Farm News, August 25, 2020

The Farmstand is open today from 2 – 6:30 PM (PYO Hours: 1:30 – 7)

This Week’s Farm News:

The farm news is going to take a slight turn this week.  It normally would have been me whining about the drought and the heat, and the fact that we irrigated our way to another (so far…) successful season, how awesome and tough our hard working crew is, and how we have tons of really great organic produce that we would love everyone to taste.  Instead, I’d like to take just 5 minutes of your time to talk about Covid 19.  Much of what follows is all about the farmstand, but much of it is relevant to farmers’ markets too, so I hope you will soldier on.  

Last week we lost a customer.  I really hate to lose customers, and it has almost nothing to do with a loss of revenue.  I just find it a gnawing, empty feeling to know there is someone out there so unhappy with their experience at our farm that they feel strongly enough to say they won’t be coming back.

The reason?  Details aside, it was all about our rule of one shopper per family in the barn.  They felt we didn’t apply it fairly. They may well have been right … it’s a really hard rule to enforce.  We really need everyone’s help on this one.  

I love what you’ve done with the high tunnel! (Apparently, flowers make everything look good.)

One thing scientists have learned about Covid 19 is that it is largely spread by breathing another person’s air.  So we took a look at our shopping area, and in order to protect our hard working crew and our super supportive customers and CSA members, we decided to limit access to 4 shoppers at a time, and to one shopper per household.  So that means if you come with your family, one person comes in and shops, and the other members can roam about the farm roads breathing fresh, virus free air.  If you are bringing lots of young kids (which we love!!!), please bring a chaperone so one person can shop while the other tends the flock.  

The flower patch is hard to resist – just ask Erika.

Now, sometimes we have to make exceptions. If a Mom comes alone with her 4 year old child, we have no desire to separate them.  So they both come in.  How about an older person needing assistance?  Sure, two folks come in and get one basket of veggies.  How about three friends coming to shop?  Each person needs to wait their turn.  How about Dad and his two high school age kids?  We need the kids to wait outside – though they can definitely relay their veggie preferences! 

I have been really proud of our State of Connecticut and its response to Covid, but I think since the really scary days in March, we’ve all begun to slip a bit.  PLEASE do your best to honor our one shopper per household rule in the barn.

Mask wearing compliance has been very good!  Please keep it up!  This one of the reasons Connecticut has fared well these many months, is folks putting aside their own comfort and working together for a better outcome. 

What about the Pick Your Own patch?  Easier, just stay far apart, and keep your mask on. No policing required.

Masks are required anywhere near or in the barn, parking lot, or in a Pick Your Own patch.  How about if you are strolling down the farm lane and the nearest person is 50 feet away?  Go ahead a get an unimpeded breath … but as soon as you get within 15 feet of someone, flip ’em right back over our noses and mouths.  Better safe than sorry.  In the absence of a vaccine or a treatment, it’s the best we got.  

And for sure, if you feel at all like you have a cold, the flu, or a fever, please stay home. We do offer preorder/curbside pickup for Tuesdays if that is the case.  

Lauren is perhaps the biggest champion of eggplant on the farm, and every crop can use an advocate.

Thanks to everyone for putting up with the lines, it really means a lot to us.  

The best time to come to avoid lines at the farmstand are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 6:30 PM, and Saturdays from 8AM to 9AM.  At other times there may be a short wait.  We do our best to add extra staff at busy times to make sure the stand is stocked and we can check you out as quickly as possible.  

Rebecca and I would like to express our gratitude to all of you who have braved lines, masks, weird new farmers market rules, social distancing, incorrect order packings (Amazon we are not!), and keep coming back. It has meant everything to the 28 people who depend on Fort Hill Farm for part or all of their livelihood.

Thank you, Stay well, and Eat your Veggies for an immune boost! 

Paul, for Rebecca and the Fort Hill Farm crew


Featured this week:


Summer Leeks: We’re pulling early the tasty member of the onion family that adds that unique onion-esque but not quite onion-y flavor (see the leek tart recipe below). We get requests for leeks at this time every season, and my, they are looking plump this year! Clean carefully, as soil sometimes soil gets tucked into the leaves. (I just slice in half lengthwise and run the ends under cold water as I fan them out.)  Store in the fridge for up to three weeks.

Satina potatoes:  this potato has wonderful yellow flesh and flavor, similar to Yukon Gold. We find them equally yummy, plus unlike Yukon Gold, they don’t drop dead when the first leafhopper bug appears. They are now a resolute farm favorite; we love ’em for their distinct satiny texture (note the name).

Also available:

salad mix, arugula, head lettuce (limited varieties just this week), curly green and lacinato kale, rainbow chard, fresh basil, dill, parsley, cilantro, chives, sage, and thyme, red and French Breakfast radishes, red, Chioggia and gold beets, fresh carrots (might be a quick break to sweeten them up in the cooler), garlic, Zephyr Squash, sungold and red cherry tomatoes, heirlooms (as they come in) and beefsteak tomatoes, sweet corn, green bell peppers, Jalapeño and shishito peppers, Classic Italian, Rosa Bianca, and mixed Asian eggplant, Ailsa Craig and Red Torpedo fresh onions, Red Gold potatoes, radicchio, fresh leeks, fresh baby ginger, limited pea shoots, cucumbers, edamame, and red and yellow watermelon as long as it lasts


Coming Soon:

colored peppers, Dark Red Norland potatoes


Pick Your Own:

SUNGOLDS! open for PYO now

Sunflowers: there are still some small heads to include in a flower bouquet

Flowers – open for picking and booming!

Beans: green beans and yellow wax beans are mature now but there are still some nice beans for picking – it will just take some looking

Perennial herbs – for your fresh summer salads and grilling:

Chives– clip a few stems at the base

Oregano, Sage and Thyme – Trim the tops 4 ” down

PYO begins 30 minutes before and goes 30 minutes beyond barn hours.


Recipes, suggested by Rebecca Batchie. For more recipes, check out the Fort Hill Farm Recipe Database

To mix things up, I’m going to try to feature one classic farm recipe and one new one this year …


Leek and Swiss Chard Tart

From BON APPÉTIT                                                           YIELD: Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed

2 tablespoons butter

3 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 bunch Swiss chard, ribs removed, leaves chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)

1 1/4 cups whipping cream 3 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper Pinch of ground nutmeg

PREPARATION

Roll out pastry on floured work surface to 12-inch square. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Trim overhang to 1 inch. Fold under; crimp edges. Cover; chill.

Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add leeks and thyme. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover; cook until leeks are very tender but not brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add chard; saute until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cool.

Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 425°F. Whisk cream and next 5 ingredients in large bowl. Mix in cooled leek mixture. Pour filling into crust.

Bake tart 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake until filling is puffed and just set in center, about 15 minutes longer. Transfer to rack; cool 10 minutes.


Grilled Sweet Corn with Basil Butter

By Maggie Ruggiero Via Gourmet

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 Tbsp finely chopped basil

1/2 tsp chopped thyme

3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened

8 ears corn in husks

Flaky or coarse sea salt for sprinkling

PREPARATION

Stir herbs into butter and let stand at room temperature while preparing corn.
Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium high for gas).
Pull husks back from corn, covered only if using a gas grill, turning frequently, until tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Serve with basil butter and salt.


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