These days, aside from the daily harvest, most of our thoughts and energy are focused on preparing for next season. In the field, that energy goes into removing plastic mulch, trellising and irrigation, as well as seeding cover crop to improve organic matter. Beyond the fields, we are thinking about how we can improve soil health, increase yields, boost our labor efficiency, continue to make strides toward a healthy work-life balance for ourselves, and create the best possible experience for our customers.
We'll hash out a lot of the details of how to achieve our 2017 goals during the winter months, but we have already had a lot of discussions during our field walks and lengthy leek and carrot harvesting sessions about our general strategy for a successful 2017 season. One thing that became abundantly clear to us this season was how crucial our CSA and Barrett's Bucks members are to the financial viability of the farm.
Though we managed to have pretty good yields on most of our crops in spite of the drought, we still have to be able to reliably sell those crops for the season to truly be a success! Farm stand sales can be unpredictable, and this year, in part due to road work creating difficult traffic patterns and oppressively hot temperatures driving people to shop in more air-conditioned spaces, our cash sales were lower than anticipated. The lower sales coupled with higher labor costs (we needed more help to deal with the drought as well as to staff our increased farm store hours!) made for a slightly more financially challenging season than expected.
We did a bit of extra legwork to sell crops to restaurants (thank you especially to 80 Thoreau!) and other farms, but we are particularly grateful to all our CSA and Barrett's Bucks members who provided us with an important cushion to make it through the summer and fall. As such, a big part of our plans for next year include increasing our CSA and Bucks membership, as well as offering add-ons like our new November CSA while continuing to expand and improve our PYO Flower CSA. We're also brainstorming ways to continue to draw in store customers through the summer vacation months, as well as how to most effectively and efficiently use our limited labor resources. It's a challenge, but one we genuinely enjoy tackling. The opportunity to change and adapt after every season (along with the unbeatable work environment) keeps our job truly satisfying!
In the CSA:
- Pie pumpkins - Also known as sugar pumpkins, these are perfect for making pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread from scratch. Instead of using canned pumpkin, cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and lay the pieces cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Rub canola oil all over the skin and bake until fork-tender, about 1 hour. After the pumpkin cools, scoop out the innards and puree in a food processor.
- Butternut squash - We had a really good butternut harvest this year, so we should be enjoying these for the rest of the main season CSA (plus storage quantities in the November CSA!)
- Gourds - These are purely decorative, but we thought they'd be a fun addition to the CSA this week!
- Fennel - We grew a planting of fennel early in the season but took a break in the hot summer months. The bulbs are small but pack a lot of flavor!
- Yellow storage onions - After we had difficulty our first season on this property with onion root maggots, we took a break from growing storage onions last season to concentrate on fresh onions and leeks, but this year we decided to give it another go and we had much more success this time around. These aren't the largest onions due to the drought, but they pack good flavor! These should not be kept in the refrigerator as there is too much moisture. Keep them on your kitchen counter out of the sun, or in a cool and dry pantry.
- Baby Bok Choi
- Tomatoes- peak tomato season has definitely passed, but we're still harvesting a small amount of tomatoes this week
- Cherry tomatoes
- Husk Cherries
- Hot peppers - jalapeno, serrano, cayenne, ancho, habanero
In the store: Everything available in the CSA will also be available in the store. In addition, we will have chard, scallions, collards, spinach, salanova, escarole, eggs from Pete and Jen's Backyard Birds, and mushrooms from Fat Moon Farm. We also now have jack-o-lanterns from Kenney Farm right here here in Concord!
Farm store hours:
- Tuesdays & Thursdays 11am - 6pm*
- Wednesdays and Fridays 2pm - 6pm
- Saturdays 10am - 3pm*
*Hours in bold with an asterix are also CSA pick-up hours.
Fresh pumpkin Bread
by Stacia Hayes on food.com
- 3⁄4 cup sugar
- 1⁄2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup cooked pumpkin, mashed
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1⁄2 cup oil
- 2 eggs
- 1⁄4 cup water
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1⁄4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
Preheat oven to 350°F Spray standard size loaf pan with cooking spray. Combine sugars, pumpkin, oil, vanilla extract, water, and eggs. Sift together dry ingredients. Slowly add to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Pour into prepared baking dish. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour 15 minutes.
MUFFINS: Recipe makes 18 muffins. Reduce baking time to 35 minutes. Freezable for a quick, healthy alternative for dessert.
Winter Squash Curry
adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
You can use any type of winter squash for this recipe. You can add other veggies to the curry. My favorites are potatoes, broccoli, romanesco cauliflower or spinach.
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil (grapeseed, corn or canola)
- 1 onion, chopped (or you can use leeks!)
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 lb winter squash, peeled and roughly chopped
- chopped broccoli, potatoes, cauliflower and/or spinach (optional)
- 1 cup coconut milk
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
Put the oil in a pot or deep skillet with a lid over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion (or leek) and cook for a few minutes until softened. Add the curry and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the squash (and potatoes, broccoli or cauliflower) and coconut milk and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn the heat down to low. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the squash is tender (about 20 minutes). If you're adding spinach, add this toward the end of cooking. If the squash is done and there is still a lot of liquid, remove the lid and turn the heat up to medium high until it's thicker than stew. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice or quinoa.