Boulder Belt Eco-Farm

  (Eaton, Ohio)
We Sell the Best, Compost the Rest
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Boulder Belt Farm Share Inititiative vol 2 issue 27 (week 27)



This is it, the last share of the 2010 FSI season. We all made it through and we should be proud of our locavore accomplishment. It is not easy to be in a CSA as an American eater as we American eaters are all about convenience and price and CSA tend to be neither cheap nor convenient. Not to mention, we small diversified foodie farmers like to grow unusual food than most people have never heard of much less ever eaten. Being a CSA member will certainly broaden one's food horizons.

We started off the year with 5 members and that is how we finished. At the height of the season we got up to 8 members. I really had planned on triple that number but I am glad we kept the number under 10 as from mid August up to now we have had a kind of hard time finding enough food to fill shares as the drought has badly impacted the market garden. It got so bad that we closed the farm store down in September so we had enough food to fill your shares and have things to take to the farmers market on Saturday in order to keep income incoming and if  the FSI were much larger we would have quit the farmers market as well. I am glad we did not have to make that choice because we really need the weekly income we get from the farmers market to keep on going. And as it is our income is down about 40% this year due to bad growing conditions but we will persevere. it does help to know that most of you are planning on rejoining our FSI for the 2011 season. You have no idea how much easier it is for us when this happens and we do not have to start a membership drive from scratch. This also means you can have a voice in what we plant next year (to a point, there are somethings, like bananas, we cannot grow around here and other things like Okra we will no longer grow-I am very allergic to it and it does not like being this far north so it grows very badly for us). If there is something you would like to see us grow let us know about it and we will see what we can do. That said, let us know before Thanksgiving as that is when we will be doing our seed orders so we can get them in before Christmas so the seeds we want are not already sold out. That's right, we market growers really have to jump the gun to get what we want and we are usually all done with our seed orders (and usually well into seed starting) by the time the home gardener catalogs are mailed out.

One thing you guys did not get was strawberries. Our strawberry season sucked for of a couple reasons. 1) we went with a new variety, Albion, with which we were not familiar so we had no idea what it would do for us. 2) we planted the strawberries in a spot we thought would be great but it turned out to be a rather bad spot on the farm and thus the plants have been attacked all summer by root eating grubs, berry eating voles and leaf eating caterpillars. this has meant that over 50% of the plants died on us this summer and that has greatly impacted the harvest. We should have been getting 30+ pints a week but instead we are lucky to get 10 pints a week and there was rarely enough to put in everyone's shares (I believe 1 or 2 times you guys got strawbs). And of course the lack of rain has been hard on the berries. They do get drip irrigation many times a week plus hand watering/foliar feeding and this is keeping them in production but it is not allowing them to thrive as much as they can. 3) we did not order and plant seedlings last fall in order to get them established so by April they are ready to produce fruit. Instead we ordered them in late winter, planted in early spring and had to remove all the flowers until late June (so the plants put energy into root and crown formation and not into berry production). This meant we zero berries until Mid July which is when the rains stopped and than it got hard for the plants to produce berries. 4) we did not plant enough. We ordered 250 plants and put out most of them in the spring but now realize we needed 400 to 500 plants to make any money and have ample berries.

This fall we will be planting at least 100 additional plants from runners we have been encouraging. I believe, when it is all said and done, we will get an additional 300 plants in the ground before winter comes. All from runners the mother plants put out. This will save us a bit of money (though strawberries are not very expensive, around 25ยข a plant if you order several hundred) and we should end up with plants that are well acclimated to our local environment. At any rate, Eugene says we have over 100 runner seedlings and I pointed out that at least 100 more have rooted into the aisle-ways in the berry patch, many being hidden under the landscape fabric mulch. So it looks like we will have plenty to play with and next year you guys will get plenty of strawberries in your shares.

Of course, this is the thing with CSA, seasons change from year to year and there is no telling what will do well and what won't. And this is something to keep in mind if you make requests for next year. We can plant it but that does not mean it will grow well (or conversely it may grow so well that everyone, including the requester, gets sick of the crop). But seeing as how both Eugene and I are really, really bad at predicting what the weather conditions will be 6 months out we just have to wing it every year like all the other farmers and take our chances.

Okay, as usual, your shares will be ready after 4pm today until 7 am Saturday morning. I noticed a lack of reusable bags this week so it looks like everyone will be packed in plastic shopping bags. these will have your name on it. please look for your name and take that bag as this lets me know who is picking up and who is not (well, unless all bags are gone, than I know everyone picked up and I don't have send out a reminder)

What's In the Share

Potatoes-around a pound of potatoes, you might get blue, Russian fingerling (small, yellow flesh), Pontiac Red (small red skin, white flesh) Kennebec White (white skin and flesh) or German Butterball (round yellow skin and flesh). I might even mix 'em up
Sweet Potatoes-at least 1/2 pound but likely closer to a pound. these have been super sweet
Peppers-more sweet peppers, probably more than 6 of them
Radishes without greens-a bunch of 6 to 8 Easter egg/d'Avignon radishes
Beets-around a pound of the 3 Grex beets that must come out of their bed. the greens look like excrement so I will likely remove them
Spring Mix-Finally this is ready for eating. This should have been ready a month ago, had the weather been at all reasonable. Oh well, better late than never. if you have not had our salad mix it is a mix of baby lettuces, mizuna, tat soi, red giant mustard and arugula, all cut at a small stage of life.
Pears-you will get another 8 or so pears which is around 3 pounds
Apples- another couple of pounds of apples
Tomatoes-we have maters ripening slowly in the store as we picked a lot last week when we were told erroneously that we would get a frost. So some of them will be ready to eat and some will need a few days. if you are in the winter share you will get better maters as we have an entire hoop house filled with plants filled with big green maters (which should start ripening any day now)
Red Onion-1/2+ pound of  small red onions. These would go well on top of the spring mix
Garlic-2 corms of garlic


Boulder Belt Farm Share Week 7

It's another week of yummy food.

The weather is improving quite a bit. We got over 3" of rain over the weekend which was badly needed. It got cold but we did not get much, if any frost (I think a couple of the tiny asparagus spears got frost damaged but not more than .01%) and now we get some very nice dry and sunny days to get a lot of weeding/hoeing/tilling done.

The farm is very beautiful. The trees are leafing out and the early summer flowers are opening. Mostly irises (my favorite flower) with a bit of phlox and soon we should have a hillside covered in daisies

Monday was spent weeding, mainly onions and garlic. We have a really nice method to take care of the weeds that is not too labor intensive. First we get out the wheel hoe and hit the big areas. Next we use a stirrup hoe to get smaller areas that the wheel hoe blade is to wide to do. after all that is done we hand weed what's left. Usually there is hardly anything to hand weed but today we hit several beds that need a lot of hand weeding. The scallions are the worst but fortunately they are well on their way to being done. I am happy that the onions and garlic did not need much hand weeding at all, just a few thistle plants that had to be pulled per bed. if there is not a lot of little weeds growing up in between the plants and the weeds are small  we can get a bed done in about 15 minutes. If there are a lot of little weeds between plants than a bed will take about 2 to 3 hours with one person doing the work. From now until mid July when it usually gets dry we will be doing a lot of weeding, than the weed pressure usually lightens up a lot.

Beside weeding (and the perpetual harvesting) we are gearing up to put out about 750 tomato, pepper and aubergine seedlings. This means many beds to till (about 2/3 are tilled), than landscape fabric mulch and irrigation tapes are put down. the mulch is secured by digging in the edges. 7' tall metal fence stakes are driven into the ground for the tomatoes-10 stakes per bed so we have something to support the tomatoes. We also stake the peppers but they take much smaller stakes and could even use tomato cages, if we had any. We do not use cages for tomatoes as we grow great big indetermanent tomato varieties and they get way too big for cages so we stake them and support them a la the "Florida Weave" (google it).

A lot of crops are close to coming in. We should have a little bit of fresh basil maybe next week. We might have small zucchinis this week and if not certainly next week (they will be ready Thursday but are not quite ready to pick Tuesday so to keep things even we will probably wait until next week so everyone gets the same thing at the same time) The first peas are in flower and should have peas in 2 weeks. We grow three kinds, snow, sugar snap and a couple of types of shelling peas. The garlic should be forming scapes at the end of the month. Scapes are the flower stalks and have to be cut off, they are yummy. Broccoli is beginning to form heads. We will have cabbage, carrots, beets, chard, scallions (the one's you have been getting were from an over wintered bed that was planted around this time last year.), sweet onions  in June and beyond.

As some thing are coming on others are going away for a few weeks. This would be the strawberries. We grow an everbearing variety that sets fruit, fruit ripens, fruit gets picked and than it grows more flowers and sets more fruit. A cycle takes about 6 to 8 weeks. Cycle one in just about over.  So this will be the last week for strawberries for a while, I believe. But soon enough we will have red Latham raspberries (mid to late June)

We have the pot luck dinner coming up this Sunday. I have RSVP's from 4 people, The Platts, Gliddens, Lathams and Herbskerman. I need to know Yes or no from the rest of you, ASAP (sorry if I have forgotten your RSVP, you will have to tell me again-farming can make one brain dead). As mentioned, it starts at 5pm, we will conduct a tour of the main market garden at 5:15 or so, Nancy will do her herb demo around 6pm than we eat good food out under the apple trees. It should be a lot of fun and the perfect opportunity to get to know the farm and ask us questions. Try to be on time. oh and we will have a home brew tasting of some sort. We will provide a big salad, a couple of kinds of dressing and Apple cider. You bring a dish to share (meat, dessert, side dish, etc.,) things to eat/drink with/from (we really want to avoid disposable plate/cup/flatware use) and any wine beer, soda you want to drink if cider is not for you. We may have some pear wine left over from last year. We have many interesting people in this group so conversation should be interesting.

June is coming up I need to know if you are one of the members doing this by the month a) are you joining in June? b) if so and you pick up on Tuesday which 4 Tuesdays do you want-there are 5 in June.  I need to know ASAP about these things. Those of you who have committed to the entire season, don't worry about this 5 Tuesday thing.

Asparagus and Kale Omelet

3 eggs, use pastured eggs you can buy at any farmers market
2 spears of asparagus, cut into 1/2" pieces
4 kale leaves, cut the mid rib out and chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup cheese (cheddar or whatever pleases you), shredded
salt to taste

In a pan over medium heat melt the butter and saute the onion, asparagus and kale, add the salt. Cook about 5 minutes, until the onions get translucent and the asparagus is tender crisp. Also place the top oven rack in the highest position and preheat the broiler

While this goes on beat the eggs in a small bowl

In a hot omelet pan (preheated over medium-heat-the pan must be hot for the eggs to slide out of the pan, not stick) melt some butter (don't worry if it starts to turn brown) and put in the scrambled eggs. With a spatula  stir the eggs, pushing them down the side. Cook about 1 to 2 minutes. Put eggs under the hot broiler for 30 seconds. The eggs should be puffed up and turning light brown, even. Remove put pan on a cold burner and add the veggies to one side of the eggs and top with the cheese. Put back under the broiler for 30 to 45 seconds, until cheese is melted. Flip onto a plate, veggie side first and let the rest of the eggs fold over top.

Asparagus-around a pound this week, you may notice some spears are purple-those are the purple asparagus and they are super tender and good.
Kale-Russian White kale, a big bag. this is simple to cook-cut the center rib out and chop and steam like spinach
Spring mix-another bag of salad
Lettuce-mix of reds and greens this week
Radish-lots of little radishes. This planting of radishes never did take off and now we need them out of the ground. hopefully the later plantings will do Much better for us.
Chives-the flowers are at their peak right now and quite edible
Garlic chives-another bunch of garlic chives
Oregano-many of you got this herb about two weeks ago instead of rosemary. This is the pizza herb and is also a good herb for digestion.
Strawberries/zucchini-Since the berries likely will not make it to Thursday the Thursday group may get zephyr zucchini in their shares this week
Arugula-Eugene says there is enough to harvest. As I write this it is 5am and I have not gone out to check nor will I until after dawn. There may be arugula in the shares or there may not be


Boulder Belt farm Share Vol 1 issue 6

Mid May on the farm means a lot of weed control. Since we do not use chemicals that means a lot of mowing (which also keeps small rodents from eating the crops, and this did happen over the weekend-something took out 1/2 bed of cabbage. Don't worry we have several beds of cabbage and Eugene has now gotten the grass short AND has caught a couple of voles in the area. So he thinks the rest of the baby cabbage plants will survive) hoeing when the soils are dry enough (which they were as of yesterday) and hand pulling. Oh and tilling. Something Eugene has not been able to do in about 10 days because they ground has been too wet. You really do not want to till wet/damp ground as it destroys the structure and you get clods that are hard to break down. But now the soil has dried out enough for the the tilling to resume and hopefully by tomorrow he will have most of the untilled beds tilled and the weeds that are in them killed. Most of these beds are for Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.

If you want to know what tomatoes we will have come the end of August check out my blog It's a big list of fabulous heirloom maters (mostly). Those tomatoes are still tiny and a couple of weeks away from being able to go out side. I have contact with a lot of other growers via email list serves and a few forums and we start our tomatoes about 4 to 6 weeks after most everyone else in the US (except the folks in the Dakotas) but by doing this we get to miss the cloud of RoundUp that is hovering in our air as I write this (RoundUp literally melts tomatoes). This is because the no-till farmers use the herbicide to "burn down" the weeds in their fields a day or two before planting. Than there will be another huge application the beginning of June and another late July for weed control. This is one of the reason we use a lot of row cover-it keeps the chemicals off of our produce. Unfortunately it does not keep the herbicides out of our water table so in a month I highly recommend that you drink only filtered water so you (and especially your small children) are not drinking the stuff.

Another reason we start and plant our tomatoes and peppers later than most people is because there too often is a cold period in mid to late May that will injure such tender plants and cause them to produce later and less than they should (we are going through this right now and it would not surprise me if we get another round of cold air before Memorial day). So between the chemicals and the cold weather we are glad our tomato seedlings are tiny and safe in a warm room. The pepper and eggplant seedlings are big (I start these at least 3 weeks before the tomatoes because they take longer to get to a good size, though this year they both grew faster than expected) but also in the same warm room so safe.

Besides the nightshades (the family that peppers, potatoes, maters and eggplant all belong) we have planted in the market garden beets, green beans (or maybe wax beans), potatoes, carrots, celeriac, red turnips, rutabagas, radishes, early cucumbers, early cantaloupes, more lettuce, more spring mix, early basil, early zucchini (which is flowering so we should have zukes in shares in 2 to 3  weeks), chard and a few other things. I believe we have about 2/3 of the 250+ beds filled at this point and should be about filled by June 1st.

Oh yeah a couple of things. Oxford members St Rt 732 is closed this week by Houston Woods so you will have to find another way to get here if you use 732 to get to Eaton. The signs say it will be reopened May 16th. Don't for get the potluck dinner coming up May 24th  bring food to share and something to eat it on/in/from (we do not want to use paper/plastic plates and cups and don't have enough china to supply everyone). Member Nancy Glidden has graciously offered to do a short workshop on how to use culinary herbs which I think will be useful to most everyone. This will take place right after the farm tour and before dinner (or maybe during dinner as this will be a casual event and we can nosh and learn)


Chive Dip

1 pint sour cream
1/4 cup chives chopped fine
1 TSP thyme chopped fine
salt to taste

Mixed everything into the sour cream, let sit at least 2 hours so the flavors can blend (over night is best). set out with good tater chips

Strawberries-You get 2 pints this week (oh Joy!!). These will come and go all summer and fall as we grow Day Neutral strawberries and not the June bearing type
Asparagus-a half pound of spears. I wish we could give more but the plants are not producing as heavily as we expected. Next year will be better as we will be able to harvest some of the new area (planted spring of '08) and in 2 years we will have twice as much to harvest.
Lettuce-another bag of mixed heads-the mix this week will be a red leaf lettuce some old guy, Tom Chance, from Eaton gave us last year and marvel of 4 seasons, a french heirloom (this is a bibb type)
Chive-These are beginning to flower. The flowers are edible but tend to be on the hot side. Still they make a salad beautiful
Spring Mix-This might be mostly baby lettuce. The spring mix beds we should be harvesting have huge lettuce and the rest of the greens, despite being sowed a week before the lettuce are not growing  much at all so have been too small to cut for the past 12 days. the cool weather should be good for this stuff and hopefully I will go out this morning to find beautiful arugula, mizuna, et. al.
Leeks-This should be the last week for leeks
Thyme-Very small leaves, really good in things like potato and leek soup
Tarragon-This smells like anise, leaves green and slender


FSI Newsletter Vol 1 issue 5

Greetings Farm Share Members,

We are into a new month. For us it means welcoming 3 new members and saying goodbye to to. Giving us a total of 12 members this month, we had 11 in April. A positive trend as we did not expect to fill all 30 membership slots in the spring. All we want is a steady increase in membership throughout the season. At this point we are 40% full and that is A-ok with us. The FSI is replacing the Tuesday uptown market as a marketing strategy and all we asked of it was that it make at least as much money as that market. So far it is making more than double for us.  So while you guys generally get more than the $30 you paid per weekly share we still end up making more money from this system of selling food. Instead of spending the entire morning and early afternoon harvesting, cleaning and packing produce, driving to Oxford doing the market and coming back around 9 or 10pm (often we would dine and socialize with friends after market) now we can spend Tuesday harvesting for the FSI (which takes about 1/3 the time because I am harvesting for a known entity instead of trying to guesstimate how much stuff we may need for market) in the early morning and than the rest of the day Eugene can spend on his farming projects while I get the shares cleaned and packed. In other words, because of the FSI we get an entire extra day on the farm which is almost priceless to us. Also we don't have to drive the behemoth Dodge van that get less than stellar gas mileage and we don't have to schlep around heavy crates of produce. During melon season (high summer) this is a major pain-100+pound crates to be moved in 90+ degree humid conditions. yes, this is a part the glamor of market farming. So the FSI is literally saving our backs, as we are not getting any younger.

The month of May also means the garden is transitioning from winter/early spring crops to mid spring/early summer crops. Gone is the spinach and soon the leeks will be too. We are now seeing strawberries, asparagus kale, lettuces, radishes, chives, fresh herbs (tarragon, thyme, oregano, cilantro, rosemary, savory) and soon will have peas (all 3 kinds, shelling, sugar snap and snow), zucchini, broccoli, cabbages, garlic scapes oh and some Asian greens we have never grown before but should be wonderful. A part of this kind of food buying is the adventure in eating aspect. And Eugene and I are adventurous eaters as well as growers so there will be brand new items on occasion in your shares that will likely be new to everyone. This spring it will be Tong Ho. A green from SE Asia. We have never grown it or eaten it. There is some chance it will fail the first time we plant (okay it already has and we have replanted because now we are quite curious as to what this stuff tastes like.). I will endeavor to figure out how to cook anything completely new before putting it in the shares so I can tell you guys what you are dealing with. And I do realize we already are putting in alien items for you that we have been growing for years and have come to look upon as normal. I mean doesn't everyone eat Mizuna or golden beets? They should if they don't.

The farm has been wet for the past week. This is great news-we were down over 3" on rainfall for 2009 and the 3.5" we got at the end of last week was just what everything needed. the farm has greened up and the crops, trees, flowers, grass and weeds are growing the way they should. Eugene has been doing a lot of mowing as keeping the grass short around the beds keep diseases at bay  by allowing air to pass freely over the crops as well as allowing sunlight in. Short grass is also a bane to pests like mice and voles, so it keeps them out of the beds where they can do a lot of damage. It's been too wet to plant seeds or seedlings or potatoes though with it being dry since Saturday I expect by Tuesday we will be back at it. There are about 50 pounds of seed  taters to put in the ground this week (and than we will plant another 100 pounds in 3 to 4 weeks and another 100 pounds 4 weeks after that), lettuce and celeriac seedlings to transplant into the market garden, hoeing, fertilizing, tilling and a zillion other tasks to do

Remember we have a pot luck dinner and farm tour coming up May 24th starting at 6pm. Recycle your bags with us-paper or plastic, just the clean ones, though. We will also take back all berry boxes, the plastic sheet on top and the rubber bands that come on radishes, asparagus, berries, chives, etc.. We do not want rubber bands or berry boxes/clamshells from non Boulder Belt Sources


Spring Salad
This a favorite at our farm

1/2 bag spring mix
at least 8 strawberries
Several radishes
2 to 3 scallions
Several spears of asparagus (as many as you want)

Wash and spin dry the spring mix. Cut the strawberries in half or quarters if they are huge. Wash and slice the radishes. Wash and slice the scallions. Wash and cut the asparagus into 1" pieces than blanch for 2 to 3 minutes, until tender crisp, drain and cool. Put the clean greens into a big bowl and top with all the other veggies. Dress this salad with the following:

1/2 cup vinegar. I use a combination of rice and balsamic vinegar but really, any will do.
1/2 tsp garlic powder OR 2 cloves of fresh garlic minced/mashed
2 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup olive oil

This Week's Share

Leeks-Likely the last week for these. It was a great run.
Spring Mix
Lettuce-4 heads of mixed lettuces
Kale-White Russian kale, an heirloom we first grew last year and found it delicious
Strawberries-out of our hoop house and about 6 weeks earlier than if we gave them no protection. And some of the scant few organically grown strawberries in Ohio
Asparagus-A pound or so of green asparagus.
Fresh Rosemary-This is the classic poultry seasoning (along with sage). Also good with roasted veggies, especially taters and it is great in salad dressing
Radishes-Easter Egg radishes this week
Scallions-This may be the last week for the over wintered scallions as they are threatening to make flowers. But soon enough we will have scallion that were planted this spring to harvest.
Fresh Savory-this herb is great with dried beans (it lessens the fart factor as well as adds flavor), pea soup and about any savory dish (you think that may be where the term "Savory Dish" comes from?). This was a new herb to me 5 years ago and now it has become one of my mainstays as it is good in so many things be they vegan or meat dishes.

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