Looking Forward to Next Season…

13 Nov

This week I had my last official day at the farm for the season. On Thursday the Vermont Commons School came back for a final afternoon of volunteering. They helped in the asparagus field. We need to hill up and cover the plants for the winter and they got the whole field done in no time! They are great workers and we really appreciate their work on the farm. Hopefully we will see some of them again in the spring.

Students shoveling and raking in the Birch Field, hilling up around the asparagus plants.

Farmer John has gone to San Francisco for the holidays and there’s not much left to do around the farm. So I will spend the winter catching up on my reading and organizing our spreadsheets so we can be more organized next season. If any of you readers have suggestions about the blog, the farm, or just in general feel free to leave a comment or e-mail us at mwfarmcsa@gmail.com.

What to look forward to in the 2011 season of JM Plants and Produce:

  • The opening of the new Farm Stand! We’re going to try and keep it stocked with fresh, seasonal produce all season long
  • Expanded CSA with delivery available and more plant varieties
  • Mushroom production on the farm, hopefully to be included in the CSA / Farm Stand
  • More perennial flowers for sale

So, I’ll say goodbye for now but I’ll probably give a few updates over the winter as they come in. Happy Holidays to all of you and thank you for your continued support!

 

End of the Season

15 Oct

Please excuse my short absence from blog writing, the last week of September was a busy one for me. The end of the season also meant the end of my first semester with the University of London and my first big exam in almost three years! Everything went smoothly and now I have a nice break from classes until February, so back to the blog!

The nights are getting cooler and the leaves are changing which means fall is really here! It is my favorite season even though the pickings on the farm are getting pretty slim. I spent yesterday morning picking all the tomatoes I could find, red, yellow or green. Just one hoop house filled both of my five gallon buckets! Then I pulled out all the harvested tomato plants so we can compost them. We started clearing out the hoop houses so they can be used for storage over the winter. The zinnias were left in the ground so we can determine how much longer we can extend the season under the plastic.

The first weekend in October brought us some hard-working volunteers from St. Michael’s College for the college’s “Fall Serve-A-Thon.” We put them to work weeding the asparagus in the birch field so it’s all ready for the winter. It’s nice to get so much done in a so quickly especially since weeding can be so tedious, thanks for your help!

Now in the second week of October there is much to be done before settling in for the winter. Unfortunately I forgot to bring my camera this week so there are no pictures of the empty hoop houses or the pepper plants that are absolutely thriving behind them, but there is always next week!

Thanks for reading the blog and supporting the farm!

Hello Fall!

24 Sep

A lot has been happening at the farm since I last posted…

The goats have been milked almost daily for a few weeks and we have been making soft cheese from the milk. It is really delicious!

Becca and John milking one of our goats!

We have also been saving lots of different seeds from our produce and flowers so we can use them next year. The process of preparing seed for saving is usually just making sure the seeds have fully dried out so they don’t get moldy when they are stored.  For tomatoes the process is a little different. The seeds need to be fermented and get moldy for a week or so to break down the outer, gel-like coating on the seeds and to kill some of the diseases that could be on the seed. Then they get rised off and dried out and stored in a paper envelope like all the other seeds.  If you’ve ever sliced into a tomato you know how many seeds it contains and with a germination rate of around 50% hopefully we won’t have to buy tomato seeds next year!

Finally, it’s the last week of CSA pickup and we created a survey for our members to collect some feedback on how they think the season has gone. We would also like our readers feedback if you would like to share it. The survey can be found HERE,  we appreciate it!

Here is last week’s newsletter.

This week’s newsletter can be found here.

Volunteer Day

13 Sep

This past week, we had the help of some great students from the Vermont Commons School. They came by in the afternoon and helped harvest pounds and pounds of tomatoes. They also helped weed the asparagus field so we can get it ready for winter. Some of the students with allergies got to learn more about our seed saving project and asked some really smart questions about farming and its importance in our lives. It probably doesn’t need to be mentioned that they loved checking out the goats or that we greatly appreciated all their help! We hope to have them back soon!

A few of our student volunteers from the VT Commons School with the fruits of their labor!

For anyone interested in the CSA next season, check out the interest form and get on our waiting list!

Also, here is the newsletter for this week. Thanks for your support this season!

Fall is just around the corner

7 Sep

If the temperatures this past week are any indication, summer is not over yet! Unfortunately, days in the 90s are not good for the cool weather crops like cabbage, broccoli and some of the greens. Still, we planted some seeds for a few different fall crops like kohlrabi, kale, cauliflower, and romaine. Some of these will have enough time to grow before winter and others will be stored over the winter to continue growing in the spring.

Other than that, clean-up continues and planning for next year has begun.

View the newletter from last week Here.

Buckets of Tomatoes

26 Aug

This week I spent most of the day harvesting the many varieties of tomatoes from the field and hoop houses. Unfortunately due to our inexact organization of the tomato seedlings we have all the different varieties planted together but it keeps the picking interesting. Another volunteer and I collected 10 gallons of tomatoes and we only stopped because our buckets were full! I was amazed at the variety of colors and shapes we had, John did a great job of choosing from the wide spectrum of shapes, sizes and colors of tomatoes that exist. We even have a lot of rare and heirloom varieties I’ve never seen or heard of. We are trying to save seeds from each variety so we don’t have to purchase seeds next year. Doing so also helps select for plants that do well in VT. This week in the newsletter I wrote about some of the different varieties we have and I thought I would continue the list here. [Check out the newsletter at the bottom of this post for more tomato information!]

Cosmonaut Volkov – Heirloom tomato from the Ukraine, named after a Russian cosmonaut. Large, red fruits.

Glacier – Early producing tomato with red, medium sized fruit. Will bear all season in most climates.

Jubilee – Large, colorful, orange-yellow fruits.

Orange Strawberry – One of our most unique tomatoes. This plant produces a large strawberry-shaped orange tomato. It’s an  heirloom varitey from the United States. Also great for sandwiches.

Rose de Berne – Perfect tomato flavor. Dark pink Swiss heirloom tomato.

Scotia – Cool-weater red tomato from Nova Scotia.

Tommy Toe – Red cherry tomato from Australia. This plant is resistant to most tomato diseases.

Also at the farm this week, Dan was back and he and John expanded the farm stand. We hope to be able to store the tractor, tools, and other farm equipment in there over the winter. In the spring we can use it for potting up, storage, and as a nice shady gathering place. Here’s a picture of the men at work:

With all the bounty from the farm and in my own small garden plot at home, we’ve all been struggling with how to preserve the harvest so it doesn’t go to waste. I like to freeze corn, green beans, peas, and summer squash to use in different recipes. The squash is perfect to add to spaghetti sauce or in a lasagna since it looses it’s integrity once you freeze and unfreeze it. I’ve also been freezing seeded whole tomatoes until I have enough to cook up a sauce, which I did last  night. When they thaw the skins come right off and you don’t have to mess with boiling and an ice bath. Here’s the recipe I used:

Spaghetti Sauce made with Fresh Tomatoes

  • 5 cups seeded, skinned, and chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup each of diced onion, carrot, bell pepper (red, green, yellow, or a mix), and celery
  • 5 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 5 tablespoons tomato paste (I use the kind in a tube that you can keep in the refrigerator, much easier than a can)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and butter

First, heat up the olive oil and butter in a nice big pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, carrot and celery and cook until they start to soften. You do not want to brown the vegetables so turn the heat down if they start to. Once the vegetables are soft (about 10 – 15 minutes) add the tomato paste and cook for a few minutes.

Then add the chopped tomatoes. Turn the heat to low and cook covered for approx. 1 hour, to make sure the sauce doesn’t burn on the bottom turn as low as possible. After and hour remove the cover and simmer for another hour. By this time the sauce should be thick, like spaghetti sauce. Cool and blend or pass through a food mill (use the medium-holed plate). Then refrigerate (2-3 days) or freeze.

You can also add basil (fresh or dried), fresh oregano, or parsley (fresh or dried). If you want less vegetables add half the amount listed of each or twice the tomatoes. I use a food mill to smooth out the sauce but you could blend all or part of it in the blender to make it smoother or leave it chunky if that’s how you like it.

Finally, here’s the newsletter for this week in case you haven’t seen it yet!

Jailbreak!

19 Aug

I had another busy day at the farm this week. We decided to pot up some perennial flowers, in this case hollyhock, to winter over in the hoop house and be ready to go for flower sales in the spring. With some help from John I transplanted 240 plants! I love working on the farm because I always feel like I really got something substantial done that day. Whether it’s planting in the field or harvesting tomatoes or green beans it’s nice to be able to see what I’ve accomplished that day.


During lunch, a few of the goats managed to escape their enclosure through the tiniest hole in their fence. They are crafty and if they want to get out and eat some grass they don’t give you a chance to say “No!” Luckily Dan, visiting for the week  from Illinois, was there to help John patch up the fence. But it’s only a matter of time before those silly goats chew through the plywood and escape again. At least they keep things interesting!

Here’s the newsletter for this week. Check out the variety of tomatoes we’ve been harvesting; it’s pretty amazing!

Also, if you’re around Shelburne this weekend stop by the Farmer’s Market between 9 and 1 on Saturday and say hello.

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