So, I bet you all can guess what I’m going to write about this week. But before I get to sharing my feelings on the wonderful, albeit drastic weather change we had this week, I wanted to give some updates on some of the lingering farm construction type projects. Ok, first up is that the driveways to both the barn and the field are finally complete. For those of you arriving tomorrow for your CSA pickup, you will notice some nice new asphalt at the driveway entrance. This driveway has come a long way in the short time of the farm. Prior to last season, it washed out at least 3 times. It has gone through many transformations this year to get to where it is today. I was told that it will be able to withstand a 500 year flood. I honestly hope that I never have to see that. It’s also big news that the driveway to the field has been redone. It was so badly rutted up that only a vehicle with high clearance could make it through. Now a person on a unicycle wouldn’t have a problem!
Alright, update number two is the one that I am most excited for. Are you ready for it? Are you starting to sweat in anticipation? Wait for it… Our. Greenhouse. Finally. Has. Heat!!! This has been a long time coming and it couldn’t have happened at a more opportune time. This will be a game changer for the farm. Not only will it help with our season extension (which it did this weekend), all of our seedling production can now take place here in Dryden.
Ok, so I guess I can start talking about the weather now. The week started out beautifully. There was an epic sunrise mid-week and the panorama from the farm field is what you dream about when you think of Fall. But we knew what was coming and the mad dash that was ahead for us. You see, it’s Upstate NY and a frost can come any time after October 1st. I actually truly enjoy the first frost of the year. Farm seasons are long and hard. There are lots of ups and downs and the first frost indicates that the end of the season is in sight. To me, it’s also the real transition into Fall. Summer crops begin to dwindle and the Fall crops begin to sweeten as the nights begin to dip in temperature. I have crops, like collards and fall carrots, that I don’t even begin to harvest until the first frost.
What made this first frost a challenge for us (and for many of my farming colleagues) is that this wasn’t a light one, it was a deep hard frost. We have lots of crops that can handle light frosts but the hard ones, not so much. We had some decisions to make and some were made for us. Get crops out of the ground or lose them, cover crops and keep your fingers crossed and leave crops to the wonders of Mother Nature. The Sustainable Farming and Food Systems students really busted their tails on a short week and helped the farm out big time. Our first task was to clear out the hoophouses of the eggplants, peppers and heirloom tomatoes. The hoophouses really help with our season extension but with the calling of temperatures in the mid 20s the fruit in them was definitely going to suffer. It’s kind of a bummer to see those houses empty now but it was a good season for them and we harvested enough peppers to last a few more weeks. We also decided to harvest all of the swiss chard, the rest of the fennel, chinese cabbage and some field tomatoes we had left. After harvesting the crops that weren’t going to make it through the weekend, we then had to cover some of them that were. We covered these crops with row cover, a cloth like material that adds an extra layer of protection. And after all that, we dropped off some extra row covers for our friends at Main St. Farms for their crops and headed out to another friend’s farm in Freetown who had lots of winter squash in their fields that were going to be damaged by the freezing temperatures. Needless to say, it was an exhausting few days but was well worth it.
That leads us to this week’s CSA share. Their numbers have dropped significantly but there are still tomatoes. There will be beefsteaks, heirlooms AND cherries. The last of the eggplant along with more “sun tan” peppers, storage onions, swiss chard, garlic and kale. I’m hoping that there will be some parsley but I didn’t get a chance to see how it fared over the weekend. There will be two new items this week, butternut squash and chinese cabbage. I know a lot of folks love butternut squash soup but I am a huge fan of roasting my veggies and butternuts are no different. Just preheat your oven to 400 and peel and cube your squash into cubes. Toss with olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet and keep in oven for about 25 minutes or tender and lightly browned. For chinese cabbage, I love adding it to any stir fries that I do.
Have a great week folks!!