Weekly Share

The spring bounty was evident at the farm this week. As we enter year eight here at Blooming Glen Farm, we are pleased to see that our steady soil building practices seem to be yielding more vibrant, health-nurturing vegetables each season. The crops are exploding with the heat and steady irrigation, though it looks like we’ve returned to more reasonable weather and cooler nights. Despite seeing the first of the lightning bugs, we still have a few weeks until the Solstice, the official start of summer!

CSA share week 2, 6/4/13.

Last week was a tough week on the crops, but also on our crew. With a steady flow of popsicles, cold beverages and lots of sunscreen on hand, we made it through the worst of it. There were some bigger weeds to contend with- a lot of hand pulling in our onion crop- but we spent the hottest part of the days thinning carrots. Slow and low to the ground, this task required a bit less exertion than being in the greenhouse saunas trellising tomatoes.

Thinning and weeding carrots.

The only crop that got planted last week was the eggplants- it was just too hot to shock tender transplants when it’s in the upper 90 degrees. The heat went on just long enough to cause some problems for our cooler weather loving crops: the tatsoi bolted (put up flowers), some newly emerged radishes withered under the row covers, and we are seeing more heat-loving pests like aphids and flea beetles. To help combat the aphids on our greenhouse heirloom tomatoes, we released parasitic wasps. These tiny wasps look more like gnats than the wasps we are familiar with, but they will take care of the aphids over time.

A rainbow of cabbages.

Our spring cabbages are a rainbow of color, and will be harvested in a few weeks. Interested in learning to make sauerkraut or other simple tabletop pickles? I’m thrilled that we have local fermentation enthusiast and author of the fermentation site Phickle.com, Amanda Feifer, coming to the farm in a few weeks. Her fermentation class is 12-2pm on Sunday June 23, you can click here for more info and to register. After reading Michael Pollan’s wonderful article in the Sunday NY Times Magazine on May 15, Some of My Best Friends Are Germs, I am ready to add more fermented foods to my diet and boost the beneficial bacteria in my gut! Hope to see you there!

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

The CSA is off and running, with the first pick-up on Tuesday, May 28th. Despite the rain CSA members were smiling in delight at the fresh vegetables. Those with umbrellas and rain ponchos bravely headed out to the strawberry patch and were rewarded for their efforts with a quart of juicy sweet berries.

CSA share week 1, 5/28/13.

The smell of garlic wafted through the pick-up room.  Green garlic, or spring garlic, looks like a small leek, but is actually a young garlic, before it plumps up to the bulbous form we are all familiar with. You can chop the white part just like you would a leek, and use it in place of a clove of garlic. Its unique sweet flavor is wonderful sauteed with any of the greens in the share. A staple in our house this time of year is sauteed spring onions, green garlic and kale.

If you are unfamiliar with how to cook all these spring greens, or would like some new ideas, I suggest you check out the Glorious Greens cooking class we are having at the farm next week, Wednesday, June 5 at 7pm. Plant-based nutrition counselor Patti Lombardi will be demonstrating a handful of techniques and recipes for enjoying fresh nutritious greens from the farm. Click here for more details and to register.

A soggy harvest crew Tuesday morning with spring onions for the CSA.

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

Well folks, it has been 24 weeks, and that’s a wrap for season 2012- that’s 24 weeks and 48 share harvests for this farm crew! We started early due to that wonderful spring weather (anyone remember spring and those delicious strawberries?!) so that brings week 24 in October instead of later into November. No complaints here, since that means we avoid those cold mornings waiting for the crops to thaw, no tortuous frosty hands or ice water washings. A few of our crops that we’d hoped to have for you by now are still puttering along- brussel sprouts and cauliflower specifically. You’ll have to visit us at the farmers markets this winter (Wrightstown has a mini-market the second and fourth Saturday of the month starting in December, from 10-11am, and Easton has a new weekly indoor winter market starting the Saturday after Thanksgiving at the Nature Nurture Center, from 10-1pm). We will also offer a limited number of Thanksgiving boxes for sale with some special goodies available- keep an eye out in your emails for ordering information and other details. We will be emailing a link for CSA registration information for 2013 in mid to late November. We do not anticipate any major changes from 2012.

CSA share, week 24, 10/23/12

Despite the pace slowing down a bit, there are still many jobs to be done at the farm in preparation for the colder months. Fields are continuously being cleaned out, of irrigation tubing and stakes for example, then tilled and sown with cover crops for the winter. This week the crew was busy planting all the greenhouses with crops like kale, spinach and scallions. All our garlic seed is broken up and ready to go in- the goal is to have it planted before next week’s predicted rainstorms. We will also be battening down the greenhouses in case of high winds.

Leaves being delivered from Perkasie boro; Greenhouses being planted.

This week is like Christmas for Farmer Tom. Perkasie Borough  and Hilltown Township have begun its leaf collection- you may see the big trucks vacuuming up the leaves from the sides of the streets. Instead of those leaves ending up in the landfill, they bring them here to the farm, truckload after truckload. Using a big windrow turner, Tom will mix the leaves with cow manure and straw bedding from Tussock Sedge Farm. After a few weeks of steadily turning the piles, with temperatures reaching between 130 and 170 degrees, we are left with a beautiful rich compost.

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

It is truly in the fall that I appreciate the opportunity to eat local more then any other time. Why? Because that same frosty white coating on the fields in the morning that has me pulling out my favorite scarves and sweaters, also signals exciting changes that are happening within many of our crops. The resemblance to a dusting of sugar gives a clue to what will be reflected at the dinner table. (You know when your family is fighting over the last scrap of kale in the skillet that something’s going on).

CSA share, week 23, 10/16/12

The first frost came October 12th. Every autumn we know it’s coming- last year it was the 28th (followed by that crazy October snowstorm), the year before, the 13th. The cold brought an end to the last of the beautiful field flowers- the dahlias that were still blooming profusely- and the bumper sweet pepper crop of 2012. Even though the frost signals the end of many things, both good and bad (adios, galansoga weeds- see you next season!), it also means sweeter tasting veggies.

The leafy greens taste substantially different. The kale is divine; all trace of bitterness is gone. Cabbage family crops- kales, brussel sprouts, collards, actually increase the amount of sugars in their cells- which acts like an antifreeze. In the same act of self-defense, our root crops are converting stored starches to sugars. The sharp edge to the turnips and radishes has mellowed, but the difference is most pronounced in the carrots – they are pure vegetable candy.

To buy produce trucked in from California this time of year would be a shame. Now more then in any other season, you can directly taste the weather’s effects on your food, in a positive way!

Purple-top Turnips and Carrots

The harvest festival was a great success! Thanks to everyone who volunteered, contributed, or attended. It was a gorgeous day and a rocking community event. In the next few days we will be posting in the blog the recipes for the top three winning pies from the third annual pie bake-off contest. Over 90 people tasted and voted!

Just a reminder that next week is the last week of the CSA distribution! Registration information for 2013 will be posted online sometime in mid to late November. We will send out a few reminder emails when that happens. Thanks for a great season!

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Additional photos at the harvest festival by Elizabeth Lombardi (thank you, Liz!).

This week at the farm we are gearing up for our harvest festival. We are very excited that local bluegrass band Goose Creek Pioneers will be joining us this year. They will be performing on and off from 2-5 pm this Saturday October 13th. We will also have a drum circle with Valerie Hopkins, Professional Musician and Rhythm Facilitator, of Drum Circles Heal. Join us for crafts, relay races, garlic seed splitting, a wagon ride and more! The Coffee Scoop, Bucks County Cookie Company and Owowcow Creamery will be selling their treats and hot coffee. And, drumroll, you asked and they’re here! Blooming Glen Farm t-shirts, printed by Green Changes on gorgeous organic cotton, and designed by CSA member Chris Caruso, will be for sale!!

For $1 you can participate in tasting (and voting on) all the fabulous pies in our pie bake-off contest. During dinner the winner will be presented with the “pie” trophy (a beautiful piece of ceramic artwork by tile artist Katia McGuirk), to be kept for one year, then passed on to next year’s winner! It’s not too late to enter a pie- just shoot us an email! Potluck dinner will be around 5 pm (bring a dish to share, and your own place settings and beverage). CSA members and musicians Cliff Cole and Brian Pearson will entertain us with their musical talents during dinner. See you this Saturday at 2pm!

CSA share, week 22, 10/9/12

Fall radishes are here, in the share and at our market stands. The long white daikon radish is an Asian staple: its name is Japanese for “great root”, and it’s no wonder when they can reach lengths up to 3 feet long. Daikons are said to aid the digestion of fatty foods and can be eaten raw- grated or in fine matchsticks. The daikon radish can also be used as you would a turnip, in stews and soups where they provide a bright, refreshing note. They can also be stir-fried, pickled, baked or simmered.

Watermelon Radishes on the left; Daikon Radish growing in the field

The watermelon radish is round and and could easily be mistaken for a turnip, but when sliced open it looks just like a watermelon with a green rind and a bright rosy-pink interior.  It’s a bit milder and sweeter than regular radishes, and much larger. Though they can be braised, roasted or mashed, I think they are best enjoyed raw, for in its natural state you can trully appreciate it’s stunning pink color and flavor. Slice them up and enjoy with your favorite dip, or grate them into a salad (peel off the tough outer skin first).

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

Coming up next week, Saturday Oct. 13th, is Blooming Glen Farm’s annual harvest festival. With fall festivals springing up everywhere you look this time of year, I needed to take a few moments to remind myself why our farm values this season-end celebration.

Harvest festivals and agriculture traditionally go hand in hand. From the ancient Greeks and Romans to modern times, numerous communities and religions honor a tradition of thankfulness at harvest time. The holiday of Jewish religion called Sukkot or “Festival of Ingathering’, is both historical and agricultural. A celebration of family, community and culture, the word “Kwanzaa” comes from the African language Swahili and means “First Fruits of the Harvest.” In Great Britain, until the 20th century, farmers celebrated the end of the harvest with a big meal called the harvest or “mell-supper”, named after the last patch of corn or wheat standing in the fields. Cutting it signified the end of the work of harvest and the beginning of the feast.

Harvest festivals are typically held around the Harvest Moon -the full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox (this year’s harvest moon was Saturday, Sept. 29th, so we’re not too far off). Ancient harvest festivals were celebrated to give thanks for an abundant crop. In our world of seeming overabundance, where our every food whim can be satisfied by a quick stop at the local grocery store, it can be easy to forget to honor this connection between the health of our farms and the health of our families.  

In ancient times, an abundant crop was crucial to sustain the community through the lean winter months. But abundant crop or not, giving thanks was ritualized into the fabric of these ancient communities. Whether it be the labor of the farmers and volunteers, the support of the eaters, or the benevolence of a greater life source (whatever name you may choose to call it)- all these factors and hands contribute to the thriving organism that is a farm. Thanks-giving truly happens best through collaboration and shared experience, taking time out of our busy lives for joyfulness and sharing, with the ultimate result being a healthy, strong, and unified community. And ultimately a community that is thankful for healthy food will always have healthy farms.

Please consider joining us next Saturday from 2pm until dark for our Harvest Festival and Harvest Supper– bring a potluck dish to share as we all sit down to a meal together made from the fruits of the season. Dance, feast, socialize, drum, craft, collaborate, and reflect on the bounty that the land has given us these past six months. Volunteers are still needed to help make this celebration possible- sign-up sheets can be found at the farm. All are welcome!

Speaking of bountiful harvest, the farm crew is particularly thankful for the broccoli crop this week. It’s the first week of October- the leaves are changing, cooler temperatures at night means sweeter veggies, and kinder weather for crops like broccoli. Broccoli is something we plant every two weeks in the fall. But due to unforeseen elements like weather and insects, there are no guarantees that each sucession will bring a bumper crop. This week’s harvest is the third planting, and by far the most beautiful so far. Less bugs and minimal disease made for large broccoli crowns, and a very enjoyable and speedy harvest, even in the rain on Tuesday.

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

It’s not too late to come to a tasting and cooking demonstration class tonight at the farm- it’s All About Greens, with nutrition counselor Patti Lombardi. Not sure how to store, prep and use the greens (cabbage, kale, beet greens, collards, tatsoi and more) coming from the farm this time of year? Take advantage of this opportunity to learn how to include incredibly healthy and delicious greens in every meal. Cost is $20 and walk-ins are welcome. Class is from 7-8:30 pm in the distribution room at Blooming Glen Farm.

This week’s share has lots of varieties of greens, roots and more. Fall beets are here, the pick-your-own beans are plentiful and spicy arugula is back!

CSA share, week 20, 9/25/12

This past week on the farm we began to clean out the greenhouses, removing the summer crops and looking ahead to planting hardy greens for the winter. We will be attending winter farmer’s markets held at both Easton and Wrightstown. We continue to put fields to bed for the winter, sowing assorted mixes of cover crop seeds. Before the next round of rain, our crew cultivated the aisles of our new strawberry field, then mulched them with straw.

By far, the most exciting part of our week was participating in the Outstanding In the Field dinner on Sunday. Last year you may remember in late summer and fall we were experiencing heavy rains and soggy fields, so the long table ended up in our equipment barn. This year we couldn’t have asked for better weather, or a better setting amidst our vibrant fall crops, under the bright crescent moon. We were honored to be chosen again as a host farm on their 100 farm coast-to-coast tour, and to have the opportunity this year to meet artist and founder, Jim Denevan.

I was struck by the similarity between Jim’s artwork- he makes temporary drawings on sand, earth and ice that are eventually erased by waves and weather- and the “artwork” of the long farm table. In less then 24 hours a beautiful table is set in the field, over 150 guests arrive, and an elaborate dinner is cooked and served. The photo is all that remains the next morning as proof of the experience.

Photo credit: Jim Denevan

As farmers, we too operate in this temporary realm- crops are sown, grown, harvested and consumed over a period of days, weeks, and months, all encompased in one fleeting season. The fields start fallow and end fallow, and in between, there is color and beauty, patterns and life, roots and leaves and fruit, to be captured in photos, but eventually to be returned to the earth. The farm dinner was a celebration of many things- chefs, farmers, visionaries, foodies, and food artisans. To me, it was a reminder of the art that is farming, and of the joy that is found in the creation and the visual display of vegetables in the field and on our collective tables, the sensory and temporary experience of it all, from growing crops to eating dinner. Thank you Outstanding In the Field!

Photos (unless otherwise noted) and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

To say that farmers spend a lot of time watching the forecast and checking the radar would be an understatement. Sometimes it can border on obsession. The past few days that obsession paid off. Starting the end of last week and working all day Monday, the mad dash to get empty fields planted into cover crop seeds began. Here’s the sequence of events: mow any crop residue, remove drip tape by hand, wrap up in semi neat bundles to take to the recycler, disc harrow, mix cover crop seed per individual field, spin out onto field, reload, spin some more, cover with disc harrow. Repeat. The let the rains come!

Subsoiling prior to seeding; adding mix of cover crop seed to spin spreader

Working with two tractors in tandem, we were able to get about a third of the farm seeded for the winter. We primarily made up two mixes, depending on the future crop plans for the fields. The first is an overwintering mix of rye, vetch and crimson clover. Its main purpose is long term soil building by the addition of organic matter to the soil and providing nitrogen for any subsequent summer and fall crops. The second mix: tillage radishes, oats and crimson clover, will provide vigorous fall growth, then mostly winter kill, covering the fields to prevent soil erosion but be easily accessible for spring planting.

This week’s share sees the first winter squash of the season- delicata (also called sweet potato squash), as well as leeks, radishes and green beans. Delicata squash has a wonderful thin edible skin. I love to slice it into half-inch thick rounds- scooping the seeds out of each, baste with a bit of soy and toasted seasame oil, and bake on a cookie tray until tender and browned, about 20 min at 350 (flip them halfway through). Delicious finger food!

CSA Share, week 19, 9/18/12

Visitors and farm members will be greeted by an incredible new tile mural at the farm, courtesy of local artist Katia McGuirk. Using Michael Alan’s artwork from our brochure and posters as inspiration, Katia translated the design into a mosaic. It is breathtaking! Be sure to join Katia and the rest of the farm community at Fall Fest on October 13th, 2pm until dark! We need volunteers, pie bakers, yarn donations and small children’s clothes donations!

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

In the height of tomato season we wouldn’t dream of stealing a tomato’s destiny to become juicy ripe and red, but at some point in the fall the harvest of unripe fruit is inevitable, typically because we are facing frost. Our last planting of field tomatoes were all killed by late blight, but the dead plants are still loaded with the green fruit. Tomorrow’s recipe by Mikaela will feature these green tomatoes. I do look forward to the day Tom gives the go ahead for the green tomato harvest because it means it’s time for my mom and I to get together, make a big mess in the kitchen and a big pot of my grandmother’s green tomato relish. It’s a tradition that neither of us would miss, and a winter pantry staple for our family. You can find Nanny’s relish recipe on our website.

CSA share, week 18, 9/11/12

The share is reflecting the changing of the seasons- all the wonderful nourishing fall greens are here- cabbage, escarole, bok choy, kale. (**Feeling overwhelmed by the bounty? Come to nutrition counselor Patti Lombardi’s class on greens here at the farm September 26th.)

You’ll also notice the addition of celeriac, or celery root, in the share. Before I started farming I had no idea that this vegetable exisited. Now I can’t imagine fall or winter without it. Its bright celery flavor enlivens any soup, it is delectable roasted with other vegetables, or boiled and mashed with potatoes. You’ll find quite a few recipes on our website, as well as plentiful use and storage information in the cookbook “From Asparagus to Zucchini”, for sale at the farm.

It’s September and our crew is working together like an orchestra- everyone knows their roles, and the jobs to be done are familiar. With cooler nights and shorter days come a more relaxed pace, and in general a more pleasant climate to do outdoor work. The leeks have been weeded- they stand tall and stout, and they’ll begin to be harvested next week. We have begun to tackle the big task of digging the remainder of our potatoes (actually the tractor does the digging, and we do the gathering). Next task on the list: getting all our bundled and dried garlic trimmed and processed.

Tom checking the leeks; Natalia harvesting cabbage; next year's strawberries

This week the strawberry plugs, purchased from a farm in New Jersey, went into the ground. Next year’s strawberry crop begins its long nine month journey to harvest. We treat our strawberries as annuals, and plant them new every fall. This helps us to deal with the weed and disease management issues facing organic strawberry growers. Ultimately it is the weather during harvest of these spongy permeable fruits that determines their quality, but we baby the plugs now, carefully planting thousands by hand.

Looking ahead to the fall fest- we are seeking donations of yarn. Artist Katia McGuirk will be leading a community “yarn bomb”, an all-age art installation along the deer fence bordering the fall fest. Please bring your unwanted yarn to the farm to be turned into art. There will be a collection box in the distribution room. Thanks!

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

Like clockwork Labor Day weekend rolls around and with it hurricane season and intermittent downpours. In anticipation of the heavy rains (and motivated by the memory of last fall when the rains came and never left), we scrambled to move through our “to do” list last week. Our crew put in some late days planting, cultivating and bulk harvesting, all while continuing the “weekly chores” of CSA and market harvests.

CSA share, week 17, 9/4/12

First on the priority list- butternut squash. Always a fun crop to harvest, the farm crew gets to hone its squash tossing skills, filling palette bin after palette bin with this wonderful fall vegetable- a favorite here at Blooming Glen Farm. Soup season, here we come!

The fall roots tucked under row covers continue to grow- red radishes will most likely be harvested next week. This is a wonderful time of year when the overlap of summer and fall crops occur. Yet as many of the summer crops come to an end, we are tilling in fields and getting them ready to be seeded with cover crops- legumes and grasses that will help prevent erosion over the winter and replenish nutrients in the soil.

Radishes under row cover; herbs in the discovery garden

The discovery garden is a wonderful place to spend a few peaceful moments when you come to the farm. You may hear the laughter of children following the hidden tunnels through the teepees and corn plants, catch sight of a hummingbird, or smell the aroma of fresh picked pineapple mint. There are many herbs to discover and choose from like mints, lemon verbena, thyme, sage, garlic and onion chives, marjoram, and edible flowers. Herbalist Susan Hess will be holding a class here at the farm on Wednesday evening at 6pm, Sept. 12th, called “Preserving the Herbal Harvest“. Topics will include: proper harvesting techniques, proper drying and storage methods and basics of making vinegars, syrups, pestos, and more. Click here for more information and to pre-pay and pre-register.

Save the date! Blooming Glen Farm Fall Fest is coming up- Saturday, October 13th, 2pm until dark. The annual pie bake-off, live music and children’s crafts, a drum circle, and potluck dinner at 5pm. Be sure to join us to celebrate the season! Sign up sheets to enter the pie contest as well as to volunteer will be in the distribution room. The talent of our farm community is always welcome- contact us if you have an idea, musical talent, or anything else you’d like to contibute!!

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