Provider Farm

From our fields, for your family

Shareholders

July 26, 2014

Coventry Market Shareholders: Thank you for being so understanding about the disruption of this Sunday's market share distribution.  Everything goes back to normal next Sunday (August 3, yes, August!) so we will see you then.

This Week's Share

We saw sun jewel melons this past week ripening and we hope to see many more this week, so let's keep our fingers cross they'll keep coming in.

The high tunnel tomatoes, while loaded with green fruit, are reluctant to really get going ripening.  Apparently the "polar vortex" paid us a visit and cooled things down considerably this past week or so and that has probably contributed to the slow ripening.  We hope we get back to seasonal temperatures and they can get the show on the road. 

Red onions are coming in this week from the field.  These are a flat Italian style cippolini onions, great flavor for all your dishes! 

Recipe of the Week: 

Kung Pao (Chicken or Tofu or Pork)

Ingredients: 

Protein and Marinade

  • 1 lb chicken, tofu or pork, cut into 1" pieces
  • ! tbs. Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. chili paste with garlic
  • 1 tsp. sugar

 

Sauce

  • 1/4 c. chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tbs. rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tbs. hoison sauce
  • 2 tbs. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tbs. water

 

Vegetables

  • 3 tbs. oil
  • 4 peppers, different colors, cubed
  • hot peppers, as much as you want for your desired hotness
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 1/2 c. roasted peanuts
Directions: 

Combine protein and marinade ingredients and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
In another bowl, combine all sauce ingredients EXCEPT cornstarch and water. Dissolve cornstarch in water in a separate small bowl.
Heat a wok over high heat and add 1 1/2 tbs. oil and swirl to coat pan. Add protein and marinade and stir fry 4-6 minutes. Remove from wok.
Heat remaining oil in wok and add sweet peppers and hot peppers and stir fry until soft. Add scallions and stir fry for 1 more minute. Return protein mixture to wok and heat through. Add sauce mixture and then corn starch and cook until sauce boils and thickens. Top with peanuts and serve over rice.

Credit: 
Serving Up the Harvest by Andrea Chesman

Resilience in redundancy

An evening seeding using our alternate seeders on our alternate tractor
An evening seeding using our alternate seeders on our alternate tractor

Dear Friends,

The last full week of July is over, and as the mighty summer month breathes it’s final breathe, we prepare for August. For the most part, this July has gone as well as we can hope for a July to go. That’s not to say there haven’t been set backs,  there is a reason we don’t give farm tours at this time of year…We have almost caught up with the weeds at this point, having just completed a huge rescue weeding of our sweet potatoes that were buried in 3 feet tall pigweed.

Most of our fall brassicas are planted, they have settled nicely into their new home and we have been busy keeping the weeds at bay. Our melon field is shaping up really nicely, we have begun to see the first signs of ripeness out there. The Sun Jewels, an oblong yellow melon  that looks like a Delicata squash, are the first to ripen this year. We have grown them in the past but they have never been nearly as sweet and delicious as they are this year. The watermelons are just around the corner and even the cantaloupes are starting to show signs of ripening.

Last week we began our bulk harvests by bringing in all of our fresh onions.  These are the sweet white onions you have been enjoying in your share the past several weeks. They are one of our favorite varieties of anything we grow and store great in the cooler. We brought in over 3,000 pounds on Monday afternoon, so we should have onions for awhile. Their yellow, storage cousins are on the verge of being ready to harvest also. They have bulbed up beautifully, and we have our fingers crossed that the weather will corporate and the onions will dry nicely and store well into the winter.

Our high tunnel tomatoes continue to plod along slowly. The plants are loaded with green fruit, and it keeps feeling like any day they will turn the corner and bless us with a bountiful harvest of red ripe tomatoes. Sadly this has not been the case up to date and we have been pulling in small harvests of early tomatoes. We know there’s not a whole lot you can do with one tomato, but we figure one tomato is better than none, and there should be more soon. Our field tomatoes are growing strong, but there have been unsettling reports from North of here. Late blight, the dreaded tomato disease has begun ravaging the Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts. A few of our farmer friends up there are looking at close to total losses of their main field crop. Those of you who were members our first year will remember how completely devastating this can be. So far there have been no confirmed cases in Connecticut but we are doing our due diligence anyway. We have been scouting out field regularly, taking suspicious samples to the diagnostic lab at UCONN and applying an organically approved copper based material to help protect our precious tomatoes. We remain cautious but hopeful things will break our way.

Our first season here, when we found late blight in our fields we were caught off guard and unprepared. We have learned a lot since that first season and we have grown a lot both literally and figuratively. Too often in life the temptation is to plan for the best case scenario. We have learned the hard way that we have to build resilience into everything we do. Murphy’s Law, ensures that time and time again things go wrong, the weakest link fails. We need to have two pick up trucks for the farm to function and it’s really best for us if there are three trucks, as a result we have five farm trucks. This excessive exercise in redundancy helps us to avoid having to use our Honda Civic hatchback as a harvest vehicle as we have in the past. With all of our farm equipment we have back ups, and some times we even have back ups for our back ups. This ensures that when things go wrong we can recover quickly and keep things moving. 

Often we have the ways and means to fix the problems that arise, however we rarely have the time during the season. Broken equipment is patched together with a tack weld and a band-aid, a cracked engine block is repaired with metal epoxy and the list of things to fix in the winter grows and grows.

As farmers we expect the best while still planning for the worst. We are forced to be optimistic pessimists….or is it pessimistic optimists? I can never remember but something I know for sure is that tractors will break, some plants will die, and the sun will rise again tomorrow

On Behalf of our farm crew

Ben, Mary, Leah, Hannah, and Shawn

Your Farmers

Max and Kerry

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