CSA share Week 9!

What a difference a week or so makes! With the slow start to the season, this past week was a turning point from a growing perspective. It seems things have caught up and the amount of food that is coming off this land is right where I want it to be: plentiful. It has been a wild ride especially when I had thought that this year was going to be the easy one. In this gig there are unlimited things to consider that would never cross my mind and then as a result, take time to learn about and manage. It has been chock full of learning this season and we are both happy to have the opportunity to become better at what we do. With the intention of keeping a big farm update brief, I will say that we went into this season with moderately successful growing practices in mind from other places I have farmed: how to turn the soil, what to add to the soil, how to plant, how to protect from pests and diseases, how to cultivate and manage weeds, how to irrigate and water in the greenhouse, etc. And what it seems this year is that these practices are not working here on this new land, or at least working to the success rate that we require. Whether it was loosing starts this spring in the greenhouse due to issues with watering and temperature, or battling a soil borne pathogen in the salad greens and having to alter the entire way we grow them, or attempting to manage weeds that have overcome our cultivation methods and discovering different methods, it all comes back to one point: the land is teaching us how we need to grow on it. It is telling us what we need to add to make it more productive, what kind of measures we need to take to eradicate pernicious, perennial weeds that won’t give up, how to manage seasonal moisture through different ways of preparing beds. We both came to a point this year where we accepted that our methods weren’t working well and we picked up books in the evening, listened to an amazing podcast throughout the day (Farmer to Farmer podcast which unfortunately no longer exists, thank you Chris Blanchard!!), contacted specialists from UVM, reached out to our customers, chefs and buyers, and began an honest and open discussion about how we were going to work here in the short and long term. It has been humbling and a good practice in letting go of rigidity.

Ultimately, we are taking 2019 as a “growing year” (pardon the pun). The lessons that have come out of this season so far have been invaluable. It has been uncomfortable learning things “the hard way” but the imprint is strong and I have never felt more optimistic and confident about our future of growing food. I have finally humbly accepted the fact that this work will never be easy, that we will have to continue to learn and do extensive research on topics we never even considered, and that that sweet spot I keep dreaming about may not match the reality of the farm but if we are open and listen, it may take an even sweeter form beyond what we imagined. This work is undoubtedly the most fulfilling thing I have ever done.

Genica took this picture and I love it - my folks behind!

Genica took this picture and I love it - my folks behind!

And it also helps to get some time away for reflection which is so challenging in this line of work. However, Genica and I were able to get up to Jay Peak for the fourth annual Strangefolk concert. It is also the fourth year we have done this with my parents who in my more older age have become more like good friends than parents. This year we were able to stay for 2 nights casually coming home midday on Saturday to water, plant some stuff, and then head back up for a second night. It was incredibly relaxing, so amazing to visit with my parents, and come back to the farm rested and reset. We are learning the value of “getting out of dodge” and we will (hopefully) incorporate that more into our lives next year!


On to the share!!

This week we have:

  • 2# of tomatoes - they are going bonkers in the 2 houses. Might I suggest a bruschetta with the…

  • bunch of basil

  • Summer squash and zucchini - they are coming on strong. It won’t be the last time you see these guys. The “zephyr” variety (yellow with the green butt) has grown particularly well this year!

  • a bag of mixed greens - a little bigger than normal because they came on a week early but they are crisp and super flavorful. I suggest eating them raw as a salad (maybe with tomatoes and carrots?). But they can also be cooked!

  • Bok choi - tender, crunchy stalks and delicious tops, we wilt them briefly in oil or butter - not quite raw but not quite cooked. Most of our summer cooking is simple to maintain that summer vegetable flavor! Here is a recipe too

  • Carrots - root crops have been incredibly difficult to grow these past 2 seasons because they do not compete well with weeds. Apparently we don’t either. Not anymore!!!

  • New Potatoes - the first of the potatoes. These are called Red Norland and are considered new potatoes because they are harvested earlier than your bigger standard potato, have a more delicate skin, and are often sweeter because the sugars have not been converted to starches. We cook them very simply, boil, butter, salt. delicious.

Thank you all for your support!! I hope everyone has a great week and be in touch with any recipes or ways that you cooked things and we can pass it along!

Ryan Z. DemarestComment