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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Appleton CSA: Week 12 (August 29th-September 2nd)

Good morning shareholders,

With so much to say about the CSA this week, we are going to focus this blog post on the share and answering questions or concerns that came up in the mid-season survey.  

The Share: (August 29th-Sept. 2nd)
Lettuce
Tomatoes
Peppers
Potatoes
Squash
Leeks
Garlic
PYO Cherry Tomatoes
PYO Hot Peppers

From the Fields:
Thank you everyone who participated in our mid season survey over the last weeks.  As promised, I will be using the majority of this post to address the topics that appeared most frequently in your responses.  We went through and read every single survey and identified theses key issues to expound upon so if you don’t see your particular concern addressed please feel free to mention it to Ashley in the share room.  She will share it with me and we will make sure to take note or address it in the next blog.  So without further ado and in no particular order:

The public flower field
The small field outside of the CSA barn was converted into a public flower field this year so that the many people who visit the farm (but are not shareholders) can enjoy a pick-your-own experience and take a little beauty from the farm home with them.  Since it is pay-to-pick in the public flower field there has been some very natural frustration with the new arrangement as the flowers planted for CSA members suffered from the drought.  The important point to keep in mind is that, other than surrendering a small pocket of marginal land to this project, the CSA has made no investment of time or resources into the flower field.  This project was built from a budget separate from the CSA and it is expected to cover its expenses through flower sales which is why they are pay-to-pick.   
 
Produce in the Farm Store:
Some produce is available for sale in the farm store.  Sometimes this same produce is either limited in the share room or not present at all.  Some members are concerned that produce that was grown for the CSA is being diverted to the store and effectively being sold twice.  In previous growing seasons we attempted to deal with this issue by only selling produce in the farm store when we had either too little  available to fairly distribute to the CSA or, more commonly, when we had such a surplus that our CSA members had access to more produce than they could use.  Because “too much” or “too little” is a subjective measure, we took the extra step this year of completely separating our CSA crop plan from our wholesale crop plan and moving all wholesale growing operations off the Appleton property.  It isn’t grown here, it was never intended for CSA use and it’s production hasn’t been subsidized by CSA funds.  Like the flower field, having produce in the farm store is about covering the costs of production while attempting to make the farm more beautiful, bountiful and accessible to members and non members alike.

Variety:
As most of my past blog posts from this season have indicated, this has been a very tough growing year.  The drought has taken its toll on many of our crops and this has been reflected in the share room with fewer varieties available.  In the beginning of the season we published the complete list of crop varieties we planned to grow this year and sadly not everything on that list will see the inside of the share room.  The good news is that this has forced us to be extra creative with some of our fall crops.  I’m hopeful that the second half of the year will bring more of the weird and the wonderful back to the share room side by side with the old standbys.  Ashley interpreted the request for more variety in the share room as interest in seeing fan favorite crops available over a longer season.  Each crop tends to grow best under certain growing conditions.  Ever year we look for new ways to bend growing conditions to keep things like broccoli, arugula and tomatoes in the share longer.  This is a gamble that sometimes pays off and sometimes doesn’t.  We will continue trying to keep our members updated on the ever changing conditions out in the field so that everyone is confident in what to expect from the CSA share.

Irrigation:
I am thrilled to hear that many of our members are as concerned about the irrigation capacity of the farm as I am.  Every year might not be as dry as this one but it is clear to many of us that we need to be better prepared for drought and dry weather.  We need to get through the rest of this season before we can begin to seriously consider an action plan for the future however we have been brainstorming different options including drilling a second well, improving our existing well, adding infrastructure to capitalize on the capacity of our existing pump and well and modifying our farming techniques to develop the water retention capacity of our soil.  These are big investments and big changes and they will take time to put into place but, in part thanks to the survey responses we have reviewed, there has been no foot dragging about getting started and the organization recognizes that this has to be a priority.


Recipe Exchange:
We heard from many of you that you like the idea of a recipe exchange and love to pick up recipes in the share room but don't have time to email us or don't have original recipes to submit.  Based on your feedback, we are happy to expand this exchange to your favorite recipes from chefs and cookbook authors- they don't have to be your own.  Just send along credit for the recipe and we'd be happy to share it.

Orange Basil Summer Squash from Betsy M
Serves 4
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 large fresh onions, sliced
zest of one orange
4-5 carrots, sliced
2 small summer squash, sliced
small bunch of basil, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste


Saute onions with oil and grated orange zest. When onions are translucent, add all other ingredients and cook until tender but not soft.


Next week we will return to posting about our upcoming programs, volunteer opportunities and notes from the farm.  As always, thank you for your support.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Appleton CSA: Week 11 (August 22-26th)

Good morning shareholders,

Thank you to all who have participated in our mid-season survey.  We appreciate your feedback and ideas to make the CSA the best it can be.  We are reading your submissions daily and will keep the survey link open and paper copies in the share room for one more week. After next week, we will be addressing some of the most common questions and concerns through the blog and in the share room.  Your kind words of understanding during the severe drought and the support for our farm team has been greatly appreciated.  Thank you.  



While the farm camp was wrapping up its last week, we had the pleasure of being featured on NECN's Making the Grade series.  Check out the link to see our farm camp in action: link to watch online! We will miss the farm campers and the life they brought to the farm each day and can't wait to see many of them back on the farm this fall on school trips or at Family Farm Day on September 18th.  



Speaking of kids... Do you have some teenagers who need to keep busy before school starts? Send them over to help us stack our winter wood piles!  We are also looking for some volunteer landscape gardeners to help keep up the garden beds around the store, Old House, and Dairy Barn neat and tidy. We're also looking for another handyman/property steward and help in the dairy barn.  If you're interested in any of these volunteer opportunities or for more information, email the farm at appletonfarms@thetrustees.org




The Share:
Potatoes
Leeks
Peppers
Squash
Lettuce
Garlic
Chard
Carrots

From the Fields:
I posted this drought map several weeks ago.  Check out the neat slide comparison tool to track the progress of the drought over time.  We have official entered “Extreme Drought” conditions. Hooray!?

The tomatoes are taking their time in ripening up as they seem to do every year.  We really need them to be ready for next week in order to fill out the share and because I know how happy everyone will be to see them.  Nature doesn’t take advice from me unfortunately, so we will most likely be forced to wait another week before tomatoes join the share.  The tomato plants have been given the highest watering priority through the drought and heat waves but have never the less still been impacted.  Most of the vines are looking extremely healthy if a bit stunted and the fruit sets have been erratic but my hope is that this will not have a dramatic effect on the yield or harvest window for these plants.  Eggplants have not been so lucky.  I’m actually very resentful that, in spite of a tremendous amount of effort and resources allocated to the eggplants, they continue to be contrary and unproductive.  One in every 5 plants has a single fruit or blossom.  The rest just sit out there; stunted, tip burnt and extremely irritating.  It doesn’t help that last season at this time of year we were harvesting twice a week and bringing in 50-60 bushels with each harvest.  Our last harvest yielded 4 bushels.  I took pictures to document last years harvest and this one.

We have been cultivating extensively after last weeks rain.  The soil stayed moist for several days which allowed plenty of time for weeds to germinate.  It has been a pleasure to work in the soil again without having to inhale quite so much of it.  We are in race to weed and cultivate as many beds as possible before it becomes too dusty.  The fall brassicas have been getting quite a bit of attention as have the lettuces.  Our final extra large beans planting actually germinated (somewhat) and has survived against the odds so we have set to work hand weeding the beds.  With any luck our members should get at least one decent bean haul this year.


We have also been planting as much as possible this past week with the weather finally favoring us a bit and with the window for fall plantings closing.  Lettuce, fennel and celery went into the ground in the beginning of the week and I am hopeful that we will get chard and Chinese cabbage into the ground today.  The greens we seeded two weeks ago popped up and were almost immediately devoured by flea beetles.  Believe it or not we hadn’t been seeing much flea beetle damage prior to this so it was a nasty surprise.  With our next planting we will try a combination of organic deterrents and row cover.  Normally we wouldn’t dedicate this much attention to fall greens but they have taken on a greater importance this year with the success of our late season crops still uncertain.

If you were unable to fill out the survey online or in the share room- here it is again.  We hope you will take a few minutes to fill it outhttps://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AFCSAmidseasonsurvey




Upcoming Programs and Events:

Friday Farm Dinners: Every Friday in the Stone Paddock at 5:30PM.  Join us for a summer evening of farm fresh food, live music, and lawn games! Pre-register online here

Fun in the Farmyard: Every Sunday in the Carriage Barn from 10am-3pm.  FREE drop in program where you can meet the animals, make a farm craft, and learn all about Appleton Farms. 

Rise and Shine Little Farmers: Saturdays at 9AM.  Have you ever collected warm eggs from the chicken coop or seen how fast pigs will run for their morning helping of veggie scraps? This Saturday morning program brings families behind the scenes of our working farm.  Pre-register online here   

Cooking with Fire: August 28th at 6PM.  Inspired by the farm’s very own wood-fired Earth Oven, this special workshop celebrates the season with signature recipes featuring the freshest farm ingredients along with all the skills needed to enjoy your own backyard grilling all summer long. Class begins in the farm kitchen with menu preparation, culinary tips, and instruction before heading outdoors to the kitchen patio for fun grilling, dining, and local beer! Pre-register online here

Friday, August 12, 2016

Appleton CSA: Week 10

Good morning shareholders,
The summer heat continues to bake the pastures, veggie fields, farmers and staff but we had lots of fun with our group of farm campers this week, made some tasty pickled carrots, zucchini and corn salsa at our Putting Up the Harvest class in the kitchen, and have our new batch of Broad Meadow cheese in the farm store.  We'll be heading off the farm this weekend to sample and sell cheese at the Ipswich Farmer's Market and Beverly's Bacon and Brew Fest.

We are looking forward to an exciting week ahead with our  monthly Farm Store Open House on Thursday the 18th and our first Graze the North Shore Food Festival on Saturday, August 20th.  Get your tickets and join us for a fun night on the farm with live music by the Jason Spooner band, your favorite local restaurants and beverage crafters.

Next week marks the half way point in the CSA season.  In our continuing efforts to improve communication between CSA shareholders and farmers, we will be doing a mid season survey this year in addition to our end of season survey. The survey will be posted here on the blog and will also be available to fill out in the share room next week. This is an opportunity to provide feedback on your CSA experience thus far with a focus on aspects of the CSA that we can improve for the second half of the season.  We hope you will participate and let us know how we’re doing and what you would like to see us do better between now and November.  Thanks in advance!      


The Share
Lettuce
Chard
Carrots
Potatoes
Cabbage
Onions
Melons
Cucumbers
Squash

From the Fields:
We finally got some rain this week!  It wasn’t a season altering quantity but it was enough to keep the soil moist for the past two days.  More importantly, the rain signaled both a climatic as well as spiritual shift here on the farm. With more wet weather a possibility in the forecast maybe we can begin to hope again for a good fall. 

Hope has been wrestling with Pragmatism in my mind for the last couple of weeks and it hadn’t been looking good for Hope prior to this Wednesday’s storm.  It remains to be seen how much of a practical impact one storm will have but just for fun lets look on the bright side today.

Tomatoes are still at least a week away from ready but the red slicers look very large and healthy.  When they do finally start coming in I’m expecting a fast flush.  The extra fall crops that we seeded over the last two weeks have had strong germination and fast growth in the greenhouse.  If we can beat the pests, the extra napa cabbage, sprouting broccoli and kohlrabi should be great this fall in addition to the extra greens, radishes and turnips.  We aren’t certain exactly when the sweet corn will be available in the share but it will reportedly be here this month.  I think we may also begin to harvest cantaloupe next week which is extremely exciting for me.  If the yields are reasonable and if they are popular in the share room we may increase the number we grow next year.  The few cantaloupes that we’ve sampled for science have made me believe that they should be extremely well received.

Recipe Exchange:

We didn't have any recipes submitted this week in our recipe exchange but our Office Manager, Susan, made Betsy M's Kohlrabi and Veggie soup and claims it is amazing!  Check out last week's post if you want to try it.  More on the recipe exchange in the survey.  






Volunteer Opportunities: Interested? Email appletonfarms@thetrustees.org

We are still looking for a few more volunteers for our Food Festival, Saturday August 20th, from 6pm-9pm.  Lend a hand for an early or late shift at our food and beverage stations, set up, or clean up.  Volunteers can bring a friend for free.  Away on the 20th? Save the date to lend a hand at Family Farm Day on Sunday, September 18th.  Your help makes our events possible for hundreds of families to learn, connect, and get involved with Appleton Farms.  



Upcoming Programs and Events:

Friday Farm Dinners: Every Friday in the Stone Paddock at 5:30PM.  Join us for a summer evening of farm fresh food, live music, and lawn games! Pre-register online here


Fun in the Farmyard: Every Sunday in the Carriage Barn from 10am-3pm.  FREE drop in program where you can meet the animals, make a farm craft, and learn all about Appleton Farms. 

Rise and Shine Little Farmers: Saturdays at 9AM.  Have you ever collected warm eggs from the chicken coop or seen how fast pigs will run for their morning helping of veggie scraps? This Saturday morning program brings families behind the scenes of our working farm.  Pre-register online here   

Cooking with Fire: August 28th at 6PM.  Inspired by the farm’s very own wood-fired Earth Oven, this special workshop celebrates the season with signature recipes featuring the freshest farm ingredients along with all the skills needed to enjoy your own backyard grilling all summer long. Class begins in the farm kitchen with menu preparation, culinary tips, and instruction before heading outdoors to the kitchen patio for fun grilling, dining, and local beer! Pre-register online here

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Appleton Farms CSA: Week 9


Good morning shareholders,

We want to thank you all for your understanding in this year of severe drought. Your reassuring words in the share room and kind emails showing your support mean a lot to the farm team.  Our campers spent the week digging into farm chores and letting the farmers know how much they appreciated their hard work too.  We look forward to seeing everyone back on the farm this week.  

Last week we celebrated the completion of our new wooden play structure built by our Monday Morning Volunteer crew. "Bob the Tractor" was added so that our littlest farmers can spend some time in the driver's seat of their very own tractor.  Why "Bob"? Our Monday crew named the tractor in honor of one of our longtime volunteers who passed away this summer and was instrumental in the completion of countless projects here at Appleton.  We will think of Bob T. each time we see kids enjoying the view of the farm from their new tractor.  

Last week we also opened up the public pick-your-own flower field that was planned, planted, and cared for by our Olivia on our Education team.  Proceeds from this Flower Field will help support programs like Sunday's Fun in the Farmyard and our Farm Field School program that engages over 40 schools each year in sustainable agriculture, the working farm, and healthy cooking.  


The Share
Onions
Scallions
Carrots
Cabbage
Melons
Potatoes
Squash
Cucumbers

From the Fields: 

We worked late this Friday bringing in just over 4000lbs of watermelon.  They just barely fit into the cooler but they should be cold, crisp and sweet for next weeks share.  I’m going to try to keep this brief since my wife and I are moving this weekend and I’m sure she is waiting for my help back home.


It is still dry as can be out there.  We are smack dab in the middle of the expanding drought zone.  The tree out in front of the CSA barn lost all its leaves this week.  They dropped all in one day as if to say “That’s the absolute limit, I give up!”  It was sad to see but the rasping sound of the falling leaves was soothing. The share begins again this Monday.  A part of me wishes we could wait until the tomatoes, eggplant and peppers start coming before we open again but we can’t add any more extra weeks in the fall.  Hopefully the shares that we are able to offer in the coming weeks keep everyone satisfied.  We are going to be forced to limit more of the available items than usual but the farmers won’t be holding anything back.  If you don’t see it in the share room it is because we just don’t have it.  We are also working on getting corn into the share as soon as possible.  Hang in there everybody.


Recipe Exchange: Recipe of the Week

We want thank Betsy M. for her second delicious soup recipe submission. Vegetables can be varied according to what is in the share.  She also notes that except for the tomatoes, all of these were available this week and that this recipe is delicious served with toast or grilled cheese sandwiches.

Kohlrabi and Vegetable Soup: Serves 4
2 Tbsp olive oil
2-4 garlic scapes, chopped
1 onion or 2 scallions, chopped
1 kohlrabi, peeled and diced
2 carrots, unpeeled and sliced
1 small zucchini or summer squash
6 or so green beans, chopped
1 large sprig of basil, chopped (optional)
1 pint chopped stewed tomatoes
2 pints water

Sauté onions and scapes until onions are translucent. Add carrots and kohlrabi and sauté another 2-3 minutes. Add zucchini and green beans, then cover with 1 cup of water and simmer until kohlrabi is tender but not too soft. Add chopped tomatoes, basil, and remaining water and simmer another 2-3 minutes until all is cooked through. 


Volunteer Opportunities: For more information email appletonfarms@thetrustees.org

Flower Fields Volunteers: Thursday, Friday or Saturday mornings with Olivia. Weeding, watering, planting, and making flower bouquets for the farm store. 

Food Festival Volunteers: Opportunities include set up, break down, decorating, slicing cheese samples, parking, welcome and registration, and more. Work a shift and get a free ticket for a friend. 

More Upcoming Events and Programs:

Putting up the Harvest: Pickling

Thursday, August 11th 6-8PM
This is a great hands-on opportunity to get comfortable with these skills for confidence at home as we cover proper safety guidelines, the do’s & don’ts, and traditional techniques for best end results.  Our ‘putting up’ recipes will pair distinctly with the growing season and incorporate the freshest foods of the farm harvest. This week: Recipes such as Bread & Butter Field Squash Pickles, Dilly Carrots, and Summer Corn Relish. Pre-registration required.  Members: $40. Registration at www.thetrustees.org/appletoncooks


Graze the North Shore Food Festival
Join us for our first local food festival! On Saturday, August 20th, Appleton Farms will host Graze the North Shore, a food festival with local farmers, chefs, brewers, vintners and food enthusiasts for a day of summertime feasting. Graze your way through this one-of-a-kind summer event featuring generous tastings of local food, beer and wine, a pig roast, farm tours, cheese sampling, and live music by the Jason Spooner Band. Attendees will experience a true farmer to chef experience among the rolling pastures and historic barns here at Appleton Farms.  Tickets include all samples. Buy your tickets now

Friday Farm Dinners: Join us every Friday for a casual, family-friendly farm dinner in the Stone Paddock. Live music, delicious buffet dinner highlighting what's in season right now. All menus designed and served by local restaurants, chefs, and caterers in partnership with Appleton.  Full schedule and tickets at www.thetrustees.org/appletoncooks



Farm camp, Rise and Shine, Fun in the Farmyard, and Carrot Club continue each week!  Find all the details and registration at www.thetrustees.org