This week’s newsletter comes to you from 5th season Fort Hill Farm veteran, Lauren Henderson. Lauren is doing a great job as the field manager, running the day-to-day tasks and making sure we actually get everything done. Her enthusiasm for organic vegetables shows in her writing:
August is one of my favorite times on the farm, when we hit peak season for some of the most beloved crops including melons, tomatoes, and corn. This year though I am particularly excited about our crop eggplant!
After a very challenging 2018 we are experiencing an eggplant explosion the likes of which we haven’t seen in quite a few years. We are also trialing some new and strange looking options including 2 incredibly delicious varieties of graffiti eggplant on offer at the farm, so I hope you give them a taste. I appreciate the eggplant’s sturdy stature and ability to support itself unassisted despite such fantastic and alluring fruit. Furthermore, the eggplant’s versatility is just about unequalled – amazing sautéed in a stir fry, layered in a vegan eggplant parm, or simply roasted on a grill or in the oven. It can be easy to forget that the vegetable crops that we enjoy today have been developed by many generations of farmers. The eggplant is native to Southeast Asia and has been cultivated as a crop for at least 1500 years! It is still considered the “King of Vegetables” in India. The crop was adopted quickly throughout Asia and made it to Europe by medieval times where it was initially met with some skepticism but gradually won folks over.
Despite being one of the tastiest months of the year (our new yellow variety of watermelon is a gustatory winner!), August is a bittersweet time on the farm as we say goodbye to the summer crew members. A big thanks to everyone who has worked so hard weeding, harvesting, planting and packing the bounty of produce. This year’s team has been a delight to work with – some folks returning and some new – but all having great attitudes, interest, and enthusiasm for their work on the farm. I want to take this opportunity to specifically acknowledge our summer crew who are heading out.
Adam just finished his 5th summer season on the farm and over his time at Fort Hill has grown into one of the most versatile crew members, doing everything from tractor work to running markets. Hannah was indispensable this summer with a seasoned presence keeping the wash station humming, leading the Chappaqua market crew and continuing to be a genuinely thoughtful and amazing person. Justin has been a staple of the summer crew for several years now and is cherished for his steady demeanor and savant level corn picking skills. Carly will be bringing her inquisitive nature and attention to detail to her Particle Physics PhD program in Chicago – we are all a little more informed about the universe thanks to her. Olivia returned this summer and picked up where she left off with a positive, mindful approach to her work, deep appreciation for aesthetics and excellent cherry tomato picking skills. Maggie will be heading off to her first year of college. We have truly enjoyed her fun loving personality which always made the hard days easier. Last but not least Kim who came to the farm not knowing how to use a hoe but has quickly learned and excelled and was a wonderful addition to the team.
We can’t thank you all enough for your tremendous contributions to the farm and community.
Thanks also to all the apprentices, market staff and field crew who are continuing with us through the fall.
Thanks to Paul and Rebecca for making the farm what it is, for their patience and dedication to teaching, organizing and making everything possible.
Finally, thanks to all the folks that come out to the farm stand and to markets. Your commitment to eating local, organic vegetables and your support matters. It is through our actions that we transform the world.
Lauren, for Paul, Rebecca and the Fort Hill Farm crew
Featured this week:
Red and Yellow Watermelon: What a good melon year it has turned out to be! The fruit is sweet, juicy, and firm – not much more a farmer could ask for from a melon, really. Our new yellow variety is a winner, rivaling the red for our fridge space. Stores in the fridge for more than a week. We carefully check all melons at harvest, but sometimes a bad one gets past us. Please let us know, and we’ll try to replace it if your melon turns out to be a dud.
Eggplant: what a difference a year makes. Last year we would walk down the entire eggplant patch and get half a barrel. This year, we can fill the same barrel in 30 feet of a row! I’m not quite sure what the difference is, but Mady has been diligently watering them three times a week. The harvest is going strong,and the many baby eggplants on the plants means it should continue for quite a while. We have three main types of eggplant: the classic, dark purple type you see in grocery stores; a beautiful round, white with lavender blush Italian heirloom called Rosa Bianca (our favorite, for its tender flesh); and a thin, magenta Asian variety that is perfectly designed for stir fries or grilling. All are great grilled (marinate for 10 minutes with tamari, olive oil, chopped garlic). See recipe below or www.forthillfarm.com for more recipe ideas.
salad mix, pea shoots, head lettuce, curly green and lacinato kale, rainbow chard, fresh herbs, Tendersweet cabbage, red cabbage, garlic, carrots and rainbow carrots, red and chioggia beets, Classic Italian and Rosa Bianca eggplant, mixed Asian and Graffiti eggplant, Red Gold potatoes, leeks, Ailsa Craig and Red Torpedo fresh onions, jalapeño, cayenne, Serrano, shishito, and poblano hot peppers, green bell peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, zephyr summer squash, fresh and frozen baby ginger, cantaloupe, sungold, red, and specialty cherry tomatoes, and heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes
Sweet peppers, Dark Red Norland and Satina Gold potatoes
Pick Your Own:
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes are OPEN while they continue to flourish! Everyone’s favorite.
Sunflowers: get them while they last
Flowers 🌸 … the late patch is going strong. ON SALE THIS WEEK!
Fresh herbs: parsley, thyme, sage, oregano, marjoram, chives. We’ve had a number of failed cilantro and dill plantings are waiting for the next to come in.
*** 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
Watermelon-Ginger Agua Fresca
By Molly Stevens via Bon Appetit
Drink this all-purpose refresher straight, top with sparkling water, or spike with vodka, gin, or tequila.
10 cups 1-inch pieces peeled watermelon (from about 8-pound watermelon), seeded, divided 3 cups cold water, divided
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup (or more) sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger juice* (from one 3-ounce piece of ginger) Ice cubes
*To make ginger juice, peel a 3-ounce piece of ginger ( or use fresh baby ginger without peeling) and grate it over a plate. Wrap in cheesecloth; twist at both ends to squeeze out the juice. Or put the grated ginger in a fine mesh sieve and press to release the juices. In a pinch, bottled ginger juice is available at natural foods stores.
Place 2 1/2 cups watermelon and 3/4 cup cold water in blender. Puree until smooth. Pour agua fresca into large pitcher. Repeat 3 more times with remaining watermelon and cold water. Add lime juice, 1/4 cup sugar, and ginger juice to pitcher and stir to blend. Add more sugar by tablespoonfuls, if desired. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 8 hours ahead. Keep chilled. Stir before serving. Yields about 8 cups.
Melitzanosalata (Greek Eggplant Dip)
From Eating European
Melitzanosalata is a Greek Eggplant Dip that is made from roasted or charred eggplants, garlic, onions, olive oil, lemon juice, and parsley. It has a chunky consistency and is usually served as a mezze (appetizer) with pita or crusted bread. You can top it off with some Kalamata olives for extra flavor.
2 Eggplants Large
1/4 Sweet Onion, Medium
2 cloves Garlic
1/2 cup Olive Oil Extra Virgin
2 tbsp Lemon Juice Freshly squeezed
1 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
1 tbsp Parsley Freshly chopped
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Spanish Smoked Paprika (hot or sweet) optional
Preheat your oven to 400F;
Puncture the eggplants with the fork all over. Place eggplants on baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray or brushed with olive oil;
Roast eggplants for approximately 60 minutes, rotating every 15 minutes;
In the meantime, place garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, a pinch of salt & pepper in a food processor and process until smooth;
Once the eggplants are roasted, take them out of the oven and let cool off;
Once the eggplants are cool enough to handle, remove skin and place flush in a colander. Let it sit there for 15 minutes. Move to the cutting board and roughly chop;
Place eggplant in a bowl, and shred onion directly into the bowl;
Add chopped parsley;
Add garlic, olive oil, lemon, vinegar mixture and mix gently to combine;
Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly;
If desired, add sweet or hot Spanish smoked Paprika;
Chill for an hour before serving;
Serve as an appetizer or mezze with olives, crusty bread or pita bread.