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News and Notes
from the Field

Posts Filtered by Month - December 2018 |
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December 24, 2018
Sign Up for 2019 Main Season!
Other News
by Farmer Derek
Log in here to sign up for the 2019 Main Season CSA. Share prices remain the same next year.
We do the bulk of farm purchasing during the winter months and it is very helpful to have members sign up and pay for shares in advance. A $200 deposit finalizes the sign up process.
Total membership will remain the same as the past five seasons and we continue to fill up each year (thankfully).
We'll be in touch over the winter months with highlights, anticipations, and improvements we hope to make for next season. Since the weather cannot possibly be as bad as it was in 2018, everything is sure to be better!
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December 22, 2018
Thanks Folks!
Notes From The Field
by Farmer Derek

A winter solstice romp around the farm on a 60 degree day.
Hey, we made it! Harvest week six of the Late Fall CSA is upon us. Thank you for your support during our mini Main Season extension; we hope you've enjoyed the produce we've grown and harvested for you. Harvests didn't work out exactly as planned - thanks rain! - but we do hope you've been satisfied with the quantity, quality, and diversity of produce that did succeed during this Late Fall iteration. We'll reflect on this season and plan accordingly for next year. If you have any produce desires for next Late Fall please do let us know!
Crops that we want to see more of next year include onions, leeks, beets, hearty cooking greens like curly kale and/or collards, cabbage, carrots, and winter squash. As we develop our crop plan this winter we'll consider these goals and will modify growing practices to hopefully ensure harvest success. For example, increasing the amount of some crops should translate to an increase in harvest while some crops might need to be grown under protection to ensure their success. Other crops, like winter squash, will need to be properly cured and stored if we aspire to have them through December. Sometimes simply having better weather should greatly increase yield.
Again, thank you for joining us on this farming food organic healthy journey we're all on. Enjoy your holidays and winter. We'll be in touch soon with 2019 sign-up information!
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December 22, 2018
And In The End...
Expected Harvest
by Farmer Dana

Kale 'mix' will be in the final share. A 'mix' thanks to some volunteer mustard green seeds.
Late Fall Harvest #6 (Week B) should include sweet potatoes, daikon radishes, beets, onions, potatoes, lettuce mix, kale greens mix, and arugula. Some items could be a choice.
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December 22, 2018
Greens in January?
Other News
by Farmer Derek

Some interesting moss and mushrooms (turkey tail?) growing on a decaying oak log.
There's potential for 1 or 2 harvests of greens in early to mid January, greens that either aren't mature quite yet or have been putting on some healthy re-growth for a future 2nd cut. We'll consider announcing a pick up after the New Year and will include details then. Greens that might be available include spinach, mizuna, greens mix, and lettuce mix. These protected and covered greens would have been included in our Winter CSA but due to early fall's weather pattern we lost too many of our other winter staples to support a legit winter share, thus some extra greens are currently without a future home.
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December 17, 2018
Important Pick Up Information
Other News
by Farmer Dana

Spore stalk on a species of fern found along the edge of the woods south of Field 1 in a wet meadow.
This is a reminder that during Late Fall CSA harvest week #6 (Week B) pick up days are Thursday 12/27 1-8pm (instead of Wednesday) and Saturday 12/29 11am-12noon. E-mail us if you need to switch your pick up day.
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December 16, 2018
So Long, Autumn
Notes From The Field
by Farmer Derek

Harvesting some wonderful lettuce mix with a great little helper.
We welcome the Winter Solstice this week as seasons switch from autumn to winter. The darkest day of the year will come and go and then we'll appreciate lengthening days during the coldest time of the year. Fast forward to February when daylight eclipses the 10-hour mark and we'll be thinking spring, but for now we'll enjoy the holiday season and longer slumbers.
Besides spreading compost for a couple days this past week while the ground was dry and hard enough, I attended a Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) event that brought together advanced growers from the region to reflect on this past season. Much was mentioned of the calamitous nature of Mother Nature this year, it being one of the wettest or the wettest on record, and how the excessive moisture affected various crops and yield. Farmers are a relatively resilient group, with this season being perhaps the toughest test yet for this cohort of advanced growers who have anywhere from 10 to 30 years of growing experience. Most growers there were from small family owned produce farms or businesses that predominantly sell directly to consumers through a CSA or farmers market. Many also sell produce to restaurants and wholesale. Most farm organically and many are certified organic.
In addition to the beneficial feeling of camaraderie that surrounds this similar group that shared many of the same struggles during this season, I wanted to be able to leave the meeting with some valid insights into ways to improve our farm as we move forward into less predictable and more extreme weather. There are many factors that affect crop health but soil type probably has the greatest influence during a wet year. Soils that drain more quickly performed better than those that do not. Size of an operation also seemed to determine outcomes. Bigger producers and growers who require more time for field work and rely solely on mechanical/machine means for field preparation and cultivation struggled to stay on schedule. Crops couldn't be planted and those that got in were quickly outcompeted by weeds. Conversely, farmers who manage a smaller land area, focus on efficiencies, have diverse crops, and try to maintain output rather than continually expand seemed to weather the weather slightly better this year. Many growers mentioned the desire of scaling back to achieve a higher level of efficiency and control.
So what about our little CSA-only farm? Overall this year I think we held up okay. Our worst season for growing was the fall. It was an extremely wet time period but also unfortunately most of our plantings were concentrated in areas of the farm that have soil that doesn't drain that well (we have at least three soil types on the farm). Some crops grew well there including leeks, beets, later plantings of hakurei turnips, endive, dandelion, and lettuce mix. Crops that underperformed there included broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Spring and summer weather was almost as wet as the fall but the sun and heat helped crops through. Warm wet weather is much better than cold wet weather for our crops. Certain yields were down enough that warranted cancellation of the Winter CSA in order to make sure we had enough produce for the final month of the Main Season as well as the entirety of Late Fall. Good performers this season included strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, peas, heirloom and hybrid tomatoes, sweet peppers, summer carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, sweet potatoes, beets, onions, and garlic.
Because next year we won't be able to control the weather any better than this year we'll continue to do the little things that have allowed our operation to overall succeed during extreme weather events. We'll also consider investing in big capital and infrastructure improvements for longterm stability. We'll continue to embrace farming efficiently by maintaining our current membership size so that our land footprint remains consistent. Importantly, we'll prepare our fields for growing by taking advantage of dry weather windows to give us planting space for the next 3 or 4 weeks of planting (in case the soil remains unworkable for that long). We'll make raised beds so plants don't drown. We'll maintain or enhance crop diversity. We'll cultivate using manual means such as the omnipotent oscillating wheel hoe. We'll handweed when absolutely necessary with the help of our membership. We'll address drainage issues by slightly adjusting bed slope so water flows out of the field. We'll add contour buffer strips, waterways, and diversions to thwart a deluge. We'll sow cover crops whenever possible to minimize erosion. Additional longterm investments will be made with the construction of high tunnels.
This year was full of extreme rainfall events. It might be an anomaly, it might not be. We'll be ready for next season no matter what. Thank you for your support (and sorry this note is so long, I am guilty of overthinking)!
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December 16, 2018
Greens and Roots in Balance
Expected Harvest
by Farmer Dana
Late Fall harvest #5 (Week A) should include sweet potatoes, daikon radishes, rutabaga, beets, potatoes, mini cabbage, lettuce mix, garlic, greens/kale mix, and arugula. Some items will be a choice.
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December 16, 2018
Healthy Greens
How I Enjoyed My Harvest
By Linda Dansbury

Uncovering lettuce mix and spinach in the hoop tunnel.
I grew up eating salads almost every night, so for me I feel better and healthier if I consistently eat them. We take the Italian approach to salad eating and enjoy it at the end of the meal - the reasoning behind this is it aids in digestion but another thought process is if you eat a salad at the start of the meal you will eat less of the main course.
Either way, enjoying salads, especially at this time of year helps you get the nutrients you need to stay healthy. Add ingredients such as honey roasted almonds or pecans; dried cranberries; fresh figs and pears; or roasted beets. Also consider using a nut oil such as walnut. All of these additions change an every day salad into a special holiday dish!
We have been enjoying the spinach immensely! The Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing has become a weekly enjoyment - we have a simple piece of fish to keep the meal lighter. I also decided to make Creamed Spinach with our pastured, grass fed rib eye. Made with fresh spinach and just a bit of cream make this a delicious side dish - and when I didn't have quite enough spinach for the dish, I added in some of the greens mix - I wasn't sure how it would be, but I really enjoyed the added flavor.
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December 9, 2018
Relishing the Dark Time
Notes From The Field
by Farmer Derek

A winter moon scene.
The hustle and bustle of the outdoor growing season safely behind us, we can now allow our minds and bodies to recover, reflect, as we drift into winter's solace. Much of my work during December is done from the comfort of the couch, near the wood burning stove. Since everything and everyone is connected through the internet via some kind of computer device, most of our supplies can be ordered without me leaving the couch (except for the inventorying part). All of our crop planting plans, crop rotations, crop schedules are recorded digitally using one kind of spreadsheet or another. Eventually I will tire of this type of task, but for now it's a welcome change from the pressures of the outdoor growing season and the physical demands of farm work. If I need a break from sitting, there remains plenty of miscellaneous jobs to do outside this time of year including collecting more irrigation and season extension components from the field as well as spreading compost and mowing if the weather allows. Not to mention harvesting and distributing shares every Wednesday and Saturday through the end of this month. My lofty goal is to finish the majority of my winter administrative work this month while hoping that I can truly take some time off in January. Thinking about and planning for the next growing season is a pleasant task due to the glossy and glamorous pictures in the seed catalogues coupled with a fresh start on a clean field; it puts a positive spin on our aspirations for next year.
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December 9, 2018
Going Green
Expected Harvest
by Farmer Dana

Sampling baby kale mix and arugula in the high tunnel.
Late Fall harvest #4 (Week B) should include sweet potatoes, rutabaga, daikons, carrots, beets, mini cabbage, napa/chinese cabbage, potatoes, garlic, spinach, lettuce mix, arugula, and greens mix. Some items will be a choice.

Harvested from our cover crop patches, these daikons are also called 'tillage radishes' due to their ability to break up hardpan and loosen soil with their large taproot. A very easy way to incorporate these into your meals is to simply grate them into whatever dish your making. That way they cook quickly and blend in and you only need to add what you think is appropriate since they keep well. Exterior evidence of insect interaction can be safely ignored.
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December 9, 2018
Join the 2019 Main Season
Other News
by Farmer Derek

Wishing for better weather for an easier growing season in 2019!
Log in here to sign up for the 2019 Main Season CSA. Share prices remain the same for next year. We do the bulk of farm purchasing during the winter months and it is very helpful to have members sign up and pay for shares in advance. A $200 deposit finalizes the sign up process. Total membership will remain the same as the past five seasons and we continue to fill up year after year (thankfully). We'll be in touch over the winter months with highlights, anticipations, and improvements we hope to make for next season. Since the weather cannot possibly be as bad as it was in 2018, everything is sure to be better!
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December 9, 2018
New Veggie - Rutabaga
Other News
By Linda Dansbury

Rutabaga
Did you wonder what the new veggie - rutabaga - was in the pick up this past week? It is obviously another root veggie. It is in the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and turnip. It was developed in the middle ages and is thought to have come from a cross between a turnip and cabbage. I think it is sweeter than either. Rutabaga is an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium, and a good source for fiber, thiamin, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A and manganese. It is used a lot in northern European countries in combination with carrots and potatoes as a mix of mashed veggies with butter, pepper, and sometimes stocks. It is also added to stews and soups. Rutabagas are popular in the northern US and also in Canada but I don't see it in our geography very often.
To store, they do well in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge - if you are fortunate enough to have a root cellar, store them there.
Try making mashed rutabaga using your favorite mashed potato method or recipe - or mix in some potatoes, carrots and/or sweet potatoes. Yum!! They are also delicious roasted, as I have described in other newsletters, either alone or mixed with lots of other veggies.
Enjoy this healthy new veggie!
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December 3, 2018
A Sunny Stretch
Notes From The Field
by Farmer Derek

Harvesting tasty tender baby red russian kale last week.
Even this time of year I can get excited about a forecast showing 10 days of sunshine without rain (forecast will most likely change). Temperature highs will eventually be in the upper 30s but that seems permissible for early December. Another record breaking wet month is in the rear view mirror which also concludes my 9-month collection of precipitation data. From March through November 2018 we received 55" of rain, almost 2 feet more than the average of the prior 9 years. That's about an average of 1.5" per week, an insane amount here. Our soils would be happiest with at most a 1/2-inch of rain per week, even in the heat of mid-summer. But, hey, we made it to December, hooray! With four more weeks of CSA in 2018 we can actually perhaps see some light at the end of what was a very long tunnel. In a few weeks we'll celebrate the Winter Solstice and welcome increasing daylight which for us farmers marks the New Year, at least the way I internally process the growing seasons. Because it will basically coincide with the end the Late Fall season, and because we're foregoing a Winter CSA this year, it will truly feel like an end and a beginning.
We're already deep into the process of preparing for the 2019 growing season. Last week I spent days reviewing our collection of seeds and assembling our extensive seed and plant order. I ordered 7,000 strawberry plants (1,000 plants of 7 varieties) and 1,500 pounds of seed potatoes (5 of our best varieties, varying poundage and maturity length). This week I'll finalize and place our annual crop seed order and then probably move on to accessing farm supplies like irrigation infrastructure, row covers, trellising materials, and harvest containers. We also have our annual Certified Organic inspections which I'll prepare for by assembling all of our planting and harvest records as well as any receipts for farm inputs. And I will also spend time outside each day while the sun is shining for mental and physical balance, collecting remaining irrigation supplies from fields and doing some general farm clean up.
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December 3, 2018
A Few Newbies
Expected Harvest
by Farmer Dana
Late Fall CSA harvest #3 (Week A) should include sweet potatoes, rutabaga, daikon radishes, carrots, beets, potatoes, mini cabbage, napa/chinese cabbage, spinach, garlic, and greens mix. Some items will be a choice.
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December 3, 2018
Wreaths for Sale
Other News
by Farmer Dana

Handmade homemade farm-sourced wreath by Farmer Dana.
E-mail us if you are interested in purchasing a holiday wreath. Simple green wreaths to highly decorated wreaths (like the one pictured above) are available and range in price from $35-$55, respectively.
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December 3, 2018
Sign Up for 2019 Main Season
Other News
by Farmer Derek

Welcoming hoop house spinach to the Late Fall share. Since it's basically impossible to grow outside, all spinach will probably be grown inside our various tunnels next spring and fall, hopefully guaranteeing a harvest.
Log in here to sign up for the 2019 Main Season CSA. Share prices remain the same for next year. We do the bulk of farm purchasing during the winter months and it is very helpful to have members sign up and pay for shares in advance. A $200 deposit finalizes the sign up process. Total membership will remain the same as the past five seasons and we continue to fill up year after year (thankfully). We'll be in touch over the winter months with highlights, anticipations, and improvements we hope to make for next season. Since the weather cannot possibly be as bad as it was in 2018, everything is sure to be better!
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