Provider Farm

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September 16, 2018

This Week's Share

New this week is the most unusual celeriac, or celery root. This may win the award of the most funny looking vegetable. Its a gnarly, rooty root ball with a tuft of dark green celery like leaves coming off the top of it. But, it is a wonderful vegetable for fall and winter meals, commonly used in French cooking. My favorite way to cook it is to peel it and boil it up with potatoes for a tasty mash. It lightens and flavors the potatoes perfectly. They can also be used in soups and stews (they are great in that potato leek soup) which is great because cooler temperatures are in the forecast. We hope to pick it with the greens on if they are in good shape. The greens are similar to celery but stronger in flavor and more fibrous and can be used in a stock or chopped finely to flavor recipes and soups.

Where's the broccoli? Our crops are really starting to show the results of this very wet summer. We decided to mow in our first planting of broccoli which just went to rot after the 2.5 inches of rain this week. We are hoping the second planting will weather the remnants of Florence coming at us this Tuesday but are not feeling optimistic about it since they are showing signs of disease due to all the wet too. We are hoping our first planting of cauliflower holds strong and the upcoming cooler temperatures triggers it to start forming heads, but we will wait and see.

We were really excited about our winter squash harvest this year becuase it looked like a bumper harvest. That only makes it tougher to swallow the fact that it is just not storing well this year. Our whole acorn squash planting went to the compost sadly and the delicata is degrading as well. The other varieties seam less affected and we are hoping they are ok. Only time will tell how they store. In the meanwhile, we will be giving out what we have if it looks good. We recommend using it fairly quickly as we don't expect it to store long term.

Recipe of the Week: 

Potato, celeriac and Leek Gratin

Ingredients: 
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 sprig thyme plus 3 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, divided
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
  • Kosher Salt
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, very thinly sliced crosswise (1/8' thick)
  • 1 pound celery root, peeled, very thinly sliced crosswise (1/8' thick)
  • 2 cups grated Gruyère
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Directions: 

Preheat to 350°. Heat cream, garlic, and thyme sprig in a medium saucepan just until bubbles begin to form around edge of pan. Remove from heat; set aside to steep.

Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add leeks; season with salt and cook, stirring often, until tender (do not brown), 10–12 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Butter a 3-qt. gratin dish with remaining 1 Tbsp butter. Layer 1/3 of potato slices and 1/3 of celery root slices evenly over bottom of baking dish. Cover with 1/3 of leeks, then 1/3 of Gruyère. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and 1 tsp. thyme leaves. Repeat layers twice more. Strain cream mixture into a medium pitcher and pour over vegetables.

Set gratin dish on a large rimmed baking sheet and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 1 hour. Carefully remove foil; continue baking until top is golden brown and sauce is bubbling, 25–30 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Tent with foil and rewarm in a 300° oven until hot, about 20 minutes

Credit: 
Bon Appetit

Resilience

Our 3rd annual family picture in the onions.
Our 3rd annual family picutre in the onions. Shepard really loves the onions.

Dear Friends,

 

Some weeks just flow seamlessly. Everything lines up perfectly and we’re able to accomplish great things. This week wasn’t one of those. Our plan was to spend most of the week digging sweet potatoes but unfortunately it was not meant to be. We were rained out on Monday, processing onions in the greenhouse all day. Tuesday I was able to get the tractor going and mow off some of the sweet potato vines and then rip tracks to make room for the bed lifter to get through. We had everything ready and set to spend all day Wednesday digging away. We awoke Wednesday to a much, much wetter world than we were expecting. We somehow managed to find a fairly dry couple hours to pull in two beds worth of sweet potatoes before the heavens opened up and we had to retreat. We ended up getting an unexpected 2.5 inches of rain Wednesday that left the field too saturated for us to get back into for the rest of the week.


 As much as were displeased to have our plans disrupted, it is literally nothing compared to what people are having to deal with in the Mid-Atlantic and the Carolinas. In a year when things don’t really seem to be going our way, it is important to keep some perspective. All of our friends with farms have expressed a similar sentiment. This has been a hard year. Really cold spring, dry for awhile, really wet for awhile, dry again. One thing after another, none of what we need when we need it. It is the type of year that challenges your resolve. We haven’t had that one major crop failure, like the year when our tomatoes got Late Blight and the crop failed. Rather than a meteor striking a down a crop, this year has felt like death from a thousand paper cuts.


 It isn’t to say that everything has been bad, or even most things. The melons were amazing, the white onions spectacular. The tomatoes abundant and delicious. It is a year like this that I really appreciate the CSA. By having the CSA be the main focus of our farm, it keeps our farm resilient under challenging circumstances. We don’t concentrate on growing 3-4 specific crops, we grow it all. In a year like this, that proves to be invaluable. Usually we have spectacular fall broccoli, but this year it has been melting under the onslaught of disease, exasperated by ill timed rain. We don’t love that we don’t have it in the share right now but we have great leeks, potatoes, peppers and carrots to help fill the void until the later (better looking) plantings start to produce.


 I think all too often when we make our plans we make them expecting things to go great. Business plans are ambitious, crop yield projections lofty, and while it is great to be optimistic it can get you into trouble. We can’t live in a world where in order for our farm to succeed we need to have our best year every year. Farming doesn’t work like that, life doesn’t work like that. It’s not feasible and it's a recipe for disaster. I am impressed in what our farm has produced in its best years but I am in some ways more proud of what we can accomplish in a challenging season. When the weather is good it’s easy to want to be a farmer, it’s when the weather turns that you find out if you’re really up for it.


 I don’t really know what the rest of the year is going to be like, but I can guarantee we’re up for it.

Your farmers,

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

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