Provider Farm

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August 21, 2016

This Week's Share

Potatoes enter the share this week, so you know what that means...welcome fall! There's not alot to say about these, they're delicious fried, mashed, roasted. everyway you can think of! Its a cooler week, take advantage of it and fire up the oven!

This will be the last week of melons. Boy they were good. If you're going to miss them or are just sick of em, you could chop them up and put them in a bag and freeze them for smoothies or make them into this week's pop recipes so you can hold on to summer a little bit longer. For something a little different, try them in this watermelon salad.

Recipe of the Week: 

Watermelon Paleta

Ingredients: 

1/2 c sugar
1 c water
4 c melon
2 tbs lime juice pinch of salt

Directions: 

Put water and sugar on low flame and stir until dissolved. Remove from flame and cool. Add melon, lime juice and salt. Blend until smooth and freeze in popsicle trays or Dixie cups with popsicle sticks. A yummy summertime treat!

Credit: 
Kerry heard it on a an NPR show but can't remember which one

Rolling with the punches

The crew saved the final seeding of carrots from weeds.
The crew saved the final seeding of carrots from weeds.

Dear Friends,

The end of August is almost upon us. We’re still reveling in the glory of summer, while wrapping up some tasks and starting to feel ready for fall. Our plantings are all but behind us. The last fall roots, kale and broccoli has all gone in. We still have lettuce, spinach, arugula and tat soi to seeding to do weekly until the end of September but for the most part our plantings are complete. The share room is full with melons and tomatoes, peppers and eggplants and onions. We’re starting to notice the cucumbers running out of gas. Potatoes are on the horizon and after that spaghetti squash, leeks and so many wonderful fall favorites.

My old boss from Riverland Farm used to say to succeed in farming what you need is a thick skin and a short memory. I think this year has really been emphasizing that. There are times when running our farm can feel like being punched in the stomach repeatedly. Times when crops don’t do well, when weeds or rodents, or diseases or drought take the wind from your sails and take the happiness from your heart. It can be difficult at times to keep our heads up and keep rolling with things. If a field is too weedy, or a crop doesn’t have the nutrients it needs, I feel like it’s my fault as a manager. If we can’t get through a task I often feel like it is because we didn’t get to it on time, or I did a bad job of organizing or motivating our crew. But when things don’t turn out how we plan, there's not a lot of time to feel bad for ourselves.

This week, we were confronted with one of those utterly disappointing crops. Our second seeding of beets and carrots started off normally. Quickly, the fragile young plants were overtaken with weeds. We were able to cultivate and hand weed the 5 beds of carrots, but we only made it through 2 of the beet beds before the weeds won out and we had to give up. Much to our horror, what were once well weeded carrots once again were under siege from pig weed, nutsedge and lambs quarters. I figured the carrots had enough time without competition to make a crop. Maybe we would have to mow before harvest, maybe the carrots would be slightly smaller but they would be fine I thought. Boy was I wrong.

As the weeks went on the carrots got harder and harder to find in the forest of weeds. Even still, if you dug around, you could pull out some decent, tasty carrots. Meanwhile we tried harvesting from the 2 beet beds we saved from the weeds  only to find vole damage on the roots. Every beet we pulled has been gnawed on by a pesky rodent. The voles feel very safe in a weedy bed, since the weeds provide excellent cover for their rodent activities.  We checked the carrots and saw little to no rodent damage so we thought they would be fine. Well this week their number was called and it was time to harvest. Enter the sad trombone.

After mowing close the ground and running through with our bed lifter it was time to start filling buckets. We had 4,800 row feet of carrots out there. A modestly good harvest would have been around 3,500 pounds of carrots. If things were really bad maybe we might have to settle for 2,000 pounds. As we began to sink our hands into the soil, we discovered the voles had beat us to the punch. Virtually every carrot we pulled had some damage. Quite a few had been eaten almost all the way to the tip! What weren’t going to be very good carrots to begin with, had fallen on even harder luck than we imagined. We dug 2 beds. A good harvest would have been 900 pounds. I would have settled for 600. We found ourselves with around 200 measly pounds of carrots! To make matters worse, it was taking us way longer to make it through the beds since they were so weedy and carrots so hard to find. I decided enough was enough and we called it. The voles could have the rest of them.

Fortunately for us, this was only one of our 4 plantings of carrots. Nothing is so motivating as abject failure and we quickly wiped away our tears and got to work weeding the smallest carrots and saving them from the same fate. As the week wore on, we conquered other tasks, weeding and thinning the fall rutabagas and harvesting more then half of our potatoes (which unlike our carrots, were a record harvest, but more about that at a later date.) We put a cherry on top by catching up with greenhouse work and transplanting, and weeding all of our fall lettuces. By the end of the week, the farm was feeling good again and we had almost forgotten about those awful carrots.

Another stroke of good luck is our friend Paul from Fort Hill Farm in New Milford CT has excellent carrots this year but he needs onions. So it looks like we will be able to arrange a swap with him and keep the carrots coming. Trading veggies for the CSA is one of those things that I really love doing when it works out. We get to help Paul out and he helps us. Our share holders benefit and so do his, even the voles are happy. It’s a winning situation all around.

This week also marks the end of a really wonderful chapter for us. My mother, Rhona, who has been staying with us all summer taking care of Shep, is on her way back to Chicago. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge how wonderful it has been to have her here helping us out with caring for our little guy. I am sure Shep is going to miss having his Nona around and she will miss spending time with him. Having my mom here has allowed us the freedom to get the farm back into some semblance of control after a spring and early summer spent in the NICU. She has nimbly juggled Shepard's feedings, washed every single lug that has held your produce multiple times, sorted tomatoes, cooked your farmers numerous dinners, saved our houseplants from utter neglect, and the farmhouse has never been cleaner in deep summer! She has been an absolutely integral part of making the 2016 CSA season happen and we are so very grateful to her.



Thanks Mom!

Hannah, Holly, Chris, Tory, Erica and Larry

Your Farmers,

Max and Kerry

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