Provider Farm

From our fields, for your family


September 29, 2019

Salem shareholders, our share renewals and winter share sales start this week. Look for renewal forms at share pick up. 

Terra Firma Farm shareholders, in case you missed it last week, Brianne has discontinued her farm shop to grow her wholesale business, so we will sadly have to discontinue our share pick up at Terra Firma. You are of course welcome to switch your pick up to Salem. We are actively pursuing a new drop off location in your area and would gladly accept any recommendations for a new location.

This Week's Share

Hurray! The first of the sweet potatoes are cured and ready to eat. We trialed a bunch of different varieties and this crop is a nice one this year with lots of nice medium sized tubers. I like them baked in the oven, the layer between the skin and flesh caramelize and I eat them skin and all! Delish, I pack small ones in Shep's lunch box (he usually eats them, unlike the carrots which always come home). Don't shy away from the little ones, they bake up quickly and are like little snack packs! I actually think they are better because the surface area is greater, so more caramelizing!

Also, we'll be debuting our gold potatoes. These were another great crop of the year, with big clean spuds. These are great roasted, mashed and baked. Unlike sweets potatoes, we'll occasionally cook these guys in the microwave when were pressed to get dinner on the table. I'm the kind of cook who ends up with 15 dirty pots and pans, but Max is actually an expert on cooking a quick dinner, people have said he should make youtube videos. Essentially, get your potatoes going in the microwave for 8 minutes. In the meanwhile, kale into the steamer and then pan fry your protein (fish, beef, chicken, tofu, whatever, open a can of beans!) Voila, dinner is served! It ain't fancy, but its food and better then getting McDonalds.

We hope to make another trade this week for organic lettuce heads from our friends at Massaro Farm so there should be more lettuce. Our salad greens thus far are looking really nice and abundant, here's hoping they are ready soon!

Recipe of the Week: 

Black bean sweet potato chili

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium-large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ½ cups vegetable stock
  • 1 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup dried quinoa (I used on our own browned ground beef and skipped the quinoa)
  • 4 teaspoons lime juice

Heat a large heavy bottom pot with the oil over medium high heat.
Add the sweet potato and onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion if softened.
Add the garlic, chili powder, chipotle, cumin and salt and stir to combine.
Add the stock, tomatoes, black beans and quinoa and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir everything to combine.
Cover the pot and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
Cook for 15-25 minutes until the quinoa is fully cooked and the sweet potatoes are soft and the entire mixture is slightly thick like a chili.
Add the lime juice and remove the pot from the heat. Season with salt as needed.
Garnish with avocado, cilantro, crema or cheese before serving.


Squirrel mode

Conn College came out and helped us pull in the rest of the spuds.
Conn College came out and helped us pull in the rest of the spuds.

Dear Friends,


The first official week of fall and it felt much more like summer than September. That is until the sun went down and the temperatures dipped down to a bit more familiar territory. All of the sudden we are fast approaching October, every year it happens and every year I am a bit shocked. The days are getting shorter and shorter. While September is winding down we still have aways to go before we wind down. We have six more CSA distributions and a lot of great items still to bring out. Sweet potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Parsnips and Storage Kohlrabi are all on the horizon. As the pages on the calendar turn, we are realizing more and more that we have to enter into squirrel mode. We have thousands and thousands of pounds of food out in the field that all must be brought in before the ground freezes. All of our frost sensitive storage crops are in, but we still acres of crops to bring in and store away safely in our coolers.


This week we were able to cross potatoes off that list of things to harvest. Digging potatoes is one of my favorite tasks on the farm and I am always a bit sad to see it come to an end, but on the other hand it is nice to start to cross things off the list. This year’s potato harvest wasn’t the smoothest operation I have ever been a part of. The crop itself has been fantastic but getting them out of the ground created a bit of a puzzle for us.


We grow our potatoes on hills. Hilling soil on the potatoes protects them from turning green and stops the plants from falling over. It is also very effective way to control weeds. Well, usually it is.  The tractors can straddle two hills at a time and when things go right we never really need to step foot in the potato field. We plant them with a tractor, we hill them with a tractor, we even water them with the tractor. When it comes time to harvest, we have a potato digger that is off set that digs one hill at a time. We then come through with buckets and fill the buckets with potatoes.


The digger we have does some things really well, one thing it does not do so well though is deal with grass. And this year we ended up with some grassy potatoes. It quickly became apparent that for the sake of the sanity we had to change what we were doing. The grass would bind up the digger and things would go horrible wrong. If you have to stop occasionally and clear the digger it’s not so bad but this really wasn’t working at all. We tried some various things to rip a path but nothing seemed to really work. So onto plan B.


We brought out the undercutter bar, this is the same tool that we use on carrots, sweet potatoes and parsnips. Not exactly ideal for potatoes but not terrible either. Everything was going fine, until I went out to under cut a couple of beds in preparation for a Sustainable Ag class from Conn College. To my dismay, our tractor had a flat tire. And not just a flat, but it was clear that the tire was going to need to be replaced and not merely repaired. Fortunately we have several tractors so some help from Bonnie, I was able to get the flat tire off the John Deere and get the under cutter bar on our Deutz. Alright, I guess this is plan C now, not too bad. 


The Deutz is a bit smaller than the John Deere and doesn’t have 4 wheel drive but it should have enough power. We went out to test it out and it worked pretty well. We dug a bit to make sure it worked and left the rest for the morning. When I came back in the morning and tried to dig with the Deutz it just flat out didn’t work at all. The tractor would just get bogged down and the tires would spin. I felt like I was taking crazy pills. It worked reasonably well the day before, why wouldn’t it work the next day? The best I could figure is that the ground was wet the first day which made it go easier and on the second day it was dry and hard. OK ok ok, not great. But fortunately we have yet another tractor onto plan D. The international.


The international is a real beast of a tractor. It is big and heavy and kind of lumbers along. It can be quite finicky about starting especially early in the morning. We bought it a few years ago because it can go really really slow to pull our water wheel transplanter. Well out came the international, I dropped the transplanter and picked up the under cutter with my fingers crossed. I sunk the under cutter into the ground and the international pulled it like a champ and just in time for the start of our class.  It barely seemed to notice. Plan D for the win!


Once we got this all sorted, the wind was at our back and we were able to sail smoothly through the last bit of harvest. Now we’re onto the next crop!


Your farmers,


Bill, Bonnie, Erica, Hannah, Kerry, Larry, Marcia and Max

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