THIS WEEK'S NEWSLETTER
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.)
Hi Friends –
It's that time of year when all we want to do is fall asleep on the couch in the middle of the day hoping that our kids don't scribble on the floor with red permanent marker while we're dreaming away. We also try to escape the holiday stress that, even if you're organized and having fun and like the whole thing, seems unavoidable. So what do we do? Take saunas. Eat stews. Sing shape-note. Watch bad TV once the boys are asleep. And then – after a hard freeze – there are those two hours of the day during which we can harvest kale and leeks and bok choi. We feel vaguely productive and earthy and non-computery. Our hands get cold, but we know it won't last. We wish some similar moments for you. And we hope to see you this Saturday at the Northampton Winter Farmers Market, where we'll also have salad mix and spinach and carrots and watermelon radishes (last night – forget the meatloaf and mashed potatoes – Wiley only wanted to eat radish-sticks dipped in hummus for dinner.)
See you at market!
P.S. If any of you are looking for a mini-job, Andrew the manager of the Northampton Winter Market is looking for someone to flier in front of Thornes 10-1pm every Saturday, $15/hr.
Hi Everyone –
Hope you had a wonderful holiday last week, and that you've been enjoying these bright cold days. We've spent the week harvesting the last of our winter carrots, covering our strawberry patch with its winter blanket, and completing our first harvest of the most tasty, most beautiful salad mix we've ever grown. Eight different varieties of tender, colorful, flavorful baby greens. You can have some. It's for sale this Saturday at the Northampton Winter Farmers Market, along with our famous (which is not to say infamous) heads of tat soi, tons of kale, baby arugula, not-so-baby spinach, deliciously crunchy and crunchily delicious carrots, and plenty more. The market is every Saturday from 9 to 2 in the lower level of Thornes Marketplace.
Here are Adam, Olivia, and Alyssa harvesting salad greens in the high tunnel.
And hey, our Town Farm T-shirts make great holiday gifts. Organic cotton. Incredibly cozy. Lots of sizes and colors available at market.
We hope to see you there!
Hello Friends –
It's exciting times here on the farm as we plant next year's garlic and harvest the winter's roots – 700 lbs of carrots in about an hour today, and thousands more pounds still to come. And while we're saying goodbye to so many crops at this time of year, there is one vegetable whose moment is just getting started. The humble tatsoi, which goes almost unnoticed in salad mixes month after month, can be encouraged in October & November to grow into full, glorious heads. We've recieved emails praising the beauty of our tatsoi. At our market stand, customers buy the heads, claiming they're going to take them home to use as table decorations. We do agree they're beautiful, but this would be a terrible shame, because tatsoi is truly delicious. Toss it into soups. Stir-fry it like bok choi or spinach. Or, as Missy from Old Friends Farm suggests, use it as the crust of a quiche by placing the entire head in a buttered baking dish and pressing it flat, then pouring the quiche filling directly onto the leaves. Come find it this week at Tuesday Market. Let us know how you cooked it. We always want to hear new ideas. Find it next week, too, at our special Thanksgiving Market, which is also the last Tuesday Market of the season. What better way to enjoy Thanksgiving than by preparing food for friends and loved ones grown right here on this fertile Northampton soil.
Or, if Tuesdays aren't your thing, come find us this Saturday – and every Saturday through March – at the Northampton Winter Farmers Market, located on the ground floor of Thornes Marketplace, 9 to 2PM. We are so excited to be bringing our fresh winter produce – including salad mix, kale, bok choi, tatsoi, carrots, leeks, arugula, celery, broccoli, garlic, sweet potatoes, and more – to this lively, wonderful indoor market.
We can't wait to see you there!
And while you're thinking about yummy food and being thankful, we have one last plug for your support of the FoodStampsX2 program at Tuesday Market:
As we look toward Thanksgiving this year, we know we have many reasons for gratitude, not the least of which is the ease we feel about our ability to cook a beautiful, bountiful, locally sourced, healthy and delicious holiday meal. The last Tuesday Market helps us with this meal as it falls just two days before Thanksgiving.
We also appreciate on this Thanksgiving that, at Tuesday Market, we help many families receiving SNAP benefits (Food Stamps) have access to healthy, delicious local food by doubling the value of their SNAP benefits at our market every week. Over fifty individuals and families use and double their benefits every week at the market.
In order to double SNAP benefits, the market raises $300 per SNAP user for the whole market season. We have $2500 left in our $12,000 goal for this year—that’s enough to fund benefits this season and give us a cushion to start off again in 2013.
Can you help us make this Thanksgiving more easeful for someone else? Please give toward the wish of bounty—and healthy, local, beautiful food—for all.
And work on your pies this holiday, in anticipation of next year’s Tuesday Market Pie Contest!
You can bring your donations to the market tent over the next 2 weeks or mail it to us Tuesday Market, 1 Venturers Field Rd., Northampton, MA 01060. Tax-deductible donations should be made out to Federation of Mass. Farmers Markets and non-tax-deductible to Tuesday Market.
With gratitude and best wishes,
Oona Coy, Ben James, and Sarah Buttenwieser