Maysie's FarmMaysie's Farm Newsletter: Fresh from the Fields
July 2006
July 28, 2006
Greetings!

I have a new appreciation for the interns tonight — my kids and I spent 6 hours at the farm today helping with the harvest and I am TIRED! I have to say, though, that my dinner salad tasted a little bit better knowing I had something to do with the peppers, scallions, and tomatoes that were in there! We are somewhat shorthanded now (today was Aimee Jo's last day and Charlie leaves next Friday) so if you're at all inclined to help out with any of the gardening Trey would welcome your assistance!

The summer harvest is coming in, with all the beautiful colors! Be sure to try some of the different varieties of tomatoes, summer squash and eggplant. The cucumbers are still abundant, and green peppers are coming in. We harvested a lot of onions today too; they'll dry out for awhile in the hoophouse but you'll be taking them home soon. Potatoes too!

Are you interested in participating in a study about how you feel about nature and the environment? Diane Phillips has been a long- time CSA member and we've collaborated with her on some other studies in the past. She's working to increase public awareness of the benefits of organic foods. Participants in this study need to go to Philadelphia one evening to be part of a discussion group and will be compensated. I'm attaching more information to this email.

Cooking Light magazine (one of my favorites) has a good article in the August issue about local foods. It's worth reading. (They're also featuring zucchini recipes on cookinglight.com.) I also still welcome recipes to share in these updates. This week's recipe comes from Taylor Holdsworth, and if you came to our Summer Solstice Potluck you may have tried it (it's delicious!):

Minted Eggplant (courtesy of Gourmet via epicurious.com)

1/4 cup sherry vinegar
3 medium eggplants (about 2 lbs total) trimmed and cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
6 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Bring 1 inch water and 2 Tablespoons vinegar to a boil in a large pot (or deep skillet with lid). Arrange eggplant, skin side down, in steamer basket and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, then steam, covered, until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer basket to sink and let eggplant drain 5 minutes.

Transfer eggplant to a deep platter. Whisk together garlic, oregano, pepper, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 2 Tablespoons vinegar in a small bowl, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined. Pour dressing over eggplant while still warm and let marinate at room temperature, basting with dressing several times, 2 hours. Sprinkle with mint and parsley just before serving. 12 servings.

See you at the farm!

~Colleen

 
July 21, 2006
Greetings,

Well, this has certainly been a summer of wacky weather! Tuesday's storm left the farm without electricity (as it probably did your home too) and as of this writing (Friday evening) there still is no power. And since the farm uses an electric pump for the well water, there's no water either. There's a tree down on St. Andrew's Lane in front of the farmhouse that took down the wires, and PECO says it might be Monday before they can restore power. Many, many thanks to Cindie and Art Aubert, parents of our intern Dani, who have kindly loaned us their generator. It has been connected to the water pump, the air conditioner in the cooler, and one refrigerator in the barn, allowing us to continue the CSA pick ups.

You may be wondering why our solar panels haven't come to the rescue. They've been operational since the spring, but we couldn't afford to buy the additional mechanism that is needed to utilize the power when the grid is down. This didn't seem like a big deal at the time; we haven't had a power outage of this magnitude in decades! But it means that when the electricity goes out, so does our ability to use the solar panels.

As a result of the power outage (before we had the generator) we had to postpone the Children's Down-To-Earth Farming Workshop on Thursday. The new date for the workshop is Thursday, August 10, and there are still openings for children ages 6 and above who want to spend a day on the farm! Contact Sam or click here if you're interested.

On a brighter note isn't it great to see the tomatoes starting! And eggplant!! And ALL of those cucumbers!! The zucchini is still producing too, and look for the HUGE baseball bat-sized ones around the barn that are great for baking. I've been making a lot of zucchini bread, using the recipe in the CSA cookbook (From Asparagus to Zucchini) that many of you have. I add a pint of blueberries to the batter and that makes it even better! I've also been slicing the zucchini or squash and stir-frying it with garlic and onion, or throwing some on the grill with whatever else I'm grilling. It's a versatile vegetable!

Most people know what to do with cucumbers, but because we have so many right now, I thought you'd like a cucumber recipe (I also highly recommend the Cucumber Almond Couscous Salad found in the CSA cookbook):

Cucumber with Yogurt (enough for 1 large cucumber)

4 Tablespoons plain yogurt
1 clove garlic, grated
Juice of 1/2 small lime or lemon
6 mint leaves
Dash of pepper

Mix ingredients. Slice cucumber into a shallow dish. Spoon sauce over top. Cover and refrigerate. Serve cold.

See you at the farm!

~Colleen

 
July 13, 2006
Greetings,

We are sorry to tell you that there are no more berries available from Willow Creek Orchard, not even for tomorrow's pick-up. We might be able to get some berries from their fall crop beginning next month, and we may also have peaches from them soon. But for now their berries are finished.

We appreciate your patience as we try to get this fruit partnership with Willow Creek underway. We have been trying for several years to partner with an organic orchard (there aren't very many around here!) so that we could provide our members with fruit. Drew and Melissa Smith started Willow Creek Orchards about 5 years ago, and opened a farm stand and pick-your-own operation in Collegeville. Their plan has always been to expand their business by partnering with CSAs, and we were thrilled when they agreed to sell us fruit this year. But by orchard standards they are still very young and haven't had the surplus they were expecting this year. Plus they're still trying to figure out what will work as far as ordering, delivering, etc.

So that explains why the fruit orders have been so sporadic and unreliable. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you. We still want to support them (another local, organic farm) and believe that as they grow they'll be able to run a more efficient operation. Maysie's Farm members will enjoy the "fruits" of their labors! (I couldn't resist!)

I'll keep you posted...again, thanks for your patience.

~Colleen

 
July 11, 2006
Greetings!

First of all, a big apology to you Monday people who were expecting raspberries last week. Although we phoned in the order, the right person apparently never received the message and therefore no raspberries were delivered that day. We're still expecting them for both Monday and Friday of this week, and for some time beyond that. Just to help Willow Creek out a bit, orders for Friday pick up should be on the Friday order sheet or emailed to us no later that Wednesday noon, and Monday orders need to be placed by Friday noon. Thanks for your patience.

We're still assessing the damage done to the crops from the excessive rain. Also, due to a combination of factors (rain, heat, poor germination, diminishing staff) we won't be offering lettuce for a little while. We understand how important lettuce is to you folks, and we do our best to offer it all season long, but this is farming! So again, our apologies. Meanwhile, enjoy the abundant squash, cucumbers, and that beautiful garlic. And look forward to tomatoes pretty soon, starting with the ever-popular Sun Gold cherry tomatoes which you will soon be able to pick for yourselves in the large hoophouse.

Due to events in their personal lives, several of our interns have left us or have cut back to part-time, and we are finding ourselves once again a little shorthanded in the field. At the same time, the recent rain and heat have caused the weeds to absolutely explode! If you have the interest and time to volunteer in the garden, the interns would very much appreciate it! See Sam or Trey or an intern if you can spare some time.

You may have read about this in the paper: the week of July 15 is Buy Fresh, Buy Local Week, part of a national awareness raising campaign with which we are involved at the County level. Simply by belonging to our CSA, you members have already taken a major step towards helping to re-establish a local, sustainable food system, but there are lots of other events going on that week to further promote the cause. Kimberton Whole Foods will be offering local food tastings all week, there will be a festival at the Eagleview Farmer's Market on Wednesday, July 19, and Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown will have 'Green Drinks' (a social hour for the environmentally dedicated) and Farm Pizzas (with toppings from local farms, including ours) on Thursday evening, July 20. If you're interested in other local happenings that week, go to www.pasafarming.org or www.buylocalpa.org.

We're gearing up for the Tenth Season Celebration for the CSA at Maysie's Farm on Saturday, September 16. David Kline has put together a questionnaire (attached) in an effort to collect some of your memories over these past 10 years. Thanks to those of you who have already submitted comments.

This week's recipe will help you use all that zucchini (or squash). It comes from Vegetarian Cooking:

Zucchini Frittata — 6 servings

2 Tablespoons salad oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
2 large Swiss chard leaves (including stems), coarsely chopped
1 medium sized zucchini (or summer squash), coarsely chopped
6 eggs
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon each dry basil and oregano leaves
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a wide frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, chard, and zucchini; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Beat eggs lightly with pepper, basil and oregano. Stir in cheese and vegetables. Pour into a greased 9-inch pie pan. Bake in a 350 oven for 25-30 minutes, or until puffed and brown. Serve hot or at room temperature.

See you at the farm!

~Colleen

 
July 1, 2006
Greetings!

Well of course the big news story is all the rain we've been having — rather unusual for this time of year. Even before the major deluge that began late last week, the light rains and extended gray weather caused blossom end rot on the earliest zucchini fruits. But don't worry, we're still expecting the plants to recover enough to produce an adequate harvest. Some of the garlic was harvested a little early because of the extremely wet conditions. It was pulled from really saturated soil, and the outermost papery covering of many of the bulbs was almost gone. But the garlic, too, should be okay — it's currently hanging up in the second floor of the barn to dry.

But having about 15 inches of rain fall within a 5-day period definitely had a lasting impact on some of the crops. The lower part of Field 2 was flooded, causing a good portion of the potato crop to rot. Some tomato plants drowned too, as well as the mesclun beds just below the blackberries. The good news is that mesclun is a 28 day crop, at least some of the tomato plants should recover, and we're still early enough in the season to plant more potatoes (if we can find space for them). The other good news is that we've had some beautiful, sunny, breezy days since the deluge and the garden should be drying out.

Before all that rain happened, we had a couple of very successful events at the farm. The 40 or so employees from XL Insurance put in a really productive day on June 16. They did a lot of mowing, weeding, seeding, and mulching and even stained the trim of the shed we're turning into an office. Then the next evening we had a well-attended Summer Solstice Potluck Dinner, which was a lot of fun for everyone involved. The weather was beautiful, the place looked great, Michael McShane's music was very enjoyable and the food was fabulous. (I would love for you folks to send me recipes for the dishes you brought that night so we could share them with the rest of the members.) Our June workshops went well too — and it's not too late to register for the 'Down to Earth Farming' Children's Workshop coming up on July 20th.

This week's recipe comes from Cooking Fresh from the Mid-Atlantic. It calls for kale, but I mix in all different greens:

Kale with Tamari and Mustard Seed — serves 2-4

2 bunches kale
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1-2 Tablespoons tamari
Dash of vinegar
Freshly ground pepper

1. Wash kale in a large bowl or a sink filled with water. Strip the leaves off the stems, and tear or cut the leaves into bite-sized pieces.
2. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan or a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the kale in bunches, and, stirring often, sauté until it is wilted and dark green. As each batch cooks down, add another handful until all of the kale is wilted.
3. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan by 1/8 inch. Add the mustard seeds. Simmer, covered, until the kale begins to get tender, about 8-10 minutes. Uncover the pan and cook away any remaining water. When the kale is tender, season with the tamari, vinegar, and pepper.

See you at the farm!

~Colleen

 
As we get into the busy spring season, there's a ton of work to be done! The interns do a great job at growing the vegetables, but there are lots of other jobs around the farm that are begging for volunteers. We've come up with the list below, and hope that these spark an interest for some of you. Notice that some of these jobs are ongoing, while some are one-time efforts.

  • Establish and maintain the culinary herb beds (these were a disaster last year because they were not tended to!).

  • Restore and maintain the Children's Garden (ditto!).

  • Landscape an "island" behind the new barn office (after trenching for solar electric lines is completed). Take down the mulberry tree.

  • Establish native ground cover in full sun along the rock wall on the southern side of the hoophouse.

  • Construct a bio-diesel processing facility (instructions and examples are available).

Once again this year, we also put the call out to members to volunteer some extra time on their pick up day to act as Distribution Managers in the barn. No experience is necessary, and their presence helps the distribution go much more smoothly.

To volunteer for any of these jobs (or if you think of others...weeding, mowing, etc!) call Sam at 610-458-8129. Thank you!

 
 
CSA memberships for the 2006 season are going fast! Spread the word about Maysie's Farm to anyone you think may be interested in joining, and register BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!

Wish List
Looking to get rid of any of the following items? Maysie's Farm will put them to good use! The first three needs are for our new "office," which is (still) under construction in the old "staff room":

• Wooden file cabinets
• Small electric range/oven
• Sink base, under-counter cabinets, wall cabinets and a short length of countertop material
• Picnic table(s)
• Large outdoor canopy
• Solar powered walkway lights (ideally to match the two donated by Martha Thomae)
• Straw bale chopper (for mulching large areas)
• Assistance building a bio-diesel production system or a compost tea brewing system
• Diesel station wagon or delivery vehicle for use as our produce hauler (for the Farmers Market and our Farm and School partnership) that we could run on bio-diesel or vegetable oil
• Housing for potential Farm Manager
Please contact Sam at (610) 458-8129 if you can donate any of these items.

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