Farm News, September 15, 2020

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

This Week’s Farm News:

It’s always a shock to me:  one day you are picking zucchini on a hot, humid afternoon, and a week later the air is cool and crisp, and those summer squash plants are done for the season.  We are firmly into an early fall weather pattern, with very cool nights and some refreshing work weather during the day …  Which is good because we have a lot of work left to do.

This is the time of year we see these full grown Garden Spiders. Luca has been waiting for one of their large egg sacs to hatch on our window sill for almost a year now, to no avail.

There are three big harvest tasks in front of us.  We’ve got to keep chipping away at the potato harvest (no pun intended), getting a few rows each week as we need them, and then saving the last big push for after frost.  We’ve got the butternut squash to clip and pick up, and 12 very healthy rows of sweet potatoes to harvest.  Luca has been hand digging in the sweet potato patch each week, watching the tubers grow and reminding me that they are ready and it’s time to get the digger out! Both the butternut squash and the sweet potatoes require some time in a warm greenhouse to sweeten up, so we’ll start digging this week.  The crew stepped up and cut down all the garlic to make a space for curing those crops. If we had rainy days, we would normally spend them sorting and cleaning garlic, but the drought has kept us mostly outside.

This chain gang looks so industrial … Michelle discing the ground and James drilling cover crops.

Our daily harvests of lettuce, kale, chard, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants continue to keep us busy.  We’re also putting the finishing weeding touches on the acre of strawberries that (keep your fingers crossed) will bring us a sweet and juicy crop when June rolls around.  Dana has been busy piling up the finished compost along the back of the woods, making room for us to process more leaves into black gold.  Michelle has been turning in old crops (and unfortunately, their accompanying weeds), and James breaks out our old grain drill to sow the cover crops that will restore fertility to our sandy patch of ground.  There’s a bit of a sense of urgency to all this activity because we know we only have a few weeks of good growing weather left, before the sun hangs too low in the sky and the daytime temps drop below 68F.  And looming beyond that is a frost which would damage some of the crops sitting in the fields, and cold muddy days that make driving a loader tractor in the compost area by the hill a sticky mess.  So, we are putting the pedal to the floor for a few more weeks!

We hope you enjoy the farm and the harvest, 

Paul, Rebecca, Lauren, and the Fort Hill Farm Crew

Lauren captured just a couple of the many dahlia varieties in the PYO flower patch. Dahlias seem to love the weather of September.

Featured this week:

Sweet Red Italian Peppers: These pointy peppers are coming in strong now. These are our favorite sweet red peppers by far – we rarely reach for a sweet bell actually. The Italian peppers have an incredible sweetness that goes beyond the bells, thin, crisp walls that pack a punch, and a shape that’s ideal for easy snacking. Try slow roasting them for a divine treat.

Kennebec potatoes:  a great all purpose spud – great mashed, fried, roasted, baked … Mix it up with Blue Gold and fry away.  Elliott has always sworn by baking them with great success. Turn on the oven on a cool night and enjoy!

Also available:

salad mix, arugula, pea shoots, head lettuce (fewer varieties this week), curly green and lacinato kale, rainbow chard, escarole, fresh basil, dill, parsley, cilantro, chives, sage, and thyme, red and French Breakfast radishes, red beets, Chioggia and gold beets, fresh fall carrots, garlic, storage onions (at the farmstand), sungold and red cherry tomatoes, heirlooms and beefsteak tomatoes (plenty of seconds for saucing!), sweet Italian red peppers, orange snacking peppers, red bell peppers, green bell peppers, Jalapeño, poblano, cayenne, and shishito peppers, Classic Italian, Rosa Bianca, and mixed Asian eggplant, Dark Red Norland, Blue Gold, and Satina Gold potatoes, Carnival squash, fresh leeks, fresh baby ginger,

Coming Soon:

sweet potatoes and butternut squash

Pick Your Own:

Flowers – open for picking and booming!

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 …

Vegan Muffuletta Sandwich

By Ginny McMeans

This recipe is adaptable and easily convertible to non vegan if you choose.


1 Boule bread loaf

1 1/2 cup green olives – pimento stuffed, chopped

1 1/2 cup kalamata olives – pitted and chopped

1 can black olives – 15 ounces black olives, drained and chopped

1 ounces red pepper pieces

1/2 cup roasted red pepper – chopped

1/2 cup Italian mixed vegetables – chopped – giardiniera comes in a jar

2 ounces vegan white cheese slices

2/3 cup oil of your choice, I used avocado oil but extra virgin olive oil is also great

1 cup fresh chopped flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoons capers

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

4 ounces seitan, sliced thin


This sandwich mixture needs to sit overnight for all the flavors to meld.

Place all three olive varieties in a bowl.  Add chopped roasted red bell pepper and giardiniera.  Add the oil, parsley, capers, salt and pepper.

Mix well, cover and put into the refrigerator for at least 12 hours.

About an hour before serving. – slice your loaves in half.

Scoop out some of the center of each roll if it is too fat.  Save the breadcrumbs for another recipe. They freeze for months.

Spoon half of the olive salad on your roll.  Add a layer of sliced dairy free cheese, a layer if seitan, if used, a layer of red bell peppers and pile on more olive salad.

Top with the other half roll.  Wrap tightly with waxed paper or parchment paper.

Set the sandwich or sandwiches on a big plate and place a heavy weight on top to compress the sandwiches. Something like an iron skillet.  This helps the juices to be absorbed a bit into the bread. Chill for 1 hour. Unwrap and slice into quarters. Serve.

Potato Leek Soup with Salt and Vinegar Crispy Kale

From the French Barn Serves 4

For the Potato Leek Soup

2 tbsp (18g) salted butter

3 leeks (~ 180g), trimmed, halved vertically, washed, then thinly sliced into half moons (white and light green parts only)

½ medium onion, diced

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1½ lbs (680g)  Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

5 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 tsp sea salt, divided

A few grinds of fresh ground black pepper

5 sprigs fresh parsley (see notes)

3 sprigs fresh thyme (see notes)

1 bay leaf (see notes)

1 cup full-fat milk

For the Crispy Kale Chips

8 kale leaves, tough stems removed and torn into bite size pieces

2 tsp (15ml) olive oil

1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar

¼ tsp sea salt

Method For the Potato Leek Soup 

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and onion to the pot and cook, stirring regularly, until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Do not let the leeks take on any colour. 

Add the garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, about a minute.

Add potatoes, broth, sea salt, and pepper to the pot. Stir to combine. Tie the string of the prepared bouquet garni (see notes) to the pot handle (for easy removal) and submerge it into the soup. 

Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on medium low 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are very soft. Remove bouquet garni.

For a very smooth texture, purée the soup in a standard or high-speed blender in batches until smooth and creamy (see notes). Alternatively, purée all or half of the soup with a hand-held immersion blender until desired consistency is reached. Transfer to a clean pot.

Add milk and stir through. Taste and adjust, adding more salt and pepper as needed. If soup is too thick, add more broth to thin it out. If it’s too thin, simmer gently until thickened. 

Top with crispy kale chips (recipe follows).

Method For the Crispy Kale Chips

Preheat oven to 350°F (170°C). 

To a medium bowl, add kale leaves, olive oil, 1 teaspoon vinegar, and salt. Toss with hands to coat. Taste and add the remaining vinegar, if desired.

Place kale leaves on a baking sheet, allowing space between each leaf so that they don’t steam.

Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until crispy and slightly golden.

Leave a Reply