Farm News, September 29, 2020

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

This Week’s Farm News:

One challenge in writing the farm news is I’m never sure whether to focus on what happened last week or what’s likely to happen this week.  A lot of it has to do the weather.  Last week the drought seemed to intensify around us, as we continued to irrigate crops we almost never have to water in late September.  We even found ourselves watering the cover crops we had sown, trying to give the seeds a head start in some very dry soil.  Looking at the weather radar and the forecast for this week, it looks like a big, wet, humid tropical flow is heading to New England, and we are keeping our fingers crossed for a steady, gentle rain (preferably overnight so we can get the regular harvest done, and folks come to the farm stand to pick up veggies).  

Perhaps our finest bed of spinach in 18 years!

The crew dug deep last week (literally and figuratively) and finished up the sweet potatoes, and we have 6 bins curing in a warm greenhouse, kept company by 6 bins of golden butternut squash.  Please keep in mind that the current anti-carbohydrate focus is pointed at sugared drinks and processed stuff like white bread and cookies, not nutritious veggies like sweet potatoes and winter squash!  We also trialed a new squash call Koginut this year, it’s a yellow fleshed winter squash that can be used a lot like butternut.  If you give it a try let us know what you think of it.

Koginut is a beauty! … lavender layered over orange.
Unearthing sweet potatoes is always one of the most physically demanding harvests. There’s just no easy way to get those vines off before digging, but by human hands.

We’re also in the midst of turning over our greenhouses from summer tomato production to late fall and winter spinach and lettuce production.  Timing on these crops is critical, as we need to plant while the sun is high enough in the sky to promote good growth, but not so early that the crops are ready for harvest before we are done harvesting in the field. It’s a tricky dance, but Rebecca keeps really good notes on the magic days to plant for our latitude.  With a little luck we’ll have fresh salad in December and into January.

We hope you enjoy the farm and the harvest, 

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

Tomato Take-down of 2020. That’s a lot of mass to clear out.

Featured this week:

Sweet potatoes:  we have a lot of trouble growing some crops (onions); others are hit and miss (broccoli), and with some crops we have a good track record (tomatoes and lettuce).  But then there are sweet potatoes.  Our little sandy shelf above the river was just made to grow these things, and this year has been a great harvest. Sweet potatoes will store for many months at room temperature, out of direct sunlight.  Just hold off washing them until you are ready to use, and NEVER expose them to temperatures below 55F.  We have held these beauties in a warm greenhouse for a couple of weeks, so they are sweet and ready to eat.  Try them baked whole, cubed and roasted, mashed, in pie, or in one of our old standards, Rustic Autumn Cornbread (see recipe below).

Jack – O’- Lantern Pumpkins: Oh the joy the sight of these brings! Get your Jack-O’ for Halloween directly from the farm and not the big box stores. We have nice big ones with tons of personality and also a bin of smaller ones for grouping a display (make sure not to confuse these with pie pumpkins). Don your knife, roast the seeds and let’s get these ephemeral autumn rituals underway.

Pie Pumpkins:  great for pumpkin breads and pies, or roasted (see recipe below).  Prepare pumpkin puree by cutting pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds, bake at 375F in a greased pan cut side down in about ½ inch of water until a fork slides in easily.  Puree or mash the flesh, this will freeze well for future use. Use as soon as possible. 

Also available:

salad mix, arugula, pea shoots, head lettuce, curly green and lacinato kale, rainbow chard, escarole, Senposai (Japanese Collards), Brussels sprout GREENS, parsley, cilantro, chives, oregano, sage, and thyme, red and French Breakfast radishes, red beets, Chioggia and gold beets, fresh fall carrots, garlic, storage onions (at the farmstand), sungold cherry tomatoes, heirlooms and beefsteak tomatoes, sweet Italian red peppers, orange snacking peppers (limited), 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, and Kennebec, and gold fingerling potatoes, Delicata, Carnival, and Butternut squash, fresh leeks, fresh baby ginger

Coming Soon:

Magic Molly potatoes, parsnips

Pick Your Own:

Flowers – we protected them from the last few early frosts and they are good for picking!

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 …

Sweet Autumn Cornbread

Adapted by Rebecca from

Rustic Autumn Cornbread

This is delicious with pumpkins or any kind of winter squash, but we’ve settled on sweet potatoes. Store leftovers (if there are any) in the fridge, reheat in the toaster oven, and top with a pat of butter.

1 c. whole grain pastry, spelt, or all-purpose flour 

¾ c. stone ground cornmeal or polenta

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

2 eggs, beaten (or 2 T flax meal with 4 T water)

1/3 c. dark brown sugar (or less)

¼ c. olive oil or coconut oil

2 c. cooked and mashed sweet potato, pumpkin, or winter squash

¾ c. pecans, chopped (divided into ½ cup and ¼ cup)

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Mix together the eggs, sugar, and oil in a large bowl. Add the cooked squash, sweet potato, or pumpkin, leaving any small lumps intact. Stir in ½ c. pecans, reserving the rest for the top. Mix together the dry ingredients, and then stir into the wet mix until just incorporated. Sprinkle the remaining pecans on top and bake in a greased, 9-inch cast iron skillet for 40-45 minutes.

Roasted Squash (or Pumpkin) with Chilli Yoghurt and Coriander sauce (V)

By Yotam Ottolenghi

1 small coquina, 1 large butternut squash (1.4kg gross weight), (or 2 pie pumpkins)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

3 oz. olive oil

Salt and black pepper

2 oz. coriander (cilantro), leaves and stalks, plus extra leaves for garnish

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

1 oz. pumpkin seeds

7 oz. Greek yoghurt

1½ tsp sriracha (or other chilli sauce)

Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Cut the squash in half lengthways, remove and discard the seeds, then cut it – skin and all – into 7cm-long and 2cm-thick wedges. Put these in a large bowl with the cinnamon, two tablespoons of olive oil, three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of pepper, and rub evenly into the squash. Lay the squash skin side down on two oven trays and roast for 25-30 minutes, until soft and starting to colour. Remove and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, put the coriander, garlic, remaining oil and a generous pinch of salt in a small food processor and blitz to a fine paste.

Lower the oven temperature to 160C/320F/gas mark 2½. Lay the pumpkin seeds on an oven tray and roast for six to eight minutes. The skins will pop open and they’ll go light and crisp. Remove and set aside.

To serve, mix the yoghurt and chilli sauce. Lay the squash wedges on a platter, drizzle over the yoghurt sauce and then the herb paste (you can also swirl them together). Scatter the seeds on top, followed by a few coriander leaves, and serve.

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