Cool mornings and we’re headed for those sweet carrots and kale

Mornings asking for sweaters are here again, and time to keep an extra blanket lying around, maybe get the firewood stacked, and definitely make sure you will be stocked with healthy vegetables for the rest of fall and winter.  If you haven’t already, time to sign up for Shared Harvest!

I’ll be at Arlington Town Day Saturday and also the Fifth Annual Boston Local Food Festival this Sunday.  So, stop by if you are out and about…you can sign up right at the table, get your questions answered, share favorite ways of putting up and storing fresh for the winter, chat about great ways you enjoy your farm share, hear how the farms are doing, etc.

Here’s some early September news from Rob and Meghan at Riverland Farm.

Fall carrots looking great at Riverland, late August

Kale with morning dew at Riverland

Dear Friends,

The past couple of weeks it began to feel like fall was knocking at the door.  Then out of nowhere summer came roaring back in and it was downright hot and humid for a few days.  We are now experiencing the transition that happens every late summer as the “hot crops” begin to wane.  This year, however, it is happening a little earlier than normal and we are in a place where the fall crops have yet to really ramp up….

This is the time of year when we start to put some of our land to bed.  Many of the fields that had early season crops on them are now ready to seed down to a cover crop.  Cover crops prevent erosion from wind and rain, suppress weeds, build soil organic matter, and in some cases fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil.  It’s a comforting feeling turning a field from crop debris to dirt and finally to a thick blanket of green.  The term “putting the fields to bed” is appropriate as it does feel like we are laying them down and tucking them in with a thick blanket. This year we’ll be planting some land with Austrian winter peas.  These peas are incredibly hearty.  They actually can survive the winter in a dormant state and will then put on additional growth in the spring.  We’ll seed them with a nurse crop of oats that will die in the winter.  The oats grow quickly and will add additional cover to the land while the peas have a chance to get established.  These peas will add valuable nitrogen from the atmosphere to the soil reducing the need for fertilizer for 2015 crops in those fields.

In the next couple of weeks we’ll plant our final transplants of the year.  Some late season head lettuce and bok choy will punctuate a transplanting season where hundreds of thousands of plants went in, grew out, and became food.  It’s a cycle that we are continuously repeating here on the farm.  As with anything that you do time and again you can take it for granted or it can become monotonous.  But when you stop and think about it for moment it doesn’t take long to remember how amazing the process actually is.

 

Enjoy the harvest!

On behalf of the farm crew Sydney, Mike, Max, Pete, Kelly, Juan,Caity, and Sara

 

Your Farmers,

Rob, Meghan, Cayden and baby Charlie!

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Strawberry Concert This Saturday Kicks Off Summer at Picadilly Farm!

Beckley with strawberry shortcake–Picadilly strawberries, local ice cream, and homemade shortcake with gluten free option. come sing, pick, and eat!

Join us this Saturday for our annual outdoor Summer Concert and Strawberry Shortcake with the Family Folk Chorale. Concert at noon, hayrides and Pick Your Own before. The forecast looks super for a visit to the farm – come on out! Looks good for strawberry picking this weekend! Please join us, and friends and neighbors are welcome.  FREE admission, donations welcome.  Bring a picnic and a blanket to sit on.  Hiking, river, Brattleboro nearby, so make a day of it!

From Bruce Wooster, Picadilly Farmer:

pick your own herbs, strawberries, and maybe greens and peas

Dear Shareholders,
In spite of a forecast for 45 degrees tonight, summer may be truly upon us. The sunshine and warm ahead comes at the right time for the harvests that are just around the corner – peas, strawberries, basil and summer squash. We’ve also just finished the main season planting push, with the winter squash all tucked into our farthest field. In just a week or so, we’ll start setting out fall crops, believe it or not – broccoli, cabbage, storage carrots, beets and rutabagas. All will be planted in the first weeks of July. Before this, though, we’ll take a celebratory respite from planting and weeding to celebrate the harvest [with our strawberry concert...]

Out in the middle of our big field, we’re finally finishing our own version of the big dig. Since last spring (yep, a year ago), we’ve been installing 1000 feet of  grass-lined waterway, along with three concrete road crossings, a rock-lined drainage chute, and hundreds of slope-stabilizing shrubs. Together they are designed to convey spring snow melt and excess rainstorm waters off our big field without taking the topsoil too.  Any day now, the excavator will be hauled away and the road grader will make it’s final pass. Thanks to the Hinsdale Gravel Company, Jay Roy Construction, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service for all their work. Now we’re well-positioned for years and years of bumper crops, with a little less to fear about climate change and whopper storms.

Around the edges and in between, we’ve continued to plant, harvest, and weed. The damp weather we’ve just come through, which can contribute to leaf disease and plant health problems, as well as make the weeding more challenging, has conversely been favorable for transplanting the two acres of winter squash just done, and has helped the sweet potato slips get their roots growing. Three cheers for our solid crew who make it happen.

Early last week, I was out mowing with the new, big, orange tractor — clearing space for our young piglets who arrived this past weekend, mowing the field where our Family Folk Chorale singers will camp this coming weekend, and more. Just like before, when I would use our old Massey Fergusen tractor, the mower sits wider than the tractor, with outside edges that the driver can’t quite see beyond the tractor’s rear tires. That put a little guesswork into the task of mowing, combined with shifting attention between the edge of what was just cut and a view of what’s ahead, to get the steering right.  Anyway, I was mowing along in the usual fashion, but in the new tractor, when suddenly I realized, “Geez, this thing has side and rear view mirrors!”  Sure enough, the leading edge was right there, easy to see and easier to guide than I could ever have imagined before. Now I just have to decide if life is better now, being so dialed in, or if the old formula of finesse and fine tuning showed the better measure of artful practice!

The harvest sure is gaining traction, and we hope you enjoy it.

Bruce (for Jenny and the crew: Allegra, Harold, Antonio, Alex, Keith, Heather, Iver, Anna, Adelina, Willie, Julie, Carol, Molly, Brian, Joe, Sarah, Doug, Beckley and Jesse)

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Late Spring at Riverland,

Here is the latest from Riverland Farm growers Meghan and Rob, who are busy raising vegetables and other sweet things!
Dear Friends,  

Cayden and Charlie checking on the status of the peas

     Happy Spring!  After a cold winter that we thought would never end… slowly but surely old man winter softened his grip and retreated back into his cave.   The plowing and planting season got off to a significantly later start this year than in the past couple.  Looking back in my records we actually planted peas a whole month later this year than we did 2 years ago and a full 2 weeks later than last year.  In general we got most crops in a little later than planned but even the things we got in on schedule didn’t do a whole lot of growing until May…
       It has been decidedly wetter this spring than last.  Last year we found ourselves pulling out the irrigation equipment before the calendar even turned to May and this year irrigation has hardly crossed my mind.  Despite the late start, in the last couple of weeks things have really started to take shape.  Our earliest plantings of beets, chard, broccoli, kohlrabi, Chinese cabbage, and kale have recently put on an amazing amount of growth.  The strawberries are covered in flowers and some green berries
 and the peas though small are starting to turn the corner.
       The last two weeks have seen us scrambling between rain showers to get all of our transplants in.  We had a pretty epic transplanting day yesterday putting in our main season tomatoes, cantaloupe, and sweet potatoes.  All told over 14,000 plants went in the ground yesterday and there’s still plenty of planting to do!  There are some busy days ahead!! We’ll continue on the planting push while starting to switch gears toward preparing for harvest, wash room set up, and share room set up.

Sydney and Mike transplanting sweet potatoes

       Speaking of transplants…this year for the first time in our 8 year history we have an almost entirely new farm crew.  Most are transplants from out of the area while some are natives.  Given that there is so much new blood on the farm, it has lead Meghan and I into training mode this spring to bring everyone up to speed on our farming systems. We’ve found ourselves doing plenty of tasks that we haven’t done in quite a few years.  Overall the new crew is starting to hit their stride and just in the nick of time as things will certainly be ramping up heading into the harvest season.  We are happy to have Max Goetsman, Pete Wackernagel, Sydney Williams, Mike Fox, and Kelly Johnson make up our core full season crew and we are equally happy to have our Mexican summer crew of Hildardo, Rohelia, and Filimon headed up by Juan Hernandez who is in his third season with the farm.  We are looking ahead to a great season and are excited to get the harvest underway!
On behalf of the farm crew
Your Farmers,
Rob, Meghan, Cayden and baby Charlie

 

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Spring planting this Saturday at Picadilly, Concert in June

PICADILLY FARM OPEN HOUSE AND SPRING PLANTING DAY
Saturday, May 31, 10am-noon  Join us for a morning of farm walks and exploration. Plant some seeds with us in the greenhouse, or seedlings in the field. all ages and abilities are welcome. The sand pile is ready for all young diggers! 

STRAWBERRY CONCERT WITH THE FAMILY FOLK CHORALE, Saturday, June 21, 1pm,   Come breathe in the fresh air, enjoy the big sky, take a dip in the river nearby or a hike on nearby Mt. Pisgah.  But most of all, join us for fresh-picked strawberry shortcake and sing along with the Family Folk Chorale in Concert (singing an eclectic mix of folk tunes, including originals by our talented professional band members, and also Alastair Moock, John Fogerty, REM, some trads, etc.).  We usually also have hay rides and farm tours, too, so come see your veggies reaching for the sky.  This is a great time to visit the farm!

both events will be at Picadilly Farm, 264 South Parrish Road, Winchester NH (3 minutes from Northfield MA).

Spring farm news from Jenny at Picadilly:

Dear Shareholders,

A few days ago, I puttered out of the barn on our little Allis Chalmers G tractor, circa 1950. As I headed to the far southwestern corner of our cleverly-named “Field Two”, I passed Adelina planting zucchini seeds in the greenhouse, and Keith and Anna hoeing lettuce. Alex and Willie were tacking down row covers over tender brassica greens, to exclude the voracious flea beetles. Antonio was maneuvering the transplanter, with Allegra, Iver and Heather on the seats, plunking scallion seedlings into the moist soil. Our neighbor, using no fewer than four pieces of heavy equipment, was carving out a new waterway across our big field, an erosion-control practice designed and supported by the Natural Resource Conservation Service of USDA. Harold was likely out buying parts for the new walk-in cooler that he’s building singlehandedly in the barn. And Bruce was sorting out how to deal with the seized engine on our old Massey tillage tractor. In the glorious sunshine, I sowed about a third of an acre of spinach, arugula, radishes and lettuce, plus a carrot trial with varieties named “Jeannette”, “Romance”, “Resistafly” and “Yaya” (I’m pulling for “Romance”). Let there be no doubt: spring is in full swing on the farm.

And what a spring it has been! Overall cool temperatures have kept humans and plants alike hungry for warm sun. Rain has been plentiful enough, without any surprising deluges. All of our crops are coming along fine, perhaps a week or so “behind schedule”.  With great weather in the forecast – will we be so lucky as to skirt through the rest of May without more frost?
Our big thanks to you for joining us for this season. Your support has carried us through the spring, and right to the height of our planting season. Over the next two weeks, we’ll set out tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, watermelon, cantaloupe, basil, sweet potatoes, flowers and much more. Our spring expenses can be high with the expected (crew, seeds, fertilizer) and the unexpected (that seized tractor engine? The replacement 126-horsepower Kubota tractor arrived on the farm yesterday, and we parted with an absurd amount of money). Your financial support, coupled with your enthusiasm for nutritious food and regional economy, keep Picadilly rolling. We’ll do our best all season to field the curve balls and deliver our high quality, certified organic produce to you. We have high hopes for the harvest.

Jenny (for Bruce, Allegra and the crew)

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Farm shares for the summer and spring discount on winter shares for 2014

Shared Harvest CSA is a winter farm share, which has pickups once/month from late October through February, in Arlington, Canton, JP, Hingham, and Buzzards Bay.  You can sign up now, which best helps the farmers (they are planning, buying supplies, and seeding already for those fall crops) and gives you a discount, and the share pickups begin in the fall.

The excellent farms who collaborate for the Shared Harvest winter share each have their own summer shares, delivered to or located in this area.  Sign up directly with them.
Picadillyfarm.com (certified organic box shares–Arlington, Belmont, Bedford, Watertown, Newton, North Reading)
Riverlandfarm.com (certified organic box shares–Hingham, Cohasset, Scituate, and Marshfield)

Moraine Farm in Beverly

First Root Farm in Concord
Lexington Community Farm-shares are sold out, but visit the farm stand Wed.-Sat. starting April 19.
Wright-Locke Farm in Winchester
Bay End Farm in Buzzards Bay

If you’d like to sign up for the Shared Harvest winter share, and get the early season discount, you can pay in installments (just a $90 deposit now) if that is helpful.

Click here for Online Signup for Fall/winter 2014-15

Details:

Extended Season Share

Pickups happen one Saturday each month (see sidebar for this year’s pickup dates for your location).  Choose either a 2-month or 3-month option.

Early Signup Discount will show up on the checkout page:  $20 off of a 2-month share, $30 off the 3-month share.  Your spring signup gives the farmers peace of mind.  Thank you!

3 month share (late Oct-Dec) $270.00 ($240 if signup by May 15)
2 month share (Nov-Dec) $180.00 ($160 if signup by May 15)

Deep Winter share (Jan-Feb) $180 ($160 if signup by May 15)

The Deep Winter share works well for people who have more limited storage (and thus can’t stock up in the fall) and for those looking for fresh greens in the later winter months.  Planned share contents:  dried beans, a variety of root vegetables, butternut squash, onions, garlic, popcorn, tomato puree, spinach, claytonia salad greens, other greens depending upon weather/greenhouse conditions.

The spring discount will show up on the checkout page.  Your spring signup gives the farmers peace of mind.  Thank you!

 

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Something good about snow…

Sanford Kelley's wild Maine blueberry field, Mason Bay, Jonesport, Maine

wild blueberry field this winter in Jonesport, Maine

This post could also be titled:  CSA and buying direct from local farms = a sweet deal for farmers and eaters!

But stay tuned for a reason to be thankful we had all that snow…as well as being thankful it’s over!

Blueberry grower, Sanford, raking fresh wild Maine blueberries

hand harvesting blueberries for fresh sales

Many of our shareholders enjoyed getting frozen wild blueberries as an optional Extra at our Deep Winter Share pickups this January and February.  This is thanks to the work of Lynn Thurston of Blue Sky Produce.  To farm stands and fresh produce markets in our area during the late summer, Lynn delivers fresh wild blueberries direct from farmers in Maine, whom she pays a great price (about 6 times what they get from a big distributor like Wyman’s).  We get really great blueberries because Lynn works with the growers to ensure the highest quality in harvest and post-harvest handling.  In the winter, and through till April, she delivers the blueberries frozen (but with the “bloom” still on, just as if you had picked and frozen them yourself!).  Lynn is a real pleasure to work with–I always welcome our brief visits as she cheerfully drops off our order in her outfitted van and goes on to produce markets  and her other accounts in the area.  This year, the Maine blueberry harvest was lower and she found many Nova Scotia pesticide-free wild blueberry growers who also needed help getting their blueberries sold at a fair price. So, we’ve been getting boxes (4.4 pound boxes) of Nova Scblueberry boxotia blueberries this winter.  At $22/box, these are a wonderful deal.  Our family has really appreciated having a steady supply of these nutritious colorful berries with our breakfasts all winter.

In her recent newsletter, Lynn describes how good snow cover protects perennial food plants like blueberries from a bitter winter like this one.

Here is more about Lynn in her own words.  You can visit her website, too, to learn more about the Maine growers.  And look for Blue Sky blueberries in local farm stands and CSAs near you.

Lynn Thurston, Owner, Blue Sky Produce of Maine

I never set out to be produce whollynnesaler. I wanted to work outside and work for myself. Farming!! That’s it! What a good idea! Well, maybe………

I didn’t grow up on a farm and I had a lot to learn. So after getting a taste of the produce business working at Frieda’s Specialty  Produce in Los Angeles, I returned to my native “Great State of Maine” and started farming. However, I needed a job to support my farming venture, so I started brokering herbs and wholesaling fiddleheads.

I enjoyed most aspects of farming (except for fixing the equipment) and grew 5-10 acres of specialty produce such as flowering kale, napa cabbage and bok choy.  Unfortunately,after 15 years, I had to quit because of back problems. The experience taught me how hard it is to make a living farming and I resolved to try to help other small farmers.

Meanwhile, I was always disappointed I couldn’t buy Maine Wild Blueberries at the local store.  Less than 1% of wild blueberries are harvested for the fresh market because of the extra care it takes to rake and clean them.   It has taken a few years to build relationships with growers, develop packaging and learn proper postharvest handling procedures.  We now pick up wild blueberries from 8 different growers and distribute them to retail chains and farm stands. We hope you find some near you!

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Seeding Starts Today at Picadilly!

Seeding Starts Today at Picadilly!

Soon it will look like this. Think Spring and higher nighttime temps to keep the babies going.

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Partner with a Local Farm!

Shared Harvest CSA is a winter farm share, which has pickups once/month from late October through February, in Arlington, Canton, JP, Hingham, and Buzzards Bay.  You can sign up now, which best helps the farmers (they are planning, buying supplies, and seeding already for those fall crops) and gives you a discount, and the share pickups begin in the fall.

The excellent farms who collaborate for the Shared Harvest winter share each have their own summer shares, delivered to or located in this area.  Sign up directly with them.
Picadillyfarm.com (certified organic box shares–Arlington, Belmont, Bedford, Watertown, Newton, North Reading)
Riverlandfarm.com (certified organic box shares–Hingham, Cohasset, Scituate, and Marshfield)

Moraine Farm in Beverly

First Root Farm in Concord
Lexington Community Farm-shares are sold out, but visit the farm stand Wed.-Sat. starting April 19.
Wright-Locke Farm in Winchester
Bay End Farm in Buzzards Bay

If you’d like to sign up for the Shared Harvest winter share, and get the early season discount, you can pay in installments (just a $90 deposit now) if that is helpful.

Click here for Online Signup for Fall/winter 2014-15

Details:

Sign up by May 15 to get the early bird discount.

Extended Season Share

Pickups happen one Saturday each month (see sidebar for this year’s pickup dates for your location).  Choose either a 2-month or 3-month option.

Early Signup Discount will show up on the checkout page:  $20 off of a 2-month share, $30 off the 3-month share.  Your spring signup gives the farmers peace of mind.  Thank you!

3 month share (late Oct-Dec) ($270.00)
2 month share (Nov-Dec) ($180.00)
Deep Winter share

January and February.  This type of share works well for people who have more limited storage (and thus can’t stock up in the fall) and for those looking for fresh greens in the later winter months.  Planned share contents:  dried beans, a variety of root vegetables, butternut squash, onions, garlic, popcorn, tomato puree, spinach, claytonia salad greens, other greens depending upon weather/greenhouse conditions.

The $20 discount will show up on the checkout page.  Your spring signup gives the farmers peace of mind.  Thank you!

Jan/Feb ($180.00)

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Root Veggies head to the border, then overseas…

Thanks to our guide, Jackie Starr…departures and also returns to good ol’ NE comfort foods.

Shared Harvest Menu week of Feb. 2 from Jackie Starr

Looking ahead to our last pickup on February 8…below is what will most likely be in the share box, plus storage tips.

Share Contents for Deep Winter Pickup, Saturday, Feb. 8:

Use or process these within a week (keeps longer if fridge is cold, near 32 degrees):
Spinach bag, can be blanched and frozen for later use.

These will keep for many weeks in cold storage (keep moist in bag, with some ventilation, not tightly sealed):

1 Red cabbage

6# Carrots

5# Potatoes

3# Beets

2 Celeriac

2 Gilfeather

3# Parsnips

2 Kohlrabi

2# Purple Top Turnips

These will keep for many weeks in cool, dry conditions (40-55 degrees), like a shelf in your basement or unheated room as long as it doesn’t freeze:

2 Butternut

1/2# Garlic

These will keep for a year or more in dry conditions (closed jar), not too warm:

1 Jar Tomato Puree

1# bag of beans (black, pinto, or cannelini)

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Menu for this week and looking ahead to next share

glazedturnips-page

Ginger and Orange Glazed Turnips

This week’s menu featuring deep winter share veggies:

http://sharedharvestcsa.com/menu-for-this-…m-jackie-starr/

Looking ahead to our last pickup on February 8…below is what will likely be in the share box, plus storage tips.  If you’d like to order any bulk veggies to last the rest of the winter (yes, I’m afraid there will be several more weeks, at least…), check out the Extras store.

Share Contents for Deep Winter Pickup, Saturday, Feb. 8:

Use or process these within a week (keeps longer if fridge is cold, near 32 degrees):
Spinach bag, can be blanched and frozen for later use.

These will keep for many weeks in cold storage (keep moist in bag, with some ventilation, not tightly sealed):

1 Red cabbage

6# Carrots

5# Potatoes

3# Beets

2 Celeriac

2 Gilfeather

3# Parsnips

2 Kohlrabi

2# Purple Top Turnips

These will keep for many weeks in cool, dry conditions (40-55 degrees), like a shelf in your basement or unheated room as long as it doesn’t freeze:

2 Butternut

1/2# Garlic

These will keep for a year or more in dry conditions (closed jar), not too warm:

1 Jar Tomato Puree

1# bag of beans (black, pinto, or cannelini)

 

 

 

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