Sweet and hardy after the frost! Late October Farm Share

Hard frost hit the Pioneer Valley this week spelling the end of summer crops, but the beginning of wonderful for many of our fall and winter foods which get their best flavor and storage quality after such cold temperatures.  The fields are getting tucked into bed with their cover crop covers now nicely green and established, feeding the soil for next spring and summer’s plantings.   However, many fields are still occupied by this year’s food, such as kale, brussels sprouts, leeks, still yet to be picked and brought fresh to the kitchen table and home stores.


Carnival Squash curing in storage at Picadilly Farm

Leeks can be pulled from the ground even after a freeze once the soil warms a bit (Picadilly, Oct 2018)

The squash, sweet potatoes, onions and garlic have all been curing at just the right temps and timing for the best eating and storage quality. All the potatoes and some of the roots, the peppers and tomatillos, and cabbages have all been harvested ahead of now and in cold storage, washed and packed yesterday and today for our shares.

Lettuce, spinach, herbs still happily sizing up in unheated “high tunnels” at Picadilly (Oct 2018, Picadilly Farm)

Lettuce, herbs, and other more tender greens, if grown under shelter of a hoop house or covered with insulating fabric for a heavy frost, can be harvested well into the colder months of fall. And Brussels Sprouts are the best after a hard frost–the farms are able to harvest these and other greens once they’ve spruced up in the warmth of the day.

As this page from Cedar Circle Farm in VT explains, there’s nothing like Brussels Sprouts harvested at their peak, after a hard frost:   “It is well worth noting that often store bought Brussels sprouts are picked too early, and it shows in their bitter flavor and tough texture. Picking them fresh from the farm or garden after a few frosts sweetens the flavor and makes them tender, offering a whole different experience!  Try them roasted, along with some other yummy fall veggies.”

What to expect in your October share (# means “pounds”):

White Salad Turnips–mild, sweet and easy to enjoy raw or cooked

Store fresh for up to 2 weeks in your refrigerator crisper drawers:  fennel, 1 piece, bunch of salad turnips, quart of tomatillos + a few chili peppers, possibly +1-2 sweet peppers, 2 heads lettuce,  2 bunches kale (can also be dried in a low oven as kale chips for later use), 3/4 pound spinach, 2 stalks Brussels Sprouts (pop off stalk to fit in fridge drawer, or if you have larger place for them, keep on stalk for longer freshness–but even better, just roast and eat them now!)
Garlic 3/4#,  this month is good for use right away or very short term storage.  Keeping in a closed jar (whole heads, in the peel) in the fridge will prolong the life.
Store fresh for a month or two in cold (just above 33F), moist storage in unheated basement or garage, be sure to retain moisture by storing in plastic bags with small holes or buried in sand (or in bags in the back of your fridge or crisper drawers):  1 green savoy cabbage, 1 red cabbage, carrots 5#, beets 3#, white potatoes 5#, bunch leeks
Store in dry moderate temps (kitchen counter or pantry) for about a month:  herb bunch,  and carnival squash,  onions 2#.  Once dry, herbs can be store in airtight jar for many months. For longer storage, store onions in cooler temps, in paper bags for moderate moisture, in a dark location.
Store in dry, moderate (kitchen counter) for months:  4 # sweet potatoes

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!



January Share Pickup, Fresh Spinach!, Menu for the Month

Spinach harvest at Riverland last week (happening in a similar fashion today for tomorrow’s share box). The metal hoops supported the row cover which kept the spinach protected through the deep freezes.

We’re in the green for our share tomorrow!  With the relatively mild winter and moderate snow, Riverland’s winter greens have been happy under their winter cover and are accessible to harvest right from the field today.  In case we get a February dump of snow like we did last year  when the harvest became impossible*, Rob and Meighan at Riverland are opting to keep the bird in the hand and harvest both kale and spinach, instead of saving one for next month.   So, expect extra greens this time and perhaps put some up (freezing, soups, drying into kale chips) for next month, when we may just have cabbage.

See below for the share contents and also check out Jackie Starr’s Fabulous Menu for January, customized for our share contents this Saturday, to help you plan out the 3 weeks till the next share!

*For the curious: How do our farms grow greens in the winter?  The greens you’ll get in your share box tomorrow were transplanted into the field in late August or early September, and grew to their current size in about a month and a half.  When the days get really short and the sun is closer to the horizon, the growing essentially stops.  Then it’s just a matter of protecting the crop somewhat from the deep freeze–this is accomplished with either laying a row cover over short metal hoops (“low tunnels”) right in the field, or planting into a well-ventilated unheated green house (“high tunnels”) and letting it stay there in the ground to keep fresh until it’s cut.  At harvest, the greens must not be in a frozen state or they will be mush.  So, the cover and bit of sun shining on it, ideally keep the greens in an unfrozen state as the covers get pulled back or the farmers go into the high tunnel for the afternoon harvest.  If the tunnels are completely buried in snow and no sun can get through (like last February) or the weather is super cold, then the greens will be frozen and harvest must wait till another day.  Many gardeners know that a good covering of snow over spinach or kale will keep the plant alive, yet dormant, till the spring.  If you are hoping to harvest mid-winter, however, then you’d need the cover and a bit of sun.

Enjoy the share!

Share contents for Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016:

Use or process these within a week (keeps longer if fridge is cold, near 32 degrees):
Spinach, 1# bag, can be blanched and frozen for later use.  Kale, big bag (harvest will determine actual amount), can be made into soups, marinated salads, or dry kale chips all of which will keep longer.

These will keep for many weeks in cold storage (keep moist in bag, with some ventilation, not tightly sealed):
Carrots – 6#,
Potatoes, white – 6#,
Beets – 3#,
Kohlrabi, 1—peel and slice or grate as an excellent salad or stirfry ingredient
Cabbage, 1 green—if you are making sauerkraut or kimchi, do that asap
Celeriac–mildly celery flavored root great for mashing with potatoes, roasting, or for soups and stews.  Peel and cut up.
Parsnips —
excellent for stews and soups, nicely pairs with curry flavors and ginger, also see Jackie Starr’s idea for parsnip muffins!  For the larger ones, you may want to remove the woody core and use that for making stocks (or just compost)

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:
Onions, yellow 2# (from Harlow Farms) Garlic ½ #(can also be stored in a tightly closed jar in the refrigerator)
Butternut Squash, 1 or 2–can store in your kitchen for a few weeks, cooler temps with ventilation for longer (not in a plastic bag), store in single layers/separate, not in pile.  Any with blemishes should be used right away or peel, chop and freeze.

These will keep for many months in room temperature, dry conditions (keep the dirt on and in a breathable paper bag or box:  Sweet Potatoes, 4#, Dried Herbs (rosemary and thyme)

These will keep for a year or more in dry conditions (closed jar), not too warm:
Dried beans 2# –your choice of black turtle, yellow eye, and Jacob’s Cattle          Tomato Puree, 1 jar–canned in jars, organic summer tomatoes from Riverland.  These are shelf stable so store on your pantry shelf–yum!

Last Deep Winter (February 7) Share Box

Brrr….It’s a crazy windy day out there.  The upside might be that some of the snow from this past week will be blown off of the low tunnels at Riverland so that there aren’t mountains to dig into come harvest day this week. Remember these photos from last month’s share blog?  Well just imagine what the tunnels look like after last week’s storm! Riverland low tunnel spinach Jan 2015 Riverland low tunnels Jan 2015

Anyways…this weather makes me happy to stand at the warm stove and cook.  I just got Jackie Starr’s Fabulous Menu Suggestions for our share this upcoming week.  Check it out!  There’s even a sweet potato felafel in there and lots of other inspiring ways to enjoy the winter veggies.

Here are the shared contents (and storage/use advice) for this upcoming Saturday, barring any major weather-related difficulties.

Use these within a week or so (or blanch or make a dish for freezing) and store cold and moist in your refrigerator:
Spinach, about 1 1/4 pound , from Riverland

These will keep for many weeks in COLD, MOIST storage (keep moist in bag, with some ventilation

Beets, 2.5 lbs. from Picadilly

Carrots – 5 lbs., from Picadilly
Cabbage (red)from Riverland— sauerkraut or kimchi ideally is made asap, cabbage will store for a while whole, just peel off outer leaves that may have dried a bit or turned brownish/blackish–the rest of the cabbage will still be quite good.

Potatoes – 4 lbs., from Picadilly

Parsnips 2 lbs. from Picadilly (more recipes here)

Optional surplus Rutebagas, Gilfeather Turnips, and possibly Celeriac from Picadilly (Please take what you’d like from the bulk bin at the distribution, these will not be in the share…check out the Recipes in the Storage Tips and Recipes drop down menu.  All of these are fabulous roasted, mashed or even grated into a salad.)

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; store in paper bags:
Garlic ½ lb. (can also be stored in a tightly closed jar in the refrigerator), from Riverland
Onions, yellow, 2 lbs., from Harlow Farm in VT

These will keep for a several weeks in your kitchen or in a cool dry cellar:                

Butternut Squash, 3 pieces, from Riverland

Dried Thyme-bouquet, from Picadilly–great for adding to those hearty winter stews and soups!

These will keep for months at 50-70 degrees—NOT COLD STORAGE:
Sweet potatoes 4 lbs., from Riverland and Picadilly–for a quick and easy snack anytime, make sweet potato fries in the oven (with a little chili powder and cumin!) or sweet potato ice cream!

Dried Beans, (choice of black turtle, light red kidney, cannelini, or sulfur yellow), hand sorted from Baer’s Best Beans will keep for the next year in dry storage, cold or warm.  As they are fresher now, they typically take less time to cook and need minimal soaking.

Tomato Puree (1 jar), Riverland’s summer tomatoes, pureed and canned by local processor, shelf-stable, no salt added.

First 2014 Winter Share Pickup Saturday in Arlington

Also check out shareholder Jackie Starr’s menu suggestions and recipe links, customized for this month’s share!

Romanesco Broccoli

Share contents for Saturday, October 25, 2014:

Use these within a week or so (or blanche or make a dish for freezing):
Lettuce-1 head, from Riverland
Bok Choy—1 head of large, from Riverland
2 broccoli or Romanesco, from Riverland
Mixed greens– a bunch or bag, from Riverland
Kale—1 bunch, from Riverland—great in soups, grated and marinated for a salad, or kale chips!
Escarole—great in soups,  from Riverland                                                                                    Rosemary bunch, from Riverland

These will keep for a couple of weeks in your fridge crisper drawer:
Leeks (2 bunches)—keep whole or chop for soup and freeze (no need to blanche) from Picadilly
Salad (Hakurei) turnips – a bunch (cut off the greens and use them first), from Picadilly

These will keep for many weeks in cold storage (keep moist in bag, with some ventilation):
Carrots – 5#, from Picadilly
Potatoes – 5#, gold from Picadilly
Beets – 2#, from Picadilly
Celeriac— from Picadilly, peel and slice or grate as an excellent salad or stirfry ingredient, steam and mash like potatoes,
Cabbage (red), from Riverland—if you are making sauerkraut or kimchi, do that asap
Fennel, from Riverlandnice grated into salads, or slice and roast with other veggies.

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; store in paper bags:
Garlic ½ #(can also be stored in a tightly closed jar in the refrigerator), from Riverland
Onions, yellow, 2#, from Alprilla Farm

These will keep for a few weeks in your kitchen or in a cool dry cellar:                                Acorn Squash, 3 pieces, from Picadilly

These will keep for months at 50-70 degrees—NOT COLD STORAGE:
Sweet potatoes 4#’s, from Riverland

Connecting the fall color in the landscape to the color on your plate

Crystal Brook Farm in Sterling photo credit: Crystal Brook Farm

It is the time to drink in the New England growing season’s fantastic finale of color–wow!  Our appreciation of color is so intrinsic to our biology:  bright colors on our plate signal nutrients and flavor and the brilliance of fall foliage keeps us moving outside and getting those essential rays of sun even as the weather turns cold.  Brilliant, deep green grass means healthy land which supports the health of our food, our water resources, our oxygenated air.

If you get a chance to venture out of the city this weekend, here are some nifty opportunities to include farm tours, which can be a more intimate look at what colors our landscape and plates:

Only this weekend: 

last weekend to pick your own organic raspberries at Wright-Locke Farm in Winchester, MA.

Child looking at Cranberry crate at Fresh Meadows Farm in Carver, MA.watch fresh organic cranberries being harvested at  Fresh Meadows Farm in Carver.  …the fresh organic cranberries you can order in November with your shares are picked using dry harvest (which involves much less bruising) and then separated from the chaff and hand sorted on this amazing antique wood conveyor machine.  Touring their fresh harvest operation is weather-dependent, so if Sunday and Monday live up to the dry forcast, head to their stand.  If it is drizzly in the morning, tours will view the wet harvest (for their frozen and juice berries), which is also a unique adventure.  Tours are gathered at the farm stand, which will continue to be open beyond this weekend, and selling delicious cranberry items (like orange infused sugar coated organic cranberries–special gift!).

If Carver seems a ways away for some of you, consider piggy-backing the cranberry tour on a day trip to King Richards Faire, an outdoor medieval village set amid a beautiful grove of trees in Carver…I’ve taken my kids there and we all had a blast, from the Shakespearean humor, real blacksmithing, roving pickle vendors, costumes, and human powered festival rides, games, and challenges (which are amazingly well-constructed and fun!)

This weekend and next:  Cider Hill is among very few orchards in our area still open for picking.   It is a beautiful farm with nice views from the top of the hill, and an interesting variety of apples.  And you can piggy-back a beach trip on this one (near Salisbury and southern NH beaches).

Anytime this month,


Goats at Crystal Brook Farm in Sterling

Goats!  Crystal Brook farm, where we get our goat cheese for the Extras, is open for tours and farm stand sales Wed.-Sun…it’s a little off the beaten path, but the wide-open pastures are breathtaking (and a quiet getaway), and it’s only about an hour from Arlington.

Foliage in the hills and mountains!  Take a trip further west to see the foliage in the Berkshires, hill towns, southern VT.  Picadilly Farm is minutes from Northfield MA, out Route 2, and en route to Brattleboro–shareholders and friends are welcome to walk around the farm anytime, stop in and say hi and see their beautiful operation there, the view from the barn, and your fall carrots and kale thriving in the fields.  Picadilly has farming neighbors with animals on pasture with views. (Win-gate farm around the corner, and Manning Hill Farm in Winchester, NH–check their websites or call ahead for hours).  Then hike Mt. Pisgah right nearby, or…

Riverland Farm is in Sutherland, just outside of Amherst and Northhampton on the east side of the Connecticut River, along River Road/MA-47 in case you are the vicinity of those towns or visiting Mt. Tom.

Apples, from Glenn’s home to yours

APPLES, part of your November share, come to you from the orchards of Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury. Open until Christmas this year, Cider Hill is worth a visit – fun for everyone, with hayrides, pumpkins big and small, endless cider doughnuts, and of course, several varieties of apples to taste and pick.

On Friday, when it was fairly cloudy and cool in Boston, some Shared Harvest team members took a trip up to Cider Hill, where the sun was shining and a morning spent under apple trees was really our only option.


The crew minus Jane, weighed down with apples (or not)

After a walk through the corn maze, ample apple picking, donut eating and checking out the animals and experimental hydroponic system, we were pretty spent. On our way out, we were lucky to snag a few moments with Glenn Cook, owner of Cider Hill (along with his wife Karen Cook). Like our other producers, Cider Hill is a small family operation and we love knowing that the orchards and fields have been managed by the same family for almost 40 years. Glenn, all smiles and high energy, is happy to send us apples for our core share, and additional/optional bulk and cider apples, just in time for Thanksgiving and the rest of the hectic holiday season.

Even though most of my apples are being unconsciously snacked on with peanut butter, I can’t wait to put my apples into slaws and sauce (Gala apples make fantastic applesauce). Hopefully, I have enough apples to tide me over until Shared Harvest begins. If not…I’ll have to go back. And while I’m there, I might as well get a few donuts.


A perfect fall day



Boston Local Food Festival: Thanks for coming out!


A week after the fifth annual (but Shared Harvest’s first) Boston Local Food Festival, we have just about recovered from all of the madness: a chilly early set-up, doling out hundreds of samples of fresh Picadilly Farm sweet peppers and carrots with Crystal Brook Farm goat cheese, and having great conversations with all of the curious locavores  in the Boston area (and many from away!). If you have found our website since, or because of, the Festival…we look forward to feeding you this winter!


Above: Elsbeth and Jane hold down the CSA explanations, while two sweet potatoes discreetly hold down our banner in windy downtown Boston. It takes some thought to explain, efficiently, what Shared Harvest is and does. But once folks understand our winter share program, it is rewarding to keep a lively conversation going amidst thousands of people and free food samples.

Sign up for your two, three, four or five month share today, and rest easy knowing that you will be eating locally into the winter and connecting with a new community.

If you missed the festival, or want to be reminded of the bounty to come, find us next at the Fall + Winter Farm Share Fair, hosted by Belmont Food Collaborative. Thursday, October 16, 5:30-7:30pm at the Watertown Public Library (123 Main St in Watertown).

Come Be Part of Local Food, Local Farms and Local Economy!


CSA Fair Display, Arlington Robbins Library

Think it would be great to get a box of delicious fresh vegetables on a regular basis from farms and farmers you know and trust? Are you looking for ways to reduce your carbon food-print? Want to sign up for a farm share, but haven’t connected to a farm that delivers in your area yet?


Come to the second annual CSA Farm Share Fair in Arlington! Farmers will be on hand to tell you about Community Supported Agriculture how their CSAs work, what they are growing this year, and how you can sign-up for a farm share. The Fair will host over a dozen local CSAs.  Shared Harvest Winter CSA will be at the Fair. Rob Lynch (Riverland Farm) and Charley Baer (Baer’s Best Beans) will be at the Fair to answer your questions. Charley will be selling his wonderful heirloom beans. Picadilly farmer, Jenny Wooster and Busa farmer, Dennis Busa will be hand, selling their farm’s summer shares and chatting with fair-goers.

The Fair will be held in Arlington on Thursday, February 24, 4:30-7:30 pm at the Park Avenue Congregational Church, 50 Paul Revere Road.

Come meet your farmers on the 24th!

Flaming-pink Watermelon Radishes and More!

Nice article in the Boston Globe about winter CSAs.

Green grows the bounty, even in winter
Shares of community supported agriculture bring fresh, local produce
By Aaron Kagan Globe Correspondent / January 26, 2011

For cooks used to supermarket produce, the rootsy offerings of a winter CSA — a community supported agriculture program in which customers buy their produce in advance — can expand one’s culinary horizons, especially when staring into a flaming-pink slice of watermelon radish.

These intensely colorful vegetables prove that the fair-weather dates of our growing season are not set in stone. In a winter CSA participants pay in the fall for vegetables they receive throughout the frigid months, thanks to simple technology such as greenhouses and climate-controlled storage space. Because cold temperatures concentrate the sweetness of vegetables such as spinach and carrots, winter CSA shares provide members with some of the most flavorful produce at a very welcome moment.

Read the rest of the story here.