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Sugar Sticks

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Hey y’all, can you believe it’s December?! As it stands now, this will be our last pickup of the season. Mostly on account of childcare, as there’s still lots of good eats left out there…but I do see 21 degrees in the forecast, so it’s probably just as well.

So much to say, so little space to do it. First off, Jeff’s coming down from NH with meat. If you’re new to this list or never tried his meats, he has a truly special product. They not only raise pastured pigs like they’re meant to be raised, they make their own sausages from these humanely-raised pigs. Take a look at the ingredients of the sausage you may have in your fridge. Then take a look at his ingredients. Nothing you can’t pronounce in there! You need to email him directly to make an order.

In addition to the meats, you can order cheese from Couet’s Farm and chocolates a la Anna Banana’s Homemade Goodness. Try some adelisca cheese on the baby beets (below) to add some decadence to a very simple dish. And Sarah added a bunch of new gift and seasonal items to the chocolate selection, so be sure to stock up for the holidays. And eggs! I sold off my ladies for the winter (to return in the spring), but the same local farm as last week has some for sale that I’m happy to offer up for sale.

The veggie list isn’t as long as it used to be, but the flavor has never been better. Much of what we have left available actually gets sweeter with frosts, and we’ve had plenty of those at this point. It’s a fascinating natural physiological response to freezing temperatures – root crops like carrots, rutabaga, and celeriac convert starches to sugars as a natural anti-freeze to prevent damage to the crop. Some non-roots in the brassica family like kale and tatsoi also get sweeter with the cold via a similar process of sugar accumulation for frost protection.

Other crops aren’t so lucky – the celery has finally succumbed to the cold. Fortunately you can swap celeriac in any recipe calling for celery (other than ants on a log). And it’s objectively significantly more delicious. Roast it, put it in soup, mash it with potatoes. It’s all good.

I put in a way too late planting of beets just to see what would happen. Predictably, we have a row of little tiny gorgeous beets that will never reach full-size. Roast them whole, no need to peel. Halving them will make them cook quicker, but I left them whole in a 400 degree oven for an hour, stirring them halfway through, and they were little balls of sugar.

We had a bumper crop of acorn and butternut squash – stock up before it’s too late! The easiest way to eat these are to roast them cut them in half. I had been roasting them face down so they steam and cook quicker, but last time I roasted them face up in a covered pan. They still cooked quicker but retained all the sugars that previously ran out. In an attempt to re-create Tower Hill’s famous butternut squash flatbread (made with our butternut), we made a pizza using butternut squash as the sauce with cranberries, caramelized onions, and a drizzle of barbecue sauce. Sooo good. If you want the real deal, stop in to Tower Hill and be sure to let them know you appreciate their dedication to local agriculture and your favorite organic farm in particular! I’ll be there Saturday making another delivery – maybe I’ll see you there?

Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 8am Monday. We’ll pick all orders fresh Monday morning and have it available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday right on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the big red barn on the right at the crest of the hill. Take advantage of this short window of time when the best produce around is grown in Grafton’s backyard!

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A Thankful Break

dsc09768Thank you to everyone who braved the frigid barn on Monday and stocked up for their holiday meals! I expect at least half of Grafton should have our amazing Potter Hill carrots in their Thanksgiving meals based on the 55 pounds we harvested and sold on Monday. There’s nothing quite like those frost sweetened carrots. Why are fall crops so much sweeter than the rest of the year? Sounds like a good newsletter theme for next week.

On the next week topic, there will be no pickup on Monday 11/28. We are going to take a week off as I focus on my new role as stay at home dad. Plus, I’m ready for a week off after 5 months of constant harvesting (and weeding), preceded by 2 months of constant planting (and weeding). Our goal was to have something available from Potter Hill to grace your Thanksgiving plates – with 21 different vegetables for sale on Monday, mission accomplished! Everything from here on out is gravy.

We’ll be back at it the following week when Jeff comes down from NH to spread some holiday cheer (meat). You don’t need to wait till then to put in your meat order – check out what he has for sale and send him an email at info@shortcreeknh.com. We had his roasted chili and pumpkin sausage (from Potter Hill pumpkin) stuffed inside an acorn squash the other day – so good!

We’ll at least have roots for sale to go along with the meat. Mother nature willing, greens too. It may be our last week of the season, but it sure has been a good run. I am very thankful to all of you for supporting Potter Hill and making my first season a success. I know it’s not easy to add a separate trip to your busy lives just for veggies, especially now that the sun goes down so soon after coming up. So thank you, thank you, thank you. And while I’m at it, a huge thank you to our family! I always try to write as “we” because I certainly have not done this alone. Our house has been a revolving door of family coming from all over the country and world to help however they’re able – from helping on the farm to helping with the babe, this season would have been a disaster without them. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving y’all!

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One Stop Shopping

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Where else can you get the best chocolate, cheese, eggs and organic veggies around? All that is missing is the turkey! And yes, I said cheese – Couet Farm cheese is back, just in time to add to your holiday feast! Anna Banana’s has added a large chocolate sampler filled with 4 different types of chocolate. You’ll definitely get an invite again next year if you show up with cheese and chocolate.

As if life couldn’t get any better, I’ve added triple-washed baby leaf lettuce to the veggie list. I can’t even begin to describe to you all how much this has improved my life! 1/3 pound bags for $4. Instant salad, and so very nutritious and delicious. Two salad(ie)s a day keeps the maladies away. Also (sort of) new to the list is rainbow carrots with no limits – I’m pretty sure they doubled in size after Tuesday’s rain and are finally the perfect size. I connected with an organic (non-certified) farm to fill out the selection – the potatoes, kale and eggs will be mostly from Chestnut Hill Farm. No need to fight over the eggs this week!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday filled with family, friends, joy, and appreciation. And Potter Hill veggies.

Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 8am Monday. We’ll pick all orders fresh Monday morning and have it available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday right on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the big red barn on the right at the crest of the hill. Take advantage of this short window of time when the best produce around is grown in Grafton’s backyard!

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The Peace of Wild Things

img_4515“When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”

There’s nothing quite like the quiet of the forest to calm an anxious spirit – for a multitude of reasons, we’ve been taking frequent long walks in the woods behind Potter Hill’s pastures lately. A friend posted this Wendell Berry poem recently that really captures my mood – clearly great minds think alike!

Sarah from Anna Banana’s Homemade Goodness now has sampler boxes for sale in the chocolate category – great to take to a holiday get together or to binge eat at home alone.  And on the box topic, Ken the cattle man has received feedback that 100 pounds of beef is like, a lot of meat. He is going to offer meat boxes of 10, 20, and 30 pounds – as always, contact him at kdionfly@verizon.net for details. He is still offering ground beef for sale, 2 pound packages for $14, so you can try before you buy.

Oh, and yes there are still lots of great greens, roots, and squash but this beautiful weather won’t last forever – get them while you still can!

Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 8am Monday. We’ll pick all orders fresh Monday morning and have it available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday right on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the big red barn on the right at the crest of the hill. Take advantage of this short window of time when the best produce around is grown in Grafton’s backyard!

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Monday? Meat day!

Hey, Grafton!  It’s Jeff, the farmer formerly known as… that Potter Hill guy with the pants.  Paul invited me to invade the newsletter again, and I’m going to make it snappy.  Mostly I want to spare the good folks who are also SCF newsletter subscribers from a heaping double dose of ridiculous.  What?  You don’t get the Short Creek newsletter?  But it has so many pretty pictures!  It’s OK, I forgive you.  But you really should go sign up.  That way all of the good folks who usually enjoy Paul’s fantastic newsletter, and who don’t care a good gosh-dang about Short Creek meat (Hi, Fiona!), don’t have to suffer these occasional takeovers.  Hmmmm, it seems my goal here is to spare as many readers as possible the pain of reading what I write, so let’s get right to…

The POINT!  Monday is Meat Day at Potter Hill!  Remember that you can order sausages and other pastured meat treats from Short Creek Farm for pickup during the regular Potter Hill pickup hours.  Go forth and examine the list on our website, and then shoot us an email with your grocery list.  Posthaste!

Finally, I just happened to go check out the selection of vegetables available from Paul this week.  Daaaaayyum, son!  That’s an extensive list of organic local produce for November in New England.  Get it while you can – you’ll be kicking yourself in December if you don’t take every opportunity to eat fresh greens.  Paul assures me the lettuce is top notch, so get your order inToot sweet.

P.S. We have bacon.  And it’s sliced, just like proper bacon.  So if you love bacon, but can’t be bothered with knives, today is your day.

Thanks!!

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Tricks and a Treat

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BOO!

We have an earlier pickup on Monday this week because I do NOT want to miss this little one’s first trick or treating. The pickup this week will be 3-6pm, but if you can’t make it till later, mention it in the notes and I’ll pack up and leave your order for you in the barn.

We have a few things to say goodbye to, and yet also a hearty welcome back. It’s so long, adios, sayanora to the tomatoes. The frost on Tuesday night was the beginning of the end, and the even harder frost Wednesday night sealed the deal. It seems so long ago now that we picked our first heirloom tomato of the season. I remember thinking how early it was (for Potter Hill) and, in the midst of the drought, wondering if they’d go by just as quickly as the cucumbers. Fortunately that didn’t happen, and we picked more tomatoes than I ever thought possible – a great run while it lasted, I assume future mediocre tomato summers will make me nostalgic for The Great 2016 Tomato Harvest. That said, there should still be some tomatoes available as we picked a bunch ahead of the cold.

Beans also bit the dust Tuesday night – my apologies to all you beanaholics but I didn’t get a chance to cover them. Fortunately, everything else will continue to get even better until we see some serious cold.

Enough of mother nature’s tricks, now for the treat…ground beef is BACK! Ken, the cattle man, still has a number of beef shares to sell. To give everyone a sneak peek of the quality of the meat before a big investment, he is making some ground beef available so you can decide for yourself. I haven’t tried it yet since he just got it back Monday, but he tells me it’s top quality. Meat share flyers will be passed out during the pickup. He does not have storage for 1,600 pounds of beef, so buying a share is likely the only way to get your hands on this grass-fed beef raised in our backyard.

Caramel apple season is over, but plenty of other chocolates available from Anna Banana’s.

Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 8am Monday. We’ll pick all orders fresh Monday morning and have it available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm Monday right on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the big red barn on the right at the crest of the hill. Take advantage of this short window of time when the best produce around is grown in Grafton’s backyard!

 

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Washout

Wow, we finally got the first big summer thunderstorm of the season. Wait…it’s late October? 3.2 inches of rain fell yesterday? Scratch head, rub eyes…confirm it’s not the lack of sleep from baby being up all night. Yup, we got 3.2 inches of rain yesterday, compared to 3.9 inches in June, July, and August combined! Grumble grumble.

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Despite the rain, or perhaps because of it, the garden looks fantastic. You don’t get greens like this more than a few weeks out of the year. Kale, chard, tatsoi, pea tendrils, spinach – you could have a different green each day of the week! The deluge most likely spelled the end of Potter Hill tomato season, but we did pick plenty just before it started so there should be enough for all on Monday.

All chocolates from Anna Banana’s are in stock and this is most likely the last week for the caramel apples!

Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 8am Monday. We’ll pick all orders fresh Monday morning and have it available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday right on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the big red barn on the right at the crest of the hill. Take advantage of this short window of time when the best produce around is grown in Grafton’s backyard!

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That’s a Wrap!

img_4272No, our season isn’t wrapping up – I mean lettuce wraps of course! Parris Island, my favorite fall romaine variety, makes a delicious wrap. Think taco but without the shell. Or try it Asian-style with ground beef, tatsoi, rice, garlic, ginger and soy sauce.

The farmers market season did wrap up on Wednesday, and what an end to the season it was. Half of Grafton came out on a beautiful October afternoon to support our local artists, bakers, crafters and farmers. My truck was stacked precariously high with crate upon crate filled to the brim with veggies…and I returned with two heads of lettuce (dinner!). Thank you to all who made it a fantastic day and season!

I know the end is nigh, but the abundance continues for now. In fact we added a couple items to the list again this week. KALE is FINALLY back on the list. We have three varieties we’re picking right now, all super tender and it’ll just get sweeter with the lovely frosts we’ve been getting. The tomatoes survived the first two, but tonight is supposed to be another long frost. I heard it won’t climb above freezing till 9am. We won’t know the damage till the morning, but don’t fret – we picked tons of tomatoes and cherry tomatoes today and I tucked the oh-so-delicious beans in under their row cover blankets, so there should be enough for all on Monday. Everything else just improves in flavor with a frost!

If you’re new to the list…welcome! Mondays are a great way to fill your craving for organic veggies outside of the markets. Plus I often have extras available – this week Sarah from Anna Banana’s is back with chocolates, and even elderberry juice/syrup.

Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 8am Monday. We’ll pick all orders fresh Monday morning and have it available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday right on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the big red barn on the right at the crest of the hill. Take advantage of this short window of time when the best produce around is grown in Grafton’s backyard!

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Monday Holiday Hours 12-2pm

You never know what to expect this time of year – depending img_4184on the time of day it can feel like August, October, or worse. That pair of 80 degree days jump-started the tomatoes, watermelon and green beans so they are back on the list. Yes, green beans! I seeded a way-too-late planting of beans hoping (but never expecting) they’d actually produce. We may even get more than one picking out of them before the frost gets them. I scoped out a couple farmers markets today and was surprised to see other farmers had beans for sale. It made me wonder if there are others out there as crazy as I am or if them beans been sitting for a while. A simple trick to test freshness – just-picked beans like you get at Potter Hill have a natural fuzz on them – put them on your shirt and they will stick like Velcro. Unsurprisingly their beans didn’t pass the test.

Three newcomers, pea tendrils, acorn squash, and purple top turnips, join the list, which stands at 24 different items this week. Not too shabby for getting toward the middle of October!

With this fall abundance, I couldn’t justify taking a Monday off, but I am moving the hours up so that anyone still in town can stock up for a BBQ or other delicious feast. Pickup hours are 12-2pm this week. If you can’t make those hours and can’t wait to get your veggies at the last Grafton market on Wednesday, I will happily pack up your order and leave it in the fridge at the farm for you. Just be sure to let me know in the notes or an email.

No extras this week:
-The cheese-makers are taking a break from winning awards to produce their biggest and best yet – their new little human is due very soon.
-You can get Sarah’s chocolates on Wednesday at the market

Ordering Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 7am Monday morning. We’ll pick all orders fresh Monday morning and have it available for you to pick-up from 12-2pm Monday afternoon right on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Take advantage of this short window of time when the best produce around is grown in Grafton’s backyard!

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Transitions

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Well that was a quick change. Last week it was too hot, this week too cold. After 7 years in Mass, you’d think I’d be used to a typical New England fall…erratic, unstable, fickle. We had a very light frost up on the hill Monday morning, and our work-share, Denali, swore he saw snow flakes while we were harvesting for market on Wednesday. The tomatoes may not love our first rainy week of the season – this could be the end of the Great Tomato Harvest of 2016 – but it’s the start of lettuce season. So lettuce give thanks for a flavorful, bountiful tomato season as we transition to rich hearty winter squashes and green leafy things.

Speaking of green things, pea tendrils are back! A delicious snack on their own, chopped into salads or cook them ever so lightly. The celeriac also are sizing up nicely and have been added to the list, joining a million other items we’re harvesting right now.

And then the non-green things. We have meats, cheeses, and chocolates for sale to cancel out all that veggie healthyfullness. That’s right, Monday is the first Monday in October (?!?), meaning Jeff will be coming down with Short Creek’s incredible meats. And after a week off, the cheese is back in stock. I highly recommend their Adelisca cheese on some fresh Potter Hill eggs to get your morning started off right. Or try pairing their award-winning Franciszka cheese on your Potter Hill salad. And last but not least, I have added Anna Banana’s sweets to the online ordering system. Caramel Pretzel Apple…yes please! Please support these awesome farmers too!

Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 8am Monday morning. We’ll pick all orders fresh Monday morning and have it available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday afternoon right on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Take advantage of this short window of time when the best produce around is grown in Grafton’s backyard!