Author: bloomingglenfarm

Hopping Toads!

As we took off the covers on our melons we found more than just baby cantaloupes and watermelon plants. After taking off the row covers we started taking out the hoops. As my mother loosened the hoops for me and my father, she found multiple toads. We took them from the field so they would not be squashed by the tractor when my father cultivated the aisles of the field.

They were very difficult to catch because they are very fast! I was running all through the aisles to keep up with them. So keep an eye out for toads!

And here is a photo of the watermelons- they are growing fast!

Written by Dakota, a 9 year old farm girl who loves to chase her chickens, read books, ride her bike and cuddle with her dog. Her favorite thing about growing up on a farm is getting to eat the food that grows right outside her door. Photos by Tricia Borneman and Tom Murtha. 

Pick-your-own string beans are a sure sign that summer has arrived at Blooming Glen!  Although we often don’t think about these beans as being particularly healthful, they actually have “impressive antioxidant capacity,” containing flavanoids, folate, and vitamins A, C, and K.  They’re a fantastic source of dietary fiber, which helps facilitate the passage of waste through our gut, as well as the mineral silicon, which works with calcium and magnesium to aid bone health.  And, because it’s in the pea and bean family, they also offer a nice bit of plant-based protein.

Given the heat wave we’re in the midst of, I’m sticking with cool ingredients once again for this week’s recipe — which has certainly been a theme here on the blog as of late! (If you haven’t already, check out last week’s recipe for Raw Mediterranean Squash & Greens Salad and Kristin’s awesome Raw Veggie Hash with Green Garlic Vinaigrette in a Lettuce Bundle.) Although there is a bit of stove time needed for blanching the vegetables, the recipe below requires very little cooking, little time, and little effort.  It’s a perfect dish to make ahead and have on hand for a healthy meal side dish or snack.  If you only have one bunch of scapes on hand, no worries! The optimal string beans-to-garlic scapes ratio may be a little off, but just use what you have 🙂  You can also skip the scapes all together; you may want to add a clove or two of minced garlic or a bit of granulated garlic to the marinades below.  There are three variations of the recipe, of which the Asian is pictured.

Cold Marinated String Beans & Scapes

1 quart string beans, trimmed
2 bunches garlic scapes, trimmed and cut in quarters
1/3 cup tamari or low sodium soy sauce
3 tbs sesame oil
1/2 tbs agave, or other sweetener

1 quart string beans, trimmed
2 bunches garlic scapes, trimmed and cut in quarters
3 tbs mirin
2 tbs rice wine vinegar
2 tbs cup tamari or low sodium soy sauce
2 tbs sesame oil
2 tbs sesame seeds
1 tsp minced ginger
pinch of crushed red pepper, or more to taste

1 quart string beans, trimmed
1 bunch garlic scapes, trimmed and cut in quarters
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tbs cup tamari or low sodium soy sauce
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs Italian seasoning, or combination of basil, oregano, and thyme

Boil a large pot of water. Blanch veggies: Add string beans to boiling water for 3 minutes, then add scapes, and blanch for 2 more minutes. Drain veggies and drop into ice bath to stop cooking. Drain again and set aside.

In a large resealable bag (or container with a tight fitting lid), add veggies and all of the remaining ingredients. Zip the bag closed and shake until veggies are evenly coated. Let cool in the fridge for a couple hours, tossing them once or twice. Or, marinate overnight.  Toss once more before serving.

Post sources
Nutrition Data
Web MD
WH Foods

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,!

This week in the share and on the market stands we have the first of our fresh summer sweet onions. The variety we are harvesting now is called Ailsa Craig. We love this onion! Our market sign description reads “So sweet you can eat it like an apple.” Though you may not wish to enjoy it that way, this is one delicious onion.

7/1/14, share #5

It is named after Ailsa Crag, a small round island off the coast of Scotland that is solid rock. It was introduced in 1887 by David Murray, head gardener for the Marquis of Ailsa, at Culzean Castle, Maybole in 1887. Ailsa Craig is globe-shaped and solid. It is best for fresh use, not extended storage so that’s how we’ll harvest it for you.

As you are observing the farm and our photos, you may notice that we use a number of different color plastic mulches in our fields. In addition to its main duty of weed suppression and moisture retention, we also factor in what color choice will result in highest yields. The color of the mulch changes the intensity of certain wave lengths of light and in turn has an impact on plant growth. Our choices are based on research conducted by Penn State University, as well as similar findings by Cornell and Clemson. Studies at PSU over the past 10 years on the affect of mulch color on various vegetable crops has yielded some interesting results.

Tomatoes and eggplant yields have been as much as 12% higher with red plastic mulch than with black. Red mulch reflects intensified red light to the developing plants which increases their photosynthetic capacity. Peppers appear to respond more to silver mulch compared to black with an average 20% increase in marketable fruit yield and fruit size over a 3 year period.

Eggplants close up and from afar.

In our eggplants in particular, in addition to choosing red mulch, we also quickly covered the young transplants with row cover. This effectively kept off the colorado potato beetle and more importantly the eggplant flea beetle. Partnered with diligent cultivation, as well as timely staking and trellising, this resulted in the plants looking better than they ever have.

Last week we were excited to sow a few different cover crops in fields where the spring crops are finished. Buckwheat is a rapidly growing summer annual with a short growing season, flowering in as little as 4-6 weeks. This “smother crop” suppresses both weeds and disease, frees up phosphorous and calcium, and is best preceding fall sown crops. As an added bonus, buckwheat is a favorite flower for honey bees, and results in a distinctive dark buckwheat honey.

Buckwheat seed going into the hopper to be sown; Buckwheat sprouts

This heat is no joke- I’m sure you all are feeling it as you pick your green beans and flowers! It’s hot out here on the farm, but our large motley crew keeps it going day after day, working through all sorts of weather. It is a major team effort! What an awesome group- they cover crops to prevent bug damage, order beneficial bugs, problem solve, and delegate, cultivate, irrigate, seed in hot greenhouses, trellis, harvest, wash and pack, organize, repair, sweep and clean, answer emails, greet CSA members, sell at markets, disc fields and make beds, mow grass, cook meals, bake treats, and have a good time (most days) doing it! A big shout out to every one who makes BGF grow!!

Some, but by no means all, of the BGF crew!

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

Raw veggies for squash saladHappy Summer! As the temperatures rise this season, many of us find it harder to crank up the stove top or oven to get meals onto the table. This is a natural time of year to crave cooler, fresher ingredients that require little-to-no cooking — and eating these raw foods do provide us with benefits:

Eating our foods in a more raw form provides a different nutritional profile than eating a food cooked. For instance, ounce-for-ounce, raw Swiss chard has almost twice the amount of Vitamin C and almost three times the amount of Vitamin K than cooked Swiss chard. Similarly, raw zucchini offers much more folate and Omega-3 fatty acids than its cooked counterpart. Many people also find raw foods cleansing, as they often promote efficient digestion and a happy gut. Raw food also encourages us to slow down while eating, simply because it takes us longer to chew, which is a wonderful way to support portion control and mindful eating. All those benefits, and fresh, raw veggies also taste great (especially those from Blooming Glen 😉 )!

The recipe below uses lots of raw veggies from this week’s share, including summer squash, zucchini, green onion, dill, lettuce, and Swiss chard. By shredding the zucchini and chopping the greens, we’re helping out our belly a bit, making it easier to digest those veggies. As always, feel free to use this recipe as a base, an experiment with whatever vegetables, greens, and beans you happen to have on hand in the coming weeks.

Mostly Raw Mediteranean Squash SaladMediterranean Shredded Squash Salad

3 zucchini and/or squash, shredded
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 green onion including greens, chopped
12-15 kalamata olives, sliced
5-6 sprigs dill, chopped (basil would also be good)
Chopped lettuce and/or Swiss chard

1/4 cup olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic scape, minced
sea salt and ground black pepper

Optional: Pine nuts, capers, dried figs, dried apricots, feta cheese

In a small bowl (I use a glass measuring cup), whisk together the dressing ingredients. In a larger bowl, combine all the other ingredients, except for the lettuce/chard. Pour the dressing over squash mixture and stir to combine well. Place a handful of chopped greens on a plate, top with a big scoop of the squash salad. Serve with optional toppings.

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,!

As strawberries wind down and the first official days of summer are here, we move with enthusiasm into summer crops- the season’s first cucumbers and zucchini are plentiful, and a welcome addition to our farm meals.

The field tomatoes seem to grow a few inches every day. At least weekly we add another string to the trellis to keep them upright. As you can see from the photo below, the cherry tomatoes are full of fruit, and just starting to blush.

We transplant multiple plantings of cantaloupes and watermelons. The first planting is loaded with baby lopes. It’s not quite summer until you eat a fresh melon straight from the field, the sweet sticky juice dripping down your chin! Soon enough!

The green beans are another summer crop you can expect at the farmers markets this weekend, and as a pick-you-own in the CSA share next week.

Even as we harvest the last of the spring crops, keep cultivating and harvesting and eating summer crops, we are looking forward to fall. It is the farmer’s job to always be thinking not only a few hours and days ahead, but also planning months in advance. There’s no cramming for the test in farming…! Fall spinach, broccoli and cabbage are being seeded in the propagation greenhouse, and the leeks were just transplanted into the fields. The winter squash field looks amazing and we are already seeing the first tiny fruits.

Last night we savored our dinner outside, watching the twinkling lightning bugs as the light faded, enjoying a delicious meal, our bodies and minds nourished and content. Does life get much better than that? Happy summer solstice! Enjoy the beautiful days and tastes of summer!

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

Jen Malkoun has joined the Blooming Glen Farm crew as Assistant Farm Manager, an important year-round position here at the farm. As we describe in our employee manual, the assistant farm manager works closely with the farm owners, Tom and I, to ensure the daily functioning of the farm. She’s our third arm, and after just a few months, we already feel like she’s family. Besides being an amazing crew leader, a thoughtful encouraging person, and a curious and intentional farmer, she’s an excellent writer- as you’ll see from her answers to the following questions I asked her. We are thrilled to have her on board and we hope you’ll help us welcome her to Perkasie and Blooming Glen Farm.  

How did you get into farming- what are some of the paths in your life that led to a life of soil.

Although it was just four years ago, it’s hard for me to draw a direct path from memory. I have always been engaged in and drawn to work that seeks to address social and/or economic disparities, but to be honest, agriculture was never a part of that equation. I grew up in Media, located in Delaware County. I went to college just outside of Baltimore and studied sociology and peace studies. While in college I was fortunate enough to intern with the Philadelphia-based non-profit The Food Trust, and was able to work on incredibly illuminating research around food access within the city. So, in a way, my path to farming began with action research in an urban setting.

After graduating, I spent a few years doing the young-professional thing in Philly, but felt incredibly unfulfilled in both the nature of the work and the cubicle environment. Around the same time I was beginning to read more about health and nutrition and explore our food system. I surrounded myself with the voices and writings of Vandana Shiva, Wendell Berry, and Eric Holt-Gimenez and learned of the brilliant and self-reliant organizing of communities as they sought to secure access to healthy, nutritious and affordable food, and reconnect with the source of their health.

These examples inspired something inside of me that had been stirring: I began to draw broader connections among the well-being of our communities, the health of our landscapes and how and by what means our food is grown and distributed. I quickly learned just how powerful agriculture is in our every day lives and the potential it has for creating unity, beauty and inspiration. But, to a great extent, these revelations were theoretical.

I decided that if I was to advocate for a change in our industrialized and disconnected food system, I had to know what it meant to actually do the work. So, I left my office job and life in the city and set out to see what this agriculture thing was all about. While the journey may have been sparked by rather romantic ideals about social and environmental change, I find myself here four years later, the path still unfolding and the discoveries ever more rich and diverse with each season.

What has kept you farming- what are some of the joys and what are some of the challenges?

So very many things have kept me on this train – some being both joys and challenges. Farming by nature is unnatural, yet in order to be sustainable (meaning farming that can be, as Wendell Berry describes, ‘continued indefinitely because it conforms to the terms imposed upon it by the nature of places and the nature of people’), farmers must learn from and work in concert with nature. This, by its very means demands humility and what sometimes feels like an unending reservoir of patience.

I am constantly humbled by the work, always learning new things and discovering just how little I know. Farming also brings to the fore the utter fragility of life: what is here today could very well be gone tomorrow, wiped out by extreme weather patterns, pests or disease. Despite this fragility, or perhaps more accurately, balancing out this delicately temporal reality is the strongly innate drive of all living things to survive. It’s something we say a lot in the fields and the greenhouses: things want to live! It’s truly an incredibly awe inspiring process to observe and be a part of.

I have also found that farming pushes people to tap into an inner strength, to uncover what they are capable of, both physically and mentally. Tasks that are seemingly insurmountable are accomplished by teamwork, collaboration and strategy. There’s more science, intuition, creativity, teamwork and collaboration in farming than any other field I’ve every worked.

If there’s one thing that has kept me going it’s the possibility that each season brings to build and reaffirm community.  It is truly the kind of community that I have longed for, the connection to one another and to the land. Although farming can be repetitive, it’s never the same because each day is unique and we have to account for that and move our plans with rather than against it.

Farming is essentially at its root about growing food. Tell us about your relationship with food.

Food was always a big part of my childhood. With an Italian-American mother and a father who emigrated to the U.S. from Lebanon, we always celebrated around the dinner table. 

Anything you want to share about your life beyond farming- your hobbies and interests?

I’m drawn to learning more about the nutritional and medicinal properties of food and am beginning to truly understand the meaning of food as medicine. I love the mountains and find refuge in parks with lots of trees. I am capable of eating an entire watermelon in one sitting and am perfectly content to do just that every single day that they are in season. 

What specifically drew you to Blooming Glen Farm, any thoughts on being a part of this community and this farm?

Honestly, the genuineness of both Tom and Tricia and their dedication to continuing to build a successful and sustainable farm business. I wanted to learn how two farmers made the successful leap from working for others to operating their own business. In the short months that I’ve been with BGF, I’ve already learned so much about running a farm business, but equally as important, they have taught me how to find and hold the balance between serious dedication and letting go and having fun.

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

All throughout the day, CSA members surrounded my demo table with pink smiles and mmm’s of amazement that beets and berries lived so harmoniously together in one silky pot of goodness. This recipe is so simple to make and can easily be adapted with different juices or fruit. Freeze in popsicle forms for the little ones, or make it into ice cubes for a great addition to smoothies.  The sweet strawberry flavor is balanced by the earthiness of the beets. And the color, well it just can’t be beat!

Beet Berry Soup, serves 4

3 to 4 small beets
2 cups berry juice 
juice of 2 oranges
1 kohlrabi
1/2 cup yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup fresh strawberries

Rinse and drain strawberries, toss with the honey in a bowl and let sit to release their juices. Boil beets and let cool. Peel and set aside. In a blender add the beets, yogurt, chopped and peeled kohlrabi, orange and lemon juice. Drain the berries of their juices reserving the liquid and adding liquid to blender. Blend on high until smooth. Chill. Garnish with the macerated berries and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Recipe written by Kristin Moyer, Farm Chef Educator at Blooming Glen Farm and passionate farm-fresh food advocate. Kristin cooks at The Perk in Perkasie, does private catering and serves on the Pennridge Wellness Committee, working to create edible school yards in Pennridge School District. Together with Blooming Glen Farm she hopes to someday start a Community Supported Kitchen at the farm.

Photos and post by Tricia Borneman.

This week we are transitioning from the harvest of green garlic to garlic scapes. The scapes are the flowering tops of the stiff-neck garlic plants. They make a delicious side dish on their own.  My favorite way to enjoy them is tossed in olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled on low heat until carmelized. Snapping off the scapes promotes bulb growth of the garlic. With a half an acre planted, our crew will have quite the aroma of garlic about them after snapping all those scapes!

Blooming Glen’s lettuce of choice was featured in Bon Appetit magazine, Why the Foodist Loves Little Gem.”  We fell for its crisp crunchy texture and sweet flavor- a sort of combination butter head and romaine. It’s relatively easy to grow, and in demand by local chefs. The leaves are perfect- snap them off from the base, until you get to the lovely heart at the center. It’s great in sandwiches, salads, try it halved and grilled, or use the leaves as scoops for your favorite filling, as Chef Kristin did in last weeks demo. You can find this lettuce in your CSA share and on our farm market stands.

6/17/14, share #3

Out in the fields we’ve been dealing with a lot of insect pressure. Our greenhouse and field tomatoes have been covered in red aphids. We ordered a beneficial insect to help us out called aphidius colemani. Don’t worry, these parasitic wasps are about the size of a gnat and won’t sting humans. They will however sting and lay eggs in its aphid victim. We don’t mess around when it comes to our tomatoes! We’ve seen good results in the greenhouse tomatoes. Now we have 7,500 on their way to be released in the field.

The field potatoes are coming along beautifully. With all the rain over the past month we were lucky we didn’t suffer any major losses. We have heard of a few local CSAs who lost their entire crops from rot. We have an early planting that we did on beds of black mulch to capture more heat. We did lose probably 30% of those. However the field potatoes are on some of our better draining ground. Between the rains we were able to hill and cultivate, and with just the ends of the beds having washed out in the downpours, they seem fully recovered.

We hope to harvest one of Farmer Tom’s favorite crops, new potatoes, for you within the next 3 weeks!

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

Strawberries are here, no need to fear!! As red and ripe as they are, they are almost through their season. Soon we will say goodbye to strawberries for the year. Strawberries for our markets are picked from the field at sunrise. From our CSA share, the members go into the strawberry field and pick for themselves. Strawberries do not just come and go in the blink of an eye. The plants produce strawberries and their flowers continue to bloom and turn into strawberries. Hurray for strawberries!

My mom makes Strawberry Shortcake every strawberry season. It is so delicious. Here is the recipe.

Strawberry Shortcake
Serves 8 (modify for less)

6 cups strawberries, rinsed, hulled and quartered
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
12 tablespoons cold (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces.
2 cups heavy cream
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375. In a medium bowl, toss the strawberries with 3/4 cup sugar; let sit to bring out the juices.

In a food processor, pulse flour, baking powder, 1/2 cup sugar, and the salt until combined. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal but with some pea-size bits of butter remaining, 10-12 times. In a medium bowl whisk together 1/2 cup cream and the eggs; pour over flour mixture, and pulse until some large clumps begin to form, 25-30 times.

Using a half-cup measuring cup, gently pack dough, invert, and then tap out into a baking sheet. Repeat to form 8 biscuits. Bake until lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool, about 15 minutes.

Beat remaining 1 1/2 cups cream and 2 tablespoons sugar with the vanilla until soft peaks form.

Slice biscuits in half horizontally. Spoon strawberries and their liquid over bottom halves. Spoon whipped cream on strawberries, and replace top halves of biscuits.

Recipe courtesy of

Written by Dakota, a 9 year old farm girl who loves to chase her chickens, read books, ride her bike and cuddle with her dog. Her favorite thing about growing up on a farm is getting to eat the food that grows right outside her door. Photo by Tom Murtha. 

Today on the farm we had our first chef demo and tasting during CSA pick up. We look forward to building deeper more intimate relationships with each other and the food.

After many months of winter, I always find myself needing Spring on so many levels. As the anticipation heightens so does the influx of Spring inspired recipes.

Most recipes can easily be adapted to suit personal preference or convenience, thanks to the internet. Get creative! Most likely, if you can imagine it, you can find help creating it online. My personal Spring inspiration for recipe design comes from my love and adoration of nature’s unadulterated perfection. I am not a raw chef, or even a vegetarian chef, but let’s face it, Spring is the time to eat RAW. So let’s do it….!

Raw Veggie Hash with Green Garlic Vinaigrette in a Lettuce Bundle

For the Hash:
2 kohlrabi, peeled and diced small
1/2 bunch radish, diced small
2 beets, peeled and diced small
2 cups total beet greens, kale and escarole, chopped fine
1 cup cooked grains of your liking: for example, barley, rye berries, rice, kamut
salt and pepper
Lettuce leaves, whole, for serving

For the Vinaigrette:
2 stalks green garlic, sliced thin
2 stalks spring onion, sliced thin
1 bulb of fennel, fronds removed, finely sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 T honey
fresh herbs

Dice the kohlrabi, beets and radish and place in a bowl. Chiffonade greens (cut into long, thin strips) and set aside.

Heat oil in a saute pan on medium and add sliced green garlic, spring onion and fennel.

Cook 10 minutes stirring frequently until they are very tender and sweet. Add the vinegar and reduce for 3 to 5 minutes or until the mixture looks and smells happy. Remove from heat and stir in honey.

At this point any fresh herbs such as tarragon, marjoram, lemon thyme, basil etc, can be folded in. Whole grain mustard is also a nice addition when making any vinaigrette. For the sake of spring simplicity, I left it out.

Toss the warm vinaigrette with the diced veggies. Fold in greens and grains. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in lettuce leaves. If making ahead of time, I suggest keeping the beets separate as they will bleed into the salad and make everything pink. Enjoy!

Few rituals are as sacred as that of feeding ourselves and our families. Consciously connecting to the land, the sun and the harvest opens our hearts and strengthens our bodies, minds and spirits. Carry with you, from the farm to your table, joy and presence with every bite.

Post written by Kristin Moyer, Farm Chef Educator at Blooming Glen Farm and passionate farm-fresh food advocate. Kristin cooks at The Perk in Perkasie, does private catering and serves on the Pennridge Wellness Committee, working to create edible school yards in Pennridge School District. Together with Blooming Glen Farm she hopes to someday start a Community Supported Kitchen at the farm.

Photos by Tricia Borneman.