Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cooking class -- Saturday June 6th


Summer is right around the corner and it is time again for cooking classes at the farm! With all of the amazing produce available to us now, we are going to focus on GREENS. There are so many different ways to prepare what is available now — kale, collards, swiss chard, beet greens, Asian Greens.

Come experience how to add these delicious vegetables into your daily diet!

Think Globally, Eat Locally Cooking Class Series
with Annmarie Cantrell of Cucina Verde

At Maysie’s Farm Conservation Center
15 St. Andrew’s Lane
Glenmoore, PA 19343

Saturday June 6th, 11am – 1pm


'Tis the season for delicious greens at the markets and the CSAs! Come learn the value of adding these nutritious greens to your daily diet and experience different ways to prepare them. The class includes ample tastings of all dishes prepared.

Menu includes (but is subject to change depending on availability):

Krispy Kale (a fav with the children!)

Collard Bundles

Beet Salad with Sautéed Beet Greens and Orange

Portuguese Caldo Verde (Greens Soup)

Mediterranean Beans and Greens

Spinach and Fresh Pea Salad with Goat Cheese and Mint Dressing


This class is $15 for members, $20 for non members. Please respond by June 3rd to or 610-458-8129

Thursday, May 28, 2009

CSA Update - First Pick Up Day!


It was great to meet so many new members on Tuesday evening at our New Member Orientation Meeting. A lot of information was shared, and you got to experience your first pick up as well as sample some of the delicious greens that had just been harvested.

Some of you had expressed interest in volunteering at the farm. We always welcome volunteers. Please send an email, call, or leave us a comment next to your name on the sign in page when you pick up your food , and we will happily set you up!!

When you come for your first pick up on either Friday or Monday, you can look forward to a lot more greens (Kale, Collards, Swiss Chard, Yukina Savoy, Spinach, Chinese Cabbage, Bok Choy, Lettuce and Mesclun Mix) as well as Beets, Carrots and Scallions., The beets are looking especially beautiful….. and don’t forget to use the greens as well… sauté them as you would any other green (with some olive oil and garlic- what could be better?)

We also have pick your own peas- The snap peas have come on just in time for the start of the season! Remember that the Pick Your Own beds are marked with white stakes. Please pick only from those beds, as they have the best selection of the vegetables. If you have any questions, look for one of us and we’ll help you find them!!

If you ever have any favorite recipes to share, please send them to me and I will put them out to the other members. You can also feel free to add them to the blog!

If you are looking for different ideas on how to use your greens, we are offering our first
Think Globally, Eat Locally Cooking Class at the farm on Saturday June 6th from 11am – 1pm.

Come learn the value of adding these nutritious greens to your daily diet and experience different ways to prepare them. The class includes ample tastings of all dishes prepared. Some of the dishes will include:

Krispy Kale (a fave with the children!)
Collard Bundles
Beet Salad with Sautéed Beet Greens and Orange
Portuguese Caldo Verde (Greens Soup)
Beans and Greens
Spinach and Fresh Pea Salad with Goat Cheese and Mint Dressing

This class is $15 for members, $20 for non members
Please respond to me by June 3rd to register for the class:

Some other items of interest:

Mike McGrath of WHYY’s “You Bet Your Garden” will be speaking on Wednesday June 10th at 7 pm at Rose Hall- Camphill Kimberton Hills on Beneficial Insects. Please register for this event by contacting Victoria Webb at:

Also, on Sunday June 21st, we will be having our Summer Solstice Pot Luck Dinner at 6 pm. There will lots of great food and live music! Look for a sign up sheet in the barn as the date approaches!

(Remember, if you should need to switch your day, please do it on the website: Click on the big red CSA Order Button and enter your username and password. When your page comes up, click “EDIT PROFILE”. Scroll down to the calendar and click on the dates you are switching to and from. Hit “make changes at the bottom of the page. Thanks!!

Here are the recipes from Tuesday evening:

Sicilian Broccoli Rabe
Large bunch broccoli rabe, washed with long stems removed
Extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
2 anchovies in olive oil
Red pepper flakes
¼ cup raisins or currants (soaked in warm water until plumped and then drained)
¼ cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts
Celtic Sea Salt

Heat a large sauté pan. Add extra virgin olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add garlic and stir so as not to brown it. Add anchovies and stir until they become a paste. Add broccoli rabe and simmer until softened. Add red pepper flakes to taste. Add sea salt as needed.

Before removing from pan, stir in raisins or currants and nuts. Serve warm.

Stir Fried Komatsuna
This was the green sampled at the orientation. This recipe works well for all stir-fry greens: Bok Choy, Yukina Savoy, Napa cabbage and vitamin greens.

1 large bunch komatsuna
Extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Fresh ginger, grated or finely minced – to taste
Celtic Sea Salt

Heat a large sauté pan. Add oil to coat the bottom of the pan with a thin layer. Add garlic and ginger and stir. Add greens and sauté until softened. Add sea salt as needed. Serve on platter and squeeze fresh ginger juice over top, as desired.

Variations: Can add naturally fermented soy sauce instead of sea salt and finish with a toasted sesame oil (or a hot sesame oil). Top with toasted sesame seeds.

See you on the farm!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

CSA Update - Start of the Season


The 2009 CSA season is beginning! Despite the fluctuating weather we’ve been having (a drought-like early spring, an extended period of cold, gray, wet weather, a heatwave, two more weeks of cold, gray wet weather, and, even a frost on May 19th- , 4 days after the “last frost date”!), the vegetables are doing quite well, thriving in fact. Even the first tomatoes, which were planted out prior to the abnormal frost, somehow survived. And labor, the other variable, the one of greatest consequence, is looking pretty good as well. We lost one of our Guatemalan workers who’d been here for two years (to a slightly better paying restaurant job), but we have Mario and Aroldo, both with some experience, and a great team of Interns who are learning priorities and mastering techniques with lightning speed. Hopefully, you will get to know Frank, Dave, Andy, Pete, Erin, Libbie and Charlotte soon.

Our first Friday pick-up will be May 29th from 12 to 6 pm and our first Monday pick-up will be June 1st from 1 to 7 pm. For those picking up at the Jenkins Arboretum, our first delivery will be Tuesday June 2nd . The folks at the Arboretum will be getting back to us with the exact pick-up hours… We’ll let you know early next week.

We are having our New Member Orientation Meeting on Tuesday May 26th at 7pm.
We strongly suggest that all new members attend as it is your best opportunity to learn the pick-up protocol. There is actually quite a lot to learn; from selecting your share from the crops in the Food Distribution Area, to properly harvesting the Pick Your Own crops, to making the most of our Cooperative Marketing Arrangements. And signing in - the necessity of signing in!
Since we will have a large crowd, we are asking that you park in the top of the field above the greenhouses. From St. Andrew’s Lane, turn left through the hedgerow immediately after passing the church’s playground. Park in the mowed section of the field and then walk down the mowed path along the hedgerow to the front of the barn.

Ben Stoltzfus from Pleasant Pastures Organic Acres in Honey Brook will be delivering his raw dairy products and pastured meats every other Friday. His first delivery of the season will be Friday June 5th. To place an order for Ben’s products, simply use our online ordering system or call him at 717-768-3437 and leave a complete and carefully worded message on his machine.. He requires that orders be placed by Wednesday evening.

A new and unique cooperative marketing arrangement is materializing this year. Kevin Koser, a member at Maysie’s Farm will be offering professional massages to CSA members on Friday afternoons! More information to follow!

We will continue to offer workshops and classes at the farm this season. Stay tuned for the schedule of our “Think Globally, Eat Locally” cooking classes and our Down to Earth Farming Workshops.

See you soon!

Sam and Annmarie

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Willow Creek Orchards - SAITA Greenhouse/High Tunnel tomatoes

We had a large turn-out of about 16 interns, one farmer and one general public for this workshop on greenhouse/high tunnels and tomato production. Willow Creek Orchards is a family farm located in central Montgomery County, Worcester Township, Pennsylvania. Drew and Melissa Smith live and work on the farm with their daughters. They transitioned 138 acres of farmland over a three year period to become a USDA Certified Organic farm in 2004. They use ecologically sound practices, without synthetic chemicals.

On the 138 acres, Drew keeps about 38 in woodlands and grows straw and summer hay for his dad's cows, along with hairy vetch and rye for cover crops. He also grows sorghum-sudan grass and cowpeas for cattle feed. Some fields will be left fallow for 2-3 years to replenish the soil. However, he doesn't use rye as a cover crop for potatoes.

He has 14-15 acres of orchard, including 8 acres of apple trees, 4 acres of Asian pears, 3.5 acres of peaches, a few plums, a 5 acre blueberry field, 1.5 acres of fall raspberries, 1 acre of blackberries, and 3 acres of pumpkins, winter squash and gourds. He uses his two greenhouses and three 24' x48' high tunnel houses for tomatoes, vegetables and also plants 1/4 acre of garlic, along with an acre of lettuce. That's a lot of food.

He offers pick your own flowers and 1/2 acre of sunflowers as well. Like a few of the other farmers we've seen in these workshops, he doesn't do many farmers markets because of the labor and time involved, but he will take his strawberries and asparagus to Phoenixville this year. He has a couple of wholesalers who pick up from the farm. He and Melissa also have a lovely retail market on the premises, offering local meats, dairy, veggies, pastries, homemade pies and desserts and wonderfully aromatic soaps. They also market fruits and other products through their 'Pick-your-own' farm offerings.

Drew bought one of his 30' x 96' greenhouses from Griffin Greenhouses and for his High Tunnels he uses a roll-up side with the smooth side out so that water runs off it. You can get zipped end walls from FarmTek, and they also offer the full package greenhouse. He also mentioned Nolt's and Rimol's as suppliers.

He uses 128 cell trays for his tomatoes, filled with straight potting mix. He has begun using 'DotPots', which are certified organic biodegradable pots made in France. However, I would advise trying to find something that isn't using peat moss, as these do contain 20% peat and we know the bogs need to be protected, both for carbon sequestration and because disturbing them releases carbon into the atmosphere. Please avoid using peat moss at all if you can help it.

He uses heat mats for starting his tomatoes and suggests germinating them quickly or they may rot in cool weather. When they're quite small, he transplants them into larger pots. When hardening off the tomatoes, he advises withholding watering and lightly running a broom over the plants to stress them. For hardening off, he takes the plants outside in the morning, then they go back into the greenhouse later in the day.

He explained that dramatic changes in temperature can cause tomatoes to be leggy, so if the greenhouse is 90 degrees during the day and then drops to 40 at night, they need to be subjected to an even temperature or hardening off before selling as viable transplants. He plants all determinate varieties for his high tunnel tomatoes, on black pastic and woven fabric. 

Drew advises pruning all suckers on the tomato plants except the top ones.  Remember to wash your hands after picking off diseased suckers or leaves before going to the next plant. He also cuts off all the leaves beneath the 'cluster' which will give the plant more air flow, especially necessary in a greenhouse. He plants up to the top leaves, covering any hairy stem with soil. Each one of those hairs will produce roots.

He uses Saylor's plastic water cloches or hot caps over his transplants in the high tunnel houses and fertilizes with a compost tea that runs through his drip irrigation via a fancy looking fertilizer injector with a backflow protector from Rain-Flo. He's planting in black plastic, but also suggests planting onions or lettuces between tomatoes instead.

He advises cutting the tops off the hot caps when the tomatoes are growing out of them. He also rigs up tomato twine with vine clips on the beams of the greenhouse ceiling, that the indeterminate plants can be trained to climb, then lowers the cord as the tomatoes fruit, to increase light inception and for ease of harvesting.

A big issue for greenhouses is mold and disease. Drew sanitizes according to organic regulations with a chlorine solution once or twice a year and cleans all surfaces. He does use test strips to test his dilution and urges doing this to keep your chlorine content low. It might be possible to use vinegar instead, but that needs more research. He also disinfects his larger plastic pots with the same solution.

Drew takes a leaf sample test 3 times during his season; when the plant is flowering, bearing fruit and later in the season. He sends these into Aggra analysis who will email results. Potassium is important for tomatoes and pumpkins, he uses Nutribalance PK. He uses calcium (Aragonite) to prevent blossom end rot. Calcium can't move up through the plant well, so he uses a foliar spray of Calcium 25 or Vigor-Cal/phosphate. His general fertilizer is a 4-2-4 from Fertrell. Aggrand kelp is a liquid fertilizer he uses when the plant flowers. He advises against brewing compost tea, since studies have found spikes in E-coli during this process. He uses a mesh bag for his compost tea, letting it sit in water just a few hours.

Drew rotates greens with tomatoes and prevents late and early blight, along with verticulum and bacterial wilt this way. His choices for tomatoes are indeterminate types such as Fabulous, Favorita, Red Grape and Sungold. Heirlooms that he likes are Brandywine, Brandy Boy, Green Zebra, Striped German. He notes that Valencia may be a better striped variety than Striped German, and doesn't tend to crack. Mortgage Lifter is an old variety that he and I are both trying out this season just for its lucky heritage.

Crop rotation and no-till production are two foundations of Willow Creek and Drew mentioned Steve Groff, the local guru of no-till. You can read about Groff's methods here. 

Another tip Drew offered is from Steve Moore, called the 'Gandhi of Greenhouses'. Moore tested light refraction on the Gothic style versus a Quonset Hut. Results from his $200 solar greenhouse make me want to go out right now and buy a greenhouse package: The Gothic arch design gives better penetration of sunlight and ventilation than the usual half-round Quonset hut style greenhouse. It is oriented east-west instead of the usual north-south so that you get the maximum amount of solar gain with the largest amount of surface facing south, Moore explains. "The arch design is much stronger than Quonset-style greenhouses and also sheds snow and ice more readily."

Read more about Moore's innovative 'Super Greenhouses' here. Drew follows this advice, situating his greenhouses east to west, and plants his cold hardy vegetables along the cooler back walls. He buys bumblebees from Koppert Biological and each greenhouse gets a hive set in a back corner. He'll order these in January for a May 1 delivery when the tomatoes begin flowering. He will also put ladybugs in the greenhouses after removing covers for aphid control. For tomato hornworm or other caterpillars he uses Dipel Df (BT). 

Drew grows some varieties of strawberries in black plastic and discussed their production. He also mentioned another expert in the field, Marvin Pritts at Cornell. Foliar spray will produce bigger strawberries, but not more of them. Research about timing indicates that spring may not be the best time to apply foliar sprays since plants aren't trying to absorb the most nutrients. If you spray in the fall, the plant will pull the nutrients into the roots. 

Drew Smith offered a wealth of information to our group and we appreciated his generosity of time in explaining in detail his processes and greenhouse/high tunnel production.
Be sure to come out to Maysie's Farm on Saturday, May 16th at 6pm when their Potluck supper will kick off the season. Hope to see you then! Schedule for all workshops here.
SAITA Coordinator