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Monday, September 15, 2014

Week 15

It has been a little while since my last update so I would like to recap the last couple of weeks on the farm.  We had a little heat wave followed by a little tornado.  Separately these events might have been damaging but together they had the potential to be ruinous.  We must have a guardian angel in overalls because the damage to the vegetable crops was fairly minimal.  True, some of our cool weather crops bolted from the heat stress and many of our summer crops were greatly hastened in their decline but the greenhouses still stand, our deer fences still stand and none of our trucks, tractors or people were damaged.  We are in pretty good shape for the rest of the season and any gaps in production caused by the storm will be made up for with the abundance of the fall harvest.

This week we are hoping to find the time to finish harvesting onions and winter squash.  Clearing out these large sections of field will allow us to seed a cover crop of rye and peas which will protect our soil over the winter and enrich it for next season’s plantings.  Our goal is to cover crop as much of our fields as possible by mid October.  Also on the agenda this week is thinning and weeding our final planting of fall carrots and seeding our final greens for the season!  If we manage to get through these tasks I am hoping to tidy up some of our supplies left in the field from some of our summer plantings.  Tomato trellising needs to start coming down and landscape fabric and stakes (used to control weeds in the driving rows) need to comp up. 

Although summer is ending we are only about half way through the season.  With two full months to go we still have a great diversity of veggies ahead of us.  If you haven’t seen one of your favorite veggies yet there is a very good chance that it is still maturing.  Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, daikon radishes, watermelon radishes, parsnips, spinach and many more are still on their way.

  Whats in the Share: Lettuce, escarole, greens, chard, beets, kale, cucumbers, potatoes, leeks, yellow onions, shallots, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, celery, winter squash
Whats new this week: Kale, yellow onions, shallots, garlic, delicata winter squash

And now a message from our sponsors:

This SUNDAY is Family Farm Day!
Don’t miss the farm’s biggest celebration of the year.  Grab your friends and join us for some good ol’ fashioned fun on Sunday, September 21 from 10am—3pm (RAIN OR SHINE).  The family-friendly event features local healthy foods, music by Ben Rudnick and Friends, barnyard animals, and traditional farm crafts and activities including pumpkin painting, pony rides, and a hay obstacle course!
Trustees members: $20 per car.  Nonmembers: $25 per car.  Admission includes all activities.

Monday, September 1, 2014

And now a word from Beth O'Grady

Hello from Volunteer Services!

We hope you have all been enjoying a wonderful summer.  Now that September is upon us, we are sending out our annual plea for helping hands for our biggest event of the year; FAMILY FARM DAY!

This year the event will take place on Sunday, September 21st from 10AM-3PM.  There are morning and afternoon shifts to be covered. The success of this event has been dependent on volunteers for over 10 years- help us keep up this tradition that welcomes over 3,500 people to the farm.

Why lend a hand?

·         Appleton’s Education Programs rely on the revenue of Family Farm Day.  50 school field trips, service learning programs, and our public events and tours are made possible with the funds from Family Farm Day.
·         Teens can gain service learning or community service hours for helping out at Family Farm Day.
·         Volunteers help orient and welcome new families to Appleton, broadening the farm’s base of visitors, members, friends, and supporters.
·         Family Farm Day is FUN!  Spend a few hours helping out The Trustees in one of the most beautiful spots on the North Shore.
·         We have wonderful staff, but not nearly enough of them to run this event.  We need your help.

Recruit your friends and family to come and offer a few hours of their time.  We have lots of ways to help- we need help at the information tables, the barnyard animals, the pony rides, the face painting and farm tattoo stations, tug o’ war, the hay obstacle course, the recycle and compost stations, and greeters.   Choose your favorite or we can choose for you.

Please respond to Beth O'Grady, if you can volunteer and what shift you prefer to work for this year’s Family Farm Day and please share this email with friends and family who may be interested.

We THANK you in advance!!

Week 13

Shallots curing for longer storage

With September on the way we are looking ahead at a month busy with harvesting.  Storage crops such as onions and winter squash are at peak maturity now and we must find the time to collect the thousands of pounds of produce as well as the space to store and cure them.  It will be a few weeks before onions make it to the share room as they require a curing period in a warm dry location.  Curing greatly increases the onions storage ability and it makes them much easier to clean.  Certain winter squash varieties such as spaghetti squash and acorn squash are ready for eating immediately after harvest but these tend to have shorter storage potential.  Butternut squash requires at least a month to cure after harvest for its flavor to mature but a properly cured butternut will be great eating well into winter if you have the self control to wait that long.

Also on our agenda for the coming weeks is a great deal of thinning and weeding.  Carrots, beets, turnips, and rutabaga all need a great deal of time and attention to ensure a solid crop.  When you see the farmers kneeling hunched on the same stretch of bed and progressing at a snail’s pace, it is a safe bet that thinning and weeding is the task at hand.  Weeding the fall spinach is another big job that waits in our near future.

With so much still to do, it is with heavy hearts that we must say goodbye to several of our part timers.  Sam, Tim, and Becca, thank you for all of your hard work this summer.   It was a pleasure working with you and I hope to see you again next season.  Fortunately, we have a fresh new bunch of part timers starting in the next week or so to help us through the fall.  We look forward to welcoming them to Appleton  

What’s in the share: Lettuce, Escarole, beets, chard, summer squash, cucumbers, watermelon, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, celery, leeks, PYO flowers, herbs, cherry tomatoes, husk cherries
What’s new this week: Spaghetti squash, PYO tomatillos, dill and cilantro

Monday, August 25, 2014

Week 12

With the warm days and cool night we’ve been experiencing for the last few weeks it is beginning to feel a great deal like fall.  Of course it is still too early to be thinking this way but I am really looking forward to winter squash and root crops and crisp clear autumn mornings.  It is still dark when we arrive for work now, a clear sign that the changing season is approaching.

By and large the fields look great for the approaching late season crops.  Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and even sprouts are looking large, healthy and almost entirely free of weeds.  This winter squash, which once spread like a carpet across field 2, has begun to wilt from powdery mildew.  This is a sign that we will need to harvest soon.  Huge yellow onions and their slightly smaller cousins the shallots sit fat and happy in the field waiting for us to collect them.  I have justifiably high hopes for an outstanding fall.

My hopes are a little less high for an outstanding tomato season.  Our crop is suffering from the fungal infection Early Blight!  Although early blight isn’t as virulent as late blight, it is still fairly crippling to tomato plants.  We are hoping to get a couple more good weeks out of the tomatoes before they succumb.  This is sad for all of us but such is life on a farm without toxic fungicidal sprays.

You may have noticed that my updates have lacked a little color lately.  If you have some good pictures of the farm and you’d like to share, please email them to me at  I’d love to publish your submissions on this blog and bring back the color.  Thanks in advance!  

What’s in the share:  Lettuce, escarole, beets, carrots, summer squash, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, watermelon,
What’s new: Leeks, celery

Monday, August 18, 2014

Eat Like a farmer

One of the questions I most dread to hear from our CSA members is “What do you do with this vegetable?”  It is an innocuous enough inquiry and yet it always makes me cringe.  One of the dirty secrets of non conventional farming is that it doesn’t leave the farmer much time to be creative in the kitchen.  I’m ashamed to admit that I probably eat Ants on a log for dinner 2 or 3 times a week, without the ants...or the log.  So you can see how, coming from a culinary background that celebrates eating peanut butter off of a spoon or canned tuna with hot sauce (served in the can naturally), I feel a bit under qualified to offer any gourmet tips for preparing the veggies that we grow.  Luckily for me so many of our vegetables recommend themselves for eating raw.  I’ve compiled a list of my top 5 favorite underrated vegetable for raw snacking. 
1)      Pickling Cucumbers- Not just great pickled these guys make a great snack for fresh eating.  Few foods can match the pickling cuke for refreshment or crunch.  Although a bit insipid pickling cukes have a great mild “green” flavor that I can’t get enough.
2)      Kohlrabi- Young red kohlrabi are an especially delicious raw treat.  I like to think of these sweet and slightly spicy goodies as “cabbage apples”.  When picked at an early stage kohlrabi is tender enough to eat skin and all.
3)      Broccoli Stalk- Although literally as well as figuratively overshadowed by the tightly packed crown of buds it supports, broccoli stalk is actually superior in flavor.  The tough outer skin easily peals back from the tender, sweet, and juicy stalk.  Once you try it you may never go back to eating the crown again.
4)      Garlic Scapes- Definitely a taste that requires acquiring, garlic scapes are well worth the effort.  Slightly sweet and deeply savory, scapes have a certain addictive quality once you begin eating them raw.
5)      “Bulls horn” type peppers such as Carmen, Oranos or Jimmy Nardello- Although not technically considered snack peppers, these varieties have fantastic raw eating qualities.  Medium thick fleshed, crunchy and exceptionally sweet, these colored peppers make for very satisfying snacking            
In other CSA news, we will be offering pickling cucumbers for whole sale in bulk to our members this week so if you have any great pickling recipes please bring em’ in for our recipe board.  Thanks and have a great week.
What’s in the share: Lettuce, escarole, Alisa Craig onions, tomatoes, peppers, summer squash and zucchini, cucumbers, watermelon, Chieftain Potatoes, chard, beets, carrots, greens PYO herbs, beans, flowers, cherry tomatoes
What’s new: PYO hot peppers and husk cherries