Friday, August 2, 2013

Big Red Farmstand, Saturday August 3, 1pm to 6pm

Hello friends,

We're back from our little jaunt to southern Ontario, where we had a lovely, relaxed two-day interlude, and even took a swim in Lake Erie.  Many heartfelt thanks to my brother Will, who looked after the farm in our absence -- we know it wasn't easy!  The part of Canada where we were is very agricultural, and anytime we drove anywhere, we were hanging out the windows looking at farms ("Ooh, look, those people have a brand new timber-framed barn!" "Ooh, look, those people have espalier fruit trees!"  "Ooh, look, those people have a McCormick-Deering #7 horse-drawn sickle-bar mower holding up their mailbox!"  That kind of thing).  The land there is flat and fertile, and though their growing season is somewhat shorter than ours, the roadsides bristle with farm stands selling sweet corn, blueberries, and peaches -- we didn't see any tomatoes, though; not yet.
A show-stopping array of Big Red Farm veggies!
Preparation and photo by Sue Anne Morrow

However, back in New Jersey, the tomatoes are going great guns!  In addition to offering almost twenty varieties of tomatoes for sale at our farm stand, we've been selling some to Sustainable Fare for Lawrenceville School's dining hall, and to Chambers Walk cafe and Wildflour Bakery in the village.  A box of farmstand leftovers even made their way to Ontario last weekend (don't tell Customs, please), where they starred in several meals and, together with some other Big Red Farm veggies, turned heads at a neighborhood potluck supper.  See below for a great way to feature heirloom tomatoes.

An actual Speckled Roman --
you be the judge!
We're also welcoming Roma tomatoes this week.  We're growing two varieties; one is the famed San Marzano, a traditional Italian sauce tomato, and the other one, well, that's a good question.  I thought we were growing Amish Paste, and maybe we still are, but we're picking a lot of Romas that look like a variety called Speckled Roman, which I ordered but didn't receive (the seed company was sold out, I think).  Or maybe I did receive them -- it was all a long time ago and I've had a baby since then!  Either way, they're beautiful and they taste great, so give them a try!  We'll be selling these new Romas by the pound, while the mini-Romas, a tasty variety called Juliet, will continue to be sold by the quart.

Heirloom tomato harvest
Why grow heirloom tomatoes?  They have a short shelf-life, a lower yield, and they're more susceptible to disease.  Especially in organic production, keeping them alive and healthy can be an uphill battle.  However, when plant breeders started tinkering with these old varieties to improve things like yield and disease resistance, many people feel that they achieved these goals at the expense of flavor, giving rise to the tasteless supermarket tomato we're all familiar with.  Don't get me wrong: there are lots of hybrids that taste great.  We're growing some of them at the Big Red Farm.  But the taste of an heirloom tomato on a warm summer evening is truly unequaled.

So, what to do with all these delicious, fresh, short-shelf-life tomatoes?  I suggest this summer panzanella, or bread salad.  It may sound weird, but trust me!  We have been eating some variation of this dish almost daily since the beginning of tomato season, and we're not tired of it yet.  (Summer Panzanella)


Redtail Hawks... they're bigger
than we think
The battle against hawks continues!  We think we have them licked now, but we're knocking on wood all over the place...  So far they've figured out a way around every innovation we've made in our chicken housing arrangements.  As you can see, even when they can't get in, they sit on top of the chicken run and terrorize the hens from there.  We think we're dealing with a whole family of Redtails; in the early spring there were definitely two adults, and now we're pretty sure they've raised two chicks to adolescence on a diet of Big Red Farm chicken...

On the veggie front, I want to acknowledge that we haven't had many eggplants yet this season, and it's already August!  We'll have a few eggplants again this week; as the plants slowly limp back from the spring onslaught of flea beetles, Colorado potato beetle larvae, and weeds, they are trying to set fruit even though they themselves are still quite small.  We want to encourage the plants to devote their energy to growing big and strong rather than to making one giant fruit, so we're harvesting the eggplants even though they're small.  We're hopeful that the plants will be able to put on some growth and set some nice fruit even this late in the season.  I'm especially hopeful myself; eggplant is one of my absolute favorites!


This week, we hope to have the following available on Saturday from 1pm to 6pm:
  • Basil - $2.50 bunch
  • Beets - $2.50 bunch
  • Carrots - $2.50 bunch
  • Chard - $2.50 bunch
  • Cherry Tomatoes - $3.50 pint
  • Eggplant (back, limited quantity) - $3.00 lb
  • Eggs - $5.00 dozen (limit 1 dozen per customer)
  • Flowers - $2.50 bouquet
  • Hot Peppers - 2 for $1.00
  • Lettuce - $2.50 head
  • Okra (limited quantity) - $2.50 pint
  • Colored Peppers - $4.00 lb
  • Green Peppers - $0.75 each
  • New Potatoes - $4.50 quart
  • Roma Tomatoes (new) - $3.00 lb
  • 'Juliet' Tomatoes - $5.00 quart
  • Heirloom Tomatoes - $4.00 lb
  • Scallions - $1.50 bunch
  • Slicing Tomatoes - $3.00 lb
  • Summer Squash/Zucchini - $2.00 lb
  • Tomatillos - $2.50 pint


Going North on 206, turn right at the Community Garden, and follow the gravel road back to the left. You'll see signs for parking. Bring your shopping bags and walk through the woods to the barn (there will be signs for that too).

Hope to see you at the farm!

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