Weekly Share

The dreaded late blight has made it’s way to Blooming Glen Farm, and rather rapidly moved like wildfire through the beautiful cherry tomatoes and field tomatoes. All told we were lucky this season. Some of you may remember the first year late blight caused a real problem in this area of the country- it is a funguslike pathogen that also targets potatoes (it was responsible for the infamous Irish potato famines in the mid 1800’s), and is exacerbated by wet conditions. It is a real issue for organic farmers who don’t have the arsenal of preventative chemicals and fungicides that conventional growers use. In 2009, we didn’t have a single harvestable field tomato, and we watched in agony as the plants turned black and the fruit rotted on the vine in a matter of days. This season’s dry weather kept the late blight at bay, and I think overall we have had many weeks of bountiful tomatoes. We do have a later planting in a field about a mile from here. We are hoping they will be red and ready to harvest soon, before they too succombe to the disease.

CSA share, 8/28/12, week 16

Meanwhile, the farm crew is busy getting the last late season plantings into the fields- arugula, kohlrabi, bok choy, more rotations of broccoli, fennel and head lettuce. Plantings of purple-top turnips, watermelon radishes and daikon radishes have all been thinned. We are very excited to be growing brussel sprouts this season, for the first time ever. The plants look amazing, so we are hopeful all will go well with them. Our first planting of broccoli already has ping-pong ball sized heads- a few more weeks to go until they hit your dinner plates!

Field of brussel sprouts and cabbage; Baby broccoli

You may have noticed that the fall greens are starting to make their way back into the share and into the markets. We are excited to be growing collard greens again after taking a few years off. We hope you’ll enjoy them, as well as the kale and swiss chard. To help you prepare for the return of greens, we will be hosting a class at the farm focused specifically on greens. On Wednesday, September 26th, from 7-8:30 pm, Patti Lombardi, nutrition coach, will give a hands-on demonstration on a variety of ways to add greens to your diet. You will get to taste and enjoy a number of dishes featuring seasonal greens, and leave with helpful handouts and recipes. The cost of this class is $20. Email Patti to pre-register!

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

This time of year is bittersweet here at the farm. The weather is cooler, the pace is back to reasonable, but with school just around the corner, there is some transition that happens on our farm crew. Our part time summer help typically ends this week and next, heading off in various directions, be it high school, college, or in one case, fourth grade (teaching, that is).

Jared Grace is a fourth grade teacher at Gayman Elementary, where he will use lessons learned at the farm in real-life math examples: “You have 20 bins of tomatoes, all weighing 25 pounds, and 150 CSA members- how many pounds of tomatoes go in the share this week?”….But in all seriousness, thanks to Jared’s passion for sustainability his school is composting on a small scale within the classrooms, and he hopes to get the cafeteria composting this year. His classroom students learn about local food production and CSA’s and his long term vision is to inspire the students through the creation of a school garden.

Jared, Mordan and the farm crew

Mordan Pappas heads to Oregon for a year to study holistic health at Ananda College. Inspired by her season at the farm, Mordan then plans to study sustainability in natural building and design. Aaron Gunderson who is entering 12th grade at Pennridge High School and beginning his college visits, after two seasons at Blooming Glen Farm, has also decided to look into a Sustainability major. High School senior Kevin McDonald, despite morning and evening polo practice and weight lifting, still manages to come to the farm in between, lift heavy bins of produce, all with a smile on his face.

They all bring a wonderful inquisitive energy to the farm, and their hard work and smiling faces will be missed! We fired up the farm’s earthen oven for a farewell thank-you pizza party. We also welcomed some new fall help to the farm. Thanks Jack, Mordan, Jared, Aaron, Paul and Kevin and welcome to Lexi, Natalia and Tim!

CSA share, week 15, 8/21/12

This week an avalanche of sweet peppers descended on the farm. We love when crops do well enough that we are able to offer them in bulk for the preservers in the crowd. Many of you took advantage of the discounted 10 pound bags of assorted sweet peppers…and if you didn’t, we’ll have them again this coming week. Just send us an email and we’ll have them ready for you at your CSA pick-up.

I love to freeze sweet peppers for the winter- they are so easy to do, and the flavor (and price) can’t beat those shipped in sweet peppers you’ll see in the stores in the colder months. Just cut them into strips and flash freeze them on a cookie tray, popping them into freezer bags when finished. Then just grab a handful frozen, dice up and add to any saute.

Another option is to roast, pickle and can a batch (or make into fridge pickles)- you’ll be ready for your own antipasto platter. Click here for a recipe. A couple notes: I find it easier to cut the peppers in half and remove the stem and seeds before roasting (skin side up). When the skin is blackened, then it’s easy to just scrape off the charred skin with a knife and slice the peppers up. I like using this charring method even when I’m not going to can them, especially when making homemade pizza. I have been enjoying the sweet peppers grilled lately- the sweet smoky flavor has become a favorite in our house, and makes a wonderful sandwhich with other grilled veggies like summer squash and eggplant.

For even more sweet pepper ideas, keep an eye out for next week’s recipe from Mikaela which will utilize some of the fresh lemongrass from the Discovery Garden.

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

We’ve rounded the bend and crossed the line of the middle of the season, at least when you talk about the distribution of CSA shares. As for farm work, our core group has been at it since late January, but our seasonal crew is in that tough month of August, what we call the middle of the lake- the jobs just aren’t as fresh and exciting as when they started in April. Things have gotten repetitive- the harvest schedule doesn’t rest, the days are still long and sweaty, tractors breakdown, an intern quits. The fall crops, prone to both heat and bug damage, need to be babied as seedlings, which requires wrestling with unwieldy row covers, a job no one really enjoys.

Row covers; Keeping up crew morale; watermelon bounty

The quicker fall roots like radishes are being seeded, as well as crops like tatsoi, kohlrabi and spinach. Yet the farm is still bursting at the seams with tomatoes and peppers and eggplant, the gigantic watermelons require lots of heavy lifting for tired bodies, and the weeds that we’ve missed are chest high, taunting us with their unchecked vigor. 

Winter Squash plants and leeks

With the steady drone of the late summer cicadas and crickets in the background, we remind our crew that cooler weather and shorter days are just around the corner. We remind them of all the happy CSA members and appreciative market customers, and read them the positive feedback emails we get! And we tell them that the satisfaction of completing a full season on a farm is just an arm’s length away. Soon we will harvest winter squash and fall roots and the summer crops will be a distant memory. Our hands will grow numb with frosty morning harvests, and we’ll miss the joy of watermelon juice dribbling down our chins on a hot sweaty day in August.

CSA share, week 13, 8/7/12

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

As the bounty continues to roll in from the fields, it’s great to think about how to preserve the summer flavors for when the weather turns foul. Putting up food for later is one of the best ways to maintain your local eating habit even when the CSA season ends–and with such gorgeous shares, it’s easy to do.

CSA share, week 12, 7/31/12

I spent the day canning some of our super-flavorful beefsteak tomatoes and making a batch of these Oven-Dried Cherry Tomatoes. (Half-bushel boxes of tomatoes are still available for purchase–email to reserve a box and we’ll have it ready for your next pick-up). New to canning? Sign up for the tomato canning workshop on August 18th, 10-2pm, here at the farm. Led by canning teacher, blogger, and cookbook author Marisa McClellan (of Food In Jars fame), this workshop is not to be missed. Details and registration information are on our website.

Also available for purchase are half-bushel boxes of cucumbers. No need to pre-order. Boxes will be available for $15 in the CSA pick-up room this week (just bring checks or exact change, please). These cux work great for sliced pickles–and no need to bother with the canning process with this recipe for Fridge Pickles!

Here at the farm, we’ve been trying to preserve the bounty in another way: in between harvesting thousands of pounds of tomatoes, melons, cucumbers, and squash, the crew is running around trying to get more crops in the ground so that we can keep the bounty coming. Cold-loving crops like kale, broccoli, and cauliflower all get their start in these hot days of summer.

Text and photography by Kate Darlington – Blooming Glen Farm second year intern, fresh food enthusiast, and budding food blogger. She also writes for the Digging Deep Campaign as well as for her personal blog, Growing Things.

The field tomatoes have popped, the heirlooms are rolling in, second and third plantings of cucumbers and squash are happening, as well as the first cantaloupes, and soon, watermelon! Summer crops are here in full force! I love to go overboard eating tomatoes now, so when it’s wintertime, I won’t be tempted to eat those bland, shipped in fruits masquerading as tomatoes. This week’s share contains edamame beans (on the stalk- just pull the pods off). As many of you may know, a wonderful simple way to eat edamame is to boil or steam the whole pods until they are tender and bright green, then plunge in cold water, salt the pods, sit down with a bowl-full and use your teeth to remove the beans. Quite an addictive snack, and great with a cold beverage!

CSA share, week 11, 7/24/12

This season, Farmer Tom grew field tomato varieties based on flavor, not necessarily yield. Happily, we have both. Soon we will be able to offer plum tomatoes for canning by the 1/2 bushel (that’s 25 pounds!), but for now we have some tasty meaty beefsteaks in the share, and available for purchase for those interested in canning, freezing or bulk salsa making! Send us an email if you are interested in reserving a box. The cherry tomatoes are also on the menu this week- the ever popular sungolds, as well as reds, and soon the rainbow mixes- a variety of colors and flavors.

For those new to canning, the lovely Marisa McClellan, of the popular local Food in Jars blog, and cookbook author, is hosting a food canning workshop at the farm Saturday August 18th, from 10-2pm. Details and registration information are on our website. Each participant will take home 2-3 quarts of whole peeled tomatoes, along with all the knowledge you need to replicate the same feat in your own kitchen. This will be a fun day- don’t miss it!

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

The last few days on the farm have been a challenge. With the temperature soaring, the crew is feeling the heat, but the crops still need to be picked. Just as the garlic harvest is complete, the storage onion harvest begins. The second planting of cucumbers is just about ready for harvest, and we are well into an every other day picking schedule of the summer squash. The field tomatoes are trickling in, and CSA members and market shoppers are enjoying the bounty of the heirloom tomato harvest.

CSA share, week 10, 7/17/12

We grow a handful of different heirloom tomato varieties, all with nuances in flavor and appearance. Though we don’t grow tomatoes for their stories, my favorite just happens to have a great one. The Russian heirloom variety Paul Robeson may not be the most productive tomato of all, but its rich chocolate brown color mirrors its deep earthy flavor.  I like to talk it up at the farmers market as the “BLT tomato”- but thanks to its smoky undertones you can skip the bacon if you so desire.

And if the color and taste weren’t enough to make this luscious tomato a favorite, it is named for a local hero. Paul Robeson (born in Princeton, 1898 and died in Philadelphia, 1976) was an accomplished athlete at Rutgers University, famous actor (played Othello in the longest-running Shakespearean production in Broadway history), singer (world famous for his vibrant baritone renditions of Negro spirituals), orator, cultural scholar and linguist (fluent in at least 15 languages). If that’s not enough, Robeson was an outspoken crusader for racial equality and social justice, all the while battling overt racism against himself throughout his life and various endevours. 

Revered by the left, reviled by the right, Robeson was blacklisted during the McCarthy Era and beyond, harassed by the FBI, his passport revoked for eight years, his career stifled. How a tomato developed in the Soviet Union came to be named after him is uncertain, except that perhaps his connection with Communism made it a safe bet for Russian scientists looking for a politically correct name choice. I don’t recall ever having learned about this great man in school, so I have farming, and the story of this delicious tomato, to thank for a new knowledge of Paul Robeson, a man who’s achievements were unparalleled and were all the more incredible given the barriers of racism that he had to surmount.

So that’s your history lesson of the day! Of course, all the heirloom tomatoes we grow have amazing flavor and stories (The Cherokee Purple and Green tomatoes are said to trace back to seeds given to someone in Tenessee by Cherokee Indians in the late 1800’s), and everyone here at the farm has a different favorite- Farmer Tom even prefers the red field tomatoes that you’re about to see in the share. Hopefully you can try a few different tomato varieties and find your own favorite!

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

Not much has changed on the farm since last week- still hot, still dry, and still irrigating.  This week’s share sees the first eggplant of the season, as well as the first heirloom tomatoes. Our heirloom tomatoes are grown in unheated greenhouses where they can flourish under controlled irrigation. They are grafted, pruned and trellised and generally spoiled, and in return they ripen a bit earlier then our field tomatoes. The red field tomatoes are still a week or two away, but we are seeing the first ripening cherry tomatoes, so it won’t be long before they are on the pick-your-own list.  

CSA share, week 9, 7/10/12

The farm crew, and some wonderful volunteers, began the garlic harvest today, 9 months to the day after it was planted in the ground, on October 11th to be exact. I must confess, garlic is my favorite crop to grow on the farm- it is a very hands off crop- plant it, mulch it with straw, let it go all winter, then give it a little fertility and attention in the spring, and voila, come July, gorgeous fragrant bulbs of garlic. Maybe it’s the mom in me, but there is just something magical about a 9 month overwintered crop, grown from a tiny clove that sits drawing energy from the earth through the cold winter months then emerges green and vibrant in the warm spring. And I do really love the community effort that goes into the harvest. All the garlic is pulled by hand (after being loosened by a tractor drawn implement), then bundled and hung in the barn to dry and cure. The curing process will dry the skins and enable it to be used well into the winter months- returning to us all that wonderful healthy healing properties of the earth that it absorbed all winter. Join us this Saturday if you’d like to be a part of this fun farm experience!

CSA member volunteers help with garlic harvest.

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

It’s heating up at the farm, and we are working around the clock to keep the farm irrigated. Anyone with a garden, or a lawn, can see that we are in need of some nice steady rainfall. As we irrigate, mostly through drip tape, you can almost watch the plants instantly respond and spring up a few inches. Our intern and irrigation manager, Mike, can be seen buzzing around the farm in the little orange Kubota car (nicknamed “The Shark”), turning water on and off, and fertigating through the drip tape with sea minerals, sea weed and fish emulsion. He and Tom develop a complex set of weekly and daily “directives”, with the field map color coded and highlighted. To keep everything watered, and to take advantage of the cool nights, fields turned on at sunset need to be switched over around 3am, then the next set of fields turned over in the morning, and so on throughout the day. Managing the watering needs of 30+ acres in a dry spell is no small task but Mike, and Tom, are doing an amazing job! Let’s hope for some rain (no thunderstorms please!), to give them a reprieve.

Baby cantaloupes, and irrigation manager/intern Mike Lasecki.

Our crew spent yesterday planting fall brassicas: brussel sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli. Next week, cauliflower. As we are on the cusp of harvesting our summer crops (tomatoes!!), we are also looking ahead 8 weeks to the fall crops. These fall crops are planted on white plastic mulch to help them deal with the strong summer heat, so they will flourish when they hit the cooler fall months.

Weeding basil and planting fall cabbage.

Have a wonderful fourth of July, and enjoy this week’s share. I made a garlicky pesto over the weekend and tossed it with lightly cooked yellow beans- delicious, and perfect for a barbecue!

CSA share, week 8, 7/3/12

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

This week’s share included the first “new potatoes” of the season, as well as fresh basil, sweet onions and very sweet and tender pick-your-own green beans. New potatoes are dug in the spring, and have a thin fragile skin. Unlike fall potatoes that have been cured and stored (their skin toughened to withstand long winter storage), these tender potatoes are meant to be stored in the fridge and eaten relatively quickly and do not need their skins peeled before eating. Our new potatoes go tumbling through a potato digger and then our root washer, which furthers removes some of the skin.

Share week 7, 6/26/12

Another tip for this week’s share: store your basil in a glass of water like a bouquet of flowers, on your counter, out of direct sunlight. It will keep here for a week or more (it may even start to send out roots!) and you can use the leaves as needed. Do not refrigerate basil!!

Enough about the veggies… how about those flowers! With over 50 different varieties of flowers, the pick-your-own flower patch is a patchwork of colors. Make sure you give yourself time to walk through the whole field so you can see all of what’s out there- different varieties are in different stages of bloom. 

Please read the following tips for pick-your-own flowers:

  • Bring your own clippers from home. If you forget, ask another CSA member to borrow theirs, ask a farmer, or come back another day. The flower patch is an especially beautiful place to be in the cooler evenings and early mornings, and is always “open” for cutting, even on the weekends. 
  • Please do not cut flowers from the discovery garden (where you will find the pick-your-own herbs) or walkway. These flowers are for everyone to enjoy in bloom.
  • Read the poster at the farm titled ” How to Cut Flowers”. This diagram shows the best way to cut your flowers in the field. Please teach your children the best way to cut flowers.
  • Bring a vessel you can fill up with water at the farm. (There is always a hose outside the distribution room  in our wash area). Cut your flowers right into your vessel. TIP:  For a portable vase, take a plastic gallon milk or juice container with a handle and cut a larger opening.
  • There are lots of flowers in the flower field, and they are primarily for your enjoyment! Please do not be shy about cutting a generous bouquet. Most flowers do best when the blooms are continuously cut, especially prolific flowers like zinnias. If you are interested in helping to maintain the flower patch by “deadheading” or weeding, let us know!
  • Re-cut your stems at an angle when you get home.
  • Strip the stems. No leaves under water!!
  • Make a home made preservative: Mix 1 tsp vinegar, 1 T sugar, and 1 aspirin tablet to 24 ounces of water.
  • Cut stems again every other day, and change the vase water.
  • Do not use public water– it may contain chlorine.
  • Don’t put your vase in direct sunlight or near a bowl of fruit.

Love the flowers and want to learn more?? At Blooming Glen Farm on Thursday, July 19th at 6pm, join flower professional Lyn Hicks of Harmony Hill Gardens for “Creating with Flowers”. Lyn will offer you tips to making beautiful centerpieces for your home. A passionate GREEN spokesperson, student and educator, Lyn Hicks leads the Green Collaboration, and is Flower Expert for The Green Bride.

This fun hands-on class with Lyn will help you understand harvest and post harvest to keep your flowers longer, you’ll learn the magic of putting together your own floral piece step by step, and you will leave with a self created centerpiece and the knowledge to present your flowers in a new way throughout your summer. All flowers and containers are included. Go to the calendar of our website for more info and to pre-register.

Important reminder regarding pick-up logistics: we realize that things do happen during pick-up days that can prevent you from being able to come get your share. However, over the years we have developed the policy, as stated in the CSA Rough Guide, that once the pick-up is over, pick-up is OVER. If you are unable to pick up on Tuesday, that does not mean you can come on Thursday, or vice versa. (**We can accomodate switches with prior notice, by 7 pm Sunday of the week you want to switch.)  Even if you encounter an emergency (as we all do at times), we are not able to hold food for you to pick-up at a later time or day. Please understand that we are sympathetic to your emergency, but we have found logistically it is important for our sanity to have a policy in place for missed pick-ups. At our discretion, some or all of any extra food will be donated to a local Food Pantry. Our crew is often in the fields until 6:30pm or later, and the farm family often works later then that. As you can imagine with over 150 people picking up on any given distribution day, there can be a half a dozen pleading phone calls on our answering machine every pick-up evening when we finally are able to come in for dinner. Please find an “emergency” friend or neighbor that you can call that can come pick up the share for you on your allotted pick-up day between 1 and 8pm. In the case that you are just unable to get your share or find anyone to help you, you are always welcome to come and do the pick-your-own crops before the next pick-up week begins- the information will still be on the board until the following Tuesday. Thank you for your understanding.

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

Summer Solstice is upon us, the longest day of the year. With it comes the first heat wave of the season, a strong reminder of the sun’s power. The evening light glows until past 9:30 pm, highlighted by the flashes of fireflies flickering above the fields, and often punctuated by the steady buzz of the tractor as Farmer Tom works late into the cooler evenings. Here at the farm the summer solstice is the peak of planting time- we are on just the last few pages of our planting chart- a chart that begins in February with onion and celeriac seeding. Today the farm crew harvested a few thousand cucumbers- truly a welcome sign of summer. You can almost sit and watch the tomatoes growing, and I confess, we ate the first ripe heirloom tomato from the greenhouses! The field tomatoes are all trellised on a system called the weave- we can chart the growth of the tomatoes by how quickly we need to add layers of string. The crops aren’t the only thing growing at the farm- it’s a battle to stay on top of the weeds. Most of the weeds are pulled by hand, but the weeds in the aisles between the beds are cultivated with a tractor….the rainy weather kept us out of the fields and the weeds got ahead of us. Now we play catch up.  

Tom cultivating the melon aisles and Jill trellising the cherry tomatoes

The share this week has the first of the garlic- we pulled the bulbs fresh- you can peel them and use the moist aromatic cloves just like you would regular garlic.

CSA share week 6, 6/19/12

Happy Summer Solstice! The bounty of the summer season lies ahead of us- the flowers, the fruits, and all the wonderful vegetables we will enjoy this season. In honor of the summer solstice, and those beautiful, sprawling, flowering, melon vines, I found this poem.

Night in Day
by Joseph Stroud

The night never wants to end, to give itself over
to light. So it traps itself in things: obsidian, crows.
Even on summer solstice, the day of light’s great
triumph, where fields of sunflowers guzzle in the sun–
we break open the watermelon and spit out
black seeds, bits of night glistening on the grass.

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