Author: bloomingglenfarm

We were lucky to pick a quart of perfect strawberries at this season’s first share pickup — yum!  These pretty, plump berries aren’t just nice to look at: One cup of them offers nearly 150% of the daily recommended allowance of Vitamin C and 29% of manganese, both powerful antioxidants that protect our bodies from free radical damage.  They also offer a healthy dose of dietary fiber, needed for everything from blood sugar maintenance to happy digestion.  Finally, strawberries have an “amazing combination of phytonutrients,” including anthocyanins, ellagitannins, flavonols, terpenoids, and phenolic acids, which help prevent unwanted inflammation.

Although it’s tempting to pop all of the berries right into my mouth, I was able to refrain from that temptation and save them for the salad below.  Feel free to use any combination of the greens that you have on hand from this week’s share.

Macerated Strawberry Salad

Macerated Strawberries:
1 cup strawberries, sliced into quarters
3 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs brown sugar
Splash of vanilla extract

1-1/2 to 2 cups greens, chopped (kale and red lettuce are pictured)
Squeeze of lemon juice
2 tbs sunflower seeds
Balsamic vinegar

In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, brown sugar, and vanilla. In a larger bowl, add the strawberries, and pour the balsamic mixture over top. Let the fruit marinate for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Drain the berries from the marinade.

Note: If you are using lettuce and/or spinach, you can skip this step, which is to soften up tougher greens, such as kale. Place chopped greens into a bowl, squeeze on a bit of lemon juice and/or balsamic vinegar, and add a little salt. Massage the greens, so they’re coated. Let stand until strawberries are ready.

Pour drained berries onto greens, and sprinkle with sunflower seeds.  Add balsamic vinegar to taste.

Post Sources:
Nutrition Data
The World’s Healthiest 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,!

The first CSA share of the season was harvested today. Now it can finally feel like winter has passed! For the farm crew it is rewarding to see all the smiling strawberry-stained faces after the months of planting and preparation leading up to this point. The energy of the farm widens to embrace the CSA community.

Each Tuesday we will post a photo of the share here on the blog, labeled with crop names, just in case you get home and forget what you have.

6/3/14, share #1

Many of you may have had the chance to meet our new CSA greeter, Sandi Viscusi. Sandi will be keeping the pick-up room stocked and bountiful, and will be available to answer any of your questions during CSA pick-ups.  She’s happy to offer you cooking tips as well, should you need them, or point you in the direction of the pick-your-own crops.

We’re looking forward to a wonderful season here at the farm!

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

With just a few weeks to go to the start of CSA pickup, thousands of tiny residents from Blooming Glen Farm have been hard at work. Not your typical Carhartt clad farm workers, these foraging buzzing honeybees are contributing to the effort just the same, helping pollinate the strawberries, vegetable crops and various flowers around the farm.  Justin Seelaus and Lexi Berko, our residential beekeepers, have been frequently checking the newly established and revamped apiary on the property to promote healthy and sustainable growth on the farm.

As the next generation of beekeepers, Justin and Lexi practice Treatment/ Chemical Free Beekeeping, as well as provide our honey bees’ access to flowers, fruits and vegetables grown by organic processes. This in turn results in healthy and hardier bees with chemical free honey. By using Treatment Free Beekeeping, our beekeepers encourage our bees to use their natural bee biology, promoting natural habits and responses to typical environmental stresses.  In addition, we have introduced diverse genetics from New World Carniolan Honeybees, Apis mellifera carnica, which provide the gentleness and honey production of a typical Italian Honey bee, with disease resistance and hygienic behaviors favored in Treatment Free Beekeeping.

More traditional beehives to the left and center; yellow top bar hive to the right.

Finally, the latest addition to our apiary is our very first Top Bar Beehive.  This new style of beehive is gaining in popularity by allowing beekeepers to inspect their hives with minimal invasiveness to the colony. And just as important, the design is also easier on the beekeeper, as it eliminates the need to lift extemely heavy honey-filled boxes. The design follows that of a typical trough with a series of bars placed over the top, spaced evenly to account for bee space and inspected weekly to ensure proper comb construction. In the Top Bar Beehive, the bees are not provided with foundation (a wax guide to build comb), so they must build it from scratch, allowing a more hygienic system of beekeeping.

A frame from the Top Bar Beehive, with comb built entirely by the bees.

With all these recent additions to the apiary and new practices in beekeeping, thousands of bees on the property have been busy collecting the first spring nectar and pollen flow this year has to offer.  As you walk around the farm in the upcoming months, gathering flowers or eating strawberries, please take the time to thank the honeybees for helping us with even the smallest of tasks.

We will continue to provide you updates as our apiary grows and expands in the upcoming months! If you have any questions about the bees on the farm, or have questions about beekeeping in general, feel free to contact our beekeepers Justin Seelaus or Lexi Berko. Justin Seelaus: and Lexi Berko

Post written by Blooming Glen Farm crew members and amateur beekeepers, Justin Seelaus and Lexi Berko, both recent graduates of Delaware Valley College. Beekeeping photos provided by Justin Seelaus; flower photos by Tricia Borneman.

The first CSA pick-ups of the season will be the first week of June: Tuesday June 3rd and Thursday June 5th. For half shares, this is week A. Week B will start Tuesday June 10th and Thursday June 12th. (*Full shares come every week, half shares come every other week on their designated week: A or B). New members, please read over the CSA Rough Guide so you are prepared for your first trip to the farm. Delivery shares to Doylestown Presbyterian Church will begin Friday June 27th. *There is still space available for the CSA so please help us spread the word.

The past two weeks have been crazy busy. The farm season feels like it kicked into high gear and we are full steam ahead.  We survived the torrential donpours in May that brought almost 5 inches of rain to the farm over just a few hours. It was an anxious day, watching topsoil flow by in a river of muddy water, but despite some potatoes washing out of their hills, for the most part the crops seem to have weathered the wet weather.

Our crew is a flurry of stamina, enthusiasm and bustling activity, working long days to make up for the late winter of cold and wet weather that seems to finally have ended. We’ve been seeding, tilling, making beds, transplanting, cultivating, moving row covers, trellising, mowing, building a high tunnel, marketing and more!

High Tunnel Construction

It’s hard to believe less than a month ago the temperature dropped down to a freezing 19 degrees!

Planting onions- 3 rows to a bed, 6 inches apart.

The list of vegetables in the ground is long and growing. The spring crops are sizing up: head lettuce, sugar snap peas, bok choy, cabbages, fennel, beets, kohlrabi, spring onions, kale, arugula, broccoli raab and more…the summer crops are going in and growing quickly: potatoes, summer squash, onions, cucumbers, beans, sweet corn, field and greenhouse tomatoes.

Transplanting grafted heirloom tomatoes and tatsoi.

The strawberries are looking lush and green. Tom counted over 30 blossoms on just one plant. It won’t be long before we are all enjoying these sweet tasty fruits!

The farm is a vibrant dynamic organism, beyond just the soil and crops. Tom and Jen must keep the crew moving in what seems like ten different directions at once- getting folks trained and confident in so many different tasks requires organization and delegation on our part. It takes a group effort to make this farm function.

We are constantly looking for new ways to be more efficient and more sustainable. One way we have found is to empower folks in our crew with specific responsibility such as cultivation manager, tractor operator, or greenhouse propagation manager. Jared, who joins us with his partner Cheyenne from Wisconsin, is our new irrigation manager. He will be responsible for learning drip tape installation and repair, as well as following a complex watering schedule. With over 35 acres of crops this is no small job!

Drip tape irrigation tutorial.

Another way to achieve better efficiency is to look at existing tasks with creativity. A new technique discovered this season is to use the drip tape winder to remove and roll up remay from the field.  Dealing with the huge rolls of white cloth that we use as both a frost, wind and insect barrier is no easy task. It was a eureka moment!

We are often asked what’s new for this season. New crops, new greenhouses, new crew- these all apply, but the one thing we are super excited about is the addition of Farm Chef Educator Kristin Moyer. Not only will the farm crew enjoy the fruits of our labor in delicious field-to-table lunches prepared by Kristin twice a week, but you, our farm community, will get to enjoy the recipes from these meals that Kristin will post on the blog.

Chef Kristin will be at the farm doing demos and tastings during CSA pick-ups two weeks a month- she’ll be available to answer your questions and share her cooking tips and techniques. She is also planning an evening cooking class series, as well as a children’s drop-in cooking club during CSA pick-ups. We are committed to supporting you, our community of eaters, in your journey of cooking and enjoying fresh seasonal produce!

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

Banjo Spinach: A dinnertime beat to have you on your feet

Spinach is seeded in heated greenhouses. Once it sprouts it is then transferred into an unheated greenhouse.

After that it is transplanted into one of our high tunnels. A high tunnel is a greenhouse with a very tall roof. In the early spring, it is there that spinach is produced.

It is grown with compost that is made here on our farm and the spinach is harvested early morning in the spring and fall.

My dad is going to harvest some for the farmers markets this weekend. He’s pretty excited about it!

The main variety we are growing this year is called Banjo, a dinnertime beat to have you on your feet. Banjo has savoy leaves, when the leaves are wrinkly. It has dark leaves that are about the size of the palm of your hand but they can be smaller.

My mom bakes spinach in a quiche and it tastes delicious. Quiche uses a lot of eggs- I gathered some from my chickens.

Here is my mom’s recipe:

Quick and Easy Spinach Quiche

Make the crust: In a food processor, mix together 1 cup flour, and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix in 3/4 stick of butter (cut in pieces), with 1 egg yolk and about 3 Tablespoons of ice water. This is a sticky dough- put flour on your hands, and press the crust into a 9-inch pie plate then refrigerate while you make the rest.

For the filling: Mix 4 eggs and the egg white left from making the dough with 3/4 cup half and half, or milk. Stir in 1 cup shredded cheese (we like cheddar). Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Saute your veggies: You can use whatever you have on hand. For example spring onions and green garlic are in season now (or use onions and shallots), and you could add store bought cherry tomatoes (cut in half), or just 2-3 small potatoes that have been boiled and diced. Add about two cups of chopped spinach leaves and fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme.

Put the sauteed veggies into your crust. Pour the egg filling over top until it is close to the brim but not overflowing (you might not use it all). Bake at 425 degrees for 15 min, then lower to 375 until done (top will be set and golden in color). Yum!

Written by Dakota, a 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 Dakota and her mom, Tricia.

Record low temps, cold soil, intermittent rain, another finicky spring in Bucks County. Our crew seems perpetually clad in rubber rain gear, hands are cold, boots muddy. But there are still smiles at the end of each day, because after a winter of planning, we are finally planting.

The 1952 red seeder Cub tractor started right up on its first try- contributing to a valiant effort to direct sow spring radishes and turnips.

Fennel, lettuce, chinese cabbage, red and green cabbage, and spring onions were transplanted this week, despite the cold soil and muddy conditions.  Row covers are reluctantly wrestled out of storage, unfurled in two hundred foot lengths, draped over beds and hoops, and weighed down with shovelfuls of soil. These giant sheets of permeable fabric will protect the new transplants from wind, cold and bug damage.

The heated greenhouse and coldframe overflow with even more vibrant plants, all bursting with vitality, waiting their turn to head out into the fields.

The garlic is peeking up through its winter blanket of straw. We moved en masse through the half acre, pulling the thick bedding back where it had been mulched too thickly last fall, giving the sprouts a chance to poke through towards the sunlight.

The CSA fills up slower than usual- is everyone still thinking it’s winter, we wonder? Despite the chilly temps, spring is here and summer will come. Our tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplants and melons are sown- teasing us with visions of hot sweaty days, the juice of summer fruits running down our chins.

Two thousand heirloom tomato plants were grafted and are starting to take- soon they will leave their healing chamber and begin the journey to the high tunnels. The onions have been given a few haircuts, promoting bulb growth and strengthening the roots of the seedlings.

“To engage in any creative process, to live each day fully, we have to find our way back to the willingness to begin again- and again.”- Oriah Mountain Dreamer

The spring peepers and the red winged black birds sing, the pendulum swings between warm days, cold days, sunny days, rainy days. The earth stirs from its winter slumber, perhaps dragging its feet more than usual. This spring on the farm, we plant between the rain drops, rising each morning to face the elements and the tasks at hand.

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

Who hasn’t dreamed of growing up on a farm? Inspired by a request made in the CSA survey, this new column will give a glimpse into life on the farm from a kid’s perspective. Whatever catches this third grader’s eye from week to week will be the theme. Enjoy, and please share with the little ones in your life!  

Chamomile: Sweet Dreams

The chamomile is just starting to sprout here in the greenhouse. But does everyone know what to do with this herb? I don’t think so, it would be amazing if everyone did, so here are some of its uses: stomachaches, indigestion, gas, colic, nervousness and tension, restlessness, crying, whining, and irritability, teething, imsomnia, colds, burns and cuts, sore muscles and rashes. The part of chamomile used is the flower. Chamomile is a warming herb. A warming herb is a herb that will warm you up and has a warming energy.

Here is recipe for a good night’s sleep:
Mix 1 teaspoon chamomile flowers with 1 teaspoon lemon balm and 1/2 teaspon fennel to 1 cup boiling water for a great tasting sleep tea. Sweet dreams!

Written by Dakota, a 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.

Similar to the practice of any serious art or craft, farmers must stay abreast of best practices and innovative techniques in the field of agriculture. New information acquired through research and professional development is then integrated into the farmer’s continuous practice of observation and reflection: it’s a process of constant refinement, always both humbling and educational.

While we like to geek-out over soil science, varietal selection and of course, equipment, we also take health very seriously. In fact, some may consider the farmer a primary healthcare provider, not only growing food to nourish a community but also taking great care in the handling of that food to ensure safety.

Last week I was privileged enough to attend a workshop on food safety presented by Facilitated by successful farmer and author Atina Diffley, we examined best practices around food safety, post harvest handling, packing, and business management. Participants also learned how to create a food safety manual. Here, at Blooming Glen, we are fortunate because Tricia and Tom already have many of these systems in place to ensure that the food we grow maintains a chain of health from seed to harvest.

If a farmer fails to understand what health is, his [her] farm becomes unhealthy; it produces unhealthy food, which damages the health of the community… Wendell Berry

While we are proud of the integrity that goes into the production of our summer abundance, we also understand that this food is feeding your families. Therefore, our craft is not only an honor but a deep responsibility. By entering into this rather intimate relationship of mutual dependence, we are also engaged in a relationship of trust: as farmers we rely on you – the customers – to support our livelihood and co-create a shared community; as customers you are entrusting us – the farmers – with your health by way of the production of quality, nutritious, and safe food.

CSA Share July 2013

So while we strive to create a more resilient farm organism through mindful crop planning, soil health, careful cultivation techniques, and informed pest management, we also have systems to prevent plant and human pathogens.

Many of you will remember our blog post last fall on the Food Safety Modernization Act, asking you to submit comments to the FDA on their proposed food safety rules. Following is a recent follow-up quote from Brian Snyder, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA): 

“For the first time in recent history all of agriculture was speaking with one voice saying ‘Please don’t make it impossible for family farmers to stay on the land, producing the fresh fruits and vegetables that our citizens want to be healthy and value-adding small businesses our rural communities need in order to thrive.’

Add to this massive coalition the voices of PASA members and countless others who spoke at public meetings, talked with legislators, and customers, resulting in the submission of more than 25,000 written comments to the FDA by the deadline on the Friday before Thanksgiving, and you will know why we weren’t so surprised when, just before Christmas, the FDA announced they would be taking another crack at the most controversial parts of the proposed rules, starting from scratch with all the information they had received.

This welcome news was followed by a meeting I attended in January between the core leaders of our coalition and officials at FDA, including Deputy Commissioner Michael Taylor, to support the process of writing new rules and implementing them in a way that will work both for farmers and consumers who wish to access the freshest of foods for their families. This has truly been a watershed moment for our movement, giving us an opportunity to stop and celebrate . . . even if for just a short while.”- Brian Snyder

Now that’s exciting news! We will keep you informed as we learn of any new updates to the proposed rules. In the meantime, we continue with our commitment to bring you the healthiest produce possible!

Written by Jen Malkoun, assistant manager at Blooming Glen Farm. Photographs and editing by Tricia Borneman.  

Despite winter’s tight grip on the Mid-Atlantic region, your farmers at Blooming Glen are stickin’ to the plan! Today is the first day of spring, and though the weather of late has been a bit on the chilly side to say the least, we are not altering the farms planting schedule. We are diligently and optimistically keeping up with our weekly seeding. We remember all too well from past years how quickly the weather fortunes can change here in Southeastern Pa. And based on that experience we are pretty convinced it will be a short spring, and we’ll be quickly rocketed right into the hot days of summer, but who knows! (Ok, we might be reconsidering the wisdom of spring broccoli, a cool weather loving crop, but that’s just one teensy change. Otherwise, all systems go!)

Innoculated sugar snap pea seed.

In honor of St. Patty’s Day, we like to follow the lore of gardeners everywhere and sow our sugar snap peas. However, instead of sowing them into the cold damp soil where they will most likely either sit dormant or rot, we sow them into flats in the heated greenhouse, to be transplanted out when things warm up a bit. This is a switch we made a few years ago, to ensure reliable germination and healthy starts from the get go.

Luckily for our first planting of early greens, it is definitely looking like spring in our freshly plowed high tunnels. Spinach, arugula and lacinato kale will soon call this warm spot home, followed closely by our heirloom tomatoes.

This week we’ve been repairing and preparing our unheated coldframe. This is where our seedlings will endure a phase of hardening off. Pictured below are Jared and Cheyenne- two of our newest crew members from Wisconsin. We’ll introduce you to them in a crew profile soon!

The journey of the transplant from seed to field begins when the seeds are sown and the flats sit on a 70 degree heated table. After germination they come off the table but remain in the womb of the propagation greenhouse where they are fussed over and fed a steady diet of heat and water.

Phase two moves them to a heated greenhouse that is a bit cooler, but still very nurtured. Phase three, when the plants are rootbound, sees them head out to the coldframe. Here they experience gradual exposure to wind (the sides can be rolled up or down), to colder temps (just row covers and the greenhouse skin protect the plants at night) and less regular waterings. This stresses the plants just enough to get the seedlings toughened up and ready for the harsh reality of life in the fields, where they will leave the safety and comfort of their trays and stand alone in the wind, rain, cold and heat, and eventually become someone’s meal.

Make those veggies part of your meal! CSA memberships for the 2014 season are available. Register on our website today!

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

Only 13 more days until the Spring Equinox, but who’s counting?! Here at the farm we’ve been wondering what this spring will hold after such an arctic, snowy and elongated winter.

Despite what we see with our eyes, the calendar tells us Spring will come. It must, and it will! We move forward as best we can with our plans – all the while our eyes on the weather and our hearts hoping for a spring thaw without over-saturated fields.

Farming is a constant shuffle – a continuous dance – between the world as it should be (according to plan) and the world as it is (reality which includes unknowns like weather, plant and insect life cycles, and time).

Along with planning for the season ahead, winter work consists of much needed farm repairs, maintenance and building. While the snow continued to pile up and ice crept in, we replaced the end-walls and plastic on one of our propagation greenhouses, purchased a new hot water heater to supply radiant heat for seedlings, and filled the tanks with propane.

After an inspiring conference with soil guru Elaine Ingham on the topic of compost and the soil food web, we came home and covered our compost windrows with covers in order to shed excess moisture.

We rebuilt our farm wagons, serviced the tractors and unfortunately took down the remnants of a high tunnel that collapsed under the loads of snow and ice.

Farming is a venture that not only lays bare all of ones mistakes and missteps in the face of nature, but brings one face to face with the impermanence of all things – attachment to anything (even plans) is not advised.

We started the season’s seeding on February 11th, with rootstock tomatoes for grafting and storage onions. They were quickly followed by our first successions of lettuce, brassicas, spinach, arugula, and heirloom tomatoes.

Arugula and heirloom tomato seedlings

As the propagation house fills, the cold weather continues. We look out onto the fields and ask: When? When will it happen? How will our plans work out? We reference records, go on experience and hope for the best, all the while keeping a positive attitude. Nothing is certain and everything is fair game. We continue to seed.

Tom and Tricia are diligently revisiting farm harvest records, and detailing and tweaking the farm’s systems. Farming is all about relationships. Whether it is the connections between soil microbiology and plant health, weather and crop yields, cultivation practices and insect and weed pressure- everything is interconnected in an intricate and diverse web. It is the farmer’s job to understand those relationships and to create the best conditions for life to survive and thrive.

One example of this is to provide habitat for pollinators and beneficial insects. The use of flowering cover crops like Sweet Alyssum to attract bees as well as predatory insects, or the practice of intercropping flowers with cash crops like lettuce and peppers, works in concert with natural rhythms and cycles to encourage a balance. Diversity leads to flexibility, which in turn creates resilience and increases the farm’s ability to rebound after a “crisis” like extreme weather.

Similar to the webs alive and active on the farm, we all have a unique role to play – each of us holding a place that is different but important. So, as we push forward – inching ever so slowly toward spring and then summer – we continue to straddle these two worlds of planning and reality. And we will continue to do our best to support your journey toward better health, a connection to the source of your food, and the creation of community. I’ll use this as a shameless plug for our CSA: if you haven’t already, please sign up!

Despite the conditions outside, we are planning another righteous season at Blooming Glen and hope that you will join us in this radical adventure of agriculture. 

Written by Jen Malkoun, assistant manager at Blooming Glen Farm. Photographs and editing by Tricia Borneman. Other photos contributed by Tom Murtha and Jen Malkoun.