Heirloom Meals: Savoring Yesterday's Traditions Today

Thursday November 11, 2010

Heirloom Breeds & Seeds:
Meet Farmer Lisa

Lisa Dachinger is a dear friend.  Lisa grew up in NYC and now lives the life of a farmer. She is a first generation farmer who became a farmer because she's passionate about feeding her family the freshest and most nutritious food possible.

Over the past 20 years she has grown vegetables and eggs and has evolved into raising the finest grass-fed lamb, pork and veal.
Lisa will be our Thursday blogger starting next week -  November 18th. She will chronicle her move to a farm in Richmond, MA where she has increased her herd and is taking on new and different challenges.

Welcome Lisa and we all look forward to hearing about your journey - the ups, the downs, the rewards and perils of being a woman farmer.

Thursday November 04, 2010

Heirloom Breeds & Seeds:
Laura Meister Sums Up the Season

Hello  Farm Girl Farmers!

It really is hard to believe this is the season’s closing newsletter.  Each season has its own highlights and its own challenges, but this one was on the whole so much sunnier and yield-I-er than 2009, that I can’t help but feel a little sad to see it ending.  Of course, with each season, I learn more about how to do things better next time, and we have many ideas, intentions and plans for next season already brewing.  But, and this is where you come in, we want your feedback, too.

I will email out and also have copies at the table of our end-of-season questionnaire that is designed to help us understand your experience as a CSA member of FGF.  How did you use your veggies, how many people are you feeding, what did you get sick of (if anything!), what did you long for more of.  If we see a pattern and there is something we can do to change our field plan to accommodate a change, we’ll do it.  For example, 4 and 5 years ago the message was clear: MORE ONIONS, PLEASE! So, we grew more onions.  On our very limited land, more of something inevitably means less of something else, so we want to know if you felt overloaded with something.  This year, for example, we clearly had too much land in watermelons—so we’ll cut back on that crop a bit next year and reallocate that space to grow more of the things we never had enough of (in my opinion beets and carrots).  So please fill out your questionnaires!

If you loved your farmshare and farmers so much this year that you can’t wait to sign up again for next year, then sign up before December 31 and get this year’s share price.  After the January 1, the price will go up incrementally to reflect rising production costs.  The advantage to FGF to have some early bird sign-ups is huge—your early infusion of cash helps us manage our year-round overhead--although we are not producing vegetables in the winter months, many of our expenses continue around the calendar.

We put the farm to bed between now and Thanksgiving or the first week of December.  We’ll have a few things to harvest for the pre-Thanksgiving Holiday Farmers Market on November 20.  After that I enter the headscratching months:  I spend December through February catching up on all paperwork, opening (if not reading) my mail from April thru November, bookkeeping, taxes, etc, which give me a basis to evaluate the season and  write a new business plan for 2011. From there I begin to sign on new CSA members, make a new field plan, revise the seeding calendar and order seeds—that last one is a monumental task that reminds me of writing my masters’ thesis.  

In addition, I am very excited to report that I was accepted into a class called Whole Farm Planning for Women in Agriculture, a 10-class workshop sponsored by Pioneer Valley’s Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA).  There will be 15 of us from all over the state, whose businesses are at least a few seasons established but who have less than 10 years experience in farming, meeting on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the winter and spring, to determine, under the guidance of several mentor (established!  successful!) women farmers, next directions for our own operations.  I hope to emerge from this work with more clarity about medium- and long-term goals, and a sense of the priorities—tractor first or new greenhouse?  More land now or later?  

And as if that won’t be enough time in the classroom, Vivian and I together will participate 5-day workshop on soil and plant health called Nutrient Dense Crop Production, held by the Real Food Campaign (our sessions will be held at Hawthorne Valley Farm).
Don’t forget that Berkshire Grown is hosting two Holiday Farmers’ Markets this fall:  Saturdays, November 20 and December 18.  The markets on both dates will be held simultaneously in North and South Berkshire County—the North County market will be at the Williams College Field House from 10 am til 2 pm and the South County market will be at the old Railroad Station, where the summer market is held, from 9 am til 1 pm.  Last year the Thanksgiving market was a huge hit, so many vendors, so many customers—there was a wonderful charge in the air.

And, on November 8th Berkshire Grown and Mezze Bistro in Williamstown will be hosting a reception—Getting to Know Berkshire Grown, Celebrate NoCo-- w/ nine central and north Berkshire County chefs preparing food f.rom 10 area farms to show the abundance of products that north county has to offer.  The event is from 5:30 to 7:30 at Mezze, 777 Cold Spring Road (Rt 7) Williamstown, $25 for Berkshire Grown Members.  See berkshiregrown.org or call the office for more info:  528-0041.

It has been my privilege to grow your vegetables this year.  Best wishes for a happy healthy winter, and hope to see you all at the distribution table next June.

Enjoy the veggies!

--Laura Meister, Farm Girl Farmer

Thursday October 28, 2010

Heirloom Breeds & Seeds:
The First Hundred Pounds of Garlic

Hello Farm Girl Farmers.

Inch by inch and row by row! As I mentioned in an email to all of you earlier today, we have had a steady garlic effort going—over the weekend Robin Perry, Emily Paskus, Beth Domaney, Melissa Brown, Andrei Vankov and Jamie Goldenberg took to the field and got the first hundred pounds of garlic in the ground. Today we had more help from Cindy Elitzer and later this week we have Liz Hogan on deck. Go team!

I should not neglect to mention that the garlic seed we are planting was prepared for planting (broken from heads down into cloves, a daunting job in itself) by a cheerful group of birthday revelers last week at Allium Restaurant. FGFers Brian Thayer, Sara Parrilli, Sarah Volkman, Greenagers Director Will Conklin (who brought us the help of the teenaged greenagers this summer) and various and sundry friends gathered around Vivian to celebrate her special day and made quick work of the garlic break-down, in addition to making a beautiful mess of garlic skin and soil all over the floor of Allium. Very special thanks to Troy Kinser, manager of Allium and Nancy Thomas, owner, for putting their money where their Farm to Table mission is.

We’ll keep planting garlic over the next couple of weeks, a great time to put in a few row feet is during regular pick-up hours on Tuesday or Saturday. We can also arrange for you to come and plant at other points in the week, so be in touch! Its easy and satisfying.

In my latest last year-this year-next year musings, I am noticing that it has been steadily colder this year than it was last year at this time. Last year at this time we still had a trickle of the summer crops like peppers and summer squash and this year those crops are long gone with the frost. But we’re hedging our bets…we’ve put protective row cover (that’s the white fabric you see out in the field) on several beds so that if we do get some milder weather, as we did last year towards the end of October, we won’t have given everything up to the tyranny of the cold nights. Under row cover, with the nights being as cold as they have been, things like baby arugula and bok choi aren’t growing, per se, but they are holding steady, not freezing to death either. So if things get more temperate, they’ll still have a chance to size up.

Finally, another reminder that we will distribute veggies through the first week of November: Tuesday November 2 and Saturday November 6. That means two more weeks of vegetables after this week’s pick-up.

Enjoy the veggies and the beautiful light at this time of the year.

--Laura Meister, Farm Girl Farmer

Thursday October 21, 2010

Heirloom Breeds & Seeds:
Indian Line Farm: Dropping Temperatures

We have officially fallen below 32 degrees on several occasions in the last 2 weeks.  This means that all frost sensitive crops have died.  I have to say I wasn't sorry to see the tomatoes go.  This has been a stellar year for tomatoes and I am hopeful you all had your fill to make up for our disastrous 2009. 

After making my last tomato soup for the year and enjoying every bite, I have turned my attention to the plethora of other foods at our fingertips.  Please enjoy some of the recipes below if you are looking for ideas and don't forget to check out our website for more!

Have a great week! 

For the farm crew,


P.S. I was informed by several of you that turkeys don't migrate.  Thanks for setting me straight.  I hope to see my turkey friends all winter! 

A few notes:

1)  We still need garlic to be cleaned if you have any extra time.  Please ask the person in the barn to set you up. 

2)  The last two weeks of pick up (week of October 25th and week of November 1st) we will be doing our Annual Fall Sign Up for Indian Line Farm.  We ask for a Commitment Form and $100 deposit to hold your space.  We will give you more details next week. 

3)  Please note that the Rainbow Salad Mix this week will need to be given an extra rinse at home.  We have an insect problem that I am unfamiliar with at this time of year.  We have aphids in the lettuce greens and I can't with our two wash tubs rinse them out completely.  They are harmless but I promise you if you take the lettuce you will find them.  Consider yourselves warned.  On the other hand, the lettuce will be extra sweet as the cooler temperatures encourage the plants to sweeten.  Creating sweetness is an anti-freezing characteristic of plants. 

Vegetables for the week of October 18th

         Bok Choy, Brussels Sprouts, Kohlrabi--limited quantity
        Cabbage, Baby Hakurei Turnips, Green Tomatoes--limited quantity
  Mix and Match Roots:
        Potatoes, from Thompson Finch Farm--Ancram, NY --see recipe below
        Onions--see recipe below
        Scarlet Turnips
        Red Meat Radish
        Daikon Radish
        Celeriac--see recipes below
        Purple Top Turnips
        Beets--see recipes below
        Sweet Potatoes!!--Stone Soup Farm, Belchertown, MA
Mix and Match Greens
          Chard, Kale, Mustard Greens and Spinach

Acorn Winter Squash--Full Bloom Organic Farm
Rainbow Salad Mix--please wash before eating!  1/2 lb only

Fruit Share
1/2 gallon apple cider from Windy Hill Farm for folks on Tuesday. 
Bosc Pears from Maynard Farms, Ulster Park, NY--please let ripen a week before eating!

Thursday October 14, 2010

Heirloom Breeds & Seeds:
Indian Line Farm: A flock of wild turkeys

As usual, Elizabeth Keen is the great farmer/philosopher!!
News from Indian Line Farm
A flock of wild turkeys have taken up residence at the farm this summer.  Fourteen birds sleep in the trees just west of our house and meander their way down to the farm fields every morning.  I catch myself laughing as occasionally Harry and Rainbow the cats will herd them a little faster in whatever direction they are traveling. By the time we make our way down to harvest they are in the front sections near the greenhouses munching away on bugs and bits of green. They have been here since the little ones were just chicks and they are now full grown to my untrained eyes.  In all these months we have never seen any damage from their passing. They seem to have stomachs for the things we don't eat. By 9:00 am they have usually headed south across the hay field to wherever they spend the rest of their day. They return about 6:00 pm again meandering their way through our electric fence and into the vegetables.  We most often notice them coming up the hill as we are sitting down to dinner.  We almost always comment to each other that they are headed home for the night and Colin can rarely let the moment pass without jumping up and watching them pass.  There are so many of them. 

I have seen turkeys move freely about the farm in the past but they usually travel in a north to south pattern and most often as far from the house as possible.  I suspect that the absence of our old dog Brantley has opened up possibilities for this new flock.  I have yet to do research on the habits of wild turkeys but I suspect they will soon migrate to a warmer location for the cold of winter. One day I will realize they have gone. I am pleased to have them here now and hope that some will return to lay eggs next year. 

I have been pondering the idea of this farm as a gathering place for creatures of all kinds.  We have a healthy wildlife population:  deer, raccoons, skunks, bears, opossums, ground hogs all live here or at least make sightings multiple times a year.  Of course there are birds of all kinds and the reptilian population seemed especially strong this year. I have never seen so many frogs! Equally as important are the insects that congregate here.  I tend to remember the least desirable of this category as they can do the most damage to the vegetables.  Tomato hornworms, cucumber beetles, peach colored aphids, flea beetles, white flies, cabbage lopers,  Japanese beetles, and Colorado potato beetles are just a few of my least favorite creatures.  But we do have monarch butterflies, swallow tails, parasitic wasps, lady bugs, tons of spiders and other creepy crawlies we encounter in our day. 

And then there are the human creatures which fill this farm with hard work and toil and manage to bring forth amazing food.  On some days the humans are quiet and steady (except for when we need to blast the radio to hear NPR or listen to our favorite radio station) and on other days this farm is bustling with cars and more humans big and small. Just as I am pleased to have our wild turkey friends this year, I am glad to have all the humans that call this farm their own.  After all, without them, we would not know who we were growing for.  I hope they too return in years to come.   

For the farm crew,

Here's some of our "take"from this week:  carnival and delicata squash.  Stay tuned for recipes - oh so simple!!

Thursday October 07, 2010

Heirloom Breeds & Seeds:
Celebrating more RAIN and some recipes!!

You gotta love Elizabeth Keen and how she runs Indian Line Farm - check out the list of produce for this week's pick up.  THANK YOU is all I can say!!
And, that carrot soup (she suggests) is on my menu today - a rainy, damp and cool day here in the Berkshires.

News from Indian Line Farm
After recording 7" of rain Friday afternoon I began to think of the Old Testament.  This summer has been filled with drought, extreme heat, small insects in mammoth quantities, a strange fungus which killed our last cucumber planting and now... flooding.    We are lucky here in that our land does not actually flood but it sure is saturated with water.  We were overjoyed at the rain and had quite a time on Thursday and Friday during harvest.  We were all so happy to be wet and warm that the pelting rain rarely bothered us.  We will now be rolling up our irrigation equipment for another year and hoping for a bit more rain in 2011. 

For the farm crew,


Vegetables for the week of October 4th
       Potatoes, from Thompson Finch Farm--Ancram, NY
       Green Tomatoes
       Red Meat Radishes
       Hakurei White Sweet Turnips
       Scarlet Turnips
       Cabbage--limited quantity
       Bok Choy
       Daikon Radish
      Broccoli Raab--limited quantity
      Purple Top Turnips
Mix and Match Greens
          Chard, Kale, Arugula, Mustard Greens and Spinach

Delicata Winter Squash

Tomatoes--up to at least 2 lbs.
Rainbow Salad Mix--possibly none
Cherry Tomatoes
Fruit Share
1/2 gallon apple cider from Windy Hill Farm for folks on Tuesday.  Friday folks got cider on Friday October 1st.
Macoun Apples from Maynard Farms, Ulster Park, NY

Heavenly Carrot Soup  (Gardeners’ Community Cookbook by Victoria Wise)
Serves 3 to 4

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter        

1 ½ tsp. ground coriander
1 small onion, finely chopped        

4 cups chicken broth
1 lb. carrots, scraped and finely chopped     

½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ cup white wine                

Sprigs of cilantro, for garnish (optional)

1.  Melt the butter in a large soup pot.  Stir in the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, until slightly wilted.  Add the carrots, wine, and coriander.  Cover the pot and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are mashably soft.  Remove from the heat and cool enough to handle.
2.  Puree the carrot mixture, along with 1 cup of the broth, in a food processor or through a food mill.  Return the puree to the pot and stir in the salt, pepper, and remaining 3 cups of broth.  Reheat and serve right away if serving warm, or cool, and chill if serving cold.  Garnish with the cilantro, if using, just before serving.
Alice’s Moroccan Carrots  (Gardeners’ Community Cookbook by Victoria Wise)
Serves 6

18-24 baby carrots with ¼ in. stem attached, scrubbed, and halved lengthwise 
 ¼ tsp. paprika, hot or mild 
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon                    
1 clove garlic, crushed              
Pinch of salt   

¼ cup olive oil                   
¼ tsp. ground cumin   

Pinch of cayenne   
2 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice            
1 T. chopped fresh parsley leaves

1. Combine the carrots, garlic, and pinch of salt in a large sauté pan.  Add water to cover, bring to a boil, and simmer briskly over medium heat until tender, 3-4 minutes.  Drain and cool to room temperature.
2. Transfer the carrots to a nonreactive dish large enough to hold them without overlapping too much.  Toss with the cumin, paprika, cinnamon, and cayenne. Add the lemon juice, oil, and parsley, toss again, and set aside to marinate for at least 1 hour.  May be refrigerated for up to 3 days, holding out the parsley until just before serving.

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