Tuesday, December 9, 2014


To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late!

Over the eight years I've been helping David, one thing has become crystal clear, each farm season has its successes and its failures. Sometimes the success is small, but you take what you can get. Some years provide you with great bounty with one crop and not so much with others. Sometimes the failures are minimal for which you are thankful, but others have a significant negative impact on what's available to bring to market.
Last season deer ate the first two plantings of beets and Swiss chard. There was record rain in June and near record rain in July. The tractor was out of commission for at least six weeks. Due to the rain and the tractor problems a number of crops did not get planted. Or, when planted, did very poorly. For example, farm season 2012 saw the best winter squash harvest at the farm. Last season the winter squash harvest was virtually non-existent. Other crops, including melons, fared poorly or not at all.

This season David had his best winter squash harvest ever. Also, the watermelon/cantaloupe was the best ever. This was balanced by the eggplants not doing as well as they have in the past for no discernible reason. Also, due to disease, this was not the farms best year for cucumbers. Yet the tomato harvest was great and the first two plantings of summer squash were quite productive.
Sometimes the problems are disease. For example, after a good start, the basil harvest ended quite suddenly due to something called basil downy mildew. (It was first reported in the United States in 2007 and appears to be here to stay. It is located primarily along the eastern seaboard, but there have been outbreaks in Kansas and Missouri. Once it gets on your plants there is little that you can do to stop it. At this time prevention of the disease is a work in progress. I mention all of this so that when you go to your local markets and can’t find basil, you will have an understanding as to why.) The devastation of the basil crop was not specific to Z Food Farm. Various other local farms, and farms throughout the East coast, up into Maine, were ravaged by the disease. These ups and downs are par for the course for farms large and small, but the impact on small-scale operations can be quite significant; yet another reason to appreciate all that goes into the produce available to you at farmers’ markets. And the challenge for organic farms is that they have less available to them to combat bugs and diseases. I know that this point has previously been made, and it is not done to engender sympathy for farmers who operate small, sustainable, organic farms. It is to enhance awareness of all that goes into bringing produce to market. Yes, farmers of all size farms are trying to make a living out of what they do, but for most they have to have a sustaining passion for being a farmer. 

Z Food Farm only sells what it grows. At many markets this is the rule for all produce vendors at a particular market. (If you are uncertain about whether this is the rule at the market you frequent, find the market manager and ask). This means that you will only find produce that is available at that particular time of the season. Some crops do best in the early spring. Some do well in the fall. Some will be available in the spring and fall. Some we’ll have only during the heat of the summer. Having been conditioned to find everything we want year round at grocery stores, please appreciate that small, local farms, organic or conventional, are doing their best to bring you the widest variety of vegetables that are available at that time of the season. If a crop doesn’t do well, or is a complete failure, that failure will have a strong impact on that farm. Prior to my involvement with farming I had no sense of what it takes to bring produce to market. I took for granted the bounty that was available in stores. If you shop at farmers’ markets, whether for produce or some of the other wonderful diversity of goods available, you already have a sense of what the vendors go through to bring their products to market. Most of you who shop at Z Food Farm do convey to us your appreciation of what we offer and for that we thank you. There are numerous choices available to you and we do not take your support for granted.

Winter squash come in all sizes and shapes and colors. There are two things to know about them- they are delicious and they make great decoration until you get around to eating them. Keep out of direct light and direct heat and they will last in your home for weeks if not a few months. Though some will ‘keep’ longer than others, all of them can be saved. As far as cooking them goes, most of them are good for soups, pies, and just plain roasting and eating. Use your favorite search engine and you will find recipes galore.
 This is the harvest of winter squash. A very rough estimate of between 7-8,000 pounds worth of winter squash

 A roadside display.

Galeux d'Eysines - The sweet orange flesh is used in France for soups and also can be baked. Sweet, orange flesh.

Hule and Ernie 'guarding' the winter squash. The beige, somewhat flattened looking pumpkins on the second row up are Long Island Cheese Pumpkins. Have a moderately sweet flesh that is good for pies. Are used by the Bent Spoon in Princeton, NJ to make their pumpkin ice cream.

 Musque de Provence - Also known as the fairy tale squash. Moderately sweet flesh. The skin will start green and over time turn a golden brown. Gorgeous for decoration and then good for eating either roasted or as soup or pie.

 Kabocha - It has an exceptional naturally sweet flavor, even sweeter than butternut squash. Like other squash-family members, it is commonly mixed in side dishes and soups or anywhere pumpkin, potato, or other squash would be. Though the skin color is different the flesh is the same.

Spaghetti Squash- This year David grew this smaller variety of spaghetti squash. Being small they become a little more manageable to cook and use with less waste. For those new to these, after they are cooked and cut in half, if cooked whole, use a fork to scrape out the flesh. You will have strands very similar to spaghetti and you can use the strands just as you would spaghetti.

Acorn Squash- Sweet orange flesh. Good for roasting and eating. Good for making into soup. Just plain good.

Sugar Dumpling- Very sweet flesh. Roast it. Soup it. Enjoy it.

Baby Blue Hubbard- Good for soups, pies, and just simply eating. We grew the baby blue Hubbard. the regular Hubbard can weigh 15-40 pounds.

Kuri Squash- golden flesh is smooth, dry, sweet and rich.

Delicata- delicate, sweet flavor. Good for roasting and eating. Thin skinned.

This is what the greenhouse looked like at the end of the season.

Support local farms. Support organic farms. Eat Healthy.
Farm On!!


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Lewis Clark said...

winter fruits have its own important and they are really juicy and delicious because its juicy taste everyone likes it