Crop Of The Week: Cantaloupe!!!
Muskmelons, better known as cantaloupe, are a sweet treat that has been popping up in your CSA shares the last couple of weeks. Cantaloupes love the heat, as they are descended from a tropical plant. They were first grown and harvested in Egypt. They are often started indoors for fourteen days or more before being transplanted. They love a long hot season to grow, which is why you sometimes see them growing in high tunnels and hoop houses. They are a good source of vitamin A, C, B6, and B3. It is also a good source of fiber, potassium and folate.
Culinary uses for cantaloupes are infinite. You could eat it like a watermelon, in a salad, make a soup, make popsicles, etc.. Anyway you eat this treat your body will thank you as it has anti- inflammatory properties.
Melon Ice Candy«
Prep Time: 15 Min
Ready In: 6 Hrs 25 Min
Original Recipe Yield 20 servings
4 pounds cantaloupe, shredded
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
2 quarts water
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1.Mix cantaloupe, evaporated milk, water, and sugar in a large pitcher, stirring until combined. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Divide shredded cantaloupe and liquid into molds and freeze until firm, about 6 hours.
Amount Per Serving Calories: 105 | Total Fat: 1.6g | Cholesterol: 5mg
This week on the farm, we have quite a lot happening with the animals. We are continuing rotational grazing to benefit the health of our soil as well as producing lots of raw milk from our dairy cow, Artichoke. Hopefully soon our heifer, Aveda, will be carrying a foal and one of our sows, FP, will become pregnant by our recently purchased boar, Leroy.
One of the biggest recent developments on the farm involves our oxen. We will soon be processing Bill and Lou as they have come to the end of their lives. Unfortunately, Lou has become lame due to a leg injury, so he and bill, his lifelong friend and practically brother, must leave our farm together peacefully. We will also be purchasing a new team of oxen in the near future, which should be on our farm soon, so we encourage you to come say farewell to Bill and Lou and welcome our new team!
Furthermore, our other sow, Black & Tan, has just recently farrowed, or given birth, to nine beautiful baby piglets! She created her own nesting area, as featured in the picture below, and is taking very good care of the latest editions to our farm. They will be pasture raised just like the other piglets, Bricks, Stick, and Straw, have been on our farm, and then later humanely processed for meat and sold as such. We are very happy to have all of this wonderful growth and change happening on Cerridwen Farm!
Photo Credit: Baylee Drown!
Meet the Farmer: Ben Stein
We are all products of our environment. What we experience as youth often informs the decisions and the directions that our lives take, and this is certainly true for Ben Stein, a soon to be senior who transferred to Green Mountain College after attending a more conventional college at University of Colorado at Boulder. The struggle of our generation is to figure out the place where true sustainability and innovation intersect.
Ben grew up in Boulder, CO, in a co-housing community. Co-housing communities are committed to creating active participation of residents within the community. For Ben’s community this meant that they tried to grow as much food for their community as possible. Beyond simply growing their own food, the residents sat down to 4 community meals a week. Through this “fresh to plate” food and his experience working in the community gardens, Ben’s interest in food began to grow.
Ben’s family moved away from this co-housing community when he was in his early teens. Beyond losing this community, he said it led him to eat a lot of unhealthy “crappy” food. In order to reconcile this, he began shopping at farmer’s markets and volunteered at a CSA in order to “reconnect to food.” Growing up on the fringe of the Midwest where conventional, mono-crop agriculture is king, Ben has seen how destructive the conventional system can be. He realized there had to be another way to grow our food, and this is what led him to Green Mountain College.
Two of Ben’s passions are beer and bread. Having spent 4 years as a baker and several more as a home-brewer, Ben understands the value of craft when creating food. Besides being staples of civilization, they are both products that require grains, true craft and innovation, and are value-added products; meaning that you can take a raw material and turn it into something that will last longer and have a greater commercial value.
Beyond his passions for beer and bread, Ben is looking to the future, and how he can create a community that can take these ideals of resilience and self-sufficiency and create a viable, vibrant living. He is interested in taking the concepts that he has learned in Vermont and carrying them to whatever community he decides to call home. Ben likes the idea of season-extension and nutrient-cycling, and figuring out how to make them work most effectively.
Ben understands that his education at Green Mountain College is really just the beginning of a lifelong journey to creating the type of food system that fits his values and ideals. He likes the idea of using draft animals, and yet understands that there is a place for tractors in this system. He understands that local resources will play a big role in creating local food systems. While he likes the idea of going back to Colorado and helping to create a local food system, the biggest issue there is the lack of water. However, integrating a permaculture or aquaponic system where the nutrients that are created are cycled through several different areas, in order to capture and best utilize their value, in Ben’s mind, is the best way to make the most use of our limited resources.
A few additional facts:
Favorite hand tool: wheel hoe
Favorite plant to grow: tomatoes
Wants to create a beer CSA
Field Trip Update
The Farm Intensive packed up their bags this Wednesday and headed out to Hardwick, VT. The group was assigned The Town That Food Saved, a book detailing how the little blue-collar town struggling to find purpose after the granite mines left was saved by small-scale community agriculture. There are quite a few farms around the area including the famous Pete’s Greens. Pete owns a large chunk of land that he started growing greens on. His business now includes many vegetables and a gigantic million-dollar packing and shipping facility. Needless to book has helped his business grow considerably. His neatly packed greens can be found all over the state.
Another farm around the area is Vermont Compost. The operation is set up on a hill with the least mature compost on top and the most mature at the bottom of the hill. This way things can be pushed downhill instead of moving everything against gravity. He also has a homemade water filter of sorts. All the runoff from the compost and rain gets collected in a wood chip lined drainage ditch. The woodchips catch everything and can be put back into the system. Karl had some great ideas and gave an interesting tour. High Mowing Seeds was also visited. There the students had an interesting conversation about the genetics of seed saving and how different seeds are saved and hybridized.
The third day was devoted to Essex Family Farm, a farm run by exciting and ambitious farmer Mark Kimball. The farm is run using mostly draft power. In fact the farm has a six-horse hitch that they use for large fields or large equipment. Mark took the students on a rambling tour of his 500 acres explaining his ideas and future plans for the farm. After the tour the intensive students went out into the fields to get a taste of some 750-foot rows. All enjoyed the field trip, and by the time the farmhouse rolled in to view many new ideas were cultivated and new dream farms were forming in everyone heads.
Vegetable Activity and Recipe
I think we can all agree that educating children about the food they are eating is an important part of helping them develop into a healthy adult. If you have kids, there are many fun activities you can do with them to teach them the basics of vegetables. While there is still time in the season, it might be fun for you and your child(ren) to start a small vegetable patch in your yard or garden. Therein, you can teach them the basics of growing vegetables as well as the excitement involved in watching plants grow from seed, to harvest, to your dinner plate.
Try picking vegetables that your kids really love to begin with. Showing them the connection between whole foods that they enjoy and the fun involved in growing them will help foster a better awareness for food as they grow into adulthood. Children as young as three will greatly benefit from a small at home garden and the burden onto you can be very slight. The plot needn’t be bigger than a couple feet on each side and checking up on it once the seeds are in the ground can be quick yet educational and inspirational for your kids. I know I greatly appreciated the emphasis my mother put on including me in her small garden and can easily attribute my attachment to growing food to my childhood.
If starting a small garden is implausible, and commonly it is, then emphasize the deliciousness of the vegetables and whole foods you cook for your family. Using sweet root crops such as carrots and beets have the potential to tantalize any young taste buds. My favorite dish to this day is one that my mother used to prepare for me. Its simplicity highlights the sweetness of the vegetables (as does a little added Vermont maple syrup) and as a child, I never had enough.
Try this recipe if you are struggling to get your kids to truly enjoy their vegetables.
Oven Roasted Root Vegetables:
2 large beets cut into ½ inch cubes
4 carrots sliced thickly
2 cloves garlic
2 leeks sliced thickly
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp real maple syrup
pinch of salt and pepper
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Place prepared vegetables in a bowl and toss with the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Cover baking sheet or oven-pan in single layer of vegetables and put in the oven for 35 minutes, stirring half-way through. Cut butter into small chunks and disperse amongst the pan. Drizzle maple syrup over to glaze the vegetables. Place back in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until beets (which take the longest to cook) are easily penetrated by a fork. Let stand for 5 minutes and serve.
- There’s some exciting things happening on Cerridwen these days, as we mentioned last week, one of our sows, Black and tan, was beginning to farrow and prepare to birth her piglets. Well, we are happy to report that everything went perfectly according to plan and Cerridwen is now the home to six new piglets. They are all in great health and we are overjoyed to have them as apart of our system.
Also, last Thursday we attended our first farmer’s market of the season, right here in Poultney. Things went quite well, as people were very excited to see the first tomatoes many of them had seen this season, not all of us are lucky enough to be part of the CSA you know, and we made some good connections with some great folks. We will likely be participating in the market for at least the next few weeks so if yu want to come by and visit our booth, we will be there on Thurdays between 9 and 2, we’ll be the booth with the bike tractor, pretty hard to miss.
Carrots! Delicious and nutritious!
Perhaps one of the most exciting veggies that you are getting in your fabulous CSA shares is the carrot! While we all love carrots, they can be rather difficult to grow. Carrots are a hardy, cool-season crop planted early in the spring and take many weeks to start coming out of the ground. They enjoy deep, loose, and well-drained soil which allows them to root easily into it. Harvest time can begin when they reach the desired size, we like them best when they are big! Carrots are filled with beta carotene, which is the reason they appear orange. They are very low in saturated fat and cholesterol and a good source of essential nutrients including vitamins B6, A, C, K, as well as potassium, thiamine, niacin, folate, manganese. Plus, they are a good source of dietary fibers. The only shortcoming to carrots is that a large portion of the calories in carrots come from sugars. Since carrots contain antioxidants and fiber, they therefore are good for fighting inflammation in the body. Typically, the more vibrant the color of the produce, the higher the antioxidant content. Carrots have also been shown to contribute to weight loss due to the amount of fiber they have. Additionally, carrots increase your ability to see in the dark by reducing the eye’s reaction time due to the beta-carotene they contain.
The culinary uses for carrots are endless. They are delicious when eaten just raw and when thrown into a stir fry or a stew. You can dip raw carrots in almost anything or add them to any cooked meal for an extra crunch. Many people enjoy them in a salad or caramelized in a pan of oil. The history of carrots is interesting as they are believed to have come from red, purple, and black varieties that originated in Afghanistan. They were likely utilized for both food and medicinal purposes even during these early times. Little was known about carrots until the 16th century, when it was noted that yellow and purple varieties were eaten in Europe. In the 17th century, an orange carrot was developed in Holland and bred throughout the 18th century.
A good way to cook carrots and get a taste of place in Vermont:
3 cups peeled and sliced carrots
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Directions: Place carrots in a skillet and pour in just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium heat; simmer until water has evaporated and the carrots are tender. Stir in butter, brown sugar, dill, salt, and pepper.
Here at Cerridwen Farm our animals sure do keep us on our toes. We love all our animal friends very much, but they certainly do like to surprise us with all sorts of shenanigans. Our good friend Leeroy the boar deserves a brief mention in this week’s letter. Last week Leeroy found himself presented with the narrow option to escape from his pen and have a little fun inside the barn. Long story short, our buddy certainly found plenty of things that could be knocked over, and was particularly thrilled to have the opportunity to destroy the Styrofoam incubator we had. Hopefully he’s had his fill of shenanigans for a while, naughty boy!
Aside from our boar, the theme of the week for our cattle can be summed up in two words: Mama Drama. Our little calf Asparagus has really grown, and is going to be separated this week from his Mom and our Milking Shorthorn, Artichoke. Asparagus is still going to get a little bit of milk via a bottle for a bit, but he is old enough to eat grass now, and he will be hanging out with Aveda, his older sister, for company.
While Asparagus will have some adjusting to do, his mama Artichoke will most certainly feel a sense of relief not having him milking her dry constantly, and we will definitely be having a bunch more delicious raw milk available for sale as well.
Who loves tomatoes?! Tomatoes rule and we are finally hitting the start of peak production. While we will continue to have tomatoes for months to come, we are getting into the glut of tomato season. So look for heirloom varieties in your share, in addition to the sungolds and various other tomatoes that we have all been enjoying as of late.
While I would love to assume that everyone knows what makes an heirloom tomato heirloom, I won’t. Heirloom varieties of vegetables are very similar to heritage breeds with animals. Basically heirloom varieties of vegetables are strains that have been preserved and kept pure in order to ensure that genetics are not destroyed or lost through genetic modification. They have often been preserved due to amazing flavor and possible resistance to disease or various types of growing conditions. Often heirloom produce isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as something that you would find in the grocery store. But the flavor is better than anything you’d find in the grocery store. Usually one bite of an heirloom veggie and people are sold.
Looking to the future there is a potential for seeing turnips in either this weeks or the upcoming weeks shares. I love turnips and find that many of these root veggies are highly underrated. I love to make roasted veggies or soup with turnips. You can also boil or roast them and blend them up into something akin to mashed potatoes.
Farmer of the Week: David Golembeck
This week’s farmer profile is recent alum, David Golembeck. This summer, David is the Garden Steward for the edible landscape in front of the farmhouse. While in school Mr. Golembeck studied Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Agriculture and spent a lot of his free time on Cerridwen Farm.
“I threw my first bale when I was eleven years old” says David as he reminisces of what got him into farming. Growing up in Westport, NY, David had a modest and noble upbringing, his mother cleans houses and his father is a carpenter. Although he did not grow up on a farm, he lived next to one and a smile came over his face when he proclaimed he spent every waking moment there. With those memories so prominent in his youth, Dave knew that whatever he would grow up to be, he wanted to work the land.
“So David,” I asked. “Why farming?”
He turned to me with a stern look, “food is important!” He told me he has a strong belief in knowing where your food comes from. Not only does David manage the garden but he is also keeping himself busy by building all sorts of stuff, like a compost turner, kindling box for the grill and a soon to be trellis for the tomatoes. He says to me, “Making a living out of the sweat of your own brow is a noble calling.”
So what’s next for David Golembeck? Right now he is taking it easy after four long years at Green Mountain College but he is interested in going to grad school and become an educator at a college level.
Feel free to stop by the edible landscape and chat with David on your way to picking up your share. Who knows, he may even invite you to eat some blueberries or currants!
Summer Intensive Update
This has been a very exciting week for all us summer intensive students! We have been learning about important topics such as pest management, production planning, and food security. We’ve tied all of these topics together with assignments, speakers, and hands on field experience.
The movie we viewed this week at the tiny thearte was called Dive. According to the film’s website the movie was “Inspired by a curiosity about our country’s careless habit of sending food straight to landfills, the multi award-winning documentary DIVE! follows filmmaker Jeremy Seifert and friends as they dumpster dive in the back alleys and gated garbage receptacles of Los Angeles’ supermarkets. In the process, they salvage thousands of dollars worth of good, edible food – resulting in an inspiring documentary that is equal parts entertainment, guerilla journalism and call to action.”
The film was really eye opening and the next day we had Theresa Snow visit our class to talk about regional food rescue and distribution. And to tie it all together, on Friday our class took a field trip to cook dinner using rescued food and fresh ingredients for people in Vermont who are at risk for hunger.
All organic farms have insects covering them. They make the farm work by pollinating, keeping other insect populations in check and breaking down dead plants. In a perfect world the insect population would always be in check, no one insect would be too large of a problem. However in the semi complete eco-system that is modern day organic farming pests can sometimes get out of control.
Pests can be a problem on almost all aspects of the farm. Plants can be affected, flies and worms can get into stored food, ants can eat away at the barn and other insects can cause quite a bit of damage to livestock. Cerridwen Farm has a total of seven cattle in two different pastures on the farm. Starting in the spring and getting steadily worse the flies swarm all over them. The flies are more than just an annoyance to the cattle. They can create sores that they then reproduce in creating more flies and spreading disease. There are many products out there advertised as insect repellents for cattle, however most of these contain noxious chemicals and can do more harm than good in the long run.
The farm uses a mixture derived from the marigold flower. The insects don’t like the smell of it and are supposed to stay away. This method works, but not as well as we would like. Charlene Smith, a student in the farm intensive is working on developing a different sort of mixture made from wild plants that grow around the farm. These plants are known to have bug repellent properties and should work. Plants such as pineapple weed and spearmint are among those being tested. Using these plants would be a great organic and sustainable approach to keeping the flies away, and the cattle safe and happy.
Summer Program Field Trip Update
This week, the intensive students drove north for their field trip headed towards Middlebury. The primary objective of the day was to be the leaders in preparing and cooking an organized community dinner at a local church in Middlebury for approximately 200 people. On the way to Middlebury, we made a quick stop in Addison County to visit a small beekeeper named Jan-Louise.
Caring for up to ten hives, Jan-Louise is very devoted to her hives as well as the overall health and future of honeybees. She is greatly concerned with the negligent way in which our society treats one of the most crucial life forms on the planet. She believes that the expanding use of GMO crops is one of the primary reasons for the decline in honeybees. GMO corn seed is now threaded with a derivative of nicotine that acts as a pesticide. When the corn seed is drilled into the ground, a portion of the chemical is released into the atmosphere, making the bees go “brain-dead,” as Jan-Louise reported. Surrounded by GMO cornfields, Jan-Louise has had terrible luck keeping her bees healthy, as may of her hives have collapsed and others continue to struggle. But one of her hives was hustling and bustling with a lot of life and action, After all the stories of death and destruction, it was inspirational to see an example of how nature survives in an environment where humans are putting all of their resources into making it uninhabitable.
After tasting some of her honey, (which let me tell you, is the best honey around) in her humble abode (which smelled so strongly, yet deliciously, of the sweetness of the honey she harvests) we moved on to Middlebury to begin the dinner. The day before leaving, we pre-made eight pans of lasagna using as many ingredients from the farm as possible. We dropped off our supplies and headed for the hills, as we needed to pick blueberries for the dessert, a blueberry cobbler. As a group we picked nearly 25 lbs of blueberries!
Once back in the kitchen, we divided and conquered the tasks. One group worked to make the blueberry cobbler while another cleaned, chopped, and mixed a salad while another made garlic bread. Everything went as smoothly as possible, and while I had to leave early, I’m sure everything turned out delicious and went swimmingly. This event provided the students an opportunity to put to practice some of the topics we’ve been covering in class as of late, food justice and food access.
Taste test/ Activity
This week we have a recipe that focuses on beet and carrots from the farm. This recipe is a healthy and fun twist on the traditional cole slaw. The activity will be a piece of paper with two columns asking if you like the slaw or not. This recipe is from http://www.joyoushealth.ca/2012/02/03/apple-beet-carrot-quinoa-slaw/.
Apple Beet Carrot Quinoa Slaw
2 large carrots
5-6 medium beets
1 whole apple
1 cup cooked quinoa
Gluggs of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1/4 cup white vinegar (or you could use apple cider vinegar!)
Juice from half a fresh lemon
Coarse high quality sea salt
Method: Wash the apple, beets, carrots. You don’t have to peel any of your produce if you buy all organic. In fact, much of the fibre and antioxidants are contained within the peel. Make sure you chop the hard ends off the beets. Cut your produce up into chunks to make it easier for your food processor. Toss in the apple pieces, beets and carrots into your food processor and blend until it’s nicely grated up. My food processor is pretty quick, so it was about 15 seconds.
Place the chopped mixture into a large bowl and mix in your cooked quinoa, add your EVOO, white wine vinegar, lemon and sea salt. I never measure my ingredients, particularly the dressing, so please feel free to add as much as you like for each ingredient. See how easy that sounds? Using the food processor eliminated all the chopping and eating it raw made it quick because beets and carrots can take a while in the oven.
Hello again everybody. All apologies for our tardiness, some unforeseen issues with the e-mail servers at Green Mountain have kept us from getting the newsletter up until now. But have no fear, everything is truckin’ on again over here on the IT side, so there should be no more delays in the foreseeable future.
The students have returned from their week long hiatus, and boy are we glad that they’re back. Getting all those veggies harvested on time without the extra help was a daunting task. But with the hard work from my fellow farmhands and under the supervision and tutelage of all around super woman, assistant farm manager Baylee Drown, we persevered and got everything done.
Crop of the Week: Beets
This week is an exciting week everyone! Do you want to know why? The beets have finally arrived! This delicious and nutrient-packed crop is a root vegetable, and while both the leaves and root are edible, my love is tilted heavily in favor of the latter. Before the beet makes seeds and tries to reproduce, it stores a lot of its gathered nutrients and energy into its buried root. Beets are one of nature’s ultimate body cleansing foods, particularly with regards to the health of our kidneys, blood, liver and gallbladder. Aside from their body cleaning properties, they are simply LOADED with a whole host of vitamins and minerals.
Beets have an earthy flavor and sweetness that lend themselves well to a lot of foods and preparations. Grated into salads, boiled or baked, they are a wonderful addition to many meals. Their color also lends themselves to livening up dishes, and making the familiar exotic (pureed beet added to the pancake batter anyone? Try it out for the color alone!). Just using the juices to color foods is fun, and can really make for some memorable meals.
Beets are members of the goosefoot family, whose ranks include chard, spinach and quinoa (shredded beet and quinoa salad?). The beet has descended from a wild, more skinny-rooted ancestor that grew in sandy soils near the seacoasts of Southern Europe. Our word for “beet” comes from the French word “bête” which means “beast”, because it reminded early cooks of a bleeding animal when it was being prepared. Lovely.
Now on to the most important part, its preparation for your culinary endeavors! I personally prefer to bake my beets in a casserole dish, covered, with a smidge of water in the pan, up to about 1/8th an inch. No need to peel them first, just wash them, leave whole or cut into pieces (smaller will mean a faster cooking time), and bake them in a 350º oven until easily pierced with a sharp knife. Once done, peel off skins. At this point I usually toss them in some olive oil and red/white/sherry vinegar (Not balsamic! It competes with the flavor. Then again, that’s just my opinion). Add some salt and pepper and you are done. Letting them sit will allow the beets to marinate a bit and make them that much better. They are also yummy cold.
We recently sautéed these roasted beets in some maple syrup, butter, and salt; it was heavenly. Have fun with your beets!
I am so glad that we have Leroy on the farm. Leroy, if you haven’t seen him or heard about him, is our new boar. He came to us a few weeks ago and we are very happy to have him. Leroy is a heritage breed pig, known as a Red Wattle. He has these adorable wattles on each side of his face. Leroy has the most amazing personality. This might sounds strange if you haven’t spent much time around farm animals and pigs especially. Pigs have very individual personalities and are unique creatures.
Just to give you an example of his personality; he responds to being talked to. You might be asking yourself what I mean when I say this? Well, let’s just say that we had a 5 minute conversation. It was so great. I walked up to him and said, “Hey Leroy, how are you?”. He then responded with some grunts and then our conversation just continued like this. I would say something and once I’d stopped speaking he would respond with grunts and squeals and vocalization. It was amazing. As someone who has raised pigs and who has a great connection with them as a species; I’ve never experienced that type of connection with a pig, ever. It was really special.
So beyond Leroy we have a gilt, that is a female pig, who hasn’t had piglets. One of our gilts is soon going to farrow. Farrowing refers to a female pig having piglets. Piggies!!!!! I can’t wait. Assistant farm manager Baylee Drown and several other people spent a good amount of time building a new area for Black and Tan (that is her, the gilt’s name) in order for her to have a comfortable area to have her piglets. We are so excited and are anticipating that she should give birth in the next two weeks.
In other animal news we have started to rotate our cows and cattle so that Artichoke, our dairy cow, and Aveta, our heifer who is hopefully bred, as well as Asparagus, Artie’s bull calf, are being rotated on pasture so that they get the best and freshest grass. The oxen, Bill and Lou, our older working oxen, as well as Zeus and Thor, are following the cows. The reason for this type of rotation is that the dairy cows need the highest quality feed, whereas the oxen are able to function just as well on lesser quality feed. This type of rotation allows us to utilize the fields and pastures to their maximum potential.
We would also like to inform you that we have had some issues with animal predation with our chickens. This is very important to our CSA members as this can really affect our egg production. We have been dealing with foxes eating our hens. We have taken measures to address this problem. Our chicken housing that is farther away from the main farm is surrounded by netted fencing that seems to keep the chickens in and the foxes out. We are hopeful that this will work, but please be patient if there are times that we may be running a bit short on eggs. We are working hard to correct this situation.
Meet the Farmer- William Aubrecht
The crew here at Cerridwen Farm is a mixed bunch of folks. We all have different levels of experience and interests, which is one of the many aspects of our farm that makes it so great. William is no exception. Hailing from New Jersey and recently moving to Poultney from New York City William said that one of the main reasons he wanted to attend the summer program was not only to expand his skills in farming but also to gain more understanding of the theories behind farming. And taking four different classes on the food system and agriculture have done the trick!
William is no stranger to farming and before coming to Cerridwen Farm he spent three summers working on a grass fed beef and poultry operation. William is always up for learning new things and ready to tell you about a recent adventure he’s been on, whether it’s learning about beekeeping or gleaning spinach from a local farm. Will hass also been working on documenting the Summer Intensive and most of the pictures you see in this newsletter come from his photoblog, which can be found here; summerfarmintensive.blogspot.com
As for the future, William plans to lead a quiet life. He would love to WWOOF abroad and eventually have his own homestead. William is very interested in biodynamics and permaculture, and he hopes his system will reflect the values of these agricultural principles. But for now, William is enjoying the summer, living in the moment, and eating lots of roasted beets and sweet potatoes.
Summer Farm Intensive Update
This is the first week back after the 4th of July break for the summer farm students. We jumped right back into things with a harvest day on Monday and a field trip to Cedar Circle Farm. Many farmers are doing the second cutting of hay around this time of year, and we are no exception. We spent a few hours in the classroom and headed out to the field to check out the equipment. Cerridwen Farm does all of its haying with oxen so we looked at the sickle bar mower, a mower that has two sets of teeth that slide back and forth much like a hair clipper and the hay loader. The hay loader is a machine that scoops up loose hay from the field and dumps it onto the hay wagon. These machines are very helpful and make the whole process go much faster.
Before this technology was available to people they harvested hay with scythes and pitched it on to some sort of wagon with pitchforks. So in order to properly appreciate the oxen and the machines that they pull we went down to the field with some scythes. It was quite a sight to see everyone scything away. It is much harder and much slower and made the oxen equipment look downright futuristic in comparison, sometimes it’s all about context,
The week came to a close with a great trip to Cedar Circle and Dartmouth. Cedar Circle is an incredibly diversified and successful farm. It’s always great to see a farm that is thriving. At Dartmouth we toured their small farm and ate pizza with the students over there. The discussions were great. Farms should be cooperating and sharing ideas. This moves the whole movement forward much faster. It was great to see an educational farm through a different set of eyes. Everyone is back at the farm now and back into the swing of things, ready for another harvest on Monday.
The farm this year has been lucky in that we have not experienced too many severe pest or disease problems up to this point. Deer and woodchucks have gotten their fill on a few of our crops, as have fleas beetle and Colorado potato beetles, but overall, we have not been heavily affected by any pests or diseases. That is, until now. We are in the midst of experiencing a relatively severe problem of bacterial wilt killing our high tunnel cucumbers.
The culprit causing the bacterial wilt is the striped cucumber beetle. The casual bacterium, Erwinia tracheiphila, spreads from plant to plant by the insect’s mouths and their droppings. The cucumber beetle creates a wound in the leaf tissue with each bite and the bacterium is implanted into the nutrient pathways of the plant through the wound. Dull green patches on the leaves are the first sign of an infection, which is quickly followed by noticeable wilting of the infected leaf. By the time the first leaf has wilted, the bacteria has most likely spread throughout the rest of the lateral shoot and will eventually affect the entire plant. Once a plant is fully infested with the bacteria, it soon dies.
Unfortunately, we did not catch the disease early enough to control it. Had we been able to pinpoint the infected leaves before transmittance to the rest of the plant, we could have slowed the infestation, although the cucumber beetle that initially infected the plant would still be at large infecting the rest of our cucumber plants. Controlling the cucumber beetle population is of course the best preventative measure, but being a farm that follows organic practices makes it difficult to fully contain the pest. To avoid this problem in future years, we will focus on rotating the beds in the high tunnels so that the cucumber larvae that will inevitably hatch next spring will be unable to find their host, the cucumbers, and die off before infecting our crop. Luckily, we are growing many other cucumbers on our farm and not all is lost. We still have a number of healthy plants in the high tunnels and throughout the farm. Our goal now is to maintain their health for as long as possible.
Newsletter: Field trip update
On our fieldtrips this week we went to Battenkill Kitchen Inc., Cedar Circle Farm, and the Dartmouth College Organic Farm.
On Thursday after lunch we went to Battenkill Kitchen Inc. in Salem, New York. This kitchen is a non-profit, shared-use, commercial kitchen facility housed In the old county jail. The Battenkill Kitchen is an operating educational kitchen, their goals for the community include (taken from website):
• To provide educational seminars and instruction in the areas of food preparation to local farmers and food producers.
• To provide area residents information and educational assistance in the creation and packaging of food products.
• To use the kitchen as a teaching platform to educate local school children about food.
• To provide the community with a kitchen to be used for community events.
We went to this kitchen to gain a better understanding of what a large scale commercial kitchen facility looks like. As some of you may know we have recently installed a commercial kitchen on the farm in order to process our vegetable and value added products for the college dining-hall. Though our kitchen does not run on the scale of Battenkill. Pictures of this amazing facility can be found here; http://www.battenkillkitchen.org/joinbenefit.html
After that we rushed back to go on another field trip to Cedar Circle Farm in East Thetford, Vermont. When we got there we went to the Willing Hands Garden and helped out by weeding carrots, corn, onions, and hilling some potatoes. Once finished we were able to pick some blueberries. We then drove down the road to the main part of the Cedar Circle Farm and set up camp. The next morning after breaking down our campsite we all got to weed some melons. Later that day we met with Luke Joanis about production planning. Then we were off on a tour of the farm with Kat Buxton, the educational program coordinator. For more info about this farm check out there website at http://www.cedarcirclefarm.org/ .
The next destination on our travel was to the Dartmouth College Organic Farm in Hanover, New Hampshire. This farm is a student run educational farm and a working garden. When we got there we had a tour of the farm, met some of the students involved on the farm and got an in-depth information session about their research aquaponics system. Soon after a few of us jumped into the Connecticut River to cool down after a long day in the sun. To end our stay at the Dartmouth Farm we went to the farmhouse to make pizzas using produce harvested from the farm for our toppinga, and cooked them in their brick pizza oven out back. Though there was much fun to be had there making new friends and acquaintances time slowly came to a close. We said our goodbyes and headed home. If you would like to learn more about this farm check out there website at: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~doc/organicfarm/
Activity/ Taste Test
This week during the CSA share pick-up times, we will have a taste test featuring our fabulous tomatoes and we would like to know your opinion on how they have been prepared. These tomatoes will be sliced and doused in a mixture of olive oil, salt, pepper, parsley, basil, and garlic scapes. They will then be chilled in the freezer until they are going to be served so they can stay fresh for your enjoyment!
Next to the tray of tomato slices, there will be a sheet of paper for you to give your thoughts about this dish. Simply check one of two columns indicating whether you liked the food and would do this at home or did not like it. We hope your taste buds will love the flavors!
Hey there everybody, Happy belated 4th. I hope you all had as great a week as we had here at Cerridwen. Last Tuesday marked the end of the first half of the Summer Farm Intensive, and the beginning of a week long vacation for students. As you know the students have been writing articles for the newsletter, and as a result of their vacation our little publication is going to be pretty bare bones this week. But don’t you worry, while the size of the newsletter may have diminished, the amount of crops we are harvesting has downright exploded. The shares this week should be our biggest of the season by far, and will include such wonderful treats as; peppers (hot & not), carrots, beets, and whole bunch of tomatoes (cherry & big beef). We do have a an article or two contributed by myself and our farmhands as well as some pictures of what we’ve been doing this week. The newsletter will be back to functioning at full capacity next week, we’ll see you then.
Plant Update: Cantaloupe
This season we are trying our hand at growing cantaloupes in one of our hoop-houses. Thus far it has been a rousing success. Despite initial issues with lack of pollination, a situation quickly remedied by my fellow farmhand, and resident melon expert Tomer Kilchevsky. Tomer believed that our lack of pollinators was a simple case of accessibility. The hoop-house we have delegated for the melon patch is the only one on our farm on which the plastic sides cannot be rolled up, or I should say it was the only one. Thanks to some ingenuity and a few lengths of PVC piping we now have a retractable siding on our hoop-house, and I am happy to say that it appears as thought the melons are flourishing. I have had the pleasure of trying one of our first cantaloupes and I must say that I am incredibly excited for their upcoming harvest.
Chicory: A Plant to be Recognized.
You may have noted a delightful sprinkle of periwinkle petals in your salad mix last week. Some CSA members received bright, spicy nasturtium blossoms, but others experienced chicory—a perennial plant that lines the edge of Cerridwen farm’s fence down to pasture, dotting the grass and other weeds with a vibrant bloom.
The flower opens in the morning and closes with the sun’s intensity later in the afternoon, just about the same time each day. The delicate circular ray of the blossom is open for one day.
Many parts of the plant are edible, including petals, leaves, and the long taproot, which can be used as a coffee substitute. The leaves are best before flowering, as they become bitter later on.
Some may refer to the plant as a ‘weed’, but on Cerridwen Farm, they play a number of positive roles. Not only are they beautiful, but also provide habitat for beneficial insects, and pleasant surprise in your salad mix. I hope you take the time to enjoy this beauty on your next visit to the farm.
Unfortunately that’s it for our articles this week, but we have a few pictures of what we’ve been doing this past week.
Crop of the Week: Sugar Snap Peas
Sugar Snap Peas (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon)
One of my favorite veggies and one that I’m super happy that we grow here at Cerridwen Farm are sugar snap peas. When you harvest them just right they are sweet, crunchy, and delicious. While I have consumed copious quantities of sugar snap peas in my lifetime, this is my first exposure to growing them. And let me just say that they can be challenging.
The biggest challenge with sugar snap peas is finding them on the plant. Because the plants are the same color as the pods, they can really camouflage and blend in. Basically it becomes a game of hide and seek. So they take a decent amount of time to harvest. But then you pop one into your mouth and you remember that it was all worth it.
The other tough thing about really any pea plant is that they need to be trellised. This means a lot more work than most plants. Most plants you pop the seed or the transplant in the ground, cover it with a little dirt and some water and your done. With peas you have to have some way for them to climb or the yield will suffer and the row will become a mess. So on our farm we placed stakes in the ground and then strung up netting for the plants to climb.
My favorite thing to do is to eat these raw. They go great in a salad or dip them in some ranch or whatever your favorite salad dressing may be. If you prefer to cook them I suggest stir-frying them. You can use some of the greens from your share, maybe some garlic and onion and a little oil. Super easy, super tasty.
Animal Update: Three Little Piggies
(Left to right) Sticks (female), Bricks (male), Straw (Female).
This weeks animal update is about our little piglets! These ones were not born on our lovely Cerridwen Farm, we got them when they were about eight weeks old. And alongside the two older sows, these hogs are the first to be a part of the new pig pasturing system. You can check the map in the CSA Barn next time you pick up your share, but our pigs live way down by the river. If you ever decide to take a dip on a hot day by the rope swing I suggest taking a little detour and call out a rousing “SOOOOOOO-WEEEEEE!” We have trained our pigs to come running when they here this and you will have a great chance to say hi!
Get excited for some color in your shares! While all these green weeks have been delicious and wonderful, I know I’ve been itching to see some color in our student shares. Some of the first tomatoes of the season made it into your shares last week with plenty more to come. These early season tomatoes are made possible because of our two high tunnels. The high tunnels are part of a season extension research project; and we’ll be getting plenty of early season tomatoes and cucumbers for weeks to come.
Some of y’all may have also noticed the beautiful purple peppers in your shares last week; those peppers are also the product of a hoop house located in the lower acre of the farm. We also have sungold cherry tomatoes and eggplants growing in that hoop house as well. The sungolds are slowly making their way into your shares but we’ll have to wait patiently until the eggplants are just perfect for harvest. Harvesting sungolds is probably one of my favorite jobs on the farm. You get to crawl around and hunt in the row for the beautiful golden treasures, not to mention we get to snack on the few split tomatoes.
Snap peas are such a great summer smack, and there’s more to come on the farm! We’ve only been harvesting them from one section in the research area, but Simon and I trellised a whole new row, ensuring this summer snack is in your share for a bit longer. Some other crops that are looking great are the rows of corn we have in the research area, as well as a bunch of potatoes planted all around the farm. These crops aren’t going to be ready for quite awhile, but I certainly think they’re worth the wait!
Farmer Profile: Charlene Smith
Cerridwen Farm is of course an educational farm and there are many young farmers roaming the rows of vegetables and pastures. Charlene Smith doesn’t call herself a farmer but by all ways of the word she is. She eats local meat and loves the vegetables that she helps to grow, as long as none of them touch each other on her plate. She regularly comes in from the field with the tell tale signs of working with the soil, a bit of “perma-dirt” forever staining the tips of her fingers and a pair of boots crusted with the dust and mud of a long day out in the field.
She grew up in a small town in New York called Walden. “There was always Kid Cuisine in the cupboards at home and McDonald’s and TV dinners were common place,” she explains, “As I got older my mom and I started to learn a little bit more about eating healthy and the local food thing so gradually more and more green things started to appear at dinner.” As she started to learn more and more about her food and where it came from Charlene found that she had a great interest in food and how food affected the global environment. She learned about renewable energy and realized that food and energy were her passion. After applying to an Environmental Science and Forestry school Charlene happened on Green Mountain. “That’s when I found this college and came here instead. I didn’t even tour before I accepted. It sounds corny but I tell everyone that its fate that I was supposed to be here. I really believe it.”
At 19 years old she is already looking toward the future. She has some big plans after her planned five years at college. “I’m majoring in renewable energy and ecological design but also sustainable agricultural. Its kind of a mouth full.” She excitedly tells me about her plans to retrofit old houses, helping new owners make beautiful houses and fix up the land to put in edible landscapes (think the front lawn at the farm house) and put in renewable energy sources that fit the layout of the land. As for her own dream house: a retrofitted house powered with renewable energy and a small garden with a dairy cow, some pigs and chickens. “I really love the dairy. My favorite things to do on Cerridwen Farm are milking and singing to the animals.” Charlene is definitely a farmer and renewable energy guru at heart. She has the passion and drive to bring her dream alive and help many people step into the world of wind turbines, solar panels and happy cattle.
Summer Farm Intensive Update
Last week was busy and educational for the farm intensive students. We took a slight break from vegetable production and turned our focus to animals and the integration of animals into the greater farm system. We had the privilege of having multiple guests come and infuse our class periods with new voices and perspectives. In one of our classes, Carol Ekarius’ book, “Small-Scale Livestock Farming,” lead our discussions. Therein, we learned how livestock farming effects the environment and how, if managed properly, can help to improve the quality of the land. Alongside that, we focused on the basics of grass-farming and had the pleasure of walking Cerridwen Farm’s pastures, learning and listening with Ben Dube, recent GMC graduate and now our pasture and grass specialist who is part of the staff here at the farm.
To complement these studies, Bay Hammond, a homeopath expert paid us a visit to give a lecture on homeopathy for animals. We had a wonderful discussion learning about the history, philosophy and theory of homeopathic remedies for both people and animals. For myself, I know I had quite the epiphany when I realized the same remedies I use could equally be as affective on an animal. Too often, we forget the similarities we have with the animals around us. Due to our newfound knowledge, we will soon try treating Lou, our injured ox, with a recommended homeopathic remedy. Later in the day, Baylee Drown, assistant farm manager at our farm, led a discussion on animal production and scale, opening our eyes to the full spectrum of externalities that influence our future decisions as farmers.
On Thursday, we took a little drive down to the University of Vermont in Burlington where we attended a conference focusing on food justice, sustainable farming and the inherent changes we must make in the food system. In the drama theater on campus, thirteen presenters graced the stage and shared their expert perspectives on food systems. It was a truly beneficial experience, as it provided an opportunity for the students to get a glimpse into the revolution they’re working towards as well as an opportunity to think critically, as some of the presenters brought to light some truly inspiring ideas and experiences.
With this week over, we are all hitting the books in preparation for our mid-term exams on Monday and Tuesday. If you see us on Monday, we will all be pretty wiped out, but starting Wednesday, we have a long weekend to relax and rest-up for the second half of our term.
Pest Challenges: Colorado Potato Beetle
This week on our farm we are experiencing some difficulties with potato beetles. They have come in full force and are munching down on our burgeoning potato crop. These pests can be fooled for a while and that is what we have tried.
Our current management system involves smacking the plants and dislodging the potato beetles into a bucket, once the beetles have been collected the bucket is filled with water. Recently we have noticed that the beetles that have survived our efforts have been snacking on the lambs quarter in areas surrounding the potatoes, this is fine with us since lambs quarter is one of our most prolific weeds.
Another tried and true method for potato beetle suppression is the mulching of our potato beds. We have been laying leaf mulch on our potato rows recently; this helps to deter the beetles, and also creates a barrier on the soil that reduces weed pressure. With these two methods combined we have been quite successful with managing this pest and our potatoes look healthier by the day.
Field Trip Update
This week, on June 28th, the summer farm intensive students went to the University of Vermont Public Food Systems Conference for their Sustainable Regional Food Systems class with Eleanor Tison. It lasted from 1 PM to 6:30 PM and then there was a reception afterward. The speakers at the conference included Patty Cantrel, Robert Lawrence, Vern Grubinger , Niaz Dorry, La donna Redmond, Rich Pirog, Heather Darby, Irit Tamir, Stephen Ritz, James, Macon, Melanie Cheng, Corie Pierce, David Schwartz. The event was sponsored by Sodexo Food Company and Ben & Jerry’s Vermont Ice Cream Company.
The speakers all had very different styles of presenting and covered a variety of focuses. Cantrel was interested in combining the businesses of local and regional food systems in a sustainable manner. Lawrence concentrated on explaining why people should consume less meat, especially red meat to reduce the obesity and mortality rates in America. Grubinger focused on educating people about issues in our food system and how they are parts of larger, broader problems. Dorry gave the conference a different spin by discussing sustainability in an area that most people don’t typically consider: seafood, and how industrial fisheries are very damaging to marine ecosystems. Redmond presented her real life experiences to exemplify the importance of food security in the products we eat not only in our homes, but that are also served to children in schools as well as the limited availability of quality food in low income neighborhoods. Pirog strives to improve food networking and public food education by connecting farmers to business bases. Darby specialized in agronomics and explained how she is using her farm to create a grain economy as her way of promoting sustainable agriculture and environmental land stewardship. Tamir discussed how she works with grassroots organizations particularly in the southern United States to increase social sustainability in agriculture. Ritz was a high energy presentor who has begun the Green Bronx Machine in New York City creating an urban garden in the school he works at which provide healthy, local food as well as jobs to the students in a place that would otherwise be bereft of good produce. Macon focused more on the political and economic side of agriculture, focusing on venture capitalism and how corporate and financial design can improve the current food system. Cheng presented on the Healthy Food, People, and Earth Movement and gave 10 tips for leading a healthier life. Pierce told her story of beginning farming as a teenager and learning through her experiences of working on a New Hampshire farm and how it became her mission to create a community to reconnect people with their food. Finally, Schwartz discussed the Real Food Challenge and how part of the solution to overcoming the food system problems is to embrace them and accept them, and then we will be able to move toward food justice and sustainable agriculture.
Recipe, Taste Test, and Kitchen Activity for the Kids: Let’s SALSA!
They are finally here! The long anticipated tomato harvest has just begun! That time of year has come, and I know could not be more ready for some delicious, seasonal tomatoes. In addition to the arrival of our red and juicy friends, we also have peppers starting to be harvested (both hot and mild). With all the cilantro, garlic and scallions we have been harvesting, I think it is definitely time we all got into a salsa-making mindset, seeing as we are just crossing into that wonderful summertime season of fresh tomato complementing flavors.
Salsa making is a healthy, fun, and simple activity to do in the kitchen with your kids, as well as on your own with NPR on in the background. These recipes are both very forgiving, and lend themselves to a lot of improvisation depending on what is available, and in which quantity. The first salsa recipe is very simple, and would be an excellent opportunity for the older ones to hone their cutting and chopping skills, while the little ones help peel, seed, mix and serve as official taste-testers. This recipe comes from http://www.humanbodydetectives.com, a site dedicated to teaching kids about healthy eating and nutrition, check it out!
Our second recipe comes from the cookbook “Nourishing Traditions”. This is a cultured, or fermented, salsa that is super easy to make and store, and also tastes delicious. Although slightly different in quantities, the first recipe could also (and should) be fermented with a splash of whey as well, or allowed to sit with added salt. The fermentation of the salsas will allow them to store for months in the fridge, as well as turn them into a nutrient-enhanced, digestive system boosting food! Make these recipes as chunky or fine as you desire, or blend in food processor for a fast, smoother salsa.
For a great video how-to on making salsa, check out this one, and watch it with your kids to get them excited about getting into the kitchen to make their own, just like the awesome young chefs in this video!
For some great photos illustrating the process, check out
These images in step-by-step order should help you figure out what jobs to assign to your kids, or teach you something new about possible ways to make a simple salsa as well!
3 cups diced tomatoes
½ cup chopped cilantro
½ diced white onion (or red onion, scallion, whatever, we’re not picky, right?)
the juice of one whole lime (or lemon. Orange would probably be super yummy too!)
1 seeded and chopped pepper (mild, hot, both or more!)
garlic if desired, but optional
sea salt to taste
In a medium sized bowl, add chopped tomatoes, cilantro and onion. Add a pinch of salt and juice of on whole lime or other citrus to taste. Stir in pepper and mix well. Refrigerate for one hour. Enjoy with tortilla chips, or better yet, homemade crackers!
Cultured Salsa -Makes 1 quart-
4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced (drop in boiling water for 5 seconds to loosen skins for peeling)
2 small onions, finely chopped.
¾ cup chopped pepper, hot, mild or both.
6-8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped (optional)
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon oregano
juice of 2 limes, lemons or orange
1 tbsp. sea salt (or less)
2-4 tablespoons whey (if not available, add a touch more salt, to taste)
¼ cup filtered water
Mix all ingredients in a wide-mouth mason jar. Press down lightly with a wooden pounder or meat hammer, adding water if necessary to cover vegetables (salt will draw out water from veggies in time as well). The top of vegetables should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar, Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 2 days before transferring to cold storage.
Hello again everybody. Here we are in the 3rd week of our CSA and things are truckin along at a pretty steady pace. The tomatoes are getting better looking everyday, and should be gracing your shares with their delicious presence hopefully as soon as next week. Everything is ahead of schedule around here these days, and we couldn’t be happier with how this season is going. I’m a little bit behind on the ins and outs of the farm over the last week my younger sister just graduated high school and I spent a few days down in New Jersey to celebrate with my family. It was a welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of farm life.
While I may not have much input on what happened around here last week the intensive students surely do, lets see what they’ve been up to.
Crop of the week
This week’s crop is Kale! Did you notice those hardy, green Kale leaves in you CSA share? Farmers up in Vermont love to grow Kale because of its cold hardiness, and here at Cerridwen Farm, we grow Kale year round! We started all of our little seeds in the green house and for our summer operation, the first seeds went in the dirt in February. Getting them started in the greenhouse allows us to get a head start and bring all of our lovely CSA members Kale. In one cup of Kale, you get twice your daily amount of vitamin A and 134% of vitamin C and it is good for sautéing, soups or making Kale chips! Please enjoy our farm’s delicious and nutritious Kale!
Animal Update: Artichoke
As some of you may know, Artichoke is Cerridwen Farm’s beloved Milking Shorthorn. Normally in the beginning of the CSA season we already have milk for sale in the CSA barn where pick-ups are located, but this year Artie regrettably contracted an infection after calving called Mastitis.
Mastitis is a common infection among the dairy industry and is caused when bacteria enters the udder through the teat. After calving, cows are have a compromised immune system, and this is when Artie contracted her infection. Fortunately we check for symptoms of Mastitis every time we milk, so we were able to detect the infection quickly. Unfortunately, to help Artie get over her infection we had to treat her with antibiotics. To ensure the best quality of our milk and to ensure the heath of the people drinking Artie’s milk we had to wait for the antibiotics to fully work their way through her system.
Boy was it frustrating to see Artie’s milk go on the pasture rather than into the fridge but as they say, good things come to those who wait. I just picked up a half gallon and after I drink some I plan on trying my hand at making yogurt. So next time you come and pick up your share, don’t be shy and walk on down to give Artie a scratch on her head and thank her for the delicious milk.
Cerridwen Farm is starting to come into the full swing of things this week. A large variety of vegetables are waiting in the field ripening up for mondays harvest. This week brought the first green garlic of the year along with some garlic scapes. Scapes are the flower of the garlic plant which are removed to encourage growth in the root, this part is commonly seen in its dryed form on market shelves. This offered a wonderful taste of what is to come in the following months.
Some mustard greens also came in with the harvest this week. Mustard greens make a wonderful addition to a salad by adding a curious bite to the medley of greens. Another tasty salad ingredient, the pea, is climbing up the trellising as we speak. Of course the high tunnel cucumbers continue to amaze with their vast quantities and delicious crunch. They are still thriving and climbing their way to the top of the tunnels. The rainbow chard is looking as beautiful as ever down in the field. All in all, the fields are thriving and produce is abundant.
Here at the farm we are always looking ahead to what is next and this year the students will be planting a flower garden somewhere near the CSA barn. In the greenhouse now there are a few soil blocks full of different varieties of sunflowers. The class picked out many different kinds of sunflowers for the garden and started them down in the greenhouse. This garden will spruce up the area and add some color to the CSA barn. There is a lot to look forward to this week and in the coming months. Keep an eye out for these developments and others around the farm in the near future.
Farmer Profile: Ben Schecter
Each farm hand and student working on Cerridwen Farm this summer is here growing vegetables and raising animals for different reasons. Ben Schecter, a soon to be senior, came to Green Mountain College this past fall semester to rekindle an old passion for farming. Growing up, Ben spent his summers on his grandfather’s 150-acre conventional dairy farm in upstate New York where corn, soy, hay, and wheat filled the fields. Living in Los Angeles at the time (“the concrete jungle,” as Ben describes it), his grandfather’s farm became a necessary escape and provided an opportunity for Ben to be truly happy. This experience set the foundation that eventually led him to pursue sustainable agriculture studies at Green Mountain College.
After middle school, Ben chose to attend Canoga Park High School in Los Angeles where the curriculum allowed him to explore his agricultural interests. The school sported a highly diversified farm with all sorts of animals and a small horticulture program. Therein, Ben found himself drawn primarily to the animal side of the operation and in 9th and 10th grade, raised two piglets to market weight as a school project.
Before coming to Green Mountain, Ben worked for the progressive grocery chain, Trader Joes for eight years. Through a first hand account of the food system in America, Ben became invested in organic and sustainable food production practices. As he recounts, it is “not sustainable to get bottled water from France.” The absurdity of consumer habits to buy bottled water from thousands of miles away led Ben to want to learn and explore alternatives to our current food system.
At the college farm, Ben is interested primarily in the livestock side of the operation. He believes the farm would benefit from an increased emphasis on animal production and doesn’t think we currently run a “balanced system.” He strives to bring more animals onto the farm and integrate them into the whole farm system.
Ben is also interested in value-added products. He believes the only way for small scale farming to be truly profitable is for farmers to take raw materials and turn them into something more profitable. Ben is taking an independent study with two other students focusing on processing ingredients from our farm and turning them into more profitable products. In the coming months Ben and his fellow students will be processing a variety of products such as pesto, pickles, hot sauce and salsa that will be available for sale on CSA pick-up days or potentially in the Stone Valley Community Market.
Summer Farm Intensive Update
This past week in Appropriate Technologies in Agriculture we learned from Ben Schecter about lifesaver bottle and straws and how they filter water as you drink from them. We then learned about soil management tools and tillage. We were educated on how certain cover crops can help enrich the soil with different elements like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. With tillage we learned about the good and the bad, for example it can bring up weed seed and increase erosion or break up compaction.
In Fundamentals of Organic Agriculture we learned about vegetables and what their seeds and flowers look like and also what family they come from. The different families we learned about were leguminosae, brassicaceae, solanaceae, gramineae, labiatae, liliaceae, convolvulus, compositae, chenopodiaceae, umbelliferae, amaryllidaceae, and cucurbitaceae.
In Integrated Production Systems we were educated on three different types of plants and their niches. The three types of plants were ruderals, competitors, and stress tolerates. We also were educated on the three anchors of soil structure and those are predatory anchor, soil anchor and green anchor. Weeds were another topic we went over like what is a weed and what are the benefits of certain weeds. In the afternoon we were going to watch a movie but ended up learning about pasture management and rotational grazing. Pasture management integrated plants humans and animals. With rotational grazing your primary goal is to maximize your production of forage.
This week in Sustainable Regional Food Systems we focused on the topic of meat vs. vegetarian vs. vegan. In doing this we watched the documentary fresh. During class we went to Old Gates farm and went to the Poultney Farmer’s market. A group of four of us; Stephanie, Charlene, Emily, and Ben Schecter, made lunch and focused on the carnivore vs. vegetarian vs. vegan aspect of food and made a dish from each type of eating style.
This week on the farm we are not encountering a major difference in pest control issues. In the high tunnels, we are experiencing some disturbance with stink bugs and cucumber beetles on our cucumber plants and tomato horn worms and flea beetles on our tomato plants. However, the horn worms are not giving us too much trouble as we have inter-cropped basil within the tomato trellising which has deterred them from decimating the tomatoes as they are attracted to the basil plants.
An interesting pest problem that seems to be slowly on the rise and may cause future damage is actually a relationship between two insects: ants and aphids. While weeding lambs quarter out of the swiss chard and parsley bed, we have been noticing some of these weeds having infestations of ants and aphids together. It is no coincidence that they are living with each other; they are actually helping each other survive. In a sense, the ants are actually farming the aphids! The aphids first lay their eggs on a plant and the ants then protect them from predators until they are ready to hatch. From then on, the aphids feed on our crops!
As of right now, we do not need to worry much about dealing with these creatures, so we are not disturbing them. But if they continue to exponentially populate in our fields, we will have to develop some method of evicting them!
Field Trip Update
All of us here at the Summer Farm Intensive just got back from Old Gates Farm in Castleton, and after a hot morning harvesting veggies for our wonderful CSA members, we definitely enjoyed getting to take a break in the afternoon and check out what farmers Adam and Chris are doing over at their small family farm.
They produce milk from their two dairy cows, beef, pork and eggs, as well as maple syrup and a myriad of vegetables for their CSA. What struck me most about this farm was its romantic homestead feel. Their operation is very diversified, and the fact that these farmers are raising their kids in such a gorgeous and educational setting is very cool as well.
One of the topics I am focusing on this summer when we visit these farms is fertility management, or to put it simply, how the farmer(s) keep their soil healthy enough to grow vegetables each season (ideally in an ecologically friendly way). Old Gates Farm is working towards building up its dairy herd for more fertility from grazing animals, as well as looking for ways to produce even more of their own compost for their fields. In addition to their goal of creating more of their own fertility on-farm, they are already managing a very intensive system of setting aside fields for growing crops specifically for the benefit of their soil. Many farms, including ours, take advantage of crop rotations to build a healthy soil. Old Gates Farm is doing great work on building and maintaining the life of their land, while also creating a welcoming environment for visitors, CSA members, and the community at large.
So I’ve heard from several members that they are either unfamiliar with kale and what to do with it or that they don’t like it. Our own Assistant Farm Manager, Baylee Drown, even admits that initially she didn’t like kale much but that it has since grown on her and now she loves it! So I’m going to try and provide you with a few tasty options for cooking and preparing kale. I hope you will grow to love it as much as we all do. Enjoy!
Ingredients: 1 bunch of kale leaves
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt to taste
Other seasonings if desired: Pepper, Chili Powder, etc.
- Heat oven to 275º F
- Remove the stems and center ribs of the kale leaves
- Cut the leaves into large pieces
- Toss the leaves in a bowl with olive oil and seasonings so they are evenly coated
- Arrange leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet (parchment paper or a tiny coating of oil on the baking sheet will prevent sticking)
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the leaves are crispy and crunchy
- Let chips cool, then enjoy
Here is another idea:
Sauteed Kale with Onion and Garlic
1 bunch kale
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic
Seasonings such as pepper, chili powder, cumin, etc)
- Chop kale into large pieces. I include stems and all, but if you prefer you can remove the stems and center ribs and just use the leaves.
- Chop onion and garlic into small pieces.
- Heat oil in pan on medium-high heat
- Add onion and garlic and saute for several minutes till they are a bit soft but still have most of their color
- Add kale leaves and saute until the leaves are a bit wilted (usually only a few minutes)
- Remove from heat. Add seasonings and enjoy.
Other ideas for using kale include adding it to soup like you would other greens or to chop it into small pieces and add it raw in a green salad. Kale is a very versatile green that that has a plethora of culinary uses. I hope these suggestions help.
Hey there everybody it’s been a busy week here at Cerridwen since we last spoke. As always we have been busy picking, planting, milking, and making sure that everything will be ready for the coming CSA pickups. Other than the usual goings on of farm life we had some exciting developments at the farm over the week.
- We hosted a human and draft powered tool workshop on Friday, which one of our students has written a wonderful article about below.
-We also had some visitors of a different nature from a local kindergarten, as well as a group of students from Bloomfield College in New Jersey.
- Our new Edible Landscape Garden in front of the farmhouse was featured in articles in both the New York Timees and the Boston Globe. The NY times article can be found here.
- We have been looking into adopting a boar in order to have oursleve some new piglets, but we haven’t finalized anything yet.
-Perhaps the most exciting news of all is that WE HAVE RAW MILK FOR SALE AGAIN!!!! Yes that’s right after an extended absence raw milk has returned to Cerridwen and will be available daily in the CSA barn. Well that about wraps things up for now, lets see what the students have been working on this week.
Crop of the Week: Broccoli
Here on Cerridwen Farm we are growing some amazing broccoli in the New Oxen Area and in the Research Slice. Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family Brassicaceae which also includes cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and turnips. The part that is included in your CSA share is actually the large flowering head of the plant. The term broccoli actually comes from the Latin word brachium, which means “arm” or “branch,” and the Italian word broccolo, which means “cabbage sprout”.
This versatile crop is usually boiled or steamed, but can be used in stir-fry or enjoyed raw. Broccoli is packed with many beneficial nutrients including large amounts of Vitamins C, A, and K, as well as foliate and fiber. You’ll see broccoli in your shares this early in the season because it is a cool weather crop that does poorly during the hot summer months; making it perfect for the cool Vermont spring season! There are many varieties of broccoli, with flower heads ranging from dark green to deep purple.
On average Americans eat 4 pounds of broccoli a year so get started on your 4 pounds by munching on your locally grown broccoli!
Broccoli Soup with Lemon and Ricotta
1 tablespoon of butter
1 leek, thoroughly rinsed and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large or 2 small heads of broccoli (florets + stems), roughly chopped
4 cups of vegetable stock
approximately 1 cup (packed) of spinach
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon of freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon of lemon zest
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 cup of ricotta
1. Add the butter to a medium soup pot and heat it over medium-high heat, until it melts. Add the leek and garlic, and cook for about five minutes (until the leek has softened). Stir occasionally to keep the leek from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
2. Next, toss in the chopped broccoli and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium-high heat for another 10 or so minutes (until the broccoli is fork-tender). Toss in the spinach, cooking for another few minutes.
3. Remove the pot from the heat and use a hand blender to whiz the soup into a puree.
4. Pour in the cream and stir until it is well incorporated. Next, add in the lemon juice and zest, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
5. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top each with a hearty spoonful of ricotta.
ANIMAL UPDATE: Bill and Lou
Bill and Lou are the one ton oxen team that many of you have probably seen around the farm pulling some sort of heavy load or picking their way carefully through the fields. The team offers the farm a fantastic opportunity to move away from fossil fuels and still have the power to pull some heavy machinery and loads. But just like tractors or people oxen can break down or get hurt.
Cerridwen Farm along with much of the surrounding land is spotted with a creature called the groundhog. These animals dig large holes in the ground to access their burrows. Unfortunately for many farmers these animals like to live where the open fields meet the wooded areas which makes Cerridwen Farm land a wonderful haven for them. The hay field is full of such holes and Bill and Lou have a hard time spotting them. Slipping into these holes can present some fairly large problems.
During the spring Lou stepped into such a hole and hurt his leg. The farm has been keeping a close eye on the small injury and trying to take some steps in making the leg heal quickly. Lou has been with the farm for a while and is on the older side of a working oxen but with a lot of attention, some ice and lots of breaks the leg is getting better. Lou should be back up to full health in no time.
In the mean time this is the perfect opportunity for Zeus and Thor, the oxen team in training, to practice. In fact Zeus and Thor along with Bill helped to bring in the latest load of hay. They were hooked up to the hay wagon using something called a unicorn oxen hitch. Zeus and Thor pull closest to the wagon with Bill slightly in front of them, centered between them and attached with a chain. The system worked great and the hay was brought in without a problem. The fossil free future of Cerridwen Farm is looking better each week.
The growing season just keeps getting better and better here at Cerridwen Farm. We are continuing to get plants in the ground, both by direct seeding and transplanting. This week, we will be direct seeding rutabaga for harvest in October. Rutabaga, a member of the Brassica family, is a genetic cross of a turnip and a cabbage. The slightly bitter root, most widely used in Sweden and Europe during the winter months, stores very well and can be used to beef up any soup or stew. Come October when we’re pulling these out of the ground, we’ll be sure to include a delicious recipe for you to explore and enjoy the tasty possibilities of the rutabaga.
We can’t get too excited for the fall storage crops quite yet, as the best part of the growing season is right on our doorstep. Most notably, we harvested the first Sun Gold cherry tomatoes of the season this week and boy were they refreshingly sweet, crisp and delicious! You should be getting a bountiful share of em’ either this week or next. This week you can also look forward to a steady supply of leafy greens, broccoli, snap peas, cucumbers, scallions, fresh herbs and maybe a surprise crop or two as the sun has been shining real bright this week and our veggies are growing faster every day!
Here is a simple Gazpacho recipe that works wonderfully with sweetness of the Sun Golds.
- 2 1/2 cups sungold tomato , halved
- 1 cup cucumber , peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1/4 cup onion , chopped
- 1 bell pepper , chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 1/2 cups cold water
- 3 tsp. sherry vinegar
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- Kosher salt and black pepper
Soak tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, bell pepper, and garlic in water for 5 minutes, then drain.
In a blender, lightly process vegetables and garlic on low speed.
Add vinegar and cayenne in thirds, blending on low and tasting after each addition. Stop when flavors are balanced.
Add olive oil and season to taste with salt, pepper, and sherry vinegar. Serve slightly chilled.
From: “Farm Fresh to You,” http://info2.farmfreshtoyou.com/index.php?cmd=RE
Farmer of the Week: Emily Wills
A student at Green Mountain College, Emily Wills is part of the Summer Farm Intensive 2012 class. As a young child, Emily rode horses for eight years. She was briefly introduced to agriculture growing up, but didn’t really have an interest in it at the time. When she went to her first school she got really into her food and diet. She then saw the sustainable agriculture program here at Green Mountain College and realized she was “happiest when out at horse farms and doing things like that.” She realized it was all coming together and came here to Green Mountain.
When asked why she was interested in farming, Emily responded, “I don’t know why I just love to do it.” In high school she knew from the beginning that she “didn’t want a job that was inside at a cubicle working from 9 to 5.” The real clincher that got her interested was that she was always happiest on the farm. Here at Green Mountain she has found more that has interested her, the livestock for instance. But now that she is here for the summer program she has gotten more interested in the vegetable production side of things.
When asked about her future, Emily responded like most students in college. She didn’t know what she wanted to do. When asked if she wanted to become a farmer she responded, “yeah, I would love to be a farmer and have my own farm, but I don’t necessarily want to limit myself by saying I am going to go out and be a farmer.” She is also a REED (Renewable Energy And Eco Design) major and is very interested in integrated systems and their role in modern agriculture.
Summer Farm Intensive Update
This week in the summer farm intensive, the students have been learning about the different ways that farmers manage weeds while maintaining the lowest possible level of ecological disturbance. There are many methods of cultivating and weeding by utilizing human powered tools or botanical plant based mixtures that can deter the germination and/or growth of certain weeds in the desired planting soil. This week, we were part of a workshop and demonstration where we had the opportunity to experience a wide variety of approximately 50 diverse tools and subsequently give feedback on them regarding which ones we liked and disliked the most and our reasons why.
We experienced a couple of raw milk dairy farms on Tuesday; Red Wing Farm and Tangled Roots Farm in Shrewsbury, Vermont. The first, Red Wing Farm, is managed by John Pollard, a raw dairy farmer and activist who is also a member of both the Rural VT and RAFFL boards of directors, he gave us a tour of his farm, showing us his 3 Jersey dairy cows and 2 calves and his filtering and production station. The second farm that we visited, Tangled Roots Farm, produces raw goat milk dairy products and shitake mushrooms. He explained the process of making mushrooms over the course of a year and then gave us a sample of a fresh mushroom.
On Thursday, we had student visitors from Bloomfield College in New Jersey who had recently become involved with an urban gardening project on their campus. They came to our college to gain knowledge about sustainable and organic farming practices that they might be able to implement in some form on their own small-scale production farm. They then proceeded to cook lunch with us using locally sourced meat and vegetables and left with a wide variety of healthy cooking techniques.
A recurrent pest here on the farm has been the Cucumber Beetle, Diabrotica, specifically the striped variety (as opposed to the spotted). Although this pest maintains a fairly steady presence here, Cerridwen Farm strives to take advantage of holistic planning and pest management techniques in regards to how we deal with the challenges of this insect.
One basic technique we use here on the farm that helps us with pest control has been spreading our vegetables of the same variety amongst a wide range of beds and areas, i.e. not putting all our eggs (or let’s say, tomatoes) in one basket.
That said, the cucumber beetle is not a menace to only cucumbers, or even just the cucurbit family in general. Rather, this species of pest is fond of eating over 270 types of plants in 29 different plant families, including flowers and ornamentals. The use of row covers on our crops can be an effective means of protecting some of our more susceptible plants. Our encouragement of a diverse variety of insect and animal populations is often an effective and unfortunately unnoticed benefit to keeping most pest populations from reaching dire extremes.
Some allies in our dealings with the striped cucumber beetle are ladybugs and lacewings (who eat their eggs), achnid flies, soldier beetles, parasitic nematodes and braconid wasps, as well as bats! Parasitic nematode application for affected crop areas is a possible future solution if the population of these guys were to get really out of hand. For now we have planted radishes amongst many of our most cucumber beetle susceptible veggies, as the scent of the radishes is evidently an effective deterrent.
Field Trip Report
This last Friday, June 15th, Cerridwen Farm hosted a workshop on human-powered farming and tools. The event was sponsored by the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), and the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT). The mission of CRAFT is to help upstart farmers, usually either interns or apprentices, gain experience and access to the wealth of knowledge that experienced farmers possess. This is accomplished through monthly field trips to regional farms near where the intern/apprentice is working. These workshops and field trips can cover just about any topic or aspect of farming.
The workshop also featured a guest from the University of Maine, Bourcard Nesin, who is currently assisting with research looking at the efficiency of various hand-tools in small-scale agriculture. Bourcard brought over 50 different hand-tools for workshop attendees to experiment with. The tool that he was most excited about and spoke highly of was the Weedmaster. This is a new, very rare and rather pricy piece of equipment that is very efficient for everything from weeding to cultivating to hill potatoes. It was very neat to see it in action and the thing does work rather well and is pretty impressive.
Around 25 people attended the workshop. Our Summer Farm Intensive students helped lead the demonstrations of various hand-tools and how they can be incorporated into a small-scale farm, such as Cerridwen Farm. After the demos, which lasted about a hour, participants were encouraged to try some of the hand-tools that Bourcard had brought and if possible to fill out feedback cards to help with his research. To finish the day everyone sat down and enjoyed a nice potluck dinner.
Pick Up Day Activity & Taste Test
This week we will have two different events and tastes for each pick up day, if the feeling grabs you feel free to come to both.
Monday, we will have our oxen outside the CSA barn to meet, pet, and thank for their hard work. This will be going on from 4-5 o’clock. For our taste there will be two different types of pesto dip made with our basil. Be sure to give us your input on which one you like more because we might see one of them in our college’s dining hall during the school year!
Thursday, there will be a deviled egg making workshop, so bring the kids and everyone will have a chance to make personalized deviled eggs! The students of the farm intensive will be making home made mayonnaise and mustard for this event. The deviled egg workshop will also be happening between 4-5 o’clock. We hope to see you all there!!