Author: bloomingglenfarm

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


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

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,!

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 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.

I grew up in Cold Spring, KY, somewhere on the cusp of the country and suburbia just outside of Cincinnati, OH.  We had a set of encyclopedias that were referenced often after dinners, usually the result of some disagreement or just plain ignorance of a particular topic.  I think this part of my life instilled in me the notion that we have a whole lifetime to learn as much as we can and it is most likely a never-ending endeavor.  Following this curiosity has led me, formally and informally, to be a musician, a long-distance hiker, a geographer, a community organizer and data nerd, a traveler of the Americas, and now a farmer.  My partner, Rebecca, mentioned in her apprentice profile how the visibility of farms in Latin America inspired us to help create that reality closer to home and ultimately brought us to Blooming Glen Farm.  Here, I find myself being educated on the most essential task of survival and wondering how it took so long to arrive at this.   

Farming so far has amazed me in its strange paradox of being complicatedly simple, in its constant presence and persistent pace, in its demand for improvisation and flexibility, and in the length of time it takes transforming a seed into something somebody wants to buy. My appreciation for where food comes from and what effort that goes into it has grown. I can only compare the physical demand required for this occupation to when I hiked over 2,000 miles on the Appalachian Trail in 2005.  Never since then have I felt the level of exhaustion at the end of every day until now.  I can honestly say it is one of my favorite feelings in life.  It’s the feeling of satisfaction that I was gifted an able body and I am using it to it’s fullest potential and that potential is helping promote health and knowledge. 

As I have worked in the field for the past two months, my thoughts have been revolving around the history of this country’s physical laborers and how farming creates a connection to a complex and deep past. It also has drawn my attention to what the future looks like as farmers become increasingly more scarce.  With around 2% of the population claiming farming as their full time occupation and the average age of a farmer at 57 there is an urgency to figure out why farming has or is fallen out of favor. Simultaneously I see a growing excitement that is shared by many of my peers in the possibility of reclaiming how we produce and consume food in a healthy and sustainable manner.

My previous occupation at the Network Center for Community Change in Louisville, KY taught me more than I ever thought I would learn about how to take ideas and make them work by getting as many people as possible thinking about these ideas, having discussions, and turning those discussions into action.  I think that is why I am here today.  I want to work on how we connect two worlds: the world that produces the obscurely tangible ideas like better communities and the absolutely tangible world of scale production of real food.  I want to find the answer to why it has taken 30 years for me to figure out how many people 30+ acres of land can feed.  I want to join the others already working on these issues and learn how we can make sure future generations know what food actually is from a young age. Rebecca and I are lucky to have found an opportunity to pursue these desires and pay the bills while doing so. Thanks to Tricia and Tom, my fellow farmers, and all the people reading this who support people who grow food and understand that the decisions we make in our daily lives are real and have implications that reach way beyond where we live and work.

Text and photos courtesy of Bob Dixon.

Grilled summer squashOne of my favorite parts of summer is the time we get to spend cooking and eating outside.  Grilling vegetables brings out a depth of flavor that just cannot be matched on the stovetop, and we’ve been taking full advantage of that with this season’s CSA share.  One of the best veggies to grill is summer squash and its partner, zuchinni.

Eating summer squash provides us with cancer-fighting antioxidant nutrients Grilled summer squashvitamin A, vitamin C and manganese. We also get a healthy dose of essential minerals magnesium and potassium, as well as copper. However, because many of these nutrients live in the skin of the squash, we need to make sure we leave it intact. Grilling summer squash allows us to do just that!

Of course, squash can be cubed or cut into disks for kabobs, but I really like it when its cut into planks and placed right on the grates of a hot grill. The recipe below calls for this method of cooking; give it a try and let us know what you think. I’ve paired the delicious and nutritious summer squashes with superfoods, brown rice and Swiss chard, and healthy plant protein from chickpeas. All that wrapped up into a summery salad suitable for a main dish or a side — that’s tough to beat!

Grilled summer squash

Grilled Summer Squash & Brown Rice Salad


1 cup brown rice
3-4 summer squash and/or zucchini, sliced lengthwise, about 1/4″ thick
5-6 leaves Swiss chard, stems completely removed (slice the stem out from between the two halves of the leaves)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 sweet onion and some of its greens, chopped

2 tbs olive oil (or other oil of your choice)
1 tsp grated lemon zest plus 2 tbs juice
1/2 teaspoon agave
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh herbs of your choice (basil works great here), chopped
additional salt and pepper to taste

Cook the rice according to package directions.

Fire up your grill! Lay out the squash slices. Lightly spray each side with grapeseed (or other high-heat) oil, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Once the grill is heated, place the squash in one layer, cover and cook for ~3 minutes, until grill marks are apparent. Flip and cook another couple minutes, again until grill marks are apparent. Squash cooks very quickly on the grill and can become soggy (especially the larger ones) if left on too long, so be careful not to overcook. Remove from heat and let cool.

Blanch the Swiss chard in boiling water for 2 minutes, rinse in cold water and chop. Add chard, onion, chickpeas to a serving bowl.

Cut squash into a large dice and add to the bowl; you should have about 2 cups.  Gently stir in rice.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well and then add to salad, stirring to combine everything. Adjust seasonings to taste.  Serve at room temperature, or chill.  This salad also make a great stuffing for tortillas or collard wraps.

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,!

11.2 inches of rain have fallen on the farm in the last 30 days- that’s a quarter of our annual rainfall. As farmers we pretty much are always checking the weather radar, but these past few weeks it seems like we are glued to our mobile devices, as storms constantly pop up and head our way. Luckily there has been enough drying time between downpours for us to get the last of the winter squash planted, along with the leeks and brussel sprouts. We were also able to cultivate the sweet potato aisles, stake and trellis the peppers and eggplants, and hand weed the corn, onions and sweet potatoes.

CSA share week 6, 7/2/13.

This week’s share sees the first of the potatoes- freshly dug with tender uncured skins, they are called new potatoes, and should be refrigerated. Our crew had the chance yesterday to get up close and personal with the colorado potato beetle- left to its own devices this colorful striped beetle will rapidly defoliate the potatoes (and eggplants), eventually killing the plants. Instead, we hand pick them off the crops, dropping them into buckets of soapy water.

Cantaloupes; sweet potato vines

Walking throught the cantaloupe field this weekend, there was a steady hum of honey bees. It won’t be long before we are enjoying these fragrant fruits. The sweet potato vines are rapidly spreading- they seem to be flourishing in the rain, as are the green beans. Despite lots of muddy feet, CSA members enjoyed the pick-your-own flower patch this week, which is in full bloom.

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.