Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A winter meditation

It's hard to pull just one of Maurice Manning's Bucolics from the collection, but here's one for the season.


when I chop wood you warm me twice
you send a wind then send the cool
behind it Boss we work together
side by side when I drop the share
in the dirt you make it sing you give
a song to turning dirt we keep
some big irons in the fire don't we
Boss we keep it stoked there's wood
in the wood box there's a kettle on
the stove there's a whisper coming from
the kettle whenever something's doing
there's always something else that's just
the way it is side by side Boss
just like I said O one plus one
is too as in also Boss always
also O one thing also then
another that's the way you are
the way you always are I think
your favorite number Boss is two

Here's to the darkest days of the year!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Week 12 CSA - Thanks for a great season!

Week 12 - Final CSA share-- In your share this week:
quart cherry tomatoes
winter squash: butternut, delicata, and pie pumpkin
quart yellow storage onions
quart red storage onions
1 head garlic
2-3 green pimento peppers (sweet)
2-3 serrano peppers (smaller, cylindrical -- hot, classics for Thai cooking)
1.5 lbs green/purple/mix beans
loose carrots
bunch kale
herbs: lemon basil, genovese basil, bronze fennel, oregano, thyme, sage, parsley
flowers: TONS of statice (white and "sunset mix"), white and lime zinnias, white ageratum (flossflower), craspedia (drumstick flower - yellow balls)
 Bronze fennel and tomatillos
 Toms.  Heads up on these - I have found some burrowing bugs inside, that are immediately apparent when you husk and then halve the tomatillos.  Worth doing before roasting for salsa or stir-fry.
 (These are actually photos from last week's share... No summer squash or cukes this week.)
 Again, from last week.

 Pumpkins and butternut squash this week, hooray!  With tonight's frost, it really feels like fall.
 And after a few unsuccessful plantings of carrots, the final fall planting has finally made it through.  Yum!
 Your special blend of cherry tomatoes.  Good old Sungolds, a delicious red grape hybrid, and black cherries (the darker purple color.)

 One monster-- the first of the season.  BLTN...
Better late than never!  Heirloom tomatoes the size of your head-- wahoo!

My deepest thanks to you all for your participation in this year's Community Supported Agriculture.  It was a pleasure for me to supply you with bountiful local produce, and always a joy to get to visit with you for weekly pickups.  Here's to a great summer, and a beautiful fall!  Thanks!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

A few more flower photos

Here are a couple more shots of flowers I created for Katie and Rob's wedding
 Photo credit goes to the talented Stacey Hedman at the West Mountain Inn in Arlington.  
Thanks again to Katie and Rob for providing me with this opportunity!

Friday, August 24, 2012

CSA Week 10

In your share this week:
1 hot pepper (serrano)
head cabbage
1.5 lbs potatoes
bunch beets
bunch kale
cukes (slicing and picklers)
summer squash, zukes, and patty pan
onion (red and yellow) and shallots (pink on the outside)
head garlic
green and purple mixed beans
1 bag lettuce mix
Herbs: fennel (bronze, foliage), parsley, thyme, dill, basil, lemon basil
your lettuce is loving these cooler nights
flowers: statice (mixed colors and white), white ageratum/flossflower, white and green zinnias, bunch of 3 large sunflowers

Some other notes this week:

No chard!
 It took a little bit of figuring (and mostly just keeping myself aware), but I've found the chard-eating culprit!  (I am sad to say that they won-- and that, over the course of the weekend, the culprit tag-teamed up with the local deer population, who is getting more brazen as fall comes on.)

  The mystery was this: normally, when you have a severe pest infection that is decimating a crop, you can quickly identify the pest due to its plentiful quantities-- aphids, green stink bugs, tomato hornworms, japanese beetles-- these are our region's types of bugs capable of such destruction, and that thrive in large numbers.  Alternately, you can do some simple tracking to eliminate deer from the lineup-- our clayey soil does a good job holding their prints.  However, in this case of mystery chard infestation, I could see no evidence of insects.

Another unusual characteristic was that on any given plant, the larger, more sturdy leaves were the ones being decimated entirely, while the smaller, more fragile and young inner leaves appeared to display no evidence whatsoever of the pest.


Well, I had also been revelling that this seemed to be a particularly good year for birds-- we had great populations of bobolinks early in the summer, as well as redwing-blackbirds and lots of sparrows.  And, notably, the late summer migration of goldfinches, who are easy to spot for their shock of yellow, their cheerful song, and... their swarms.  Aha!  Seems that the goldfinches were landing on the ribs of the larger, more structurally sound chard leaves, and chowing down.  The smaller leaves were too pliable, and not able to support their weight-- thus the size discrepancy for the "pest".  And, I had certainly noticed that when I went down to the field, they'd cheerfully clear out of the scene-- leaving no evidence of bug infestations!

For all the good that they do in mitigating real pest/insect populations, some sacrificed chard plants seem to me like a square deal.  In the meantime, the deer moved in and munched the remaining inflorescences down to mere nubs-- and so, we'll have to settle for beet greens in the meantime.  That is, until the deer discover the similarity of the chenopods' leaves...

In more broad-scope news, to follow up on a recent post about The Gleanery: they have reached their Kickstarter crowd-funding goal!  Hooray!  Can't wait for this operation to continue moving along, and looking forward to opening day!

Also, here's a link to an excellent clearinghouse of information for folks interested in small farms and sustainable farm systems-- the Farm to Plate initiative by the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund:
This is an impressively comprehensive listing of whatall's going on in Vermont Sustainability.

Finally, it's back to school for this farmer.  Students arrive tomorrow, and then Sunday we start off and running with a hike up Stratton, swimming and getting to know this year's student body.  Monday: Classes begin!  Our remaining two CSA shares will continue as normal, and occasionally, you may need to retrieve part(s) of your share from the mini-fridge in the workshop.  I'll keep you posted with notes on the table.  Our final share will be either Thursday, September 6, or Tuesday, September 11.  Thanks for reading and see you soon!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Good ideas...

Gleaning (i.e. mindfulness, waste minimization, being resourceful, treasuring ephemeral abundance, thinking ahead while putting the time in now, etc. etc.) is a good idea.  Check out this new project idea, a gleaning restaurant/reprocessing kitchen in Putney, VT, which you can support if you like:


Talk about commitment to valuing local foods, all year long!  Putting food by is not for everybody, sure-- but making that work available to a broader range of folks and more eyes in the community-- Brilliant!  Good luck, The Gleanery!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

CSA Week 9

Well, I missed a week in there...  So today is week 9 for Thursday shares.  In your share this week:
 1.5 lbs potatoes
slicing and pickling cukes - lots, and plenty more if you're up for pickling adventures!
pattypan, yellow crookneck, and costata romanesca summer squash
bunch scallions
bunch shallots
1 red onion
bunch kale
bunch chard
bunch beets
bunch B-grade radishes, hit or miss on these.
bag lettuce mix
1 head romaine lettuce
1 head garlic
 Herbs this week include: genovese basil, lemon basil, sage, thyme, parsley, oregano, and bronze fennel leaves.
 Your share this week
Flowers include lots of statice, white and mixed sunset colors, sunflowers, copperhead amaranth, and green and white zinnias

Some notes on your share this week: B-grade radishes are debateably worth it.  Check through them, and use if you're feeling it-- they have some serious punch-- and savor the moment of "ah, these are thoroughly out of season with the heat, drought, etc."  It burns a little.

Lettuce is very happy right now, though passing quickly.  Beets are mostly for greens, and while not as sweet as I'd like, the roots are moderately sized.

Cukes and zukes are abundant now, but are on the edge of dropping off.  This summer has been hot and heavy-- and then past.  It has been strange, and harvest windows seem narrower to me than previous years. With the heat stress, the plants are also more susceptible to insect pressure.  Notable this year: slugs, snails, and green stink bugs.  Green stink bugs are new for me this year, and man.  Unlike most garden pests who feed (i.e. damage) within a specific crop family, green stink bugs are generalists.  So, beans, peas, corn, cukes, tomatoes, cherries, peaches... it's all fair game with these nasty guys.  They are voracious.

Next week, you can anticipate tomatillos and some of the first hot peppers (!!!!) and cabbage.  Also, more basil for pesto, and lots of flowers that are coming on.  Thanks for checking in!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Rob and Katie's Wedding Flowers

I had the great pleasure of growing, procuring, and preparing flowers for Katie and Rob's beautiful wedding this past Saturday.  Here are some early shots from the process-- more to come later!

Friday-- lots of prepping, stripping, sorting, figuring and arranging...  Gus hard at work cleaning echinops.
 Big props to Anna Johansen of Anna Blooms in East Dorset and Tom Wheeler of Wheeler Farm in S. Wallingford for their gorgeous flowers and greens.  Their flowers, combined with homegrown GPF flowers and others I procured from three generations of Brakeley gardens in Middlebury, and Jane's gardens in Rupert, rounded out the mix.  Huge thanks to you all!
 Burt nesting in the middle of the chaos, strategically placing his ball under our feet when were weren't paying attention-- bigtime OSHA no-no.
 Brakeley buds
 L-O-V-E mugs for the guest book table, and the bridal bouquet (center) with her bridesmaids' bouquets in back.
 Outdoor "altar" arrangements mocked up
 Meet Gus, Floral Extraordinaire.  Football?  Lacrosse?  Floral arranging?  Check, check, and check.  What a guy.  Saturday snack break.
 Bridal party bouquets in my lap on the drive down to the West Mountain Inn in Arlington...
 And one FULLY loaded car headed carefully down the road!
 Altar arrangements: two big, two small.

 L-O-V-E mugs in place!
 Katie's collection of milk glass in an arrangement around the seating "chart."
 Table shot-- Katie's dad's maple syrup and Echinops stole the show here...
Looking down the barn.  What a gorgeous event, and big congratulations to the bride and groom!  More photos to come...

NOFA and RAFFL Hand Tools Workshop/Demo

Some photos from a recent gathering at Alchemy Gardens in West Rutland last week.  NOFA Vermont and RAFFL (Rutland Area Farm and Food Link) hosted Johnny's Seeds representatives to demonstrate techniques and to let farmers get their hands on some useful small tools.  Row seeders, hoes, rakes, bed forks...
 Later, they gave a demo on setting up an affordable high tunnel, including tips on small efficiencies to help with setup, like...
 Using 6' T-posts to help with spacing
 Using two 6' T-posts, with teeth-nobbins pointed at each other for gripping the plastic at either end of the house.  T-posts are simultaneously hammered in at a forty-five degree angle, then stretched apart to accept the plastic that has been pulled taut over the steel skeleton.  Once all is tight with the plastic, everything is tied securely with P-cord up the length of the T-posts.
 How to blindly chuck the 500' spool of P-cord at your partner on the other side of the house without ended friendships, nasty knots, and concussions?  Before you tie off the beginning of your P-cord, run the loose end through a spool of duct tape.  Then place the spool of P-cord on a long-nosed screwdriver, using the screwdriver as an axle.  Pull off some slack off the P-cord spool, and toss the duct-tape roll as a (less concussive) counterweight over the ridge to your partner.  Ta-da!
 Clever idea-- let your plastic roll easily off the spool on an axle created by two garden forks and an extra piece of steel.
Don't forget to cover the bolt-ends with duct tape to prevent tears in the plastic.

With several dozen farmers and friends in attendance, the event was a great success in what is increasingly a steady stream of workshops down in Southern Vermont.  Thanks so much to the generous hosts and presenters, and be sure to check out NOFA's, RAFFL's and Johnny's websites for more upcoming events.

CSA Week 7

This is a bit overdue, but here's a quick update from last week.

CSA shares look similar this week to last, and we'll add to that a nice succession of lettuce mix, parsley, and kale.

Some of you have been wondering, as this time of year begs: just what DO you do with big zucchini and pattypan?
Zucchini for breakfast?  New school/traditional remix.

How about the old breakfast classic, Toad in the Hole, with zucchini instead of bread?  This could also work well with smaller zukes if you slice them on the bias/diagonally.  Simply slice your zukes (or pattypan, for a fun flower shape), cut a hole out of the middle, and toss in a hot frying pan with oil/butter.  When the zuke is about half-cooked, crack an egg into the middle, let cook, flip, and presto!  I added chopped scallion and lots of salsa Lizano for kicks.

Other ideas for big zukes: grate and freeze for wintertime zucchini breads, cube and cook into seasoned lentils (thanks, Koala!), eat fresh with dip (think Turkish yogurt dip-- plain greek yogurt mixed with finely chopped garlic and fresh dill.  YUM.)  Zuke latkes, shoestring zukes marinated in balsamic vinagrette... Have at!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

CSA Week 6

In your share this week:
1 lb green and purple beans
assortment of pattypan, zucchini, yellow crookneck summer squash
lots of pickling cukes
lots of slicing cukes
bunch swiss chard
bunch beets
bunch radish
1.5 lbs yukon gold potatoes
1 head garlic
3 shallots
1 bunch scallion
1 bunch each: thyme, cilantro, parsley, dill umbels (flowers)
 Some notes on your produce this week: No greens again this week, though they will be back for week 7 (lettuce, mustard greens, and bok choy.)

Purple beans will turn green when cooking, unfortunately the color doesn't hold when heated!

Parsley is here and will replace cilantro until the cooler weather brings more hospitable conditions for cilantro.

Potatoes are Yukon Golds and unfortunately, due to the early, dry spell, yields are lower than I'd have liked. I'll keep digging away, and we'll see how long they last.

Sadly, my first broccoli crop failed.  The plants, along with cabbage and cauliflower, had been under reemay since getting transplanted out.  From a few tears in the reemay, all seemed to be going as planned with the cauliflower and cabbage.  However, today when I went to harvest the broccoli, usually first from that set, the plants looked unhealthy, unhappy, and stricken with some type of disease.  The next succession is on its way, but it won't be ready for a few weeks, at least.

In other news, our vacation to the Adirondacks was incredible-- two days of beautiful weather, and morning of DUMPING rain to keep us honest and happy to be warm and dry in Old Forge!
 We paddled in Gus's grandpa's old wooden canoe from Blue Mountain Lake through Eagle Lake and Utonawa Lake to the Marion River, about a thirty-five mile trip.
 Burt was, for the most part, an excellent boatmate, though he definitely did not do his fair share of paddling...  After the portage from Utonawa to the head of the Marion.
 Raquette Lake is huge!  Looking north.
 Gus with the boat, what a beaut!
 We also got in a visit to the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, where there is a resident boatbuilder whose studio is open to public view.  She wasn't there when we visited, but the museum volunteer told us it took somewhere around 600 hours to complete a hand-built guide boat.  Amazing!  The museum also had incredible collections of antique horse-drawn farming and driving implements-- snow rollers, snowplows, cutters, surries-- and even a train!
The museum's collection of antique guide boats built in the Adirondacks.  We ended up the trip with an incredible performance by the Brubeck Brothers Quartet at View Arts Center in Old Forge, NY.  It was such a joy to get to check out the resources-- natural, human, and community- that are available in the Adirondacks.

Thanks for reading, and hope you enjoy your produce!