Peaches and Resilience

This particularly intense hurricane season brings on, in varying stages, thoughts about resilience.

Those of us not in the path of direct damage to our homes and towns, and too far away to serve as immediate refuge, still dry and warm here in the sun…we certainly recognize our good fortune on this particular day.  But we can also already adopt wide angle vision, consider cause and effect, and ponder or investigate how our own region might react, and invest in ways to prepare now to prevent damage and rebound from a future storm like Harvey or Irma.

Seeing photos of rows and rows of occupied shelter cots, image after image of people being lifted out of the rising waters, rescued from shelter that isn’t shelter anymore (And what is mixed into that water now?)…  What do we as individuals, families, neighborho
ods, towns, a watershed, a foodshed…what do we as humans really need to survive and thrive in the world in which we evolved?  How can we be resilient?
Last year wildly fluctuating spring temperatures fairly completely wiped out the peach crop here in Massachusetts and beyond.  (CBS Local: “Mass. Peach Crop Ruined”)


barrenpeachtrees Peach trees at Smolak Farms. (WBZ-TV)

This year my family was invited to “rescue” our friend’s two peach trees from too much fruit!  (Though the 2016 flower buds froze, the roots, branches, and leaves were largely unharmed.)  The trees bounced back, certainly.   What about the orchards?

To sustain a peach grove from year to year, a fruit grower prunes (branches, buds, early stage fruit) to remove barriers to growth and prevent extra damage.  A fruit grower also ensures that the trees have what they need from the soil, given the expectations of the tree’s biology.
To be resilient and sustain themselves in the long run, our regional farms and orchards prune regularly, but also cultivate diversity–diversity of crops, diversity of harvest schedule, diversity of markets, diversity of crew members and their tasks, diversity of harvesting methods, diversity of ways to engage the wider community of people (e.g. PYO, on-farm events, etc.).  Resilience also requires cultivating the diversity of the non-human allies all around: pollinators, larger animals (create and spread fertility), the soil organisms (more beings in a handful of healthy soil than there are humans on earth), and the forested watershed that cleans and holds the rain on the land.
The community we steadily build sustains us from day to day and year to year, and helps ensure resilience in challenging times.  Know that buying local has a multiplier effect.  And every time you learn more about growing or eating local and revel in our joyous harvest festivities, you are helping create resilience!
I’ll continue to post here about local events, starting with tomorrow’s Boston Ag Exposition (see below).  Also, this may be the last weekend to get some of those peaches!
Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury (Farmer Glenn will again send us apples for our November share.) Cider Hill still has their own peaches in the stand this weekend.  Get some after picking your apples and berries–and be among the first to try Cider Hill Cellars, hard cider made on the farm with their own special cider apples!!
Topsfield Fair gone mini and urban:
Sunday, September 10, 2017
12 Dade Street in Dudley Square
(Haley House Bakery Cafe parking lot)
11AM – 4PM, rain or shine
The Trustees, Agricultural Hall, and Haley House are partnering to create a special day devoted to the celebration and enjoyment of community gardening, backyard growing, and local agriculture. We’ll have displays, exhibits, contests, animals, old-time games and activities for kids, and tasty treats featuring locally grown and locally produced products. Plans are in the works for agricultural exhibits including beekeeping, backyard chickens, mushroom cultivation, cider pressing, composting to name just a few.  Psst: Don’t miss the goat milking and pie eating contests!
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Farm Share Fair, Sign up now for Healthy Food all year long!

Wednesday March 29th @ 5:30-8:30PM
The Armory
191 Highland Ave, Somerville

free and open to the public
proceeds to benefit the Urban Farming Institute

more info at
get connected on facebook and twitter!

I’ll be there along with Bruce Wooster–stop by for a chat!  Bring your checkbook to sign up for shares, and/or browse– oyster shares, Dean’s Beans coffees, Soluna Garden farm herbs and teas, etc.

Signup for Shared Harvest 2017-18 is open now for Arlington/Winchester and Jamaica Plain, and includes a discounted share price (through May 15) on whichever months you sign up for.

Info for Summer Shares is also on our website; signup through these individual farms.


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Boxes of Plenty for February shares

From Baer’s Best Beans: 2 one-pound bags of dried beans (choice of black turtle, red kidney, and soldier (white with red flecks))


From Picadilly Farm

potatoes – 5 pounds
carrots – 6 pounds
parsnips – 3 pounds
rutabagas – 2 pounds
butternuts – 2 pieces
dried herbs – a bunch
beets – 3 pounds

From Riverland Farm:

1 Cabbage

Gilfeather turnips 2 pounds (read here to learn more about the Gilfeather and how it was recently named Vermont’s State Vegetable!)

Sweet Potatoes-4 pounds

Garlic-half pound

1 Celeriac

Onions-2 pounds

1 Tomato Puree

Some extras of some of the above, since the salad greens didn’t work out (see below).

Rutebagas usually have a purplish shade on top with a creamy golden interior



Gilfeather turnips are sweet, creamy, and white on the inside

Rutebagas and Gilfeathers are surprisingly versatile, steamed and mashed, shredded raw into salads, fermented, etc.  Gilfeather can be successfully used in place of cauliflower in some recipes.  See the Recipes page under the Storage Tips and Recipes Menu for some interesting ideas.

 The salad greens at Riverland did not regrow well for this month (typical greenhouse growing for winter harvest is “cut and come again” with the second and third cuts always being fairly dicey, given constraints of indoor growing–a matrix of factors including timing of planting and cutting, sunlight (and heat) availability, snow cover, space, ventilation, weather conditions at harvest, etc.  Kudos to farmers Meighan and Rob for taking on the challenge of winter greens growing each year!


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Fresh Farm Veggies, Beans, and more for February

Below is a list of the probable contents for our upcoming February 4 Share Boxes.  Rutebagas and Gilfeathers are surprisingly versatile, steamed and mashed, shredded raw into salads, fermented, etc.  Gilfeather can be successfully used in place of cauliflower in some recipes.  See the Recipes page under the Storage Tips and Recipes Menu for some interesting ideas.

Share contents:

From Baer’s Best Beans

2 one-pound bags of dried beans (choice of black turtle, red kidney, and soldier (white with red flecks))

Rutebagas usually have a purplish shade on top with a creamy golden interior

From Picadilly Farm 

potatoes – 5 pounds
carrots – 6 pounds
parsnips – 3 pounds
rutabagas – 2 pounds
butternuts – 2 pieces
dried herbs – a bunch
beets – 3 pounds

From Riverland Farm: 

1 Cabbage


Gilfeather turnips are sweet, creamy, and white on the inside

Gilfeather turnips 2 pounds (read here to learn more about the Gilfeather and how it was recently named Vermont’s State Vegetable!)

Sweet Potatoes-4 pounds

Garlic-half pound

1 Celeriac

Onions-2 pounds

1 Tomato Puree

and maybe Salad Greens, depending upon how well they are doing in the high tunnel (unheated, protected greenhouse)

As always, there is the option to order Extras to pick up with the share (ordering online till Tues. night, Jan. 31).  These include eggs, wild mushrooms, medicinal mushroom extracts, cheeses, yogurt, and beef from cows humanely raised on pasture (100% grass), more varieties of beans, and extra veggies like sweet potatoes, beets, etc. to last  into spring!


Immune boosting Reishi Mushroom extract from Fungi Ally

At the pickup, we will also have a few things on offer (not pre-order), including fresh oyster mushrooms, Doves and Figs jams, and a few other items.

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3 week menu for our December shares

Another fabulous menu customized to our share contents, put together by Jackie Starr. Thanks, Jackie, for the great ideas!









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COLD day for share pickup in Arlington–LOCATION CHANGED to Wright-Locke Farmstand, 78 Ridge St., Winchester

Thanks to  Wright-Locke Farm for hosting this week’s share pickup!  With forecast saying below freezing temps all day today, we–and the veggies–will be much better with more shelter and the cozy wood stove at the farm.

Wright-Locke Farm is a beautifully maintained historic farmstead and working community farm, adjacent to conservation area trails (also good for XC skiing when there is enough snow) and skating pond.  This publicly owned farm and conservation area is a beautiful place to explore in all seasons.  A trail map and more information can be found on the farm sign by the road and inside the stand.

During the share pickup, if you do choose to stay a while, please move your car to the soccer field parking lot across the way or park on an adjacent neighborhood street to make room near the farm stand for pickups.

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Brussels Sprouts!

Have you ever seen Brussels Sprouts harvested (or grown them yourself)?  For Brussels Sprouts fans, November is a great time of year!

Brussels require advance planning and early planting…they are very slow to mature and require at least 6 hours of sun per day. They thrive in cooler temperatures and actually become sweeter after the first frost of the fall. Read more and check out an idea for a quick veggie-rich, nourishing meal at Autumn Nourish Bowls. Thanks to Shared Harvest member Jackie Starr for the suggestion.  See many other suggestions on this menu page customized for this November Shared Harvest share, all from Jackie, who really knows how to work veggies into a busy week in a delicious and nourishing way.

There are 2 stalks from Riverland Farm in each of the shares this week.

Brussels Sprouts at Riverland, stripped of their large leaves, waiting to be cut for the shares.

For those who think they don’t like these little “mini cabbage” greens (like my little brother who used to drown them in applesauce to get them down), fresh Sprouts from the farm in November are definitely worth checking out, esp. roasted with garlic, olive oil, and salt!

In the unlikely event that you have more than you can eat in the next week, Sprouts can be blanched in boiling water for 3 or 4 minutes, or steamed briefly, then frozen for later use in soups, pies, etc.

A rainbow of color in the share again this month!

From Cider Hill Farm: Apples–in the midst of some varieties that store well, the gold and red ones are galas, which are sweet and crispy now but should be eaten soon (Gala is not a storage variety.)

From Picadilly and Riverland Farms:  Brussels Sprouts, Red Cabbage, Carrots, Garlic, Leeks,  Red Russian Kale, green Curly Kale, red Lettuce, Popcorn, Spinach, Sweet Potatoes, Squash (butternut), Turnips (Gilfeather), Onions, Potatoes



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Sweetened by frost, October’s deep colorful veggies mean rich flavor for Fall-into-Winter meals

It’sMt. A. Fall color.jpg Drenching rains may be starting to melt away the hard memories of this summer.  With way too many days of challenging irrigation work, steadily learning ever more nimbleness with best laid planting plans, and now persevering through the still demanding “catch-up” workload, our farms have once again yielded a harvest cornucopia as vibrant and colorful as the marvelous foliage that graces our rural mountainsides.  Those colors and the gratitude that has come with the return of the rain will surely brighten the outlook (and also what may be a moist., cloudy morning share pickup tomorrow!)–onward to the kitchen with deep gratitude and a rainbow of inspiration!


sweet potatoes ready for harvest, Picadilly Farm

Find a great plan for 3 weeks of deliciously using your October share in  Jackie Starr’s October Menu  (Jackie put this together for last October, 2015, with a similar list of share contents).  Examples of recipes include escarole with white beans, lemon, and parsley, Mexican roasted beet salad, with poblano chili and lime, and Sweet potato and quinoa burgers, with leftover beet salad, With links to recipes for each item, she plots out a nice flow for using the most perishable items first and making and using a pot of stew or roasted veggie dish creatively in several different meals over the weeks.  It is a really delicious looking menu, conscientiously made to inspire and be practical.  She’s a working mom of 2 kids (at least), so she knows about busy, picky eaters and the helpfulness of a well-thought out week’s menu!

Here are some storage and use hints for this months share contents.  There is also much more info under the Storage tips and Recipes Menu

Beets Refrigerator or cold cellar in plastic bag with holes
Carrots Refrigerator or cold cellar, in plastic bag or buried in leaves.  Keep dark.
Store in a plastic bag in the back of the refrigerator. Carrots will keep for months this way. After being stored a long time there may be a white root substance on the carrot. Not to worry. Just peal it off. As long as the carrots are bright orange underneath they will taste wonderful. Organic carrots actually gain sweetness when stored.

Carrots and other roots can do quite well also at 33-50 degrees buried in moist leaves or sand (you’ll need to periodically re-moisten the leaves or sand with a watering can.)

Cabbage Refrigerator or cool cellar, or Fermented
Store cabbage in a plastic bag. When you take it out some of the outside leaves may look mildewed but not to worry. Simply strip off the outside leaves and the inside is as good as new. Cabbage will keep this way in the back of the fridge often for three months.

Kale Refrigerator, Freezer, Dehydrated, or Fermented.  Kale made into chips (dry pieces in a low temp oven coated lightly with olive oil and salt) gets eaten pretty quickly but leftovers will store several days at room temps in an airtight container. See more info under other leafy greens, too.

leafy greensSalad greens, Lettuce, Napa Cabbage, Escarole, Collard Greens, other leafy greens, Cauliflower Refrigerator, Freezer, Dehydrated, or Fermented.
These are not long keepers. Best to eat them within two weeks of the delivery. Immerse in cold water, wrap in a cloth dish towel, and place in your fridge. Or, for non-lettuce type greens, remove stems and slice or tear and blanch and freeze.  Or, ferment as per directions at the fermentation… link under storage tips menu.

Escarole looks a bit like lettuce but has more succulent and prominent stems, is more nutty flavored than lettuce and good in salads or soups. Refrigerator drawer or other cold, moist storage.  Fennel bulbs will last a few weeks if kept cold and moist.  (The bulbs are easier to store if you remove the stem and fronds and use those in fine slices for more of an herb type flavor addition to a cooked stew or garnishing a salad.)

Acorn Squash (or other Winter  squash other than Delicata) moderate indoor temps, dry pantry Keep in single layers in a cardboard or seedling tray in your kitchen, pantry, or moderately cool basement area. Inspect regularly for blemished pieces and use those first.  If you have a lot that needs using right away, consider peeling, seeding, steaming and pureeing or cut in chunks for the freezer for later use.  Butternut is among the best for long term storage and makes excellent soups and purees to freeze for soups or pies later.

Garlic Cellar, cool and damp
Store in paper bags or open box. Likes to be stored at temps between 33 and 40 degrees.  A closed jar in the refrigerator can work as well.

Leeks Refrigerator or cool cellar, or Freezer
Remove any yellowing leaves, store in a plastic bag or crisper drawer in fridge. Or chop to desired cooking size and freeze.

Potatoes Cellar, cool, damp corner
Potatoes will usually store 2-3 months. Potatoes like to be stored at 45 degrees with high humidity. If possible store on flat trays. The benefit is the avoidance of the “bad apple” syndrome, and one can inspect all the potatoes as you use them up permitting you to take ones that are beginning to sprout. A soft potato usually means that it is rotten, but cut it up to make sure.  Plastic bags are not recommended for storing potatoes.

Sweet potatoes Moderate indoor temperature Unheated Entrance, Attic Space or Unheated Spare Room in paper bag or tray
“Sweeties” store best on trays or in paper bags at temps between 55 and 65 and relative humidity around 60-70%. They can do well in these conditions for many months. Plastic bags are not recommended for storing sweeties.

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Sign up now for your cold season farm share!

Our online signup form is here.

Below is a bit more info about what is happening at the farms.

Awe and gratitude to our tenacious farmers for producing a plentiful harvest in collaboration with the plants and soil in this a historic DRY season.  In spite of zero rain until just a couple weeks ago, Picadilly has been sending perfectly flavorful melons, loads of tomatoes and the first of the potato harvest, along with greens, cucumbers, herbs, peppers, and more.  Wow.  Thankfully, as the farms have pretty much started their coasting (with a lot of juggling!) portion of the season–where planting and weeding is mostly done, most of the labor is in catching as much of the harvest as possible at the right time, and farm managers begin some exhales of relief–a few inches of rain have fallen there in the Pioneer Valley and here in Eastern Mass. So expect plentiful share boxes right into the fall and winter, and send words of congratulations to the farmers!

We just had our first bit of cool last night as the temps finally dipped into the lower 50s here in Arlington overnight and the humidity has been wiped away for a bit.  Nice to get some temporary hints that summer won’t last forever in New England and eating well all year requires advanced planning!  So, as you pick an extra quart of berries to freeze or preserve or turn your summer cabbage into kraut, it’s time to go ahead and sign up for your share of fresh cold season veggies and apples through Shared Harvest.

Choose whichever months you’d like a share, even if they are not contiguous.  e.g. November, January, February or October, December, and February.  Each month you’ll get enough fresh veggies to last a month for a heavy-veggie eating couple or omnivorous household of four, for instance.  All the vegetables in our shares are certified organic from small-scale family farms and are a nice variety including mostly the basics.






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Summer Shares starting first of June! May 31 early bird signup for winter shares

May has shown us a blast of summer and bit more winter, but the soil is warming and our farms are rolling along, with plants going in the field since mid-April–
“About four acres of crops are in the ground, including: just germinating spinach, carrot, beet, and radish seeds; greenhouse transplants of lettuce, scallions, kale, radicchio, peas, and kohlrabi; and somewhere around 75,000 potato seed pieces tucked in this week.”, says Picadilly Farmer Jenny Wooster.  Thousands more being tended in their cozy greenhouses.  And things are going well enough that both Picadilly and Riverland Farms anticipate share deliveries to start the very first week of June! So, here’s your chance to reserve your full season’s share of the freshest, high quality, organic food delivered to your neighborhood all summer and well into the fall.  Both farms have a few more shares to sell to hit their targets, so please spread the word!

Summer Farm Shares at our member farms:

Picadilly Farm Eastern Mass. Organic Shares (to many locations from N. Reading to Newton, Cambridge out to Bedford) . Before you know it, we will get the word that it’s time to pick your own strawberries at the farm! (All shareholders can come and pick.)

Riverland early carrots in the high tunnel

June’s carrots growing in Riverland’s high tunnel

Riverland Farm South Shore Organic Shares (to Hingham, Cohasset, Scituate, Marshfield)






To help you help the farms during this, their season of financial squeeze (buying supplies, making sure equipment is in full working order, paying full-time crew now), we are extending the Early Bird discount for winter share signups until May 31.  That’s 10% off the winter share price for whatever months you choose.  And you get the discount even if you just put down the first installment (and pay the rest by Sept. 1).

Thanks everyone!



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