Author: bloomingglenfarm

There are only 5 days left to comment on the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). We know that’s not a lot of time, but as a crucial supporter of local agriculture we hope you’ll take a moment to read the following and let your voice be heard.

The Food Safety Modernization Act is the first major overhaul of our nation’s food safety practices since 1938. It represents some big changes to our food system – and it is extremely important for the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to get these regulations right.

Why you need to give your input to the FDA:

“It’s not easy to explain, but anyone experienced with monitoring food system policy knows that the most important aspects of FSMA have little to do with issues involving water, manure, exemptions or even definitions.  What we’re really dealing with here is the potential culmination of a decades-long process of government policy being used to favor a fully industrialized food system over the preceding system, which was, unconsciously and by its very nature, more local, sustainable and organic in the way it functioned.” – Brian Snyder, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA).

For commentary on this important moment in food policy, read more from Brian Snyder at his blog, Write to Farm. To clarify, we at Blooming Glen Farm take food safety very seriously, have received numerous food safety trainings over the years, and both strengthened and put into place a variety of common sense food safety practices. I particularly like Brian Snyder’s blog post from 2010, Sustainable Food Safety. 

About the Food Safety Modernization Act:

FSMA gives the FDA broad new powers to prevent food safety problems, detect and respond to food safety issues, and improve the safety of imported foods. FSMA does not change food safety regulations for meat, poultry, and egg products, which are under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s jurisdiction.

FSMA authorizes new regulations at the farm level for producers and certain facilities. Specifically, FSMA mandates the establishment of:
Standards for produce production (Produce Rule), and food safety measures for facilities that process food for human consumption (Preventive Controls Rule).

Top 10 Problems with the FDA’s Proposed Food Safety Regulations for Farmers and Local Food Businesses :

1.    They’re too expensive. The rules could cost farmers over half of their profits and will keep beginners from starting to farm.

2.    They treat farmers unfairly. FDA is claiming broad authority to revoke small farmers’ protections without any proof of a public health threat.

3.    They will reduce access to fresh, healthy food. Local food distributors like food hubs could close, and new food businesses will not launch.

4.   They make it harder for farms to diversify. Grain, dairy, and livestock farmers could be denied access to emerging local food markets. 

5.    They will over-regulate local food. The rules could consider farmers markets, roadside stands, and community-supported agriculture programs “manufacturing facilities” subject to additional regulation.

6.    They treat pickles like a dangerous substance. The rules fail to protect a host of low-risk processing activities done by smaller farms and processors.

7.    They make it nearly impossible to use natural fertilizers like manure and compost. Farmers will be pushed to use chemicals instead. 

8.    They require excessive water testing on farms. Farmers using water from streams and lakes will have to pay for weekly water tests regardless of risk or cost.

9.    They could harm wildlife and degrade our soil and water. The rules could force farmers to halt safe practices that protect natural resources and wildlife.

10.   Bonus: there’s at least one good thing about the rules. The rules take an ‘integrated’, not a ‘commodity-specific’ approach – meaning farmers won’t face over 30 separate rules for each kind of fresh produce they grow.

Give your input! The FDA’s new food safety rules must:

  • Allow farmers to use sustainable farming practices, including those already allowed and encouraged by existing federal organic standards and conservation programs.
  • Ensure that diversified and innovative farms, particularly those pioneering models for increased access to healthy, local foods, continue to grow and thrive without being stifled. 
  • Provide options that treat family farms fairly, with due process and without excessive costs.

Make Your Voice Heard: Submit a Comment to FDA Today!

FDA is seeking comments from the public – that’s you! The #1 most important thing you can do to help fix FSMA is take a few minutes RIGHT NOW to submit a comment to FDA either online or through the mail. Click here to see a sample comment to get started! It is important to personalize your comment – FDA will read every single submission, and unique comments have the most impact. The comment period deadline is November 15!  It is critical for sustainable farmers and consumers who care about where their food comes from to write comments to FDA about the proposed regulations to ensure that FDA correctly implements FSMA!

For more information on FMSA and its potential impact on small farms and producers, go to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s website.

Says PASA’s Brian Snyder: “If you have not already weighed-in with written comments on the FSMA rules, you are in danger of forfeiting your opportunity to participate in history. Everything you need to know about the proposed regulations and how to comment can be found on the NSAC website, or even more succinctly on the PASA website (thanks to NSAC, of course).”

In a nutshell:

There are two ways to submit your comments:

  1. Comment electronically at!docketDetail;D=FDA-2011-N-0921
  2. Written comments may be faxed to the FDA at 301-827-6870 or you may mail them to:
    Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)
    Food and Drug Administration
    5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061
    Rockville, MD 20852

Twenty four weeks have past since the start of the CSA season way back in May. For the farm crew that’s 48 harvests down- not counting market and wholesale harvests. Over 400 families from our local community were fed this season through the CSA- some coming to pick up every week, some every other week. For a full share family that was 24 weeks of veggies, 18 weeks of flower bouquets, 38 pounds of potatoes, 32 pounds of slicing tomatoes, 15 pounds of chard and kale, 16 pounds of onions, 18 pounds summer squash, 6 melons, 10 pounds of sweet peppers, and the list goes on and on!

CSA share, week 24, 11/5/13.

In addition we continued our relationship with our local food pantries, with leftover produce from the farm being picked up every single Monday morning and distributed to those in need by volunteer extraordinaire Joe Coleman. Also thanks to Cathy Snyder and her team from Rolling Harvest Food Rescue for her boundless energy in making sure no edible crops are ever wasted at any farm in Bucks County! Her work is real and tangible and has a serious positive impact on our local community. (I would urge you to check out their website and consider giving a gift of a donation to their organization this holiday season.)

For Tom and I, over the past 8 years, we’ve seen 384 CSA harvests (but who’s counting?). We’ve shared with you in blog posts over the past months the stories of the many hands here that contribute their collective energy to growing your vegetables, and kept you updated on the tasks and efforts involved. Yet with over 50 full and part time employees having come and gone over the past 8 years, the main constants for Tom and I are truly this land that continues to provide us all with nourishing food, and the community of families that value and support our effort and vision. We know this is not an easy thing to do- that there is an equal amount of work and committment on your end to get to the farm each week, to keep an open mind about quantities and varieties, to develop menus and recipes from what is in your share, and to cook (or juice) that mountain of veggies each week. We thank you profusely for making that commitment this season, and hope you’ll continue with us as we grow together into the future. 

Year after year, Tom and I are continuously learning and are always experimenting with the crops we grow and the systems in place to grow them (like plant spacing, soil building techniques, equipment to make things easier and more efficient for our crew, and so on). Then we evaluate what works and doesn’t work (how to minimize brussel sprout bug damage and keep caterpillars off the broccoli, how to grow bigger sweet corn, and to do it all organically; how to teach and inspire our crew, and stay true to standards of quality and productivity while juggling expectations). I would say that though the specifics may change from season to season, our biggest challenges continue to be weather (too much rain being the hardest on our soil type), pests and labor.

This year we felt like we were able to introduce more diversity in the shares. New crops this season: sweet potato greens, lemongrass, black radish, broccoli raab, brussel sprouts, big fat fall kohlrabi, transplanted and bunched arugula and dandelion greens, and cuban pumpkins. New varieties were trialed of potatoes, tomatillos, sweet corn, tomatoes, and storage onions as well as fall cauliflower and broccoli. We hope you’ve enjoyed both the staple crops and the more unusual offerings. We will be sending out a survey soon- we hope you’ll share your thoughts with us. Re-registration for the 2014 should be available in the next few weeks. Stay tuned and have a wonderful winter!

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

Blooming Glen PotatoesBlooming Glen Farm grows a really wonderful selection of potatoes. We’ve been introduced to a variety of potatoes this season, including Sangre, Purple Sun, Kerrs Pink and Purple Viking, along with classic Yukons. While specific nutrition may differ a bit between varieties, generally speaking, all potatoes have almost half the recommended daily values of vitamins C and B6 and potassium. The recent low-carb craze have given potatoes a bad rap in recent years, but the truth is potatoes are actually a healthy complex carbohydrate. They’re a “good” carb, meaning that they digest slowly, preventing your blood sugar from spiking like simple carbs do. The caveat: We need to eat them with their skin and prepare them as healthily as possible. So, choose the baked potato or simple mashed potatoes over the French fries and potato chips 🙂

If you’re anything like me, you still have some potatoes from the last few weeks’ shares hanging out in your kitchen, and maybe even a couple different varieties. Feel free to mix and match whatever potatoes you happen to have on hand for the recipe below. This recipe is based on one of my mom’s classic soups. Growing up, we always looked forward to the first batch of her potato soup each fall — it took some of the sting out of the increasing colder weather and darker nights. In this version, I add beans, which provide a healthy boost of fiber and plant-based protein, and makes for a more filling and nutritionally complete meal. The seasonings are kept super simple, allowing the natural flavors of our fresh and local potatoes, leeks and celery to really come through.

Sam’s Potato Soup

Sam's Potato Soup
Serves 12

2 tbs Earth Balance
1 tsp peppercorns
1-1/2 cups leeks, cut into half moons and sliced
1 cup celery stalks and greens, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5-6 cups potatoes, scrubbed clean with skin left intact, cut into a large dice
1/2 tsp salt
6-8 cups vegetable or No-Chicken broth
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter in a large heavy-bottom pot. Add leeks, celery, garlic, salt, pepper and peppercorns, sprinkle with a bit of salt and stir well. Cook until veggies begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Stir in potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and mix well. Add a splash of broth and let potatoes heat up, about 3-5 minutes. Add 6 cups of broth and bring to a boil. Let simmer and cook until potatoes begin to get get tender, about 20 minutes. Remove peppercorns. Add beans and, depending on consistency of soup desired, add more broth. Cook for 5-10 minutes more. Salt and pepper to taste. Option: You can blend part of the soup with an immersion blender or in a blender for a creamier soup.

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,!

In this week’s share and on our market stands you’ll see a few different winter radishes: daikon, watermelon and one you might not be familiar with- the black radish. The black radish, or round black spanish type, is a variety hailing from eastern Mediterranean countries. It has a history as both a food and a medicine that goes back thousands of years in Egypt, Greece, Rome and China. Egyptian tomb illustrations from 2000 BC are thought to show black radishes and it was perhaps the food of the builders of the ancient pyramids. High in Vitamin C, they are known for their ability to fight off infection and promote healthy digestive function. In Russia, the black radish has long been used in the treatment of thyroid problems and imbalances.

The black radish has a black skin, ivory flesh and a crisp dry texture with a pungent earthy flavor. With its soaring heat (it can be very hot!), the black radish is recommended grated raw as a substitute for horseradish. It’s also delicious roasted. A popular German way to enjoy these long-storing radishes throughout the winter is sliced, sprinkled with salt then rinsed after about 10 min. to remove some of the bitterness, and eaten on rye bread with a dark beer!

CSA share, week 23, 10/29/13

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

Folks were lined up in anticipation of our fourth annual Pie-Bake Off contest at the farm’s Harvest Festival on October 12th, waiting patiently for the chance to taste and vote for their favorite pie. Over 100 votes were cast for the People’s Choice, and it’s no stretch to say that we were all winners for the opportunity to taste ten delicious homemade pies.

Lining up while the judges make their decision; Patiently waiting!

Bernadette Rodrigo, the landslide winner of the People’s Choice with her scrumptious Cherry Pistachio Pie, was presented with the large ceramic pie trophy made by Katia McGuirk- bragging rights for one year, to be held and passed on to next year’s winner.

New this year we introduced the Judges Vote. Our esteemed panel of three judges carefully savored and compared slices of the competing pies. They were able to quickly come to a concensus on the first and second place pie, with some deliberation involved for the third place win. The judges looked at creativity, flavor, crust and presentation. The winner of the Judges Vote, also Bernadette Rodrigo, was presented with a ceramic pie-plate handmade by potter Christine Hernandez. (*The winners of both the People’s and Judges awards were not announced until later in the day, so no voters were influenced.)

2013 Pie Judges: Thomas Murtha, Iliana Berkowitz, and Susan Kahn

The first pie judge was Thomas Murtha- not Blooming Glen’s Farmer Tom- but his father who shares not only a name but a deep love for pie. Thomas Murtha turns 82 this week, and that adds up to a lot of pies enjoyed over a lifetime (without hesitation he’d choose pie over cake anyday), with many more to taste and enjoy. Thomas, (aka Tom the young, with Farmer Tom being Tom the Younger), or Pop as we like to call him, has a serious soft spot for fruit pies (but don’t tell next year’s contestants ;)).

The second pie judge was Iliana Imberman Berkowitz. Iliana is a professional bread baker at Stephen Starr’s Parc Bistro in the heart of downtown Philadelphia. Previously, she made croissant and other pastries in West Philadelphia at Four Worlds Bakery. “In my spare time I like to bake cookies, pies, brownies, and anything sweet. I’ve got flour in my veins! I was delighted and honored to participate as a judge in this year’s contest, and was impressed by all 10 entries.”

Susan Kahn of Bucks County Cookie Company was the third pie judge. Susan said, “I’ve been baking all my life, well, ever since I was young. I always loved it! I started my cookie business for that reason, actually. Guess I figured I might as well start a business that I loved. So, when I left my full time job, I began BCCC in 2008. Pies are just such a homemade comforting all American dessert. Everybody loves Pie! My favorite pies have a nice flaky crust and the filling can be anything from fruits to custards. It doesn’t matter…I love them all.”

Cherry Pistachio Pie
by Bernadette Rodrigo
Judges Vote: First Place
People’s Choice: First Place

Bernadette Rodrigo lives with her husband and two children in Plumsteadville. She has been enjoying baking and experimenting with ethnic and gourmet cooking since she was a teenager. She finds joy in being able to create food that brings people together and puts a smile on the faces of friends and family. “This pie takes elements from different recipes and combines them. The simplicity of the ingredients and the richness added by the buttery crust are what makes this pie irresistible. I hope you enjoy it.”- Bernadette

Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 sticks chilled butter
3 egg yolks
4 tablespoons ice water

Combine flour and sugar. Chop butter into 1/2” squares and add to flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, blend until it resembles course meal. In a small bowl lightly beat egg yolks and water. Add liquid to the flour mixture, tossing with a fork, until evenly distributes. Mixture will be crumbly. Use hands to press the dough into a ball. Turn out onto counter top and kneed a few times, smearing the butte and forming the dough into a ball. Divide in two. Flatten into two discs. Wrap and refrigerate. This recipe makes enough crust for 2 pies.

Pistachio Paste
3/4 cup pistachios, unsalted
1/4 cup almonds, blanched
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Process above ingredients in food processor until a paste forms. Then add:
4 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Process until all ingredients are incorporated. Set aside.

Cherry Filling
3 cups of cherries, fresh, frozen or jarred
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon sugar
Toss together and set aside.

Crumb Topping
1/2 cup pistachios
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine in above ingredients in food processor to mix, leaving oats semi-intact.

Roll pastry to fit your pie pan and shape the crust.
Spread the pistachio paste evenly on the bottom of the crust.
Spread cherries evenly over the paste. Then sprinkle crumb topping over the cherries.
Bake at 375 degrees until crust is browned and the center bubbles. Approx. 45 minutes.

Raspberry-Apple Crumb Pie
By Esther Berko
Judges Vote: Second Place
People’s Choice: Third Place

“My inspiration to participate in the contest was because it would make me feel closer to my daughter Lexi’s world at the farm and more than just a spectator. (Lexi is a student at DelVal College and a BGF employee.)  Before Saturday I had no thoughts about the pie because I really don’t enjoy baking that much and my sister e-mailed the recipe to me. I have neither baked that pie before Saturday nor tasted it until the pie contest – and, yes, it was delicious!! However, given the positive response, I will definitely bake it again and will consider it my favorite pie in the universe. I will definitely participate again next year and will begin the search for a great pie recipe … or maybe concoct my own! I guess you could say my inspiration to bake more pies has just begun!” -Esther Berko

1 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box.  Do not bake ahead of time.

3 cups thinly sliced peeled baking apples (3 medium).  Add a splash of lemon juice.
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups frozen raspberries, thawed
½ cup cubed or crumbled almond paste (from 7 or 8 oz. package) *Check the label to make sure it lists almonds as the first ingredient.

Almond Crumb Topping
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup cold butter
½ cup sliced almonds – roast them in a pan a little

Heat oven to 350.  Place pie crust in a 9-inch glass pie plate as directed on the box for One-Crust Filled pie.
In a large bowl, stir together apples, ½ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and the cinnamon. Spoon filling into crust-lined plate.  Sprinkle with raspberries.  Sprinkle almond paste over raspberries.

In medium bowl, mix ½ cup flour and ¼ cup sugar.  Cut in butter, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions) until particles are size of small peas. Stir in almonds. Sprinkle topping evenly over almond paste.

Bake 30 minutes. Cover edge with 2-3” strips of foil to prevent excessive browning.  Bake 30 to 50 minutes longer or until apples are tender in center and surface is golden brown.  (Put foil underneath to catch drips).  Serve warm or cool.

Sour Cream Apple Pie (adapted from The Silver Palate cookbook)
By Alysha Day
Judges Vote: Third Place

“I really enjoy cooking and baking with fresh ingredients for my family and friends. Over the past 2 years my family and I have learned so much about the food we eat by being members of your CSA, and are glad to have the chance to share something delicious with you!” -Alysha Day

2 ½ cups unbleached flour
5 tablespoons Sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
2-3 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (chilled)
6 tablespoons vegetable shortening (chilled)
4-6 tablespoons apple cider (chilled)

Sift the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon into a bowl. Cut in the butter and sugar with a fork until the mixture resembles rolled oats. Moisten with just enough cider to permit the dough to be formed into a ball. Wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hr.

After filling is ready cut off 1/3 of the dough and return it to the fridge. Roll out the remaining dough between sheets of wax paper. Grease a 9inch pie pan and line it with dough.

5-7 tart apples (I mix several varieties.)
2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg lightly beaten
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

Whisk together all filling ingredients and then toss with the peeled, cored and thinly sliced apples. Spoon into the pastry lined pie. Roll out remaining dough and cut into strips for lattice on top.

3 tablespoons Brown Sugar
3 tablespoons Sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Set the pie on center rack of a 350 oven (preheated).  Bake until juices are bubbling and crust is golden. 50-65 minutes. If crust browns too quickly cover loosely with foil.


Strawberry Crumb Pie
By Tricia Borneman
People’s Choice: Second Place

“Each pie contest so far I’ve found a new recipe and labored over the elaborate ingredients- (homemade gingersnap cookies became a crust with a carmel brittle one year), but this year I just decided to go with my favorite pie to make and eat, especially since it really showcases the taste of the farm’s bounty. The word from the pie servers was this was a favorite with the kids- I can relate- it’s a pie I grew up loving, and one I look forward to making every spring. Thanks to my mom for this recipe- not many people go for the straight strawberry- but we both agree- don’t mess up our strawberries with rhubarb! (Though I do love a straight rhubarb pie!) Enjoy!”- Tricia Borneman

Pate Brisee recipe from Martha

Crumb Topping
1 Cup flour, ½ cup sugar and 1 stick cold butter. Mix with pastry cutter until crumbly.

4-6 cups sliced strawberries (I used frozen ones from the farm from Spring)
2 1/2 tablespoons Tapioca
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ to ¾ cups sugar, depending on how sweet berries are.

Mix filling ingredients gently, let set a few minutes, pour into 9” crust. Top with crumb topping. Put pie on cookie sheet to catch drips. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 min then turn back to 350 for approx. 40 min. If crust is getting too done, cover edges with foil. Pie is done when crumb top is golden and pie is bubbly.

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

After a beautiful stretch of mild fall weather it looks like the cold autumn winds are here. It’s hard not to forget that this time last year Hurricane Sandy was headed our way, and the year before we experienced that freak October snowstorm. Who knows what will be next, but reflecting on last year’s experience I am reminded again to be thankful for the luxury of electricity which keeps the house warm, the food cold, and the water flowing.

Here at the farm we prepared for the first frost by getting out the giant white floating row covers and blanketing the more tender crops like lettuce, arugula, radicchio, beets and carrots.

Only two more weeks of CSA pick-ups to go. A reminder that the last share is Tuesday Nov. 5 and Thursday Nov. 7th. These last few shares will contain butternut squash, one of my favorite fall vegetables. This recipe for Minestrone and Parmesan Biscuit Potpie from Martha Stewart is a favorite in our house, especially since it utilizes leeks, kale, butternut, the tomatoes I canned from earlier in the summer, and delicious buttery homemade biscuits. The perfect comfort food after a cold day.

 The last big job on the farm is happening this week: garlic planting! A major thanks to everyone who helped break up the garlic at the farm’s Harvest Festival Garlic Social– what an unbelievably huge help that was for us.

Each individual clove is planted 6 inches apart in rows of 3, in our 225 foot beds. This year we are aiming to plant 18 beds- that’s over 24,000 cloves!, then covering them all with a thick blanket of straw mulch where they will grow for the next 9 months. See you next summer, garlic crop!

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

I am often asked by people what new crops we are growing at the farm. Not all our experiments always work out, but this week’s share sees one new addition which we were very pleased with: the Cuban pumpkin. Also called Calabaza, or Jamaican pumpkin, it is mottled green, yellow and tan, with a light yellow flesh and a smooth sweet flavor. As the name suggests it is typically grown throughout the Caribbean as well as Central and South America. A popular Cuban dish is Arroz con Calabaza, or Pumpkin Rice. Chunks of squash are simmered with rice, garlic, onions, peppers, and fragrant herbs and spices. The squash can also be baked or made into soup, and substituted in recipes for other hard skinned winter squashes like butternut and hubbard.

CSA share, week 21, 10/15/13

Thanks to everyone who came out to the farm’s Harvest Fest on Saturday. After the torrential rain on Thursday and Friday, we ended up with a gorgeous afternoon, and a wonderful turnout.

When you’re at the farm, check out the results of the community earth loom, and feel free to add to it on your pick-up days. It will remain there throughout the seasons to weather and be recreated. You can also see the giant paper mache tomato created by Spiral Q puppet makers from Philadelphia. Festival goers answered the question What does Blooming Glen Farm mean to you? and glued their red slips of papers onto the tomato. More details on our 4th annual pie bake-off contest are coming soon! The winning recipes- both for the popular vote and the judges vote- will be posted here in the next few days, so stay tuned!

Thank you to 4th Street Foodworks of Frenchtown, NJ for generously giving out their delicious organic kettle corn and for The Coffee Scoop for providing their fair trade, locally roasted coffee. Thanks to artist extraordinaire Katia McGuirk for manning the earth loom and bringing my vision to life. The beautiful artwork of Jennifer Schuster of Sunny Face Painting was on display on arms and faces throughout the festival. And local bluegrass band Goose Creek Pioneers provided the great toe-tapping music and good vibes! Thank you also to our wonderful farm community, and to all our volunteers and others who made the event a success!

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Photos also contributed by Juan Manzo and Katia McGuirk.

sweet potatoesIt’s hard to find a person who can’t appreciate sweet potatoes. They’re often something I recommend to clients who need to add a little more color into their diets — both literally and figuratively — because their sweet flavor, beautiful color and ease of preparation make them a relatively safe new veggie to try.  I’ve found that sweet potatoes, specifically fresh ones, have the ability to impress even the most fastidious of palates 🙂

Nutritionally speaking, sweet potatoes are most noted for providing beta carotene, which helps increase the cancer-fighting antioxidant, vitamin A in our blood. They also provide a healthy shot of fiber, vitamin C and manganese, in a low calorie, low fat, low cholesterol package.  As is the case with many fruits and vegetables, it’s important to eat the skin since that’s where many of its nutritional benefits are stored.

Unfortunately, we have a tendency to add far too many sweeteners in sweet potato recipes — the most classic example being, of course, the marshmallow-topped Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole! There’s nothing wrong with adding a small drizzle of maple syrup to sweet potatoes, but having these potatoes fresh in our CSA shares each week offer a great opportunity to experiment a bit and try them prepared different ways. We can simply bake them and top with a small dollop of butter, or mash them adding a sprinkle orange zest and cinnamon. They also make a good addition to soups and chilis, as seen in the chili recipe below. This chili pairs the sweet potato with savory and smokey spices, and boosts nutrition with heart-healthy black beans and one one of my all-time favorite superfoods, kale. An added bonus: In total, it uses five veggies (potatoes, kale, onion, peppers, tomatoes) from our share!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili

sweet potato and black bean chili

2 small onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 tbsp chili powder
1-1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
2 cups chopped kale
1 cup sweet peppers, diced
3 – 4 cups sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean and diced.  Leave the skin on, but cut out any gnarly spots.
2 15-ounce cans black beans
1 24-ounce can diced tomatoes or equal amount of fresh diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
salt and pepper

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot (I used a Dutch oven), sauté onion and garlic with a sprinkle of salt over medium-high heat for a couple minutes until onion begins to soften.  Mix in spices and cook for another minute. Add potato, kale and peppers and a splash of the broth and stir well.  Cover and cook for ~5 minutes until veggies begin to soften.  Add tomatoes, beans and broth, stir well and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Salt and pepper to taste, serve with vegan (or dairy) sour cream and fresh cilantro.

Post sources: Nutrition Data

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,!

Last year we experimented with growing a few plants of lemongrass in the discovery garden. The aroma of the fresh lemongrass, like the warm scent of tropical flowers, won us over to this delightful herb immediately. The grass hung in my kitchen all winter for delicious herbal tea. This season we attempted to grow enough of the giant 5 foot tall masses to be able to include some in the share.

Lemongrass grows in individual stalks, in a giant clump much like ornamental grass. Layers of tough green leaves surround a tender central bulb, similar to the way spring scallions grow. Since it is a tropical plant we grew ours in bags of soil in our greenhouse, moving them outside once it was warm enough.

A popular ingredient in Thai cooking, lemongrass imparts a delicate floral lemon flavor due to its high content of citral oil. It can either be finely chopped and integrated into stir-fries, marinades, salads, spice rubs and curry paste, or chopped into sticks and bruised and used to flavor dishes like broths, soups, braising liquids and stews while they cook, then removed before serving. The longer it’s left in, the stronger the lemon flavor- for a light flavor add it in toward the end of the cooking time. Only the bottom six inches or so of the bulb and stalk are typically used in cooking, with the more tender center being used for dishes where the lemongrass will be left in. The less flavorful grassy leaves can be made into a wonderful tea — just cut with scissors into pieces, add hot water, steep for 5-15 min , strain and serve.

In eastern cultures, lemongrass has long been used to treat fever, flu, headaches and to aid digestion. There is some research that has even shown potential cancer fighting and preventative properties in lemongrass. Many patients take to drinking lemongrass tea during chemotherapy treatments. To store, the stalks can be refrigerated for a few weeks, or frozen for up to 6 months, and the grass can be hung to dry.

Also in the share this week, you’ll see what happens when Farmer Tom spends too much time indoors with the seed catalogs in the dead of winter. He was boondoggled by a photo of a Dutchman in a seed catalog holding an 8 pound kohlrabi. That’s right, an 8 pound kohlrabi. You can look forward to (or blame Tom for) those alien monsters this week. They are amazingly sweet and delicious- the size does not negatively impact the flavor at all- so enjoy!

We hope to see you at the Blooming Glen Farm Harvest Festival this Saturday October 12th from 2pm until dark. Join us from 2-5 pm for all sorts of wonderful crafts and activities, our fourth annual pie contest, wagon rides, relay races, a puppet show, live bluegrass music, earth loom weaving and more! Come for the potluck dinner at 5:15 pm- bring a dish to share, your own beverage and place settings. Celebrate the bounty of the season!

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

Coming up soon: “Winter Wednesdays” at the farm! We will be opening up a market stand in the pick-up room at the farm on Wednesdays from 12-7 pm starting in December. We will have all our fall greens and roots for sale, and more! We hope you’ll consider continuing to “shop” from us through the winter months. CSA members who sign back up for the 2014 season will receive 15% off the farm stand prices throughout the winter. 

Blooming Glen will also be participating in the Easton indoor holiday market on Saturdays in December (10-2pm), the Headhouse Farmers Market in Philadelphia on Sundays until Dec. 15th (10-2pm), and the Wrightstown winter market on the 2nd and 4th Saturday’s from December through April (10-11am).

Looking toward the cold months ahead, the greenhouses are being prepped and planted with late fall and winter greens. The last of the heirloom tomato plants had to be removed to make way. Sigh. Any later and the greens won’t have enough time to get established before the short days of winter. We’ve transplanted spinach, kale, lettuce, arugula, and swiss chard.

Carrots will also be direct sown into the greenhouses for a late winter, early spring harvest. Outside the final field planting of direct sown carrots has been thinned, as well as the beets, winter radishes and turnips.

The last of the field plantings also went in- broccoli raab, fennel, beets and arugula. Clean up continues- fields of drip tape need to be removed- if the mulch is biodegradable it is disced under, if not, it’s wound up and removed. Then the cover crop seed is spinned out, with a final discing to bury it. A new purchase this fall, a drip and mulch winder, eliminates (mostly) the dreaded and dirty task of pulling up drip by hand.

New in the share this week: a rainbow of kabocha squash to choose from, crunchy juicy bok choy and the first of the winter radishes- the daikon. All are popular staples in asian cuisine. The name daikon is Japanese for large root. It’s wonderful in miso soups, slow cooked in any recipe you’d use turnips, in kimchi with carrots or as refrigerator pickles.

CSA share, week 19, 10/1/13.

Looking ahead, the last week of the CSA, week 24, is Tuesday November 5 and Thursday November 7. The delivery share ends next Friday, October 11th. We will be offering Thanksgiving boxes of fall produce for purchase again this season. Order requests will be sent out Nov. 18th and boxes can be picked up the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, November 26.  CSA reenrollment information will be sent out in the next month. We hope you’ll consider coming back for another season!

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