Provider Farm

From our fields, for your family


August 16, 2014

This Week's Share

We're in peek tomato season now.  BLTs, salsa, tomato sauce, tomato sandwiches, now is the time to gorge on these delicious beauties!  If you havn't started yet, now is the time to can and freeze tomatoes.  Don't wait until September when they start to dwindle, we have tons of sauce tomatoes now!

Recipe of the Week: 

Fresh Tomato Sauce

  • A couple lbs. tomatoes
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, more if you are a big garlic fan
  • An onion
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh slivered basil
  • A glug or two of olive oil

The first part of this recipe is simplified if you have a food mill. If you have a mill, just put your tomatoes in a pot over medium heat and cook until softened (be careful not to burn them though). Then run through the mill to remove seeds and skins.
If you don't have a mill, then you'll have to remove the skins and seeds manually. First, put a pot of water on the stove to boil. Score x's into each tomato and drop into the pot of water for 10 seconds or so. Then remove and place in ice water. The skins should slip off easily. If you are using paste tomatoes, the seeds are small enough you usually don't need to remove them. Slicing tomatoes tend to have larger seeds and you may choose to squeeze them out and discard them before making your sauce (they're totally edible though and you can put them into your sauce if you don't mind them).
Put your milled puree or seeded, skinned tomatoes aside.
Place an empty sauce pot on low heat and put some olive oil in. Add onions and garlic and cook until softened. Then add your tomatoes and cook until desired thickness is achieved. Mash tomatoes with a potato masher if they were not milled. Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with fresh basil.


What should we be when we grow up?

Kale forever!
Kale forever!

Dear Friends,

What a whirlwind of a week! With an impending mid-week storm, we set out, fierce and determined to get all our storage onions safely in the greenhouse. Once onions dry in the field they really don’t want to get wet again. Like really, really don’t want to get wet, like turn into rotten onion mush if they get rained on. With this thought in the back of our minds, we pushed some of Monday’s CSA harvest to Tuesday in order to dedicate the better part of the day on Monday to harvesting. Our hard work paid off and we were able to get over 11,000 pounds of beautiful yellow onions drying in the greenhouse well before the rain started falling on Wednesday morning. They were calling for 100% chance of heavy rain and they were not wrong. We got over 4 inches of rain in a pretty short amount of time, but the ground was so dry and thirsty, you would hardly notice at all.

With the onions out of the field, we have a couple weeks to clean up the fields, and put in some later summer cover crop before the big fall harvests begin. Next up on the ticket will be winter squash and sweet potatoes. We may dig a few rows of potatoes in between, but potatoes can withstand a frost whereas winter squash and sweet potatoes cannot. The winter squash is looking excellent and we are hopeful that we will have an ample supply this year. The sweet potatoes are looking lovely themselves, and this year we decided to go against the grain and grow some purple and white varieties as well as the classic orange we grow every year. Each season it’s nice to try something new.

This past week an opinion piece from the New York Times titled “Don’t Let Your Children Grow up to be Farmers” has gotten a tremendous amount of attention and spurred a lot of discussion both on the farm and on the internet. If you haven’t read the article, the gist of it is that even in spite of the local food movement, farming continues to be extremely hard, and in the author’s opinion, unprofitable. The author points out that despite the renewed interest in healthy, whole local foods, CSA’s, and Farmers Markets, farming continues to be less lucrative than other professions. He goes on to say that many farmers also are forced to work second jobs and compete with farms run by non-profits.

Responses are all over the place.  Some people agree whole heartedly and feel their businesses are suffering from high costs and competition, that the numbers reflect the truth (91% of all American farmers work outside the farm)  Others feel that its a bunch of belly aching and just get on with it, no one ever said life was easy.  I've seen a lot of responses from across the country and I think the only thing that we can all agree upon is, yes indeed, farming is challenging.

There, I said it. I'll say it again.  Heck yeah, farming is hard. This ain't no walk in the park, no tip toe through the tulips, no waltz with Matilda.  Long hours, bad pay, high humidity, scratchy squash plants that cover our arms with "squash burn".  Yep, we run in place just to keep up during the summer.  A previous boss tried to warn us  "Only farm if you can do nothing else. No really, only farm if you can do nothing else".  Well, that's some kind of advice for an aspiring farmer.  For some reason,  we kept going.

This thing farmers do is totally crazy.  Dig a whole in the ground, put a little life containing seed in and then a month or two later, with a little luck, prayer and fussing, there is a huge squash plant.  Born out of sun and water and soil!  Magical! Extraordinary! And we do that 16 acres worth, this year and again next year and again, for as long as we are able.  And we hustle, we sell, we market, we fix things, sometimes we cry, we do all sorts of business things along the way that are hardly as poetic as that one seed.  Farming tells us, "work hard, strive for excellence, only the best is good enough", while the weeds nip at our heels.  "You will fail and you will get up and keep going and do it better next time."  Farming is a stern teacher who won't settle for mediocrity. 

Ultimately it’s true that we could probably make more money putting in less effort doing something else, but its not what I want. When I was choosing my career and thinking about what I wanted to be when I was grown up I never thought  (perhaps naively) “what can I do, where I will work the least and make the most money?” Give me the long days, early mornings, late nights and something I can feel passionately about. Let me watch the sunrise and see it set from the field and know that I put in an honest day’s work.  

Your Farmers

Max and Kerry

Browse newsletter archive