Sunday, June 29, 2008

Vol 13 No 4- Week of June 30th

Van Breaks Down
We had a nice day at the Ramsey Day Centennial Market on Saturday and got to meet quite a few of our Beth Haverim Shir Shalom members. The only downside was that our delivery van conked out on us as we were getting ready to leave Ramsey & head back to the farm. A call to AAA and they got us running but told us not to shut off the engine between there & home, as there was a problem with the fuel pump. Fortunately, Farmer Diane’s son is a mechanic and offered to fix it for us over the weekend, but just in case he couldn’t get it done for the delivery on Monday, Farmer Rich had to make alternate plans for delivering this week. Instead of loading the van with all the deliveries for Mon & Tues he was going to have to use our old S-10 pickup and make 2 trips; the first to Mahwah on Monday, return home & reload for drop off to Jersey City & Hoboken on Tuesday. Due to this complication, the delivery is a little lighter than it would have been as he could not harvest everything he had planned as there would not have been room for it even with making two trips. The delivery actually turned out to be nice overall despite our complications. We hope to make it up to you next week. One of the greatest things with working with other farmers is our network to help each other out. There would be no way that this repair would have been accomplished between 3:30 Saturday afternoon & Monday morning. Diane’s son Matt was able to order the parts, and get the job done all on a Sunday. He did take time away from helping Diane in her fields, but it all works out as when she needs help, we will be there. From the Fields: The broccoli which was doing quite well last week, seems to be producing smaller heads that we had hoped. Farmer Rich doesn’t know why, it seems like they just stalled as they were heading up. Our crew planted some Oriental greens in the beds in the Franklin greenhouse. The field from our first week’s delivery of lettuce has all been replanted with another crop of broccoli which is doing well at this point. The peas which really didn’t produce very well were tilled up and that field will be replanted. The bed of New Zealand spinach was weeded and should be ready for harvest next week. As the Franklin greenhouse tomatoes ripen, we are filtering them into the different delivery sites on a staggered basis until there are enough to deliver to everyone. Just a quick taste test, the Franklin greenhouse tomatoes don’t seem to have the great flavor of our field tomatoes. Most likely cause is the minerals in the soil. Though still better than store-bought tomatoes, not what we usually think of as incredible flavor. Weather Report: The heat & humidity have returned. Despite what seems to be a week with lots of rain, the actual amount has been quite insignificant. Farmer Rich had to turn on the irrigation system on Friday to keep the crops moist. The warmer evenings are allowing the warm weather crops to grow better, but hindering the lettuce which likes it cooler. Animal report: The bunnies seem to be growing faster than some of the crops. Farmer Rich refers to them as a “monster” crop of baby rabbits. So far they are not creating too much havoc in the fields, just one or two have gotten through the fence. We still have a groundhog inside the fence, Farmer Rich refers to him as a “vegetable vacuum cleaner”, and he has eaten another 100 lettuces. We harvested the rest of the lettuce for this week’s delivery, so the groundhog will have to find a new crop to devour! We hope it won’t be the celery. On the positive side, the birds (which are our “air-force”) are eating bugs which are our natural way to control pests.
Farming Quote of the Week: On the farm I had learned how to meet realities without suffering either mentally or physically. My initiative had never been blunted. I had freedom to succeed—freedom to fail. Life on the farm produces a kind of toughness. - Bertha Van Hoosen
Greenhouse Pix: early tomatoes ripening
Pick of the Week: click on the links below or to the right to bring you to the delivery specific to your pick-up location. Deliveries will be of similar variety & poundage, but may contain different items. This time of year we may have some crops ready but not enough to deliver to all our drop-off locations. What we do is start to filter them in each week to a different drop-off until there is enough to delivery to everyone.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Vol 13 No 3 - Week of June 23rd

Summer Arrives

The spring & early summer deliveries continue to be productive as we had our greenhouses fully planted. Remember that you are eating seasonally and the spring deliveries are always light. It will be about another 3 weeks until the deliveries start going over 6 pounds. Today’s harvest of baby green bunches were harvested from our Franklin greenhouse and the potatoes from our large middle greenhouse on the farm. Where the potatoes were we are replanting with tomatoes, oriental greens, and yard-long beans. The garlic will be ready for harvesting soon, as we just completed harvesting the garlic curls. We are getting the upper greenhouse ready to dry & cure the garlic. We just reconfigure it with wire benches so the garlic will dry evenly. There were peas ready to be picked, but not enough for everyone at each delivery site on the same week. As they come available, they are being filtered in to each site. Unfortunately the 500’ of peas that Farmer Rich planted did not produce as planned. About ½ of the crop did not germinate, and part of a row as unfortunately run over by the tractor when it slipped in the mud while laying down plastic after one of those big rains. Oh – the joys of farming! From the Fields: Our crew continues to mulch in between the rows in the beds to keep moisture in & weeds out. Beds that are harvested are being replanted. So far lettuce, broccoli, oriental greens and herbs. More will be planted this week. The broccoli continues to look good and the cauliflower is looking better than our last report. The tomato plants in the Franklin greenhouse look like they are going to be very productive for earlier than normal delivery. We are seeing an abundance of green fruits on these plants. Farmer Rich & crew planted about 400 plants in this greenhouse and it looks like it will pay off. As the tomatoes ripen, like the peas, we will be filtering them into the different sites on a staggered basis until there are enough to deliver to everyone. As the buzz continues about the tomato contamination in the country, we are trying to understand just how it is occurring. It is perplexing that the FDA is finding that it is only found in plum-type & round red tomatoes grown in certain states and all other varieties seem unaffected. They are performing their traceback process to identify the source, whether it is on the farm or post-harvest handling. One of the greatest reasons for supporting a farm is that you KNOW where your food is coming from and these types of problems are hopefully avoided. Weather Report: We had a week with nice cool temperatures and intermittent rain which has been great for the non-irrigated beds. Animal report: We still have a rabbit in the field eating just a few lettuces once in a while, unlike the groundhog which will go down an entire row and eat everything. There also is a whole family of bunnies which patrol the outside of the fence just peeking in. Farming Quote of the Week: If we estimate dignity by immediate usefulness, agriculture is undoubtedly the first and noblest science. Samuel Johnson ("The Great Cham of Literature") <« a look at part of one field that has kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower & potatoes

Pick of the Week: click on the links below or to the right to bring you to the delivery specific to your pick-up location. Deliveries will be of similar variety & poundage, but may contain different items. This time of year we may have some crops ready but not enough to deliver to all our drop-off locations. What we do is start to filter them in each week to a different drop-off until there is enough to delivery to everyone. This week Hoboken South & Hoboken West will be receiving tomatoes. Next week we will start with our other locations. A nice early taste!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Vol 13 No 2 - Week of June 16th

Score of the week: Members: 150 Lettuces / Groundhog: 400 lettuces
Last week we reported that a groundhog decided to break into the fence and eat 100 of your lettuces. Well he enjoyed them so much that he came back and ate 300 more! Unfortunately this caused a loss of 2 whole deliveries. Farmer Rich staggers the plantings and it was the second planting that the groundhog ate. So far the 3rd & 4th plantings are ok. Hopefully we can keep him out. Meanwhile there is a new crop of baby rabbits prowling around the outside of the fence and peeking in. It seems they like they are inventorying the crops.

Remnants of the lettuces that the groundhog ate this week The rain has been coming at fairly nice intervals this season. We hope to get a rain before the Monday deliveries. Our irrigation system has been working perfectly, though we do have some plantings that need more than irrigation, such as another planting of lettuce, cilantro and favas. They need to get some overhead watering in addition to the irrigation. We have the irrigation system in the Franklin greenhouse on timers at 2 hour intervals. Our crew is mulching to keep the weeds down between the plastic rows on the raised beds. The nice thing with hay is that it will break down and add organic matter to the soil for next year. From the Fields: The favas are starting to “bean” up though got set back by the 100º temperatures. We hope to start harvesting the potatoes for next week. The broccoli is looking really good and the 3rd planting of lettuce has not been eaten. We are having problems with the cauliflower. They just seem to be stalled with only small heads. The outside planting of collards, cabbage & kale are all happy as well as the celery & herbs. Our lower greenhouse has squash, tomatoes and cucumbers all coming along nicely. Weather Report: Needless to say it was hot-hot-hot last week. This has affected the cool weather crops such as fava beans & lettuces. There was a minor hail storm that came through the end of last week and fortunately did not cause any damage. We’ll have “cole-slaw” in the fields if a large hail storm arrives. Animal report: Other than the groundhog & rabbit visits, seems like there are no other major problems to report. They seem to be prowling around the perimeter waiting for an opportune time to break in and feast. Apparently a deer is eating the potato plants in the back field which is something you normally do not hear them doing. They don’t seem to touch the potatoes in the front field. The back field’s garlic crop is showing some problems which Farmer Rich will be investigating this week. Farming Quote of the Week: “When one eats, one should not forget those who till the fields.” - Anonymous Chinese Proverb Greenhouse Pix: Tomatoes getting bigger every day

Pick of the Week: click on the links below or to the right to bring you to the delivery specific to your pick-up location. Deliveries will be of similar variety & poundage, but may contain different items. This time of year we may have some crops ready but not enough to deliver to all our drop-off locations. What we do is start to filter them in each week to a different drop-off until there is enough to delivery to everyone. This week Hoboken Midtown & Jersey City will be receiving tomatoes. Next week we will start with our other locations. A nice early taste!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

First Delivery

Here we Grow Again!!!!
Welcome to our 13th year delivering to our community supported farm members. We do have an exciting year planned and first want to thank you for supporting our farm. It is with member support that the farm can continue to operate as we do not have to find a market to sell our produce. The produce we grow is for you and in return of your support you will be receiving weekly deliveries of seasonal produce. CSF deliveries are not meant to replace you having to shop, but to supplement your veggie choices each week. As we like to say “it is about more than just the vegetables”. We are stewards of the land on which we grow your vegetables. Our methods of growing ensure we continue to build soil fertility and use natural practices to control pests. You are able to put the “face of the farmer” on your produce and we in turn are able to put the “face of our members” on the produce that we grow for you. When we harvest your carrots we know where they are going, not simply being tossed into a bin & shipped off to market. They will still be dirty from the soil of our farm and there will be crooked ones. You never know what you will be receiving each week, but we try to include a variety of vegetables that may be eaten raw or cooked. Becoming a community supported farm member also connects you to each other. You are able to meet each week, share stories, and introduce others to the concept of supporting a local small farm. A lot has happened in a year, most dramatically is member support. We have increased to 150 members this year and probably have an interest list for next year already starting with 60 people. We don’t know why, but it seemed that we were receiving 10 e-mails a day in the spring inquiring about our CSF deliveries. We increased our membership to Beth Haverim Shir Shalom and added new drop-off locations in Hoboken on 3rd Street and one in Hamburg. The coordinators are the backbone of the CSF delivery system. They are basically volunteering their homes each week to have a stream of people pick up their veggies. Please respect their guidelines for pickup times as without them the whole concept cannot exist. Thanks to Rabbi Joel @ Beth Haverim Shir Shalom for helping coordinate the deliveries to the temple. Thanks also to our site coordinators in Hoboken; Holly, Jennifer, Kristen & Carolyn, Lynn in Jersey City & Leslie in Hamburg. WOW!! We know that the members do appreciate their efforts throughout the year and especially on delivery days. You may be wondering how we are able to increase to such an extent this year. First, we have 2 full-time employees (Leslie & Kathy) and 1 part-timer (Tara) in addition to Farmer Rich. They started working in March as we had two heated greenhouses to manage. In addition to the heated on-farm greenhouse, we rented another heated greenhouse in Franklin. It is there that we reconfigured the entire greenhouse to set up for early deliveries. Also, our long time “trading partner” Scott is committing an acre for planting tomatoes, cucumbers, zukes, winter squash and more to our efforts. To our long-time members, you will probably notice that this is one of the largest 1st deliveries we have made. This is due to the fact that the extra greenhouse was filled with onions, chard, beets & we even have a great crop of tomatoes coming along. New fields were tilled up & raised beds were readied for planting. Instead of planting mostly by hand, we were fortunate to borrow a planter from our neighboring farmer Adam, to speed up the planting process. What would normally take a few days to do manually was done in one afternoon. Pictures can be seen on our blog. We have probably tripled our growing area from a few years ago. Now onto farm news...... From the Fields: The Fava bean plants are so large they need to be staked up! The heated greenhouse in Franklin is ballistic! The tomato plants are almost neck high on our knights (see photo below). The onion bed that was harvested for this week’s delivery was replaced by oriental greens. The remaining onions will be harvested to dry & cure for your next delivery and that bed will also be replanted with oriental greens. Since we have the Franklin greenhouse that was planted with a diversity of crops, our middle greenhouse could be planted with potatoes & chard. The potatoes are almost ready to harvest. Weather Report: Last year we had severe drought conditions in May and this year we have been receiving regular rain. We do have a pretty reliable irrigation system installed also. The cold snap at the end of May stalled the crops in the field and once it got warmer, they started to take off again. Unfortunately, we are starting the first delivery on the HOTTEST day of the year. Farmer Rich will make every attempt to keep the greens iced up, but 97º temperatures probably will make them limp by the time you pick-up. To revive them, simply dip in a nice ice-water bath and then remove any excess water & chill down in the refrigerator. Animal report: Things were growing so well all these weeks without incident and low & behold on Saturday night, a groundhog decided to break in & start feasting on your next delivery of lettuce as well as peas. This is our first trauma of the season and it looks like 100 lettuces have been lost. Fortunately we overplanted the lettuce (700 lettuces in all), but if he tells his friends we may be up a creek!
Farming Quote of the Week: The farmers are the founders of civilization. - Daniel Webster

Greenhouse Report: Notice our knights in “not-so-shiny-armor” guarding the crops in the Franklin Greenhouse! This photo was taken in April and now the tomato plants are almost neck high!

Pick of the Week: click on the links below or to the right to bring you to the delivery specific to your pick-up location. Deliveries will be the same variety & poundage, but may contain different items.

Welcome to the 2008 Harvest Season

Deliveries are starting the week of June 9th! We had a bit of a cold snap toward the end of May and the crops just seemed to stall in the field. Things have warmed up (too much as I write this) and we are on target for the first deliveries of the season starting on June 9th. We welcome back all of our former members and are quite pleased with the growth of the membership with many new members joining this year. It is with your support that the farm can continue being a farm. The first delivery of the season is probably our largest first delivery ever. We were able to accomplish this by starting many crops early in a heated greenhouse in Franklin, about 10 miles south of the farm. The fields were ready for planting earlier than usual, mostly due to the weather cooperating. And of course we could of not been so productive without the addition of staff. Leslie, our farm manger, has been working for us for 3 years now. We added two new employees this year, Kathy is full-time and Tara is part time. They have been working in the greenhouses, planting in the fields and helping with the harvest. Our schedule for deliveries/pickups:
  • Mahwah @ Beth Harverim Shir Shalom members may pick up either on Mondays 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm or Tuesdays 9:30 am-4:30 pm
  • Jersey City - Hamilton Park @ Lynn Brownstein's members may pick up on Tuesdays 11 am - 12:30 pm
  • Hoboken Midtown @ Holly Metz' on Willow Terrace members may pick up on Tuesdays after 3 pm
  • Hoboken West @ Jennifer Hindman / Kristen Jordan's on Grand Street members may pick up on Tuesdays 4 pm - 7 pm
  • Hoboken South @ Carolyn Copes' on 3rd Street members may pick up on Tuesdays 3 pm - 9 pm
  • Hamburg @ Leslie's 604 Route 23 – (next to the Irish Cottage) members may pick up on Wednesdays 5 pm - 9 pm
  • On-Farm Pickup in Wantage members can pickup either on Fridays or Saturdays after 12 noon

We look forward to a bountiful year!