And just like that, we’ve hit September. It’s crazy how fast the farm season can go by. It seems like last week we were deciding where the season’s crops were going to be planted. September always is a crazy time on the farm because the summer crops are still cranking at a good pace but some of the fall/winter crops are ready to be harvested or will be soon. The end of the season is in sight, although it seems so far away. This time of the year is a mix of harvest/planting/cleanup projects. But this is Upstate New York, and we know that the first frost will be here before we know it. I actually had a very realistic dream (more like a nightmare) over the weekend that I woke up to a light frost and I never closed down the sides to the hoophouses. The result was that all the tomatoes and peppers growing in them had bitten the dust. It took me a few minutes but I was relieved when I realized that wasn’t the case.
The past week was a great one with all the new student interns. We spend a lot of time harvesting for their first few weeks before diving into some of the other farm tasks. I think that this is a great time of the year to expose folks to the basics of harvesting because there is so much to do. I really stress to them the importance of harvest and post-harvest handling of the vegetables that we grow. The proper harvesting techniques, times of day that we harvest certain crops, sorting and washing of crops and proper storage of vegetables. These are all extremely important so that you and all of our other customers can have the highest quality vegetables.
I also had the great pleasure of accompanying Chef John, from Coltivare, to the State Fair last Friday for a cooking demonstration using produce from the TC3 Farm. Chef John is the Sous Chef at Coltivare, a Culinary Arts student at Tompkins Cortland and also spent time doing the Farm Internship this past spring and summer. It was great to have him on the farm and his appreciation for what the local farms have to offer make him a really talented chef. The demonstration was hosted by Farm to Fork 101, an organization based out of Syracuse that connects the consumer with local farmers and local chefs. Chef John made a pan-seared strip steak with blistered cherry tomatoes (from the TC3 Farm) with deep-fried hollandaise sauce (AMAZING!) over mashed kohlrabi (from the TC3 Farm). There were close to 70 attendees for the demo and it was a great opportunity to showcase what the Farm to Bistro program here at Tompkins Cortland is doing to a new audience.
Let’s talk about this week’s CSA share. It was just me harvesting today, since the students had the day off, so I had to make some choices about what was going to be easiest for me to get done. Thankfully we had some things in storage, got some things harvested last week and I have a very understanding wife and was able to get some things out of the field on Sunday. In this week’s choice there will be lettuce, spinach, hot peppers, sweet peppers, beets, new potatoes, fennel, cherry, beefsteak and heirloom tomatoes. There may even be some saladette tomatoes. These little jewels are bigger than cherries but smaller than and with the taste of beefsteaks. The garlic has finally cured and will be making its return. You will also have herbs to choose from this week. There will definitely be cilantro, sage and thyme and probably some sorrel and parsley (I’m harvesting them in the am). Two new items are also making an appearance this week. There will be delicata squash. Delicata is one of my favorite winter squashes. My favorite way to prepare it is to roast it with maple syrup. I slice it in half, scoop out the seeds, put about a tablespoon of butter in each half and then drizzle some maple syrup over it. I usually add some salt and pepper, as well. I roast it at 400 for about 35 minutes or until the flesh is nice and tender. In case you didn’t know, the skin of the delicata is edible. The other new item this week is one crop that I have found to be one of the most challenging crops to grow in all my years of farming, melons. It’s one of those crops where it’s really hard to tell when they are exactly ripe. There are many little signs that indicate ripeness but none that I’ve found that are 100% accurate. The one that works best for me is taste. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been tasting a lot of melons and finally got to a point late last week where most of the melons were tasting pretty good. So, I did my best over the weekend to harvest the ones that I thought looked, smelled and felt the best. I’m not guaranteeing anything but hopefully they are all pretty good.
Have a great week folks!