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 greenpeakfarm.com. 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,