Provider Farm

From our fields, for your family

Shareholders

September 6, 2014

Summer season share renewals will begin at the end of the month.  Current shareholders always have priority to renew their shares prior to sales opening to the waitlist.  if you have friends asking about the share, I recommend that they sign up for the waitlist on our website as I expect to only be able to sell to the waitlist this year.

Lots of you have been asking about the winter share this year.  We will be having a winter share again this year and sales will begin when we start share renewals and we have a better sense of our winter crop yields.  Current summer season shareholders have priority to purchase winter shares.

This Week's Share

While some summer crops are holding strong (there are abundant beautiful red and yellow peppers now and the tomatoes and eggplants continue to be productive), others are starting to give in to fall.  We picked our last summer squash harvest for the season this past week and the basil seams to be on its last legs, we'll have to see if the next basil planting will grow up before the frost.

Fortunately, the fall crops have started to roll in.  We have mounds of beautiful broccoli and this week in the share you will be seeing acorn squash, plus more of those delicious red potatoes.  This is culinary heaven time when we have summer crops and fall crops all at once. Yum!

Continuing with the theme of putting crops up for winter, colored peppers are great for freezing.  Just slice them up and put them in a bag, their summery sweetness does not degrade at all when frozen.  I use them in stir fries and soups and sometimes just munch on peppersicles straight out of the bag.

Recipe of the Week: 

Sesame Broccoli Noodle Salad

Ingredients: 
  • 1 lb. fresh noodles or 3/4 lb. angel hair pasta
  • 1 tbs. dark sesame oil
  • 1 lb. broccoli, stem peeled and diced and florets broken into small pieces
  • 1 c. julienned bell peppers, or carrots, or both
  • 2 tbs. toasted sesame seeds

Dressing

  • 2 tbs. rice vinegar
  • 2 tbs. hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbs. sherry or Chinese rice wine
  • 1 tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tbs. dark sesame oil
Directions: 

Cook noodles in boiling salted water al dente. Drain and rinse and let cool. Toss with sesame oil in bowl.
Steam broccoli until tender about 4 minutes. Drain, plunge into cold water and drain.
Add broccoli and carrots or peppers to noodles and toss.
For dressing, combine all ingredients and whisk. Pour over noodles and vegetables and toss. Garnish with sesame seeds.

Credit: 
Serving Up the Harvest by Andrea Chesman

One in the hand

Scenes from the 2014 winter squash harvest!
Scenes from the 2014 winter squash harvest!

Dear Friends

In true New England weather tradition, the first weak of September proved hotter and more humid than all of August. As Hunter, our trusty farm cat, loafed in whatever shade she could find, we did our best to stay positive and productive on the farm this week. We were delighted to find the first fall broccoli out in the field. Broccoli is a boom or bust kind of crop and right now we are in full blown boom mode. The heads are large, abundant and delicious. We plant a ton of successions of broccoli to try and ensure that we will have an ample harvest throughout the fall. However, nothing is guaranteed so our best advice is enjoy the broccoli when it’s here because you never know when it will vanish.

The tomatoes, peppers and eggplant continue to chug along. We are still filling bucket after bucket of beautiful red and heirloom tomatoes. They are showing visible signs of fatigue but are still loaded with fruit. We can never be certain when the tomatoes will quit on us but they sure seem to have some life left in them. Sadly, our cherry tomatoes are not as durable this year. The plants seem all but exhausted and it looks like we won’t be seeing these candy-sweet beauties again until next year. That is just the way things go sometimes, if you truly love something you have to let it go.

There are a few real monumental events that take place every farming season. The first seeding in the greenhouse, the first seeding in the field, the garlic harvest etc… Events that mark the change of the season, either the start or the end of a new era on the farm. This past week we felt the thrill of one of those ‘big’ moments as we harvested all of our winter squash. We grew about an acre of winter squash this year, it is the largest single planting that we do, and it’s right up there with the biggest harvest of the season. Winter Squash is extremely frost sensitive and can go from good to bad in one cold night. There is nothing so terrifyingly exciting as harvesting winter squash well into the night. With head lights and flash lights blazing, desperately trying to beat mother nature and the cold air she brings. Here at Provider Farm, we hate excitement like that, so we always try and get our squash safely in the barn, well before the first hints of frost show up in the forecast.

The squash itself grows on vines that sprawl out across the field. Unlike the carrots, beets, potatoes and onions that all obediently stay in the rows we plant them in, the squash goes where it pleases. While we appreciate the free spirited nature of this fall staple, it falls on us to go through the field and gather the squash into windrows. This is the first step of the harvest, we go through with clippers and clip each individual acorn, delicata, or butternut off the vine and place them into rows. Once the entire crop is windrowed, we let the squash cure in the field for a day, this allows the wound from the clippers to heal and also gives us a chance to rehydrate and rest our backs. Once we deem the squash well and cured, we venture back out to pick up the crop. The squash is harvested directly into large cardboard bins that fit onto pallets. We place an empty bin on the back of the tractor and drive through the field, with one person driving, one person riding in the bin like a jack in the box, while the rest of the crew throws squash up to the person in the bin.

This year we filled over 16 bins, including 8 of butternut alone. These bins are amazing as they allow one person to move 800 pounds of squash with no one else but the tractor. Once the squash is binned up it becomes all tractor, truck, trailer and pallet jack. It is always our goal to work smart and never work harder than we have to. Moving heavy crops with machines is a great thing for farm efficiency and our backs, arms and shoulders are all most grateful. Once the squash is out of the field and in the barn many of the varieties need to cure for additional time. This allows the starch time for to convert to sugar and adds a ton of flavor. The acorn are ready to eat right away, but the butternuts, butter cups and hubbards all benefit greatly from a few weeks off the vine.

It always amazes me what a few people can accomplish in little more than two afternoons. They say one in the hand is worth two in the bush, well I would say that when winter comes one in the barn is worth at least ten in the field!

On behalf of your farm crew

Ben, Mary, Marycia and Larry

Your Farmers
Max and Kerry

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