Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Big Red Farmstand, Wednesday November 6, 1pm to 5pm

Hello, friends --

Happy November!  This week finds an even-more-abbreviated selection of fall crops on the farmstand table, though let me assure you, they are all of the very highest quality, and that's what counts, right?  We are already thinking ahead to next year, and how much better the season's going to be, the fall especially!  We will be in touch in the coming weeks with a brief survey.  Among other things, we're interested to know what veggies you'd like to see at the farmstand next year, so you all can mull that over in your minds in the meantime.

Apaar and Jake washing beets.
photo by Sue Anne Morrow
For now, though, I want to tell you that the carrots we harvested on Tuesday are without a doubt the sweetest, crispest carrots I've ever tasted.  The farmers, farm crew, and farm baby all munched (or gnawed, according to dental situation) on carrots all afternoon.  We're also excited because, in addition to being delicious, the carrots and beets this week were cleaned using our unique pedal-powered root-washer!  See below for details.


Carrots about to be washed.
The hose connects to a pipe running
the length of the barrel, with holes
drilled in it for water to spray out.
On two farms where we worked in the past, we used a barrel root-washer powered by a small electric motor to clean root vegetables like carrots, beets, potatoes, turnips, and parsnips. These washers are manufactured by a farmer in upstate New York, who builds them during the winter to supplement his farm income, and they are not cheap. However, the time saved by cleaning root veggies mechanically, as opposed to scrubbing them clean individually, by hand, is considerable, and we went back and forth for awhile about whether or not we ought to invest in a root-washer when we were setting up the Big Red Farm operation.

Beets coming out clean!
Then, one evening as Jake was looking at small farm videos on YouTube (everyone does this, right?  No?  Just us?  OK), he came across a video of a barrel root-washer turned by a stationary exercise bike.  Now we're talking, he thought, and we watched the video fifty or sixty times until Jake said, "OK, we can build that."

Last spring, two students built our bicycle-powered root-vegetable washer as their project for Mr. Kosoff's Sustainability Seminar.  They collaborated with Jake on the design and execution, but did much of the construction themselves, in our wood shop at the farm.  They made several changes from the design we'd seen on YouTube, notably using a mountain bike mounted on a trainer rather than an exercise bike.  We all thought it was pretty cool, but we weren't able to test it before the folks who built it graduated and moved on to other things, so we spent the summer wondering if it would actually work.  Well, we finally got a chance to find out on Tuesday, and, though there are a few minor adjustments to make still, it definitely works!  Below is a video of the farm crew running some carrots through the machine.


Our friend and colleague Lorry Perry served this delicious cake at a party she threw earlier this fall, using Big Red Farm beets.  I know, I know, beets in a cake?  But stay with me here: beets contribute sweetness and moisture to the finished product, as well as complementing dark chocolate beautifully.  And friends, I've tasted this cake, and it doesn't taste any more like beets than carrot cake tastes like carrots.  It has a terrific texture, and if you like chocolate, this is an essential cake for your repertoire.  (Chocolate Beet Cake with Creme Fraiche)

And, just to reassure everyone that we haven't fallen off the kale bandwagon just yet, here is our family's most-frequently-appearing kale salad to add to the list.  (Kale Salad with Cherries and Pecans)


This week, we hope to have the following available on Wednesday, in front of Edith Chapel, from 1pm to 5pm:
  • Beets - $2.50 lb
  • Carrots - $2.50 lb
  • Celery - $2.00 each
  • Garlic - $1.50 each (very limited quantity, last of the season)
  • Kale - $2.50 bunch
  • Romaine Lettuce - $2.50 head
  • Red Leaf Lettuce - $2.00 head


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