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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