Summer paid us a visit last week, bringing some warm temperatures and ground dry enough to cultivate and hoe. Fairly quickly, we were back in irrigation mode. Our sandy soil has a short memory, and once we go 4 days without a soaking rain, we need to add the water ourselves.
The farm is almost at cruising altitude, with just the late-season crops of summer squash, carrots, broccoli, and cabbage to go in. Corn is tasseling, which means ripe ears are only a few weeks away. The garlic is in! We will have fresh garlic for the next three weeks or so as we pull the main crop and hang it to dry for longer-term storage.
In other news, over the winter were accepted to a program called the Real Organic Project (https://www.realorganicproject.org), and this weekend they called to set up a visit to the farm. This group was formed by Vermont farmers in response to the USDA Organic Standards Board allowing hydroponic production to be labeled organic. Fact is, much of the organic tomatoes and berries you see in the grocery store are grown without soil. While I’m not against this production system, it does fly in the face of the main tenant of organic farming – “Feed the soil, not the plant” – if you take the soil out of organic!
The goals of the Real Organic Project are really pretty modest, points like all livestock need access to quality pasture, and crops need to be grown in real soil amended with compost. That these criteria need to be stated shows just how far corporate agriculture has taken control of what started as a grassroots effort by small farms like ours. The CT and NY chapters of the Northeast Organic Farming Association have a similar program called the “The Farmers Pledge” (http://www.ctnofa.org/programs/pledge.php), which we also wholeheartedly support, sign, and follow. While we remain USDA certified organic, we feel these additional programs point to a path that more closely adheres to the original spirit of small scale, family, local, healthy soil-based organic farms.
And we thank you for buying real organic food from local growers! While programs and labels can help you as a consumer to get a better idea of how your food was grown, it’s also up to you as a consumer to directly ask the farmers in your area how they grow. Questions like “Do you grow what you sell?,” “Do you use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers?,” “Are you certified organic or do you sign the NOFA Farmers Pledge?,” and “How do you improve the soil fertility on your farm?” can open a conversation that should make you feel great about the food you are buying.
We hope you enjoy the farm and the harvest,
Paul and Rebecca, for Lauren and the Fort Hill Farm Crew
PLEASE NOTE: the Farmstand is closed this Thursday, July 4!
Featured this week:
Fresh garlic: just when a farmer thinks July can’t get any busier, her half acre of garlic all needs to be pulled and hung to cure within a one week window. We’ll begin this task in earnest next week, but in the meantime, we’ll have the first fresh garlic stalks pulled and available. Store on the counter for several weeks. Our garlic is a German White (porcelain) variety with big fat, easy peeling cloves and wonderful flavor roasted or chopped into oil for your favorite recipe.
Red Beets with tops: we like highlighting an underrated vegetable that has an awesome source of age-halting antioxidants (that’s what all that purple color is!). Bunched beets with their greens are all good to eat, making them “two for the price of one.” You can chop the whole thing up and steam it (see pasta and goat cheese recipe at forthillfarm.com/recipes for a farm classic), grate the roots raw on salad, roast them in the oven,or see recipe below. Will store for a week in a loose bag in the fridge. Topped beets will store in the crisper for at least a month.
salad mix, arugula, spinach, pea shoots, microgreens, head lettuce, curly green and lacinato kale, rainbow chard, fresh herbs, fennel, scallions, salad turnips, baby bok choy, French Breakfast and red radishes, kohlrabi, Chinese Cabbage, garlic scapes, summer squash, carrots and rainbow carrots, zucchini, zephyr, and yellow summer squash, frozen baby ginger, and the first cherry and slicing tomatoes as they come in!
Cucumbers and Purplette fresh onions!
Pick Your Own:
Strawberries: are done, thanks for all the sweetness!
Fresh herbs: parsley, cilantro, thyme, sage, oregano, marjoram, chives, dill
*** Just like last year, CSA members may take a small (mixed or not) PYO herb bunch for free, one bunch per share per week! Please see sample sizes in the barn.
PYO begins 30 before and goes 30 minutes beyond barn hours.
Recipes, suggested by Rebecca Batchie. For more recipes, check out the Fort Hill Farm Recipe Database
Rustic Beet Tart and Wilted Greens
Adapted from Food 52
3 (2 to 3 inch diameter) beets, any color, with the greens
2 T olive oil or butter
1 medium onion, julienned
1/2 package of frozen puff pastry, or equivalent of homemade
1/4 to 1/2 cups whole milk or cream
3 to 5 ounces soft chevre style goat cheese, room temperature
Salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste
Remove the greens from the beets, wash, and set aside.
Scrub the beets. Most recipes have you roast and then peel your beets, but I peel mine first and then roast them. It’s easier to handle them when they aren’t slippery, and I lose less of their delicious flesh. But use your preferred method.
Place each beet on a small square of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap in the foil. Bake at 400 degrees anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your beets. They’re done when they are knife tender and can be pierced with the tip of a paring knife with ease.
Add the oil or butter to a pan on medium heat and add the onions and a pinch of salt. Stir for 10-12 minutes, until onions are soft, browned and caramelized, lowering the heat as needed to keep them from browning too much.
Once the beets are knife tender, remove them from the oven and set aside to cool.
While the beets cool, roll the puff pastry out until you have a rough 10-inch square. Transfer the square to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Roll in the edges of the pastry about an inch on all 4 sides so that you have a delicious pastry wall. Use a little water to seal the edges. You want to make sure that the custard doesn’t leak out when poured into the “shell”.
Combine the egg and the goat cheese with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Slowly add the milk or cream, stirring until you have a thick but pourable consistency. It should be no thinner than pancake batter.
Slice the beets into rounds. You should get 5 or 6 rounds from each beet.
Pour the custard into the pastry shell, then lay the beets on top, being careful not to overflow the pastry shell. Place the caramelized onions on top in small clumps.
Bake at 400 until the pastry is golden, the custard is set, and the top is just a little brown.
About 5 minutes before you pull the tart out of the oven, heat a small amount of oil in a large sauté pan. Roughly chop the beet greens and sauté them until wilted, adding salt and pepper to taste. (We liked these served on top of the tart, but you can also serve them as a simple side dish.) Serves 4.
Garlic Scape Compound Butter
By Julia DiMakos
Here’s an alternative to pesto for preserving that amazingly fresh garlic scape flavor beyond the summer. Slather on bread, melt on radishes or potatoes, or place under poultry skin before roasting (just for starters) …
4-heaping tbsps butter, softened at room temperature
2-tbsps garlic scapes, minced
1/2 tsp salt
Combine butter with the minced garlic scapes, in a bowl. Mix thoroughly, then add salt. Mix a second time ensuring the scapes are evenly blended with the butter. (You can use a stand mixer to mix the ingredients, if you prefer.)
Fold the entire mixture onto a sheet of clear plastic wrap.
Fold the plastic wrap over the butter (short ends in first) and begin to form the butter into a cylindrical roll with your hands.
After the butter is completely folded in the plastic, roll the mold to form your cylinder.
Wrap your compound butter roll in aluminum foil and store in the freezer. The foil will prevent the garlic aroma from leaking into the freezer and surrounding food. It will also keep your butter fresh.