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July 24, 2020

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Now things are getting fun, the melons are ready! We start with our fridge sized sugar baby (red) and sunshine melons (yellow). They seem extra good this year.The cantaloupes will ripen in a little bit and the finale will be our big Crimson sweet pink watermelons.We will soon be buried in melons. So sweet! We pick our melons ripe and ready to eat.

Our first pick of our tomatoes was a good one and it wil be followed soon by our field cherry tomatoes. Can't say for sure when, but they are coming! 

Finally our cilantro and dill plantings are sizing up and the crew was able to free it from the weeds, just in time for salsa! we should have some of both this week.

This cucumber successionwas never really that productive and is petering out so we might not have many this week. We have one more planting coming along so it should be ready in a few. The dreaded cucumber downy mildew has been spotted in Western Mass. It'll do in a cuke crop quickly but our late plantings are resistant varieties which will hopefully keep it at bay for some time. 

Recipe of the Week: 

Black Eyed Pea Salad with Fennel and Dill

Ingredients: 
  • 1 cup black-eyed peas, rinsed and picked over
  • 3 large garlic cloves, 2 of them crushed and left in the skin, 1 of them minced
  • 1/2 onion, intact
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 medium tomatoes, optional, use in season only, diced
  • 1 medium fennel bulb (about 1/2 pound), trimmed, quartered, cored and sliced very thin across the grain
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/3 cup chopped chives or scallions
  • 2 ounces feta, crumbled
Directions: 

1. Place the black-eyed peas, whole crushed garlic cloves, halved onion and bay leaf in a large, heavy saucepan and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, add salt to taste, reduce the heat, cover and simmer until tender but intact, about 45 minutes. Remove from the heat, remove the lid and allow the black-eyed peas to cool for 30 minutes. Remove and discard the onion. Remove the garlic cloves, squeeze the cooked garlic out of the skins and back into the black-eyed peas, and drain through a strainer set over a bowl.

2. Transfer the black-eyed peas to a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, minced garlic, cumin, salt, pepper and olive oil. Toss with the beans. Add the remaining ingredients except the feta and toss together. If you want a bit more liquid with the beans, add back some of the broth (I found the dressing to be sufficient). Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle the feta over the top and serve.

Credit: 
NY Times

Melon magic

Ripe melons
The first step of the melon harvest is opening a bunch to make sure we are accurately selecting ripe ones. Then we taste test!

Dear Friends,

 

It’s summer time in earnest now. Tomatoes are here, we’ve found the first ripe watermelons, all of our favorite crops are rolling in. There are peppers and onions, the potatoes aren’t far off and the cooler is full of the first bulk harvest of carrots and beets. There is enough work to fill our days and then some. The days feel long but the weeks fly by quickly. Is it my favorite time of year? I’m not sure I would go that far but there is a certain charm to the sweaty frantic pace of July and August. I wouldn’t want my life to be like this all of the time but it’s a nice counter balance to the slow pace of our winters.

 

The height of the summer brings with it one of the most fun, heavy and exciting harvests of all. The melon harvest is certainly unique. Melons are probably the only thing that we grow that you can bring to out to the crew on a hot day as a treat. Everyone loves potatoes, but no one wants to take a break in the shade on a hot day and snack on some spuds fresh from the field. Watermelons are also heavy. They’re fairly heavy individually but they’re especially heavy all together. We harvest them into big, bulk bins that fit on pallets and move them around with tractors. In order to get the melons into the bins we windrow them first. And in order to get them into windrows we have to throw them out to the ends of the field.

 

When we’re laying out melon fields we always ensure that it’s not more than 5 beds to a harvest road. Our beds are 6 feet wide and we find that 30-35 feet is about the furthest distance you can reasonably throw a watermelon. We typically will use a intermediate catcher for the long toss, so the person harvesting from the inner most rows will toss the melon about 15 feet to someone who will toss it another 15 feet to the person windrowing the melons along the harvest road. Our melon field is in the field closest the farm on 82. You pass it if you’re coming the farm from the direction of roundabout and you may have noticed an 11 bed block of melons, a harvest road and then another 6 bed block of cantaloupe. 

 

Tossing melons is exciting. It takes a certain kind of person to be excited about having a 15 pound melon launched at them from 25 feet away. I love it. Catching melons, throwing melons. Trying not to get stung by bees. I feel like there is so much magic to the melons. They really serve no purpose but to make us all happy. We’re probably not going to be eating them in the winter, although I did freeze a hundred pounds one year for using in my smoothies. They’re not the kind of utilitarian, staple crop that carrots and potatoes are. We love flowers because they’re beautiful and we love melons because they’re sweet and delicious. 

 

Although in the interest of honesty and transparency, I feel like I should tell you all that I don’t actually really like to eat watermelons, just growing,throwing and catching them. I’m a cantaloupe kind of guy.

 

Your farmer,

Max (on behalf of Anya, Bonnie, Erica, Hannah, Jordan, Kerry, Larry, Marycia, and Tori)

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