Spring is here! We've got sprouts sprouting and greens greening up! Here's a snapshot of what's growing these days.
Peas are one of spring's great joys - sweet, green, and so easy to eat! There are three kinds of common peas, and each one has its particular best uses. All peas are sweetest soon after they're picked, so don't hang on to them too long, and all peas should have their stems and strings removed before eating.
Snap peas (top left in the photo) can be eaten whole, except for the stem, and do not need to be peeled. Their shells are thick and juicy and the peas inside should be plump. They can be eaten raw, chopped for salads or stir-fries, or sauteed lightly. They don't benefit from long cooking.
Shell peas (top right) have tough, inedible pods and delicious little peas inside. These are the peas you find frozen in bags at the supermarket. We find the best way to open the shells is to pull the stem backward, down the side of the pea that curves inward with a slight indentation. This unzips the pod, which you should be able to easily open to scoop out the peas. These can then be eaten raw, or steamed for 5-10 minutes, depending on how you like them. Topped with butter, salt, and pepper, they're pretty amazing just like that! You can blanch them in boiling water for about 2 minutes and freeze.
Snow peas (bottom) are also edible-podded peas. In fact, the pod is most of the action in a snow pea; the peas inside are usually quite small. Like snap peas, they are good eaten raw, but are probably most well-known in stir fries and other Chinese dishes. They can be sauteed or steamed, just briefly, or added to salads. A quick, tasty side dish can be made by sauteing snow peas in sesame oil for just a minute or two, then tossing with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Because fresh peas are so good, and the season so short, we tend to prepare them in simple ways that really highlight their own flavor (ie, sauee for a minute and add butter). But, of course, there are lots of options to incorporate peas into many other dishes - here are some ideas for snap, shell, and snow peas.
Are you dreaming of summer yet? Put a deposit down on this summer's enjoyment by signing up for a CSA now!
We've got a few new developments for the CSA this year, which we're pretty excited about. We're adding some new produce to the mix, including fennel, sweet corn, and strawberries. We've also partnered with several farmer friends to make meat, cheese, bread, eggs, and honey available to our subscribers. (See the CSA page for more details.)
For folks who pick up on the farm, we're expanding the "market style" pick-up that we trialled with the Winter CSA into the summer. We got really good feedback about this system, which gives you a bit more variety and control over what you take home each week. We'll have a few tables set up with several types of produce on each, and you'll be able to choose what you want from each table. (Some items, like early tomatoes, will still be distributed more tightly to make sure everyone gets their share.)
We're also expanding our workplace delivery program to reach more businesses between Rutland and Vergennes. Those who get deliveries will have traditional set boxes -- but they will get them delivered directly to their place of work! If you think some of your coworkers might be interested in a CSA, let us know! We are happy to talk to HR or office managers about the program and how we can make it work best for your business or organization.
If you have any questions, please get in touch.
This week has been pretty rainy, as I'm sure you've noticed. Though it isn't always pleasant to work in, we're glad of the rain: we direct seeded carrots, arugula, and snap, shell, and dry beans, and the consistent moisture is key to getting good germination, which of course is the first step towards getting a good crop.
Last Saturday we had a break of sun long enough to spray the brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower) with a product called Deer Stopper, which is a delightful mixture of rotten egg, mint, and rosemary that deer hate the smell of. (Unfortunately, we've sine determined that the creature nibbling on the brassicas is a woodchuck, not a deer, and he doesn't seem to mind the smell.)
Now that our seeds are all up, we're looking forward to some dry days ahead: dry weather is good for weeding, and the weeds also experienced good germination in the rain. The various weeding attachments for the tractor that Jeremy has been investing in will start paying off quickly now. Weeding is typically the largest single labor cost on organic farms, and our labor time is at a premium. Though there is something satisfying and meditative about weeding by hand, the tractor do in less than ten minutes what it would take our crew of three several hours, and those are hours that we can use in lots of other ways. And of course, the tractor will always miss a few, so there's never a shortage of hand weeding to be done anyway.
Well, another winter has (mostly) passed, and even though it's only about 15º as I write this, we know that spring is coming. There is birdsong in the morning, our neighbors have been sugaring, and the greenhouses are turning green.
This year we're undertaking a new spring adventure: plant sales! Starting at the first outdoor farmers' market on May 4, we'll be selling seedlings for home gardens. We'll only bring plants that are healthy, hardened off, and ready to plant. This means that early in May we'll have cold-hardy seedlings (like lettuce and greens), and then the more tender plants (like tomatoes) at the end of the month when the risk of frost has passed. Overall, we will include our favorite varieties of lettuce, onions, summer and winter squash, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, and heirloom tomatoes.
Then, on Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, we'll have a big on-farm plant sale! Come by the farm and pick out all the seedlings you need, and get a tour of our operation, too.
Spring also means CSA sign-up time! In addition to the traditional on-farm CSA pick-up, we're also offering CSA delivery to homes and workplaces this year. There's no delivery fee if five or more shares are delivered to the same location, so if you're interested, team up with some friends or co-workers and let us know!
Our famous spring butter lettuce is ready (and the other lettuces, too)! We'll have it at the market this week.
The first "summer" farmers' market is tomorrow - from now on, they'll be weekly, outside at the Marble Works. We'll be in the same spot as we were last year, and we plan to be there every week, so come say hello. We've got radishes this week - and our three successions all matured at once, so it looks like it'll be this week only! They're really tasty, nice and mild. We'll also have pea shoots and spinach again, and if you haven't tried this spinach, you're missing out. I think it's the best we've grown, really nutty and just good tasting. It feels like the perfect thing for spring. And we took Sonora on her first big hike this week to gather ramps, the amazing and delicious wild onion that only appears for a few weeks each spring. They are a real treat, good everywhere that you'd usually put onions or garlic. We especially like to use them in scrambled eggs, added to hamburgers, and in pasta. Come get some while they last!
Martha Stewart may not be everyone's cup of Earl Grey, but she has a great seasonal recipe section on her website. While the "spring" ingredients might not all make their appearance here until summer (green beans?), there are a bunch of recipes for asparagus, rhubarb, ramps, radishes, spring lettuce, and other yummies that will be ready soon if they aren't already. We should have radishes and ramps at the next market, and scallions and lettuce are coming soon. (Did anyone see our spring lettuce last year? We're hoping to get some even bigger, more beautiful heads this time!)
We'll also be adding some more spring-time recipes to our recipe section, so check back there for updates. If you have any favorites, let us know & we'll share!
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