July 16

Wow, this is great weather and it makes everybody feel about 10 years younger! We are hustling  about trying to clean up the aftermath of strawberry season and get ready to “renovate” the  berry beds for next year, as we try to carry them for 2-3  picking seasons before we turn them under and plant to another crop. Ray was delighted to see those of you who turned out Sunday for the gleaning hours and we hope you were able to scrounge up enough berries for that last meal before they officially go away. As you know,  we are in the middle of raspberry season and it looks like we will start picking blueberries on this weekend. Peas are finished, but we are beginning to  pick beans so even though some crops “go away” others suddenly appear and take time to harvest so it seems that we  always have a tough time getting caught up on the field work and projects. This week’s worry is the onions being too weedy, and the new strawberry bed needs to be hoed and the blossoms taken off.

We had a couple of complaints at the drop off Tuesday night concerning the lack of  tomatoes in the boxes, and the complaint was that if we had them at the farmstand, then they should be available in the box. Although I feel this is old ground I will try to clarify it once again. The tomatoes that we have and  will be picking through the first  week of August come out of our greenhouses. They  are grown entirely in the confines of a controlled environment from seed to finish, and there are not a lot of them.  Our greenhouse tomatoes are sown in January and transplanted into the ground in  heated greenhouses by mid March. We had two greenhouses planted up before we were ever approached by the Grantham group in early April. Because there is a lot of expense incurred in producing these tomatoes( i.e. capital cost of the structure, propane to heat the houses, plastic to cover the houses, etc.) we don’t produce very many of them. Occasionally, when we have extra boxes, we have sold them to Mike at Rumbrook.   We also have commitments to the Hanover-Lebanon Coops.  We currently are supplementing tomato supplies at our own farm stand with tomatoes that I was lucky enough to get from a friend in Westminster,Vermont.  What we clearly stated at the organizational meeting in April is that the tomatoes for the CSA will come from the field, and if we have an extra abundance of greenhouse tomatoes prior to the field tomatoes’ ripening, then you will be the lucky recipients.  If the membership really wants us to provide greenhouse tomatoes out of season (and this time of year is clearly out of season for anything but a greenhouse tomato)  then we can have that  discussion in December.

The melons in the field are about the size of hardballs (at least some of the earlier varieties are) and they are big enough to attract the interest of deer and woodchucks,  who seem to like them as much as we do, although they don’t wait until the melons ripen. Anyway, they are coming along as are the pumpkins and winter squash. Our expectation is that  our own corn will start to be coming in about the second week of  August. Going back to melons: because we  had sown the crop prior to our organizational meeting we may well be short on melons, and at the meeting I had stated that perhaps we could halve them and wrap them. The State of NH Health Department will not allow us to do that at our farm stand without a certified inspected commercial kitchen, but because I thought the CSA was more casual that they would allow us to cut and wrap.  I have since talked to the  health department and they frown on that as well. So, a way around this might be for us to bring a quantity of melons to the drop and have you guys divide them up off to the side. Let me know if you have any ideas. And enjoy the great summer weather in the meantime.

July 9th

Well, we got through through the 4th of July unscathed. This is our busiest weekend of the year, and with all three greenhouses, farmstand, pick your own and now CSA going on, we have been pretty busy. The field crew has routinely been putting in 70-hour weeks, and we could use some more bodies next year if we continue at this speed. But July 4 is to our season sort of like Wednesday is to the five day work week: its “Humpday” and I think we all feel a little less pressure in our routines. Soon we will be done with picking peas and strawberries, and will turn to picking blueberries. (We are already into raspberries.)

As promised, there will be a midday gleaning party with Ray on (this coming) Sunday, July 13. He will be in the field from 11-2 and he will be in our Sumner Falls Bed which is two miles past our farm on River Road. Many of you will know the way already and you will see Ray out in the field . He is the only 6’6″ guy who will be wandering around in 1′ high strawberry plants. Bring containers, the picking won’t be great but the conversation should be and you should be able to pick a few for the final shortcake or a few for jam. Maybe I will see you there!

Another thing to think about: we will be planning a CSA on-farm event, sort of to meet the troops who are behind the boxes and to get a farm tour. It would have to be a mid-week evening or a Sunday afternoon and will have to be after the 20th of August (that is when blueberry picking winds down). Given those parameters, if you have a preference please let Kalila or Ray know at the drop site, or you can e-mail me here.

Stay cool!