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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Week 21: Slowly winding down for the season

We finally finished the last of the eggplant and peppers that we stocked up in the cooler right after our first frost on October 14th. Those who missed out on eggplant and peppers this week got an early taste of celeriac and watermelon radishes. The watermelon radishes are a new crop for us this year and so far they seem to be a hit. These radishes have a greenish tinged exterior and a beautiful bright pink interior. They are milder and a little sweeter than other radishes we grow. You can roast them or boil and mash them, but they are also great raw in salads or pickled.

As we push on later into the season, the crew's schedule has gradually become a little more laid-back. Starting Wednesday last week we moved our start time up to 8am. Not only is it still a little dark at 7am, but with the colder weather, early morning harvests are a bit of a challenge. Harvesting with knives requires nimble fingers both for efficiency and for safety (and while gloves keep your hands a little warmer, they do make your hands less dexterous!). Plus, sometimes crops are still frozen in the morning and need to thaw out before we can begin harvesting. Our open-air wash station can also be an uncomfortable place to work in the colder temps, so overall it made sense to push our harvest back to a warmer part of the day. We usually start our days splitting seed garlic cloves or cleaning up shallots while we wait for the sun to fully hit our fields around 9am. Once it warms up we start harvesting lettuce, greens, cabbage, leeks, beets, carrots, turnips and radishes. This time of year is nice, because many of the crops we are giving out in the share now were harvested early this fall or over the summer, like winter squash, onions and garlic.

Many of our non-harvest projects this past week were related to next season: planting and mulching next year's garlic, putting row cover over our first ever crop of over-wintered onions and scallions, mulching next year's strawberries, trying out seeding an experimental crop of winter greens in our unheated hoophouse, seeding the last of our fall cover crops, and finalizing next year's budget. We're also researching some small equipment and infrastructure upgrades that could help us out for next season. It's a nice feeling winding down a successful season, but also really exciting to think about what we can do next season to further improve the CSA.

*Important note on renewals: Normally we hand out renewal forms for next season beginning in Week 21 of the share, but we are still working with upper management in the Trustees to figure out an appropriate price. Hopefully we will have those forms ready to hand out during our last week of distribution (which is next week!). Any forms that are not picked up in the shareroom by the end of the last week will be mailed out.

What's in the share: Lettuce, Greens, Collards, Cabbage, Bok Choi, Napa Cabbage, Daikon Radish, Celery, Carrots, Beets, Turnips, Leeks, Red Onions, Garlic, Potatoes, Winter squash (Sugar Dumpling, Red Kuri, Delicata or Pie Pumpkins), PYO Herbs and PYO Corn Stalks.
New this week: Butternut squash, Sweet Potatoes, Celeriac, Watermelon Radish, Nero Tondo Radishes, Parsnips.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Week 20: Thanksgiving share reminder and fall sale in the Dairy Store

Thanks to everyone who came out for the Harvest Dinner on Saturday night! We had a great time pressing cider, listening to Old Cold Tater, decorating pumpkins and running the hay bale obstacle course. Though the Harvest Dinner is behind us now, there are still 3 weeks left for the CSA. While the summer crops were finally finished off by the frost, there are plenty of exciting fall storage crops coming up, so don't miss out! The last regular season share pick-up will be Friday November 8th.

If the thought of the season ending in three short weeks has got you worried about veggie withdrawal, then sign up for our Thanksgiving Share, which is distributed Monday November 25th, 2 - 6pm. Vegetable shares include 40 pounds of storage crops, like butternut squash, potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, cabbage, celeriac and parsnips. We'll include recipes and tips on extending the shelf life of your vegetables so you can enjoy them well into the winter months. Get your order form in as soon as possible to ensure you get a share. If you are planning to order pies or cranberries, the deadline is November 1st. In addition to the Thanksgiving Share, take advantage of the fall sale going on in the Dairy Store. See below for details:

We're celebrating fall by serving up some of your favorite farm cheeses at can't-miss prices. This week, pick up our aged cheeses for 20% off (a savings of $4 per pound) and save 15% on our Great Pasture spreadable cheeses. You can also get these special fall savings on our new blue cheese — Blazing Blue – and our traditional English-style cheddar – Carriage Barn Cheddar. As an added bonus, next time you pick up your CSA share ask for your dairy store coupon good for $5 off $20 or more in the dairy store (milk excluded).

Thank you for being a loyal farm customer – and for eating & shopping local!

What's in the share: Lettuce, Greens, Kale, Collards, Celery, Savoy Cabbage, Bok Choi, Carrots, Beets, Yellow Onions, Garlic, Eggplant, Peppers, Delicata Squash, Sugar Dumpling Squash, Pie Pumpkins, PYO Corn Stalks, PYO Herbs.
New this week: Kennebec Potatoes (white storage variety), Red Kuri squash, Red Onions, Leeks, Napa Cabbage, Daikon Radish, Storage Turnips.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Meet the Cows time change for this Saturday

This Saturday's Meet the Cows will begin at 2:30pm at the CSA barn. This weekend only this program is free for CSA members. Come on a tour of Appleton's dairy operation before joining us for the Harvest Dinner at 4pm!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Week 19 update: Frost last night

I spoke too soon in my previous post about the being able to harvest eggplant, tomatoes and peppers for the rest of this week! We had an unexpected light frost overnight (a low of 39 was predicted, but it was 31 on the farm this morning at 7am), which has damaged our PYO tomatoes, green beans and hot peppers. We'll still keep those crops open Monday and Tuesday, but please note that anything you pick should probably be consumed sooner rather than later. If you are a Thursday/Friday person and have not yet used all 3 of your passes to switch pick-up days, you may use one of them this Monday or Tuesday to pick up your share instead of Thursday/Friday. Please note that the only difference between the share this Monday/Tuesday and on Thursday/Friday is that the PYO options will be reduced later in the week (the share in the barn should be the same).

The field tomatoes and sweet peppers may have escaped most of the damage (they are in a spot that gets sun earlier in the day than the PYO tomatoes, and thus thawed out much earlier). Hopefully we'll be able to at least pick one more harvest out of them this week before tilling them in.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Week 19: Harvest Dinner this Saturday!

Before I get into Harvest Dinner details, there are a couple of important items to note. First of all, we will be open for regular hours (2 - 7pm) on the Columbus Day holiday this Monday, October 14th. Secondly, this Saturday October 19th will be the last Saturday that we are open for Pick-your-own. The PYO fields will still be open during regular weekday shareroom hours as long as there are crops to pick (basically until the first frost).

Now, onto more exciting stuff: the Harvest Dinner! We hope that many of you will join us this Saturday, October 19th from 4pm until 7pm to celebrate the bounty of the season so far (remember - we still have 3 more weeks of distributions to go after the Harvest Dinner!). There will also be a Meet the Cows tour meeting at the CSA barn at 3pm. For this Saturday only, this tour will be free for CSA members. Live music from Old Cold Tater and activities will begin at the CSA barn at 4pm. We'll have tractors, a hay bale obstacle course, bean bag toss, cider press (we'll have some apples for pressing, but you are encouraged to also bring your own), popcorn de-kerneler, and pumpkin and round bale decorating. When you arrive, you can also enter your name to win a special door prize from Le Creuset. Dinner will start at 5pm. This is a potluck event, so please being a dish to share that could feed 8-10 people. Please also help us to reduce waste by bringing your own plates and utensils from home. Around 6pm, we'll draw our door prize winner, and I'll say a few words about the season and thank our volunteers and crew members. We can use help with set-up on Saturday morning, 10am-noon. If you would like to help out, please email me at or sign up in the shareroom.

We've been really fortunate this year to have such a long tomato season. We should still have tomatoes this week, but probably not enough for bulk sales anymore. This past week we ripped out our hoophouse tomatoes, as well as took down trellising and tilled in most of our heirloom and Pink Beauty tomatoes. There's still quite a bit of fruit on the plum tomatoes and the last slicing tomato planting. We'll try to keep harvesting those until we get a frost, but they may succumb to disease first, as powdery mildew and early blight have taken a toll over the past several weeks.

We got some great feedback last week on the Romanesco cauliflower. There's still a little left out in the field, so we'll try to stretch out one more week of harvest, though we might not have enough for every distribution day. I guess we'll have to grow more next year!

What's in the share: Lettuce, Greens, Chard, Bok Choi, Celery, Carrots, Beets, Broccoli or Romanesco Cauliflower, Cabbage, Hakurei Turnips, Easter Egg Radishes, Eggplant, Peppers, Tomatoes, Garlic, Yellow Onions, Potatoes, Acorn Squash, Delicata Squash, Pie Pumpkins, PYO Cherry Tomatoes, PYO Husk Cherries, PYO Hot Peppers, PYO Green Beans, PYO Corn Stalks, PYO Herbs.
New this week: Sugar Dumpling Squash, Collards, Popcorn.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Week 18: October Happenings at the Farm

October is here, and that means that the annual Harvest Dinner is coming up! Mark your calendars for Saturday, October 19th from 4 to 7pm. Bluegrass music, games and activities start at 4 and dinner starts at 5. This is a potluck dinner, so please bring a dish to share and help us reduce waste by bringing plates and utensils from home. We'll also be offering a door prize this year to one lucky attendee - a 5 1/2 quart French Oven pot from our friends at Le Creuset! Look for more details on the blog next week about this fun family event. If you would like to volunteer to help with set-up or with running a children's craft activity, please email Lise at

Appleton Cooks will be offering a Fresh Fall Cooking Class this Wednesday, October 9th from 5:15 to 7pm. These workshops focus specifically on what's growing at the farm. Participants take a walk through the fields, harvest some veggies and prepare a dish featuring farm ingredients. The cost is $35 for TTOR members and $45 for non-members. To sign up, please visit the Appleton Cooks website. Questions? Call the farm office at 978-356-5728.

Also, be sure to get in your Thanksgiving share order forms by the end of October. We have to place cranberry and pie orders by the first week of November, so we will not be accepting those orders after November 1st. We will have a total of 100 vegetable shares available, and these are first-come first-served, so get your form in early in order to guarantee you get a share!

The weather has been beautiful the past two weeks, but it was really nice to get a little rain on Friday! Not only does it help keep down all the dust in our roads, but it makes our newly seeded cover crops very happy. The crew hit a couple of milestones this past week as we finished harvesting both our sweet potatoes and shallots. These were the last of the fall storage crops left to harvest for curing in the greenhouse, so we're pretty pleased! On the agenda for the coming week (aside from harvesting for the CSA share) is cleaning off the rest of our onions, pulling out the rest of the landscape fabric, separating out garlic cloves for seed, and transplanting an experimental crop of over-wintered onions.

What's in the share: Lettuce, Greens, Spinach, Celery, Carrots, Beets, Broccoli, Savoy Cabbage, Hakurei Turnips, Eggplant, Peppers, Tomatoes, Garlic, Yellow Onions, Purple Potatoes, Acorn Squash, PYO Cherry Tomatoes, PYO Husk Cherries, PYO Hot Peppers, PYO Green Beans, PYO Corn Stalks, PYO Herbs.
New this week: Romanesco Cauliflower, Delicata Squash, Pie Pumpkins, Bok Choi, Easter Egg Radishes.
Romanesco cauliflower is a new variety of cauliflower for us this season!