This week is the turning point from the high season to the winter - the end of CSA and the summer market. We've had a really good first season on this land, and we're excited about the next step: winter markets!
This year the Middlebury market
moves indoors to Mary Hogan School every Saturday from 9:30-1:00 during November & December. Then it'll be closed for January and February, and back to every week starting in March. We've got lots of storage crops like winter squash, onions, and carrots, plus Brussels sprouts, pea shoots, and kale. We also have spinach, radishes, and other crops in the field and the greenhouse, so we expect to have fresh greens at all the markets. We're also planning to be at the Vermont Farmers' Market
in Rutland this winter, which is on Saturdays from 10-2.Thanks for a great summer, and we hope to see you this winter!
Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL)
is a great organization promoting agriculture and local food. Our farm is right on the border of Addison and Rutland counties, and we're glad to have the support of RAFFL - they do great work.
This week they've organized several events as that they're calling the "Salad Days of Summer
" - a name which is right on! Even with the hot and dry weather, our lettuce is looking awesome and we've been having salad all the time. If you're in the Rutland area, check out some of what's going on!
The Everyday Chef blog
from RAFFL is also great, and has been featuring salad recipes and info - if you're looking to spice up your salads, it's a great place to start.
Click the images to view larger and see the date each was taken.
A few weeks ago we had a clean-up day to deal with the aftermath of the flooding. Honestly, we'd been pretty depressed about the whole thing - losing that field this year, plus the winter plantings we can't plant, plus the potential of having it happen again, plus the thought of all that food going to waste - and we took up the offer that Annie Harlow made to put our clean-up day out to the ACORN
network because we figured if we got a few more hands, we could get it over with more quickly.Well, we sure got some more hands.
Those hands included the entire Middlebury College men's soccer team, several of our CSA members, some friends, and a couple of folks hardly even know. It was humbling and gratifying to watch all the energy that these people brought to the work of tearing out plants, pulling up plastic, hauling potatoes, and making the biggest compost pile we've ever had.
It was also incredibly efficient - in literally an hour and a half, our team of 30+ people did what would have been at least two weeks of work for Jeremy and Brian. And it was almost fun! Such an amazing gift to receive from our community.
We've also been touched by all the people who stopped by our stand and the market to ask how we're doing and buy an extra squash or two.
As climate change makes big weather like Irene more likely and alters the patterns of the seasons, farmers are going to have to adapt in a lot of different ways. Perhaps that gorgeous river-bottom soil will have to be limited to orchards or pasture. Clearly diversification is going to be increasingly important - if we'd been growing only winter squash, we'd be totally screwed. And I think community is going to become more and more important as well - for work parties, for investment in new ideas, for moral support.
So the good thing about having lost our field was that we got to see our community in action. And that was pretty great.
(Thanks to Annie Harlow for the photos.)
Yup, they're here! CSA got the first tomatoes on Tuesday, and we're bringing several flats to market tomorrow. We've got both red and golden slicers - try them both and see which you like best. The heirlooms and cherry tomatoes are on their way, and should be ready in the next week or two.
We'll also have eggplants - both the big purple ones and the little green Thai ones - and cucumbers, as well as lettuce, kale, green beans, peas, and more! The weather looks perfect for tomorrow, so we hope to see you there.
The summer seems to be pretty thoroughly over, though the Eye in the Sky
claims that there's some more warm weather coming. We've gotten about to the end of the summer foods - we gave pretty much the last of the tomatoes and definitely the last of the cukes to the CSA this week - and the fall goodies are coming in. The cherry tomatoes are the only thing still going in the greenhouse, which has been mostly taken over by drying onions and curing winter squash, but even they are starting to look tired.
We're getting ready to start on our new greenhouses - just got the building permits last week. Soon we'll rip all the tomato plants out of this house and plant some spinach and carrots, probably; the big new one will be our tomato house next year and this one will probably be our plant house, where we'll start all our seedlings. The third one will be much smaller, and probably an experimental house, a place to play with new ideas. It's pretty exciting to contemplate the possibilities of all this new greenhouse space - even though we don't heat our greenhouses, they provide enough protection to really change the scope of what it's possible to grow up here, and we're really looking forward to exploring that a lot more in the coming seasons.
July is plowing right along. We've had a pretty good mix of sun and rain and most things are growing like crazy. We ought to be picking cukes, zukes and green beans every day, but three times a week is about all we can manage. We haven't had enough sunny, dry days to get ahead of the weeds, and they've been growing just as fast as everything else, so every sunny, dry day is spent weeding. Harvest and wash for CSA and market takes most of the day on Friday now. This week we added potatoes to the mix.
New potatoes are one of the reasons I love farming. They were really a revelation for me. I think that everyone knows - at least theoretically - that a fresh, sun-warmed, garden tomato is fundamentally different from the tomatoes you get at the grocery store. What most people don't know - what I didn't know until only a few years ago - is that a fresh, just-dug baby potato is a fundamentally different vegetable than the big old russets (or even the pretty-good red-skinned ones) you get at the store. They're so creamy and soft and tender and full of good flavor. Potatoes are one of my favorite things to eat and one of my favorite things to grow. They don't take much care, just basic weeding and a hilling once or twice, and they grow all big and bushy, then you dig them up and surprise! There's potatoes in there! It's like magic every time.
Besides, potatoes, what else is new? The younger chickens have just started laying, so we get a little blue pullet egg every other day or so (a pullet is a young hen). When chickens first start laying, it takes them a few tries to get it right, so the first eggs tend to be a bit funny - often they're very small, grape-sized or even smaller, sometimes without yolks. Sometimes they don't get their hard shell on and are just enclosed in the inner membrane. Sometimes they have two yolks, or only yolk and no white. They're an adventure. After another few weeks the pullets should have it all worked out and we ought to be getting four or five good blue eggs in addition to the 8-10 that the other fourteen hens lay each day. Which will be good, because our household eats 6-8 eggs a day, and we haven't had as many to sell as we'd like.
The new chickens also seem to have integrated into the flock better now that they're full-sized and laying. They mostly roost all together now, although one still insists on roosting on the coop's hipboard rather than on the roost. I suspect that when winter comes she'll join the flock.
Also, the cherry tomato plants in the greenhouse have reached the top of their trellis (which is about 7 feet high), and Jeremy has doubled them over and trained them back down, and they have now reached my waist on their way down to the ground.
Yes, the tomato plant is a foot taller than I am.
Wow, it's hard to find the time to blog!
Things are going well on the farm. The Japanese beetles have made their first appearance, right in sync with the black raspberries ripening. (Our black raspberry bush is very small and provides us with one tiny handful of raspberries every few days during the season... but it's a delicious tiny handful!) Pests haven't been that bad this year, so far (knock on wood) but it's early yet.
The magic December-planted carrots from the greenhouse are all done now, and the greenhouse is firmly in the grip of summer plants: eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes which are growing several inches a day. The cherry tomato plants are taller than I am! We've got a few just starting to turn color, so hopefully the rest will follow suit and soon we'll have tomatoes for the CSA and market.
We're starting to plan for this winter now, making sure we've got all the fall crops planted and figuring out what will go in the greenhouse when the tomatoes are done. We're planning to build a second greenhouse this fall, so we have to figure out the timing of that and what to plant when to fill it up. There's garlic now where that greenhouse is going, but that will be coming out fairly soon. Probably we'll plant some late brassicas and spinach there, then build the greenhouse over it, like we did with the first greenhouse last year. Maybe we'll plant more winter carrots! With two greenhouses, we should have the same problem of needing to plant the summer crops in before the winter crops are finished. Eventually, we'd love to have movable greenhouses... but that's for the future. Right now, we need to decide how much rutabaga seed to order!