Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Live Green 2009 Presentation

Again, link to for a downloadable version of the Powerpoint presentation, "AP Home Economics: Eating from Your Garden Year Round" given at Live Green in Manchester, VT on September 5, 2009.
Also available are scanned images for data on food storage relative humidity, temp range, and conditions.
Joy of Cooking - I prefer my 1973 version edited by Rombauer and Becker (Hooray for Irma!)
Storey's Guide to Cold Storage for Fruits and Vegetables
Growing for Market Vol. 18, No. 7 (August 2009)
The New Organic Gardener - Eliot Coleman
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Keeping the Harvest (Storey)

2009 Survey

link to for the 2009 end of season survey.

Thanks for taking the time to help make next year's season even more successful!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Week 10 - Final CSA Day

Final CSA day, a marriage of friends at the farm, flower arrangements and bouquets for the wedding, and the start of a new career... All in less than a week!

It has been my pleasure growing produce for you this season. In that way that everything always seems to work itself out, some of the vigorously producing plants are starting to slack and die back, the cold seems to have slinked back in, the migrant Canada geese populations turn over every morning although the lower field seems to be ever willing to host new nightly visitors, and school is almost back in session. It's been a whirlwind of a week, but the garden is still furiously pumping out food before it allows itself to be considered "done", and I've done as much as I can to get as much of it as possible to you this week.

Here's what's in your share this week:

Bell peppers
Serrano hot peppers
Red Norland and Yukon Gold potatoes - 5 lbs
mixed paste, red slicing, and heirloom tomatoes - 6 lbs
mixed cherry tomatoes - heaping quart
bunch of baby carrots
head of romanesca cauliflower
head of red cabbage
red and yellow onions - 8
slicing and pickling cukes - 6 lbs
bunch of kale
big bag o' basil
pint of fresh beans--Vermont Cranberry (pink and maroon mottled) and Hutterite (white)

I hope you have enjoyed your produce, and please help make next year's season even better by filling out this year's survey. Cheers!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Week 9

Retro post...
This week's share:
Red Norland and Yukon Gold Potatoes - 5 lb
Mixed red and heirloom slicer tomatoes - 5 lb
Multi-colored cherry tomatoes - 1 qt
Edamame - 2.5 lb
Big bag o' basil
serrano hot peppers
head of red cabbage
head of romanesca cauliflower
fresh red and yellow onions - 6
bunch of kale
slicing and pickling cukes - 5 lb
Summer squash - all you can eat!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Best O' Pesto Zesto!

Three pesto tips for thought:

1. Replace pricey pinenuts for unsalted sunflower seeds for less than half the price. Or go half and half to still get that piny flavor

2. Substitute asiago for parmesan-- a different flavor to mix it up

3. Go way out there and try this crazy mix: replace...
basil for thai basil and cilantro
parmesan cheese for tahini and soy sauce
pinenuts for sunflower seeds and almonds
olive oil for sesame oil and veggie oil

Spread on fresh slices of pattypan, and voila!

Stove-free meals

It's hot out there!

Here are some quick, easy dish ideas for summer.

Summer Squash "Icebox Pickles"

Slice up your favorite summer squash, add a marinade, and leave in the refrigerator for later. Replenish the squash stash as needed to really stretch the sauce! Select your summer squash for small size and undeveloped seeds for the best crisp icebox "pickles"-- and baby pattypan add a fun star shape to the mix.

Dressing version 1:
1/2 cup balsamic vinagre
good dash of olive oil
juice of one lemon, and a few lemon slices for garnish
lots of fresh-cracked black pepper
salt to taste

mix together and let the squash soak; add fresh basil and serve.

For a little more variety, add sliced fennel, cippolinis, sliced tomatoes, basil, crushed garlic, and red pepper flakes!

Dressing version 2:
1/2 cup rice wine vinagre
good dash of sesame oil
good dash of maple syrup
good dash of soy sauce or tamari
whole stems of fresh thai basil

mix together, let squash soak, and remove thai basil stems before serving.

For an extra kick, add sliced serrano pepper and slices of peach!

Both dishes will last in the fridge, covered for a week or so. If you get tired of eating the same thing every day, here are two more ideas: cut squash slices on the diagonal and mariate so they're large enough to fit on a sandwich; or toss hot or cold pasta into the mix!


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Week 8

August 11, 2009

With two weeks of sun to ring in August, I’m resisting the feeling that summer is coming to a close. The Canada geese catch me off guard every now and then, beginning their southward migration to warmer climes (but, but… summer just got here!) The deer are becoming more adventurous in their browsing lower down the hill (goodbye, beets, swiss chard, and some storage carrots.) The last round of late-fall harvest crops (more cabbage, leeks, new chard, kale, lettuce) has been freshly-transplanted. Tomatoes are still holding out on us, and though we’ve been fortunate to not have gotten hit by this season’s devastating late blight, they were hit by another unusual virus spread by beet leafhoppers—and a hundred and fifty plants had to be pulled out and destroyed. The potatoes went down almost overnight with somekindofsomething blight. The good news is that, as you know, the cucumbers, squash, cabbage, broccoli, soybeans, and so many other crops have done really well. Tomatoes should be in your boxes next week, as well as one of my favorites, the picky romanesca cauliflower. Heads are fractals arranged according to a fibonacci sequence—pyramids upon swirling pyramids, they’re pretty stunning. I’ve been tempted to shellac ‘em instead of eating them, but resisted. As yet.

In watching The Real Dirt on Farmer John (thanks, Jake!) I’ve been thinking a lot about how fast our modern agricultural system has developed and sprawled. It’s incredible to me that only in the past fifty years have we Americans, in general, been farming the way we do. The Green Revolution, which resulted from a surplus of nitrogenous chemicals leftover from production of explosives in WWII, has come about within our parents’, or our grandparents’ generations. The collapse of the small, diversified family farm is a new idea, as is the consumption of highly-processed, well-traveled, high-calorie, low-nutrient food. Obesity statistics by the CDC are astounding:

Since the mid-seventies, the prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased sharply for both adults and children. Data from two NHANES surveys show that among adults aged 20–74 years the prevalence of obesity increased from 15.0% (in the 1976–1980 survey) to 32.9% (in the 2003–2004 survey). (

Obese children and adolescents are more likely to become obese as adults.3, 4 For example, one study found that approximately 80% of children who were overweight at aged 10–15 years were obese adults at age 25 years. (

In a short period of time, we have managed to drastically and literally reshape America, as well as a large part of its cultural identity. The movie is a fascinating portrayal of a bright young man raised on his family’s farm in rural Illinois, who heads off to college, has his brain scrambled up a bit experimenting with the excitement of college in the ‘60s, and then tries to reconcile the two worlds he is irrevocably tied to. After and amidst struggles with depression, financial insolvency, community harrassment, and loss of family and friends, he comes to organic agriculture based on the CSA model while also supporting a diverse mix of production, education, employment, apprenticeships, and general merrymaking. Farmer John, our definitely kooky protagonist, makes a fair amount of mistakes along the way, but I think the film is most successful in exactly that—the portrayal of the very human side of his agricultural exploits. In many ways, he is an open, amplified, exuberant display of the emotions that are exactly those repressed by the good old midwestern values of emotional conservatism and expression. In being the perfect opposite of his fellow midwestern farmers (flamboyant, moody, suffering,) he actually portrays them better than anyone could imagine. And he sticks with it. This is where food comes from.

Another commentary on the flaws of our modern system is an interesting letter written by Eliot Coleman, and published by the Grist environmental newssource.

Rarely do complex problems arise from a single point of error, and it is a multi-faceted issue that is ours to handle. Untying the knot of responsibility that connects our nation’s food, farmlands, culture, government, businesses, economy, and health is a daunting task, and that’s exactly what the corporational lobbyists want us to think. They’re “too big to fail.” Supporting your local farmers is one clear, short-term, and good way to begin the paradigm shift that is inevitable, and as great as that feels, we need to bring this to a larger playing field. Exactly how, I am not quite sure. Supporting local farmers,letters, votes, and supporting organizations like Rural Vermont ( are good ways to start, but beyond that? Who’s got ideas?

Here’s what’s in your share this week:

red cabbage
purple, green, wax, and striped beans
lettuce head
bunch of kale
summer squash
cukes – slicers and picklers
a handful of cherry tomatoes
serrano hot peppers
bell peppers
yellow onions
bag o’ basil
fennel bulbs
Red Norland potatoes
fava beans (broad and fat)
edamame soybeans (small and hairy)

To eat favas: shell the beans and steam for 2-4 minutes, dash with lemon juice, olive oil, and salt, then bite into white bean casing, pop the green inner bean into your mouth, and enjoy!
To eat edamame: rinse the pods, then steam for 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt, pop the beans outside of their hairy pods casings, and eat just the green beans inside. These make a great, healthy, unprocessed after-school snack—blanch and freeze extras for later, or serve with your next stir-fry or sushi dinner to up the aunthenticity!



Week 7

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Glorious! Three cheers for the NY Times for these fantastic, simple, quick, fresh, spotlight-on-seasonal, high-quality produce recipes!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Week 6

The past two weeks have started to really feel like summer, and three cheers for that! The last of the spring chickens were harvested today (THANK YOU Ellen, Bill, Anna, Jamie, Renee, Alex, and Sophia!), the first new potatoes were dug for Sunday's market, the pickle-putting up has begun, peppers are sizing up nicely, green and purple beans are harvestable, and the cukes and zukes are out to get me with a (growing) vengeance. Hooray!

Tomorrow will find you with two more fresh chickens ready for the oven or freezer, and I truly hope that you're enjoying the birds. It is a great joy to me to have had such great helpers in keeping the processing times quick and lively, and I am very pleased with how the entire process turned out. Both chicken harvest days have been exhausting, gratifying, and thoroughly educational-- there has been a lot of knowledge sharing that to me, is the heart of the matter-- everyone helping out and pooling our collective resources for what I think, and I hope you agree, is a stellar product. There are many, many ways to turn a chicken into Chicken, and I think our way is in tune with respecting the life of the animals and the bounty they can provide. Putting the birds into a natural, trance-like state relaxes the birds' muscles, lowers the heart and breathing rates, and prevents the panic-release of stress hormones into the meat. Hand plucking feathers is sometimes tedious and slow, but on this scale, "slow" is an opportunity to notice the different sections of skin, the different directions to pick feathers from, the development of more down and hair (as this week's set proved) and a handful of other nuances and small notable moments to think on. Yes, it's slow and takes a significant amount of time per bird, and yes, I've been incredibly lucky to have let this become a part of my daily life-- but to me it is that significance, those opportunities to recognize the chaos and beauty, and then the inherent appreciation that are critical, missing links in our current mainstream food system. I believe that these things matter. So, with all that Ado, it's my honor to provide your weekly shares, and these chickens, with the help of several fearless, kind souls with trusty hands. I'm raising my glass to you, Cheers!

Here's one of my all-time favorite poems, in honor of the furious outpouring of growth, beauty, and production we call summer. Go ahead and read it aloud for its phenomenal rhythms!

From Blossoms - By Li-Young Lee

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Week 4

July 17, 2009 - Hi Members!

In your share this week:
Bag of salad mix
Cucumbers – slicing (smooth) and pickling (bumpy and small)
Summer squash
Squash blossoms
Baby leeks
flower bouquet!

I’m so happy that the flowers are coming along. It’s been a tough year for annuals, as the lack of sun and pounding thunderstorms melted down some of my transplants, BUT! they are coming along. And gosh, they’re pretty. To help them extend through the week, try to keep the water fresh. Calendula, for all its insect deterrence and pungence, does cloud up the water and shortens the vaselife (despite the fact that the secondary and sometimes tertiary flowers will still emerge into bloom.) To really stretch the bouquet, pinch the primary flower after the petals start to roll into themselves and die, swap in fresh water, and trim a quarter inch or so off the bottom of the stems. Just as we do, flowers drink more on hot days!

Please remember to return any baskets, wooden crates, or pint/quart containers this week.

And… here’s the really good news:

This past Tuesday marked seven weeks for our chickens, and as you’ve probably noticed, they’ve grown up to be healthy, robust, and enormous! I processed four yesterday as a test run, and to make sure they were going to be ready. Turns out, yup. The average weight of the dressed birds came out to be 5.55 pounds, which is huge. I had selected some of the bigger guys, and there will be some smaller birds, but expect the average weight of your four birds to be around 5 pounds.

I will harvest more on Monday so that everyone can pick up two of their birds this Tuesday. If you’re not heading straight home, bring a cooler. These chickens are exceptionally flavorful and juicy—and thanks to being finished out with corn and soy scratch mix, have a pretty thick, fatty skin. This makes for a great, juicy coating for roasting or deep frying, but if you’d prefer a leaner option, I’d be happy to skin your birds for you. Also, for anyone who is interested in making stock, stuffing, or dog treats, I’ll keep giblets, necks and feet. Birds are whole, and I’ll provide a photocopy of instructions on how to procure cuts like you’d see wrapped in Saran wrap in the grocery store on Tuesday. If anyone is interested in learning to harvest chickens, and wants to help, please let me know.

If you’re interested in purchasing more than your allotted four birds, they will be available for sale for members at $4.00/lb and for non CSA members at $4.25/lb.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Week 3

As the sunshine pours through the window, it’s hard to believe that three days ago it was pouring rain for the umpteenth consecutive day. But, it looks like we might be in luck for the rest of the week, which is good news for the green tomatoes and mini pattypan!

This week’s share includes:

Head lettuce (Romaine/Cos)
Colorful salad mix
Sugar snap peas
Summer squash
Squash blossoms

New this week:
Super sweet pencil leeks
Cucumbers! – slicing and gerkin pickling
Beets - red and chiogga (fuschia on the outside, pink and white striped inside)

I’m ecstatic about the cukes. This week there are two varieties – picklers and a Middle Eastern “Beit-Alpha” type. Here’s what Fedco Seeds has to say about this family of cukes: “Descended from a vegetable that grows wild in the dry climate of the Middle East, the beit alpha was developed by breeders on an Israeli kibbutz. These small sweet-fleshed cucumbers were originally popular in the Mediterranean, spread to Europe and have now won converts in the States because they are almost completely burpless and have a long shelf life.” These buddies lack the bitterness found in English cukes, and I find them to be far crisper than their Anglo cousins. Hooray for summer!

Broccoli is finally here, and very sweet thanks to the chilly and wet June. Pencil leeks are simply leeks harvested while still young and tender; I am guilty of eating them raw in the field, as they’re candy-sweet almost all the way to the tops of the greens. The beets are a bit of an experiment to see whether or not they really are transplantable in multi-plant seedblocks. Turns out... sort of. Transplanting in bunches seems great for an early season crop, but you'll notice they're a bit on the small side, and some show the effects of crowding. The next set will be more round, promise.

The broilers at six weeks are sizing up nicely, and I’m anticipating a first round of harvest within the week. They're on to a 60/40, broiler mix/scratch grain diet to help fatten them up and boost the flavor profile; all the feed they've been given is organic (which prohibits the use of antibiotics) and supplied by Green Mountain Feeds based in Bethel, VT. I’ll let you know when the freezer starts to fill, and we’ll dole them out.

Braised Radish, Scape, and Kale
prep 10 minutes, cooking 5 minutes

1 bunch radishes, sliced in chunky rounds
5 garlic scapes, chopped in 1” lengths
handful of kale, deribbed and chopped coarsely
2 tablespoons butter
good dash of red wine
fennel greens scissored, or tarragon
salt and pepper to taste
chopped green onion or pencil leeks
Over medium heat, saute scapes and chunks of radish in butter until they begin to become tender; add kale and cover to steam for a minute or two. Uncover and dash red wine into the mix, scissor fennel or tarragon, and add salt and coarse cracked pepper to taste. Toss well. Serve hot with green onion or pencil leeks chopped on top.

Simple Kale Salad
prep 15 minutes

1 large bunch kale, deribbed and chopped
½ C tamari almonds

1/4 C maple syrup
1/3 C sesame oil
1/3 C rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 knot ginger root, grated

This salad is simple, fast, versatile, and has been known to make some kale converts out there. It’s good fresh, but awesome for lunch the next day, as the dressing helps to tenderize and sweeten even hot summer kale. The dressing will keep for a few weeks covered in the fridge.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Quick note on onion storage

This is a tip taken from a quirky little staple-bound book given to me as a gift from fellow-farmer Gentiana, called "1000 Expert Tips For Gardeners". Or something along those lines. I think it was a gag gift, but this one works and has stuck with me--

When you're cooking and only partially using an onion, chop what you need from the greens end (as opposed to the bulb end) first. The onion will keep much, much better than if you leave the top end. This goes for scallions, leeks, baby cippolinis... any of those good old allium family jewels.

Why, you ask? I can't help myself, either. Based from my understanding of biologic/botanic/physiological principles (that means I'm guessing...) it makes sense that more sugars (energy) would be stored at the base of the bulb, thereby rendering the plant (yes, it's still alive, even when sliced in half and in the darkness of your fridge!) more able to "heal" its wound, or localize the damage done to the plant tissues after having been chopped. While the green part of the onion is above ground, revelling in the glory of the sun and photosynthesizing the days away, the bulb is is the proverbial root cellar. The resulting sugar from photosynthesis, glucose, travels back down to the base of the bulb for safekeeping where the tissues are designed for storage, as opposed to absorption (roots), transport (stalks), energy production (chlorophyll-filled green parts), and respiration (greens, in the allium family's case.) As gravity and efficiency would have it, the storage begins at the base; if we're working with the root cellar idea here, it would be like stacking jars of pickles put up from the summer. You can't float jars of pickles in mid-air in the cellar, which even if you could you'd have to duck around and beneath to get to the floor if your goal was to fill the entire cellar. So, you start from the ground up.

Be this explanation satisfactory or not, the tip does work. Good luck and enjoy those cippolinis!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Week 2 Tuesday

Howdy Members!

I'm switching gears here in an attempt to help these weekly farm updates be more truly weekly-- moving into the blogosphere and out of email/tinkering with formatting on From here on out, you can depend on this blog being the most up-to-date information about your weekly shares, what's going on in the fields, and what's being planned for the future.

Some notes about your share this week:

Susan noted that the cippolini onions didn't hold well in the fridge last week. Good point. They and many other leafy green veggies (think scallions, kale, lettuce, spinach,) do best in a high-humidity conditions. You can make that happen by storing your greens in a tupperware with the lid cracked or plastic baggie.

You'll notice your basil has not been field-washed -- it holds much better in the fridge that way, so give it a rinse just before you use it.

Thai basil is an essential addition to Thai-inspired curries, and provides a lovely anise-type flavor. Once the weather heats up, it will produce nice purple spikes of flowers that not only add a great flavor to asian-inspired dishes, but look purdy, too. You can also drop it into your pot of rice as it's steaming to flair it up a bit.

Squash blossoms are great tossed in salads fresh, and they're also a marvelous excuse to deep fry! If you're feeling indulgent, try stuffing them with chevre (I'd highly recommend the fine folks' at Consider Bardwell) and then beer-battering them with a little cornmeal to boot. We whipped some up with some fresh garlic, cippolini greens, cracked black pepper and CB chevre mixed together as stuffing, twisted the blooms shut, dipped and rolled, dunked in hot oil... Good for the soul.

On a heart-healthier note, there are a few notable firsts for the season: summer squash fruits and sugar snap peas. The squash are tiny and tender, and you can use them just like you'd use their bigger sisters. The squash blossoms are the male flowers from the plants, providing the pollen needed to get to the female blossoms (which auto-produce the squash as we know it, which is the flower's ovary.) Once the female blossom is pollinated, the signal is a "go" and the main plant's energy continues to feed the fruit. If not pollinated, the ovary shrivels, turns brown, and falls off. You'll note that the peas are not as sweet as they ought to be. I debated about providing them for the share, as their flavor is not as stellar as I'd like; they will get sweeter as they mature and the sun fuels the plants a bit more.

And as with last week, three different lettuce heads, a bag of mixed salad greens, a bunch of tender, young radishes, and a bunch of Dinosaur/Lacinato/Black kale round out the mix for this week.

In other garden news, I've been hilling the potatoes, which are coming along nicely, and will hopefully be ready for some tender new potatoes in the coming few weeks. Purple flowers are gracing the tops of some of the plants, and on the next hot day, several more are sure to come.

More to come soon. Thanks!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Week of June 18th - Weekly Update

June 18, 2009


With just under one week until our first CSA pickup, the garden is moving right along. Bright, beautiful lettuce heads are filling out, two kinds of kale, radishes, mustard greens tender and big for braising, scallions, and pea shoots will all be ready for munching come next Tuesday. The chickens are robust and hilarious as ever, and learning the new, fun game of Worm Rugby as they explore the delights of outdoor life. This week’s update is a two-for-one bargain to make up for last week’s (busy!) silence.

This year so far has been marked by the generous donations of time, muscle, and and tender loving care of friends from near and far, past and present. Visitors and co-apprentices from two of my previous farm experiences in Oregon have ventured easterly and brought with them their passion and pragmatism, helping to organize and harvest for the first Dorset Farmer’s Market, transplant veggies, and wreak havoc on the weeds (Hoe Fever!); a dozen college friends came to celebrate a Happy Dirtday party in May and help pick rocks out of the field and transplant over a dozen flats of onions; summer squash was moved out and covered with reemay, filled with updates from Peace Corps life in Kazakhstan and Liberia; winter den sity ledis and swiss chard were seeded by the tentative eight-year old hands of Green Peak Farm’s official Junior Rock Patrolller neighbor; nearly weekly photo-journal entries are snapped; plans are being made with a college/now Oregonian friend to snag her away from her new draft horses and milking goats in early August. Thanks to everyone who has invested themselves, in whatever and every way, for rounding out the character of this place!

This week Green Peak Farm has been host to my dear friend, Brian, who was a co-apprentice at Gardenripe Farm in Silverton, OR. Thanks to Brian’s tenacity and zeal for hoeing, we’ve managed to chase out a lot of the ryegrass, timothy, tap-rooted red clover, and other pasture plants looking to re-inhabit their one-time homes. Yesterday evening found us weeding the winter squash hills, which are just starting to be visible from the landing on Green Peak. As we made our way down the beds, the roar and tumult of our neighbors’ tractors came rumbling in to tet and bale the hay in the rest of the field. You can hear them coming from miles away. Zing! And they’re off! Roar and tumble around the field, round and around again; Brian and I paused in our hoeing and hand weeding, shot sidelong glances at each other, and couldn’t help but sit to watch for a minute to ooh and ahh over the speed and easy mechanization of the entire process. In the course of about an hour, sixteen round bales with a 4-foot diameter were deposited in the path of the machines, laid like golden eggs from the giant green oviduct of the racous JohnDeere-bird.

As we got back to the task at hand, Brian looked at me and said, “You know, they think we’re crazy, too.” And he’s probably right, and we probably are, but as I’ve had ample opportunity to work out The Case For Hand-Weeding, I’ll give it a go on you. For me the bottom line is the idea of simple tools begetting simple problems, which in turn beget simple solutions. Where is the nearest tractor supply store? The average in-transit shipping times for parts coming from Whoknowswhere? The cheapest supply for new 3-point hitch arms or welding tools to reattach them to my busted rig? How much is bulk fuel going for these days, and what sort of fuel buying club do I need to submit membership to? I’m happy not to know. Every time I pause to look down the row to see how much further there is to go, I think of all of the time and energy it would take to fire up the tractor, attach the implement, drive it down to the field, make one pass, drive it back up the field, park the tractor, and get back to where I was, remembering all along to not run over irrigation or dogs or pointy rocks, not to let the fuel level get too low, to drive wide around the corners so the rear hitch has room to swing. I love the quietude of the hoeing, quiet enough to open windows of thought or, as I’ve had the good fortune with this week’s visitor, carry on a great conversation about our national attitudes toward food and how short-term our concepts of health and value have become. My working knowledge of different stages of development for insects and plants, beneficial and otherwise, grows every time I plunge my hands into the soil. I like to think of the empathy my hands share with the roots of my plants, and small discoveries like the five degree temperature difference between the west side of the cabbage plants and the shaded east side on a hot afternoon get a chance to be noticed. Careful observation can only happen with time, observation pays off in the long run, and I do hope to be running for a long, long time.

Here’s a quote from Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim At Tinker Creek:

“Cruelty is a mystery and the waste of pain. But if we describe a world to compass these things, a world that is a long, brute game, then we bump against another mystery: the inrush of power and light, the canary that sings on the skull. Unless all ages and races of men have been deluded by the same mass hypnotist (who?), there seems to be such a thing as beauty, a grace wholly gratuitious. About five years ago I saw a mockingbird make a straight vertical descent from the roof gutter of a four-story building. It was an act as careless and spontaneous as the curl of a stem or the kindling of a star.

The mockingbird took a single step into the air and dropped. His wings were still folded against his sides as though he were singing from a limb and not falling, accelerating thirty-two feet per second per second, through empty air. Just a breath before he would have been dashed to the ground, he unfurled his wings with exact, deliberate care, revealing the broad bars of white, spread his elegant, white-banded tail, and so floated onto the grass. I had just rounded a corner when his insouciant step caught my eye; there was no one else in sight. The fact of his free fall was like the old philosophical conundrum about the tree that falls in the forest. The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.”

Have a great week!


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

First Weekly Update -

June 3, 2009

Howdy Members,

Here’s your first weekly update from the farm. The kickoff of our first “official” frost free date, June 1—brings with it long days of plantings, transplantings, potting-up seedlings, hoeing, irrigation, installation of floating row covers on the most tender crops, and week-old chicks who have already more than tripled in size. All good things. But hold up, one second there… June! It’s June! In two short months the farm has gotten off to a running start, thanks in many parts, to you. I can’t stress enough the value of knowing there is a community backing the work, and the harvests to come, and my commitment to the garden and the season. Thank you.

Gratitude is a dynamic thing, and one part about farming that I love often seems to come as a disclaimer to farm work: hours of repetitive, sometimes “boring” labor. But it’s often only in these times that I can turn down the volume of my brain cranking out infinitely long To-Do lists, let my body run by muscle memory, and take in my natural surroundings—which always brings me back to gratitude.

Today it’s the bobolinks. When we were laying out the placement of the garden, Thomas and I drove stakes into the four corners of the field, and one in the dead center for perspective. These wooden stakes have turned into ideal perches for the birds, who seem to embrace the limelight like naturals, singing all through the day. Sometimes it feels like they’re surrounding me on all sides with song, and when I look up from my squash hill planting, I realize they are—even singing as they’re curlicue diving through the sky, driving out the red-winged blackbirds and maintaining their nesting territory. They blow up their chests and even their comical, colorblindedly-coordinated, sandy feather toupees stand on end and expand to call out their song for the day. To double one’s volume for song—if that’s not virtue, I don’t know what is!

Here’s a poem by Jane Kenyon.


An oriole sings from the hedge
and in the hotel kitchen
the chef sweetens cream for pastries.
Far off, lightning and thunder agree
to join us for a few days
here in the valley. How lucky we are
to be holding hands on a porch
in the country. But even this
is not the joy that trembles
under every leaf and tongue.

Stay tuned for information about a weekly pickup ultimate frisbee game in Dorset and a member/community potluck!

Thank you for your support,


Monday, April 13, 2009

Deep Roots

As spring rolls around with 50+ degree days and nighttime temperatures in the 'teens, I can't help but revel in the cyclical nature of farm life. From daily temperature and moisture sways to seasonal growth and passage, multi-year crop rotation schematics, generational cycles, and legacies of land and farming families, it's all a good reminder of our long-standing relationships with the land and each other.

Just as the sustainable farmer takes a comprehensive view of field productivity and aims to feed the soil, not just the plant, so does this resonate with the great resources that we have in each other. The sustainable farmer doesn't just hire bodies to pick up his harvest, but helps to cultivate knowledge, habits, a love of, and respect for the ancient art and necessity of food production.

I've been really fortunate to have apprenticed with some incredible, ingenious, inspiring and uncontrollable Farmers who sing hymns amidst the bean trellises, teach eighth-graders how to castrate and dock tails of three day old lambs, weave packbaskets out of wild-harvested willows, round down at the market register, squish-test peonies like a lover, drop a tree on wedge, and grow some of the most beautiful vegetables I've ever seen. They're pretty cool folks: Tim, Jason, Bill, Brian, Nick, and Maya, thank you. Check them out at

Dancing Moon Farm - Hood River, OR

Gardenripe - Silverton, OR

North Country School and Camp Treetops - Lake Placid, NY

Brave New World

Germination has begun!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Putting In The Seed - By Robert Frost

You come to fetch me from my work tonight
When supper's on the table, and we'll see
If I can leave off burying the white
Soft petals fallen from the apple tree
(Soft petals, yes, but not so barren quite,
Mingled with these, smooth bean and wrinkled pea),
And go along with you ere you lose sight
Of what you came for and become like me,
Slave to a springtime passion for the earth.
How Love burns through the Putting in the Seed
On through watching for that early birth
When, just as the soil tarnishes with weed,
The sturdy seedling with arched body comes
Shouldering its way and shedding the earth crumbs.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Details for Green Peak Farm's 2009 "First Flight" Community Supported Agriculture Shares are here! Click on the image below for more...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Straight from the Source

I believe that in an ever-shrinking global food economy, where a handful of multi-national companies produce the bulk of vegetable seed available to commercial and home growers, the need to support "food with a face" is imperative on every level. In keeping with this belief, Green Peak Farm is sourcing its seeds from relatively tiny seed companies, and actively selecting seeds that are put on the market as a result of small, family- or employee-owned operations. Seed saving is a lost art in our modern food culture, and by going global, we passively allow a handful of "gloms" to shape our expectations for what food looks, cooks, tastes, travels, smells, and grows like every season. In the same way that you wouldn't landscape a palm tree into your Vermont lawn, we cannot expect tomato seeds genetically programmed and selected to be successful in Monsanto's trial gardens in, say, Florida to work up north. The tomato seeds that make it to you from Florida via Monsanto are being proliferated from only those tomato plants that thrive under vastly different conditions and stresses than your backyard. Wonder what those differences might be? I can't speak for the big guys, but I know that the folks at High Mowing Seeds in Wolcott, Vermont, or my seed-saving friends would be happy to talk about the sources for their favorite tomatoes!

Open-pollinated seeds have parent plants with varietally identical (or close to identical) traits. These seeds will produce a plant that bears viable, "true to type" fruits and seeds from generation to generation.

All Heirloom seeds are open-pollinated, and it is often because of the simplicity of open-pollinated seed production, small scale of seed saving, and the lack of genetic isolation in a backyard or small grower's garden that allows for the preservation of these plants. Owing to the dedication and personal significance of these special strains are often colorful and sometimes hilarious names and stories to boot that help memorialize people, places, and times. Some favorites: "Mortgage Lifter" and "Aunt Ruby's German Green" tomatoes, "Jaluv an Attitude" Jalepeno peppers, and "Vermont Cranberry" dry beans.

Hybrid seeds have parent plants with different varietal traits. As with most first-generation hybrid crosses, these seeds will produce plants that express F-1, or "first filial" Hybrid Vigor and take on the best of both worlds (for example, the sweetness of one parent plant and the early ripening of the other.) Unfortunately, this glory is short-lived, and hybrid seeds bear seeds that are either sterile, or not true to type, often reverting to only one parent type's characteristics. 88% of the tomato seed industry is now hybridized (Fedco Seeds, January '09).

Both open-pollinated and hybrid seeds can be managed organically or not, and heirlooms are not necessarily raised organically, though they are a result of open-pollination. Organic, open-pollinated, heirloom seeds are sometimes brought to market via huge multi-national corporations. Sheesh! It's tough to keep it all straight. But there's hope: the only surefire way to know where and how your food is raised is to ask the smiling face of your local farmer, which sounds like a pretty good insurance policy if you ask me. And, best yet, you might even get a story or two out of it all.

Crop List 2009

Here's the short list of our production for this season, by Family:

scallion/bunching onion
yellow storage onion

pole bean mix
bush green and purple beans
sugar snap peas
shelling/dry beans - 4 varieties
edamame/soy beans
fava beans

pickling cukes
"alpha beit" slicing cukes
winter squash - 4 varieties
pumpkins - 3 varieties

swiss chard
beets & beet greens

Brassica/Cole Crops
brussels sprouts
braising greens
mustard mix

bulbing fennel

lettuce - head & mixed leaf
specialty greens and edible flower mix

red, blue, yukon potatoes
slicing, heirloom, and mixed cherry tomatoes - lots of varieties!
ground cherry
serrano, pimiento and bell peppers

plenty of bright cheerfulness to choose from. Think rudbeckia, zinnia, sunflowers, stock...


Suggestions? Hard to find cravings? Let me know!