Farm News, September 8, 2020

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

This Week’s Farm News:

The late summer harvest blur has arrived!  Everywhere we look there are crops we need to pick, dig, or cut.  Harvest season seems to begin in earnest this time of year.  We’ve got the winter squash and pie pumpkins to bring in, a half-acre of potatoes and sweet potatoes yet to dig, thousands of leeks to pull and peel, and the nobody told the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant that summer is over, so there are still loads to pick.

Faye gets cozy with the Jack o’ Lantern harvest last week – thankfully, she’s also being a bit protective here.

Making things a little more challenging, many of our summer helpers have gone back to school or to other occupations, and our crew has shrunk by about 40%.  And just to make it interesting, we took Labor Day off (which is a little decadent in the market farming world) and gave our crew a much deserved rest.  And what a crew we have had this year!  They are super hard workers and have put up with all the covid craziness this year like champs.  We feel very fortunate to have these folks on our staff.

Emma unearths our tropical ginger from the high tunnel. It’s growing strong now, which means that ginger is ON SALE starting this week!

We could also use a rainy day to finish cutting this year’s garlic crop, so we can sort the crop into table stock and seed.  More importantly, Connecticut has entered mid drought stage, with brooks, rivers and lakes as low as I have ever seen them.  Usually we can stop irrigating this time of year, but the rains of a few weeks ago gave us just a temporary reprieve, and soil moisture is low again, with more hot, dry days in the forecast.  Just as important, we planted about 8 acres of rye and vetch for next year’s cover crops and also for mulch, and we are keeping our fingers crossed that they have enough moisture to germinate.  With no rain in the forecast, I would be smiling if an unforeseen thunderstorm crossed our path this week!

We hope you enjoy the farm and the harvest, 

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

View of the pumpkin patch from the North Field … a happy sight indeed.

Featured this week:

Carnival Squash: This kaleidoscopic Acorn variety is both a thing of beauty and a practical fall staple. As for all winter squash, prepare by cutting in half, scooping out the seeds, oiling the cut edges, and putting face down in a baking pan with a quarter inch of water in it. Bake at 375F until a fork slides in easily.   Acorn squash will store for a few more weeks at room temperature. Sprinkled with salt and baked on oiled tray, the seeds are a tasty and nutritious snack.

Blue gold potatoes: We’ve been growing this winner for about 5 years now, thanks to our friend Megan Haney up at Marble Valley Farm in Kent. This has become a personal favorite of mine, and embarrassingly, what I first thought was incredible waxiness was really high-density (and creamy) starch content. So Blue Golds excel as French fries, hash browns, baked, or even smashed (see recipe below), but they are flavorful enough to roast and also firm enough to shine in soups. Also … pretty deep blue outside, moist yellow inside, what’s not to love? Store in a cool, dark place, but not in the fridge.

Also available:

salad mix, arugula, 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, Chioggia and gold beets, fresh fall carrots, garlic, zephyr squash and zucchini (early in the week), sungold and red cherry tomatoes, heirlooms and beefsteak tomatoes (plenty of seconds for saucing!), green bell peppers, sweet Italian red peppers, Jalapeño, poblano, cayenne, and shishito peppers, Classic Italian, Rosa Bianca, and mixed Asian eggplant, Dark Red Norland and Satina Gold potatoes, fresh leeks, fresh baby ginger, limited pea shoots and cucumbers

Coming Soon:

orange snacking and red bell peppers, Kennebec all purpose potatoes

Pick Your Own:

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

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 …

Paella-Stuffed Squash

By Rachel Ray


2 acorn or Carnival squash (1 1/2 to 2 lbs. each), halved through the stem end and seeded

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing and drizzling

3 ounces thinly sliced cured chorizo

1 small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/2 cup arborio rice

3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup roasted red peppers, thinly sliced

1/2 cup frozen peas (go wild and sub with par-cooked, cubed fennel here)

2 tablespoons chopped flatleaf parsley, plus more for garnish


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the cut sides of the squash with oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet until tender when pierced with a knife, 40 to 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. oil in a medium saucepan over medium. Add the chorizo; cook, stirring often, until browned in spots, about 3 minutes. Add the onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the rice, paprika and cayenne; stir 1 minute. Add the stock; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is al dente, 15 to 18 minutes. Stir in the peppers, peas and 2 tbsp. parsley; season.

Preheat the broiler. Turn the squash cut side up. Fill with rice mixture, mounding in center. Broil until browned in spots, 8 to 10 minutes. Drizzle with oil; top with parsley.

Grilled Smashed Potatoes

From Bon Appetit

The deep flavor of Blue Gold potatoes shines here.


16 small red-skinned, blue-skinned, and/or white-skinned potatoes (about 2 inches in diameter)

Olive oil

Fresh rosemary leaves


Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 25 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to kitchen towel. Cool potatoes to lukewarm, about 20 minutes. Using another towel, gently press each potato until split open and flattened to scant 1-inch thickness (don’t press too flat or potatoes will break apart).

Brush large baking sheet with oil. Transfer potatoes to prepared sheet. Brush potato tops with oil; sprinkle with salt, pepper, and some rosemary leaves. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Place potatoes, oiled side down, on grill. Brush with oil. Cook until crisp and beginning to color, about 5 minutes per side.

Transfer to platter; sprinkle with more rosemary leaves and serve hot.

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