THIS WEEK'S NEWSLETTER
Hi Friends –
Shaved Ice! Cucumbers! Asparagus! Bok Choi! Salad Turnips! Radishes! Lots of Greens! And the very first Strawberries of the season!
See you at market!
petals from our winter kale
(And just a few strawberries, so come early, OK?
LOTS more next week, however)
Hey Everyone –
A sick day for Wiley means he gets to stay home, watch cartoons, leave his slippers on, and – from the deck – direct the workings of the farm with his giant asparagus wand. His latest spell is Cucumis Exorior! ("cucumber, appear!"), to which we can only say, "Sure." We'll have about 75lbs of very special cucumbers at market this week. Fine-skinned, crunchy-juicy, and dee-lish. Come early if you want them, since – if they're as popular as they were last year – they won't last long. We'll also have some (slightly) less magical asparagus, a bunch of bunches of radishes, salad turnips, salad mix, arugula, green garlic, and the first fresh carrots of the season. Hope you can come!
Here's our winter kale in glorious flower –
And a couple deadbeats on our driveway. If you pass these guys on the roadside, keep your distance and make sure to hold your stuffies real tight–And those cucumbers I was talking about –
Hi Farm Towners,
The peach trees are blossoming and Oona is perplexed. Why am I making her stand still? Why must she hold the hakurei turnips just-so? Why am I fiddling around with my shutter-speed when there is so much work to do to get ready for market?
Well, she's right. No time at all. So here's the quick list of all the spring goodness we'll have at market, followed by some photos from a wonderful spring at Town Farm.
This Tuesday we'll have: eggs from our own truly free-roaming hens, radishes so big, so red, and so crunchy-sweet you'll think they're apples, salad turnips (one of our favorite vegetables–here's a recipe), arugula, salad mix, stinging nettles, 3 varieties of tender, delicious kale, collard greens, carrots (stored from last year but still delicious), leeks, and scallions. And we'll even have shaved ice if I can get my act together tonight.
Here's my mom, showing you the radishes–
And here's what happens when we don't clean under our deck for a few months: baby rabbits move into mason jars and decorate their new homes with corks (but from were oh where did the baby rabbit find the corks?)–
And here's Wiley on the levy with Filbo, the kid that he named himself–
5 kids at Town Farm–
Tomatoes in the high tunnel–
And this is Oona hiding in the car and reading the newspaper – alone. Her way of coping with the fact that there is always – always – something else to do on the farm.
OK, that's all. I hope you can come to market and say hello. We'd love to see you there
(And if you get a chance, stop by The Dirty Truth (after this Wednesday) and check out some of my large photographs, which will be hanging there for the whole month of May.)
Here's all the info for Tuesday Market.
Hi Friends –
Imagine you've got a drawer full of cookies in your kitchen, but then you eat all the cookies. Oh well, that's OK, because – look! – you have a second drawer full of cookies! Dee-lish! (That was thinking ahead.) Oh, but now you are very sad. Now there are no more cookies, and you must tell this disappointing story to all of your friends.
Except! Oh my goodness! Look! Right next to those two empty drawers! Another drawer, and it's chock full of cookies!
This is how we felt at Town Farm this morning. Here we were uncovering the plastic & fabric from all of our picked-out kale tunnels, exposing the stalks to the late-winter snow and setting them up for a surge of early spring growth, when what do you know? We uncovered an entire bed – that's 300-feet – of beautiful, never-picked kale. Somehow we'd missed it all winter!
So instead of telling you this week that we're all out of kale, I get to write and say, Boatloads of kale! And spinach! And salad mix! Come and get it this Saturday at the Northampton Winter Farmers Market! You know it will taste good after all those cookies.
Now, those of you who truly know us know that we are maniacs about vacation. We go away practically every other week, right? The greenhouse regulates it own temperature. The chickens know how to milk the goat. The crew lets the salad mix self-wash while they go buy cookies from Deals & Steals. The farm is essentially self-sustaining! We're taking advantage of this fact to go away for a whole week (to Portland OR) right at the start of the spring season. This is because it's always VERY EASY to leave the farm and we NEVER WORRY about how things are going while we are relaxing with our children in another state.
So we won't be at market on Saturday the 16th – another reason to stock up on greens tomorrow.
Only one picture this week: this one of our goat Flash. Silas and I are training him to follow a lead. By the end of summer, if all goes well, he'll be pulling us in a cart around the neighborhood. Wiley, Helen, and Stella came along for the training session.
Hi Friends –
When you read poetry with your wife until 11:30PM and then your 3-year-old kid throws up while you're taking him to pee and the next morning your older son is jealous because the little guy threw up and does not have to go to school (where the little guy in fact wishes very much he was able to go) – if all this happens to you – then I recommend taking a break in a long, warm, muddy, sunny, wet tunnel full of white-russian kale. I got my fix this morning. It's the sweetest, most tender kale I've ever eaten by far. We'll have it at market (the Northampton Winter Farmers market, that is), along with many pounds of our incredible salad mix and spinach. Come early for the kale.
Hey, look what arrived on our porch this morning: an entire season's worth of vegetables in two boxes – enough to feed several hundred people weekly! (OK, so we have a bit of work to do before they are ready.) If you see Oona on the street looking dazed or if she growls at you or something, it's merely because you are neither a spreadsheet nor a seed order. You don't even have any yield-data attached to you! Don't take it personally, she'll be over it in a couple weeks, once she finally gets her hands in the dirt.
Everyone says Wiley takes after Oona, and look: they're right! While I was writing this newsletter, Wiley was making a spreadsheet of his own.
That's all. See you at market! Have a great week!
Hello Friends –
Winter is the time when Oona & I get to attend conferences & workshops and to learn from other farmers about how to improve our soils or run our operation more efficiently. Last year and this year, at every workshop I attended, the various groups of farmers would inevitably end up in a conversation about zones – planting zones – and how they are shifting as the planet warms. ("We've always been a warm Zone 5, but I wouldn't say that anymore.," is the sort of phrase I'll hear again and again.) I witnessed a similar conversation yesterday at a workshop on cover-cropping, and for a moment I was filled with a sort of awe to be present in this moment of profound change, among a group of intensely practical people who are continuing to grow food amidst these changes. Part of dealing with trauma is the act of bearing witness, and the farmers we've been learning from are deep in the thick of it, experiencing these vast, global transitions on a daily, weekly, first-hand basis.
Another way to deal, of course, is to make every effort possible to do something about it. Oona & Silas head off in a bus tomorrow morning for Washington D.C., for what's predicted to be the biggest climate rally ever held. A bunch of other folks from up this way are headed down too. Maybe you'll see them there.
Wiley and I will be at market (followed by Alissa later in the morning). We'll have kale, spinach, salad mix, carrots, garlic, sweet potatoes, and watermelon radishes. Come early for greens.
We hope to see you there!
Hey – also – Hana, our terrific new crew member, is hoping to move down to Northampton from Ashfield with her partner this spring. If you have an apartment, or know of a housing situation that she should look into, please email her. Here's her address. Thanks!
Hello Friends –
Here's a poem for the first of the month. It's by Antonio Machado:
The gusts of February/ Rip through the lemon trees/ I don't sleep so I won't dream
We don't have lemon trees around here, but we sure have gusts. Geez. Fortunately our greenhouses remain intact after this week's windstorms.
The spelunking continues in our 300-foot-long kale tunnels. Recently the crew devised a system whereby one person goes into the tunnel with a bag attached to a rope. They fill the bag with about 10lbs of kale, and then holler to a friend on the outside, who pulls out the kale. This year's crew averages a few significant inches taller than last year's crew, and they were starting to feel a bit cramped.
FYI, we think we have 2 or 3 more weeks worth of kale out there, so enjoy it while it lasts!
We seed new rounds of spinach and salad mix almost every week in the high tunnel. Watering is always a challenge this time of year. Please do not ask me how many pump parts and sections of pipe I have allowed to burst from the cold over the last few years. Please do not go look at the patch jobs I've performed with solder and blow torch. This week we took advantage of the warm day on Thursday to reprime the well, click on the power to the pump, and get the sprinklers going for a half-hour, just so all the seedlings would have a proper start. This week, we also seeded the first radishes of the season. Can't wait.
Now what do the farmer and the farmer's sons do with their time in the depths of winter? Build differential gears out of Lego pieces, of course. In their leotards, of course. (OK, only one of us has been wearing his leotard, but I'm not saying which one). Pretty cool, huh? I entered the farming business with some serious deficiencies in the mechanical know-how department, but making lego machines in the winter with a six- and a three-year-old has helped to build my ego tremendously.That's all. Come to market. Spinach, salad mix, carrots, and lots more, in addition to all the kale. By "lots more" I really mean "watermelon radishes," but they are so good they deserve the epithet.
The Northampton Winter Farmers Market is open from 9 - 2 every Saturday on the lower level of Thornes Marketplace. See you there!
Hello Friends –
Call us perfectionists. Call us obsessive-compulsives. Call us frustrated artists with too much/too little time on our hands. Call us vegetable fetishists (I know you were thinking it). However you want to explain it, the simple fact is that we cannot bear to make a market stand that is anything less than beautiful every week. And our winter stand – small as it is – has been especially satisying with its many & vibrant shades of green. (Salad mix. Spinach. 3 kinds of kale. Lettuce mix. All of it at the Northampton Winter Farmers Market this Saturday!)
But what do we do, then, with the ugly little fellows? Those squat, stumpy carrots and absurdly bulbuous sweet potatoes? Those beets with such ashen complexions that you'd think their pet turtle must just have been found squashed on the pavement?
Here's what we do: put them in 10lb bags and sell them at a discount. Carrots, beets, & sweet potatoes – all of them ugly and all of them delicious – all of them $10 bag, now through the end of the month. (I'll bring several bags of each, but if you're planning to stock up, let me know so I can bring more.)
Also, we've reached that time of the winter season when the good people of Northampton are so desperate for fresh greens that they come to market, buy three bags of salad mix, and scarf it all down in a corner before going on to buy their apple cider, cheese, and cuts of beef. Which is to say: come early if you want spinach or salad greens, though we expect to have kale, carrots, garlic, shallots, and winter radishes all the way until 2:00.
Hope you've escaped the winter bugs going around! Hope to see you at market! No new pictures this week, so here's some summertime for later.
It's hard to ignore the procreative nature of farming. Bees spreading pollen after dunking their little legs in nectar. Tiny seeds of the solinacae family burgeoning forth into plump, proud eggplants and tomatoes. A rooster crowing as he zags from one hen to another. The luxurious silk of the corn cob, the tight germ inside the juice of the kernel. Still, in January, when you're standing shin-deep in snow wondering what you might find under a half-buried, 300-foot-long, plastic-covered kale tunnel, the fertile force of nature is generally the last thing you have on your mind. That's why it was especially satisfying on this 16-degree afternoon to uncover the plastic from the end of one of the tunnels, crawl inside through layers of fabric, and exclaim to my wife who was standing outside, "Oh my god, Oona, it's warm and slippery!" She laughed. Then she went back to the office to prep the seed order. I tramped home to take care of Wiley. And Adam, Olivia, and Alissa climbed inside and picked the kale. Town Farm in wintertime.
Come enjoy the bounty for yourself this Saturday and the Northampton Winter Farmers Market. 9AM to 2PM, lower level of Thornes Marketplace. Three kinds of kale, salad mix, arugula, spinach, carrots, watermelon radishes, garlic, leeks, shallots, a special deal on sweet potatoes, and even this tender, succulent lettuce mix – a delightful January treat.
Happy Winter Solstice! We hope you enjoy the darkest day of the year, and we hope you won't miss your chance to liven up your holiday table with our wonderful salad mix, as well as our kale, carrots, leeks, winter radishes, bok choi, spinach, and the last of the season's tat soi. We'll be at the Northampton Winter Farmers Market this Saturday from 9 - 2, lower level of Thornes Marketplace.
Thanks so much, and if we don't see you on Saturday, we'll look forward to seeing you in the New Year!
(Here we are harvesting salad mix in the high tunnel this morning, as well as some photos from the ice storm earlier this week.)