Provider Farm

From our fields, for your family

Shareholders

September 16, 2017

We are keeping our eye on tropical storm Jose. So far, it is still up in the air whether we will have major impacts here and will continue with our shares as planned for now. However, we will send an email update and post to facebook and our website if things change and we need to cancel the share. It seams most likely the shares that could be impacted are our Wednesday Terra Firma Farm shares. Please check your email or our website prior to share pick ups this week.

Back to school and its time for my annual special request. This is the time of year when folks start to drop off on Tuesday pick ups and Fridays start to get more and more busy. We LOVE giving the option for everyone to pick up when they want to, but if you can make it Tuedays, it would be wonderful if you could pick up then to help even out the days a little bit and keep our Fridays manageable. A big thanks in advance!

This Week's Share

Wow, even though it doesn't feel like it, fall is here in the share room. Beautiful heads of snow colored caulifower just started making their way into the share this past week. Cauliflower can be a fickle crop, sometimes holding out on making heads for what feels like forever, so we are so happy to see it producing so early this year! We should have it for some time now. Have you ever tried it roasted in the oven? it is so delicious! Make it as you would roasted broccoli.

Another classic fall treat is leeks! These onion relatives have a mild oniony flavor. They are fantastic sauteed like you would use onions and garlic in all your dishes. A classic fall and winter treat is potato leek soup. Try our recipe or find your own online.

We will have our tasty red potatoes this week to go along with the leeks. Roast em, bake em, mash em, do what you do with potatoes. These are great any old way!

The colored peppers are really booming now. So many reds and yellows like the soon to be falling fall leaves. Try a romesco sauce with some to top your roasted cauliflower or basically anything really. The tomatoes however, are really starting to slow down to a trickle and will start to phase out of the share soon. Nows your last chance to get some put up for the winter!

Recipe of the Week: 

Cauliflower salad with lemon dressing

Ingredients: 

For the salad:

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 Tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

For the dressing:

  • 2 teaspoons minced shallots
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup, or more to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil

 

Directions: 

Chop up the cauliflower, coat with oil and place on baking pan. Bake at 450 until the cauliflower is slightly browned and tender.
While the cauliflower is baking, mix the dressing ingredients and whisk the oil in.
When the cauliflower is finished baking, toss it with the additional salad ingredients and mix in dressing to taste. Serve salad hot or cold.

Credit: 
justataste.com

The sweet and low down

Nice sweet potatoes, happy crew!
Nice sweet potatoes, happy crew!

Dear Friends,

Things we’re going full on fall in a hurry. We were getting ready for cable knit sweaters, pumpkin flavored everything, and cozy nights by the fire. But before we could dig out our sweaters, we found ourselves sweating away in some absolutely sweltering heat and humidity. The mornings went from being crisp and bright with a chill in the air to foggy, thick, and almost tropical. While the weather can’t quite make up it’s mind, the crops know what to do. The first cauliflower has started to trickle in and the cabbage and brussels sprouts are right behind them. The leeks are taking shape and will be joining the potatoes in the share and our soup pots. Now is the time of year when we clean out the tomatoes from the high tunnel and plant our late winter kale. This kale won’t be ready until after  christmas. Long after the first snow falls and the world is bleak and frozen.It’s a good reminder that we always have one eye on the present and one eye to the future.

Our main task for the week was to begin digging sweet potatoes. Oh, the sweet potato. We have had a checkered relationship with sweet potatoes in our time here at Provider Farm. I should say that they are easily in my top 5 favorite vegetables. Maybe even pushing into that illustrious glory of top 3. However, we have had mixed luck when it comes to growing sweet potatoes. In fact, from time to time I am fairly certain we have had to trade vegetables with one of our friends in order to satisfy our sweet potato requirements for the winter share. While we appreciate having friends with CSA farms and being able to exchange vegetables to meet our needs, one of our goals this year was to improve this crop drastically, and get our sweet potato game going.

Last year was probably the worst it has ever been. Things were bad from the start. When you plant sweet potatoes you plant what are called ‘slips’. Unlike potatoes they are not a piece of tuber but neither are they a full on transplant. Rather the slip is a portion of living sweet potato vine. They come to us in the mail from places like Tennessee or North Carolina. The slips we received in 2016 looked awful, but sometimes they can surprise you so we planted anyway. To our dismay, most of the slips didn’t make it and died early on. Oh well, we will just have bigger sweet potatoes we thought. Then to our dismay, the sweet potatoes that had survived started to get decimated by ground hogs. We tried trapping them but with no success, we ended up covering the crop with row cover to protect them(much like we hid the watermelons from the crows). Now the ground hog couldn’t eat any more, but we couldn’t really kill the weeds with the cover on, so the next thing we know the whole crop is smothered in weeds. Add in some mice damage and than some rot in storage and you get the idea. The crop was bad.

This year things needed to change. We switched up our slip supplier and tried to give the plants as much tender loving care as possible. Farmers are a superstitious folk, so we never wanted to say it out loud, but things looked good from the get go. The slips went into the ground on a cool cloudy day in early June and were lightly rained in. As if our prayers were answered, the following week was delightfully cool for June allowing the young plants to settle in. The plants then took off, making thick vines and sending out their beautiful morning glory like purple blossoms.

We don't have many issues with insects pests in our sweet potatoes. The thing about sweet potato vines though, is all our fuzzy friends like to eat them. They are like candy to deer. So we dutifully went about shoring up our deer fencing. Also, voles can't resist sweet potatoes, so we made sure to keep the field edges as weed free as possible so there wouldn't be a safe weed highway for them to travel into the sweet potatoes (they don't want to travel over bare ground where a hawk might see them).

Sweet potatoes are kind of funny too, they form their tubers very rapidly and will go from nothing at all into robust sweet potatoes in what feels like minutes. So if you pull a plant in August you don’t really expect to find anything. When it came time to mow off the vines and start digging, we were anxious but excited. The first bed we dug was ok, it was an extra bed we planted by itself when we ran out of regular potato seed. We pulled in about 800 pounds in the course of 1,000 row feet. Not exactly great but certainly better than we had done in the past.

Next, we moved onto our actual crop. Sweet potatoes grow almost like subterranean banana bunches with the vine attached to a bunch of sweet potatoes just below the surface of the soil. We mow the vines and loosen the bed with our under cutter so you can just pull the bunch of sweet potatoes out of the ground. Within the first 10 feet we could tell things had improved. By the time we were half way, it was clear that things had improved dramatically. We dug two beds on Wednesday and brought in over 3,000 pounds out of 1,000 row feet. Now that is what I’m talking about! There is no better feeling then pulling a record crop out of the ground and you could tell everyone was enjoying this harvest.

All this talk about sweet potatoes, so where are they? You’re probably wondering. They weren’t in the share this week and they won’t be in the share next week. That is because unlike most of our other crops, sweet potatoes can’t go straight from the field to the CSA. They, more than anything else we grow, need to be cured. They are not sweet at all at harvest time. They are starchy and taste kind of like regular potatoes. They only achieve their sweetness by being cured properly.

For sweet potatoes, that means high heat and very high humidity for a couple of weeks. Our tech geek and Kerry's dad Larry has rigged up temperature and humidity monitors that we are checking regularly on our phones to make sure conditions are good for curing. So for now they are sitting in our green house under a tarp, sweetening up before they make their way to you

Your farmers,
Anthony, Chris, Erica, Hannah, Holly, Kerry, Larry and Max

Focus on a Farmer

I (Kerry) fall next in alphabetical order but feel weird writing about myself so Hannah took over the task. Without further ado, Hannah Tripp!

I am very excited to guest write Focus on a Farmer this week so we can talk about Kerry!  Kerry got her start in farming at Pomykala Farm in Vermont, where she worked for one season after completing a Biology degree from Mount Holyoke College.  Kerry says that she fell in love with farming here because it made so much sense to her.  Some of her favorite farming memories come from Pomykala, including one particular late afternoon picking cherry tomatoes on the hillside, watching the sun go down.  

After her four years in Togo with the Peace Corps, Kerry made her way back to farming at Brookfield Farm in Amherst, MA, one of the oldest and most prestigious CSA’s in New England.  In the 5 years she spent at Brookfield, Kerry worked her way up from apprentice to assistant manager.  Here, she also met Max, and together they brought their combined knowledge and experience down to Salem, CT to start Provider Farm in 2011.  

Among her countless responsibilities here at Provider, Kerry manages the irrigation, the cows, fencing, the wash tent, bookkeeping, the CSA distributions, and the greenhouse, as well as being our harvest manager, a challenging job with lots of moving parts and constantly changing conditions.  Despite the pressures of running a farm, Kerry says she loves farming for many reasons, including getting to work outside, the miracle of watching things grow, getting to work with Max, and spending her days doing something that makes a difference in the world and in people’s lives.  I’ve worked for Kerry for 6 years now, and this love for what she does is apparent every day.  Her can-do spirit and contagious enthusiasm spur us on through even the most challenging tasks.  Her toughness, overall competence and strength are inspiring to us all.  We are so lucky to work for and learn from someone like Kerry!

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