Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Time Change: Big Red Farmstand, Wed. Sept. 4 & Sat. Sept. 7, 1pm to 5pm

Hello friends,

First things first: we're changing the farmstand hours of operation.  From now on, we'll be closing at 5pm rather than 6pm.  We've noticed that not too many people shop for veggies after five o'clock, but a few do, and we apologize to you folks for the inconvenience!

Our tomato plants are starting to admit defeat, under the onslaught of wet weather and fungal diseases.  Cooler nights as we move into September also mean that the fruit ripens more slowly.  Some varieties are doing better than others (our cherry tomatoes are actually making a minor comeback), and we'll still have tomatoes at the farmstand, hopefully for a few more weeks, but we are discontinuing our bulk tomato offer.  Thanks to everyone who took those boxes and bags of Romas off our hands -- I hope you'll all enjoy soup and sauce this winter!

Washing fingerling potatoes
Peppers, however, are a different story.  We're at the peak of pepper season, and what a treat it is.  We're growing as many colors and shapes as we could find in the seed catalogue.  Peppers of all types are beautiful to look at, and versatile in the kitchen.  See below for some recipe ideas.

This week we'll have fingerling potatoes, as well.  These small, tasty tubers, like new potatoes, are freshly dug and need no peeling.  We're growing a couple of varieties of fingerlings; this week we're harvesting Russian Banana.  Perhaps not surprisingly, Banana is a slender, yellow-fleshed potato.  Also, we're delighted to once again be offering baby lettuce mix, which has so far escaped the groundhogs' attention, and which we have been missing since spring!
Lettuce mix

Finally, next time you're in the Admissions rotunda in Mackenzie, check out the Big Red Farm sunflowers!  Thanks to Pat MacKinnon and the Admissions department for their support of the farm.


E.B. White, one of our very favorite authors on farming (and in general), wrote that "farming is about twenty per cent agriculture and eighty per cent mending something that has got busted.  Farming is a sort of glorified repair job... A good farmer is nothing more nor less than a handy man with a sense of humus."  This really, really resonates with us, and with most of the farmers we know

This week, the thing that has got busted is the front suspension on one side of our trusty farm truck.  After threatening for several months, it has finally given way, and the truck is holed up in the barn waiting for parts, listing gently to the left.  In the meantime, how to get the produce from the farm to campus on Wednesday afternoon?

...and after! Hardly looks like the same wagon.

We have a solution!  Way back last year, when we were first tidying up the place and adapting it to our purposes, Jake dragged an old, half-rotted farm wagon, full of trash, out of the undergrowth.  Members of our Spring 2013 farm crew dismantled it and cleaned the hardware, our summer helper Laura re-cleaned and painted the axle and tongue, and on Tuesday morning, Jake put the finishing touches on the renovated wagon -- it's bigger and better than ever before!  Like much of the other carpentry and construction around the Big Red Farm, our new wagon sits firmly in the style of Agricultural Functionalism.  We will use it, towed behind a tractor, to harvest in the field, and also to transport produce to cold storage in Irwin and to the Chapel oak tree for the farmstand.

That said, we can't wait till our truck is back on the road!


Otherwise perfect peppers
suffering from sun scald

As we've discussed before, colored peppers (red, orange and yellow) are the ripe version of green peppers, and there's a lot that can go wrong between the green stage and the ripe stage.  We try to avoid handling the plants when they're wet, so as not to spread fungal diseases from one to another on our hands or tools, but there are other factors that we can't control.  Insects can make their homes inside the peppers, or birds and rodents can come along and sample them as they ripen.  Direct exposure to sunlight is also bad news; fruit that is unprotected by leaves can suffer from "sun-scald," where the flesh of the pepper is weakened and discolored, allowing rot and fungus to take hold.  
A veritable rainbow of  peppers

However, a good deal of fruit does in fact make it to the fully ripe stage, and that's when the fun begins!  Peppers are, of course, an always-welcome addition to raw vegetable platters, soups, fajitas, you name it.  Looking for more uses for our beautiful peppers, I went back to Nigel Slater, whose cookbook Tender brought us this simple recipe for baked peppers.  As it happens, he loves to stuff and bake peppers with a variety of creative fillings for an array of occasions, so this week we're featuring several more of his delicious ideas.  (More Fillings for Baked Peppers)

Roasted peppers are yet another one of those expensive things that you can easily make at home.  They freeze well for later use, and also make delicious summery soup.  Serve it hot or cold, depending on the weather!  (Roasted Pepper Soup)


This week, we hope to have the following available in front of Edith Chapel on Wednesday and Saturday from 1pm to 6pm:
  • Baby Lettuce Mix - $2.50 bag
  • Beets - $2.00 lb
  • Chard - $2.50 bunch
  • Sweet Corn from Village Farms - $0.50 ear
  • Eggplant - $3.00 lb
  • Eggs - $5.00 dozen (limit 1 dozen per customer)
  • Endive - $2.50 each
  • Fennel - $1.50 each
  • Flowers - $2.50 bouquet
  • Okra - $2.50 pint
  • Red Tropea Onions - $3.00 lb
  • Colored Peppers - $4.00 lb
  • Green Peppers - $0.75 each
  • Hot Peppers - 2 for $1.00
  • Fingerling Potatoes (new!) - $4.50 quart
  • Summer Squash - $2.00 lb
  • Sunflowers - $0.50 stem
  • Tomatillos - $2.00 pint
  • Cherry Tomatoes - $3.50 pint
  • Heirloom Tomatoes - $4.00 lb
  • 'Juliet' (mini-plum) Tomatoes (limited quantity) - $5.00 quart
  • Roma (plum) Tomatoes - $3.00 lb
  • Slicing Tomatoes - $3.00 lb


The Big Red Farmstand will be on the Lawrenceville Campus for the fall.  Right now we're located in front of Edith Chapel.  Enter campus by the main gate on Route 206 (opposite the Lawrenceville Post Office and Craven Lane), and bear right into the circle.  The Chapel is about halfway around the circle, and you'll see our sign.  Don't forget your shopping bags!

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