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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Week 3

I wish our spinach always looked this good
What’s in the share:

  •   Lettuce
  • Greens
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Radishes
  • Salad Turnips
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Kohlrabi
  • Bok Choi
  • PYO peas
  • PYO Parsley

New this week- Some combination of summer squash, broccoli and cabbage may be available this week depending on what’s ripe out there.  PYO Basil will also be available this week.  To keep basil health and productive for as long as possible remember to cut only the top 1/4th to 1/3 of the plant and cut above leaf nodes where side shoots will develop.  If the mood strikes, feel free to pull out a few weeds.

Updates from the field

Sorgum, oats and innoculated soybean seeds
Seed in the hoppers
We spent a lot of time last week on the tractors trying to stay on top of the weeds although with 60+ year old equipment it sometimes feels as if we spend as much time under the tractors as on them.  I did finally manage to seed cover crop in our fallow field using the Brillion seeder.  The Brillion is a tool I haven’t had much experience with yet so we’ll have to wait and see if I got the seeding rate right for a good strong stand of cover crop.  I put down a mix of sorgum sudan grass for weed suppression and high carbon yield, soybeans for a fast canopy and nitrogen fixing and oats because oat seed is cheap and it’s nice to have a diverse cover crop mix.  The sudan grass and the soybeans will die after the first hard frost and the oats will winter kill leaving a nice mulch on top of the soil over the winter which will (hopefully) be very easy to break down and incorporate into the soil next spring.
Now that most of our large transplanting pushes are out of the way (until fall broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts etc.) we need to focus on crop maintenance.  Last week we managed to lay landscape fabric down in the driving rows between our first succession of water melon.  This step really has been crucial to our success in growing melons for the last few seasons.  We also got a head start on tomato trellising by pounding in most of our tomato stakes.  Usually this doesn’t happen until the tomatoes are unmanageably leggy and tangled.  Hopefully we’ll be able to stay on top of the trellising this season.  At the beginning of last week we removed the insect barrier from our eggplant.  Many of you may remember the abysmal eggplant yields of last year caused by a near biblical level plague of potato bugs.  Using a light weight frost cloth we hoped to keep those nasty critters at bay.  The measure has been a modest success.  Although it has been fun to watch the potato beetles scuttling around confused and hungry, the frost cloth had the unintended consequence of providing a safe haven for a family of meadow mice who developed a taste for young eggplant stems and leaves.  Plenty of eggplant survived and it should be a better season for eggplant.  Now that the frost cloth is gone, Mergatroyd has been busy restoring the natural balance for which we are extremely grateful.  If you see him in the fields be sure to give him a salute and thank him for his service to the farm.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Week 2

What's in the share: lettuce, greens, chard, kale, turnips, radishes, beets, kohlrabi, PYO parsley, peas
New this week: scallions, garlic scapes, bokchoi

We may get another week of PYO strawberries but no guarantees

Updates from the fields
Traveling today. Look for updates later this week

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Week 1

This week’s share:

  •   Lettuce
  • Greens
  •  Kale
  • Chard
  •  Beets
  •  Hakurei salad turnip
  • Radishes
  • Kohlrabi
  • Parsnips
  • PYO Strawberries
  • PYO Parsley

If harvest time permits we may also include spinach and/or scallions in the share this week.  If you don’t see these items in the share this week there’s a good chance that we’ll have them for next week.

Updates from the field

Another few weeks for cabbage
I sometimes daydream about what farming would be like if we didn’t need to harvest any of the things we grow.  “What if our job stopped at filling our fields with beautify and bounty?”  I imagine a farm as a landscape rather than a place of production.  This scandalizing fantasy isn’t the result of any displeasure I take from the work of harvesting.  Bringing in our crops is both figuratively and literally the most rewarding part of the job.  Rather I lament the loss of so many precious daylight hours when there is yet so much work to be done.  Once CSA distribution begins around half of the field crew’s time is spent on harvest.   The other half of our time must be divided between greenhouse work, seeding, cultivating, field preparation, transplanting, irrigating, equipment and infrastructural maintenance, pest control and the rest of the less glamorous business of farming. 

Beets look ready now
This past week we have been feeling the pressure to accomplish as much as possible before harvest becomes the focus of our days.  I’m very proud of the way we have been managing the farm so far this season and I believe the rest of the crew feels the same.  It seems that many of our more labor intensive investments are paying off with good healthy crops and solid yields.  However it is now imperative to remember to not sacrifice the good in pursuit of the perfect.  What use are fields filled with beauty and bounty if we leave the fruit of our labor to spoil?

Farm mascot Murgatroyd watches over the PYO fields.  Better follow those limits!
On the top of our priority list this week is finishing our winter squash planting which is going in at Moraine farm.  This might be an all day kind of job and I’m very anxious to get it behind us before our transplants grow too large and tangled to work with.  If we can squeeze in some time for planting lettuce, watermelon, summer squash, scallions, basil and PYO flowers I would be thrilled.  Also on the agenda this week (albeit pretty far down on the list) is seeding a cover crop mix of soybeans, sorghum sudan grass, oats and buckwheat in our fallowed field.  I’m very excited to see how this cover crop does perhaps because we will never need to harvest it!

Father's Day Bluegrass BBQ - June 21st!

CSA members, we hope you will join us to celebrate Father’s Day at the Appleton Farms’ Bluegrass BBQ.

Bring a picnic blanket and the kids for a summer evening on the farm. We’ll have the Heritage Food Truck offering homemade BBQ and Saigon Alley with their tasty Asian Fusion meals for dinner, local beer from our friends at Ipswich Ale, and live music from Old Cold Tater. To top it off, ice cream from Down River and treats at the 4H bake sale.  A recipe for a super time if we have ever heard one! 

Your family ticket pays for parking, lawn games, a visit with the farm animals, and live music from 5pm-7pm. 

Dinner from the food trucks and beer and wine from Ipswich Ale (and Mill River Winery) are on you. The summer sunset over the farm fields, warm summer breeze (we hope!), and the memories you’ll make with friends and family are free! 

Make sure to pre-register, these tickets will go quickly. Please note that entry to the event is per family. 1 ticket covers 1 family. Food and beverages are purchased directly from our vendors. What exactly do we mean by family? Can Grandpa come along? What about my brother-in-law who is in town? We assume you will make the honest choice and register appropriately. Have two kids and grandma is coming- register for 1 family. Bringing the extended family of 12? Register for two families. Any proceeds after expenses help support our farm education programs. 

Rainy? We’ll still hold the event under our tent and in the Carriage Barn. Just bring an umbrella for your walk over from the parking area. 

Sorry, no BYOB, coolers, or dogs allowed.

Admission price: Member family: $20. Nonmember family: $30

Monday, June 8, 2015


Just a taste. Photo by Yaiza D. Marca

In the interest of leading with the information most relevant to you who read these words I am thrilled to announce that strawberry season is now open.  Overnight we have gone from a few ripe berries to a field of ripe berries.  FOR THIS WEEK ONLY WE WILL HOLD ADJUSTED PICK YOUR OWN HOURS.  PICK YOUR OWN HOURS WILL RETURN TO NORMAL NEXT WEEK WHEN SHARE DISTRIBUTION BEGINS.  PYO HOURS FOR THE WEEK OF JUNE 8TH WILL BE AS FOLLOWS  

Tuesday-Friday, 11am-4pm
Saturday, 8am-Noon

This week’s limit will be ONE QUART of strawberries per share.  Quart containers will be available in the Dairy Store.

Next week, the week of June 15th, the share will open in earnest.  Although it is a little too early to make a totally accurate prediction of what will be in the share next week, here’s a little preview of what we are likely to have.

Lettuce, greens, kale, chard, radishes, salad turnips, beets, kohlrabi, scallion, and perhaps a few surprises

A quick note on the conditions in the fields

Putting the irrigation away after the rain
After our long wet winter we were caught by surprise by such a dry spring.  Within a month we went from fields patchy with snow and lakes of thaw to needing to irrigate daily.  While irrigation may help our crops to survive a dry spell it cannot substitute for a good soaking rain.  Many crops have remained shorter and stockier than expected while their roots have (hopefully) grown strong in search of moisture.  On the bright side the dry conditions have been hard on the weeds as well.  We have tried to capitalize on this by cultivating regularly.  Our hope is that now that we have finally received some rain we will see some explosive growth this week and the weeds will be both literally and metaphorically left in the dust.

Monday, June 1, 2015

A note from the Education team: Happy Dairy Month to our Jersey girls!

June is National Dairy Month and we wouldn't miss an opportunity to celebrate our Jersey girls.  Join us for one of our upcoming events, weekend tours, culinary workshops, or education programs.  At every program we will teach you about our well-loved dairy herd and thank them for the creamy milk, beautiful cheeses, and fresh farm yogurt that we enjoy.  Happy Dairy Month girls!

For children and families:

Mini Moos Tour  |  Every Saturday  3-4PM

Member Family: $10 Nonmember Family: $15

On this special program designed especially for our young farm friends, we’ll enjoy calf close encounters, a cow story and costume, a tour of the milking barn and more! For ages 2-7 with an accompanying adult.

Rise and Shine Little Farmers   |  Saturdays 10-11:30AM

Member Family: $20. Nonmember Family: $30

Join us for a morning of farm fun.  Have you ever collected warm eggs from the chicken coop? Or seen how fast pigs will run for their morning helping of veggie scraps?  You'll meet our calves, goats, and pigs when you help with the morning chores (don't worry, we will go easy on you!), followed by fun and games in the grassy Stone Paddock.  We learn as we go and take advantage of whatever lesson the day has to offer.  We conclude our farm adventure with a seasonal story in our Carriage Barn. 

Families in the Farm Kitchen: Butter Making  |  Saturdays 1-2PM

Member Family: $20. Nonmember Family: $30

In celebration of National Dairy Month, we are rolling up our sleeves and shaking it!  Cooking together and having fun in the kitchen makes our farm family happy and we want to share that enthusiasm for cooking with you.  Join us to make homemade butter with the rich cream from our Jersey cows and enjoy it on hot rolls from the farm kitchen. We will learn about how our cows turn green grass to creamy, nutritious milk, then enjoy the sweet fruits of our labor together. 

Events and Farm Dinners:

Flavors of the Farm: A Culinary Tour and Tasting  |  June 13th, 3-5:30 PM

Members: $60. Nonmembers: $75

This event provides an opportunity for guests to meet our farmers and tour the farm operations to learn first hand how their work directly affects the flavors of the food that we put on our tables. Our professional farm chef will lead a culinary demonstration using the farms’ products and pair each recipe with tastings of wine from local vineyards.  You will learn new tips and techniques so that you can easily capture the season's fresh flavors in your own kitchen. All guests will be given generous tastings of each seasonal dish as well as wine to compliment and printed recipes.

Father's Day Bluegrass BBQ  |  Sunday, June 21, 2015 at 4PM

Member adult $20. Nonmember adult $30.

Kick off the Summer Solstice AND celebrate Father's Day at the Appleton Farms' Bluegrass Picnic!

Bring a blanket, some beach chairs, and the kids for a summer evening on the farm.  We'll have food trucks for dinner, tasty brews from our friends at Ipswich Ale, ice cream from Down River, and live music from local band Old Cold Tater.  Lawn games, meet the farmyard animals, and a 4H bake sale too.  A recipe for a super time if we have ever heard one!

Register online at

Friday Farm Dinners

Friday, June 26, 2015, Friday, July 10, 2015, Friday, July 24, 2015, Friday, August 07, 2015, Friday, August 21, 2015, | 5:30-8:30PM

Member Adults: $35. Nonmember Adults: $45. All Children: $15 each

Bring your family and some friends for a relaxing evening watching the sunset over the Great Pasture and munching on fresh-from-the-farm food. Dinner will feature a seasonal menu grown or raised at Appleton and other local farms.  A typical menu might include pizza from our earth oven or our own grass-fed burgers, seasonal fresh salads, and homemade ice cream. Enjoy a cold beverage from our friends at Mercury Brewing Company while you play old-fashioned lawn games and listen to live music. Ticket price includes the full dinner buffet, non-alcoholic beverages (beer and wine will be available for purchase), dessert, games, music and all the fun you can handle! Dinners are held rain or shine.

For Foodies:

Pasture to Plate Cheese Making Tours  | Every Sunday  2:00-3:30 PM

Member Adults: $15. Nonmember Adults: $20  All children under 12 are $5 each.

This in depth look at our dairy operation will take you from the pastures to the cheese kitchen viewing area – and everywhere in between – to learn about how we make our delicious farm fresh cheese. Finish up with a sampling of some of our products!

From the Fields: Cooking with Herbs and Greens  |  Thursday, June 18, 2015 | 6-9PM

Member $75. Nonmember $90

Join us as we celebrate the arrival of summer and onset of the growing season!  We will begin the class with a visit to our kitchen garden to talk about growing your own fresh herbs and greens. After harvesting some fresh herbs, we will head to the farmhouse kitchen to learn about the distinctive culinary qualities and uses of each.  We’ll cover preparation tips and techniques along with creative and vibrant recipes that will promise to help you think creatively about your summer eating. This three hour, hands-on class concludes with a full meal to be enjoyed by all.

From the Fields: Strawberry Preserves

Thursday, June 25, 2015 & Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 | 2:30-4PM & 4:30-6PM

Members: $35. Nonmembers: $50

After this long winter, let's make sure not one juicy red strawberry goes to waste at Appleton Farms this season! Join us for a field walk through our strawberry patch, learning how to grow, harvest, and tend strawberry plants.  We will then stroll over to the farm kitchen where our chef instructor, Carolyn Grieco will demonstrate how to make strawberry preserves.  You will learn the art of preserves, helpful tips and techniques, and of course sample the harvest.  Take home a jar of Carolyn's Farm Kitchen Strawberry Preserves and then pick up your CSA share or stop by your local PYO farm to gather your own strawberry harvest. 

For more information, program fees, and registration information, please visit To contact the farm regarding programs please email or call at 978.356.5728.