Umbrella House Apothecary is Visiting!

A Jar of Umbrella House Apothecary Healing SlaveOn September 14th New Date! September 21st, Parker from Umbrella House Apothecary will be visiting distribution to offer samples, and selling 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. 14.
https://umbrellahouseapothecary.wordpress.com/

CBCSA Newsletter: September 7th Week B

It’s a Week B Pick-Up This Thursday, September 7th!

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

This week’s share:
-Green and yellow wax beans
-Various Tomatoes
-Genovese Basil
-Bi-color sweet corn
-Red radishes
-Yellow onions
-Various chiles
-Cilantro
-A braising mix consisting of Tokyo Bekana, Hon Tsai Tai and Vitamin Green
-Your choice of Red Russian Kale, Koji, or Joi Choi
-Your choice of Cabbage, Beet, or Eggplant.

-Your fruit will be peaches from Yonder farm and our organic cantaloupes or watermelons.

Quick Notes:
The next Lewis Waite Delivery is Thursday, September 28th. Get your orders in tonight!

Please bring your own bags, or bring your excess plastic bags to donate to other share members.
Please also return all egg and fruit cartons so that we can give them back to the farm.

CSA News from Windflower Farm

Delivery #14, September 5 and 7, 2017

We get a CSA share at our house, and having spent three days vacationing along the Maine coast this long weekend, and having indulged in fair food the week before, we are glad to be back on a healthier, plant-based diet that is centered on the share we get at home. Next week’s vegetables will include some of the same, plus squashes, potatoes and carrots.

Your fruit will be peaches. Pete was unaware of the poor quality of last week’s fruit, and felt badly when I told him about them. Northern-grown peaches are hit and miss, and they are difficult to gauge at a glance. I ordered two boxes for women at our farm who intended to make preserves, and they were all of poor quality. It might have been the heavy rains they experienced just prior to harvest, or too cold a cooler just before shipping. He assured me that the smaller peaches you’ll get this week are of very good quality. Next week’s fruit share will include the season’s first apples.

This week in a snapshot: Today, Monday, we harvested, washed and packed for Tuesday’s deliveries. The weather is beautiful and now, in the mid-afternoon, while we have dry weather, we are weeding. Tomorrow, while Don and Naomi make deliveries, some of us will harvest in the morning, while others will transplant the last of our field greens, including lettuces, kales, Swiss chard and Asian greens. In the afternoon, once it begins to rain, we’ll clip and pack onions and seed winter greens in the greenhouse. On Wednesday, regardless of the weather, we’ll harvest, wash and pack for Thursday’s deliveries. On Thursday, while Don and Naomi make those deliveries, we’ll begin harvesting winter squashes, which we can do even though rain is expected. The delicata are already in, so we’ll move on to butternuts, acorns, buttercups, and pie pumpkins. On Friday, with wet weather still in the forecast, we’ll finish the winter squash harvest and then, if it’s not too muddy, we’ll dig potatoes. If it is too muddy, well, we’ll see. We always have a Plan B. Perhaps we’ll start pulling carrots for next week.

Best wishes, Ted

CBCSA Newsletter: August 31st Week A

It’s a Week A Pick-Up This Thursday, August 31st!

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

This week’s share:
-Yellow wax beans
-Yellow-fleshed potatoes
-Sweet peppers
-Yellow onions
-Your choice of Choy or Koji
-Sweet corn
-Tomatoes
-Basil (or chiles and cilantro, depending on your site)
-Salanova lettuce
-Your choice of Cabbage, Beet, or Eggplant.

-Your fruit will be peaches from Yonder farm and our organic cantaloupes or watermelons.

CSA News from Windflower Farm

Delivery #13, August 29 and 31, 2017
The Washington County Fair took place last week, and Jan, Nate and I snuck away on Wednesday afternoon for the draft animal show. When Jan was a child, she would ride on the backs of Ned and Nell, the large Belgian team they used to pull the maple sugaring wagon from sap bucket to sap bucket through the sugar bush, and she loves to watch the large animals work. Nate and I think we’d like a team, so we went to visit with some of the local teamsters. There were only two teams at the fair – a pair of Percherons and another of Halflingers – because horse farming has all but disappeared from the county. As their name suggests, Halflingers, at 14 hands, are smaller than other draft breeds, which makes them the better choice for a starter team. We think we might use horses to cultivate potatoes and pathways between mulched crops and to pull wagons. If we were to get a team, it would be for the simple joy of working with animals, and not to replace our tractors.

We suspended our animal-based diet for maple milkshakes, BBQ and fried dough, and walked through the farm implement exhibits and animal pavilions – poultry, pigs, and countless cows. This is dairy country, and prized stock from every farm is on display: big eyed black and white spotted Holsteins, brown and white spotted Brown Swiss, and brown Jerseys, the kind Jan grew up with. The beef cattle breeds – Angus and Hereford – were on display, too. I was reminded of the farm my mom and her four sisters grew up on in a place called Buffalo Prairie, along the Mississippi, where they raised black Angus cattle and hogs.

By Wednesday, most of the cut flowers and vegetables in the 4-H judging barn were looking pretty sad, but I found the produce of young Shelly McBride, age 11, including her blue ribbon-winning red cabbage, the largest I’d ever seen, to be beautiful and a little intimidating. She’d be quite a competitor if she decides to go into commercial vegetable farming. One can hope she’ll go straight into the slaw business.

Nate is interested in a small wool flock – perhaps Icelandic sheep or Angora or Cashmere goats – and we headed off to the wool barn. The rolling Washington County landscape is well suited to the pasture and hay crops that are central to raising livestock. Because we are not (ordinarily) meat eaters, we are limited in the ways we might become involved in livestock farming. We don’t know if a wool flock (that is, one that excludes meat) is economically viable, so, if we start, we’ll start small. The county fair is the place where agricultural entrepreneurs go to dream.

Have a great week, Ted

CBCSA Newsletter: August 24th Week B

It’s a Week B Pick up This Thursday, August 24th!

This week’s share is the first of the second half of the season:
-Potatoes
-Tomatoes
-‘Genovese’ Basil
-‘Salanova’ Lettuce
-White or Yellow Onions
-Green Snap Beans (Still Hand Picked!)
-Red Russian Kale
-Your Choice Between Beets, Cabbage, or Eggplant.
-Your Fruit: Peaches from Yonder Farm and Organic Melons from Windflower

CSA News from Windflower

Farm Delivery #12, August 22 and 24, 2017
My nephew, Adam, has been working with us this summer, and he is superb on my cultivating tractors. He lives on the farm with his partner, Laureal, and their son, Abe, in their tiny house. I don’t mean that they live in a small house – we live in one of those – but a bonafide tiny house on wheels. Adam built it himself last winter and pulled it over from Vermont with a borrowed pickup.

Everything they need fits within an 8 X 20’ rectangle – living room, eat-in kitchen, bathroom, and two bedrooms in the loft. Solar panels power their little home, a garden hose provides water, and a composting toilet completes the package. Clearly, living so lightly produces a pretty small carbon footprint. It was the most visited attraction during our open house on the farm. No 30-year mortgage for them, or participation in the attendant rat race, just some thrifty material sourcing, a lot of sweat equity, and most of several month’s wages.

As an example of Adam’s frugality, the floor of his tiny house is made from hardwood that was discarded when his old high school gymnasium was renovated. You can see foul line paint just in front of the kitchen sink. Because the tiny house can be pulled to any number of remote locations, they have been able to lay claim to the prettiest spot on the farm, well up the farm road, on a rise overlooking hills to the northwest and the setting sun.

Having spent the spring and summer cleaning out my parents old house (with some courage provided by a can or two of Six Point’s Resin, I tackled the attic last weekend), I can testify to the amount of baggage one might accumulate in a lifetime if one has the space in which to do so. Traveling light has a distinct appeal. With the popularity of the tiny house movement, Adam is thinking of trading his career in agriculture for one in tiny house construction. As his current employer, not to mention his uncle, I’ll do what I can to help him succeed, but I’ll miss how he handles my cultivators.

Have a great week, Ted

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

CBCSA Newsletter: August 10th Week B

It’s a Week B Pick up This Thursday, August 10th!

This week’s share:

  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Peppers
  • Onions
  • Lettuce
  • Garlic
  • Sweet corn
  • Your choice of kale or Swiss chard
  • Either radishes or a small conical cabbage

More of the same next week, potatoes coming soon. Your fruit will be blueberries, peaches will be coming next week and melons are coming soon.

Quick Notes:
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 #10, August 10, 2017
On this Monday following our open house on the farm, we are pleasantly tired. Heavy rains on Saturday morning threatened to spoil the weekend, but in the early afternoon, just about the time CSA members began to arrive, the sun broke out. Turnout was good, the food was great, and we all made new friends. Thanks to all who came.

I have just abandoned today’s bean harvest. Nearly a quarter of an acre of beans are ready for harvesting, enough to keep all of our shareholders and the food pantries we serve in fresh green beans for the next two weeks, but my machinery has broken down. I’ve been on the phone with my John Deere sales rep and the manager of his service department, making sure that the tractor isn’t the cause of the problem, and I’ve spoken with Jim Watson, the man from whom I purchased the harvester, but to no avail. The problem has to do with the hydraulic motor that powers the vacuum that separates the leaves from the beans.

Jim, who is from Ontario, is one of two men (the other is in Kansas) who seem to control most of the secondary market for green bean harvesters in North America. The biggest names in harvesters had been Byron, Pixall and Oxbo, but now, because they have purchased the other two, there is only Oxbo. A new one-row unit sells for just under $50,000. Mine is a 20-year old Byron 105, and I purchased it for $17,000, which I imagine is several thousand dollars more than it sold for new. But that is how it is in agriculture: farmers make their equipment last, and it’s value –new or used – relates closely to the market value of the work it can perform regardless of age.

Two sets of hydraulic motors power the unit: one turns a gang of fingers that rip the beans and leaves off the plant and deposit them on a belt that delivers them to the top of the harvest bin. The other sits atop the harvest bin and powers a fan that sucks the leaves upward and blows them out the back, allowing the heavier beans to drop into the bin. I was on the first row of beans when hydraulic fluid began to rain down on the beans in the harvest bin. The overhead fan motor sprang a leak. Back in the barnyard, and with the assistance of an ice-cold Hair Raiser, I removed the motor and began ripping the seal apart. It will take a couple of days to get new parts here.

Salvador, who has worked on the farm for over 10 years, questions if the purchase makes sense. He knows the machine’s cost, he knows his own wage, and he knows how fast he and the members of his family can harvest beans. For this week, at least, the question is academic. We’ll have no choice but to harvest by hand. Replacing people with machinery (a long-time trend in agriculture) has never been a goal of ours. We’d simply like our work to be easier, our time well spent, and to earn enough of a profit to be sustainable.

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