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

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