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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!

 

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We’re Back!

It’s a strange feeling to take a weekend off during the busy season. I left thinking it might even be good to give the garden a break. I came back wondering what in the world I was thinking. And I was only away for 48 hours!

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We seem to have really hit our stride after a rough summer – the tomatoes and watermelon are still the stars of the show but butternut squash, eating pumpkins, and watermelon radishes (pictured) are new to the list. There will be some acorn and sweet dumpling squash available as well, but only enough so far to make it first come, first serve.

If you’ve been on the sidelines this season for saucing tomatoes, now is the time! Discounts for the red and pink heirloom varieties will be given (but won’t show up in your cart) for 10 ($3.50/lb), 15 ($3/lb), and 20+($2.50/lb) pounds.

No extras this week…the cheese-makers are off winning more cheesy awards (this time at the Big E), and the chocolates have not made it onto the website for ordering yet. See you all Monday!

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!

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Local Beef Shares Available

imageThere will be no pickup this Monday as I am enjoying a brief and much-needed weekend away from the farm. Jenni’s friend is getting married in NYC – we’re on the train with a (currently) very happy baby. Hopefully she stays that way! It’s unfortunate that it’s this weekend, only because the garden has exploded all of a sudden. We’re still getting tons of summer goodies like watermelon, tomatoes, watermelon, tomatoes, and more watermelon and tomatoes. Today before I left, we delivered 120 pounds of heirloom tomatoes to Anzio’s. I’m not sure what they’re doing with all that flavor, but I’m excited to find out! We also picked a 16 pound watermelon for Tower Hill’s cafe this morning. Gotta love restaurants that actually practice what they preach – a few “seasonal” restaurants wouldn’t even accept the sample produce I tried to bring over!

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In addition to the end of summer abundance, our fall crops have started coming in. I’ve enjoyed sampling the butternut and acorn squashes to see if they’ve reached peak flavor. Expect to see plenty of those at the market on Wednesday. Meanwhile, our greens haven’t looked this good all season, and some late-seeded carrots and beets are sizing up nicely. Now all you need is some meat for a complete Potter Hill meal…

Despite my recent optimism, “challenging” is the one word I’d choose to describe this season. Turns out it’s not easy to take over a farm and have a baby mid-season! I realized early on that I bit off more than I could chew and sold the beef animals that I had just purchased and (mostly) uneventfully transported to the farm. It was a tough decision to make financially, but looking back it was the right one – veggies and Miss Paddy Rose have kept me on my toes this year. Plus, the buyer was a local guy with plenty of farming experience. Many of you know Ken Dion from Community Harvest Project, a former co-worker of mine when I was there. Ken has been taking care of the cattle at Potter Hill the last few months and has finalized beef share details. Shares are available for pickup in October, November and December, and deposits will be accepted until all shares are sold. Inquiries should be sent to him directly at kdionfly@verizon.net.

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Chocolate!

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Is it weird for a farmer to be talking about chocolate? Man cannot live on veggies alone! Many of you know our good friend Sarah, of Anna Banana’s Homemade Goodness. Sarah will be joining the Monday pickup this week with all kinds of goodies – only the caramel apples need to be ordered ahead (it might break our website if we tried to put up all of her crazy creations). You can now get your award-winning cheese*, chocolate, and veggies all in one place. Now if we can only convince the simple folk to sell their bread with us, it’ll be one stop shopping!

It’s become unsurprising to check the weather report and see “near-record temperatures” this season, but hopefully today will be the very last 90 degree of the year. I guess that’s not hoping for too much given that it’s creeping toward mid-September. Most of the garden continues to limp along, especially our previously outrageously productive tomatoes that I’ve been bragging about since July. A few theories on that, one more common, another intriguing, and the third more of the same.

Boring theory #1: We’ve had a few cold nights recently – I even saw 48 degrees one morning! Tomatoes like nights in the 60s, so it’s possible that the loaded, healthy green plants just haven’t been ripening their fruits as quickly. But…the slowdown seems too dramatic. The plants went from overdrive to basically nothing, which makes me wonder about…

Intriguing theory #2: A new friend of the farm stopped by to put in a morning of good honest work. She had noticed that her tomato plants had been dropping brown flowers (future tomatoes) when we had that tremendous heat wave. She researched it (and I verified) and found that tomato blossoms can drop without setting fruit if temps reach 90 degrees for an extended period. Sound familiar? So it would make sense if we hit a lull in the tomatoes, before they start picking back up.

Drought theory #3: We’re in a severe drought…’nuff said!

The shining star is our lower field filled with cantaloupe, winter squash, and watermelons. Yes, we have enough of our incredible watermelon for you to order!! You should see the size of some of those butternut and spaghetti squashes too. The acorn squash will be the first to hit the figurative shelves – maybe even at the market next week. I roasted one up yesterday and it was very good, but not quite ready just yet. I’m not sure where the water came from to make such large and delicious fruits…but it wasn’t from the skies!

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!

*Get your cheese orders in by 11am Sunday this week

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Rest

There will be no Monday pickup this week for Labor Day. Yes, even farmers need to rest once in a while…at least this farmer needs one this weekend. And more importantly, the garden needs a breather after the driest summer on record, to go along with the hottest August on record. Normally we get somewhere north of 10 inches of rainfall June-August – we haven’t even received half that. It’s a testament to the naturally rich Potter Hill soils, and Jeff’s careful cultivation of it the last 4 years, that anything at the top of the hill is still alive without irrigation.

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We finally enjoyed some relief on Thursday, and the garden sprang back to life almost instantly; the green but fruit and flower-less eggplant, peppers, and green beans put out a nice flush of flowers. It’s quite the site – combined with the thriving buckwheat we planted as a smother crop (and literally alive with honeybees!), and the winter rye/hairy vetch growing faster than a 10 week old baby in the fallow fields, you wouldn’t think we were in a severe drought. Don’t expect a big flush of veggies all at once, but if we do get some more relief from Hermine and the temps rebound, we all might be enjoying the typical Potter Hill September abundance against all odds!

Next week we’ll welcome back our old friends arugula, tatsoi, and radishes and say so long to squash, zucchini, and those lovely big golden potatoes. Monster acorn, spaghetti, and butternut squash are on deck.