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Author: bloomingglenfarm

Week 16 of the CSA share, as well as the bounty at the farmer’s markets, sees the overlap of both summer and fall crops. With just 8 more weeks of CSA pick-ups to go, and the autumn equinox quickly approaching, the pace on the farm has become less of a frantic dash and more like a steady walk. After a brief reminder of the summer heat mid-week, the return to cooler weather and the diversity of new crops has me pulling out my cookbooks and dreaming of comfort foods like autumn soups and squash pies.

CSA share, 9/10/13, week 16.

The focus of the past week was digging potatoes. Thousands of pounds later, they are all out of the ground and stored in burlap sacks, ready to be enjoyed well into late winter. I guess you know you are truly a farmer, when even after gathering up hundreds and hundreds of potatoes, crawling around on your knees in the dirt, I still found delight in each and every one I unearthed, from the fat purple and pink streaked “Purple Vikings” to the deep red “Sangres” to the lumpy gold “Kennebecs”. It was a perpetual easter egg hunt to the very last spud. And the continual discovery of clay-colored toads made the task all the more delightful. Our old trusty red pick-up truck wasn’t so happy, however, as it suffered under the extreme potato weight.

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Fourth grade teacher Jared Grace reflects on his summers as a farm hand at Blooming Glen.

Over the last two summers, I have had the privilege of being a member of the crew at Blooming Glen Farm.  As a CSA member for the last four years, I have had the unique opportunity to be on both sides of the operation. It has been an incredible experience for me, as well as for my wife, Aimee, who also shares a strong passion for supporting local farmers and living and eating well.

I grew up in South Perkasie, minutes from these vast fields that have become the beautiful landscape of the farm.  I spent a large majority of my childhood outdoors – building forts, fishing, playing Wiffle Ball, and generally, doing what boys do.  I spent 10 years, during my middle school, high school, and college summers, working at Clair’s Flowers, in town.  While most of my friends thought I was insane for choosing to work in the 100+ degree conditions of the greenhouse all day, I absolutely loved every minute.  All the dirt, sweat, and dizzying heat was worth it, when I’d look out and see how beautiful everything was growing.  I believe these early life experiences of working in the dirt and feeling the pride that comes with a hard day’s work led me to my eventual time at Blooming Glen Farm.

Nine years ago, with Aimee’s encouragement and support, I entered the field of education.  While I have experience teaching all of grades K-6, I have primarily been a 6th and now 4th Grade teacher.  Among all the topics I teach, and all the hats I wear in a day, one of the greatest joys of being a teacher is sharing my passions with students and seeing their faces light up when they are connecting to what I’m saying.  Having now added farming to my repertoire, many lively conversations occur in my classroom. My school district’s curriculum includes a reading thematic unit on “Living Green”.  Topics include the “3 R’s” of reducing, reusing, and recycling, composting, and the health and community benefits of consuming locally grown produce. Needless to say, this is where my enthusiasm skyrockets!  I am thoroughly delighted to be an authority on the topic of living and eating well!

My time at BGF has been invaluable to my teaching of these topics to kids.  In addition to discussion, I have learned that children love to be actively involved in growing, choosing, and cooking food.  Kids practically jump out of their seats at the opportunity to share stories of cooking, composting, canning, or recycling with their parents and siblings. I cannot emphasize how important it is for parents, family members, teachers, etc. to talk to kids about the benefits of being a wise consumer, not only for their own well being, but also for the greater good of their communities.  It has also been important to share and discuss the harmful effects of not taking care of the Earth. 

Jared Grace, standing far left, with the 2013 farm crew.

While sharing stories and teaching children about the process of organic farming is exhilarating in its own right, my work experience at Blooming Glen Farm has also had a positive impact on how I live my personal life.  I have been blessed with spending many hours working under the sun and enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of nature all around me.  Though farm work is, without a doubt, the most physically demanding I’ve ever done, each task was completed with pride by sharing the workload with some of the most amazing people I’ve met in my life.  My crewmates are well-traveled, intelligent, and informed citizens.  They are committed, hard workers who never complain, and my life has been enriched by their enthusiasm for sustainable agriculture, their genuine kindness, and respect they showed towards me every day.

So, with autumn and all it’s majesty on the horizon, I must once again depart my beautiful outdoor classroom, one in which I have been a curious student every day.  I now reenter the walls of my wonderful elementary school – taking with me memories of picking strawberries as the sun comes up, harvesting basil in the dark hours of the morning, learning tractor skills, taking my nieces on a farm tour, having spirited conversations with fellow crew, and enjoying every minute of seeding, planting, weeding, harvesting, and eating a bounty of delicious, soul-satisfying food…and getting filthy in the process!

Post and photos courtesy of Jared Grace.

Don’t say the “F” word. The one that starts with “fr” and rhymes with lost. Yes, that one! Don’t say it! It was cold this morning but not that cold! Despite the summer squash, eggplant and cucumbers coming to an end, we still have a field of tomatoes just starting to ripen, so a little more heat would be great! Keep your fingers crossed!

CSA share, week 15, 9/3/13

The falling leaves, cooler nights and back to school energy did however have us thinking of fall, so we switched it up a bit in the CSA share and brought out the sweet potatoes. Like we said, all the rain had them ready earlier them usual, so after a few weeks curing in the greenhouse they are ready to be turned into a tasty fall dish. It also won’t be long before you see the first of the winter squash. Six pallet bins later, our annual game of toss-the-butternut is complete!

And the delicata squash is piling up.

Kids back in school? Have a few free hours on your hand? Volunteers wanted next Wednesday, September 11 from 9am-11pm and 11am-1pm. Pick a shift, or both, and join us for a few hours of sit down work trimming garlic off their stems. Bring clippers if you have them, if not, we do. Please RSVP to the farm via email, and include the time you are coming.

There’s lots of fun in store for the Blooming Glen Farm Harvest Festival, Saturday October 12th! We have two amazing community art projects in store for the afternoon. Help puppetiers from the Spiral Q puppet theater in Philadelphia make a giant paper mache tomato! Or lend a hand in creating a weaving out of natural materials using an Earth Loom! Local bluegrass band Goose Creek Pioneers will be performing again this year. Sign-up sheets for the Pie Bake-off are at the farm in the distribution room, or send us an email!  

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Sweet peppersIt’s pretty hard to resist the sweet taste and rainbow color of the frying peppers finding their way into our share the past few weeks.  Peppers are standard in most of our diets, but did you know that they also provide a huge dose of vitamins C and A to our diets?  They’re also high in phytonutrients, which help us fight off an array of illnesses and disease.  Add to that their fiber content and these little guys are a lot more than just good looks! As with most veggies, we can get the most nutrition from eating them raw.  Chopped up, you can top salads and tacos with them.  Sliced, enjoy them dipped in hummus or a black bean dip.

The stuffed pepper recipe below uses cooked peppers, which are certainly still healthy, especially since we’re adding fresh tomatoes and the whole grain, freekeh. Freekah, young green wheat that’s been toasted and cracked, is super rich in fiber, provides essential minerals, and is a good source of plant-based protein.

Freekah Stuffed Peppers
Freekah Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients
4 peppers, sliced in half lengthwise and cored (choose the largest ones you have)
1-1/2 cup diced peppers
2 cups diced tomatoes
1 tbs fennel
1 tbs oregano
1 tbs basil
1/2 tbs Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4+ tsp crushed red pepper
1 package of freekah (8 oz)*
2 cups broth
1 cup bread crumbs
3 tbs nutritional yeast (or parmesan or romano cheese)
1+ cup marinara or spaghetti sauce
* Freekah is available in the natural/organic section of the grocery store and at health food stores. If you can’t find it or want to use a gluten-free grain, you can substitute freekah for brown rice (increase simmer time below to 40-50 minutes) or quinoa (decrease cooking time below to 15 minutes).

Method
Saute onion until translucent. Add garlic, sauté 1 minute. Add spices and salt and sauté for a couple minutes. Add peppers and tomato, stir and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Stir in freekah and mix well. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, adding more broth or water if necessary.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a baking dish, cover the bottom with a light layer of marinara or spaghetti sauce.

Remove veggie and freekah mixture from the stove, add bread crumbs and nutritional yeast and stir until everything is well combined. Stuff pepper halves with mixture, and place in a single layer in the baking dish. Top peppers with a spoonful of marinara or spaghetti sauce. Cover and bake 35 minutes, checking occasionally to see is more sauce should be added to the bottom of the dish. Uncover and broil for 3-5 minutes, making sure pepper halves have softened.

Post sources and recommended links:

Cooked red pepper‘s nutritional profile on Nutrition Data.
Bell peppers on World’s Healthiest Foods.
What is freekah? on the Freekah Foods website.

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

The cooler nights might be slowing down the ripening of the heat loving tomatoes and signaling the last of a long run of summer squash, but it does mean gorgeous end-of-the-summer greens. Leafy greens love the nights in the low 50s (and upper 40s!). This week in the CSA share we have beautiful arugula with a spicy kick, sweet potato greens, and batavian crisp lettuce. Next week, the kale is finally back!

CSA share, week 14, 8/27/13

The farm is focusing on getting ready to dig lots and lots and lots of potatoes, to carry us through the rest of the CSA and our winter farmers markets. The burlap sacks are ready, and the yields are looking epic. We’re not quite sure yet where we’ll store them all- a root cellar is one thing our farm is sorely lacking- but we are wanting to get them out of the ground before any major rainfalls, or other crazy acts of nature (who knows what can happen!).

Washing Purple Sun potatoes in the root washer.

The crew spent the afternoon practicing some old fashioned pest control: plucking harlequin bugs off of the brussel sprouts and into cups of soapy water. The brussel sprouts, along with crops like leeks and cauliflower, are a late fall harvest. We are hoping the brussels are ready before the CSA ends, but for now the goal is to keep the bugs from devouring them.

A jungle of leeks.

The fall radishes (watermelon, black, green meat and daikon) are growing wonderfully but present another big task on our horizon. Like fall beets and carrots, these radishes need to be thinned, so each individual seedling has plenty of elbow room. These fall radishes grow to be more like the size of a turnip, very different then your bunched spring radishes.

Newly emerged radish seedlings; radishes under row cover awaiting thinning.

Looking ahead, we will be sending out an SOS for CSA volunteers to help us trim down our garlic and onions. They have been drying on racks (the onions), or in bundles hanging in the barn (the garlic), and are ready to be pruned to a presentable shape. We will email more details of this volunteer opportunity soon.

Sign-up sheets for our harvest festival on October 12th will be in the distribution room next week. We hope you’ll sign-up to bake a pie for our pie bake-off contest, or at least join us to taste and vote! This year we won’t just be giving out the trophy for the popular vote, but we’ll also have a panel of judges casting their vote for the Best Pie. We are also collecting children’s size clothing for scarecrow making. As you clean out your youngsters closets for back to school, keep us in mind. (Long sleeves and long pants preferred, the better to keep the straw in). Thanks!

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

There are a lot of great things about being a farmer, not the least of which is learning something new every single season. There is just no room for boredom if you are actively engaged with the earth. We ask our first year apprentices to keep a monthly list of skills learned. My list continues to grow, even after 14 seasons of farming under my belt.

New farm skills learned, 2013:
– Confidently drive The Big Tractors (including mowing with the bush-hog).
– Change tractor implements with the Jiffy-Hitch system.
– Back up the 14 foot box truck with precision.
– Maneuver and manage a weed-wacker for multiple hours (Not sure that’s a skill I want to own up to very often).
– Trellis field tomatoes on the weave (And I’m not quite sure how I avoided that one all these years!).

A few new managerial and organizational skills learned:
– Two harvest teams with team leaders are the way to go. Goofy team names can’t hurt either.
– Don’t do the next morning’s pick sheets in bed, but do them before dinner, even if that means dinner is at 8:30 pm.
– No matter how much needs to get done, set aside one day a week in summer to have an adventure with my daughter, like take the train to the art museum, sketch books in hand.

Other lessons:
– The value of the work I do is not just in growing food that nourishes bodies, but growing flowers that nourish souls.
– Some of the most fulfilling work for me is not harvesting carefully tended crops (though it is), but providing meaningful work to motivated hard-working high school kids- seeing them grow with us over the years, become part of our farm family, and head off into the world, our lives and theirs richer for the experience.

For the next 14 years there are still skills I strive to achieve:
– Learn to fix the antique Farmall CUB tractors myself.
– Rise early enough to meditate, and not judge when I don’t.
– Find more ways to farm alongside my husband, like we did for the first half of this adventure.
– Remember to say good morning to each person who works here, every single day, and not just say it, but look the person in the eye, and really see them.

But one skill that I find especially exciting is discovering a new crop to harvest from an old favorite. So that brings me to this week’s CSA share, and a new addition- sweet potato greens.

Like the garlic scape that comes from the top of the garlic bulb, by harvesting sweet potato greens we use almost the entire plant- how cool is that? The roots are familiar to all of us, and if you’ve ever seen them growing you know that each plant creates a massive carpet of vining greens on the surface. Tender, bright green, and tasty, the vines are typically turned back into the soil, feeding the earth, not us. Yet, we had heard rumor of other farms harvesting the greens for their CSA members, so we thought we’d give it a try.

We certainly weren’t the first to think of it. The young leaves and vine tips of sweet potatoes are widely consumed as a vegetable in both Africa and Asia. Nutritious with a lovely sweet flavor, they work well cooked quickly, like other tender greens. A simple traditional Filipino sweet potato leaves (or kamote) recipe calls for a 30 second blanch in boiling water. Pour a mixture of lemon juice, ginger, olive oil and soy sauce on the cooked greens and top with diced tomatoes and onions. Serve with white rice.

Let us know what you think, and share your recipes on facebook as you explore this new crop with us!

Post by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Photos by Megan Clymer.

EdamameFresh edamame is one of the unique foods us CSA members are lucky enough to receive each season, but what exactly is it and what the heck should we do with it? Edamame is simply an immature soybean, picked before it hardens on its branch. When it comes to soy foods, consuming them as close to their natural state as possible is a great rule of thumb. Edamame fits that bill perfectly, making it a fantastic addition to our meals.

As far as nutrition, edamame is considered by most as a “superfood,” chock full of health-boosting properties: It’s a good source of fiber, protein, thiamin, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, and a very good source of vitamin K, folate and manganese. Hard to believe all that nutrition is in such a little, baby bean!

Although edamame has been included for thousands of years in Asian diets, it’s relatively new to the American diet. The recipe below used an Asian-inspired dressing and healthy whole grains along with several CSA ingredients.

Asian Bulgur & Edamame SaladAsian Bulgur & Edamame Salad

Ingredients
1 cup bulgur (use quinoa for gluten-free version)
1 bunch of edamame, shelled* (~1 cup)
1 sweet pepper, small diced (~1/2 cup)
1 poblano pepper, small diced (~1/2 cup)
1/4 cup shallots, minced (scallions would also be good here)

Dressing
1/4 cup rice-wine vinegar
1 tbs tamari
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tsp powdered ginger (or, use fresh if you have it)
2 tbs sweet chili sauce
1 tsp agave (optional)
cilantro for garnish (optional)

* Edamame is much easier to shell after cooking. Add beans to a pot of boiling water and blanch 4-5 minutes. Drain and immediately put pods in ice water. When cool enough to handle, simply squeeze the pod until the beans pop out.

Method
Bring bulgur to boil in 2 cups of water, reduce to simmer, cover and cook 12-15 minutes, until water is absorbed.

Add edamame, peppers and shallots to a large bowl. Add cooked bulgur and stir to combine.

Whisk together dressing ingredients, and pour over the salad mixture, stirring well to combine. Taste and adjust dressing seasonings, adding a bit of sweetener, if needed.

Let cool and serve garnished with cilantro.

Post sources and recommended links:
Edamame‘s nutritional profile on Nutrition Data.
Soy beans on World’s Healthiest Foods.
12 easy edamame recipes on Eating Well.

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

Despite the cold nights the sun is shining at the farm, “Purple Sun” that is- a striking deep purple skinned potato with a gold flesh. Purple potatoes can be traced back thousands of years to their native Peru, where these violet colored gems were reserved for the Incan kings. They must have been on to something, because we now know these potatoes have exceptional health benefits, and they are even being cross bred to amplify their nutritional value. The purple spud’s pigment is courtesy of the antioxidant anthocyanin, which is responsible for the purple and blue color of fruits and veggies and for immune boosting, memory loss protection, anti-cancer and heart protection benefits. The Purple Sun potato has high levels of vitamin C- 40% of RDA per serving. And it’s super tasty- excellent for roasting and baking! I knew we ate like kings and queens – this just confirms it!

CSA share week 12, 8/13/13

The sweet peppers are finally starting to roll in- the orange and yellow sweet italian frying peppers we grow came from a breeding program in Holland specifically for organic agriculture. After years of frustration with bell peppers, we chanced upon these two varieties and have been hugely impressed with their flavor, yields and disease resistance. We liken the orange pepper to the sungold of sweet peppers- its just that sweet!

The rain has been wreaking a bit of havoc on our field tomatoes- the shoulders are cracking from the excessive moisture. Fruit set in temperatues over a hundred degrees can also result in mealy texture which you may be seeing in some of the tomatoes. And thanks to the cold nights (the low at the farm this week was 49 degrees!), all the heat loving crops like cherry tomatoes and summer squash have slowed to a screeching hault when it comes to ripening time. We will be able to offer our plum tomatoes again this season in bulk quantities for preserving- we grow them specifically for that reason. Keep an eye out for an email with more details.

The past few days we’ve been working to harvest the sweet potatoes before they suck up any more rain and become bigger than footballs. We are anticipating a harvest of over 8,000 pounds- or 4 tons! I can already taste those autumn soups.

Text and Photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Additional photos by Tom Murtha and Sam Malriat.

The cooler nights are a welcome reprieve from the heat of July. One fall crop that has loved the buckets of rain this season are the sweet potatoes. A little digging around revealed that they are getting HUGE, and it will soon be time to dig and cure these golden footballs.

The rain off and on continues to plague us- we are keeping an eye on our winter squash crop, as the luster of powdery mildew spreads on its vines. We just need the vines to stay alive and healthy enough until the fruit ripens completely.

All of our field onions and shallots are safely out of the ground and drying on racks in the greenhouses.

Our crew slowly starts to shrink this time of year as folks return to college and high school (or teaching elementary school). It’s a big crowd- an assortment of full and part timers whose collective energies make it all happen here at BGF! (Not pictured: Lexi, Robin, Missy, Jack, Dale and Carole, our assorted farmers market helpers, plus all our work trade volunteers~…)

This week we planted more fall broccoli and cauliflower and direct seeded into the field fall radishes: watermelon radishes, daikon, green meat and black radishes. Also planted were an assortment of fall greens: arugula, kale, dandelion, escarole and radicchio.

New in the share this week: edamame beans. To enjoy these tasty soybeans (or butterbeans as they are also called), take the pods off the plant and steam them until they turn a bright green, then plunge them in cold water. Toss in a bowl with sea salt, and enjoy by sliding the beans out of the pod with your teeth. A delicious nutritious snack!

Our cantaloupes have been on the softer side this season thanks to all the rain, and the fact that we grow a variety of cantaloupe that has great flavor but not such a hard exterior. Next year we will trial some new varieties. The watermelons also haven’t done so well with the moisture. Mikaela’s recipe this week features watermelon, but can easily be substituted with cantaloupe.

Looking ahead to fall, mark your calendars and save the date: Blooming Glen Farm’s annual harvest festival is always the second Saturday in October (late afternoon into evening): OCTOBER 12th!

We’ve got lots of fun in store for you- including an original puppet show by the farm crew revolving around the story of Paul Robeson, the inspirational man whom a delicious tomato is named after. Start planning your pie entry now- you could take home the trophy in our 4th annual popular pie bake-off contest! Live music, kids crafts, wagon rides, a potluck dinner and more at Blooming Glen Farm’s Harvest Festival. We hope you’ll join us on October 12th!

Text and Photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Additional photos by Rebecca Metcalf, Tom Murtha and Jenny Fujita.

Just as food effects our nutrition, it also effects our energy.  A classic example of this is how we feel after eating a fast food meal of a burger and fries, versus how we feel after eating a home-cooked meal of, say, baked fish and steamed veggies. Processed foods, high in unhealthy fats and carbs and low in nutrients, not only overwork our bodies, but also provide very little value, leaving us feeling heavy and tired.  They’re like the mooch of the food world — taking a lot of our bodies resources and giving nothing in return.

We can think also apply this food-mood connection to individual foods. Some foods warm us up; onion, ginger, oats.  Some foods ground us; carrots, meats, beets.  And, some foods are cooling, including several of the items in our Blooming Glen share over the past couple weeks.  Funny how mother nature makes available cooling foods right when we need them, right? 🙂

The recipe below uses two cooling ingredients, watermelon and cucumber.  We’ve talked about the nutrition of watermelon in the blog before. Both watermelon and cucumber have been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making them a great addition to our bodies’ toolbox for fighting illness and disease.  Plus, as we all know, they taste great! Note, you can also easily substitute cantaloupe, another cooling and refreshing melon, for the watermelon in the recipe.

watermelon cucumber salad

Cooling Watermelon & Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

4 cups cubed watermelon (or cantaloupe)
1 cucumber, cut in half and sliced thin (leave skin on)
1/4 cup shallots or  sweet onion, minced
2 tbs fresh mint, minced (plus extra for garnish, if desired)
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs balsamic vinegar (or, try 2 tbs lime juice for a gluten-free version)
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: feta cheese

Method
Combine watermelon, cucumber and onion in a bowl. Combine mint, oil, vinegar, and a dash of salt and pepper in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add dressing to the watermelon mixture and toss gently to coat. Garnish with mint and/or feta cheese, if desired. Serve atop raw greens for extra nutrition and substance.

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!