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

Distribution #16 – Week of September 20, 2021

The News from Windflower Farm

Happy Fall from Windflower Farm!       

What’s in your share?

  • Cabbage
  • Choy
  • Kale
  • Garlic
  • Radishes or Potatoes or Beets
  • Carrots
  • Delicata squash
  • Yellow onions
  • Basil or cilantro
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet peppers
  • Chiles
  • Zucchini

Next week, you’ll get potatoes and leeks and winter squashes, among other things.

This week’s fruit share will be Yonder Farm’s Bosc pears; next week you’ll get their apples. After hearing Pete talk about prunes last week, I was disappointed that he didn’t have any for our Thursday members. My apologies for the communication breakdown.

What’s new on the farm?

Fall has shown up here at Windflower Farm. Tonight’s temperature low will be in the mid-forties. The red maples in the swamps have turned bright red. The neighbor’s soybean field is turning yellow, as are the tips of sugar maples in the hedgerows. And shadows, even in the early afternoon, are longer. Last Thursday, we harvested most of the last of our cabbages and tucked them into our cooler. Last Friday, we began harvesting sweet potatoes. We’ll continue to harvest them as time permits. Tomorrow afternoon, we’ll spend some time harvesting our acorn, butternut and delicata squashes. They should all be in our barn by the end of the week. We’ll be transplanting the last of our salad crops this week, along with the bulk of our cover crops. Strawberry plants for next June’s harvest will go in this week or next, and winter greens, spring onions and garlic will go in starting the first week of October. There is a lot to do in the few weeks remaining before cold weather shuts us down. Just six weeks to go in the CSA season!

Have a great week, Ted

Distribution #15 – Week of September 13, 2021

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello from Windflower Farm!       

What’s in your share?

  • Green Bibb lettuce
  • Purple ruffled kale
  • Purple beets
  • French Breakfast radishes
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Red and yellow onions
  • Zucchini

This week’s fruit will be prunes from Yonder Farm. Prunes are very like plums, differing from them most noticeably by their shape – plums are round, prunes are oblong. In markets, prunes will often be identified as plums, which bothers Pete. He suspects that this is the case because prune juice has an association with a home remedy for people who are irregular. I have my own childhood memories of my mom chasing me around with a little brown bottle of prune juice if she thought I’d become bound up! Which is unfortunate, Pete says, because prunes are absolutely delicious and they should be called by their proper name! 

What’s new on the farm?

I bought a four-bottom International plow last week. Fresh points, coulters and tires, and new red paint to make it shine. I was putty in the salesman’s hands. Still, it was the result of a little horse trading. Our neighbor Matt became aware that I’d broken a plow in the spring of last year and I’d left it in a hedgerow. In the business of spring, I’d replaced it with one I’d purchased from a local dealer that turned out to be too big. They have five bottoms, my old plows had four, and my old John Deere struggled to pull them. So, yes, I now have two plows. But I plan to sell one set. The salesman told me that 4-bottom plows are in more demand than those with five bottoms, so I’ll have to do the work of cutting them down to size. In the meantime, Matt purchased my old plows, giving me the opportunity to put a down payment on a set that was a better fit.

To save money on delivery, I decided to drive my tractor into town to pick up the plows myself. I’d not taken my tractor on a road trip before. The dealership is about ten miles from our farm, on the edge of the village of Greenwich, near a traffic circle. My tractor and plows were not a small presence on the highway, and therefore hard to get around. Moreover, the rig topped out at just under 22 miles per hour. In short order a line of several cars were behind me. I would pull over where I could, but opportunities for doing so did not come along very often. At one point, some twenty cars were behind me. It was then that a large combine was coming toward me from the opposite direction. He gave me a friendly wave as we passed, and very possibly a thumbs up. I counted close to thirty cars behind him! All of which brought to mind a Craig Morgan song Daren and Kristoffer had talked about a few days earlier called “International Harvester.” It’s about “a third generation farmer, a combine driver, hoggin’ up the road with his pupapupa plower, chugging along the road at 5 miles an hour…” The music video depicts very unhappy drivers in a mile-long traffic jam behind Craig’s tractor. In my own experience, drivers were nothing but considerate. I like to think that they were as pleased with my new plows as I was.

Have a great week, Ted

Distribution #14 – Week of September 6, 2021

The News from Windflower Farm

Happy Labor Day from the Windflower Farm team!       

What’s in your share?

  • Crisp or oakleaf lettuce
  • Butterhead lettuce or radicchio
  • Red and yellow onions
  • Yellow potatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic 
  • Sweet peppers
  • Green beans or yellow wax beans from Markristo Farm

This week’s peaches will likely be Pete’s last of the season. I’ve been pleased with them, and I hope you have been, too. It cannot be easy to grow peaches in the relatively cold climate of the Hudson Valley. He thinks it may have been his best crop ever. Bartlett pears and late summer plums will be in fruit shares during the next two weeks, and then on to apples and cider.

Next week’s vegetable box should include, among other items: sweet corn, tomatoes, eggplants, garlic, kale and beets.

What’s new on the farm?

Highways heading into the city from the north were closed on Thursday morning after Hurricane Ida passed through, and Don and Daniel had to find a new route on the fly, taking them first into New Jersey and then across lower Manhattan. I was very pleased that they were able to get to all but one site given the difficulties they encountered along the way. But Don’s been behind the wheel for us for nearly ten years (it will be 440 deliveries at the end of the year) and he knows what he’s doing! I hope that you managed to get to the site yourself given the challenges presented by the storm.

The shorter days and cooler weather of September mark our transition to the vegetable crops of fall. Potato, cabbage, onion and beet harvests have begun to fill our barn’s storage bays. Soon we’ll be bringing in hard squashes, sweet potatoes and carrots. Row covers have been put back on salad crops in the field as temperatures have dropped. There should still be plenty of warm weather ahead, and tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and squashes, our summer lineup, will, I think, continue to produce well, but I already sense a change. 

Our little farm continues to be a busy place. We’ll be seeding greens for winter shares this week, which should allow us to transplant them into our unheated greenhouses on time in early October. And we are preparing land now for cover crops and for planting onions and strawberries that will overwinter under floating row covers. Nevertheless, the days feel easier somehow, perhaps because of cooler working temperatures or the reduced daylight hours available for working. Perhaps because we’re in farm shape, having trimmed down after four months of field work. Or perhaps because there are fewer decisions to make, having dispensed with most of the many hundreds of small but tiring decisions that must be made in the course of the farm season.

I hope that you, too, find your work easing, at least on this one day of the year during which we celebrate and take a break from our labors.        

Have a great week, Ted

Distribution #13 – Week of August 30, 2021

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello from Windflower Farm!        

What’s in your share?

  • Lettuce
  • Collards
  • Red potatoes
  • Bok Choy or chard
  • Sweet peppers
  • Assorted tomatoes
  • Genovese basil pot
  • Yellow and red onions
  • Sweet corn
  • Garlic

Cabbage and beets will be in next week’s share. Squashes will return in another week or two, and carrots should be ready in another couple of weeks.

Your fruit share will be watermelons from us. Soon, stone fruits will be giving way to pears, apples and cider.

What’s new on the farm?

It’s county fair week here in Washington County, and our fair, or so goes the claim, is the largest agricultural fair in the state. This doesn’t surprise me – everyone here seems to have something or other to do with farming, and agriculture is by far the leading economic activity in the county.

Like many of you, Jan, Nate and I have rediscovered bicycling during the pandemic, and in seeking out new bike routes we have rediscovered the beauty of our working landscape, which is a mix of orchards, vegetable fields, rows of grains, giant swaths of hay and alfalfa and woods, especially on hillsides and along waterways. A farmstead can be found around virtually every turn in the road, with horses, cows, sheep, chickens or goats in the farmyard.

After getting out for a morning bike ride on Sunday, Jan, Nate and I washed the red potatoes that will be going into this week’s share. To wash root crops, we use a machine with rollers and brushes and banks of fresh water spray nozzles. My job was to tip the crates of freshly dug potatoes into the machine’s hopper. Jan’s was positioned on the outflow conveyor and tasked with inspecting the crop and tossing bad potatoes into the compost bucket. Nate gathered the potatoes that made it past Jan into clean totes and stacked them on pallets ready for today’s packing.

The first thing we noticed after removing the soil from the potatoes was that every tenth potato or so was weirdly creased and deformed. Many were so bad that Jan had to toss them. “These would win the ugliest potato contest at the county fair!” she said. It was not a problem we had encountered before. Puzzled, we did a little homework, and it turns out that many potato varieties, especially the early ones, will be deformed in seasons where poor growing conditions (the hot and dry weather of May and early June of this year) are followed by relatively good conditions (the regular rainfall of late June and July). Concerned, we checked our unwashed inventory. Happily, the second and third varieties we harvested, which were a few weeks later to mature, seem to be largely free of the malady.                    

Have a great week, Ted