Welcome back to all my Tompkins Cortland colleagues. I hope you all had a great first week with the hustle and bustle of students back on campus. The new semester means a new “crop” of student interns on the farm. And if the first couple of classes are any indication, it looks like a terrific group that will be spending time with me on the farm. Most of the interns this semester are new students enrolled in the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems degree at the college but we always seem to attract students from other degree programs. This semester there are a few students from the Culinary Arts program. I’m always excited when there are students who care enough about where their food comes from and want to learn some aspects of agriculture. I get especially jazzed when Culinary Arts students are on the farm. I think that it can have a huge impact on their experience at Tompkins Cortland when they can have the hands on experience that ties in the production side of things with the food that ends up in the kitchen and eventually on our plates. I believe this is the fifth semester in a row that I have had at least one student from the Culinary Arts program.
The start of the fall semester always brings an injection of new energy on the farm, which I totally appreciate. It’s a long season, with lots of ups and downs, and the new group always helps to pick me up as we head into the second half of the season. It certainly has its challenges, though. The biggest one is the pace on the farm. This time of the year, I am in a solid groove with everything happening on the farm. And even though there’s more to do in a day that I can possibly get done, I need to come to a screeching halt for the first week or so of the fall semester to try an bring folks up to speed with how we do things here at the TC3 Farm. For most of the student interns, this is their first time working on a farm and they are doing things for the very first time. There is definitely a learning curve, but they all were thrown to the wolves today for their first harvest of the semester. I think that they did a pretty good job, given that inexperience.
Let’s talk about that harvest and what’s going to be in this week’s CSA share. The tomatoes continue to flourish, so there will be beefsteak, heirloom and cherries, as well as more eggplant, sweet peppers and hot peppers. The cucumbers are definitely slowing down and I think that this may be the last week with a decent harvest. Beets are back in the share this week, with the last of the spring carrots and a different variety of “new” potatoes. This variety is called Cheiftan and they are red skinned with white flesh. For the Fall-Only Shares that are starting this week, new potatoes are harvested when the plants are still alive. There skin is very tender and thus, need to be stored in the fridge. There are going to be beans once again and Swiss Chard is making its return. Basil is done for the year. We got hit with some Downy Mildew in the greenhouse and it went south real quick. But there will be a mix of herbs to choose from: parsley, thyme, sage and sorrel. The other new item this week will be baby fennel. If you’ve never had fennel before, it has a nice licorice flavor. We love to add it to a roasted root vegetable dish (although, I’m not sure this week is a great week for turning on the oven). I found this recipe online for inspiration.
Next week we should have the first winter squash of the season.
Have a great week!