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Monday, February 29, 2016

Appleton Farms March Update: Maple Days, Farm Camp, and Prepping for Spring


Greetings from Appleton! 

We've been collecting and boiling sap for the past few weeks and we have lots of sweet maple syrup headed to the farm store. The hours in the sugar shack (next to the Old House) can get a little lonely so we hope you'll come on by if you are on the property walking, visiting the store, or saying hello to the cows. Though the work keeps us busy, we certainly do miss the buzz of the share room at this time of year. 

Farm Camp coming this summer!
We wanted to share the news about our new Appleton Farm Camp launching this summer. Farm Camp will allow kids to meet our friendly Jersey cows and their irresistible calves, get creative in our teaching kitchen,experience the sights and smells of a real cheese cave, and explore the fields and forests for salamanders, hawks, and beavers.  All this fun and adventure will open the eyes and minds of our mini-farmers to the connections between their food, the farmers who grow and raise that food, and the land that supports us all. Open to children ages 5-13, our camp will offer both full and half day options. All the info and registration can be found here: www.thetrustees.org/appletonfarmcamp



News from the CSA:  The Supply Order
Most of us are feeling pretty relieved after experiencing what could be described as a New England micro winter.  After last year it is a pleasant change to be slogging through an early mud season rather than an eternal icy winter.  Although there are still plenty of details to be polished up and orders to be made in the farm office, it is also time to start thinking about cleaning out the barn and greenhouse.  Our first seedlings will be planted in just a few weeks time and if this mild weather holds out and the ground dries up we could be plowing in mid March!  This has created a real sense of urgency to finish as much office work as possible.  Plowing early means planting early and planting early means earlier yields and a more impressive selection for the first few weeks of CSA, but we can’t capitalize on this window of good weather if we are stuck pouring over supply catalogs.  

We refer to “the supply order” (rather than a supply order) when talking about the series of massive expenses we incur between January and March.  This includes seed orders, greenhouse supply orders, field supply orders, share distribution supply orders and many other odds and ends.  We’re talking about tens of thousands of dollars worth of supplies, without which we would not be able to begin the season.  While the CSA business model does a lot to relieve some of the strain that the supply order places our cash flow, our budget still doesn’t allow us to be cavalier about how we use available finances.  For example we were forced to downgrade our Jacuzzi order from a deluxe model that came with massaging turbo jets to a package  that came only with a standard jets.  Eight jets per seat instead of sixteen!?  How are we supposed to make it through the season with that?

Jokes aside, putting the supply order together does involve a lot of compromise.  We cross reference as many suppliers as possible in search of cost savings and we end up doing a tone of product research.  Even with our best efforts to save money, we usually can’t afford everything that we think we might need.  Sometimes it comes down to a roll of the dice.  Should we invest in new irrigation supplies in preparation for a dry season or should we invest in extra frost cloth in case we need the extra bug and weather protection?  Should we repair our beat up deer fences or replace our beat up germination mats?   
  
The fun part about ordering supplies is that we get to consider how each new product that we hope to trial will improve our growing techniques in the coming season.  That new irrigation infrastructure could drastically increase our efficiency of water use, require less labor to operate and it could result in much more dependable seed germination.  Those new germination mats will self regulate based on soil temperature and they won’t shock us when they get wet!  There is no way to 100% guarantee that a single crop or single season will be successful but there seems to be a pretty apparent correlation between good planning coupled with allocating the necessary resources resulting in more desirable out comes when it comes to farming.   

-Ryan   


NEW to the BLOG: THE FARM WISH LIST

  • 2-3 healthy, child-friendly rabbits with hutches in good condition
  • A "cooking with kids" expert who would be willing to advise our team on outfitting our teaching kitchen for kids
  • Chainsaw artist who can create some veggie friends for our lonely but well-loved  wooden carrot outside the farm store

UPCOMING FAMILY PROGRAMS, CULINARY WORKSHOPS & FARM EVENTS:

From the Sugar Shack: Maple Culinary Class and Tour- Sunday, March 13th
The first part of the workshop will include a leisurely walk around the farmstead to show how sap is harvested and collected. The tour will wrap up at our sugar shack so you can see (and smell!) the transformation of sap to syrup. You'll gather in the farm kitchen for the second part of the workshop, where chef Carolyn Grieco will teach how to make some of the most delectable maple syrup recipes. Workshop ends with a generous sampling of all our delicious maple dishes! 

Sugar Shack Saturdays for Families: Saturday March 5th and 12th
Spend the day with us and see how we turn sap into sweet syrup. Start by getting creative with some maple themed crafts in the Appleton Old House then get outside and explore our very own sugar shack! Learn how we tap our trees every spring, see the evaporator in action, and taste the freshly made syrup. We will end back inside with a farm snack, including Appleton Farms cheese, apple slices, and homemade maple ice cream while we read a story about maple sugaring! 

From the Farm Kitchen: Spring Brunch Recipes- Sunday, March 20th
Inspired by the shift in seasons and the New England foods available in March, this class will deepen your appreciation for storage & hoop house crops, locally raised meat, farmstead maple and artisan cheeses. After we finish our hands-on class, we will enjoy our creations in the farm house dining room. BYOB mimosas if you'd like to.  Recipes will include items such as Pan-Roasted Appleton Grass-Fed Beef Sausage with Balsamic Onions, Skillet Cinnamon Bun Bread with Maple Icing, Spring Vegetable & Farm Egg Frittata, Lemon-Yogurt Berry Muffins 

Egg-cellent Easter Adventure: Saturday, March 26th
Say goodbye to the cold and celebrate the arrival of warmer weather here on the Farm! While we often associate eggs with the Easter Bunny, in many cultures eggs symbolize new life and are tied with the coming of spring. At this event, we celebrate spring, new life on the farm, and the bounty of fresh eggs produced by our hens. Go on the Egg-cellent Quest around the farm and learn about the journey from egg to chicken, collecting Easter eggs at each station to complete the Quest!

Registration and all the details at www.thetrustees.org


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