THIS WEEK'S NEWSLETTER
Hi Everyone –
Many of you have told me that you are devoted readers of this newsletter, and for that I thank you. But there's devotion and there's devotion, and as far as the latter goes, there is one reader who stands above the rest. My Granny – who lives in Lexington, KY – has read every newsletter Oona or I have ever sent, has tried many of the recipes we've posted, and always has something delightful to say about the food we've grown. Whenever I feel guilty about posting yet another picture of one of my boys holding a vegetable, I think, Well, Granny will want to see that. And now I'm writing to Granny directly to say, Happy Birthday, my dear!
That's right, Roberta James turns 90 this weekend, and we're all heading down to KY for the party. I thought many of you Valley folk would appreciate this picture of her riding around with her oldest son in her bike basket. If she was that cool then, just imagine how awesome she is now!
Before we leave, we have one or two or thirty-seven things to bring to market. Included on the list are the first raspberries and green beans and summer onions of the season. Plus tons of sugarsnap peas and incredibly delicious early-season broccoli (both of these will be gone soon), summer squash & zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage (cole slaw!), carrots, beets, and, as they say in newsletters about vegetables, so much more.
And if you thought we were going out on a limb with ice pops, wait til you try our newest addition to the Town Farm line of refreshments. This week, for the first time, we offer Italian sodas made on the spot with carbonated water and our own home-made syrups. Come give one a try and let us know what you think. (Yes, the line for shaved-ice just got that much longer, but guess what – if you want a treat but don't want to wait on the line, just ask for an ice pop. They are SO DELICIOUS and they are ready to go.)
It's been a couple years since my son Silas made a retail appearance at market, but his garden is on fire this summer, and he's done the math: One week of daily chores yields $1. A single bunch of fresh summer onions from his garden yields $3. And 10 X $3... well, you get the picture. Find him at market between 2:30 & 3:30. His presence has taken a bit of planning, hence the list–
Can't wait to see you all at market!
Gooseberries! (Not at market this week, but watch for the shaved ice flavor in a few weeks)
Adam does some hands-on healing work on our new soda keg
Phoebe – our wonderful intern from Connecticut College – holds the season's first beans
Hey, remember those toad eggs (don't worry, the teaspoon is merely for transport)
The question everyone asks is whether life is different for us without the CSA. More time? More space? More naps on the sofa while watching season 3 of Buffy at 10:30AM? Our answer is Yes, life is different – and more noticeably so as June makes its way into July. Of course the farm could swallow every single hour we'd wish to give it, but this year's crew is lean and awesome (just 2 full-timers!), and they get a ton of work done in a short amount of time. We even find ourselves "caught up" this week, "caught up" generally being a delusional state a farmer experiences right before passing out in a dry field with a squash plant in each hand. At least for the moment, however, we really do seem to be doing alright. If we have any complaints, they have to do with how much computer-time is required to run a farm (and a farmers market). There are days when I watch the crew in envy as they move from one clear task to another, while I sit bogged in emails and the rest.
The biggest difference this season is that we have a bit more energy to think about and to be with our boys, and I love this. Early summer highlights so far include bird sightings while hiking & canoeing (bald eagles, a loon, a yellow-bellied sapsucker) and reading The Penderwicks and Goblet of Fire by the pond.
The verdict is still out on whether we can keep the farm at this scale and make it (even close to) economically viable, but we consider it a worthy effort, and if we do size up again, our expansion will be accompanied by the knowledge that summer is a really nice time to hang out with our kids. For now, we are pleased to be building fertility in our fields (we've had close to 50% planted in cover crops this spring) and we are proud to be bringing some really great food to market.
We'll be there this Tuesday with tons of sugarsnaps, lots of broccoli, the first squash & zucchini, lots of tomatoes, the ever-popular and soon-to-be-gone high-tunnel cucumbers, and a vast array of other delicious produce.
It'll be hot enough for a Strawberry Ice Pop or a Red Currant Shaved Ice, too!
We'd really love to see you there.
(Sorry, my camera took a vacation this week)
Hey, we're always happy when the sugarsnaps arrive, even when they're a couple weeks late. The season's short, so get them while you can. We'll have a bunch at market tomorrow, and even more next week, along with (an incomplete list): tomatoes, carrots, beets, arugula, cucumbers, lettuce, the last of the asparagus, kale, bok choi, scallions, cilantro, garlic scapes, parsley, fennel, and the last of the strawberries. And Strawberry Ice Pops! And Raspberry-Ginger Shaved Ice! Hope we see you there!
Sometime let me tell you about Culpepper the rooster
Hey, just a quick reminder from Strawberry Land:
Come to market! In the rain! Beets, carrots, first tomatoes of the season, scallions (which according to this article are hyper-nutritious compared to their more bulbuous counterparts), dandelion greens, and lots of other things I can't exactly remember right now. Asparagus. Cucumbers. Maybe even broccoli. And strawberries. Yes. Strawberries. Here's our favorite snack of the moment, the photo of which Silas convinced me to adorn with a certain smile. It's a rice cake, your nut-butter of choice, honey, and sliced strawberries. Very popular. Very delicious. Of course you can just put the berries in your mouth, too.And here are some very nice folks enjoying not only each other, but our new strawberry ice pops as well!
And here's Adam leaving market with some empty strawberry flats last week.
So swing (or maybe swim?) on on over to market and say Hello. And if we don't see you, have a great week!
The farmer grows leafy greens and roots and sells them to the people of Northampton but the farmer notices that the people of Northampton gather in much longer lines when he puts ice in a cup and pours fruit syrup on top and calls it shaved ice.
Next the farmer is in NYC, where he notices the people of NYC are standing in long lines to get fancy popsicles, which they call ice pops. The farmer thinks, I'm not going to waste my time making popsicles, and then the farmer makes some popsicles. Out of strawberries. And they're good.
(Also, beets are back. Strawberries are at their peak. Vast multitudes of cucumbers and asparagus. And the leaves and the roots, of course. At Tuesday Market, of course.)
Hello Farm Towners!
I don't usually like to brag about the size of our produce (flavor being our main focus around here), but when your kid holds up a six-bite strawberry, it's hard not to make a bit of a fuss about it. Here's Wiley on bite three.
We'll have loads of berries at Tuesday Market this week. Loads of our crunchy, thin-skinned, delicious, early cucumbers, too. Plus an ever expanding array of greens and herbs, including bok choi, cilantro, chard, and kale.
Oh and raspberry-ginger shaved ice –
See you there!
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.