Farm News, October 20, 2020

The Farmstand is open today from 2 – 6:00 PM (PYO Hours: 1:30 until dark)

This Week’s Farm News:

While fall in Connecticut is famous for the red and yellow foliage in the trees, my favorite color this time of year is the beautiful green that our cover crops show as they reach their fall peak.  A few frosts don’t bother them at all, and they will keep growing until we get a freezing night in the low to mid 20’s, sometime in November.  The same is true for the green in our kale, collards, and spinach, and this week Rebecca gave the green light to start harvesting Brussels sprouts, which made a good crop this year.  We sell our sprouts on the stalk; kids love the way they look and will actually eat the sprouts once they see where they came from and how they grew.  Speaking of kids, carving and face pumpkins are on sale, so pick up a bunch for Halloween, which is right around the corner.  We’ve also chilled our parsnips to perfection and will have them available as well. 

Oats and Peas, Oats and Peas, Oats and Peas … a great fall and spring cover crop duo.

This fall continues to be generous and the crew is still spending most of their time harvesting, washing, and packing veggies.  The pace is a little slower, and we’re all a bit tired, but bringing in a quality crop does a lot to brighten the mood.  The warmer than usual fall weather helps a bit too, although we know the big freeze is looming.  We’re also gathering supplies and making plans to tackle the maintenance and building projects that need doing on the farm, including re-skinning several of our greenhouses.

James bunches some cilantro – at the end of October!

We continue to rotate the position of “farm manager” among our three Growers:  Dana, James, and Connor.  They each take a week where they run the day to day operation of the farm, setting their compadres to various tasks, coordinating the harvest, and making sure the field tasks like irrigating and frost protection get done on time.  With a little guidance from Lauren, they have done a great job. They are learning a valuable skill, and also giving Lauren and Rebecca a little more breathing room!

Do we have some nice radishes! Faye and Zoe bunch away.

In a nod to the earlier sunset, our farm stand will close at 6PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  For now, the farmers markets continue at their regular times and places; we will be sure to update you with any changes.   

Thanks to all of you who make a special trip to the farm or a farmer’s market to get our veggies, we really appreciate it!

We hope you enjoy the farm and the produce, 

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

Featured this week:

Brussels sprouts:  this is one of the hardest crops to grow, particularly in sandy soil with organic practices. They take up gobs of space and hold their place in the field from mid-June through October. They need a lot of fertility and have tons of problems with diseases. We’ve been lucky enough to have good crops the last few seasons. Just snip off the sprouts, peel off the outer leaves, and enjoy. They are best parboiled/steamed and then pan fried or roasted (see recipe below). Sprouts will store for a while in the fridge.

Parsnips: This quintessential New England crop and white member of the carrot family has a candy-like sweetness when roasted. Also yummy shredded raw into slaws or cubed into soups. It’s not widely grown because it takes nearly a month to germinate, giving the weeds a big head start, needs exacting thinning to produce a nice root (crawling on hands and knees), and has phototoxic leaves! This means a full body suit is required for harvest, notably on cloudy day. We hope you enjoy! Stores for a month in fridge crisper drawer. 

Also available:

salad mix, arugula, pea shoots, head lettuce (6 varieties!), curly green and lacinato kale, rainbow chard, escarole, radicchio, red cabbage, Collards, spinach, parsley, cilantro, chives, sage, and thyme, red radishes, red beets and Chioggia beets, fresh fall carrots, garlic, fresh leeks, storage onions (at the farmstand), celeriac, fennel, sungold cherry tomatoes, heirlooms and beefsteak tomatoes, 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, Kennebec, and gold fingerling potatoes, Carnival and Butternut squash, pie and Jack O’ lantern pumpkins, sweet potatoes, fresh leeks, fresh baby ginger and fresh turmeric

Coming Soon:

German Butterball potatoes

Pick Your Own:

Flowers – open for picking!

Perennial herbs – for your fall soups and roasts:

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 …


From ViktoriasTable Yields 3-4 servings


1 lbs leeks

1 lbs Brussels sprouts

3 Tbs butter

3 Tbs olive oil

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tsp cumin

4 garlic cloves

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese + more for topping


Sauté the leeks in the butter until they are soft and begin to caramelize (about 10 minutes)

Cut the bottom part of the Brussels sprouts, and halve or quarter them.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and add the Brussels sprouts. Cook for 5 minutes and drain.

Sauté the Brussels sprouts in olive oil, salt and pepper, until they begin to get a nice color (5-7 minutes).

Add the leeks back to the pan, and stir.

Add the sour cream, mixed with the cumin, and smashed garlic and stir.

Add the Parmesan cheese, and combine everything.

Taste and adjust the garlic/salt/pepper content, and cook for just a couple more minutes.

Optionally, sprinkle more Parmesan cheese on top, and put under the broiler to get a nice cheesy top.

Creamy Parsnip With Ginger Soup

From Allrecipes Yields 6-7 cups


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ pounds peeled parsnips , cut into 1-inch chunks

1 large onion, cut into large dice

1 tablespoon butter

1 pinch sugar

3 large garlic cloves, thickly sliced

1 teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon cardamom

¼ teaspoon allspice

⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 cups chicken broth, homemade or from a carton or can

1 ½ cups half-and-half (or whole milk)

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Garnish: sauteed hazelnuts and dried cranberries*


Step 1

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep saute pan until shimmering.

Step 2

Add parsnips, then onion; saute, stirring very little at first, then more frequently, until vegetables start to turn golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes.

Step 3

Reduce heat to low and add butter, sugar and garlic; continue cooking until all vegetables are a rich spotty caramel color, about 10 minutes longer.

Step 4

Add ginger, cardamom, allspice and cayenne pepper; continue to saute until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute longer.

Step 5

Add broth; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until parsnips are tender, about 10 minutes.

Step 6

Using an immersion blender or traditional blender, puree until very smooth, 30 seconds to 1 minute. (If using a traditional blender, vent it either by removing the lid’s pop-out center or by lifting one edge of the lid. Drape the blender canister with a kitchen towel. To ‘clean’ the canister, pour in a little half-and-half, blend briefly, then add to the soup.)

Step 7

Return to pan (or a soup pot); add enough half-and-half so the mixture is souplike, yet thick enough to float garnish. Taste, and add salt and pepper if needed. Heat through, ladle into bowls, garnish and serve.


*Cook 2 Tbs. each coarsely chopped hazelnuts and dried cranberries in 1 tsp. butter until golden and fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

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