Author: bloomingglenfarm

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!

The avalanche of summer crops is finally upon us- the heirloom tomatoes, sweet corn, eggplants and zucchini, the cantaloupes and cherry tomatoes, and gorgeous cutting flowers. Coming soon- watermelon, red field tomatoes and sweet peppers. Most of our garlic has been harvested and hung to dry- next up to be harvested and dried is the storage onions.

The heat spell passed and the cooler weather is a welcome relief to the farm crew. Finally!! To say it was difficult to stay mentally and physically sharp in the extreme heat last week- even with shorter days and frequent breaks- is an understatement. We were all feeling physically and emotionally exhausted by the end of the week. A huge thanks to our dedicated farm crew for enduring such challenging weather.

Surprisingly, despite the heat, the ground is still soggy from the continual rain storms.  We’ve been waiting for a chance to make beds for planting more fall crops: most importantly cauliflower, broccoli, fall radishes and roots. Hopefully Saturday is our day to plant!

This week’s share tipped the scales at a whopping 20 pounds! The heirloom tomatoes in the share included a rainbow of varieties: cherokee purple, cherokee green, brandywine, striped german, valencia, great white, and paul robeson. We harvest them ripe- so all the colors you see are ready to eat, even the green ones! It’s been very rewarding for the farm team to finally witness the fruits of seeds sown in February, and subsequently grafted, planted, trellised, pruned, irrigated, and generally spoiled over the past 5 months. Enjoy!!

Text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Photos by Tricia Borneman, Sam Malriat, Robin Hernandez and Bob Dixon.

It seems like the theme of the farm these days is water. The past few weeks it was How much is falling on the crops and How much can our fields hold, and this week it is How much are we losing from our bodies as we work (1.5 litres an hour was heard on the news) and, How do we make sure we stay hydrated.

It was so hot at the farm Sam’s car window exploded. That was around 3 pm as we’d just come in from picking summer squash. We were happy none of us exploded.

The field tomatoes are loaded with beautiful green, slightly blushed with orange, fruit. They are behind a bit from last year due to all those rainy cloudy days. Does anyone remember that?! But we are expecting them to ripen into a sea of red any day now. Even our greenhouse tomatoes are ripening very very slowly this season.

On the horizon for next week: tomatillos, asian eggplant, cantaloupes and cherry tomatoes! We began to harvest our field of garlic- always an exciting time after nine months of growth. It is pulled, bundled and strung up in the barn to dry and cure over the next 5-6 weeks. 

This week’s share included the first of the sweet corn. We grow the corn organically like all our crops, so yes, you’ll see some bugs and worms. We are experimenting with releasing beneficial insects (parasitic wasps) to combat the european corn borers and the dreaded tip worm. This week alone we released 500,000. They came as eggs on perforated felt paper, to be hung in the corn field.

Here at Blooming Glen, it’s also a never ending quest to keep the blackbirds out of our sweet corn- the birds are responsible for shredding back the tips of the husks to get at the super sweet kernels. You may remember the year of the giant green bird net, or the year of the blow-up scare-eye ballons and tall rattling aluminum can sculptures. This year we’ve rigged up a cordless radio, rumored to keep the birds away. Preliminary results of this experiment show our birds like NPR, but not country music.  We’re not sure yet if it’s enough of a dislike to keep them out of the corn patch, however. We’ll keep you posted. Stay cool- and drink lots of water- we are!

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

We are still feeling the effects of the ongoing late spring and early summer rainstorms on many of our crops. Rotting greens and roots, and weeds that keep growing are just a few of the unwelcome results.  Missed plantings, however, are the biggest downside of wet soil. When we are unable to get into the fields to till and plant, there are gaps in the harvest down the road, many of which we are seeing now, and will continue to see.

 Dandelion
Dandelion greens, a new crop at Blooming Glen Farm this season, made an appearance at the markets and in the CSA share. This nutritious bitter green can be delicious, but is unfamiliar to many- it will be featured here next week in Mikaela’s recipe post.
On the farm a steady effort of hand weeding continues, as well as tomato trellising and tractor cultivation. We put straw down in the aisles of the pick-your-own flowers. This will help keep down the weeds, and the mud. Here’s a few of our crew enjoying a lunchtime break and a cool breeze.

Remember that photo a few weeks ago of the winter squash? Here’s a shot of the sweet striped oblong variety, delicata. It has grown by leaps and bounds in the heat.

We were excited this week to host Harvest Restaurant Partners Group for a farm tour. Harvest Restaurants has grown from a single restaurant in 1996 to nine highly-regarded restaurants today in northern New Jersey, including Huntley Taverne and Trap Rock Restaurant and Brewery. Through a mutual relationship with local wholesale buyer Zone 7, the chefs from these 9 restaurants have the opportunity to buy from local farmers like ourselves. Their trip to the farm was a chance to see the source of the vegetables featured in some of their menus, as well as to be inspired by the smell and flavors of those fresh picked veggies.

Text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Top two photos by Rebecca Metcalf, third by Tom Murtha, photos of chef tour courtesy of Zone 7.

I’ve been making a beet burger recipe that was given to me by a farmer friend from Wisconsin for a few years now.  At first, I was pretty excited about it and looked forward to beet season just so that I could make the recipe again. But, after making it so many times it needed some new life. A kitchen experiment was in order. So, I decided to use the same general recipe for the burgers and pair them with some new flavors. I exchanged the bun and cheddar cheese for pita and feta crumbles.  The result was just was I was looking for: something refreshingly tasty, yet wholesome at the same time! If you like falafel as much as I do, this recipe is worth a try. It’s just a twist on more traditional Mediterranean meal.

Falafel Style Beet patties

4 medium size beets, peeled and quartered
3-4 medium carrots, chunked
1 large sweet spring onion, sliced
¼ cup sunflower seeds
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 medium eggs
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the beets, carrots, onion, sunflower seeds and flour in a food processor and chop until a finely diced mixture is created. (If you don’t have a food processor you can finely grate the vegetable components straight into a bowl.)  Transfer mixture to a medium sized bowl and add eggs and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly in order to coat vegetables in egg.

Next, use your hands to create golf ball sized rounds of the mixture, making sure to squeeze out the extra moisture as you go. You can squeeze it over the bowl or directly into the sink. (Be aware: your hands will take on a bright magenta color during this process, but it does eventually wash off!) Place the rounds on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until tops become deep red in color.

For extra crispy beet patties, transfer the rounds into a warm skillet with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil for about 5 minutes, flipping once. You can skip this step if you prefer to just bake them. Serve patties with pita, swiss chard or lettuce, and feta. For more flavor you can add a sauce of ½ a diced cucumber, 3 sprigs of finely chopped dill, and 2 Tablespoons of yogurt. This recipe serves 4-5 people.

If you’re completely new to beet burgers, feel free to use the recipe for its original purpose by making the mixture into patties instead of balls. And, you can add shredded cheddar cheese (about ½ cup) right into the mixture to give it an even richer burger flavor. I would serve them on wheat buns with your favorite burger toppings.

Photos and recipe by Blooming Glen Farm apprentice Rebecca Metcalf.