 350 to 375 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, until fork soft. Their skins are edible. My mom would serve winter squashes with butter and maple sugar, but I don’t usually use anything. Delicatas can also be cut into smaller chunks and roasted alone or among a medley of vegetables.

We began our sweet potato harvest last week, and several large totes are now curing in the greenhouse. We’ll post images of the harvest on our Instagram page in the next week or so. They taste best after having been cured in a warm, moist environment for eight or ten days. We used the tractor to place the heavy totes near the greenhouse heater, then flooded the floor to achieve 99-100% humidity, and cranked up the heat to achieve a temperature of 80 degrees. During this brief period of time, the starch in the tubers will be transformed into sugar, making them ready to eat. We’ll send some sweet potatoes next week. In the meantime, we are sending bunched sweet potato leaves. They are a mild, slightly bitter green that can be used as a substitute for kale or Swiss chard in any dish.

Have a great week, Ted

CSA News from Windflower Farm – Week 15

CSA News from Windflower Farm

Delivery #15, Week of September 10th, 2018

This week’s share. Arugula, spinach, Swiss chard (hurray, we are into greens again!), sweet corn, garlic, potatoes, scallions, radishes, tomatoes and peppers. Your fruit share will consist of Pete’s peaches and our baby watermelons. Next week, you’ll get the first of our leeks and delicata squashes. You’ll also get some combination of kale, arugula, lettuce and a mustard mix. Next week’s fruit is likely to be apples. Pears and cider will be coming soon.

Notes from the farm. Last week, we harvested most of our pie pumpkins and acorn, delicata and butternut squashes, and they are now curing in our largest greenhouse. The curing environment will help harden their skins and provide time and warmth for the conversion of their starches into sugars. We harvested the squashes into 20-bushel totes that we lined with hardware cloth to keep any creatures out. They’ll be in shares soon. This week, we have been planting the strawberries that we’ll harvest next June. These are large projects, and I’ll be glad to have them behind us.

We’ve also been irrigating again. In fact, we await a good rain before we can undertake the next field project – fall onion and garlic planting. At this point, the ground is too hard to sink my plow into. We are in another stretch of dry weather, and when our soil becomes dry, it becomes concrete-hard. We are nearly a month away from garlic planting, and almost two from onion planting, so there is no reason to be worried, but I’d like to get started. Two big wet-weather systems appear to be headed our way this week and we are hoping for rain from one of them.

I made good on a promise to take our farm crew sailing on Saturday. It was clear, cold and windy, and the seven of us, well bundled and packed tight in my little boat, really enjoyed ourselves, with Bonnie, Julia and me each taking turns at the helm.

While we await better field conditions, we will be starting on the construction of a shed roof on our equipment barn. It’s a simple project – we’ll set five posts on the footings we poured last summer, install the carrying beams and cross braces, then set the rafters against the existing barn, add purlins and, finally, install the steel roofing. The two guys who will do the work – TB and my son, Nate – think it will take them three or four weeks. It will be great to have all of our equipment under cover before the snow flies.

Have a great week, Ted

CSA News from Windflower Farm: Delivery #14

CSA News from Windflower Farm

Delivery #14, Week of September 3rd, 2018

This week’s share. The last of our Genovese basil (use it quickly, it’s already showing symptoms of downy mildew), tomatoes, peppers, yellow onions, miscellaneous potatoes, various red lettuces, Mei Qing choy, sweet corn (you might want to cut tips off prior to husking to remove any caterpillars), green beans and zucchinis or pattypans or cucumbers. Your fruit will be Yonder’s peaches. Next week, you should see many of the same items plus radishes, arugula, garlic and Swiss chard or a salad mix. Kale should be coming the week after that. During September, summer vegetables will give way to the leeks, winter squashes, sweet potatoes, root crops and the greens of fall.

Notes from the farm. On this weekend during which some of us are celebrating or bemoaning or simply looking for work, we feel gratitude for having work that we love in a place we love. It is not always easy, and it’s often frustrating, but what work isn’t. Today, Labor Day, we are at the farm preparing for Tuesday’s deliveries, but in good spirits, in part because we spent the weekend away, not thinking about farming, in pursuit of leisure and recreation.

A few years ago, I bought a 40-year old sailboat in Amityville, on Long Island, and sailed it through New York Harbor, up the Hudson River and Champlain Canal, and on to Lake Champlain, where it is now tethered to a mooring. I’ve been restoring it with my oldest friend, Frank. It is an old boat, purchased cheap, that still needs a fair amount of work, but it’s now fully rigged and has functional berths, a galley and a head. It’s a floating tiny house with a sail. It’s a retreat to a wild, watery world from the domesticated landscape of the farm.

Nate, TB, Jan and I drove to Lake Champlain for the weekend, our first visit since late June. On the drive north we passed maples with a few leaves already turning orange. The winds were a steady 20 mph from the south, producing large swells and fast sailing. I’ve promised to take the rest of the farm staff for a sail this coming Saturday. It is wonderful to have good work, but it’s also great to get away from it once in a while. I hope your Labor Day celebration was a good one!

This week’s farm work: harvesting and packing the week #14 share, weeding the fall broccoli, planting the next succession of greens (arugula, mustard mix, kale mix, Koji, lettuces and choy), harvesting the winter squashes and preparing the land for (and planting, if possible) next year’s strawberries.

Best wishes, Ted

Join the Core Group

We are seeking new members for the Central Brooklyn CSA Core Group.

Our Core Values are:

  • Food Justice
  • Healthy
  • Sustainable
  • Accessible
  • Known/Local Source
  • Community
  • Cooperative/Non-Profit
  • Local Relationships
  • Inclusive/Welcoming
  • Visionary/Expansive
  • Culture
  • Joy – Fun – Friendliness – Love
  • Authenticity – Integrity – Respect
  • Trust – Fairness – Social Justice – Human
  • Openness – Transparency – Communication

Our responsibility to our community is to set pricing and manage distribution, honoring the needs of our community.

Our responsibility to the farm is to communicate our needs, set expectations, and respond to what they need, as we collaborate on managing membership in our CSA.

Our responsibility to ourselves as a core group is to communicate clearly, using sustainable practices that honor our capacity as a whole.

Core group members are responsible for:

  • Overseeing site coordination 4-5 times per season
  • Attending meetings approximately monthly (year-round)
  • Helping promote the CSA
  • Supporting the CSA through a variety of activities that may include: outreach, community events, volunteer coordination, writing the newsletter, coordinate with the farm, or other activities.

Core group members receive a half share of vegetables for their service.

If you are interested in joining the core group, contact us at centralbrooklyncsa@gmail.com

CSA News from Windflower Farm: Delivery #12

CSA News from Windflower Farm

Delivery #12, Week of August 20th, 2018

This week’s share. The packing shed is buzzing this morning. The team is harvesting and sorting basil, tomatoes, sweet peppers, onions or more large scallions, red leaf lettuce, red or yellow potatoes, sweet corn (unless you’ve had it for two weeks in a row), zucchinis and cabbage. The basil is ‘Genovese’ and will come in a larger, pesto making bunch. Downy mildew, a disease that overwinters in the South and arrives each August to ruin our basil crop, arrived last week. There is nothing that can be done to prevent the loss. Greenhouses can slow it down, but not always. We saw it first on the potted Thai basil in our greenhouse, but the field crop is still fine. Enjoy it while you can, we’ll send it while we have it. There will be a lot of tomatoes. Freezing is the very quickest way to preserve them: chop, place in a plastic freezer bag and slip into the freezer.

This delivery, our twelfth, marks the first in the second half of our season. You can expect your shares to consist of more of the same for the next several weeks, but with some additional variety in the form of beans and carrots and greens. Chiles and cilantro will also be coming soon. In the fall, as summer crops give way, you’ll get sweet potatoes, leeks, broccoli, red onions, shallots and a variety of winter squashes, including acorn, butternut and delicata.

Your fruit will be Yonder Farm’s peaches. Naomi, our delivery coordinator, had one last week and said it was delicious. Upstate peaches can be hit or miss – I’m hoping they are a hit. Please let me know.

What’s new on the farm?

A few tidbits.

The last of our student employees are returning to school this week. The farm open house will be their send-off party. Aaron, my nephew, returns to UVM to resume his studies in mechanical engineering, where he’ll pursue his enthusiasm for implements geared to small scale farmers. Naomi is off to Southern Vermont College where she studies history. You might have had the occasion to meet her unloading vegetables at your CSA site. Sarah is back at Hunter where she is studying painting, but not without leaving us with a large landscape that hangs in our staff lunchroom. And Bonnie is starting at Castleton State where she is a music major. I’ll miss the sound of the recorder she was practicing in our barn every morning. In fact, I’ll miss all of them for their bright, friendly faces, their enthusiasm for farming, and, not least, their strong young backs.

You might wonder how we’ll manage to perform the work necessary to fill your CSA shares for the rest of the season. Reinforcement has come from two directions. Now that the flower share is winding down, Jan and Sara will join the vegetable team, and two new hires, Claire and Jacob, both recent transplants to the country from NYC, have joined the team for the fall. And, of course, the Medina family is still with us.

We’ve just harvested the last of our summer cabbages and tucked them away in our cooler. And we’ve begun the work of the onion and potato harvests. We return the residues of these crops, along with any weeds that have grown with them, to the soil as quickly as we can. It’s cover cropping time and the cabbage and onion fields and several fallow fields will be the first to get their mixes of rye and hairy vetch.

Lastly, on Sunday, Jan, Nate and I participated in an annual tradition here at the farm: We relocated our three outhouses to fresh locations. I mention this because it is part of open house preparations. We’ve also been mowing and putting up lights and preparing food. We hope you can join us this weekend.

Best wishes, Ted and the gang

CSA News from Windflower Farm

CSA News from Windflower Farm

Delivery #11, Week of August 14th, 2018

This week’s share. You’ll get red ‘Magenta’ lettuce, ‘Red Norland’ potatoes, a bunch of large scallions, a couple of sweet peppers, various tomatoes, a ‘Genovese’ basil bunch, a ‘Tendersweet’ cabbage head, a small bulb of ‘German Red’ garlic, a handful of summer squashes or cucumbers, and either sweet corn, beets or eggplants, depending on your site. Your fruit share will contain our organic cantaloupes and Yonder Farm’s plums.

Notes from the farm. This week, Andrea, our membership coordinator, writes about our farm staff.

Every summer, Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) in Saratoga Springs, hosts the world class Philadelphia Orchestra in the month of August. Going to a performance or two is always a highlight of my summer, a welcome respite from the world of farming.

That being said, farming is never far from my mind even during a classical music performance. In fact, growing delicious food is a lot like making beautiful music – both require a group of skilled, committed people working together for a greater cause: a healthy, happy community.

So, without further ado, presenting the Windflower Symphony!

At the helm, Farmer Ted deftly conducts us with a carrot in one hand and a coffee mug in the other.

Ted’s son and concertmaster, Nate, graces us with the fundamental tunes and tunings of the tractors, pumps, and cultivators, and of honorable mention, the plasma cutter.

Julia, principal second violin (but first in field coordination) adds the strums, thumps, and hums of transplanting as well as the inevitable grunts of weeding, accompanied with aplomb by the American field crew strings – Bonnie, Sarah M., and Heidi.

The Medinas – Martin, Martin Junior, Jesus, Candelaria, Angelica, Salvador, and Daniel – all hailing from Mexico – compose our harvest, tunnel, and field strings. Among their many other stylings, the snapping of rubber bands on greens bunches and twirls of twine on tomato plants give force, depth, and resonance to each score, most assuredly, with Mariachi flair.

Leading our brass washing and packing section, Victoria on first trumpet, calls us to action. The exuberant renderings from her and her companions (Naomi, Angela, Sarah M., Heidi, and Bonnie) are, after much splashing, most reflective in the polish and shine of their vegetables.

At the ever ready on percussion, Aaron and Terry, marvel us with their workings of power tools and washers, of tractors and mowers, and of curious noises no one can pinpoint.

But where would we be without the bright, beautiful trills from Jan and Sara D., our flower flutist and oboist? Or without the sweet clucks of chickens on piccolos as they lay countless eggs, thanks to Alan Davis? Lest we forget the deep sound of a bassoon, rich and warm as a sun-ripened berry from Pete way out Yonder. Indeed, these woodwinds are far from optional.

Season tickets are available in the spring; please contact Andrea, membership coordinator. Our performances would also not be possible without the many who set the stage – our dedicated core group members – nor without Don and Naomi, who, literally, bring the show to you.

Last but not least, we must thank you, our audience, friends, and season-ticket shareholders. Your support feeds our passion and our bellies – your applause is always appreciated. Please join us on August 25-26. It’s time to celebrate!

Have a great week! Ted and Andrea