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Saturday, April 8, 2017

April News from Appleton Farms

Good morning from Appleton Farms,

We have lots of news from the CSA this week, so we're going to save space (and your attention) for Andrew's post but we do have a few things to share about the farm this month.

We'll be welcoming new goat kids next week from our friends at Dancing Goats Dairy so come visit the farmyard if you want your fill of "completely adorable and endlessly playful". These wethers (castrated males) aren't much use to a goat dairy but they serve our educational purposes well and teach our school children, summer campers, and families all about the role goats play on a farm (think invasive plant control and yes...meat).  These little boys will be getting a big welcome and lots of love over April Vacation when we have a whole menu of week-long, drop in and one-time programs for children and their families.  Find more information on these programs below.

We're also gearing up for our Egg-cellent Easter Adventure, a well-loved family event on Saturday, April 15th.  Register early because this event sells out.  We're still looking for volunteers to help with our quest stations, face-painting, refreshments, and farmyard animals.  Click here if you'd like to sign up to volunteer and join the fun!

From the Fields:
It’s that time of year when spring teases you. A couple warm, sunny days followed by two inches of rain. On another beautiful spring afternoon honeybees abound on willow blossoms, then an April 1st snow storm. It came like a joke, as if Mother Nature wanted to play us a fool. So much for that early spring we had been promised back in late February. But just three days later the snow has melted and there’s warm weather in the forecast. Spring is around the corner and I think I speak for more than myself when I say we’re all anxiously awaiting its arrival.

In farming, we’re completely at the mercy of weather patterns. Too wet and we can’t get in the fields to plow and seed and plant our crops, but too dry and we’re worried we’ll run out of water next summer. It’s a delicate balance and most of what we do on the farm is worked around what the weather gives us. The powerful impact it has on our ability to grow high quality crops for the CSA hasn’t been more evident than last season, when an extreme drought left most of us in the region with our heads spinning. So we decided to service our gravel pack well this winter to improve the flow rate and tuned up the old irrigation pump in preparation for a drought I hope we never see again. And while recently it feels like we’re finally cashing in on all those rain dances we performed last summer, we need to be prepared for whatever comes along.

Despite the recent rain and our desire to get into the field, it feels like spring inside our greenhouse. We’ve spent the past couple weeks seeding our early transplants, which include onions, leeks, lettuce, beets, and spring brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, kale). These first weeks inside always feel so good with our hands finally back in soil and the green sprouts are a promise of what’s to come. We made a rather modest investment in a vacuum seeder this spring, which allows us to seed whole trays in a fraction of the time is takes to seed by hand. It doesn’t work with all types of crops, but the amount of times it saves makes it well worth the investment.

Other happenings on the farm include getting the last of our supply orders together, tuning up tractors and equipment and putting the finishing touches on the master crop plan. I want to mention that we’ve planned a seedling sale for shareholders that will happen during CSA orientation during the first week of June. We will offer a variety of organically grown vegetables, herbs, and flowers starts, so get your plants here!

Our crew starts next week, and with sun in the forecast we can’t wait to get to our hands dirty and get to work! 


Upcoming Programs & Events:

Inspired by Spring: Vegetarian Culinary Workshop
Saturday, April 22nd 6PM-9PM

Spring has arrived on the farmstead and we’re celebrating the soon-arrival of wonderful seasonal crops we’ve all been waiting for.  This special vegetarian-inspired cooking class will incorporate farm foods & flavors of the season with signature dishes such as Dilly Beer-Battered Asparagus, Garden Spring Rolls with Sweet & Sour Maple Dipping Sauce, and savory Spinach & Farro Risotto, along with a seasonal dessert of course! Hands-on cooking, printed recipes, and professional tips & techniques by chef Carolyn Grieco, will all be included as we create our very own vegetarian Spring menu to share and savor at the end of our workshop!  BYOB beer and wine is allowed. Registration at Trustees Members: $72. Nonmembers: $90

Cheese Making Intensives with Cheese Maker Kristian Holbrook
Thursday April 6th or Thursday, April 27th 11AM-4PM
Spend the afternoon alongside Kristian and observe his process of turning 200 gallons of our Jersey milk into our rich and creamy farmstead cheese.  You’ll join Kristian in the Creamery at 11am just after the milk has been pasteurized and begin your in-depth, instructional cheese making day.  A comprehensive learning experience will follow, covering everything from rennet and rinds to brines and molds.  You’ll watch the process from coagulation to hooping with opportunities to ask questions at every step.  Lunch and cheese tasting included.  This class is for those considering cheese making as a career, serious hobby cheese makers looking to further their learning, or anyone looking for a distinctive experience and fascinating view into the world of cheese.  Before you leave, you will stop at our farm store and pack your own cheese box full of your favorite Appleton cheeses.  Sessions limited to 5 participants.  Significant periods of standing required. Registration at  Trustees Members: $200. Nonmembers: $250. 

For Children and Families:

Egg-cellent Easter Adventure at Appleton Farms
Saturday, April 15th  10AM-12PM
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! Enjoy homemade refreshments and face painting in our Carriage Barn, visit with our chicks, bunnies and calves, try your hand at “candling eggs” and play games in the stone paddock! Quest begins at 10am.  Please plan to arrive between 10AM and 11:15AM and bring a basket of your own to collect the Quest eggs. Recommended for ages 8 and under.  Pre-registration required: Trustees Member families: $24. Nonmember Families: $30

Appleton’s Farmer for a Week:
Tuesday, April 18th - Friday April 21st 
Come celebrate the plants, animals, and people emerging from the winter on the farm. In a small group, camp-like setting we’ll enjoy outdoor activities, gardening, exploration, and of course, try out some new recipes in the kitchen! We’ll learn some farmer yoga, help out with the farm chores, hike across the property in search of signs of the season, get our hands dirty in the soil, and find out how everyone at Appleton is preparing for the springtime! Program runs Tuesday-Friday.  Preregistration is required. Ages 5-8: 9am-12pm, Ages 8-10: 1-4pm. Trustees Members: $140. Nonmembers: $175.

Farm Felting
Monday, April 17 |  10AM-11AM
Warmer spring weather means its sheep shearing time on the farm.  But what to do with all that wool? Learn about the time honored tradition of wool felting. We’ll start by learning how to “card” the raw wool into soft fiber for spinning or felting. Afterwards, we’ll try our hand at making felt balls to be used for farm-fun necklaces. Wool, wood beads and decorative string will be provided, but feel free to bring anything special of your own to add to your necklace. Recommended for ages 6-9. Registration at  Trustees Member Child: $12; Nonmember Child: $20

Mason Jar Terrariums
Monday, April 18 from 2PM-3PM and Friday, April 21 from 10AM-11AM
It may still be too cold for fresh flowers or green grass so bring some green life inside with an easy and adorable mason jar terrarium. We’ll create a miniature natural world with gravel, soil, mosses and plants that can stay on your desk or windowsill. You’ll leave with a mini terrarium of your own, plus the skills to make bigger ones at home. All materials provided. Recommended for ages 7-12. Registration at  Trustees Member Child: $12; Nonmember Child: $20

Families in the Farm Kitchen: Cheese Making
Thursday, April 20th  10AM-11AM
Cooking together and having fun in the kitchen makes our farm family happy and we want to share that enthusiasm for cooking with you. With the help of our educator we will make a batch of fresh farm cheese while we learn about how our cows turn green grass to creamy, nutritious milk. Afterwords we'll enjoy the sweet fruits of our labor together. This program is designed for families with children ages 5-10. Registration at  Trustees Member Child: $12; Nonmember Child: $20

April Vacation Bread & Butter Making
Wednesday, April 19 from 10AM-11AM
Cooking together and having fun in the kitchen makes our farm family happy and we want to share that enthusiasm for cooking with you. We will work together to measure ingredients and kneed the dough to make our own homemade rolls. While the bread cooks we’ll turn fresh Jersey milk into delicious butter. Learn about our cows and enjoy the sweet fruits of our labor together. Recommended for ages 5-10 but all are welcome! An adult must attend but there is no additional charge. Pre-registration is required. This program meets in the farm kitchen. Registration at   Trustees Member Child: $12; Nonmember Child: $20

Earth Day Cook & Grow
Saturday, April 22nd 10AM-11:30AM
Celebrate our Earth, farming, and delicious food with this fun hands-on planting and cooking experience!  We’ll start in the teaching kitchen and get cooking. Kids will practice basic measuring and knife skills as we work together to whip up a tasty farm frittata with our own eggs. While our creation cooks kids will plant their own mini herb garden to take home. Learn about what plants need to survive and see what were planting in our own kitchen garden. Afterwards we’ll enjoy our snack together! Recommended for ages 6-10 but all are welcome! An adult must attend but there is no additional charge. Pre-registration is required. This program meets in the farm kitchen.  Registration at  Trustees Member Children: $12. Nonmember Children: $20.

Meet the Cows

Saturday, April 22nd 3:30PM-4:30PM  
Ever wondered where milk comes from? 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 to see our cows being milked and more! Learn why cows have big ears, how much milk they make and how we turn it into delicious cheese.  For ages 2-7 with an accompanying adult.  Pre-registration is not required.  Ticket price is per child, no additional cost for adults. Member children: $5. Nonmember Children: $10