Week of July 23rd – CSA Newsletter

Well folks, it looked like all the dancing at Grassroots worked and our rain prayers have been answered. In all my years farming, the summer’s guaranteed rain events happen during Ithaca Festival and Grassroots weekend. Now today’s rain was a little heavy at times, but beggars can’t be choosers, so I’ll take whatever we can get. And the veggies will definitely enjoy it.

For last week’s field trip, we went and visited Groundswell’s Incubator Farm. The Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming is a non-profit based out of Ithaca that is near and dear to my heart. I’m a former Farmer-Educator for them and currently sit on their board. The TC3 Farm and the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems degree at Tompkins Cortland are here today because of Groundswell. Long story short, but Groundswell created a Summer Practicum that was offered for credit through Tompkins Cortland in the summer of 2010. That first summer students decided to put on a Local Foods celebration to culminate their work. Former college president, Carl Haynes was invited and asked to say a few words. One of his comments was that it would be great to see this as a degree program one day at Tompkins Cortland. And the rest is history. If you’re not familiar with what an Incubator Farm is, it’s a farm that offers land to growers at an affordable price and often provides shared equipment and technical advice. What makes the Incubator Farm at Groundswell unique is that their target audience are those who are traditionally underrepresented in agriculture (women, persons of color and New Americans). Liz, the farm manager, gave a great tour of the different operations at the farm and some of the obscure vegetables growing there. About half of the folks farming there are Karen Burmese refugees and many of the crops that they grow are not traditionally grown in our region.

Garlic curing in the barn.

In field work last week, we continued to cultivate and weed around the farm, as well as start to harvest the rest of the garlic to hang in the barn. The garlic that we have been distributing in the CSA share is “fresh” garlic. That basically means that it hasn’t reached its full flavor. The garlic that you traditionally see in the store or at farmer’s markets has been cured (dried) and that’s where the full flavor comes in. The process that we use is to harvest the garlic and then sort it based on size. After they have been sorted, we bunch them and hang them upstairs in our barn to cure. Garlic is actually the one crop that we save seed for. After they’ve cured for a few weeks, we’ll sort the largest, most uniform bulbs to replant in the late fall for next season.

Alright, on to this week’s CSA share. The share this week will have a few new items in the choice. There will be some cabbage and broccoli that will probably be an either/or. The spring broccoli didn’t do so well with the heat, weed competition and woodchuck pressure, so it’s not the prettiest. There will also be some beets. But the big addition this week will be cherry tomatoes. The cherry tomatoes are about 3-4 weeks earlier this year, so I’m super excited about that. There will also be more carrots, salad turnips, kohlrabi, squash/zucchini, cucumbers, garlic, kale, chard and basil.

There are little itty-bitty beans on the plants, so they’re not too far off and I also picked the first of what I hope to be many heirloom tomatoes over the weekend.

Have a great week!

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