Boulder Belt Eco-Farm

  (Eaton, Ohio)
We Sell the Best, Compost the Rest
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Boulder Belt Farm Share Initiative Week 24

We have reached week 24. You will notice that there are changes in your share as we go from summer items into more fall like items. The main crop of tomatoes are about over for the year. We still have some but the yield is way down. On Friday it took me about 20 minutes to harvest tomatoes for market. The week before it took about 1.5 hours and the week before that about 4 hours. This is what happens in September. We did plant a fall crop of maters back in early July and the small plants do have small green fruits on them. We expect that this crop will be ready in mid October through mid November. We will put a hoop house over the beds in a week or two to keep the tomatoes reasonably warm and happy. I have been busy putting up tomato juice, tomato sauce and salsa for use this winter and next spring. I hope you all are not disappointed about not getting 10+ pounds of maters in your share (okay, those of you who started this month may miss 'em but the members who have been with us all summer or the entire season have to be sick of the maters. It was a bit of overkill, but I could have easily distributed 3x to 4x as much some weeks)

We are in the thick of winter squash harvest. It has been a good year for acorn, butternut and sunshine squashes. back in July the butternut looked really bad. The beds got fairly weedy and the weeds hid the developing squashes. So for several weeks it looked like we would get nothing. Than it seemed like over night that the squash foliage died back revealing lots and lots of medium sized squashes. You will not see any butternuts for several weeks in your share as these must cure for 3 to 5 weeks to bring out the sugars in the flesh. Newly harvested butternuts (and this is true of all winter squashes) will have a rather insipid taste. The other reason you won't see a lot of winter squashes in shares (there will be some) is because these are grown for winter markets and shares. Marketing the produce we grow in winter has become a bit of a specialty for us. We do both season extension using row covers and hoop houses and we grow for root cellaring

As has been mentioned several times in past newsletters we are offering a winter share (which has 7 openings, down from 9 last week-if you want our food this winter I suggest you tell us sooner than later) and we got to most of the monthly winter markets in Oxford (3rd Saturday of the month starting in December). Selling at an outdoor market in the depths of winter is pretty hard core (we have sold in ice storms, heavy snow, sub zero temps and, a couple of times, spring like conditions in January). Our goal is to eventually have the winter share program replace the winter farmers markets as there are some down sides to selling outdoors in winter. If the temps are below 25F we cannot take squash or potatoes as they will freeze in about 2 hours. Interestingly, though, greens such as kale and arugula seem to do okay as do parsnips and carrots. So because of past learning experiences such as freezing over 100 pounds of  taters at a subzero market coming home and tossing them in the compost, we know our limitations at such markets. The winter share program has no such limits because the produce stays indoors where it will not freeze and be ruined until members come to get it. And we don't have to stand around for 3 hours in the cold and wind selling (this is not nearly as glamorous as it sounds)

Hey! We have a Pot luck dinner and farm tour THIS Sunday. I have heard from only 4 members out of 13 about this. I need to know ASAP (like today) if you are coming to this event of not. Just reply to this email with a simple yes or no-it's that easy. The festivities will start around 6ish. Meet at the store.

Your shares will be ready after 4pm. It looks like there will be one bag per share this week and they will be in the fridge. Oh and speaking of bags if you have a lot of plastic grocery bags taking up room in your abode we will take them and reuse them (as long as they are clean-absolutely no dirty bags). just bring them with you and leave them on the table where I have been putting the tomatoes all summer.

Recipe
Lamb or Beef stew (if vegetarian leave out the meat). This is a family recipe I learned from my father. He always made beef stew but in recent years I got turned onto stewing lamb and find it is better than beef.

a couple of medium yellow cooking onions, diced
several stalks of celery, diced
4+ carrots (med to large), diced
1/2 pound potatoes diced
1 medium rutabaga peeled and diced
1 large pepper (green, purple or red) diced
1/8 cup fresh sage (or 1-tsp dried)
several sprigs of rosemary (if doing lamb)
1/4 cup of fresh parsley
1TBL dried basil (fresh will not work with this recipe)
2 tsp dried oregano
several cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
salt to taste (at least 1TBL)
2+ quarts of water or meat or veggie stock
Any other veggies you desire such as parsnip, winter squash, zucchini, tomato, leeks, mushrooms, green beans, daikons, etc..
1+ pounds of stew meat (We get ours from Morning Sun Farms which sells it's pastured meat at Oxford, Yellow Springs and West Chester farmers markets)

In a large heated pot (at least 3 gallons) cook the meat until brown (vegetarians skip this step). When the meat is brown remove it from the pot add some butter or oil to the brown bits left by the meat cooking  (vegetarian style will have no brown bits and that's okay) and  add the veggies, salt, herbs and water/stock. On medium high heat bring to a simmering boil. Once simmering turn heat down to medium low, add the cooked meat cover and let cook for at least 2 hours, checking and stirring every so often. You may have to add an additional quart of so of water during cooking. When the contents are soft (especially the meat-you are using stew meat which takes several hours of stewing to be right) grab a blender and puree about 1/3 of the stew (you may have to add some water). Put the puree back into the stew, check seasonings and adjust if needed and you are ready to serve. This is great with a good bread, cornbread  or homemade biscuits.


What's In the Share

Green beans-big beans from an early planting of beans we though was dead and gone but instead has been silently producing beans. These beans look tough but in reality are sweet and tender despite their robust size
Eggplant-at least a pound of neon (purple) and Nadia (black) eggplant. The 3" rain last week got the plants to start producing something other than micro aubergines
Celery-this is a fall vegetable that could use a bit more time to get a bit bigger. This is best used for cooking as it tends to be stronger than what we are used to getting at the store. Celery is hard to grow around here because it is very susceptible to fusarium, a soil fungi endemic to the midwest. Michigan was the #1 producer of celery until the mid 1950's when fusarium destroyed the industry.
Peppers-Several peppers. Some should be ripe and some will be purple and/or green
Cayenne Peppers-several cayennes. These have a nice heat but are not too hot. For some members, I suppose, they will not be hot enough. We had a great deal of trouble getting the hot peppers to germinate this past spring and had planned on several other types but this is what worked. We did get 6 Jalapeno plants to survive in pots on the back deck but they are not producing enough (we have picked 6 so far) for the farm share so I have been using them for our own salsa.
Garlic-A couple of corms of our hardneck garlic
Sage-a nice bunch of fresh sage
Kale-this is the only green we have going right now and because Eugene direct seeded the kale (usually we start seeds indoors under lights than transplant the seedlings out) we have a lot of thinning to do so the kale plants have enough space between them for proper growth this fall and winter. And you get the bounty. I have noticed a lot of the plants have aphids. I do wash the kale before it is put into shares and that does get about 90% of the aphids off the leaves but some stay on so be sure to inspect and wash the care carefully before using (unless you like a bit of extra protein with your greens)
Leeks-a couple of leeks this week
Pears-2+ pounds of our Keiffer pears. this harvest comes from just one tree that for the past 4 years has reliably produced 15 bushels a years. yesterday Eugene harvested 3.5 bushels just to keep major limbs from breaking off under the weight of the fruit
Rutabaga-a couple of medium or one large 'baga (for the stew recipe)
Carrots-You are getting less than perfect carrots. Since we have lost a good dog and a mousing cat in the past year we are getting more and more damage to the carrots from mice and voles (and likely rabbits). They like to eat the top 5% of the roots and leave the rest. These are perfectly good carrots but they do need a bit of work. Mostly cutting off the top of the roots but there may also be carrot maggot damage towards the middle of the carrot. Either cut that out or use a peeler and peel it away. You will get at least 1 pound, probably more.


Lucy Goodman
Boulder Belt Eco-Farm
Eaton, OH
http://boulderbelt.blogspot.com



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