This past December has been unusually warm. This makes all of the tasks on the farm much easier. No frozen water lines for our hens and our kale has flourished through December. I had the opportunity to attend the “Slow Tools Summit” at the Stone Barns Center again this year. It was fascinating hearing Eliot Coleman, JM Fortier, and other well respected farmers sharing ideas about farm tools and infrastructure. An open space to share ideas really provides a platform for innovation. I was also invited to attend the “Organic Vegetable Breeding Meeting” put on by Cornell University. In the room were vegetable breeders throughout the region. Listening and being a part of the discussion was eye opening. The traits and values that vegetable breeders care about overlap with what farmers need. The seed breeders are dealing with farmers, and the farmers are dealing with consumers. I left the meeting feeling like I had a role to play in connecting all of the dots from breeder to consumer. I enjoy the dynamics of systems and the challenges of making connections so that we all work together symbiotically. There are still a lot of moving parts of our food system that need attention. In between these visits I kept up with the winter’s pace of the farm: collecting and washing eggs, delivering stored root vegetables to Agricola, and of course harvesting Kale. Hope everyone has a Happy New Year!
November is a great time to reflect on the season. The work slows down, but there is still an urgency to tie up loose ends. We still need to harvest the rest of our fall crops, move the chickens closer to our infrastructure for winter, shut off water and blow out lines, close up and fix our high tunnels, and some last mowing and clean up in the field. We have accomplished so much this year. Our cookbook was released in the Spring and we have some special dinners that will accompany the book. We preserved many, many pounds of produce. We hosted over 4 large farm tours, taught over 1000 elementary kids about radishes, and hosted an Outstanding in the Field dinner. 8 lamb, 5 hogs, and 2 steer were raised and butchered and became a special on Agricola’a menu. We also harvested tons of vegetables for Agricola, our CSA, and for the West Windsor Community Farmers Market. I write this post so I can look back next year and be reminded what we accomplished. Ideas for next year are already in progress and I look forward to another season.
This summer was fantastic. Every tomato we pulled off the vine, cracked and blemished to beautiful perfection, ended up on someone’s plate or got jarred up for future use. Agricola canned 4,000# of tomatoes this season which really made all the effort into growing these love apples more then worth it. Over 800# of hot peppers have been smoked and fermented to turn into hot sauce or pickled and preserved. Jalapeño pickles anyone? Napa cabbage was made into kimchi and the overabundance of zucchini and cucumbers were made into fermented pickles. Espelette peppers have been dried and are ready to be ground into chili flakes. Having an outlet for our produce and adding value has really helped our bottom line and gets my wheels turning on what we can grow for next year that can be turned into a delicious preserve. We also grow storage crops to extend our season. Black Spanish radishes are spicy and delicious during the winter when you need an extra kick to your meal. Watermelon radishes are beautiful sliced thinly in a salad. Purple Top turnips keep very well in our cooler and can be roasted, whipped, or pureed. Carrots, cabbages, daikon radishes, and winter squash will keep our season going through the winter.