Farm News, November 23, 2020

THIS WEEK: Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 24 is the last open Farmstand day! (2-5:30PM)

Even though this is the last Farm News for the season, this is not a goodbye note! We will continue to get you fresh produce through the end of the year (details below).  

Today we recognize the wind down of our farmstand and salute the many folks involved in getting Fort Hill Farm over the 2020 finish line. It’s hard to believe the number of hands (frequently washed and sanitized, of course) that fresh produce must pass through on a small scale farm like ours to get to your table. Growing a diversity of crops with less than industrial level mechanization can only mean one thing … tons of hard work! The 2020 crew dove in, never looked back, and never complained.  They helped us navigate unprecedented challenges, with steady determination and a positive outlook.

Lauren revels in the wonder that is Brussels sprouts (She’s also sporting a Brussels sprout mask).

And while it seems like nothing short of a miracle that our crew of 33 part- and full-time staff has stayed healthy this season, this is really owed to their prolonged restraint, diligence, and respect for each other and our customers. We can’t say enough good things about these folks.  Our field manager Lauren kept the farm and all its moving parts on right on track.  Our growers Dana, James, Connor took on new rolls managing the weekly task list.  Apprentices Selenna, Michelle, and Emma jumped right into the mix and helped keep the farm and our markets running as smoothly as possible.   

Our field crew had a rotating cast of ready and willing workers led by veterans Adam, Faye, Justin, and Olivia B.  They were joined by Erika, Zoe, Kayla, Bella, Allyson, Katie, Michelle H., Emily, Ilya, and Kady.  Field workers do a lot of heavy lifting, taking on the tough weeding, picking, and planting projects needed to get our veggies to your plate.

Faye, Emma, and Michelle wrangle the tarp. We tarp specific field sections to smother weeds and reduce tillage.

Kathy, Faye, and Claudia did an amazing job of keeping our rustic farm stand operating under very trying times, and Rebecca S. helped us with online order fulfilment.  Our dedicated market staff, Jon C., Jon J., Samantha, Eileen, Julie, Gerry, Olivia V., and Charlotte met us each week at New Milford, Westport, and Chappaqua to help us get the veg out.

And behind the scenes, our mechanic Doug helped keep the wheels on (literally….) of our dated equipment, and our bookkeeper Kristyn made sure the numbers added up.  Lastly, our old friend Paul Burkhouse showed up in the fall to help our family cope with a serious illness.

We are deeply grateful for the individual contributions of these folks and their collective willingness to roll with the sea of changes this season presented.

Our unstoppable fall crew.

Lastly, thank you for making the extra effort to come to our “no frills” farmstand and to our stands at the farmers’ markets.  As we conclude our 18th season of farming on Fort Hill, we reflect that we have always benefited from being part of a community that values fresh, organic produce grown by neighbors.  We appreciate the time you take to seek out our veggies.  We are are grateful for the enthusiasm of old friends we see year after year, and for new faces that popped up in this unsettled time.  This was a particularly trying year, and yet we’ve somehow grown stronger as a community as we worked together to navigate new challenges.  

We wish you all a safe, physically distanced Thanksgiving and look ahead to a brighter spring.  

For the Fort Hill Farm Crew,

Rebecca and Paul



FARMSTAND PICKUP: THURSDAYS  2 – 5:30 PM (starting December 3), at the farm, 18 Fort Hill Rd.

WESTPORT PICKUP: THURSDAYS, at our booth during market hours, 10AM-2PM. 

The change allows us to harvest when we can as produce thaws in the short, chilly days ahead.

Connor helps dig out and replace new side walls for Greenhouse 2.

Available autumn veggies:

pea shoots, head lettuce (6 varieties!), frisée, curly green and lacinato kale, rainbow chard, escarole, red cabbage, Collards, spinach, sage, radishes, salad turnips, red beets and Chioggia beets, sweet fall carrots, garlic, fresh leeks, fennel, green tomatoes, Dark Red Norland, Blue Gold, Kennebec, and gold fingerlings, Carnival and Butternut squash, pie pumpkins, sweet potatoes, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, fresh baby ginger (ON SALE AGAIN THIS WEEK!)

Pick Your Own:

Perennial herbs – for your fall soups and roasts:

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

Kale Dressing

By Suzanne Goin via BonAppetit


2 pounds country-style white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons fennel seeds

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

2 sprigs rosemary

1 dried chile de árbol, broken in half (you can substitute with red pepper flakes)

1 1/2 cups minced fennel

1 1/2 cups minced onions

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

3 garlic cloves, thinly slicedKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper Slow-Cooked Tuscan Kale (recipe follows)

1/2 cup dry white wine

3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or turkey broth

2 large eggs, beaten to blend


Step 1

Preheat oven to 400°. Using your hands, toss bread in a large bowl while drizzling with 1/2 cup oil, squeezing bread to help it absorb oil. Spread out on 2 rimmed baking sheets, dividing equally; set aside.

Step 2

Toast bread, stirring often and rotating baking sheets halfway through, until croutons are golden brown and crisp on the outside but still a little soft inside, about 20 minutes. Let cool; return to large bowl.

Step 3

Meanwhile, toast fennel seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, shaking pan often, until seeds are fragrant and light gold, 2-3 minutes. Let cool. Using a spice mill or a mortar and pestle, coarsely grind fennel seeds; set aside. Alternatively, crush seeds in a resealable freezer bag with bottom of a heavy skillet.

Step 4

Heat a large skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 cup oil and butter. When butter is melted, add rosemary sprigs and chile; let sizzle in pan for 1 minute, then add crushed fennel seeds, fennel, onions, thyme, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until vegetables are tender and lightly caramelized, 6-8 minutes. Discard rosemary sprigs and chile. Add vegetable mixture and Slow-Cooked Tuscan Kale to croutons.

Step 5

Boil wine in same skillet over medium-high heat until reduced by 3/4, 1-2 minutes. Add broth; bring to a boil. Add to crouton mixture; toss well. Season with salt and pepper. Add eggs; stir to distribute. Transfer to a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Cover with foil.

Step 6

Bake dressing until heated through, about 30 minutes (a knife inserted into the center should be hot to the touch). Remove foil and bake until bread is golden and crisped on top, 25-30 minutes longer.

Slow – Cooked Tuscan Kale

By Suzanne Goin via BonAppetit


3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more

1 pound Tuscan kale (about 2 bunches), center ribs and stems removed

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 sprig rosemary

1 dried chile de árbol, broken into 4 pieces (you can substitute with red pepper flakes)

1 cup sliced yellow onionFreshly ground black pepper

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced


Step 1

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a rapid boil over high heat. Working in 2 batches, blanch kale for 2 minutes. Drain, let cool, and squeeze out excess water with your hands. Coarsely chop; set aside.

Step 2

Heat a large pot over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup oil, rosemary sprig, and chile. Let sizzle, shaking pan often, for about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low; add onion. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring often; stir in garlic. Cook, stirring often, until onion is soft and starting to brown, 5-7 minutes.

Step 3

Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil and kale; stir to coat. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring often, until kale turns almost black and is slightly crisp at edges, about 30 minutes. Let cool. Discard rosemary and chile.

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