Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Big Red Farm Stand, Wednesday September 24, 1-5pm

Kennedy House football team with tomatoes for TASK
Hello friends,

Thanks to everyone who came out to our potluck on Saturday -- it was a lovely evening with great food, perfect weather, and lots of kids climbing on tractors, so a success by any measure!  (By the way, if anyone has photos of this potluck or the earlier ones that they'd be willing to share, we'd love to have some... we have so far managed to be too distracted to take any pictures at these events! Many thanks.)

We also had visits this week from a couple of volunteer groups, who picked tomatoes to be donated to the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen -- the Kennedy House football team, and the Lawrenceville Sustainable Agriculture and Food Club.  Thanks to all for your hard work!

In other news, the Big Red Farm, along with the gardens at Princeton Friends School and Princeton Community Park School will be featured this Sunday, September 28th, in the OASIS School Garden Tour (OASIS = Organizing Action on Sustainability in Schools), sponsored by the New Jersey Farm to School Network.  Jake went on this excellent tour of school gardens in the area last year and came back inspired.  The NJ Farm to School folks do great work, and we're excited to be a part of this year's event!  The tour is free and open to all, but you have to reserve a spot.  Find tour information here.

Finally, we have new goodies at the farm stand this week! The first of the butternut squash, broccoli and yellow watermelons will be joining us.  Cherry tomatoes are slowing down, but guess what?  We're going to have a little basil!

Spuds in a dry furrow

See how I waited until the second section to talk about the weather?  Well, the thing about the weather is it's dry.  Dry, dry, dry.  We haven't had any rain to speak of in weeks, and the soil in the fields is dusty, powdery dry.  Maggie the dog raises a small dust cloud when she trots across the field, and the farm crew has been harvesting potatoes out of what feels like a sandbox.  If you know any good rain dances, this is the time to do them.

Farming is, of course, weather dependent (though I'm sure there are people in labs working on that), and the fact is that weather is always uncertain and conditions are almost never perfect.  The plus side of all this is that we get to see how our farm behaves under all sorts of conditions.  This is crucial for us as we get to know a new piece of land; we've only been observing this land for three years, so we're always learning new things.  Last season, for example, we got to see how it handled over two feet of rain (answer: not terribly well).
Healthy, happy Brassicas
(from left to right: broccoli,
cabbage, Brussels sprouts)

This season has been pretty dry overall, and very dry in August and September.  Dry conditions are something we have been concerned about since the first lettuce seedling went into the ground at the Big Red Farm, as our vegetable fields have no irrigation.  We made the decision early on to space our plants farther apart, as a hedge against dry conditions.  When beds are planted at a lower density, each individual plant has more room to stretch out its roots looking for moisture.

In 2014 we are finally seeing the payoff of that decision.  Almost without exception, our crops look healthy, green and sturdy, in spite of having had no real rain in several weeks.  They are taking a little longer to mature and ripen fruit than they would in wetter conditions, but we feel that's a small price to pay, given the time, expense and labor that setting up irrigation systems would involve.  (Late-breaking news: As if on cue, the forecast now calls for rain on Wednesday night and Thursday!  Good rain-dancing, everyone!)


Anyone who attended the Harvest Dinner and Pig Roast at village restaurant Acacia a couple weeks ago got a chance to taste Chef Chris Voigtsberger's delicious eggplant Caponata, made with our own eggplants; and now you can make it at home!  Chris has kindly shared his recipe with us, and right now, before summery eggplants and tomatoes are gone, is the time to make it.  {Caponata from Chris}


This week we hope to have the following available from 1pm to 5pm in front of Pop Hall:
  • Basil (limited quantity) - $1.50 bunch
  • Beets - $3.00 lb
  • Broccoli - $2.50 lb
  • Carrots - $2.50 bunch
  • Eggplant - $3.00 lb
  • Flowers - $5.00 bouquet
  • Garlic - $1.00 bulb
  • Red Russian Kale - $2.50 bunch
  • Green or Red Lettuce - $2.50 head
  • Mint - $1.50 bunch
  • Okra (limited quantity) - $2.50 pt
  • Onions - $2.00 lb
  • Sweet Peppers - $3.00 lb
  • Assorted Hot Peppers - 2/$1.00
  • Potatoes - $3.50 qt
  • Rainbow Chard - $2.50 bunch
  • Cherry Tomatoes (limited quantity) - $3.50 pt
  • Heirloom Tomatoes - $3.50 lb
  • 'Juliet' Mini-Plum Tomatoes - $4.00 qt
  • Roma Tomatoes - $2.50 lb
  • Slicing Tomatoes - $2.50 lb
  • Sweet Potatoes (limited quantity) - $4.00 qt
  • Watermelons - $2.75 each
  • Winter Squash (Acorn, Butternut, Delicata) -- $1.50 lb


The farm stand is located right in front of Pop Hall, at the top of the stairs that lead down into the Bowl. Enter campus by the main gate on Route 206 (opposite the Lawrenceville Post Office and Craven Lane) and bear right into the circle. Bear right again at the fork in the road and continue straight until you see the Farm Stand signs.

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