Provider Farm

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January 2, 2018

Brrr...its cold out there. With a high of 14 degrees on Friday, the Provider Farm CSA pick up will be moving into our heated space. When you get to the shareroom, look right to the building with the big glass doors. The share pick up will be in there. Follow the signs, you really can't miss it!

This Week's Share

Happy new year to all! I hope you had a nice holiday with some time to relax and full of good food. I love the holidays, it is one of our few work free breaks through out the year, with just animal chores to tend to and I actually have time to cook and bake! What did you cook over the holidays with farm food? We had a slow roasted chuck roast for Christmas day shredded for tostadas, topped with shredded cabbage. It was out of this world! We started the morning with these butternut squash cinnamon rolls.

For our second Christmas with family, we brought along these sweet potato corn bread muffins and these parsnip cup cakes. My go to dish to bring is always a root roast which was a big hit. For new years, I made the recipe of the week to warm us and the house up. These cold temperatures really inspire me to keep the oven going and a soup on the stove top.

Truthfully, Iif I didn't have to tend to a farm, I don't mind the actual cold too much if its not windy. I find a early afternoon run on a sparkly sunny winter day refreshing even in these arctic temperatures. However,  these super cold days and nights are not great for our greens crops in the greenhouses. Even our super hardy spinach and kale are looking pretty beat down by the non stop crazy cold. We have a good window of "warm" days in the twenties before the share where we probably will be able to pick some kale but our beautiful spinach may need more then that to rebound. The micro climate you can create under a thin layer of plastic and some metal hoops is pretty impressive though. The ground isn't even close to frozen in the spinach greenhouse and once the sun comes out and temperatures get to around 20, the greenhouse is down right pleasant, even balmy, so time will tell what we can harvest out of there.

Please note you may find your roots unwashed this week. When it is this cold, it becomes way more challenging to get everything washed up. We are hoping we'll be able to get everything washed during our warm window, but we have a lot to get done that day so I can't guarentee it. On the upside, our dirty roots store really well (which is why we store them that way).

Recipe of the Week: 

Curried Parsnip and White Bean Soup

Ingredients: 
  • 3 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 5 to 6 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 1 gala apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 Tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamon
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked cannelini beans, 1/4 c. reserved for garnish
  • 4 c. broth
  • salt and pepper
  • sprinkle lemon juice or vinegar
Directions: 

In a large pot, heat oil. Add onions and a generous pinch of salt and pepper and cook until soft.
Add garlic and ginger and stir. Add the parsnips, apple, curry powder, cardamon, and beans. Stir and cook until the parsnips are browned. Add the broth and simmer until parsnips are tender, about 20 minutes.
Let the soup cool slightly and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and a little acid (lemon juice or vinegar) to taste. Serve garnished with remaining beans and snipped herbs.

Credit: 
Love and Lemons by Jeanine Donofrio

The forest for the trees

Cows in the snow
The cows are ever so stoic about the cold temperatures.

Dear Friends,

A whole new year is upon us. Normally we would probably be spending this time reflecting on our past year and thinking about new beginnings but honestly we just can’t seem to get over how darn cold it’s been. I don’t need to tell you all that it’s been cold, nor that is going to continue to be cold. The forecasted high temperature for this Friday’s winter share pick up tops out at a thin 14 degrees. We expect a certain amount of sub-zero temperatures every winter, in fact we welcome it. We have all the appropriate insulated clothing, winter fuel additives in our machines, heaters in our walk in coolers. We are not ones to shun the winter.  But when it stays this cold for this long it starts to really get to us.

Everything is harder to do in the cold and inevitably always some weird issues crop up. Frozen pipes and frozen drains, frozen trucks that don't want to start. The tractor we feed the cows with doesn’t want to start and takes quite a bit of coaxing to get going. The cows also eat way more when it’s cold so we need the tractor more often. The kale and spinach have really taken it on the chin this past week and we are hoping they will rebound but honestly we’re in somewhat uncharted territory. We haven’t had this much sustained frigid weather in the time we have been doing this. To put it shortly, we don’t like this extreme cold very much and we want it to warm up a bit. 

Hopefully the silver lining is that the cold can be a great organic pesticide and will help reduce levels of pests and disease in the field. I always hope for a "real" winter and have been disappointed in the last few. We had intense rodent pressure in our root crops this year and high rodent populations have been linked to lots of tics, all due to warmer winters, so hopefully this will knock them back a bit. Some insect pests over winter here in New England around our vegetable fields and so hopefully a good extended deep freeze will reduce their levels too.

Now that I have that off my chest…..it’s hard to believe another year has come and gone. 2017 was pretty good to us here at Provider Farm. Following our 2016 in which we spent a third of year in the hospital with Shepard, I think almost anything was going to feel a bit easier. Our 2017 was greatly assisted by the return of our entire core crew. On that note, we are immensely grateful that pretty much everyone is going to be sticking around for 2018. We know at some point they will all move on and go their own ways but we don’t like to think about that so much. For now we are really happy to have them all here.

As we turn the calendar page, it is now the time when we start to reflect upon the season and start planning for 2018. The season itself was a mixed bag, as it will always be. Some things were great, some things need improvement. It’s funny how large and daunting things feel when you are in the thick of things in the summer but by this time it’s all just a blur. Was it a wet spring or a dry spring? I honestly can’t remember. I remember the big moments. Some epic watermelon harvests, delicious carrots, a crummy garlic harvest, probably some other things. We'll dig into our crop records to remind us of all of that.

Winter is also a time of intense introspection as we reflect upon our personal development. Learning how to farm while not stressing out over the little day to day details has been one of the most important lessons I have had to learn as a farmer. Farming can be immensely stressful on the day to day. Its a constant lesson in viewing the forest for the trees, the crops through the weeds, the total season from the day to day list of uncompleted tasks. I am not sure how sustainable farming would have been as a career for me if I hadn’t decided to get that side of things in check. Honestly, I have found it to be just as helpful off the farm as it is on the farm.

As we look forward to another year in our lives and another year farming in beautiful Southeastern Connecticut, I hope that we can continue to thrive as a farm and get better at creating the environment and community that we want to live and work in.

Happy New Year!

Your farmers,
Kerry and Max

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