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First CSA newsletter of the season!!!!

June 10, 2012
Kenneth with Cerridwen's elder statesmen, and arguably our two hardest workers (other than himself of course) Bill and Lou.

Hello to all the Cerridwen Farm CSA members of the 2012 summer season, my name is Alex Bennett and I will be your CSA contact for the summer.  This season we will be trying something a little different with the CSA newsletter.  As some of you may know, during the summer Cerridwen Farm hosts the Summer Farm Intensive program.  This program runs for 15 weeks and is a way for students interested in agriculture to get involved with farming in both an academic and hands on capacity.  Since CSA’s are becoming one of the most utilized sales methods for small farms nationwide, we felt it was important for our summer intensive students to be involved in the inception and execution of our CSA newsletters throughout the course of the summer.  So every week on this blog we will be bringing you a CSA newsletter featuring articles written by the 2012 Cerridwen Summer Farm Intensive Students.

Farmhand/CSA liaison Alex Bennett (right) amd Edible Landscape Garden curator David Golembeck (left)

So here it is folks, the first newsletter of the 2012 season, enjoy.

Crop Of The Week: High Tunnel Cucumbers

by Simon Nott

          Most people are used to having cucumbers come into the harvest sometime in mid summer. Usually in mid to late July the tasty squash starts to produce just in time for a nice addition to a crunchy salad or some pickles next to your 4th of July hamburger. However this year at Cerridwen Farm the “cukes” have arrived early.

The southern high tunnel on the farm has a soil heating unit in it powered by nothing but sunlight. This extra heat gives the cucumbers an head start moving harvesting from mid July to the first CSA pick up next week. Already the farm hands have been busy cutting them from the vines.

The tunnel looks extremely healthy and vibrant for this time of year. The vines are all trellised and reaching up toward the top of the tunnel. The variety of cucumber chosen by the crop production crew is one which does not need to be pollinated. This kind of plant is called parthenocarpic and is great for use in high tunnels because pollination can be an issue with limited airflow and subsequently less insect traffic.

This year July comes a month early at Cerridwen farm! So get out the pickling supplies or the olive oil and salt and enjoy a taste of summer.

An example of the delicious cukes you can look forward to receiving in your shares

Here’s a quick and easy recipe for Cucumber salad provided by farm intensive student Emily Will

Shaved Cucumber Salad with Red Onion and Herbs

adapted from ‘Cooking for Friends: Fresh Ways to Entertain with Style’
*serves 4

2 large cucumbers, shaved thinly using a mandoline
1/2 a red onion, also shaved into thin slices using a mandoline
3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
4 tablespoons of olive oil
freshly ground pepper and sea salt, to taste

1. Combine the first five ingredients in a medium bowl and toss to mix well.
2. Season with sea salt and pepper, to taste

 


 Animal Update

by Ben Stein

            The single-cow hand-milked dairy herd at Cerridwen Farm took steps on Thursday to double in size.  Aveta, last season’s heifer calved from our dairy cow Artichoke, was artificially inseminated for her first time in the early afternoon.  She demonstrated initial signs of heat a few days before Thursday and was isolated from the hard and placed with one of our adolescent oxen, Zeus, for closer observation in hopes of witnessing a standing heat (the phase in which her reproductive system is most likely to accept the sperm).  After standing heat, there is a a 10-12 hour period where there is a maximum chance for pregnancy.  We believe we successfully inseminated perfectly within that window, however we won’t know for sure if the sperm took hold for at least three weeks from now.  If she does not show signs of heat in 21 days from Thursday June 7th, Aveta should be due to calve the first week of March 2013 (nine months from now).

New mother to be? Our hopefully pregnant Aveta

Plant Update

by Stephanie Kroon

This week we will be planting beans, beets, peas, and spinach. 

We will be harvesting bok choy, head lettuce, kale, cucumbers, parsley, basil, and pea tendrils.  You can expect to see these crops in your CSA share this week.

Coming soon we will be harvesting chard and scallions.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Bok Choy, also know as “chinese cabbage” is a member of the brassica family which is crisp, sweet, and absolutely loaded with calcium, and vitamins A and C.  Bok Choy can be used to compliment a variety of dishes, ranging from stir fry to soups, but we here at Cerridwen prefer it as a nutritious and light side dish.  Below is a quick and easy recipe for sauteed Bok Choy that will go perfectly with a simple rice or pasta dish.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (from 1/2-inch piece)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 pounds bok choy (about 2 medium bunches), cleaned, ends trimmed, and cut on the bias into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • Salt (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. In a large frying pan with a tightfitting lid, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant but not brown, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the bok choy and, using tongs, fold it into the garlic-ginger mixture until coated, about 1 minute. Add the soy sauce and water, cover, and cook until steam accumulates, about 1 minute. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are just wilted, the stalks are just fork tender but still crisp, and most of the water has evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat, stir in the sesame oil, and season with salt if desired.

The ever enigmatic Bok Choy

Farmer of the Week: Kenneth Mulder

by Charlene Smith

Cerridwen Farm’s manager, Kenneth Mulder, has been involved in agriculture for 18 years, since 1994. He began with agricultural organizational work in Sri Lanka and then in Tennessee on Appalachia. Then, he lived in southwest Virginia working on a family farm. After that, he went to the University of Vermont to complete his doctorate degree in ecological economics. Ensuing this, he was at a NOFA conference and met a Green Mountain College representative who informed him that we had oxen on campus. While visiting GMC to inquire about them, he was offered a position as Cerridwen’s farm manager. He has been here for 5 years now and has a wonderful family. “The most important thing that people need to know about me is that I have five great kids [ages 4.5 to 10] and one incredible wife.” Furthermore, he is also a research associate and an adjunct professor at GMC.

When asked why he is interested in farming, he responded that there were a lot of reasons. First, he said because he believes in a feminist philosophy and the majority of the world’s farmers are women.  He also enjoys farming because it is tied to human rights, an issue area that he is passionate about. Third, he said that he is an ecologist and an economist, and agriculture is the place where they come together the best. Finally, he stated, “To be honest, I just love the work. It is physically and intellectually challenging and I get to be outside playing in the dirt.” Kenneth quotes a famous comedian, Steve Martin, “The most amazing thing of all is that I get paid to this!”

As for his future plans, he hopes to adopt another child and be allowed to teach mathematics classes at GMC. For the farm, he wishes to continue the current research and expand the current systems, spread them to other people who may be able to utilize these findings. He feels that Cerridwens use of draft animals is greatly beneficial and the human powered vegetable growing area is innovative. Ultimately, he would like to keep the small but flourishing Cerridwen Farm on the cutting edge.

Kenneth, with Cerridwen’s elder statesmen, and arguably our two hardest workers (other than the man himself of course) Bill and Lou

Summer Farm Intensive Program Update

by William Aubrecht

   The farm ecology program here at Green Mountain College is only in its third week, yet as a group and individually we have all already done so much. It is hard to describe in a nutshell the entire experience so far, the farm intensive really does cover a lot of ground, and illuminating one aspect of the program will inevitably lead to talking about another.  Between hands-on work, academic classes, communal cooking and trips to farms and workshops on at least a weekly basis, you might think that our program here at Cerridwen Farm would be completely overwhelming. It is.

That said, it is overwhelming in the best of ways. There is so much going on, and so much to absorb, yet all the assignments and challenges relate to one another, and make the entire experience incredibly exciting.  Every week and every day some new topic gets addressed, while prior subjects get solidified through hands-on work and other classes.

As an example, this past week we focused a lot on soil fertility. One class that week focused on different ways of seeing your farm’s soil and how you manage it, the next day was devoted to different soil structures and chemical compositions, while the day after that the theme of the class was “terroir”, or the taste of a place, and how certain crops and products produced there manage to have a unique flavor unlike that of anywhere else.

It is in this way that our time in the classroom directly relates not only to time in the fields, but also to our other coursework as well. Even our class on regional food systems has a hands-on component, where part of the day is set aside from working in the field to actually getting to prepare a lunch for that day under specific guidelines. As an example, for our class on “terroir” we set out to showcase the flavors of Vermont with local ingredients, such as grass-fed goat cheese, pastured eggs, local greens, homemade bread, apples, and of course, maple syrup.

From oxen driving lessons to greenhouse management, the days are both physically and emotionally satisfying, and the food is delicious.

Intensive students enjoying a lunch/Sustainable Regional Food Systems class with professor Eleanor Tison

Those Pesky Pests

by Benjamin Schecter

It’s a new season and we have a varmint in town: the tomato hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata). 

This seemingly cute worm is anything but cute.  They are often referred to as tomato hornworms for their propresity to destroy tomato plants.  Thankfully, depending on how one wishes to view the situation, these little critters have yet to attack our beautiful tomatoes.  However, they have been wreaking havoc on our basil.  We intercropped (planted together) our basil and tomato plants.  Apparently the basil has distracted the hornworms from the tomato plants, at least for now.    We planted two purposeful varieties of basil (Genovese aka Italian and Thai Sweet) and one accidental variety (Lemon).  So far the hornworms have only affected the Genovese variety.

No need to worry if some of your basil has small holes in it from where the hornworms have been munching happily.  The basil still tastes excellent.  If you are concerned about pest damage in the leaves, I suggesting using this basil to make a tasty pesto or tear up the leaves and use it in salads or on sandwiches.

Since this is a new varmint we haven’t yet figured out the best way to attack it.  So far we have been picking them off of individual plants.  Possible remedies include moving them to a sacrifice plant to protect other plants, spraying the plants with a mixture of water and capsaicin (the hot stuff found in chili peppers and garlic) or planting marigolds nearby.

Tomato Hornworms, pesky little buggers
Photo credit: George Bredehoft

Field Trip Write-up

by Michael Sharry

Deep in the wilds of Tinmouth though the hills lives Breezy Meadows Orchards and Nursery (http://breezymeadowsorchards.com/).  Our class had the distinct pleasure of meeting and getting a personal tour from the two owners and workers Josh Brill and Meadow Squier.

In the Summer Farm Intensive here at the Green Mountain College and Cerridwen Farm, myself and seven other students take field trips on fridays for our four different classes.  One class taught by Eleanor Tison is called Sustainable Regional Food Systems and the reason  Breezy Meadows is an integral part of the foods system of Vermont is because this summer marks the first year that they will be growing local rice for the community.

We were able to learn not just proper rice growth but the two of them are avid permaculturalist, for example, they heat their water with their own compost!  Their diversified farm raises goats, chickens, pigs, they sell wreaths for the holiday season and have a small CSA production.  Josh being a Green Mountain College alum, gave us some great inspiration for studying in the field of agriculture can lead to a bountiful life of growing.  The Summer Farm Intensive wants to thank Josh and Meadow for their kind and welcoming hospitality and we wish them great luck with their rice!

Intensive student Ben Stein looks on in wonder as Josh explains the complexities and nuances of rice transplants.

 

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One Comment
  1. Eleanor Tison permalink

    Congratulations editor Alex Bennett and the Summer Farm Intensive student crew:
    Willilam Aubrecht Ben Stein, Ben Schecter, Michael Sharry, Stephanie Kroon, Simon Nott, Charlene Smith (and Emily Wills–no contribution this week?). This is a good beginning!

    It’s great to see all this information and wonderful photos in one place for our CSA shareholders to read! We hope to hear feedback from all our readers as the summer farm intensive students continue their work to produce this weekly update.

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