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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Save the Dates! Family Farm Day, Farm Dinners, CSA Potluck, and Grazing the North Shore

Greetings CSA Shareholders,


The Education team is gearing up for a very busy fall! 


We hope to see all of you at Family Farm Day on Sunday, September 20th.  This is our most exciting and important event of the year.  Why? For one, we get to show off this beautiful working farm to hundreds of families who have never experienced Appleton before PLUS the proceeds from the event are critical financial support for the line-up of fall school trips that we will offer in September and October. 


Our weekly programs for children and families are still going strong.  If you haven't already, we hope you will bring the kids for Little Farmers in the Fields, Families in the Farm Kitchen: Homemade Applesauce and Apple Chips, or Fun in the Farmyard soon.  Tis' the season!


We have a Saturday Supper coming up on September 12th that still has space but will fill quickly so register soon!  We will be adding a more formal dinner to our October schedule and a family dinner in November. 


Also...the CSA Harvest Potluck will take place on Sunday, October 18th. Save the date for this annual tradition where our shareholders break bread with our farmers and celebrate the 2015 season. Live music, great recipes, and a beautiful evening in the Carriage Barn. 


Lastly, we are going to celebrate National Food Day on October 24th with a brand new culinary tasting event called "Grazing the North Shore".  Send along your suggestions for your favorite local-food-focused chefs, catering companies, and North Shore food producers as this event will highlight the area's most seasonally-focused food and beverage crafters.  We are looking forward to promoting our friends and partners who support local farms and fisheries on their menus every day by hosting them here at Appleton Farms.  More details and ticket sales coming soon.  Email appletoncooks@ttor.org with suggestions or for more information.


See you on the farm,


Beth, Kathryn, Caroline and Ashley







Monday, August 31, 2015

Week 12

The Share:
  • Lettuce
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Scallions
  • Beets
  • Chard
  • Cucumbers
  • Summer squash and Zucchini – these crops are starting to decline so they may not be available for the entire week
  • Watermelon
  • PYO Beans
  • PYO Cherry Tomatoes
  • PYO Flowers
  • PYO Sunflowers

New This Week:
  • Potatoes from Heron Pond Farm (read more about them below!)
  • Red Garlic
  • PYO Hot Peppers
  • PYO Tomatillos

A partial view of our tomato harvest from above
As we enter the first week in September the offerings in the share room have begun to shift towards our late summer crops.  As summer squash and carrots begin to fade out (Fall carrots will begin in 2-3 weeks so they will be back in the share very soon) and tomatoes continue to ramp up at a terrifying pace we continue to struggle to find time to get anything done besides harvest!  This kind of  distraction is both a blessing and sometimes also a big pain in the back but it is important to pull back from the moment every once in a while to examine the larger happenings at the CSA.  A point I brought up last week and promised to return to was our mission to cooperate with the local farming community.  I wanted to expand a little bit on what we are doing and how this benefits the farm, the shareholders and the local farming community.


Tomatoes: a pain in the back.
As many of you who have been members for more than a few years know, Appleton Farms CSA has a few pest problems.  Potato bugs, scab and quack grass have blighted our potatoes, reduced yields and cost an enormous amount of time that could have been better spent elsewhere.  These pests are all symptoms of a larger problem that we’ve been struggling with for a while.  We haven’t been able to rotate our crops sufficiently to break these pest cycles.  Couple this with our somewhat outdated and undersized potato digging equipment and you’ve got hours of wasted labor and months of ground tied up in a crop that produces a little less each season and contributes to a spreading pest problem.  Not having potatoes for the share is obviously not an option but what else could we do?  Enter Heron Pond Farm of South Hampton New Hampshire.  We’ve done a little business with farmer Andre Cantelmo in the past and really respect and the quality of his product and his approach to good farming  (follow the link and read more about Heron Pond on their website).  As it happens, one of Heron Pond’s main crops is potatoes!  Where our equipment is undersized and our crop rotation is too tightly spaced, Heron Pond has sized up potato production to a much more economical scale.  We shook hands this winter on a deal to provide Appleton with over 10,000lbs this season!  We will be doling these beauties out in the share room for most of the rest of the season and including them in the Thanksgiving share this fall.
Heron Pond Potatoes displayed in 2lb quart containers
 

Of course one day we plan to get back into growing potatoes in Appleton soil but this reprieve from the pressures of growing such a needy crop will allow us to 1) break the pest cycle, 2) Scale our equipment appropriately and 3) focus on growing the crops we do best.  In addition to sourcing potatoes from Heron Pond we will be sourcing most of our fall carrots from Picadilly Farm in New Hampshire.   Read more about our partnership and history with Picadilly in future posts. 

Look for a midweek update this week on our exciting partnership with the Boston Area Gleaners and details about how you can get involved!




Monday, August 24, 2015

Week 11

The Share this week
  • Lettuce
  • Chard
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Summer squash/Zucchini
  • Carrots
  • Scallions
  • Cucumbers
  • Watermelons
  • Fresh (uncured) onions
  • Beets
  • Caraflex cabbage
  • PYO Herbs
  • PYO Flowers
  • PYO Beans
  • PYO Sunflowers

Sean is forced to climb over some Scallions to navigate through our over stuffed cooler.
News from the Barn

It is sweet corn season and I know everyone has been stocking up on salt, butter and dental floss in anticipation.  Marini’s Farm Stand has exactly what you’re looking for this season with plenty of corn to go around as well as a few items you might not be able to find in our share room.  As many of you know in years past we have purchased corn directly from Marini’s Farm to include in our share and some of you are probably curious as to why we have moved away from that practice this season.  Logistically having sweet corn in the share was becoming a larger and larger struggle on our end with our limited ability to spare crew members for a pickup and our even more limited cooler space.  Although Marini’s Farm and Mike Marini specifically have always been extremely friendly and accommodating with us I got the sense that our order were just large enough to cut into their wholesale orders while not quite being large enough to really be worth the trouble.  My hope is that if you have a hankering for sweet corn this season you will head over to Marini’s Farmstand and spend a little extra time and money within your local farming community.   Helping to support our farming community is an important part of our mission: a goal I hope to touch on more in my posts over the next couple weeks.  Until then make sure to get yourself over to 259 Linebrook Rd in Ipswich for your sweet corn fix.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Week 10

The Share this week
  • Lettuce
  • Chard
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Summer squash/Zucchini
  • Cucumbers
  • Cabbage
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Fresh (uncured) onions
  • PYO herbs
  • PYO cherry Tomatoes
  • PYO beans

New this week
  • Watermelon

Updates
It looks like we are in for more hot weather this week and what better way to stay cool and hydrated than with watermelon.  Our first succession of watermelon is looking pretty good, especially when you consider its rough start in the field this spring.  The watermelon you will be enjoying this week were transplanted on June 2nd during a Noachian deluge which left our crew shivering and drenched but in good spirits.  The little transplants survived several weeks of chilly night time temperatures which stunted their growth for a time but they eventually bounced back.  Although yields might be slightly down for our first planting of watermelons it will be unnoticeable in the shareroom with plenty of melons for all and our second planting is looking fantastic.

Still smiling in spite of the drenching
Charles reclaims his boot from the mud
This story emphasizes the importance of transplanting under favorable conditions. We try to follow our planting schedule as closely as possible but if the transplants aren’t up to size or the weather isn’t cooperating we’ve seen time and again that we’d be better off waiting an extra week to plant.  This week we have a good amount of transplanting to take care of.  Lettuce, beets, fennel, and a handful of fast growing brassicas need to go into the ground but most of these crops love cooler weather and a decent amount of moisture.  If we were to try and plant these crops during the heat of the next few days they might not survive the week.  Although it is inconvenient for the farmer’s schedules, we will try to cram most of our transplanting into the second half of the week when things cool down a bit.

Although transplanting won’t happen until Thursday or Friday we won’t be sitting on our hands for the first half of the week.  Onion harvesting time is upon us and our greenhouse is filling up with onions set out to cure.  The hot dry weather is also an excellent time to catch up on our cultivating.  Of course if the weather ever becomes too oppressive, beautiful Crane Beach isn’t far away.  The farmers have on rare occasions been known to take off early to swim and work on there farmer’s tans.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Week 9

This weeks share
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Summer Squash/ Zucchini
  • Eggplant
  • Peppers
  • Fresh (uncured) onions
  • Scallions
  • PYO herbs
  • PYO beans
  • PYO Flowers

New this week
  • Tomatoes- availability and quantity will be dependent upon harvest yields
  • PYO cherry tomatoes

Updates on Tomatoes
For many of us, tomatoes are one of the staple crops that define summertime.  At the CSA we usually get our first question about the tomatoes in mid June, often during the very first week of share distribution.

“How are the tomatoes looking this season?”
“So far so good!” We’ll assure the asker although the tomatoes are barely knee high at this point.
“When do you think they’ll be ready?”
“Well…”

It isn’t an easy question to answer and it only becomes more difficult to accurately predict as tomato season comes closer.  The seed packet may state that you’ll have ripe fruit in 75 days but that is really more of an educated guess.  Did we get enough rain or too much?  Have the days been too hot or the nights too cool?  Of course even if we do see a few ripe fruit precisely when expected there is no guarantee that we will immediately have a steady supply.  Tomatoes can be fickle at first; they blush and flirt with ripeness one day but seemingly have a change of heart and cool the next.  Of course in our hearts and memories tomatoes are always ripe on the first of July and by the last week of that month the inquires really begin to increase in number and intensity.

“So do you think the tomatoes will be ready next week?”
“Well…”
“Well…?”
“Maybe in another couple of weeks?”  We attempt to keep our promises vague less we should be forsworn by those spiteful tomato plants.
“I heard they have Blight up in New Hampshire.  Do you think that is going to be a problem this season?”
“Well…”

Blight seems to be the second most common question we get about tomatoes.  No one really asks what the blight is exactly.  It is assumed to be just one of those ominous, unstoppable forces of insidious evil shifting unpredictably all around us and always surging closer, looming and pressing at the edges of this small but happy agrarian paradise and threatening total annihilation.  This assumption is pretty much accurate.  Blight is our blanket term to cover a number of diseases that can afflict our tomato plants over the course of the season. Usually when we refer to blight we mean Early Blight, Powdery Mildew, or Late Blight.   Blight may injury the plants, reduce yields or outright kill our tomatoes depending on what variety of blight we are dealing with and how badly the plants are afflicted.  Blight, once present on our plants, is progressive, un-treatable with organic remedies and ultimately terminal.  Now that I have hopefully scared you badly enough to start stockpiling bottled water, duct tape and plastic sheeting here is the good news.  Blight may be inevitable but it isn’t always the boogey man we make it out to be.  We have had many great tomato years with weeks of prolific harvests while afflicted with Early Blight and Powdery Mildew.  Even Late Blight, the heavy weight of the tomato blight game, isn’t a total season ender with many resistant tomato varieties now available.  In addition to making good disease resistant selections we put a ton of work into making sure our tomatoes grow in cultural conditions favorable to plant health.
This season our tomato plants are looking very good with lots of strong vine growth and an abundance of fruit.  You may have noticed that I put a little caveat next to tomatoes in the “This weeks Share” section.  The second week of August is a pretty average date of first tomato harvest for us but keep in mind that first harvests are rarely best harvests when it comes to tomatoes.  If we are lucky, tomatoes will peak in a couple of weeks and continue to produce straight through September and into early October.  Hopefully by that time everyone will have gotten their fill of tomatoes.  I wanted to clarify this point because during the first week when tomatoes are distributed in the share room we often have to limit how many tomatoes each shareholder can bring home.  This results in our being asked the third most common tomato question.

“What am I suppose to do with one Tomatoe?”

Well…here’s a list of suggestions to make use of your limited supply of tomatoes this week and make sure to check the CSA Recipe Blog for more great ideas.
  • BLTs
  • Gazpacho, heavy on the cucumbers
  • Salsa
  • Tomato sliders with Burrata, basil and olive oil balsamic drizzle
  • Sliced and grilled on Kebabs
  • Mixed Salads
  • Omelettes
  • Au natural with salt and pepper
  • Let the your tomato continue to ripen on the sill for several weeks then bring it with you to the theatre















Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Friday Farm Dinner spots available for this week!

Greetings CSA Shareholders!






Our Friday Farm Dinners have been selling out each week so we just added an additional dinner for THIS Friday the 31st.  Our friends from Bonne Bouche catering will be serving up an amazing menu featuring BBQ chicken, fresh farm salads and plenty of side dishes.  Unlike most of our dinners, this one will be BYOB. 




Tickets are $35 per member adult, $45 per non-member adult, and $15 for all children.  Your ticket includes your delicious dinner, live music by Labor in Vain, refreshing non-alcoholic drinks, lawn games, and a visit with our farm animals. 
You can register online right here: http://www.thetrustees.org/things-to-do/northeast-ma/event-21025.html




Tempted but not ready to commit? Watch this video taken by GIGI + MAC at our first Friday Farm Dinner this season and then decide.  https://vimeo.com/132889856


Coming up: Meet the Machines: Summer Picnic and Movie Night
August 9th, 4-8pm Pack a picnic, load up the kids, and ride over to the farm to get your fill of trucks, tractors and heavy equipment followed by a showing of our favorite farm movie "Babe" in the Carriage Barn.
You’ll get to climb aboard backhoes and bucket loaders, check out manure spreaders and harrows, then enjoy the picnic you brought from home or purchased in our Dairy Store in the beautiful Stone Paddock.  We’ll have lemonade and water available for all. 
At 6pm, it is time for popcorn and the movie.  Bring your lawn chair, bean bag, or other comfy seat.  (The Carriage Barn floor is stone tile which is good for wagon wheels, but not so great for tushies.)  Register online  and tell your friends to join you! Member Adult: $10 Nonmember Adult: $15 All Kids: $5.





See you there!


Beth and the education team







Monday, July 27, 2015

Week 7

This Week's Share
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Cukes
  • Eggplant
  • Summer Squash/Zucchini
  • Cabbage
  • Fennel 
  • Scallions
  • PYO Beans
  • PYO Herbs
  • PYO Flowers
New This Week
  • PYO Sunflowers
  • Uncured (Fresh) Onions
  • Carrots
Hey folks, in lieu of a proper blog post this morning I wanted to encourage everyone to check out the Appleton CSA recipe blog.  You can find the link to our sister blog located just beneath the banor at the top of this page.  Have a great week!  We'll see you in the fields.