Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Big Red Farmstand, Wednesday November 13, 1pm to 5pm

Sheep stay toasty warm, get their backs scratched,
and snack on delicious beet tops
Hello, friends --

It seems to me that we just started with fall, and now winter is coming!  In recognition of the cold weather, we'll be giving ourselves a treat and setting up the farmstand in the front foyer of the chapel this week, rather than outside under the oak tree.

Tuesday morning brought snow flurries, and Tuesday afternoon brought our first really cold day harvesting for the farmstand.  Fortunately, we had some extra help from a couple of football players who, their season over, came along to give our regular farm crew a hand (thanks, Phil and Gareth!).  We also took our harvested greens over to Irwin dining hall to wash, which made all the difference.  The coldest job on the farm is washing produce in the late fall; after submerging our hands in cold water on a cold day for a couple of hours, it's hard to remember why we ever thought this farming caper was a good idea.  Now, an indoor washing area with warm water, and being able to feel our hands in November?  That's luxury!  Many thanks to our friends at Sustainable Fare for opening their kitchen to us as we approach the end of our season.

Yes, that's right -- only two more farmstands this year!  Our last regular farmstand will be next Wednesday, November 20th.  The following week, the week of Thanksgiving, we will have veggies available on a by-order-only basis.  See below for details.

One further piece of housekeeping: Later this week, you'll be receiving a short online survey asking various questions about your experience as a Big Red Farm customer (or not) during the 2013 season.  We'd really love to hear from you, even if you didn't make it to the stand this year (Were we open on an inconvenient day or at an inconvenient time?  Prices too high?  Nothing you liked?  Baby insufficiently cute?  Let us know).  We hope you'll take a couple of minutes to complete the survey; we'll be using your feedback to plan for next season, so please tell us what you think!


The Big Red Farmstand will not be open for regular hours on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, but never fear!  If you're going to be in town and would like some fresh local veggies for your Thanksgiving table, you can pre-order from the farm.  We'll pack your order, and you can pick it up on Wednesday morning, November 27th.  Watch for our order form, which we'll send out next week once we have a better idea of what will be available.  Thanksgiving pre-orders must be placed by 9pm on Monday, November 25th.


Lining up and pounding in
the ground stakes
As the work of cultivation, weeding and harvesting slows down, we're able to get back to some important infrastructure projects that were on hold during the summer and fall.  We have started the assembly of our second hoophouse, or unheated greenhouse, which will (we hope) provide housing for our laying hens during the winter.  The hoophouse, which will be covered in plastic, will provide more protection from wind and cold temperatures than their summertime run.  Once they're in the hoophouse, the hens will still have access to an outdoor run, which will be covered in bird netting to keep hawks at bay.

Hoops up!
Incidentally, access to the outdoors, along with cage-free indoor housing, is required for eggs to be sold as "free range."  This designation is one of many, some murkier than others, that you'll see on egg cartons.  "Cage free" means the hens aren't confined in the now-notorious battery cages, but probably don't have access to the outdoors.  "Free range" hens do have outdoor space, in theory, but that access can be as little as one tiny door to a tiny outdoor run, off of a building that houses thousands of chickens.  "Pastured" eggs are laid by hens who spend most or all of their time outdoors, often living in mobile shelters and ranging freely over large areas of pasture.  We had hoped that our hens would be pastured, but with the pressure we've experienced from hawks, we've had to settle for free range.

Brandon with the chickens
in their summer quarters
In my opinion, it's ideal to have the option of a personal relationship with your farmers, and a firsthand knowledge of the methods we use to grow or produce the food we are selling to you.  Most of you have been to the farm, and have seen for yourselves that our hens' access to their outdoor run is anything but theoretical!  And if our young hens ever start laying (we're checking the nest boxes every day!), you can rest assured that the eggs you're getting truly come from "free range" hens.


I know I already did this, earlier in the season, but here I go again, with apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson: in the late fall, a young man's fancy (or anyone's fancy, really) lightly turns to thoughts of soup.  Hot soup, with lots of chunky ingredients, simmering on the stove, then served in a big bowl with a big spoon and some good bread alongside.  Nothing could be better, especially if you've been outside for awhile, doing something strenuous!  (Lentil Soup with Sausage, Kale and Garlic)


This week, we hope to have the following available on Wednesday, in the foyer of Edith Chapel, from 1pm to 5pm:
  • Beets - $2.50 lb
  • Carrots - $2.50 lb
  • Celery - $2.00 each
  • Kale - $2.50 bunch
  • Lettuce - $2.50 head


The Big Red Farmstand will be located on the Lawrenceville School campus for the fall, at 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!

No comments:

Post a Comment