Blooming Glen Farm | On The Farm
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On The Farm

Here’s what’s happening on the farm: the crops are pouring in, but the weeds are growing just as fast. The continual wet weather is keeping our tractor cultivators out of the fields, which puts a damper on things. We are certainly at a scale where it is just impossible to hand weed the entire farm, so certain crops can and do fall by the wayside. Typically bare ground, direct sown crops are the hardest to manage in a wet season: carrots, arugula, broccoli raab, and radishes for example. Transplanted crops have the advantage of height and resiliency, so they have a head start on the weeds. Sometimes we are able to undersow a cover crop, like in this kale field. The undersown crop out competes the weeds, providing a living mulch.

The pick-your-own flower fields are in full bloom right now. It is a magical spot to be as the sun is setting, or on an early misty morning (though an extreme downpour soon followed that picturesque moment).

Our farm solstice blessing was a beautiful opportunity to stop and mark the changing of the seasons. Especially here on the farm it does mark the peak of the flurry of planting activity that begins for us with the sowing of the first seeds in early March. With the approach of the summer solstice we race to get the long season crops planted, for we know after the solstice the days start to shorten ever so slightly and the window of plant growth begins to narrow.

You wouldn’t know it though by observing the summer squash. This plentiful crop requires our constant vigilance- harvesting happens every other day. Picking squash requires a team of six- 4 pickers, one packer and one tractor driver. The cucumbers are on the same picking schedule. Lots of bending over- down to the ground, up to the conveyor, over and over again, every other day.

July on our farm means long days, at least 7am to 6pm, but sometimes stretching to 7 or 8pm. Almost every morning we are doing some sort of harvesting, trying to beat the midday heat. Make hay while the sun shines, or as pictured below, harvest celery before it’s too freaking hot.  Some days feel like we are just treading water, and every moment is trouble shooting a new problem, from leaking drip tape to broken trucks, tractor implements, I-phones and ez-ups. But then there are the triumphs, the beneficial insects released at the right moment in the beans, and the moments of joy- the taste of a sweet yellow wax bean, the beauty of the bright gold sunflowers against the vibrant blue sky.

In addition to our regular daily harvests for the CSA and markets and wholesale, we have to squeeze in the harvest of crops that will be done all at once, for storage and later distribution. Our garlic harvest went smoothly, and this year we were able to protect them from the allium leaf miner insect, which was a huge triumph. The crop is currently laid out on tables in our friend’s barn, drying down. Soon we will harvest all our onions, also to be cured. Currently however, we are all enjoying the beautiful fresh onions, such a wonderful seasonal treat.

The big question on everyone’s mind is, where are the tomatoes? It’s like a watched pot over here at the farm! The pick-your-own cherry tomatoes are just starting this week for the CSA, and the greenhouse heirlooms are beginning to trickle in…we’ll have a few on the roadstand and at market this week.

The field tomatoes look beautiful, and, very green! Yes, they are certainly behind schedule. We didn’t change anything on our end from previous years, but mother nature sure sent us a curve ball. With the cool wet spring, and overall cooler temps so far this season, their growth and ripening has definitely been delayed. But have no fear, we will all be swimming in the tomato bounty soon enough and you’ll be begging for it to stop 😉

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner  (Photos 1, 4 & 5 contributed by Matthew LaVergne). Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 12th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.

What a wacky spring. Seems like we had better weather back in February. Though wacky is kind of the norm for our spring’s here in southeastern PA, the month of May has certainly been a mixed bag- from upper 90’s, lather on the sunscreen and break out the heat stress training guide kind of days, alternating with cold sweatshirt weather, ferocious wind, and pouring rain. This spring has certainly been cooler overall, so things are growing slowwwwly. The first few weeks of the CSA may be on the lighter side, but don’t worry, we’ll make up for it in the long run!

Our amazing farm crew has been jamming this spring, putting in long hours to stay on top of our to-do lists. From hand transplanting and weeding, trellising, tractor cultivating, seeding, thinning, hoeing, field and bed prep, tractor maintenance, harvesting, stooping, bending, shoveling, repeat, repeat, repeat.

We’d love to introduce you to all your farmers, so we will be featuring them here in the coming weeks. With the exception of just two of our crew members (in addition to Tom and myself) we have a whole new farm crew this season. So that means everyone is learning tons of new skills every day, especially spending many many days this spring tacking down row covers in the wind, (practicing remaining calm and good natured while tacking down row covers in the wind), to re-tacking down row covers the next day (and still remaining calm and good natured while tacking down those darn row covers every few days). Offering protection from cold weather and from insects, at times it felt like the majority of the farm was under row covers.

Skills can be taught but to maintain a positive attitude through the orchestrated chaos that is farming, that one is the most important skill, and not necessarily one we can teach. Thankfully farming is a job best suited for optimists, as every day something can and will go wrong and if you’re someone who focuses on the negative, you won’t get very far. True in much of life, I’m sure, but farming certainly has a way of exposing raw truths of human nature.

It’s amazing to see how much has been planted in the short window of time since winter started to wind down and the fields dried out. It’s only been two months, but we’ve got an incredible amount of food out in the fields growing. Tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, squash, cucumbers, lettuce, fennel, onions, beets, carrots, turnips, radishes, potatoes, kale, chard, cabbage, sweet corn, sweet potatoes and so much more.

We are very excited for the CSA to begin next week. We look forward to the shifting energy on the farm (it’s so quiet without you all!) as we welcome the energy and enthusiasm of the hundreds of families heading to the farm each week to take home and enjoy the fruits of our labors. You can look forward to strawberries, kale, bok choy, spinach, lettuce, scallions, and garlic scapes the first week.

The CSA will begin:

  • Tuesday May 30 and Thursday June 1 for on-farm full shares (weekly pick-up) and half shares week A (every other week pick-up).
  • Tuesday June 6 and Thursday June 8 for half shares week B (every other week pick-up).
  • Wednesday May 31 for all delivery shares (weekly delivery of medium and large boxes).

Please pay your balance by June 1st. Please kindly be sure that you have at least paid your down payment prior to your first pick-up.

Remember to “subscribe” to our blog if you wish to receive email notification when new blog posts go live on our website. The blog is a great way to stay connected with what is happening out in the field. You can also follow us on Facebook or Instagram. We will post a labeled photo of the share on Facebook every Tuesday afternoon so that you can refer to that in case you are unsure what veggies you got. If you are someone who prefers to know a day or two in advance what you are getting in the share, then you would be better off choosing Thursday pick-up.

New to eating fresh veggies? Check out the cookbook we have for sale, From Asparagus to Zucchini. In this classic cookbook of seasonal eating you will find lots of storage tips for each vegetable, as well as fantastic recipes. Keep an eye on our blog for recipes and cooking tips!

On farm pick-up reminders:

  • Please make sure you are aware of your assigned pick-up day and week (A or B if you are a half share) and come on the correct day during the correct hours (between 1 and 7:30pm: **Do not come before 1pm, as we need every minute of the morning to get everything harvested, washed and put out in the distribution room. We clean up at 7:30pm, so please come before 7:30 and allow yourself to have enough time to be finished gathering your share by 7:30pm.) If you need to switch pick-up days permanently please let us know asap. If you just need to switch for one week, let us know via email by Sunday at 7pm of the week you wish to switch. You do not need to let us know if someone else will be picking up the share for you- just make sure they sign in for you.
  • We have a new page on our website which is displaying an event calendar. In addition to classes, chef demos and farm events, you will see the CSA schedule posted there, with color coding for weeks A and B (in case you forget where we are in the rotation). We’ve got lots of great stuff planned so check it out!
  • BYOB- Bring your own Bags/Baskets/Box for picking up your share.
  • Please remember to locate the sign-in sheet FIRST, and sign-in BEFORE picking up your share.
  • There will be strawberries to pick the first few weeks of the CSA season. Please wear the proper footwear for heading out to the fields (depending on the weather, the fields can be very muddy). We will provide a quart container to pick into, but we ask you to leave it at the farm, so bring your own container or tupperware to take your strawberries home in.
  • There is a port-potty and hand washing station located in the parking lot by the silo if you should need the restroom while you are at the farm.

 

Interested in a Fruit Share?  New for 2017: A 12-week CSA Fruit Share membership from our friends at North Star Orchard (in Chester County, Pa), which you’ll be able to pick up here at the farm on CSA day!  We encourage you to take a look at what the share has to offer here: https://northstarorchard.com/fruit-share This is not ordinary fruit, but unique and heritage varieties which are full of flavor: plums with pizazz, perfect peaches, amazing Asian pears, great (seedless) grapes, astounding apples, and a sprinkling of heritage pear varieties. North Star Orchard grows no standard varieties, but rather heritage and super-flavorful varieties which you’ve likely never heard of and will knock your socks off! Sign up directly with North Star on their website: https://northstarorchard.com/csa-locations-signup, or if you need to reach them directly, email Lisa@northstarorchard.com And for a quick view of North Star Orchard itself, enjoy this 90-second bird’s eye view: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izdj6VIWyao

Interested in a certified organic pastured meat share? Sign up with our friends and neighbors in Sellersville, Pa: Hershberger Heritage Farm. You may have met Nate Hershberger last season, he was a regular here at the farm, set up in the parking lot on Tuesday and Thursday afternooons with his offerings of fresh certified organic pastured chicken, pork and eggs. He’ll be back again on Tuesdays and Thursdays during CSA pick-ups. However, if you join his new “Free Range” CSA, this flexible model gives members access to their provisions at a significant discount (10-15% off retail prices), and the flexibility of purchasing exactly what and how much you’d like throughout the season. For more information and to sign-up, click here http://www.hhf.farm/csa-info

Interested in a Bread Share? Bakers on Broad in Souderton will be offering their delicious artisan bread shares again this season. (Full shares will be delivered weekly, half shares will be delivered every other week on your corresponding pick-up days). The cost for the bread share is $5/ week for full shares ($120 total) and $5.50 for half shares ($65 total)- one loaf is delivered each time. The breads you will enjoy include: Spelt, Whole Wheat, Sesame Semolina, Italian, Olive, German Rye, Country Grain and many more! To register, click here for the sign-up form. You will need to print and fill out, then mail to Bakers on Broad with a check, or call them for credit card payment. All information is on the form.

*Fruit, meat and bread shares are only available to CSA members picking up at Blooming Glen Farm in Perkasie.

We are looking forward to a great 2017 farm season! See you soon!

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner  (*Header photo by Matt LaVergne). Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 12th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.

The sun is shining and the birds are singing their songs of spring. Our greenhouse is bursting at the seams with beautiful plants. Now is the dance as we wait until the ground dries out enough to begin working the soil, sowing seeds in the fields and transplanting crops. In the warm and sunny greenhouse, Brienn pictured above and below left, is busy with the weekly sowing, moving flats around to make room as things gets more and more crowded, keeping the babies watered and happy. Our peas are beginning to sprout. Sowing them into flats and transplanting them enables us to get perfect germination, and stay on schedule despite the soggy soil. Peter, pictured below right, is in the barn dealing with the annual overflow of equipment, getting things organized, repaired and ready so when the time comes we can focus on planting.

Amidst the sounds of the melting snow, we ushered in spring with a beautiful vernal equinox blessing at the farm last weekend. Rebekah Barnes of Rooted Rhythms gathered us in a circle to honor the spirit of the land, the sky and within, moving us towards the directions and their corresponding elements. As we turned to the south we rubbed our hands together, feeling the heat generated by our own bodies, the fire within. To the west, as we licked our lips, we felt the water within and how it is connected to the waters around the world. Turning to the north, we felt the strength and stability of our own body, connected to the earth and hugged ourselves, feeling our solid presence. To the east we took a deep breath, inhaled, exhaled, feeling the breath of life in our body and around us.

I spoke of the wonder of the soil, and had everyone take a handful to feel and smell, and to offer up a blessing for the season ahead. In just one handful of soil there are more soil microbes than there are people on the earth!  These are the unsung heroes of our farm. These tiny microscopic creatures, the billions of bacteria, yards of fungal filaments, thousands of protozoa and nematodes, all lead incredibly active lives. They are a little more sluggish in the winter, but like us, they are waking up with the warmth of spring. And they each have incredibly important jobs to do. We take care of the soil so that it can do its important work and together we can raise healthy strong plants.

Did you know that snow contains nitrogen which can benefit the soil? As precipitation falls through the atmosphere it collects atmospheric nitrogen. When snow collects on thawed soil, it slowly melts, allowing a slow release of nitrogen into the soil profile, adding to the total nitrogen content that the microbes then convert to plant available forms.

We ended the vernal equinox ritual by making a spiral out of branches against the blanket of snow. Wood is an element of spring. The power of wood is gentle, persistent, and filled with creative potential. It has the power of both being and becoming. Thank you Rebekah for bringing this to our farm, and I am already looking forward to the summer solstice ritual on June 21 at 7pm.

CSA shares are still available! Please spread the word and help us expand our community. Those first juicy strawberries will be here before we know it! And for your friends that may have their own vegetable garden, let them know we are offering pick-your-own flower shares. For 10-weeks of pick-your-own bouquets, this is a wonderful opportunity to connect to nature in a field of blooms. In these tumultuous times, it is certainly my happy place, to be out in the flowers, under the rosy glow of the setting sun.

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.  (*Vernal equinox blessing photos by pro photographer Vanessa Lassin.) Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 12th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.

The weather outside on the farm may be variable, with warm temperatures feeling like spring then cold windy days reminding us we still have 3 weeks of winter, but inside the propagation greenhouse it’s consistently beautiful and balmy. The tables are starting to fill up already as the sowing for this season has begun. The onions are the biggest wave of flats so far…200 cell trays, 1 seed per cell- hundreds spread across the tables, germinating on the warm coils of 70 degree water. Spring greens, early tomatoes, flowers, celery, parsley, slowly we move through the excel spread sheet seeding plan that we labored over this winter.

Here on our hilltop in Hilltown the wind can blow fierce and strong- our greenhouses take a constant beating. We reskinned one house that lost its cover in the worst of the storm, and are replacing two others that have ripped in the past year. We have grown accustomed to this part of farming here on this land…the howling wind used to keep us up at night. Now we roll with it a little better, for that which you can’t control is best let go.

The winter planning component is behind us, our annual organic certification paperwork has been submitted, seeds and supplies ordered. As CSA memberships steadily flow in we are thankful, for that income in the spring carries us until the crops can be harvested.

Winter is also the time for developing and tweaking systems of efficiency- be it tractor and equipment maintenance schedules and logs, creating food safety systems, planning for a larger cooler and wash facility, revising employee job descriptions and hiring practices…all the components that may not necessarily be horticultural, but come together to make our business stronger, safer and more efficient.

We are looking forward to trying some new crops this season. We are excited to plant asparagus in the spring. It will be a few years until this perennial is ready for harvest, and during those few years we will have to be vigilant with weeding and watering, but we are hopeful it will do well and reward our patience.

We are also looking forward to some new events and classes at the farm this season. We are partnering with my dear friend Rebekah Barnes of Rooted Rhythms for a series of short equinox and solstice blessings to be held out on the farm- one in spring, summer, fall and winter. We hope you’ll join us in the opportunity to connect with the rhythm of nature and the energy of the earth. The first event, a vernal equinox family ritual, will be held on Sunday afternoon, March 19, at 3pm so save the date! We will post event details on facebook very soon.

We are also planning a vegetable fermentation class with Amanda Feifer from Phickle in Philadelphia, scheduled for Wed. evening, June 7th, details coming soon. This class was a huge hit when we held it a number of years ago.  Fermentation is all the rage, and it’s so simple and easy to incorporate into your weekly routine. And it’s a fantastic nutritional way to use up your CSA share! Amanda is the author of the must-have book,  “Ferment Your Vegetables: A Fun and Flavorful Guide to Making Your Own Pickles, Kimchi, Kraut, and More”.

Enjoy winter’s last hoorah- spring will be here before we know it!

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.  Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 12th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.

As the weather turns to freezing and the ground hardens, the wind howls and the landscape grays, our preparation for 2017 begins in earnest. The heavy fabric row covers are draped over the strawberry plants, a thick layer of leaf mulch is spread on the garlic and the greenhouses are battened down for gusty weather. We will be spending (quite a lot of) time entering our crop harvest records into a computer program, then the seed catalog ogling and ordering will begin. Planting charts from last season will be analyzed and edited. Adjustments in timing will be made, and the complicated game of crop rotation chess will begin.

Taking a cue from the energy of the earth drawing inward, we like to use this time to reflect back on the past season. Typically we talk about crops that have done well, and those that failed. Bugs that plagued us, and lessons learned (and there was plenty of both). Over the years we’ve seen all sorts of weather events- hail and wind, lightning strikes, drought and downpours, frost too early and frost too late. This year was hands down the hottest farm season we can remember in our 18 years of farming. It was hard on both the plants, and on the farmers. Not hard as in drink some water, put on your sunscreen and your straw hat, and head on out there. Hard as in, how do we prevent heat stroke, how do we keep this farm growing and producing food? I am quite sure we are only beginning to see the tip of the (rapidly growing) iceberg of challenges that we will face farming in a changing climate. Politics and that little thing called scientific evidence aside, ask anyone who does manual labor outside, day in and day out, where there is no thermostat, and you’ll find plenty of anecdotal evidence for global warming.

It’s scary and it’s overwhelming. But wait, there’s actually some really good news. By supporting organic agriculture you are doing your part to combat climate change. Really? Yes!! Numerous studies have demonstrated that a switch from conventional to organic farming methods can decrease the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Nitrogen heavy chemical fertilizers used in conventional agriculture are a serious contributor of N2O (nitrous oxide) production- a major greenhouse gas. In addition, chemical fertilizers damage the mycorrhizal and microbial interactions that store carbon in the soil. A 30 year study by the Rodale Institute proved the soil’s ability to reverse climate change, but only when the health of the soil is maintained through organic regenerative agriculture. That’s the kind of agriculture we do, the kind that uses cover crops, residue mulching, composting, crop rotation and conservation tillage. Take cover crops for example- crimson clover, tillage radishes, rye, vetch and buckwheat are some of our favorites. There are a lot of reasons to grow cover crops- erosion control, nutrient management, attracting beneficial insects and increased soil organic matter. But now when I look out over the sea of green on our fields I see a blanket of carbon sequestration.

Plants need CO2 to grow, so through photosynthesis they suck carbon out of the air. What the plant doesn’t need for growth is exuded through the roots to feed soil organisms, whereby the carbon is humified, or rendered stable. Carbon is the main component of soil organic matter and helps give soil its water-retention capacity, its structure, and its fertility. And that’s a win win for us. Using methods of organic agriculture not only reduces atmospheric CO2, it boosts soil productivity and increases resilience to floods and droughts.

So if your own health isn’t reason enough, let’s really start to think and talk about how this community of eaters is doing a vitally important job in supporting the health of these 40 plus acres of soil.  Soil is an incredible thing. A teaspoon of soil contains more living organisms than there are people on earth! And these 40 acres of organically managed soils at Blooming Glen Farm, in our little corner of Bucks County, can convert carbon from a greenhouse gas into a food-producing asset. As my dad would say, that’s turning a setback into a comeback. Since the first day that I discovered agriculture as a way to speak my truth in the work that I do, I have been motivated by a desire to do meaningful work on a local level. Moving out of 2016 and looking toward 2017 I look up a bit from my grassroots focus and recognize with more gravity the global importance of the work we do here. One in which good healthy food, a result of good healthy soil, is just one of many benefits.

So take a moment and go on over to our website and register for the 2017 season. If you register by March 1st you will receive an early bird discount, so don’t delay. That early bird discount is a thank you to those folks who make that commitment to us in the off-season, in those cold wintry months when you may not be thinking of sweet spring strawberries and sugar snap peas, and juicy summer tomatoes and watermelons, but we are. That’s our job, and that’s what we do in the “off-season”. We do all that planning and tweaking of plans, and supply ordering and hiring. And we couldn’t do it without your support and commitment to help us pay those bills in the winter and early spring. Farming is a crazy business, all that work and investment has to happen months and months before the first seed even hits the ground, then it’s months and months more before that seed becomes a marketable crop. But it will! If our 11 years growing here at Blooming Glen Farm has taught us anything it is that a seed wants to grow, and if we do our part to help it along its way, the avalanche of crops will follow.

We are excited to have a new addition to our offerings this upcoming season. We will be offering a pick-your-own flower share. This will be an add-on for delivery share members who may want the opportunity to come out to the farm and pick a bouquet of flowers, or for those folks who might have their own garden and therefore are not interested in the veggie share, but would like to partake of just the pick-your-own flowers. More information can be found on our website. (*Folks who register for the CSA share with pick-up at the farm in Perkasie will continue to receive PYO flowers as a part of that share, so you do not need to register for the additional flower share).

Spread the word. Tell your friends. Register now. We need you. The soil needs you. The earth needs you. Thank you for your continued support. We wish you and your loved ones a joyful, healthy new year in a world where peace and love for one another and for this beautiful planet prevails.

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.  Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 11th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.

The signs of autumn are here. The warm color of the light at dawn, as the sun breaks through the mist. The view from our hilltop of the golden hued trees shedding their leaves. We shift to a later start, an extra hour to sleep, or plan, or sip coffee, as we move toward darker and colder mornings. Sweatshirts and muck boots and warm layers abound.  Fields that sat empty during the drought are able to get tilled and seeded with cover crop seed, as a stretch of rainy days has finally moistened the earth. Out into the fields we spin seed- crimson clover, rye, vetch- a mix depending on our plans for next year, or the needs of the soil in that particular field. Out on the farm we are cleaning up the fields of summer crops, cutting down the cherry tomato and eggplant trellis twine, removing stakes and lifting mulch.

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Our annual organic inspection was last week, another marker of the passage of time. Though this was the third year, we still get excited and a little nervous. We do enjoy the challenge of the audit where we trace a crop from seed to sale- on a 40 acre farm growing dozens of different crops it is no small task tracking everything that happens over the course of a season. We look at it as a fantastic opportunity to test our record keeping systems, to see where we need change and improvement. And we enjoy chatting with the inspector, hearing about the greater organic community which we can often lose sight of during the mayhem of our farm’s personal challenges.

Looking ahead to the remaining weeks of our season, we have garlic to plant, fall greens and roots to continue to harvest. Our sweet potatoes are out and curing in the warm greenhouse. The last of our potatoes will be dug as soon as the ground dries. Winter radishes and fennel will soon follow.

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The vegetables are a reflection of what our body needs to eat as the weather turns. Nutrient packed greens fortify us, winter squash contains the summer rays in its golden flesh. Celeriac, turnips, beets, carrots, radishes- all roots, ground us. Root vegetables are a true comfort food, delicious and satisfying, they fulfill carb cravings and often a sweet tooth- think beets, carrots and sweet potatoes- without bombarding our body with sugar. They are a powerhouse of nutrition, packed with vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytonutrients, from the lowly turnip to the earthy beet.

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In our CSA share and on our farm stand this week you’ll find kabocha squash- this is my favorite squash to eat, and that’s coming from someone that really loves winter squash. Acorn, delicata, butternut, they all have their place, and their recipes are in a steady rotation in our house, but oh so sweet kabocha, with your beautiful blue gray skin, you’re the one we hoard and store for the winter, the one my daughter requests the most. You are definitely the least well known and perhaps most under appreciated of all the winter squash we grow. So I am here to sing your praises. Enjoy kabocha while we have it! This Japanese pumpkin is an excellent source of beta-carotene- just look at that bright orange flesh! I halve or quarter it, roast, scoop out of its flesh and mash and eat as a side with our greens. No need to add a thing! So incredibly moist and delicious all on its own.

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The fall greens are abundant and beautiful- kale, collards and swiss chard, broccoli raab, arugula, and those magnificent beet greens. If you do one thing for yourself and your health, eating your greens should be it. Sauté, add to a soup or blend them raw in a smoothie. Find ways to incorporate them into your daily diet and you will see and feel a difference in your well being.

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Our spaghetti sauce and ketchup is ready for sale…made almost entirely from ingredients grown on our farm. It was prepared and bottled locally by The Bauman Family in Sassmansville, Pa. This historic apple butter factory has been in their family since the late 1800s. A massive wood fired cast iron boiler from 1926 sends steam through the copper coils that heat up the vats of tomatoes (or apples).  It is quite an amazing operation! We hope you’ll purchase a sauce or ketchup to enjoy this winter- they taste fantastic and make great gifts.  The labels were designed by Michael Alan, an artist from Philadelphia. He has just completed the illustrations for a beautiful cookbook/history book, Colonial Spirits. Truly a collaboration, and an extension of the season, that we are so excited to share with you!

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Important CSA dates: Tuesday Nov. 8 and Thursday Nov. 10 is the final week of CSA pick-ups for full shares, and week B half shares. Tuesday Nov. 1 and Thursday Nov. 3 is the last week for week A half shares. The last boxed delivery shares will go out Wed. Nov 9.

Please note: *We will be taking this season off from holding our annual harvest festival in order to get inspired and energized for the 2017 season.

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.  Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 11th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.

Hurricane Hermine brought us a whole lot of nothing in the way of rainfall.  The dry weather continues, with an added dose of late summer high temps reaching the hundreds over the next few days. The spiking temperatures are pushing along our late tomato planting, just as the first rotation dips off. Hopefully that means we won’t have much of a gap in the tomato harvest. Jeff is pictured here mixing up a fish kelp and sea salt fertilizer to run through the drip lines of the tomato plants. It is a mild concentration to support plant growth during fruit set.

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The summer crops of peppers and eggplants are peaking, and we are getting back into harvesting some of the fall greens- currently rainbow swiss chard, tuscan and curly kale.

With weather this dry we have to keep the irrigation pipes moving. Since the only moisture in the ground is coming from the morning dew, we need to irrigate to get the direct sown crops to germinate and continue growing. Pictured in the very top photo are teeny carrot seedlings in the beds to the left of the irrigation pipe and larger beets on the right.

We’ve also direct sown purple top and hukurei turnips (we’ll be harvesting the hakurei’s in the next week or so), broccoli raab, arugula, and winter radishes- (pictured below).

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The harvest of our popcorn crop has begun… we grew a larger eared variety this year so we could run it though a hand crank popcorn sheller, and prevent a lot of blisters from getting the kernels off with small hand tools. We are excited to try the three new varieties we chose- Dakota Black, Pennsylvania Dutch Butter Flavored and Calico.

Many of our CSA members have seen our note attached to the onions we are giving out in the share. You may remember this spring we mentioned the appearance of a new insect to our region- Pennsylvania experienced a “First in the Nation” sighting (lucky us) of the allium leafminer, introduced from Europe. The Department of Ag used our farm as an observation site- monitoring the bugs life cycle with sticky traps. Unfortunately the dire warnings were well founded. In addition to losses we experienced in the spring onions, we are seeing major damage in our storage onions as well as garlic. We made the decision not to plant leeks this fall until there is more information about how to prevent infestations- I can guarantee you it will be a hot topic at the PASA conference this winter. The onions you are receiving in the share are not the best quality. But we decided to give them out quickly, with the thought you can cut off any bad spots, rather than us composting them all. As our note read, if this is not to your liking, it’s probably best you don’t take them from the share.

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CSA share 9/6/16 (week #15/A). Top photo on-farm pick-up, bottom left large box share delivery, bottom right medium box share delivery.

The winter squash harvest is complete- it was a bountiful butternut year, along with kabocha and delicata. Kristin Moyer did a chef demo Tuesday at the farm featuring grilled spaghetti squash, acorn squash and root veggies, with herbs and greens that was absolutely delicious. We will be posting her recipes shortly. We will also share recipes from today’s demo with personal Chef Rich Baringer.

And last but not least I feel I need to introduce our resident spider. Or should I say spiders. We are now up to three spiders greeting you as you walk down the path next to the CSA distribution room (they are along the wall of the red shed, under the pear trees). They’ve been there for a number of weeks, happily stringing their beautiful webs and catching lots of bugs, being the subjects of lots of photographs and attention. They are orb weaver spiders, specifically yellow garden spiders (or zipper spider as I’ve always called them), argiope aurantia, and all three are females. They make a vertical zigzag band or zipper, above and below the middle of the web. They are not dangerous to humans, and are unlikely to bite unless provoked (best to observe from a distance, as we do want them to stay).

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Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.  Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 11th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.

As you can probably imagine, this has been a challenging few weeks (month??!) working on the farm. Whether in the fields, the pack house or at the farmers markets, it has been incredibly hot and humid. And August is a pretty busy and bountiful time at the farm so there isn’t really an option to close up shop and take it easy. The summer crops are rolling in- especially the tomatoes, peppers and melons. Unfortunately the greens have suffered- lettuces that usually hold up to the heat have bolted, though with temperatures feeling like 110, that’s really not a surprise. We do plant lettuce every 10 days, so hopefully the next rotation will make it to harvest (this heat wave has to break soon, right?!). As we are harvesting the summer crops, we are also harvesting our winter squash, before it literally bakes in the field. The acorn squash will be picked today, followed soon by the delicata squash and butternuts.

We are also trying to plant and nurture more crops for the fall. Bug pressure was severe and we lost our cabbage planting, but the beets and carrots that were direct sown at the end of last week are already up and growing (thank goodness for those late day thunderstorms…even though we did get some crazy wind and a few minutes of hail, the cooling drench of rain for the plants was worth it), and the fall kale and chard is looking promising. Fennel is in and growing, as are turnips and fall radishes, and our late planting of tomatoes should have us enjoying them until the first frost.

You may hear a loud boom going off periodically while you are here at the farm. This is our noise-making corn cannon. This is the only effective prevention we have found to keep the flocks of blackbirds from chomping on the tips of sweet corn. It’s amazing how quickly and how extensively they can decimate a ripe field of sweet corn, as we saw with the last planting, where we were only able to give out 3 ears to each CSA member, and had none for market :(.

A number of our summer employees head out this week and next, back to school (and air conditioned classrooms?!). A big thanks to college students Clayton, Ian and Matty and elementary school teacher Mr. Grace, for all their hard work this summer, as well as high school students Ryan and Spencer.

Thank you all for supporting our farm- for coming out to the farmers markets even when it’s hot (because let me tell you it was an effort these past few weeks to get it all picked and packed, and there’s nothing worse than no customers at the market!), for our neighbors for visiting our little roadside farm stand and introducing themselves and sharing their appreciation, for our CSA customers coming out to the farm with smiles each week, for heading out into the heat to do your pick-your-owns (and getting a tiny taste of what a farmer’s work day is like), for sharing your recipes and cooking successes, for taking home our produce and eating it!

In the share this week: Spaghetti squash! Check out this previous blog post, Spaghetti Squash 100 ways, for cooking suggestions. The delicious sweet frying peppers are back- such a great raw snack, or add to your sautés. And have you tried the Eggplant Basil Sandwiches in From Asparagus to Zucchini? (Check out the farm copy in the distribution room, or purchase one for your reference- only $20 each). These “sandwiches” are a favorite of farm volunteer Megan Clymer!

The plum tomatoes are prolific- these we reserve to sell in bulk as a nod to all the canners and preservers in our community. They are still available in 25 pound boxes for $25. A steal for certified organic delicious roma tomatoes, these will be available for at least another week (email us to order). Be sure to try my favorite technique of halving, tossing in olive oil, sprinkling with salt and oven roasting at low heat (@225 degrees) for a number of hours or all day. Then put the whole tray in the freezer and pop them into freezer bags for those winter months when you want a little taste of summer.

A favorite recipe of mine using ingredients from this week’s share: Creamed Sweet Corn with Poblanos . This recipe was posted in our blog a few years past by Jana Smart, a former employee who worked with us for two years. She met her future husband here, Dave Koschak, and they are now living, working and homesteading in Vermont. Jana just opened a food truck in East Albany, Vermont selling her delectable farm to table meals and baked goods: check out her mobile cafe’s facebook page for a little envious drooling. As a recipient of many of her wonderful creations when she lived here at the farm, I am sure she will be a smashing success! Many of her recipes are featured on our blog- I encourage you to search by ingredient to find lots of tasty ideas.

Closer to home, Kristin Moyer who also cooked and blogged for us two years ago has started a pop-up kitchen in Perkasie on Tuesday nights. She sources her ingredients locally- most of her veggies are from our farm- and posts her menu on Friday on her website, Carcass and Roughage. You can also sign up on her website to be on her email list. You can then either pre-order (or not) and pick-up a delicious dinner at Down to Earth Café in Perkasie (the site of her pop-up kitchen) Tuesdays from 6-8 pm. What a wonderful community resource! We hope to have her back at the farm soon doing a cooking demo and tasting.

The creators of our favorite farm to table cookbook, From Asparagus to Zucchini has a new cookbook out! I just got a copy, Farm-Fresh and Fast: Easy Recipes and Tips for Making the Most of Fresh, Seasonal Foods, and I’m so excited to order a bunch to offer for sale to you all. This one even has seasonal cocktails, like one called Sungolds. So if you’re not sure what to do with all your cherry tomatoes, well this is certainly a new twist!

Ingredients (makes one)
4 sungold cherry tomatoes
1-2 thinly sliced jalapeno rings
3 teaspoons honey syrup (3:1 honey and water- combine in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until incorporated. Stir excess in fridge)
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
2 ounces gin
1 sprig cilantro, for garnish

Muddle the sungold cherry tomatoes, jalapeno and honey syrup in a cocktail shaker. (*To muddle is to crush ingredients to release their flavors into a drink. The technique is similar to using a mortar and pestle to crush herbs for cooking). Add the lemon juice, gin and some ice and sharply shake. Double strain into an ice-filled glass and garnish with a sprig of cilantro.

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.  Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 11th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.

This is the time of year when we just try our best to hang on tight and survive the ride. The fields get fuzzy around the edges as all non-essential and semi-essential projects are neglected, our summer help of college and high school kids desert us for vacations and back to school, and the few full time full season employees we have left that survived one of the hottest summers I can remember are pretty darn tired. But it’s August on a vegetable farm! That’s peak harvest season for the summer crops and we still need to look ahead and plan for fall. Harvest, harvest, harvest! That’s about all we seem to have time for these days, with a bit of trellising and planting thrown in when we can fit it.

The field tomatoes waited for the cooler weather to ripen- people think well, it’s hot out, the tomatoes must love it, but actually the optimum temperature for tomato ripening is between 68-77 degrees. Anything above (or below) that will slow down the process. And it certainly was way above 77 degrees for the last month! But not anymore- this afternoon we harvested 1,245 pounds of red beefsteak tomatoes. Then it was onto the green bell peppers (the sweet fryers are a week or so away), and off to plant some fall fennel and greens.

The winter squash is looking to be a bumper crop, which is perfect, as our summer squash is winding down. Earlier this week we harvested all the spaghetti squash, so look for that coming up in your share and at markets this weekend- a nice change from all the zucchini heavy meals I know I’ve been making! The acorn and delicata squash look amazing, as do the butternuts and kabocha. Speaking of fall, the sweet potatoes are vining out nicely (see photo below).

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Enough talk about fall! It is still summer, and we have watermelon on the horizon- lots of gigantic red ones and some super sweet orange ones as well. The cantaloupes this week were smaller than we would have liked (this planting was one that went through that late frost way back in mid-May, and just never bounced back), but they are still super sweet and tasty- keep them in the fridge and eat them soon.

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Another summer time favorite, the Italian eggplant, is beautiful this year- big glossy purple globes. The sweet corn has been awesome (this week’s yellow variety is definitely the best corn I’ve ever eaten), and we hope to have a few more weeks of it (if we can get the corn cannon going to scare off all the blackbirds that like to munch on the tips- argh!).

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For our second planting of tomatoes we experimented with mulching it with a heavy carpet of leaves, instead of using plastic. It was very labor intensive, but we are hoping that not only will the leaves help build up organic matter in the soil for subsequent crops, but that it will also suppress the weeds for this crop of tomatoes. And the leaves are free from Perkasie- they’ve been breaking down here at the farm since the town delivered them last fall.

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On a more serious note we are definitely very short handed on the farm. We have lost a lot of full season employees that we did not anticipate losing, for various reasons. This farm is much larger than anything that Tom and I are able to handle on our own. The farm suffers when we have to retrain people constantly to do work that requires a lot of attention to detail, as well as physical and mental stamina, all during a season when people are used to vacationing, trips to the beach, and a slower pace. Farming is hard work, and it is definitely not for everyone. Actually it seems to not be for many people at all, and that’s becoming increasingly a problem. We’re really not sure what the answer is when it comes to labor, and I know we are certainly not the only farm to struggle with this issue. But I do know being shorthanded means we have to make a lot of decisions about what work to prioritize, and what to let go. For you all, this might mean less blog posts and things like classes and cooking demos scheduled, and out on the farm things looking a little rougher around the edges than we’d like- (there are definitely lots and lots of weeds not getting weeded, but maybe we are the only ones noticing ;). But we are hopeful that we will get more help hired in the coming few weeks, and get back on track. And we are super grateful for those field workers we have that are willing to put in the effort, the long days and long weeks, and see the season through.

Laura, our friend and CSA greeter, will be leaving us when her kids head back to school. We’ll miss her but we’re so glad she helped us out this summer! We will be looking for a new CSA greeter for Tuesdays (and possibly Thursdays) starting in September through the end of the CSA season in mid-November. The hours are 12:30 to 8pm. The ideal candidate has great customer service skills, has been a CSA member for a number of years, and really values the farm and the food. Must be physically capable of restocking- lifting up to 40 pound bins. Please email me directly for more details if you are interested.

Enjoy the bounty!

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Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.  Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 11th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.

Excessive heat warning in effect is not something to underestimate. Our tractor operator Tom Thorpe, a 10 year veteran of the marines, gave a presentation to our crew on how to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and how to prevent them. The take away- start thinking about the work week ahead over the weekend- hydrating and getting enough rest.

20160707_155613_1467921401161-001At this point our bodies have become somewhat adjusted to the heat, as have the vegetable crops. But they require lots of hydration, just as we do. Our irrigation manager Jeff (pictured to the right), is kept busy zipping around the farm on the orange 4-wheeler, managing the water needs across the entire farm. Monday night’s rain was cause for celebration, but we were right back to watering the next day. Tom was able to direct sow carrots, beets and green beans just before the rain arrived.

The tidal wave of red field tomatoes is probably about 10 days away. Hopefully we will have enough volume of heirloom tomatoes from our greenhouses to start distributing them to the CSA next week. Don’t worry- they’re coming! Also sizing up beautifully are the watermelons (first up- a delicious yellow variety) and cantaloupes- we’ll be enjoying them in just a few weeks.

Looking ahead to fall, the sweet potatoes are vining out and slurping up as much water as we can spare them. The spaghetti squash will be here before we know it. We are busy prepping ground and preparing to plant fall crops like Brussel sprouts, kale and cabbage. As farmers we must always look ahead a few months- there’s no playing catch up- it won’t grow if we don’t plant it. Erick keeps busy in the propagation greenhouse sowing seeds and potting up plants when necessary.

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We will see a gap in the cucumber harvest. This first planting we have all been enjoying went through that late frost we experienced back in mid-May, and never fully recovered. It’s weakened plants were more vulnerable to bug damage- that’s the scarring you see on the skin. The next planting coming up looks way healthier and productive. Another casualty of the late frost seems to be the potatoes. Overall we are getting lower yields per plant compared to previous years.

The pick-your-own flowers are a sight to behold. There is no excuse not to fill your house with flowers for the next few weeks.

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My favorite variety, nigella (first photo above), is thick right now with wiry blue and purple blooms. It is only in bloom for a short time, but then the seed pods are just as lovely. As I was harvesting them to make market bouquets the flowers were alive with the sound of hundreds of honey bees, all with pollen balls tucked under their wings. I hope you enjoy the flowers as much as I do- it is a labor of love to grow such an extensive variety of blooms. Enjoy them while they are at their peak.

In this week’s share is agretti- most likely a new crop for many of you. It is an Italian green, also known as seawort or monk’s beard. You can eat it raw- it has a tangy flavor, or you can sauté it with lemon and garlic and toss with pasta or put with fish. Think Mediterranean!

CSA on-farm share, week #6, 7/5/16, week B.

CSA on-farm share, week #6, 7/5/16, week B.

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.  Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 11th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.