Distribution #3 – Week of June 22, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello from Windflower Farm. It’s been a very hot, dry week here. Irrigating, planting, weeding and more irrigating have been the theme. 

What’s in your share?

  • Garlic scapes
  • Scallions
  • Summer squashes
  • ‘Kalebration’, a mix of several kale types
  • Arugula
  • Mei Qing Choi
  • Romaine or red leaf lettuce
  • Butterhead lettuce
  • Kohlrabi

Your fruit will be the last of our organic strawberries. Flower shares will be delivered to all of our sites this week. Next week’s vegetable shares will include more salad crops, including sweet Japanese turnips, kohlrabi, green onions and salad greens, along with summer squashes.

What’s new at the farm?

Summer rainfall is hit or miss in the Hudson Valley, and so far, at least for us, it’s been nearly all miss. The ground where we have not irrigated is as dry as beach sand, and even the smallest vehicle sends out a plume of dust as it travels our farm roads. We are parched and desperate for rain. It’s a heart breaker when the next town over gets two inches of rain and you get nothing. We can be happy for our farming friends over the hill, but it still hurts. You cannot help but to think of the many hours and days that a single four hour rain can save. Our two vegetable fields are 12 and 24 acres in size, and, running two irrigation systems simultaneously, it takes about ten days to get them adequately watered – just in time to start the cycle all over again. It’s now been a few weeks of this, and our ponds are running quite low. Our wells are holding up but we are worried, and we are hoping for rain. In the meantime, we are switching over from sprinkler to drip irrigation everywhere we can. Beets, carrots, onions, potatoes, corn – all ordinarily sprinkler irrigated, now have drip lines on them. There is no cause for panic. I tell you all of this because, as members of our CSA, you are in this with us. You have done your part in that you have paid for a share and agreed to take on some of the risk, including the risk of drought-related loss. I want you to know that we are doing our very best every day to hold up our end of the bargain.

 Best wishes, Ted

Distribution #2 – Week of June 15, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

Greetings from Windflower Farm. Although we had showers last week, we continue to irrigate. Rainfall totals in Albany are 3.5” below normal, and I think that we’ve been drier here. But dragging irrigating pipe around is not all we’ll do this week. We’ll wrap up winter squash transplanting, we’ll sow successions of corn, beans, cucumbers and greens, and we’ll weed onions, potatoes and cabbages.

What’s in your share?

This week, you’ll be getting more salad crops.

  • Magenta, a red leaf lettuce
  • Green Forest, a green Romaine lettuce
  • Ruby Red Swiss chard
  • Toscano (a.k.a. Dinosaur) kale
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Red radishes
  • Scallions
  • Potted purple, green or Thai basil

Your fruit share will be our own organically grown Chandler strawberries. When ours run their course, you’ll get strawberries from Pete at Yonder Farm, and then back to us for blueberries. Flower shares will be starting at many but not all sites this week. Egg shares from the Davis Family farmstead started last week. Next week’s vegetable shares will, as advertised, include more salad crops, including kohlrabi, a CSA favorite, or sweet, white Hakurei turnips. Squashes are getting close.

Keeping your share longer than just a day or two takes a few simple steps. First, remove your share from the bag it came in. Please try to reuse the bag if you can. It will make for a good trash bag liner if nothing else. Second, rinse everything, particularly the greens, in cold water. Third, spin or gently shake the greens to remove excess water. Finally, place the contents of your share in a perforated bag in the refrigerator. The crisper drawer is made for this, but the bottom shelf will do.  

What’s new on the farm?

I picked up Angelica, Elisa and Martin Medina at LaGuardia on Friday. For fifteen years or so, members of the extended Medina family have come from Laguna Prieta in Guanajuato, Mexico to help us out at the farm. The shutdown caused by the Coronavirus made them two months late in getting here, and I am very pleased that they have finally arrived. There is still a good deal to plant and the farm is getting weedy – we are all happy to have the reinforcements.

Angelica and Elisa are Martin’s aunties, and they will live with their sister Candelaria in Cambridge, who has been counting the days until their arrival. Today was their first day together on the farm, and they talked and laughed all day long as they weeded the shallots and red onions, catching one another up on what’s been going on in the lives of their families. Martin will be living with us in an apartment on the farm. Daniel, Candelaria’s 20 year-old son, has decided to live here with Martin. There are too many aunties, he says, for his small house. Salvador, Candelaria’s husband, jokes about moving here, too, but he won’t, because the three women he’ll share his home with this summer are fantastic cooks, and he knows that he’s in for one great traditional Mexican meal after another, fully aware of his good fortune. 

I hope you have a great week, Ted

Distribution #1 – Week of June 8, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello from Windflower Farm. I hope this note finds you healthy and safe. Thank you for joining us – I hope you enjoy your CSA experience! And many thanks to the volunteers in your community – the core group – who make the CSA happen. It was an especially challenging job this year because of the coronavirus, and I want them to know what champions they are to all of us at Windflower Farm. 

What’s in the share?

This week, and for the next several weeks, you’ll be getting salad crops. Our last snow was a scant four weeks ago, and it’s early days on the farm. Warm weather crops lag behind the arrival of warm weather. Shares are typically small during the first four weeks of the season, so please keep your expectations modest. They will fill out, first with turnips and kohlrabi, then with squashes and cucumbers, and then with a diverse array of summer vegetables, including corn, tomatoes and beans. 

This week’s lineup:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Red Russian kale
  • Joi Choi
  • Red radishes
  • Green bunching onions

We will be pre-packaging shares after the harvest tomorrow. I don’t think the learning curve will be especially steep – we pre-package in the winter –  but we have not had to do it during the main season and we’re not sure how to budget our time. Nor do we know how to fit everything in the box. We’ve grown potted herbs intended for your first four deliveries (two basils, thyme and parsley), but they don’t fit in the box. Once we answer this question, they’ll be coming your way. 

The box and bag we are sending your share in is yours to keep. The absence of printing and wax make the box recyclable (and inexpensive). The bag is needed so that the box is not instantly ruined by the moisture from your greens. Please reuse where possible. At some point soon, we hope to send a more durable box that can be returned to the farm to be reused.  The chief reasons we are not currently taking boxes back is that we cannot be sure that the coronavirus will not be introduced into the truck contaminating the load and exposing our delivery team.

Egg shares start this week. Strawberries, the first items in fruit shares, will be coming along soon. Flowers will be starting at two locations on Thursday of this week. Please stay tuned.    

What’s happening on the farm?

I should be out cultivating the beets. I irrigated them yesterday, and I can see that the weeds will soon get ahead. But today’s priority is irrigation. Nate has been getting water to the strawberries in the front field, the tomatoes and peppers in the “caterpillar” tunnels, and now the squash and cucumbers in the middle field. These are all on drip irrigation and can be managed by starting small pumps here and there and switching valves. I’m working on the overhead sprinklers in the cabbage field. The first moisture any of these crops experienced was a three-inch snowfall about a month ago, a “sugar snow” so called because it melts so fast. Old timers would call it poor man’s fertilizer. The only other precipitation these crops have received was a half-inch rainfall two weeks ago, hence, the need to irrigate.  

I know that many of you are out protesting the injustices done to black people in America. We are thinking of you and stand with you. 

Be safe, and take care of each other, Ted and Jan

Notes regarding Coronavirus/Covid 19

Windflower Farm

March 16, 2020

If Community Supported Agriculture means anything to us, it means coming together to support one other in difficult times as well as good times. It means that Jan and I will take every precaution to ensure that our workers stay safe and healthy and that the food we grow and sell remains free of contamination of any kind and is safe for our CSA shareholders and their families. 

In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, we have revised some key staff policies to be fully in accord with new CDC guidelines. The staff knows to stay away from the farm at the first sign that they might have the disease or have been exposed to it. They know when and where to seek medical attention. And they know that we have extended our paid sick leave policy by an additional 14 days to eliminate the temptation to come to work when sick for financial reasons. 

Everyone at the farm is healthy at present and, of course, fully aware of the pandemic. Currently, there are several cases in Saratoga Springs, but none in nearby towns. We all expect this to change, and we know to avoid exposure to risk by staying away from groups, maintaining safe minimum distances from others, washing well and frequently, and avoiding touching our faces. Staff policies not only describe personal hygiene, but also outline a range of workplace cleaning protocols.  

We will be developing new safe food handling policies well in advance of our first harvest. Our current food handling system is being reviewed in light of what the scientific community and health experts are telling us about this disease. New information is coming in daily about how long the virus survives on surfaces and how best to clean processing equipment. University Extension educators are helping us with this effort. Two years ago, we underwent a comprehensive packing shed renovation with new federal food safety rules in mind. Our next steps will build on what we already do well.

The reuse of packaging is something that concerns us. One of the safeguards we will implement is the pre-packaging of shares, just as we do in winter, and we will do this for as long as necessary. The rationale is that the shortest food handling chain is the safest. We, as a small and careful group, can do all the harvesting and boxing in a clean, safe space using best management practices, so that the next people to touch those boxes are the very users of that food, our shareholders.

These early days are stressful for all of us. There is a lot of information to process. But I feel confident that we can develop an effective food safety plan that includes staff awareness, safe harvesting, and sanitary packaging and distribution. We will proceed with an abundance of caution. The safety of your food is our first priority. 

I know that there is a great deal of uncertainty around employment. Keep in mind that all of our CSA sites offer payment plans and most offer sliding scale pricing in an effort to help make our food affordable to you. If you have questions, please contact us at windflowercsa@gmail.com.

I can imagine important roles in the city: offloading CSA packages wearing gloves and other appropriate PPE, and figuring out how to distribute them while maintaining safe distances. Let’s keep an open dialogue about these and other related issues. Please share your thoughts. We will continue to share what we learn and how we plan to respond throughout the season.

Our best wishes for your good health,

Ted and Jan

CSA News from Windflower Farm – Week of November 4, 2019

What’s in the share?


  • Radicchio
  • Parsley
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Fennel
  • Ginger
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Red onions
  • Shallots
  • Kale
  • Carrots

This week’s delivery is the last of the season and wraps up our 20th year at Windflower Farm. We hope you have enjoyed your share of our farm’s production. Please drop us a line with your thoughts about the CSA season and what we might do differently in the years ahead (tedblomgren@gmail.com). Thank you for being with us. If you’ve enjoyed being a part of the CSA, please consider a winter share (more information can be found below).

What’s new on the farm?

As if on cue, our first snowfall and the first prolonged cold temperature of the fall are expected on Thursday, the day after our final field harvest. The Medina brothers, who have never been in snow, are excited for this first experience. For the rest of us, we are happy about the timing. It will be something of a race, but we believe we can get the fields cleaned up, most of the rest of the fall onions planted, and the fall-planted crops covered before the snow comes. 

Old timers around here will tell you that your fields will be safe from erosion if you sow your cover crops before Thanksgiving. We are happy to report that we have managed to get all of our fields cover cropped, sowing two tons of rye seeds in the process. The earliest plantings are now thick with young rye plants, and the last have germinated and are filling in.   

Winterizing the farm is underway. Jan’s to-do list is two pages long. Irrigation reels, pumps and pipes are being tucked into warm places. Doors and windows are being battened. Supplies we won’t need until the spring are being organized and placed in various barns. And storage vegetables are being washed, sorted, bagged or crated and tucked into coolers for the winter CSA season.    

Jan, Nate and I are excited to be turning our attention to two winter projects: completing construction of a tiny house and building the next electric tractor. The tiny house is intended to be a home for short term visitors – the (mostly young) people who come to work on our farm for a month or two each summer. Let us know if you might like to work with us for some or all of the next farming season – we’d love to have you!. The electric tractor project is aimed at improving the design of a couple tractors that we have used here for the past several years. Our goal is to build a zero emissions machine that can be used to plant and weed vegetables.     

On behalf of all of us at Windflower Farm, I’d like to thank you for being with us. Your purchase of our organic vegetable share is an investment that trickles throughout the Hudson Valley and beyond. It provides many of us with a decent living, it keeps our little place on earth productive and healthy, and it scatters your dollars through several local businesses that play important supporting roles in the broader sustainable agricultural community here. Special thanks go to the core group organizers at each of our CSA sites. They are a remarkable group of people for whose dedication to organic farming and community building we are forever grateful.   

What’s a winter share?

Winter share signups are underway! The share will start on Saturday, November 23rd, giving you enough time to empty your refrigerators of any summer share leftovers. The season lasts a total of four months, and shares come just once a month, on the following four Saturdays – November 23, December 14, January 11, February 8. Each month, the winter share, which comes pre-packaged in a returnable box, will include a big bag of greens (about 2 lb of spinach, kale or mustard greens from our unheated greenhouses), all kinds of storage vegetables (8 lb or so of carrots, beets, red and yellow onions, celeriac, potatoes, winter squashes and more), about 4 lb of apples and pears, and a locally made sweet treat (honey or jelly or apple cider). I hope you’ll decide to join us and keep our farm team gainfully employed during the winter! Follow this link to learn more and to sign up.

https://windflowerfarm.wufoo.com/forms/m1xr27rk05nzoa8/

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season, 

Ted, Jan and the Windflower Farm team

CSA News from Windflower Farm – Week of October 21, 2019

What’s in the share?

  • Lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Salad mix
  • Kale
  • Garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Yellow onions
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Bunched carrots
  • Leeks
  • Broccoli

This week’s fruit share will be your last of the year and will include Empire apples from Yonder Farm. I hope you have enjoyed the fruit share. Please feel free to send me an email with any thoughts that might make for a better one next year.

What’s new on the farm?

Members of our local staff have begun to announce their plans for the future. It’s something of a tradition here that in the last weeks of the distribution season, Jan and I learn about the changes we can expect in the makeup of our team. Farming is a seasonal activity, and life changes here tend to follow the seasons. Andrea, our membership coordinator, will be back for her 15th season next year. If sign-ups run smoothly, it’s because of her excellent work. Sisters Victoria and Naomi, our distribution and delivery coordinators, respectively, have indicated that they will be with us again next year, too. Victoria has been here for 15 years! She joined us as a newlywed and is now the mother of three boys. We are her mental health day. She is our key to a well-run packing shed. Naomi, now the newlywed, has been with us for 12 years. She makes sure the truck is on time, and that the right packages are delivered to each site. Don, who drives the delivery truck through the narrow and often chaotic streets of New York City, has not announced any changes, but that is different from announcing no changes. My fingers are crossed. Daren, who runs his own small garlic and specialty crop farm and works with us part-time, will also be returning. Working for us, he has said, is his day off. We are his “easy money,” and he’s been collecting it on and off for more than ten years. Angela, who works part-time on the farm and drives the van to Google’s offices in Manhattan on Thursdays, will be behind the wheel again next year. 

TB, the jack of all trades who lives in our little cabin, has already returned to school, but he will be with us for a couple of days next year, which is likely to be his last. When the time comes, his vacancy will be a tough one to fill. Sara, who has worked with Jan on the flower team for the past several years, has been developing a pottery business that is consuming more and more of her energy. She also has two or three other jobs. We are not sure if we’ll see her next year. Julia, our first-ever field coordinator, has announced that she is changing careers and will be moving on. Farming for profit, it turns out, is not for her, and she intends to answer the call of another vocation. We’ll all miss her. Nate, my oldest son and both payroll and soil health coordinator, is also staying on. I am grateful that he loves our little farm every bit as much as Jan and I do. I’m grateful to the whole staff – the best team in the Hudson Valley.    

What’s a winter share?

Winter share signups are underway! The share will start on Saturday, November 23rd, giving you enough time to empty your refrigerators of any summer share debris. The share lasts a total of four months, and come just once a month, on the following four Saturdays – November 23, December 14, January 11, February 8. Each month, the winter share, which comes pre-packaged in a returnable box, will include a big bag of greens (about 2 lb of spinach, kale or mustard greens from our unheated greenhouses), all kinds of storage vegetables (8 lb or so of carrots, beets, red and yellow onions, celeriac, potatoes, winter squashes and more), about 4 lb of apples and pears, and a locally made sweet treat (honey or jelly or apple cider). I hope you’ll decide to join us and keep our farm team gainfully employed during the winter! Follow this link to learn more and to sign up.

Best wishes, Ted

CSA News from Windflower Farm – Week of October 14, 2019

What’s in the share?
Lettuce
Arugula
Salad mix
Garlic
Red onions
Potatoes
Fennel
Peppers
Kale or collards
Bunched beets

Your fruit share will be more of Yonder Farm’s pears and apples.

Last week, we planted nearly all of our winter greens (three kinds of kale, two spinach varieties, tatsoi, Swiss chard and koji), leaving us with just some gaps to fill here and there.

This week, we will plant next year’s garlic and continue the harvest of storage vegetables – the rutabagas, turnips, leeks, beets, carrots, celeriac, fennel, kohlrabi and potatoes that will fill out your final three or four shares and winter boxes. Sweet potatoes, shallots and onions have already been tucked in. Your last shares will be delivered during the week of November 4th. Winter share details are being finalized this week.

The four dates of the season have been established: November 23rd, December 14th, January 11th, and February 8th.

What’s new on the farm?

A group of graduate students in the Products of Design program at SVA visited the farm over the weekend. This is the fourth year that they’ve come as part of their semester on sustainability. We toured the farm, harvested some crops, looked at the dozens of tools and systems we utilize here, enjoyed the view from our high ground, and then wrapped up by standing around our newest homemade electric tractor. I told them that I was thinking about making a few over the winter to sell to my fellow vegetable farmers, and that I know it needs a little finish work – perhaps a cup holder and a USB port and a sun canopy for the operator. I gave them paper and colored pencils and asked them to do what they could to give it some bling, to turn it’s bare chassis into the Ferrari or Maserati of tractors, I said, kidding. “Or perhaps the Tesla,” said one. “You mean you want us to pimp your ride?” asked another. I guess I did. “It needs more than bling,” suggested a third, “it needs body, and curves.” And they proceeded to draw round shapes over my angular little tractor. I collected half a dozen sketches by the time the students broke off into little groups for selfies and frisbee on the back lawn.

Only three or four of the 20 students had ever been to a farm. Most were from the megacities of the world. A woman from Mexico City said she might join us for the summer season next year. She was smitten with the tiny house that Nate and Jan are building and thought she’d like to try tiny living for a couple of months. I can picture her living in the tiny house on the hill above MaryJane’s pond, a totally pimped out (and shapely) electric tractor plugged into her solar panels, decompressing from academic life, enjoying the fresh air of country living.

Have a great week, Ted

CSA News from Windflower Farm – Week 22

CSA News from Windflower Farm

Delivery #22, Week of October 29th, 2018

This week marks the final CSA week of the season. We are ready for a break; perhaps you are, too! The farm is cleaned up and cover crops have been sown on all the bare ground. Let the cold come! Everything has been harvested, or will be within a day or two, winter share crops are tucked away, fall planting has been wrapped up, temporary greenhouses have been dismantled and bags are packed for trips south and west.

This week’s share. Sweet potatoes, kale, choy, your choice of spinach or lettuce, red and yellow onions, leeks, potatoes, scallions, celeriac (a bulbous root crop having the flavor of celery, and a flavorful addition to any root medley) and perhaps a little something else. I was once dressed as a celeriac for Halloween, wearing stuffed white leotards for the rootlets and bulb. I tell you this because Jan accompanied me in a chef’s outfit and served celeriac fritters that were the hit of the party. She cut them like fries, dipped them in batter, deep fried them (this may not be the healthiest of snacks) and served them in a light mustard sauce. Delicious!

CSA Survey. You’ll find a link to our annual survey here: https://windflowerfarm.wufoo.com/forms/r1wtll4j1r7po72/. Please take a few minutes to tell us what you think. We want to make sure we are growing the kinds of CSA shares you want.

What’s new at the farm? This week’s share is the last of the season. Before saying good bye, Jan, Nate and I would like to say thank you. Thanks very much to you for being a part of our CSA. We hope that your eating has been a little healthier and that you have enjoyed being more involved in your local community because of it. Your membership in our CSA provides good, meaningful employment for all of us on the farm, and it keeps the landscape in which we reside productive and healthy. Thanks to all of you for giving us the opportunity to pursue the craft we love.

We’d also like to thank the volunteers who make the CSA work – the women and men in your neighborhood who organize the CSA. They work on newsletters and recipes, member recruitment, site management and work-shift coordination. Without the hard work of this core group, our little farm might not be in business. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Finally, we would like to thank our employees. We easily have the best farm team in the Hudson Valley and we couldn’t do what we do without them. Please come back!

You’ll find a link to our winter share signup form below. The first winter share will be arriving on November 17th. We hope you’ll join us.

Warmly,

Ted, Jan, Nate and everyone at Windflower Farm

Our winter share sign-up is underway! Help keep the Windflower Farm team off the streets of Valley Falls – please sign up today for our winter share. The link is here: https://windflowerfarm.wufoo.com/forms/m1xr27rk05nzoa8/

The winter share consists of four monthly deliveries that will include approximately 2 lb. of organically grown greens (including spinach, kales, Swiss chard and other greens) and 8-10 lb. of storage vegetables (including carrots, red and yellow onions, winter squash, a variety of potatoes, beets, leeks, sweet potatoes, popcorn, black beans and more), along with 4-6 lb. of fruits, and either apple cider or homemade jam or local honey – all packed to fit in a returnable box. This year, some of the storage vegetables (including carrots and butternut squashes) will come from neighboring organic farms, but almost everything else will come from Windflower Farm.

What’s new? Less plastic packaging! There are too many plastic bags in the world and we fully intend to reduce the number we use in packaging your vegetables. We’ll pack loose where we can, and use paper bags where we need packaging. Our GOAL will be to use zero plastic bags, but, because we are not yet sure that we can, we’ll promise this: to use no more than one plastic bag per month. And we have found a reusable, recyclable, tape-free box to help reduce waste.

An optional EGG share from neighbors raising free-range hens is also available in the winter, as is a MAPLE share. Our four deliveries are timed to coincide with the deliveries made to your CSA pickup site by Lewis-Waite Farm (of CSA Extras) for one-stop shopping.

Delivery dates: November 17th, December 15th, January 12th and February 9th. Follow this link for pricing and site specific details: https://windflowerfarm.wufoo.com/forms/m1xr27rk05nzoa8/

We hope you’ll join us.