Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Big Red Farmstand, WEDNESDAY ONLY, October 2, 1pm to 5pm

Hello friends,
Where to put the baby
while washing carrots?

Happy October!  For those of you who, like me, can't believe that it's already October, I'm happy to say that summer favorites squash, eggplants and peppers are still available.  For those of you who, like me, are excited that it's October because fall veggies are so wonderful, I'm delighted to announce the return of carrots, beets and potatoes!  Something for everyone.

A reminder that there will be no Big Red Farmstand on Saturdays from now on.  A few of the things we're going to be spending that time on:

  • Assembling a second hoop house for chicken housing, seed starting, and cold-weather production.
  • Building a shed where the sheep can shelter on windy, rainy or sleety days this winter.
  • Continuing the process of fixing up and fine-tuning our 1953 Farmall Cub cultivating tractor.
  • Plowing, disking and planting cover crops in our fallow vegetable fields.
  • Seeding the last few fall and winter veggies -- spinach, lettuce, arugula, carrots, scallions
  • Weed control in our fall crops.
So, we'll stay busy.  Hope to see you all under the oak tree on Wednesday afternoons until Thanksgiving.

Farm baby digs potatoes
On Tuesday, farmers and student farm crew pitched in to harvest the remainder of our, let's face it, pretty disappointing potato crop.  Potatoes don't love wet, poorly-drained soil, which is exactly what we had, and they don't respond well to intense weed pressure, either.  Our disappointment, though, is all with the quantity, and not the quality; these spuds have been mouth-wateringly delicious since the first new potatoes we harvested in the summer.

Potatoes plants are also susceptible to their own raft of fungal diseases, including late blight, which is the thing that finally finished off our tomato crop.  Late blight was also responsible for the Irish potato famine in the mid-19th century.  In that situation, a large portion of Ireland's population was dependent on potatoes, and in particular one variety of potatoes which was grown on almost every farm, for the bulk of their nutrition.  Thus, when blight appeared, the potato monoculture succumbed in its entirety, leading to the deaths of about a million people, and the immigration of a million more.

Aside from being a tragedy of epic proportions, Ireland's Great Famine is a striking object lesson in the importance of crop diversity.  In other parts of the world where potatoes are an important crop, notably South America, care is taken to grow a wide range of varieties.  In the Andes of Peru, farmers cultivate hundreds of different kinds of potatoes, each adapted to a specific niche, in order to insure adequate nutrition for their communities regardless of weather, disease pressures, and other circumstances.  A bad year for this variety means a good year for that one, and hopefully everyone still has enough to eat.

Kathy found a vole!
On the Big Red Farm, we tried to practice potato diversity on a smaller scale, only growing eight varieties.  Though they all had a rough season, due to weather and our imperfect weed management (and the odd rodent gnawing on them...), we certainly found that some did better than others.  We will definitely be growing Kennebec again!


The heart of eating locally, I think, is taking good, fresh ingredients and preparing them simply and well.  If you start with a vegetable that hasn't traveled thousands of miles to get to you, it will have flavor and substance and won't need lots of fussy dressing-up to be palatable.  This is never more true than with potatoes.  It can be hard to reconcile the dirt-caked tubers we dug out of the field with the ubiquitous fast-food french fry (America's most popular "vegetable"), though they are, at least nominally, the same thing.  I would argue, however, that if you took the potato that made the french fry and put it up against one of ours, it wouldn't taste like the same thing at all.
Pretty potatoes

Here is a simple, relatively quick, and very tasty way to do fried potatoes, which we adapted from the potatoes Jake ate on summer picnics in his youth.  You can use any kind of potatoes, and peeling is not required.  The texture of the finished product is outstanding, and this is definitely a dinner-time side dish; let me be clear that the Big Red Farm in no way endorses drinking beer at breakfast time!  (Fried Potatoes, Iron City Style)

Gary with some Big Red Farm produce

Lawrenceville's own Gary Giberson, of Sustainable Fare, was featured in a story in the Princeton Packet Magazine last week, and he very graciously talked about the farm!  The Packet folks didn't get all the facts quite right, but it's still a nice article.  They even came out and did a photo shoot for the article at the farm, though those pictures don't show up in the online version.  You can read the whole thing at  Thanks to Gary and Sustainable Fare for their ongoing support of the farm!  (Colored peppers on the salad bar, anyone?)


This week, we hope to have the following available ON WEDNESDAY ONLY in front of Edith Chapel, from 1pm to 5pm:

  • Baby Lettuce Mix - $2.50 bag
  • Beets - $2.50 bunch
  • Carrots - $2.00 bunch
  • Chard - $2.50 bunch
  • Sweet Corn from Village Farms - $0.50 ear
  • Eggplant - $3.00 lb
  • Flowers - $2.50 bouquet
  • Garlic - $1.50 bulb (limited quantity)
  • Okra - $2.50 pint (limited quantity)
  • Assorted Onions - $2.50 lb
  • Colored Peppers - $4.00 lb
  • Hot Peppers - 2 for $1.00
  • Potatoes - $4.50 quart
  • Summer Squash - $2.00 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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