Distribution 13, September 1 and 3, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello from Windflower Farm, where the weather has turned pleasantly cool and wet.  

What’s in your share?

  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Onions
  • Beans
  • Dill
  • and something from our mystery tote

Your fruit share will include our watermelons or Pete’s peaches. Rosemary and potatoes will be coming next week, if our harvesting machinery works properly, along with edamame, cilantro and chiles.   

What’s new on the farm?

On Saturday, a tornado passed just a few miles south of here, leaving downed trees and power lines, and dropping over 3 inches of rain across the area. I believe one person was hurt and some roofs were damaged. A photo taken in nearby Schaghticoke, with a friend’s house in the foreground and the funnel cloud behind it, reminds me of my childhood, when we would watch tornados from my grandmother’s front porch in Illinois. It took a path nearly identical to the one it took 23 years ago, following first the Mohawk River Valley and then jumping the Hudson to the Hoosic River, giving some credence to the curious notion that storms follow water. Several of us were texting back and forth, aware that our greenhouses can become giant spinnakers if the storm gets hold of them. In an ordinary year, this would have been an open house weekend at the farm. We might all have been huddled in our cellar, tents blowing in the wind.

This time of year, we do most of our planting and weeding on Thursdays and Fridays. The remainder of the week is spent harvesting and packing. We had an all day rain here on Thursday and, although there was much to do in the field, we retreated to the indoors for seeding, garlic trimming and machinery repair. The Medina family, clustered together in our new barn, spent much of the day listening to Mariachi music, the accordion and brass instruments blazing in their upbeat way, even when the lyrics are often sad. They also played recordings of several Mexican comedians, whose Spanish was way too fast for me to understand, but who had them in stitches. Their laughter and their apparent enjoyment of one another is a joy to watch. Before the need to take precautions against the pandemic, we all ate together in a big kitchen in the barn, where Wednesdays were potluck. So far this summer, we have not shared a single meal, and I think we all feel diminished for it. Food transcends language and brings us together, and I think we all miss that part of our working lives here. I imagine that you miss that in your lives, too. I find it good to keep in mind that it will not always be this way. 

Have a great week, Ted

Distribution #12, Week of August 24, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

Greetings from Windflower Farm. This week’s CSA distribution marks the first of the second half of the season. What’s to come? You’ll receive another six or seven weeks of summer vegetables – tomatoes, corn, squashes, beans – and then, with the change in weather, you’ll get several weeks of fall vegetables, including winter squashes, leeks, carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Keep in mind that the season is 22 weeks long. This year, it will come to an end during election week. Your fruit shares will include the peaches, plums and melons of summer for some time to come, then, when summer is over and the growing season winds down, we’ll wrap up the fruit share with pears, apples and cider. The fruit share lasts 20 weeks.     

This week’s share

  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Sweet corn
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant on Tuesday, onions on Thursday
  • Squashes or cucumbers
  • Green beans
  • Lettuce – Romaine on Tuesday, Redleaf on Thursday
  • Cabbage

Your fruit share will be either our watermelons or Pete’s plums. Carrots will be coming very soon, I promise, as will potatoes and Rosemary and the return of salad greens. 

The changes that we’ve made in our packing shed in response to Covid-19 have caused us to make some errors. All of this packing is new for us. I am sorry if you’ve missed out on some items. We’ll do our best to make them up to you. And we are working hard to get our systems up to speed so as to avoid shortages in the future.

What’s new at Windflower Farm?

In the past, onion topping had consumed much of our time this time of year. But this year, things will be different, at least that’s the hope. Farmers, forever attracted to machinery that reduces physical labor, long ago developed cutting tables that removed onion tops and roots from bulbs, but we have never owned one. Imagine a pair of 48 inch rolling pins working side by side and turning in opposite directions. Now imagine that each of them is made of heavy steel and has a cutting blade spiraling along its length. The roller pairs are set on the table so that their front or top ends are higher than their bottom ends, causing a bulb to move along the length of the rollers. As it travels, the bulb remains on top of the rollers but its roots and leaves occasionally get pulled down between them and are cut off by the spiraling blades. As you can imagine, it is a machine that requires safety guards. 

An onion topper came up for sale on my local farmer list-serve. It was sold within nine minutes. A Vermont farmer offered to put one in a container he was having brought in from the Netherlands, but I declined. In the Northeast, with the rare exception of small farms like ours, onions are produced on muck soils, and those are found in just a few pockets in New York, Ontario and Quebec, which is where I concentrated my search for a topper of our own. On Thursday of last week, I travelled to onion country in Quebec to pick up an onion topper I found through an equipment dealership. The border crossing was not exactly smooth. There was a committee of three looking me over closely. “Were you not aware that the border has been closed for weeks?” “Why didn’t you buy one in the states?” “What does it do?” “Why didn’t you have it shipped?” And so on. To which I responded: “Yes, but agriculture is an exempt industry, they are unavailable in the states, they remove onion leaves, and shipping would have cost a fortune.” They must have concluded that it was an unlikely pretext for doing anything nefarious because they let me across.

My topper was at Fermes Farnham, a huge onion and carrot operation in the small village of Sainte-Sabine. If you are a fan of Louise Penny novels, you’ll be familiar with the landscape I passed through. French speaking, largely Catholic, agricultural, flat as a pancake with the exception of little lakes and hummocks here and there. Four men who claimed to speak no english at all, which may have been true, helped me load the topper onto my truck. We were all concerned when it appeared my tires might all blow out from the weight of the thing, but eventually decided it would be fine. Before I left, they allowed me to climb around on their new harvester – bright red and a story and a half tall – so that I could see how a topper is set up to work. I crossed back into the states at Rouses Point, where the border agent quizzed me about growing his favorite vegetables – Brussels sprouts and parsnips – which we don’t grow. I was unsure if I would be let back in. Back home, I’ve begun to assemble the parts that should enable me to get the onion topper up and running in the next couple of weeks. I’ll be curious to know if you can see the difference – I know we will.

Have a great week, Ted

Distribution #10 – Week of August 10, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello from Windflower Farm. Last Tuesday’s tropical storm, Isaias, dropped just over three inches of rain here, replenishing both of our ponds in dramatic fashion (see our Instagram page) and giving our farm it’s very first all-day rain of the season. I know that in New York you were battling high winds and heavy rains on that day, and I stayed in close touch with our delivery team to hear how things were playing out, but I also had the first deep rest in a long while that afternoon, knowing the good that a much reduced Isaias was delivering to our little farm. We are irrigating now from a pond that was bone dry just a week ago.

What’s in your share?

  • Swiss chard
  • Toscano kale
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Cucumbers on Tuesday, squashes on Thursday
  • Beets
  • Sweet corn
  • Onions
  • Garlic

Your fruit share will be peaches from Yonder Farm

What’s new on the farm?

Bill McKibbon wrote recently that, at current levels, warming is happening at a rate that can be likened to moving south 12 miles every year. As a farmer, I imagine ten years of this, and then twenty. I’ll be farming in a lower Hudson Valley climate soon, and then in South Jersey’s. The corn, tomato and squash season will be four weeks longer, and then eight. We’ll be growing peaches and red, seedless table grapes. And then I think of the heat. Already Jan threatens to leave here, searching for a more hospitable climate – coastal Newfoundland, perhaps, or Reykjavik, which she hears is nice. And I think of the concern a fruit grower shared with me: warm early springs, which result in early blooms, coupled with occasional spring freezes that threaten an early crop, actually make peach and plum crops far less reliable as the world warms. And I think of the flooding along the coasts and the dislocation of millions of people.

When we work the soil, CO2 is released, making organic farmers complicit in the largest contribution farmers as a whole make to greenhouse gas emissions. Planting kale or lettuce or carrots requires a nearly perfect bed, which requires tillage. But when we plant a sod, sow cover crops or replant woodlands, we can, on the other hand, sequester carbon. Minimizing carbon-burning tillage and maximizing steps that help sequester carbon are two of the most promising steps we can take toward slowing the warming of our planet, and at Windflower Farm there is much more we can do along these lines.

Some scientists believe that agriculture can be made carbon-neutral with perennial crops, reduced tillage, management-intensive grazing and agroforestry, among other things. We’ll be a while in achieving this, but I am heartened when I attend conferences and see so many young farmers attending sessions on reducing tillage and soil health. The tool I’m saving for is a roller/crimper. It rolls a cover crop down, turning it into a weed-suppressive mulch, into which we can transplant all kinds of vegetable crops without any kind of tillage at all. Next year, I hope to be able to report that your sweet corn and broccoli and ‘Delicata’ squash were grown using reduced tillage practices.

Best wishes, Ted

Windflower Farm Weekend Carpool

Interested in attending the Windflower Farm Weekend August 25-26th, but don’t have transportation? Want to car pool? Looking for other ideas? Consider the following:

Sign up to request or share seats on our CBCSA CAR POOL website!
Rent a Car2Go, Zipcar, etc and get a few friends from the aforementioned CBCSA Car pool website to defray the costs.

Take Metro North to Poughkeepsie or other areas north of the city and rent a (typically much cheaper) car from there.
Get a group together to rent a van

CBCSA Newsletter: August 17th Week A

It’s a Week A Pick up This Thursday, August 17th!

This week’s share:

  • Tomatoes
  • ‘Genovese’ Basil
  • ‘Magenta’ Lettuce
  • Garlic
  • Yellow Onions
  • Bi-Color Sweet Corn
  • Green Snap Beans (Still Hand Picked!)
  • Your Choice of Kale or Spinach
  • Your Choice Between ‘Carumba’ Cabbage, ‘Zephyr’ Summer Squash, Sweet Peppers, or Eggplant.
  • Your Fruit: Peaches!!!

Potatoes are coming soon. Melons are just around the corner.

The next Lewis Waite Delivery is August 31st. Did you know that you can place an order and edit it up to a few days before delivery? Helpful advice for those who sometimes forget to order until it’s too late (I know I have).

CSA News from Windflower

Farm Delivery #11, August 15 and 17, 2017
I’ve discovered podcasts! Sure, you’ve been listening to podcasts for years, but, as some of you know, good internet service is only just arriving in rural places, including here in Upstate New York. I’m finding all kinds of good stuff: a new favorite is Invisabilia, where two women explore the hidden forces behind why we behave the way we do. A little more to the point of this newsletter is the Farmer to Farmer podcast by Iowa farmer Chris Blanchard, who interviews small-scale organic farmers (and others) from all over North America. In one recent episode, Chris spoke with Simon Huntley, a software engineer whose company, Small Farm Central, hosts the online CSA sign-ups of more than a thousand CSAs. He has gathered all kinds of data related to CSAs and shareholder experiences and has a good deal to say about why some succeed and others fail. I think he is every bit as invested as we are in seeing the CSA movement grow, and to do that, he says, it (we) must learn new ways to better meet the needs and wishes of CSA members.

The few subjects he believes farmers should pay particular attention to are food value, farm communication, food choices and authenticity. (In last week’s New Yorker piece about the singer Lorde, I learned that it is “smoldering authenticity,” in particular, that people are after!) Choice is something I hope we can improve upon. You may have noticed that this week’s share entails choices among more than just the greens. Inspired by Simon’s comments, beyond deciding between spinach and kale, you’ll be asked to choose between cabbages, squashes, eggplants and peppers. If we find that giving you options like this is popular, and doesn’t create too many difficulties, we’ll do it more often over the second half of the season. Please, let me know what you think (tedblomgren@gmail.com).

Have a great week, Ted

Farm Trip this Weekend! CBCSA Newsletter: August 3rd Week A

It’s a Week A Pick up This Thursday, August 3rd!

This week’s share:
No news from the farm this week, but will likely be very similar to last week’s share!

Please don’t forget to RSVP for the farm trip this weekend if you’re planning to go! RSVP to tedblomgren@gmail.com. Camping on the farm is encouraged – all kinds of sites are available within an easy walk of the barns, running water, toilets and electricity. Kids and leashed pets are welcome. Please bring a dish to pass for the Saturday evening potluck.

Saturday, August 5th:
CSA members are welcome to arrive any time after noon.
2:00 pm: First Windflower Farm tour with Ted (tractor and wagon ride)
3:30 pm: Snacks
4:00 pm: Second Windflower Farm tour with Ted (tractor and wagon ride)
5:00 pm: Cocktail hour (byo)
6:00 pm: Potluck. Please bring a dish to share!
Afterwards, bonfire and live music

Sunday, August 6th:
8-10:00 am: Breakfast provided by the farm staff
11:00 am: Davis Family Farm tour: learn about raising pastured chickens for eggs
Noon: depart for other local sites.

Visit other local attractions, such as the:
Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival: http://craftproducers.com
Washington County Antique Fair and Flea Market: http://www.fairgroundshows.com/
Local wineries: http://upperhudsonvalleywinetrail.com/
Local breweries: http://hudsonvalleybounty.com/Brewery
Local cideries: http://www.saratogaapple.com/
Swimming holes, farmers’ markets, hikes (directions will be provided)
Saratoga Race Track: http://www.saratogaracetrack.com/

Please RSVP to tedblomgren@gmail.com with the number in your party. I hope you can make it.

Have a great week, Ted

Kombucha Demo! CBCSA Newsletter: July 27th Week B

Our own CBCSA member, Owen, is going to be giving a make-your-own kombucha tutorial this Thursday from 5-7 PM. Come by to learn how to make this delicious brew right in your own kitchen, as well as to try some yummy samples!

It’s a Week B Pick up This Thursday, July 27th!

This week’s share: Tomatoes, basil, onions, lettuce, your choice of radishes or turnips, plus cucumbers or zucchinis, depending on your site, and your choice of two greens from kale, choy, collards or arugula. Sweet corn is coming in fits and starts; I hope to be able to include it in your shares with regularity in the coming weeks. We’ve increased the share of heirloom tomatoes in our mix, but are finding getting them to you to be a challenge. The fruit of a vine ripened heirloom is very, very soft, and roads in NYC are very bad. We will try to harvest and ship a slightly greener fruit with the hope that a better product makes it to your kitchen counter. Please keep us posted. Your fruit share will be blueberries. Peaches are just starting.

CSA News from Windflower Farm

Delivery #8, July 25/27, 2017
If you were to fly over our farm you’d not only see a mix of woods, fields and farmland, as Jan and the boys did not too many years ago, you’d also see the hundreds of ponds that dot the landscape. Every farm has a pond, many put in with the help of the depression era CCC program. One of our farm ponds had been stocked with bass. This summer, just as they have been doing for years, herons have been flying from pond to pond in much the same way a trapper tends his trap line. They swoop in, pause to hunt for ten or fifteen minutes, and then move along to the next pond and the next meal. In particularly wet years, they will cruise the wet ditches along our fields in search of frogs.

A wildlife biologist from the DEC was here last week. He helped me to assess our deer fence and to identify points of vulnerability. He made the observation that deer, once inside, have a virtual paradise here because of the excellent food supply and absence of predators. To right the imbalance, the logical next step would be to bring in a small family of coyotes. He has given us deer tags to use in the event we cannot drive the deer out of the enclosure. I am loath to use them, but I’d rather do that than explain to you why we have no sweet potatoes or lettuce or delicate squash.

So, our proximity to wildlife can be exasperating. Cedar Waxwings will devour every kind of berry crop, including grapes, blueberries and strawberries, the three we are working hardest to develop here. We now realize we’ll have to install netting over each planting in order to get a crop. Jan has installed bird netting everywhere around our barn complex. Barn swallows are everywhere – they nest in the engine compartments of our tractors, on our tub washing machine and the fans in our packing shed, and on every horizontal (or diagonal) beam on our barn. Safe produce handling requires that we prevent them from invading the places where we wash and pack your vegetables.

That the Upper Hudson landscape is such a rich blending of wildness and domesticity is one of the things that attracted us to this region and, ultimately, to this farm. The wild north of our place offers the best animal habitat and over the years has been the temporary home of black bears, turkeys, martens, beavers, rabbits, foxes, eagles, herons, possums, bobcats, snapping turtles and deer. There are two ponds, two creeks, a cattail swamp and a good-sized woodlot. And it is bordered by hundreds of acres of forest and fields. We do our best not to grow deer food on the few acres of land suited to vegetable production in the northern parts of the farm. Potatoes and onions are our best options. The domesticated southern reaches of our farm are where we grow most of your crops. It’s also where our greenhouses, barns, employee housing and home are. We can hear the coyotes at night, but only rarely do our wild neighbors venture close to home.

If you join us for our open house, I’ll take you on a walk through both the wild and the tame parts of our little farm.

I hope you can make it, Ted

You’re invited to Windflower Farm’s Open House Weekend!

When: August 5-6, 2017

Where: 585 Meeting House Road, Valley Falls, NY 12185

About: Each year for the past ten or so, more than 100 CSA members from the city come visit the farm and either camp in one of our fields or stay in a nearby B&B. We open our farm to you, as a member of our CSA, because we want you to know where your vegetables, cut flowers, eggs and some of your fruit comes from. We’d like you to have the chance to learn how your shares are grown, and who is actually performing the work.

The event takes place over two days. On Saturday, you’ll set up your tents, tour the farm, sample local beers and wines, enjoy a potluck supper (please bring a dish to pass), listen to live music, hang out around a bonfire or play board games, and gaze at the stars made possible by a dark night sky. Please BYOB.

On Sunday, we will serve you a farm breakfast comprised of the freshest eggs you’ve ever had, pancakes and other farm goodies. After breakfast, and after camp has been broken, there will be an option to tour the Davis Farm, where your eggs are produced. There are four vineyards within three miles of here and a Sunday farmers’ market to visit. There is an excellent river to swim in and beautiful, quiet roads to bike on. Please consider joining us for the weekend.

If you plan on attending, please RSVP with the number in your party to tedblomgren@gmail.com

Saturday, August 5:
Members are welcome to arrive any time after noon.
2:00 pm: First Windflower Farm tour (with a tractor and wagon ride)
3:30 pm: Snacks
4:00 pm: Second Windflower Farm tour (with a tractor and wagon ride)
5:00 pm: Cocktail hour (byo)
6:00 pm: Potluck. Please bring a dish to share!
Afterwards, bonfire and music

Sunday, August 6:
8-10:00 am: Breakfast provided by the farm
11:00 am: Davis Family Farm tour: learn about raising pastured chickens for eggs

How: CBCSA is in the process of looking into shared transportation options from Brooklyn (details to come); however, we encourage folks to make carpool arrangements where possible. Have a few seats to spare? Interested in taking a spare seat? Register for our carpool: https://www.groupcarpool.com/t/j3u9yq

Meet Lewis Waite Farm, Our Newest Farm Partner!

Spring2006LewisWaiteThis season, we’ve partnered with Lewis Waite Farm to bring our CSA members a plethora of extra farm fresh, all natural, artisanal, and organic products like pasture raised meat and poultry (10 kinds of meat), fresh eggs and bread, grass fed butter, yogurt and ice cream, artisan cheese from sheep, goat or cows’ milk, including aged raw milk cheeses. They also offer many pantry staples like local and naturally made: granola, fresh stone-ground organic flour, dried organic beans and grains, natural jams and chutneys, natural sweeteners, locally roasted organic coffee, apple cider vinegar, and more!  Lewis Waite Farm partners with small, family run farms and producers who take great pride in their products. Learn more about our newest farm partner here!