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Friday, September 23, 2016

Appleton CSA- Week 16 (September 26th-30th)

Good morning shareholders,

We had a fabulous turnout for Family Farm Day despite the rainy forecast and want to give a public thank you to all who volunteered to paint faces, sell cider donuts, run the hay obstacle course, and so much more. Thanks to all who came to enjoy the day with us!

On Wednesday we are hosting our mid-season shareholders meeting.  As I mentioned in a previous post, this is an excellent chance to deliver your feedback directly to the folks with the ability to make decisions about the CSA’s direction and future.  We will be meeting on Wednesday September 28th from 6-7:30pm in the CSA barn (note: location has changed).  We are planning to start the meeting with introductions, a brief review of the season so far and an overview of the mid-season survey results before opening the floor to questions and conversation with shareholders.  Please sign up to attend the meeting here!

Some fun news from the farm includes the arrival of America's Test Kitchen on Monday.  They will be using the porch of the Old House to film the intro scenes of their show Cook's County.  There will be a few days over the next two weeks where access to the Old House will be restricted so just keep an eye out for their signs.  We'll let you know when the show airs if you're interested.

As part of The Trustees Hike 125, we are offering our second Pinnacle to Pinnacle Walking Tour in September.  Led by two long-time volunteers, this hike will introduce you to the incredible story of Appleton Farms, the family members who called this farm home for 9 generations, and the origin of the Gore Hall Pinnacles that are part of this treasured landscape.  Join Susan and Katrina to visit the Prince of Wales and New House Pinnacles on Sunday, September 25th.  Walks are FREE to Members. $5 for Nonmembers.  This walk meets in front of the Old House at 10am.  



The Share
Greens
Bok Choi
Tomatoes
Potatoes
Peppers
Carrots
Squash
Garlic
Onions
Kale/Collards
PYO Cherry Tomatoes

Updates from the Fields:

We have finally reached “peak tomato” this week.  Like peak oil, peak tomato is the point at which we have reached the maximum rate of harvest for the season before yields begin to diminish.  This may sound like a negative occurrence but with context it is actually quite good news.  Tomato harvesting is a major consumer of  labor during this time of the year.  The entire farm crew probably spent 40% of this week just on tomato harvest.  Right now we are picking tomatoes faster than shareholders are using them and unfortunately we can’t just stop harvesting because this week’s ripe tomatoes become next weeks rotten mess if left out on the vine.  Still, in a year of austerity it does feel very nice to have something in excess.  Since we aren’t seeing many problems with blight (possibly the only advantage this drought has brought us) the tomatoes may well last until the first frost.  My hope and plan is that yields will diminish gradually over the next three weeks and we will have enough warning before the first frost to harvest absolutely everything that is left on the vine.  At this point it doesn’t seem unreasonable to hope for tomatoes through the second week in October.  Keep your fingers crossed for moderate over night lows and we just might get there.

In the past week or so many shareholders have been struggling to make it to the share room during their regularly scheduled pickup block.  We understand that the changing season can bring chaos to our regular routines and sometimes things just come up.  For this reason we try to be as flexible as possible with our official policy of asking for advanced written notice if you plan to swap your pickup block.  In turn we ask that you let us know as soon as you can that you will need to switch pickup days.  For us, this isn’t just an overly formal courtesy.  We plan our work week around harvests and getting a dozen more or less shareholders than expected on a given day can interrupt the flow of our work or cause certain items to unexpectedly run out in the share room.  Thank you for doing your best to help us with this issue.  If you need to switch your pickup block for a single week or for the rest of the season please send an email to me at rwood@thetrustees.org or to Ashley at Achapman@thetrustees.org .   


Upcoming Events and Programs:

Down on the Farm: Fall Concert Series:  Join us for our first fall concert series at Appleton Farms!  These family-friendly concerts will feature live music, food trucks, lawn games, and an opportunity to meet our dairy cows and farm animals.  The series kicks off on Sunday, October 9th at 4pm.  Bring your own picnic or purchase food from a selection of food trucks.  Beer and wine will be available for purchase with Ipswich Ale, Old Planters Brewing, and Mill River Winery.  Gates open at 4pm and concert starts at 5pm.  Leaf-peeping and family photo opportunities among the foliage in our historic Stone Paddock a bonus!   Entry will be by the car, cash only.  No pre-purchase required.  Trustees Members: $20 per car.  Nonmembers: $30 per car. 

October 9th will feature classic rock music by Decades of Rock and food by Gabi’s Smoke Shack BBQ      truck.

October 16th will feature reggae music by Soul Rebel Project and food by Copper Dome Crust (wood fired pizza) and Boston Burger. 

October 23rd will feature folk-rock music by Rust Never Sleeps, a Neil Young inspired band, and Copper Dome Crust pizza truck and Gabi’s Smoke Shack.  Plus on October 23rd, bring a carved pumpkin for our pumpkin contest and let the kids come in costumes to take part in the farmyard trick-or-treat!  Carved, glowing pumpkins will surround the event for a spectacular Halloween inspired show


Fun in the Farmyard:  Sundays 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



Friday, September 16, 2016

Appleton CSA: Week 15 (September 19th-23rd)

Good morning shareholders,

This week we have been gearing up for Family Farm Day which takes place this Sunday from 10am-3pm, rain or shine.  Staff from all around the region came to lend a hand - we cleaned the barns, tidied up the Stone Paddock, built the hay obstacle course, shined up the tractors, decorated the farmstead with hay bales and mums, and so much more.  Hopefully no one gave up and tossed their raincoats and galoshes during the drought because we'll be celebrating the start to fall regardless of the weather. All the details can be found here: http://bit.ly/familyfarmday2016 

The Share
Potatoes
Squash
Tomatoes
Garlic
Peppers
Kale/Collards
Carrots
Leeks
PYO Cherry Tomatoes

From the Fields:
While many people consider Labor Day to be the unofficial end of summer, technically we have another week before the fall equinox which officially marks the passage of summer.  The trees are still green (or at least those that haven’t turned brown), the days are still warm and the mornings have only a hint of chill but something about the light does feel different.  The mid day sun is still hot but it has lost some of its blinding harshness and the mornings and evenings have become clear and pleasant in the fields.  Everywhere you can feel that a change is coming and it prods us to attend to our tasks with greater focus less we should end up like the lazy grasshopper from Aesop’s fable. 

We transplanted lettuce, spinach and bok choi this week: our very last planting for the season.  Next week we will seed the very last of the greens and radishes.  Thinning and weeding the watermelon radishes, beets and turnips have been keeping us busy as have several weeding projects.  One benefit of the shorter days and cooler nights has been that new weed pressure is minimized.  Bulk harvesting for the fall is in full swing right now with squash, onions, potatoes, carrots and many other root crops coming in.  This has been a little bit stressful since many of the bulk harvest crops, which we rely upon to fill out the share through the fall, suffered from the drought.  I alluded to this worry in last weeks post when I mentioned that we have been dipping into our storage crops to fill out our summer share.  The potatoes and carrots we ordered from Heron Pond farm and Picadilly farm mean that we will have a steady supply of these key crops.  Onions and squash yields are looking about as good as can be expected but, with careful distribution management, I’m optimistic that they will last for the next 5 or 6 weeks.  Add to this list some very promising brassicas along with the extra radishes, and direct seeded greens and the final third of this season looks to be in decent shape all things considered. We are at the doorstep of autumn and it seems the most difficult period is behind us.

At the most troubling times during the last month and a half, I worried that we would need to shut down the CSA, that we would be forced to lay off our farm crew and send out apprentices home early and that I would need to draft a letter of apology and explanation to send to all of you, our shareholders and supporters.  We were never so close to this dark possibility that the fate of the CSA was in imminent peril but the persistent, nagging dread that “maybe next week will be the week when our luck and fortitude abscond with the last of our high hopes” was enough to tie my guts into knots for days at a time.  I know that to a greater or lesser degree, all of the CSA staff has felt this way once or twice this summer.  During a moment like this an off hand comment from one or our shareholders might have crippled morale.  Instead we have received an unbelievable amount of patience, understanding and support.  I can’t say what impact this has had on the success of the CSA operations but for myself and my crew this has made the difference.  

Thank you, Ryan  

Upcoming Programs and Events:

Friday Farm Dinners: Every Friday through September 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 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Appleton CSA Week 14 (September 12th-16th)

Good morning shareholders,

Thank you again to everyone who participated in our mid-season survey.  We heard from many of you that you miss the opportunity to sit down with the farm team to talk about the present and future of the CSA program.  The farm team at Appleton wants to give you a voice to help shape your community agriculture program so we will be hosting a mid season shareholders gathering on September 28th  at 6PM in the Carriage Barn.  Please sign up by clicking on this Sign Up Genius link: Appleton Mid-Season Share Holder Meeting.  This will be an opportunity  to meet with Cathy Wirth, the Food Systems Director for the Trustees, Chris Ward, Acting Regional Director and former Appleton General Manger, Ashley Chapman, Shareroom Manager, and, of course, myself and the many  familiar faces from the farm team that you may normally only see out in the fields or in the share room.  You will be able to directly share your interests, ideas, and concerns with all of the staff involved in our CSA program.  Your words can help shape the direction of our farm so please sign up and speak up - Ryan

In other farm news, we have Family Farm Day coming up next Sunday, the 18th. There will be tractors to climb aboard, ponies to ride, goats to hug, and plenty of farm games to keep your little, middle, and big kids entertained.  We'll be offering our own 100% grass-fed burgers alongside Sal's Pizza, White Farm's Ice Cream, Kim Gregory's Pure Pastry, Mojo and more! Live music, the hay obstacle course, and potato sack races will provide a full day's fun.  All the day-of details and admission info can be found here: http://bit.ly/familyfarmday2016 


The Share
Tomatoes
Potatoes
Peppers
Chard
Beets
Squash
Garlic
Leeks
Bok Choi
PYO Cherry Tomatoes
PYO Hot Peppers
PYO Beans
PYO Flowers 

Updates from the Field:

As for the fields this week, a little more rain and some cooler weather have been very welcome.  The drought is still technically spreading.  In fact, the USDA declaring Essex county a drought disaster area last week but we have actually been able to take a short break from irrigating over the last couple of days.  The kohlrabi transplants, lately given up for dead, have made a miraculous recovery and the fall broccoli and kale are looking fresh and green but still several weeks from ready.  We are finally harvesting good size beets with healthy, attractive greens.  Overall I am pleased with the quality of the produce we have to offer, however I have been disappointed by the quantity and variety we have been able to put on display in the share.  With so many of our summer crops failing and our fall crops either stunted or delayed, a great deal of pressure has been placed on the items we do have available in the share.  We have been using up winter squash, leeks, carrots, potatoes, beets and lettuce at a rate faster than planned.  My hope was to fill the share in with sweet corn for the next couple of weeks but the official word is that Marini’s doesn’t have any more to spare.  The good news is that we will be getting fall carrots from Piccadilly in two weeks and some of our replacement plantings may begin coming in soon.  Until then we will be making the best of things in the share room.

P.S. We had some confusion last Saturday when the barn wasn't open in the morning.  We'll make sure the doors are open before heading to the Ipswich Farmer's Market with our cheese so you can read the limits board and grab pint and quart containers.  Sorry about that!

Volunteer Opportunities:
Family Farm Day!  Our biggest event of the year is coming up on Sunday, September 18th.  We need face painters, hay obstacle course time keepers, farm yard goat wranglers, and more!  Teens are welcome to volunteer and get service hours for school. Click Here for the Sign Up Genius.
 



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

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Appleton CSA Week 13 (September 5th-9th)


Good morning shareholders,

Happy Labor Day weekend! Its been a beautiful week on the farm. We hope you will come enjoy a walk through the farm and Grass Rides this weekend. Bring your camera to capture the views of the grazing cows, late summer sunsets, and tree-lined allees.  Even working here every day, the views never cease to inspire an appreciation for this beautiful farm.



Last weekend, our cheese maker Krisitan headed to the Boston Public Market for the Boston Fermentation Festival. Kristian sampled out his latest Appleton cheeses alongside Hopster Alley's sour beer.  A match made in food heaven. The market is open 7 days a week with farms and food producers from around New England- it is tons of fun, you'll learn a lot and meet great people.  They also offer events, programs, and themed days each month.  If you haven't been, check it out. If you have been, go again and see all the new additions since the market opened a year ago.  You can follow the market on Facebook and Instagram and make sure to follow our Appleton booth's Instagram page as well @appletonbpm

 As part of The Trustees Hike 125 challenge, we are offering two Pinnacle to Pinnacle Walking Tours in September.  Led by two long-time volunteers, these hikes will introduce you to the incredible story of Appleton Farms, the family members who called this farm home for 9 generations, and the origin of the Gore Hall Pinnacles that are part of this treasured landscape.  Join Susan and Katrina to visit the Round Point and Pigeon Hill Pinnacles on Saturday, September 11th and the Prince of Wales and New House Pinnacles on Sunday, September 25th.  Walks are FREE to Members. $5 for Nonmembers.  More info here.  

The Share
Potatoes
Tomatoes
Peppers
Lettuce
Leeks
Squash
Garlic
Chard
PYO Cherry Tomatoes
PYO Beans
PYO Hot Peppers

News from the Fields:
Another dry week but with the beginning of September relief may be in sight.  In the extended forecast we are seeing weather in the 70s and the possibility of a little rain early next week.  The humidity has seemed a little more bearable the last couple of days but the trade off has been a sharp increase in allergens floating around.  Half the farm crew has been sneezing their faces off.  Our summer squash and cucumbers seem to have given up at last but the tomatoes continue to pick up steam.



We managed to do some planting on Wednesday.  I thought the cooler, overcast days would preserve the delicate transplants a little better but by this afternoon they were looking mighty wilted.   Our well continues to be less reliable than we would like so we didn’t manage to water everything we had planned.  Over at Moraine farm they have been harvesting more winter squash and onions.  Thankfully the well over there has been very reliable and so the squash yields have been pretty decent.  Look forward to seeing a rainbow of winter squash in the share room for the next several weeks.



Volunteer Opportunities:

Family Farm Day!  Our biggest event of the year is coming up on Sunday, September 18th.  We need face painters, hay obstacle course time keepers, farm yard goat wranglers, and more!  Teens are welcome to volunteer and get service hours for school. Click Here for the Sign Up Genius.
 
Upcoming Programs and Events:

Family Farm Day- Sunday, September 18th from 10am-3pm

Grab your friends and family and join us at Appleton Farms for our annual Family Farm Day! Visit with our farm animals, climb aboard a tractor, paint your own pumpkin, learn about beekeeping, challenge your friends at the potato spoon relay or hay obstacle course, and make sure to enjoy a pony ride! Looking for more? There are old-fashioned games like tug-o-war, crafts, face-painting, farm tattoos, and live music by Ben Rudnick and Friends.
All the details here


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