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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Don´t forget to Renew before the New Year!

Greetings from Spain!  I am visiting with my wife´s family for the holidays and taking my first vacation in the last couple of years.  When people talk about their European vacations you generally hear about the historic landmarks, the culture and customs or the food.  While there is plenty to say about all of these topics, I am, as always, fixated on the agriculture here.  I visited Peñafiel castle yesterday: a thousand year old fortress perched atop the narrow ridge of a tall and rocky hill.  From the very top tower of this medieval keep I was able to look out on a landscape completely dominated by agriculture not only in the geographic sense but also dominating the  culture and economy.  I beheld a patchwork of fields in various stages of grain production.  Vineyards and wineries were spread throughout the landscape.  In each villages almost every house had its own garden for growing fruit and vegetables; a habit that is too wide spread and too practical to be called a hobby.  Although I´m sure that a thousand years ago the view from the top of Peñafiel castle didn´t include the wine museum, tractor trailers zipping down modern highways or electric street lights, still the agrarian vista filled me with a sense of timelessness.  Agriculture is still relevant in every household here and even the most hardened urbanites are aware of its significance in their daily lives.  In addition to absorbing chorizo at an alarming rate, I also intend to absorb a little bit of the local farming knowledge while I´m here.

Many of you have all ready renewed your CSA membership for the 2016 season.  For those of you who have not yet renewed but are planning on it, please be aware of the approaching renewal deadline!  We will be wrapping up Appleton CSA renewals by the New Year.  We will make an effort to contact our lapsing members after Jan. 1st as a final reminder but we will begin offering CSA membership to our wait list by Jan. 15th!  If you have not received renewal information via email at this point please contact Susan Ferreira in the office at 978.356.1655 or email her at Appletonfarms@thetrustees.org.  Please also contact us if you have any questions, concerns or special needs regarding your renewal.  Thank you for your support and we hope to see you in the New Year.
Ryan 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Share Information

We had our Thanksgiving share distribution on Friday.  If you bought a Thanksgiving share but didn't make it to the pickup on Friday, please stop into the Dairy Store anytime this week during regular store hours to collect your share.  Be sure to let the shopkeeper know if you purchased cranberries or pies along with your vegetable share.  Below you will find some very relevant information for making your winter veggies last.

  Making your Winter Vegetables Last
A look at optimal vegetable storage conditions
Storing 40 pounds of produce might seem a little daunting at first.  The temptation to just leave everything on the kitchen counter or to stuff it all into the fridge might appeal to you but your vegetables just won’t last as long if you don’t take the time to organize them and store them according to their ideal conditions.  Below you will find a chart to assist you in making your winter vegetables stay as fresh as possible for as long as possible.
Vegetable
Optimum Temperature (degrees F)
Optimum Humidity
Approximate Storage Lie




Brussels Sprouts
32-40
95
3-5 weeks
Cabbage
32-40
95
3-4 months
Carrots
32-40
95
4-5 months
Kale
32-40
95
10-14 days
Leeks
32-40
95
1-3 months
Onions
32-60
65-70
6-7 months
Parsnips
32-40
95
2-6 months
Potatoes
39-60
90
4-9 months
Rutabagas
32-40
95
2-4 weeks
Shallots
32-60
65-70
6-7 months
Sweet Potatoes
55-60
80-85
4-6 months
Winter Squash
50-60
50-70
1-6 months

This table is based off of information provided to vegetable producers so don’t worry if you can’t provide the exactly conditions listed above.  Keeping your produce out of direct sunlight and free of standing water or condensation will help to inhibit decay.  Keeping your potatoes, sweet potatoes, shallots, garlic and onions in brown paper bags in the pantry should be enough to keep them for quite a while.  Winter Squash can often be kept for weeks or months with no special conditions at all.  For leafy greens and thin skinned root vegetables, refrigeration is the way to go.  Put these into plastic bags with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture and place the bag into your vegetable crisper draw for best results.  Happy eating!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Farewell Appleton Farms 2015 CSA Season

Looking back

Another season has come and gone here at Appleton farms.  I feel, as I do at the end of each season, that we have made so much forward progress this year as a farm and as farmers although not without some growing pains along the way.  This was another tremendous learning year for us.  We welcomed almost 100 new members who joined us from the Moraine Farm CSA. What a fantastic group of people!  We also expanded our acreage by growing vegetables on the Moraine fields.  Working out the logistics of farming in two places at once and the last minute re-budgeting that accompanied this process sometimes drove the sleep from our eyes and left our heads pounding but, at the end of the season, I’m proud and pleased with what we have been able to accomplish this year. 

Above and beyond the added production demands we achieved this season, the Appleton CSA can boast that we have an experienced crew of dedicated and passionate farmers working to keep the share room full of seasonal goodness.  I am overwhelmed by the hard work and commitment to our mission that I see from our young farmers.  In all kinds of weather, through pestilence and drought, through good days and bad
these men and women have never waivered and working with them has raised my spirits right along with them on more occasions than I can number.  Leah, Ryan, Sean, Hannah, Emily, Charles and even Peter “Peaches” Cohan, thank you all so much for everything you do to make Appleton Farms such a great community to be a part of.  On my own behalf and on behalf of the CSA, we hope to see you all back again next season.

As part of our continuing efforts to improve our soil structure and fertility, we were able to fallow one of our fields for the entire year.  This is the first time in many years that we have been able to manage a year long fallow.  Even more exciting, we were able to coordinate with the dairy team and graze the cows on the cover crop growing in this field!  By mimicing the ecology of a natural plain or meadow we hope to see compounding benefits to our soil structure, biology and fertility.  While managing animals within a crop rotation poses new and interesting restrictions on how and when we can use a field to grow vegetables (think food safety) the chance to improve our cultural practices has been well worth the challenge.


“Farming in a changing climate” was the theme of a conference I attended this past winter and it seems to have been a defining theme in our season as well.  We have borne witness to a season of extremes.  A late winter, an erratic spring and a long, hot and very dry summer challenged our carefully laid plans.  Some crops flourished under these conditions and some languished.  For me the failures have been equal measures humbling and educational.  By taking the lessons of this season into the next we hope to construct plans of greater resilience to manage Appleton Farm in this changing climate.  We hope also that our CSA members can bare the cost of our lessons with rueful good humor.

But instead of dwelling on our disappointment I would like to innumerate and reflect on a few of our triumphs from this season.  We were able to consistently provide a variety of share room staples.  Beets, cabbage, carrots, chard, kale and onions are a few prime examples of “staple” vegetables that had an increased presence in the share this season as compared to last.  We also introduced over a dozen new vegetable varieties to the share room and pick your own fields this season: that is added, not replaced!  Many of our crops performed as well or better than we had hoped but a few stood out as exceptional.  Slicing cucumbers for example were far more abundant than in years past and the quality was much improved from last season.  The greater care and attention we paid to our eggplant was rewarded with a true bumper crop.  Although we only planted 2 experimental beds of Sun Jewel melons (just enough for our CSA members to try as it turned out), we were blown away by the sweetness, texture and “Wow” factor of this new comer.  I was unreasonably proud of our spring spinach and broccoli, both of which we were able to offer without the usual limits.  Both our direct seeding schedule and our cultivation schedule were executed with great precision this season which resulted in higher quality greens and PYO crops, a smoother transition between successions and fewer weeds reaching maturity!

The successful growth at Appleton has a created a positive ripple effect beyond the impact in the CSA program.  This was a season of building and strengthening our relationships within the community.  Working with local food access organizations we were able to donate nearly twice as much food towards hunger relief this season compared to last season; over 10 thousand pounds!  Working with other local farmers to help supply our CSA we were able to address weaknesses in our own farming methods while simultaneously quickening the local farm economy.  The Appleton CSA also gave back to the farming community through sharing our equipment, resources and labor with over half a dozen other small farms this season.  We have been very active in the pursuit of our goals to become leaders in food access and local agriculture. 

Looking forward
We still have so much work to do in order to build on the successes of this season and address our short
comings.  Even as this season winds down I have been a part of so many exciting conversations about where we want to go next season and well beyond.  The winter is the time to engineer our grand designs and for the farmer these are days of boundless optimism.  I’d like to share some of this optimism with those of you reading. 

Hopefully all of our CSA members have received a link to the CSA renewal web page at this point.  Online renewals are live and running smoothly.  If you have taken the chance to check out the renewal page you have probably noticed that the cost of CSA membership is staying the same while we are moving from 22 weeks to 20 weeks of CSA distribution next season.  Appleton CSA share prices have stayed steady for the past 4 years and we decided to reduce the number of distribution weeks in lieu of hiking the upfront cost of a share.  This change makes the Appleton CSA share consistent with the other Trustees CSA programs throughout the state.  Beginning next season, we will NOT be reducing the amount of fall crops we plan to grow or harvest for the CSA!  Instead these crops (squash, onions, cauliflower, carrots and all the rest) will be offered in the same quantities over a shorter span of time.  Effectively this should allow us to reduce or eliminate limits on the more popular fall crops and distribute them all over fewer weeks.
Appleton Farms CSA will end the last week in October.

We are very excited by the opportunities opened up by ending our Summer CSA season a little sooner. 
Most notably we are in the early planning stages for a new offering next year: an eight week stand alone fall share.  Revenues from this fall share will go towards paying for a new full time farmer positioned at Moraine farm.  I am so thrilled that we will be able to offer another up and coming farmer the opportunity to pursue his/her dream with the security of a year round position while also returning the fields at Moraine to full production capacity.  My hope is that everyone else will be thrilled by the chance to continue buying local, healthy produce into the early winter.   

Although this was a fantastic season at Appleton it wasn’t by any means a perfect year.  From production, to communication and shareholder experience, we are looking for ways to elevate our level of excellence next year.  Getting a little better at everything we can is ever our goal but we need your help to make it happen.  We have a few great ideas for how to improve the CSA from a farming and business perspective next season but we need the voice of our members to guide and shape our decisions.  CSA members should have received our season wrap up email at the beginning of this week.  Within the body of that message is a link to an end of the year survey.  Please tell us what you thought about this past
season and what you would like to see happen at the CSA next season.  Thank you so much for your past and continuing support of Appleton Farms.  It is through your participation and commitment that we are able to continue growing and giving back to our community.  Happy winter and we look forward to seeing you again in the spring!


Ryan

Monday, November 9, 2015

Week 22

The Share:
Kale
Collards
Greens
Carrots
Potatoes
Onions
Leeks
Garlic
Winter Squash
Sweet Potatoes
PYO Parsley

Expect a season wrap up post for later today.  For now take a gander at what our last week of CSA holds in store!  Also please excuse the obligatory plug for Thanksgiving shares (we still have a dozen or so available) and don't forget to renew your CSA share online!  You can use the Ipad at the CSA check in desk to renew or follow the link provided in the"Renewals for the 2016 Appleton Farms CSA are now open for current CSA members" email  to renew online at home.  If you have any questions or issues with your renewal please give us a call at 978.356.1655 ex 4110 and Susan will be able to walk you it.

Monday, November 2, 2015

week 21

Hello all-
      This is Leah Jurman the assistant manager subbing in on blog duties today. I’m a little rusty at the writing desk but my hope is I can maintain Ryan’s elegant yet informative writing style, so, fingers crossed!

The Share:
Kale
Greens
Bok Choi
Cabbage
Leeks
Onions
Shallots
Garlic
Potatoes
Winter squash
Turnips
Beets
Carrots     
Brussel sprouts
PYO Parsley

Field Updates:
Before I get going, just a quick reminder that there are still Thanksgiving shares available. Pick up is on November 20th and its 50 ponds of the good stuff to get you through turkey day and beyond. Sadly, pies and cranberries are no longer available to preorder but they will be available in the Dairy Store to purchase.

As we enter the last two weeks of the share it has really dawned on me the level of transformation I witnessed here this season, my first at Appleton Farms. I arrived in February and dug my way through snow to my new front door, dug my way through snow to the green house, dug my way through snow to open the field gate… and so on, to all the new places I would encounter. You can imagine that through all this digging I was being filled with hope and descriptions of this beautiful property that for all intensive purposes, I couldn’t really see! And then it was all I could see! And day by day I got to learn more from Ryan, from my crew, shareholders, and from the land. I have enjoyed very much learning and getting my footing here on the north shore and I cant wait to keep doing so.
          In news outside of a personal late introduction- Brussel Sprouts! Yipee! From a childhood aversion to an adult favorite I have been awaiting patiently ( sort of ) for my tiny tender sweet, essentially miniature cabbages. To those newer to these fall treats they too are members of the Brassica family, joining cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and many other vegetables we have had all share long. The sprouts themselves are modified stems that grow in the node of each leaf. They will be delivered to you on the stalk so this will be easy to visualize on arrival to the share. Patience is key to getting these; planted july 3rd and seeded in the greenhouse at least a month prior, these little guys like to take their time. But time well worth it I hope.

Thanks and see you in the share!
      

                                      Guest blogger Leah Jurman, assistant CSA manager

Monday, October 26, 2015

Week 20

The Share:
Kale
Greens
Bok Choi
Cabbage
Leeks
Onions
Shallots
Garlic
Potatoes
Winter squash
Turnips
Beets
Carrots
PYO Parsley

Field Updates:
With just a few weeks before the end of the CSA, Thanksgiving shares are selling like hot cakes.  Usually we don’t sell out of Thanksgiving shares until the last week of the CSA but this year we are running out a little faster than normal.  To make up for the increased interest this season we have decided to slightly increase the number of Thanksgiving shares available for sale.  Even with the extra shares available it is a good idea to get your order forms in as soon as you can.  Pies and cranberries are no longer available to preorder but they will be available in the Dairy Store to purchase.

We put in our very last planting of the 2015 season this past week: garlic for the 2016 season.  Garlic is the only crop we save “seeds” from each season although what we are actually saving each year is cloves rather than seeds produced through sexual reproduction.  This means that each clove we plant produces a head of garlic which is a clone of it’s forbearer.  When selecting garlic for replanting rather than consumption we look for large heads with large undamaged cloves.  First we grade our garlic into small, medium, large and extra large seed stock.  Medium heads are put into the share immediately for consumption by our shareholders.  Large and small heads are held in reserves.  If we have not saved enough extra large seed this allows us to tap into the supply of large heads for additional seed.  Very small heads of garlic are planted whole without being split into individual cloves.  In the spring, instead of letting these undersized and tightly planted garlics develop into individual heads, we will harvest the garlic shoots when they are green and tender.  Green garlic is an extra early crop that can be used like scallions.  Any garlic that isn’t used for next years seed or green garlic is distributed in the share room or sold in the Dairy store after the CSA season has ended

The process of preparing garlic cloves for planting involves separating each clove from the head.  We call this “popping” the garlic.  Popping the garlic can be a fairly time consuming process.  You may have noticed the farmers sitting in a circle and popping garlic in the back of the barn sometime during the last three weeks.  You may have also noticed a large amount of garlic related debris blowing through the share room like the after math of a tickertape parade. 

We grow two varieties of garlic:  German Extra Hardy and Music.  German Extra Hardy is a variety of white skinned garlic with extra large cloves.  Heads tend to have 2-4 cloves each.  Music is a red skinned, slightly more compact variety with 6-8 smaller cloves.  The flavor of Music tends to be a little more pungent than the German variety while the large cloves of the German tend to be a little easier to work with while cooking.  We plant an equal number of beds of each variety but since German Extra Hardy produces fewer cloves per head this means we end up saving nearly twice as many of these heads.  This is why our shareholders will likely see more Music in the share room. 

Total we plant 8 beds of garlic.  Beds are roughly 350ft long and we plant 4 rows or garlic per bed.  Each clove is planted exactly 1/2ft apart.  In a perfect world where every clove planted produces a sizable and healthy head of garlic, we will have grown 22,400 heads with exactly half of those heads containing 6-8 cloves (Music) and half containing 2-4 cloves (German).  This means to replant 11,200 cloves of Music we will need to save 1600 heads on average and 3,750 heads of German Extra Hardy.  Subtract the combined total number of garlic heads to be saved for seed from the total number grown for next season and you get 17050 heads left for distribution to the shareholders.  At 2 heads per shareholder per week we should have just enough garlic to include in our share for 13 weeks.  Of course all of the garlic we plant doesn’t grow into perfect heads.  This year we began distributing garlic during week 12 of the CSA and I’m hopeful we will have garlic straight through the end of the share. 


     

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week 19

The Share:

  • Kale
  • Greens
  • Cabbage
  • Kohlrabi
  • Turnip
  • Beets
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Garlic
  • Winter Squash
  • Potatoes 
  • PYO Parsley


With this morning's freeze we are running a little behind today (even cold hardy crops are damaged if harvested while frozen so we've had to wait to harvest until late morning), so please forgive the brevity of this post.  I'll try to update with greater detail later this week!
-Ryan

Friday, October 16, 2015

Harvest Potluck Sunday at 4PM

 
The farm crew is looking forward to seeing you all
at our annual Shareholder Harvest Potluck.
Sunday, 4 PM at the Carriage Barn
Cider press, lawn games, live music, and of course, fresh and delicious food.
Make something to share and don't forget your sweater
See you there!
 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Week 18

YES WE ARE OPEN ON COLUMBUS DAY MONDAY OCTOBER 12TH

The share
Getting started with the sun
Greens
Chard
Kale
Choi
Cabbage
Beets
Turnips
Radishes
Onions
Leeks
Garlic
Potatoes
Winter Squash
PYO Parsley (Please note that pick your own will only be open during share room hours and will not be open on Saturdays for the remainder of the season)

Week 18
We have really been enjoying the beautiful fall weather this week and it seems that our cover crops have as well.  It is amazing how quickly a field can go from bare soil to a thick carpet of green given the right conditions, doubly so when that carpet of green is actually something that we planted on purpose. 

Before getting into the new business of the week I am compelled to rehash (or possibly re-rehash) a little old business.  First I want to encourage anyone interested in getting a Thanksgiving share to get your orders in as soon as possible.  This is especially important if you are interested in purchasing cranberries or pies at the discounted rate offered through the Thanksgiving share.  I need to put cranberry and pie orders in by the end of this week so please get those orders in by Friday afternoon if you can.  Cranberries and pies will be available in the dairy store after the orders close but they will only be available at the retail price. 

The second bit of old business is the CSA Potluck Harvest Dinner coming up THIS SUNDAY AT 4PM!!!  This is the only CSA event of the season and we need you there to make it a great success.  Come for the lawn games, live entertainment and the great food.  Bring an apple pie made with grandma’s secret recipe or your Aunt Cheryl’s famous 7 layer casserole.  B.YO.B and lets see this season out in style!


As for the new business around here, we will be opening CSA share renewals later this week!  We will be emailing all of our current CSA members with a link to the new and improved CSA renewal page.  You will be able to renew online with your credit card in the comfort of your home or you will also have the option to renew securely on an Ipad locaated in the share room.  Share renewals will run through December 31st at which point we will begin making share offers to our waitlist.  It is important to note that if you choose the option to put a $325.00 deposit down on your share the remaining balance of $325.00 will automatically be billed to your credit card three months after your initial deposit.  If you have any questions or concerns about the CSA renewal process please contact Susan Ferreira at appletonfarmsCSA@thetrustees.org and she will be able to assist you.
-Ryan

Monday, October 5, 2015

Week 17

The Share:
  • Greens
  • Chard
  • Kale
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Potatoes
  • Winter squash
  • Turnips
  • Radishes
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Peppers
  • PYO Parsley

Harvest Feast

How do we celebrate a season filled with great harvests?  With a great harvest feast of course.  We are planning just such an event for Sunday October 18th.  The Appleton Farms CSA Harvest Potluck Dinner will include lawn games, cider pressing, and live music from our favorite bluegrass trio, Old Cold Tater.  This is a chance to gather as a community and toast the farm, the farmers and the food before we all go into hibernation for the cold months ahead.  While you might expect to pay several hundred dollars for a plate at an event such as this we are keeping the price the same as it has always been; just bring your favorite entrée, side dish or desert and enough to share with a crew of ravenous farmers.  Please feel free to BYOB.  We are hosting the potluck in the Carriage Barn and paddock again this year.  I hope to see many of you there and I cannot wait to try all of the dishes you bring with you. 

As the offerings in the PYO fields have dwindled with the season so too has the need for Saturday morning PYO hours.  Now that we are down to just parsley it doesn’t make sense to open on Saturdays anymore for the duration of the season.  If you need parsley please make sure to grab some when you come to pick up your share.


Thanksgiving share sales are well underway at this point.  We sold quite a few in the first couple weeks but we still have plenty available.  If you are interested in purchasing a Thanksgiving share make sure to get your signup form in as soon as you can.  I will continue posting about the Thanksgiving shares as long as they are still available but I do expect them to sell out.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Week 16

The Share
  • Lettuce
  • Greens
  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots

New this week
Winter Squash

From the Fields

I have been tactically avoiding talk of the weather for the last few weeks in my posts mostly because the conditions and their effects have been pretty evident: September has been a particularly hot and dry month in a particularly hot and dry summer.  This past week with the fall equinox a lovely change has swept across the fields.  Each morning we have been surprised to see the ghostly vapors of summer expelled and dissipated into the autumnal chill with each exhalation.  A few deniers might try to claim that we are just in a brief cold snap but this weekend we received as much confirmation of the end of summer as a farmer is likely to get.  A much unexpected frost has laid our basil and beans low and brought a timely end to our tomatoes, eggplants and peppers.  We had hoped to try October cherry tomatoes this year, (I hear they take on a subtle taste of pining) but it was not to be.  Hopefully we all got our fill of summer’s bounty over the last few months to tide us over until next year.

Whenever we experience one of these moments of change during the CSA season it takes me a little time to change gears.  Just a week ago our days were overwhelmingly full of harvest.  The share room was filled with the best of late summer and early fall.  Now suddenly we have more time for all the projects and tasks that get put on hold through the crazy summer months but it is disorienting to suddenly step outside the perspective of our tunnel vision.  The next few weeks we will be trying to prepare as much of our land as possible for winter by establishing rye and winter pea cover crop.  To do this we need to finish harvesting our bulk crops, remove any trellising, fabric mulch and drip irrigation from the fields, mow any remaining crop residue, till this residue into the soil and plant the rye and pea seed.  Thank goodness we don’t have to do this while also harvesting tomatoes and summer squash!


Although a part of the season is coming to an end we still have the better part of a month and a half of CSA season to go.  Coming up in the next few weeks we will have leeks, turnips, sweet potatoes, cauliflower and plenty of greens that you haven’t seen through the hot summer months.  I hope all of you are as excited for the fall as we are and if roasted roots and savory stews are your milieu then check out our Thanksgiving Share while space is available.  Signup forms can be found at the check in desk and in the dairy store.

-Ryan

Monday, September 21, 2015

Week 15

The share:
Chard Fan
  • Lettuce
  • Greens
  • Chard
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Beets
  • Potatoes from Heron Pond Farm
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • PYO Beans
  • PYO Flowers
  • PYO Peppers
  • PYO Herbs

New this week:
  • Fall Carrots from Picadilly Farm (grown by Jenny Hausman  Wooster and Bruce Wooster)
  • Fall Cabbage
  • Fall Kale

On the Farm:

This week we are thrilled to include fall carrots from Picadilly Farm with our share.  Picadilly was founded and is run by Jenny Hausman and Bruce Wooster.  If you have been an Appleton Farms Shareholder for more than ten years those names should sound very familiar to you since Jenny and Bruce were the very first managers of the Appleton Farms CSA.  Now that Jenny and Bruce have moved on to running their own business in Southern NH, we are working with them to supply us with carrots this fall.  Just as with the potatoes from Heron Pond, carrots will be carefully doled out each week from now until (hopefully) the very end of the CSA season.

 Carrots and potatoes will also be a prominent part of the Thanksgiving share which we will begin offering this week.  Thanks to feed back we received after last years Thanksgiving share we are tweaking the share composition a bit this year.  First we are increasing the size by 10lbs to accommodate a greater variety of fresh produce without cutting into those reliable storage crops.  This increases the Thanksgiving share price slightly but the price per pound remains the same as it has been since we began offering the Thanksgiving share.  In response to those who want a greater degree of free choice from their Thanksgiving share we will be adding the option to take a partially pre-made box and fill out the remainder of the share in a similar fashion to our main season share.  We hope that these small but significant changes will continue to improve our all ready great Thanksgiving share.


The Thanksgiving share pickup day will be held on Friday November 20th this year from 2pm-4pm.  Make sure to sign up early to reserve your spot.    

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Family Farm Day, this Sunday! 10-3pm


Dear CSA Shareholders,

We hope to see you this Sunday at Family Farm Day!  We will be serving up fun and games, fresh farm food, locally crafted hard cider and fall selections from Ipswich Ale.  Yesterday our regional staff pitched in to build the hay obstacle course, spiffy up the Carriage Barn so some of our newest calves can meet you, and cut wheels and wheels of our own Appleton cheese to offer tasty samples for all.  Games, crafts, pony rides, pumpkin painting and so much more farm fun.  Proceeds from this event help support Appleton's farm-based education programs offered to over 3,000 children annually. 

We hope you will join us!

Member cars: $20. Nonmember cars: $30.
Rain or shine






Monday, September 14, 2015

Week 14

The Share:
  • Lettuce
  • Greens
  • Chard
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Scallions
  • Broccoli
  • Beets
  • Watermelons
  • PYO Basil
  • PYO Flowers
  • PYO Cherry Tomatoes
  • PYO Hot Peppers
  • PYO Tomatillos

Food Relief at Appleton Farms

Gleaning- the act of collecting surplus crops from a farmers field after the harvest

Have you ever wondered what happens to the extra food we grow at Appleton Farms CSA?  When we have a bumper crop of cabbage or eggplant, more than the CSA could possible use before it all spoils, where does this abundance go?  For a long time the answer might have been that we donated a couple hundred pounds each week to local food pantries, feed some to the pigs and chickens and that we either didn’t harvest or that we were forced to compost the rest.  While there is certainly a great deal of merit to allowing good food that we don’t have need for to return to the soil and increase the fertility of the land, this answer felt a little unsatisfying at times.  When you put as much energy and care into growing vegetables as we do, you want to know that your hard work has gone to good use.  We had a problem of capacity:  we could grow it but we couldn’t harvest it all and even if we did we had no place to take it.  Fortunately in 2013 we began our relationship with the Boston Area Gleaners and our cooperation with this fantastic organization has increase exponentially over the last few years.  Last year we donated over 6000lbs of food to the gleaners and this season we are on track to double our donation numbers.  Why does this partnership work so well?  The Boston Area Gleaners basically act as an intermediary between farmers and food agencies.  They supply the harvest labor and the transportation of the food.  This removes a tremendous economic barrier from our mission of food relief.  Can you imagine how much a CSA share would cost if we had to subsidize all the extra hours of labor spent on harvesting and transporting 10,000+lbs of food?   Because the Gleaners have relationships with 500+ food agencies they are also able to distribute food much more effectively through our local communities then we could alone.  For the farmers this really takes the work out of food relief.

It is probably clear by now that I am a big fan of the Gleaners but I didn’t make this post just to gush.  The Boston Area Gleaners is a non profit organization and it really runs on the help of its dedicated volunteers.  Recruiting folks to help the Gleaners in their effort to help those in need is a huge job.  Just as on the farm there is always more work than there are hands to do it.  There have been times when the gleaners haven’t been able to organize a large enough work force in time to take advantage of an opportunity here at Appleton and I’m sure this happens elsewhere as well.  The Gleaners need volunteers who can show up at the farm and help with several hours of harvest.  This is where we can all get involved.  Who better to glean Appleton Farms than the Appleton Farms CSA members?  I encourage you to sign up to be a volunteer with the Gleaners HERE and then check out the Gleaning Trips page to sign up for specific gleaning opportunities.


My hope is that you will be inspired to get involved with this fantastic organization and by doing so you will strengthen our partnership with the gleaners.  With your help we will be able to capitalize faster when opportunities arise here at Appleton.  You will also step onto the farm with a greater
knowledge and connection to this farm than the average volunteer.  You may even discover a deeper appreciation for all of the fantastic produce that does make it into the share room each week as you learn more intimately what it requires to grow and harvest these crops.  I signed up myself just this morning.  I hope you’ll do the same.  Happy gleaning!  I’ll see you out there.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Week 13

In the Share
Fields of Buckwheat abuzz with the honey makers
  • Lettuce
  • Eggplant
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Scallions
  • Beets
  • Chard
  • Garlic
  • Cucumbers
  • Watermelon
  • PYO Flowers
  • PYO Beans
  • PYO Tomatoes
  • PYO Hot Peppers

New this week
  • Greens
  • Broccoli

PYO Tomatoes
Sometimes I grow weary of blogging about cover cropping, irrigation, weather and our place in the local farming community.  When this happens I get the urge to write something a little lighter, a little more fun and a lot closer to a passion we all share.  In that vein, today I wish to review a subject close to all our hearts: our eight varieties of PYO tomatoes.  We will consider taste, texture, appearance, versatility and vigor of all our PYO tomatoes.  After today you’ll be U-picking with greater purpose and direction and hopefully enjoying more of what you find.  So without further adieu…

       Mt. Magic, Juliet, Yellow Pear, Sunpeach, Black Cherry, Sungold, and Jasper
Mountain Magic



The largest of the PYO tomatoes that we grow, Mt. Magic is sometimes called a “cocktail” tomato.  We love it for its resistance to late blight but everyone can appreciate the balance of sweet and savory and the versatility that this tomato brings to the table.  Small enough to snack on right off the vine but large enough to use in salads or recipes, Mt. Magic fills many roles.  This tomato has a firm texture and skin of medium thickness.  If you are ever in a hurry, Mt. Magic fills up a quart container faster than any of our other PYO tomatoes due to it’s large size and heavy yields.

Indigo Cherry Drops

Each year we try a limited number of new crops varieties.  Sometimes we are looking for improvements to the varieties we have grown in the past and sometimes we are just looking for something novel to give our members something new and interesting to try.  With its deep purple skin, Indigo Cherry Drops fell into the “novelty” category when we picked it out of the catalogue; however I’m pleased to say that it holds up very well in terms of eating quality.  Slightly smaller than Mt. Magic, this tomatoes largest claim to fame comes from its high anti-oxidant content.  It has good tomato flavor and texture and should be harvested when it turns from green/purple to almost fully red.

Juliet

This mini plum has great disease resistance which means it will probably be around long after the Sungolds have succumbed.  It is thicker skinned, firmer and less juicy than most of the other PYO tomatoes and it is quite savory.  This makes Juliet an excellent choice for pickling, canning, salsas, salads or kebabs. 

Yellow Pear

This one falls solidly into the novelty category.  Yellow Pear is an heirloom variety and it definitely has an eye catching appearance but while it looks amazing, with its lemon yellow skin and perfect pear shape, the eating quality leaves a lot to be desired.  I would describe it as mealy and insipid.  Try this one if you’re the sort of person who, when told that the milk has gone off, insists on smelling for yourself.  I suggest using it for decoration only but please let me know if you come up with anything better.  Make sure to try this one out this season because it won’t be around next year.

Sunpeach

This pink cherry tomato isn’t just a pretty face.  Sunpeach is very sweet and juicy with lower acidity than some of our other varieties.  It is marketed as the “less tangy sister” to the Sungold cherry tomato, to which I would also add that it is larger and slightly thinner-skinned.  All in all this makes for a cherry tomato that both looks gorgeous and possesses excellent snacking quality.  Make some room in your quart container for this one.

Black Cherry

Although calling this cherry “black” is a bit of a stretch I can see why they didn’t go with “brown” cherry.  While it’s mottled, almost muddy, red/brown/green skin might not immediately appeal to you, the true tomato connoisseur will appreciate the deep savory flavor packed into this cherry.  Black Cherry is very rich and tomato-y but it isn’t trying to appeal to your sweet tooth.  It is a nice counter balance to some of the more saccharine PYO tomatoes we offer.     

Sungold

I doubt I need to say much about this one.  If you don’t like tomatoes you should probably try a ripe Sungold and then do some serious re-evaluating .  Instead of reviewing this tomato here are some tips to better enjoy it.  1) Walk AT LEAST 2/3 of the way down the row before picking your first Sungold. 2) Pick only DEEP ORANGE Sungolds unless you have a taste for the unde ripe, 3) Don’t just pick Sungolds.  Seriously.  You will enjoy these little packets of sunshine more and your PYO experience more if you diversify. 

Jasper

Usually disease resistance comes at some expense to flavor but this just isn’t the case with Jasper.  This very tiny, thin skinned beauty is all sweetness and it has great texture as well.  Although it is often over looked, the small size and thin skin make this the ultimate snacking cherry tomato.  How good is it?  I had to get up in the middle of this paragraph and head out to the field to do a little more “product research” on Jasper.  I can now confirm that it is my very favorite PYO tomato.  You probably wouldn’t like it though, don’t even bother trying it.  Why don’t you give those Yellow Pears a try?

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