Tag Archives: farming

Barn, Belgian beer and Brussel sprouts.

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We were back in the barn this weekend and ran the new heat pump for the first time. It’s a big space so it took a while to warm up… but the building held the set temperature all day, which means all our stuff and seal each and every god damn gap insulation work…

Worked.

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But there were still a few more windows to trim and that’s when things went downhill.

There was sputtering, mumbling, cursing and okay…. small pieces of wood may or may not have been flung across the room.

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When the wood started flying? I knew it was time for a distraction… so I trudged down to our crap filled underground nightmare basement and retrieved a treasure we purchased a few years ago.

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A neon bar sign from the Ommegang brewery in New York. We stumbled on them when we visited the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and fell in love with their Belgians.

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https://www.ommegang.com/

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If you’re ever in the area, check out their tasting room in the old barn… and if you’re visiting this time of year? Try my favorite.

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There’s a tavern in Brussels famous for it’s pigeon racing?

Sounds like my kind of place.

And speaking of Brussels…

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When you live across the street from an organic vegetable farmer?

You never know what will show up on your doorstep in the morning.

đź‘Ť

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End of the (veggie) line.

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Our final CSA harvest from the farm across the street was picked up yesterday.

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Peppers, turnip, tomatillos, parsley, basil, leeks, fennel, radishes, carrots…

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A fabulous watermelon I wish we’d seen more of this past summer…

And this:

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A beautiful thing I had to look up.

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I’d never heard of it. And after sampling a little? I was glad. Mountain meadow my *ss.

Blech! Shiso was a great big no no.

But apparently it’s very popular in Japan where they use it in sushi and drink it as tea.

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Can’t say the pesto looks very appetizing.

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Or whatever the heck that is. If I didn’t know better I’d say marinated dog poo on rice.

Well, to each their own. But take my word for it, it is popular.

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I have no idea what that says, but yeah. I’m still going to pass.

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Are you one of those people?

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You know the ones, they pick up every free paper or publication they see no matter the subject?

Proctologist Monthly?

Yes.

Belt Sander Enthusiast?

Sure.

The Do It Yourself Lobotomy Newsletter?

Why not.

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It probably won’t surprise my regular readers to learn my husband is one of those people.

Free is his favorite word.. which is why he came home with one called the Maine Agricultural News the other day.

My husband, the man who’s never planted anything (other than free trees he lets die) in his life.

Here are a few fascinating highlights:

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Color me proud. My state is one of the top 5 potato chip potato producers.

And lord knows I do my part to keep the Lays company in business.

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The Pomological Society? There’s a sought after membership if ever I saw one.

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For those who don’t know, Maine blueberries are highly prized and big business up this way.

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But thanks to President Trump’s Chinese trade war, among other things… the berry news is decidedly blue.

And finally, disaster.

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Say it isn’t so!

Maine craft brewers have cut back on the production of beer to make hand sanitizer?

Oh, the horror.

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CSA, chili and our local pub.

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Our weekly CDA is winding down for the year, but the harvest is still plentiful.

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Peppers, turnip, ginger, Korean melon, spinach, salad greens, kohlrabi, radishes, chard, celery, dill and yes. Some awful version of kale.

Our weather has started to change and we’re feeling some delightfully brisk and crisp air. When that happens?

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It’s time for a big pot of homemade chili. And a trip to our local pub.. at an off hour when no one is there. Perfect.

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On the menu? Duck wings with sweet Thai chili sauce.

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Tis the season.

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And thanks in part to my suggestion… okay my endless badgering, whatever!… the owner has agreed to run weekly cocktail specials. He even bought a lovely coffee table book of choices for me to peruse.

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Keep the customers happy.

And the really good customers like me? Keep them soused, they complain less that way.

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CSA and grocery store horrors.

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Another veggie bonanza.

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Tomatoes, beets, leek, basil, carrots, parsley, squash, radish, chickory, spinach, Korean melon and yes… the dreaded kale.

It’s lovely having fresh organic veggies right out of the ground and buying less at the grocery store’s produce section.

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Tastes like an artichoke. Then why not buy an artichoke? I’m so tired of wannabe food.

Be what you are…. and be happy!

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No.

Burgers are not made from plants! Not in my world anyway. But did you notice the oh so cleverly named Incogmeato only has 32% less fat than the real thing? Where’s the other 68% come from… lard coated arugula?

I’ll pass.

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Right Rice made from vegetables is wrong.

So wrong in fact, check out the bottom left corner of the package. It’s made from chickpeas, peas and.. rice.

Rice made from rice.

What a novel idea.

And then, because I live and shop in Maine? This was also available for purchase:

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A map of mooses.

(Meese?)

Big goofy looking things with horns, often seen in the company of a squirrel.

You can’t miss them.

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CSA and more rude produce.

 

This week’s CSA bounty was full.

 

 

With onions, fairy tale eggplants, celery, garlic, basil, rainbow chard, tomatoes, carrots, and salad mix.

But did you see it?

There, on the right hand side…

 

 

A slightly wrong tomato.

 

 

It’s either flipping me off…

 

 

Or sticking out it’s tongue.

 

 

Either way?

It’s rude produce, and that’s just wrong.

It started out innocently enough…..

 

This week’s harvest from our neighbor’s CSA yielded  scallions, cabbage, beets, Swiss chard, basil, parsley, garlic scapes, a tomato, a zucchini and raspberries.

 

 

Needless to say the raspberries were demolished with ice cream the first night and since we craved more, we headed across the road to their farm stand.

 

 

I can’t say I’ve ever seen a tractor trailer box renovated into a turquoise and gold farm stand…

 

 

But hey, it works.

 

 

Fairy tale eggplant?

There are so many off color jokes I could make right now my brain is threatening to explode.

And in case you’re wondering how the veggies don’t bake in the heat?

 

 

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Just as we were about to leave, our neighbor’s daughters showed us all of her father’s left over apple trees. He’d planted as many as he could for his new orchard and didn’t want the rest.

 

 

You know where this is going…. right?

Free trees?

 

 

Yeah.

 

 

It’s been 100 degrees in the shade, the ground is solid concrete because we haven’t had any rain for weeks… and my husband wants to plant more trees.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Week 2 supporting our local farmer.

 

Our second batch of organic veggies from across the street was a nice bonanza.

 

 

Red lettuce, spinach, mixed greens, snap peas, zucchini, celeriac, chard, turnip…. and something I couldn’t identify.

 

 

Since there was a cornucopia of greens that day, salad was on the dinner menu… and because this was green?

In it went.

Bad idea. Very bad.

It was the bitterest, most noxious thing to ever enter my mouth.

 

 

Doing a little research, I discovered it might be a variety of kale.

Curly kale.

No wonder I didn’t like it!

And no surprise it ended up here:

 

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And take my advice, if anyone offers you celeriac?

Run.

It looks like a giant turd….

 

 

It’s hard to peel.

 

 

And will break your tooth if you’re not careful.

There’s a reason most people throw it out when they grow celery.

And now, I know why.

Support your local farmer.

 

Especially if he’s your neighbor.

Across the road from our house is a ( 65 acre?) family owned and operated certified organic vegetable farm.

 

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We love our neighbors. They’re alternative lifestyle vegans, and tend to do things a little differently….. which has made for wonderful blog fodder over the years.

How differently do they do things you ask.

Here’s a picture of my husband taken a few years ago. He was starting to put a roof on the chicken coop that had been turned into a farmhand’s cabin.

Yes…. that’s a hot water heater up in the tree behind him.

 

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Isn’t that where you put yours?

Fast forward 6 years and the farm has grown by leaps and bounds. Expanded cultivation, multiple greenhouses, migrant workers, a new wife, 2 more children….

And goats.

 

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Our neighbor has earned a stellar reputation among the expensive Old Port restaurants and did most of his business with them…. until the Corona virus shut everything down.

It was literally do or die for the farm, and in desperation the family opened a farm stand on their property.  It’s doing well, but can never make up for the market they lost.

So they’ve also brought back their CSA  (community supported agriculture). Not sure if you have this where you live, but it’s become very popular in Maine.

The following is a heartfelt plea they sent to our town and an explanation of how it works if you’re interested.

We lost 90% of our market when the restaurants closed, and while we have made due, we don’t have much we can count on right now. We launched a short term CSA about 8 weeks ago, and it’s gone really well, and folks have been really happy.
Now we’re launching our full season share.
PLEASE consider joining our CSA this year, AND/OR send this along to anyone every one you know! Thanks!!
2020 Summer Farm Share.
We are a small family vegetable operation, entering our 12th season, here in **********  Maine. Over the years we have grown in acreage, in scale, but also in reputation and recognition. We worked hard to forge relationships with all the best restaurants in Portland, and have prided ourselves in being the foremost purveyor for most of them. It has been a great niche, and has served us well….. Until the corona virus.
So, like many folks (most especially all our dear restaurant buddies) we are adapting to the times, changing our approach, attempting an agile and nimble, careful but bold re-boot, in order to keep ourselves afloat during these rough times. So far , we haven’t missed a beat.
We are a four season farm, and so while mid March is typically a pretty bleak time of year, we were able to pivot to a C.S.A. model, nearly overnight. Thanks to our good friends at some of these restaurants, our reach extended to many of their faithful followers, and in 3 days we had nearly 150 members for our first iteration of the C.S.A. model: a 4 week pre-pay, safely handled and safely distant exchange of vegetables.
We have been so unbelievably pleased with all the wonderful folks who joined us for these first 2 rounds of the farm share model. If it weren’t for them, our income would have been ¼ what it has been.
And so here we are now, launching our in earnest, 20 week “summer share” starting Wednesday day June 10th. Our goal is simple, we wish to continue to grow food here in Maine, in an honest and ecological way, and to safely purvey that food to the good folks of our broader community (you!). We are well experienced in pushing all the boundaries of seasonality, as well as the “unknown” of some of the more esoteric selections much preferred by your favorite chefs in Portland. We can promise to you, as wide a selection as our climate and imagination can provide, over the duration of the 20 week period you would be signing yourself up for.
The idea of CSA (community supported agriculture) is multifaceted, but the theme, is mutual benefit. We enter a 20 week partnership , which when done well, means we both make out, by trading off choice. We owe you all the best we’ve got, and the most variety we can. You owe us, pre-payment, and 20 weeks of dealing with whatever you get. But your benefit, is the certainty of a bounty of familiar food, from a local farm you trust, and at a significant discount compared to what you would pay at the farmers’ market or the co-op. Our benefit, is knowing for certain, that what we are growing is already sold, and thus instilling a confidence to grow that full array of crops, with no fear that a market glut or a new farm showing up on the scene, would squeeze us out of a market…. Let alone that our restaurants may very well require much less of us this year.
Segue to that elephant in the corner… the one wearing the mask and rubber gloves… the one that has kinda taken over all our lives….
Our farm has practiced every possible degree of safety protocol we could think of, and as general public health standards have finally begun to be settled upon, we have been ahead of the curve the entire time. Food from us comes with the same pledge we have given since the first corona virus case was confirmed in Maine:
Our family has isolated since that same day (March 12th) and when any of us have left the farm, we wear gloves, a mask, and we sanitize our hands. We have visited and socialized with no one (Frowny emoticon).
4 of our employees live here in employee housing, and follow the same protocol.
Our 5 th employee has been with us since last year, and is also isolated at home with his partner, and takes all protocol as seriously as we do.
On the farm, everyone washes their hands throughout the day, and wears gloves and mask during any food handling.
We pack everything into a closed container in our sanitized pack area, and that’s it, until you take it out.
Nothing that arrives on the farm, is allowed into use for 3 days.
No one that comes to the farm may touch anything, and no one is allowed in our wash station, in our greenhouses, or in our walk in coolers.
When you join our CSA you know that the vegetable portion of your weekly diet, is covered, and that there’s no phone call or on line platform to log into, no line to wait in, and no wondering how many folks have touched it.
Please do join us for the next 20 weeks. We have over half an acre of greenhouses, so besides being early on all the spring favorites, we also do LOTS of tomatoes peppers eggplants and ginger in these tunnels, and you will get first dibs on all these items. We grow on about 10 acres outdoors, and grow the whole array of vegetables that grow in Maine. Cucumbers, peppers, squash, lettuce, tomatoes, garlic, peas beans…We generally have carrots and beets year round, if not parsnips and turnips as well. Onions and garlic come along mid summer, and ginger will be the big treat right at the end…
We were fortunate enough to receive the PPP loan (the SBA payroll loan) which emboldened us to actually carry on in the scale that we’d hoped to , before corona. With you guys on board, we can carry on growing awesome Maine produce, not just organically (certified by MOFGA) but also regeneratively. We’re very proud of our growing practices, and hope that sometime when things normalize, you all will be able to come and witness it all.
We all need farmers to be able to grow all the food they possibly can. Too many farms are busy scaling back, and it’s a frightening prospect to imagine “harvest time” when all the farms, have done less than the year before….
$600 gets you 20 weeks of a $37.50 value, “family share”. This share will have between 10 and 12 items a week, and will feed 2 hard core veg eaters, or a family of 4 or 5 for a week. Also, consider splitting this share , with a friend neighbor or family member.
$400 gets you 20 weeks of a $23 value, “half share”. The discount is less because of administration pack delivery and logistics being the same as a full share. But for those less inclined to splurge on the “whole 9”, this is still a great option to get your feet wet with CSA, or for maybe just one person, or a couple who don’t want to feel in over their head with veg. This box will have between 5 and 6 items a week.
For those of you who have been with us since March, the share you have been getting would have been about half way between these two options, so use that as your guide, when choosing an amount to subscribe to.
This is a take what ya get CSA model.
Pick up will be Wednesdays at the farm from 3:00 to 6:00.
The 20 week period is firm. At the end of it, will we launch a fall through New Year’s share.
We can not put a “hold” on a share, or refund any week’s share. If you can not pick up your share, or don’t want it, please arrange for some one else to come and get it… consider it a gift to them (there must be someone!).
We can not guarantee any one particular crop or another. Things fail. However typically when one crop performs poorly, another does spectacularly, and such is life… So get with the seasons, and know we’re doing our best.
We ask for full payment by June 10th.
If you haven’t noticed, we are sort of technologically naive… and branding wise… we don’t exist. Hence the nature of this CSA style. We are a family, that farms, and with every bit of our passion and sincerity we can muster, we just want to grow you food.
Please share this with any and all folks you think may be interested in a CSA. We don’t have very much ability to reach out or advertise ourselves.
I hope to one day know everyone of you , and learn your first and last names. For now, this email and all our social distancing, is the trade off for safety. Thanks for believing in that ideal.
Go Maine!!!
Wanting to help…. we signed up for a full share this summer and are going to split it with another neighbor.
The first week’s haul was a beautiful assortment that screamed  “Salads for dinner!”
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Spinach, mixed greens, scallions, pea sprouts, and a giant head of butterhead lettuce.
There were also a few funky carrots.

 

Which were almost too beautiful to eat.

The chard and kohlrabi… neither of which we like, went home with the neighbor.
And finally, the horrible and ever present kale was given to the woodchucks.

Who wouldn’t eat it either.
Dumb rodent?
Apparently not.