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                      

Distribution #18 – Week of October 4, 2021

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello from Windflower Farm!       

What’s in your share?

  • The last tomatoes of the season
  • Sweet peppers
  • Assorted potatoes
  • Leeks
  • Yellow onions and a large shallot
  • Garlic
  • Green oakleaf lettuce
  • Koji
  • Acorn squash
  • Green beans from Markristo Farm

The fruit share will consist of a bag of Blonde Gala and Ruby Macintosh apples and Bosc pears.

The crops of summer are quickly disappearing. This week’s zucchinis and beans and tomatoes are our last. Next week, you’ll get sweet potatoes and butternut squashes, along with salad greens and more garlic.

We will be offering a winter share again this year, consisting of four once-a-month deliveries beginning in November and ending in February. If you’ve been with us in the winter before, you know what to expect. If you are a new CSA member, watch for more information to come soon.

What’s new on the farm?

Many of you know that Don, our long-time driver and friend, underwent surgery this week. I’m happy to report that he is home and resting after a successful procedure. Many of you have asked about Don, and he wanted me to report that he is doing well.

Driving a delivery truck in New York City, and keeping to a tight schedule, is no easy thing, as I learned first-hand last week. We lease a new Penske truck so as to limit the risk of breakdowns and to have the benefit of their roadside assistance program. On Thursday, we tested that theory.  

Daniel and I had been running about an hour ahead of schedule and pulled over to rest a couple of blocks from our second Brooklyn stop. When it became time to resume deliveries, the truck wouldn’t start. My first call to my Penske support team back home was placed at 1:00 pm, when Stan, the guy who has kept my truck going for the past 7 years, offered a possible fix. An hour later, the fix unsuccessful, I called Penske 24/7 Roadside Assistance, initiating a mechanic’s call. Thank goodness we leased a truck with roadside support, I thought. They indicated that assistance could be expected in about two hours.

In the meantime, I sent a note out to our CSA site coordinators letting them know of our predicament. The Penske 24/7 people called to tell me there would be a delay, so I set out on foot to nearby Atlantic Avenue to try to rent a U-Haul truck with which to make our remaining deliveries. Dozens of trucks were parked outside, and I was feeling hopeful. But, alas, every single truck was reserved. It was now after 3:00, and the prospect of making deliveries on time was in jeopardy.

I was about to give up at this point, and had begun to make a list of what vegetables would be donated to the food pantries, when I received a call from a co-founder of the Central Brooklyn CSA, saying he’d found a rental truck – the last U-Haul in Brooklyn! – and that he would pick it up and meet our truck if it would help. By the time he’d arrived, volunteers from his site had come to help with the transfer of boxes from my truck to his. In the end, we arrived at all of our Brooklyn locations just 30 to 60 minutes behind their normal start times. Our very capable CSA organizers had put the word out of our delay and arranged to have truck unloading help on hand. The deliveries turned out to be festive affairs, with applause coming even as we swiped the fender of a parked car coming into Clinton Hill.

Our arrival in Manhattan, our last stop, took place at 7:30, two hours behind schedule. It was the least likely to work out, and I’m sure there were members who missed a share, but most of the membership of the Stanton Street CSA was at the site when we got there, and they cheered our arrival. They unloaded the truck like a firemen’s bucket brigade and we were off. Our CSA membership rallied! Community supported agriculture indeed!

The Penske 24/7 mechanic finally called at 8:00, having arrived at my truck not long before, to say that it couldn’t be fixed and would have to be towed. He wondered if a replacement truck would be useful to help us finish our deliveries.

Pizza, the best I’d tasted in a long time, was waiting for us back at our truck, compliments of another Central Brooklyn CSA co-founder. The tow truck finally arrived at midnight. By 2:00 am, at Penske of Parsippany, we were situated in a replacement truck, exactly 12 hours after my first call to Penske 24/7, and by 5:00 am we were home, in time for a good farm breakfast and bed.

During our drive home, Daniel and I had time to reflect on the day. We recognized, most importantly, that we were on the receiving end of dozens of acts of kindness. And for that we remain full of gratitude. Thank you one and all! As for Penske 24/7, I think it’s time to reevaluate our relationship.

Have a great week, Ted

Distribution #17 – Week of September 27, 2021

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello from Windflower Farm!       

What’s in your share?

  • Assorted tomatoes
  • Rose Gold potatoes
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Carrots
  • Red leaf lettuce
  • Kale
  • Choy
  • Acorn squash

You might try a potato-leek soup with the contents of this week’s share. Next week, we’ll likely send a share that looks like this one. Winter squashes are starting. This week, you’ll get an acorn squash. Next week, you’ll either get another or you’ll get a butternut. We intend to send our winter squashes as soon as we can. A consequence of the wet farm season is that they will not last long. Nor will they be especially abundant. And soon, we’ll start sending sweet potatoes. A batch is curing in our greenhouse now. Tomatoes and peppers and zucchinis are all in decline. It is time now for the crops of fall – cool weather greens and hardy roots, bulbs and tubers. Next week, you’ll get Romaine lettuce and koji and more kale along with potatoes, leeks, squashes, onions and carrots.

Your fruit share this week and probably next will consist of Yonder Farm’s ‘Blonde Gala’ and ‘Ruby Macintosh’ apples.

What’s new on the farm?

The Medinas have been harvesting sweet potatoes this morning. It’s a laborious project: first the vines are clipped back, then the mulch is loosened and removed, and finally the root clusters are plucked out of the earth. So far, each 300’ bed has yielded about 20 bushels. They will be in your shares soon, but not until they have been cured for about ten days in our 80-degree greenhouse. Curing is required to convert the starches in the sweet potato roots into sugars, and it makes all the difference in the world. Our first batch is due to come out of the greenhouse next week.  

I’ve just come in from the packing shed where a group of us have been bagging tomatoes. As expected by mid-September, all of the varieties have slowed down, and some, including the heirlooms, have stopped producing altogether. It’s a cool and cloudy morning, and a gentle rain is falling, but a mouthful of red grape tomatoes makes me cheerful. ‘Red Pearl’, ‘Favorita’, and ‘Super Nova’, the three red grapes that we grow, are still quite flavorful. Sarah, who is from Queens and who has worked with us for a short while during each of the last four seasons, says that this corner of the packing shed looks a little like a candy shop, and that bagging tomatoes feels like putting gift bags together. Surrounded by ripe red fruit, much of it with the appearance and taste of candy, the conversation among the packers turned, perhaps inevitably, to love and the language of love. Jan described our own circuitous story, our love map, she calls it, and how this past July we celebrated 30 years together. And Sarah shared with us tidbits of her own love story. The young, single guys made themselves scarce during the conversation, and soon afterwards I, too, found other work in need of my attention. And so go our days in the packing shed.

This week we’ll be busy spreading compost and preparing fields. The heavy rainfall of last week prevented us from doing much of our field work. Very soon we’ll be planting greenhouse greens for the winter share and field garlic and onions for next year. Don, our driver, is having surgery this week. So, this week, and probably for the remainder of the CSA season, I will be driving the delivery truck. Please say hello.

Have a great week, Ted