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Peak Season

The first day of fall felt a lot like summer, and the last week of summer sure felt a lot like fall. Figures! Although I complained about the heat to anyone willing to listen, a most welcome surprise came with the return of summer weather. Holy tomato! Tanner picked 28 pints of cherry tomatoes on Wednesday. From just the tunnel. Where we have like 15 plants. And then we got another two dozen or so from the field cherry tomatoes.

It’s great to be back in tomato abundance, but more importantly, it’s reassuring that I haven’t lost the tomato magic – it just hasn’t been a great tomato season. I thought it was probably just the cooler weather keeping them down, but it’s nice to see what they’re capable of…at the end of September! I’m thrilled to have cherry tomatoes coming out my ears again, but picking all of them certainly doesn’t lighten the workload. I tried to turn over a new leaf and quit working under the light of a headlamp, but that lasted only one day.

Wow y’all – I don’t even know where to start. Everything is SO good right now, you really need to just order some (or a lot) of everything. If you really pressed me, this is my top 5 of the best of the best that you can’t live without this week.

-Greens Galore: OMG, so good and so bountiful. Kale this tender only comes around twice a year. But it’s not the only green in town; yokatta na, chard, tatsoi, bok choi, tokyo bekana…so hard to choose, just get one of each!
-Cherry Tomatoes: Because it’s (basically) October and they’re coming out our ears. Get you some!
-Cut Lettuce: It just keeps getting better every week. New varieties added to the mix.
-Basil: At the end of September? Yes please!
-Salad Turnips: SO big by now and yet still so silky tender.

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Frosty Hot

I woke up to a surprise Thursday morning. Frost on the ground! Did you all have some too? I had to hunt for it up here on the hill where it generally stays warmer (cold air sinks), but sure enough it was there. A full month and a day ahead of last year. To be honest, it wasn’t really a surprise. I was out Wednesday night unpacking my truck from the market around 10 and it was COOL (still not a complaint, I love this weather!). 
I had a feeling it was going to frost, which is why I woke up early and looked out the window like a kid checking for overnight snow. Not that I was excited about it – I’m not ready for the summer treats to end, though they had ground to a halt in this week’s cold anyway (distant memory after hitting 88 yesterday!!?). I just wanted to test how in tune with the weather I am. It wasn’t obvious from my window so I went out to see what I could see. I only found it in the gully leading up to the pond and a few drops in the terrain. The only possibly damage I found was some rough looking basil leaves in the secret garden, though I’m not 100% convinced it was from the frost.

How nice is it to have September basil by the way!? Hopefully this heat wave kicks the tomatoes into high gear so we can have some proper TBMs. Basil and tomatoes seem to be doing an awkward dance trying to catch up with the other. First we had basil out our ears, but the tomatoes were behind because of the wet spring. Next the basil succumbed to basil downy mildew (BDM) just as the tomatoes exploded. I heard about a new organic variety of basil that’s resistant to BDM, ordered it within seconds, and 6 weeks later we’re picking basil again (not a fast crop). By that time the cold nights slowed down the tomatoes – still lots of fruit on the green plants but they haven’t been turning. I could do without any more 88 degree days (that was a complaint), but if it’s going to be hot, we might as well enjoy summer fruits again. I limited tomatoes on the website, but there’s a chance we’ll have extra at the pickup on Monday. Lots of other great stuff available – ’tis the season!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

Always planting! This is (possibly too) late lettuce and spinach for your later October/November enjoyment fingers crossed. Notice how dry the soil is! Atypical for September
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Brrrr…..

‘Tis my favorite time of year veggie-wise, when seasons collide I like to say. This year’s collision is looking pretty lopsided – like a hummer (fall) vs a mini cooper (summer) as we’ve had the mildest September that I can remember farming. (That’s my way of saying cold without sounding like I’m complaining because, really, how could I complain about this weather?!) It’s just the start of the fall stuff, while the summer fun veggies are still hanging in there, though I’m writing this Friday night and it’s currently 45 degrees (and dropped to 39 Saturday morning yikes). I just checked the list and there are 32 different vegetables you can order….from 1/3 of an acre…not bad! Get it while the getting’s good.

We did finally get a little rain Thursday, but I had to run the irrigation the next day anyway as it wasn’t exactly a soaker, and it’s been so dry lately. Usually irrigating is one of those pesky items you can remove from your mile-long farm to do list in September. Do a little rain dance for me – my to do list could use some lightening. Update: Yay rain!

On the labor front, I may have been a bit overly optimistic. We’ll see! For some odd reason in the hottest labor market in perhaps forever, I can’t find someone to work their tails off for less money than they can make sitting behind a counter at DD and texting their friends. Funny how we prioritize what we’re willing to spend our money on huh? I’d love to pay a living wage, but I’d like to be making half of a living wage myself first. I could grumpily make this a millennial critique that ‘no one wants to work hard anymore’…but depending on who’s counting, some may lump me into that generation. It’s certainly not for anyone at every stage of life, but I just need that one person willing to go all in for a season or two or career! It has happened before with some rock star farmers so I’m holding out hope. They’re out there, I know they are. Please keep spreading the word to help me find them!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Meaty Monday

Wow, I didn’t think I could get any busier – what a week…my head is spinning. The good news is that help may be on the way! I’m meeting with 3 potential employees over 4 days – that’s more applicants than I had for the full year position at the start of the season. To say I’m excited is an understatement!

Different structure to this email because I have to go move the cows before they move themselves (again)! Look for them on the right on the way up the hill. They seem to enjoy the pasture down there so this time I just put up the fence around them instead of trying to get them back up. Plus I didn’t have any Korean takeout food to lure them back up! My neighbor showed me a hilarious clip from his security camera of them prancing through his backyard.

  • Potter Hill honey has finally arrived! The first harvest was wildflower honey – the beekeeper can tell by color and taste. It’s REALLY good and is up on the website for $10 a jar
  • Meaty Monday! Jeff from Short Creek and formerly of Potter Hill will be coming down Monday with meat. Here’s a link to his website. Availability is found on his price list. Email him directly to order at jeff@shortcreeknh.com.
  • OMG you guys. I keep saying this but the lettuce is getting better and better. This week will be the first pick from our newest planting. I sampled some the other night just to make sure it was as good as it looks. I think it’s actually better! 
  • Some new and returning items are up on the website. This is the best time of the year to be a veggie, and the next few weeks are looking to be even better. Tomatoes and cucumbers are still cranking (somehow despite the cool weather), the greens are taking off, and fall veggies are just starting to come in. I’m holding off on the butternut this week to let them sweeten up but maybe next week.

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Help Me Help You!

Before I dive into why you should come help me help you all eat great food, the normal Monday pickup is being bumped up to 12-2pm so you can add some Potter Hill deliciousness to your Labor Day barbecues. If you can’t make it by 2, just let me know when you place your order and I will bag it up for you. With the earlier pickup time, I had to shorten the list up a bit but there’s still 20+ items to choose from, plus surely some that didn’t make the list! No rainbow carrots this week, but the one pictured above is the first one I pulled from the next planting…almost ready to go!

Have you recently had the itch to get your hands dirty learning how to grow your own food? Have you had trouble sleeping lately? Are you looking for a more rewarding job? Or a super flexible way to make some money while the kids are in school? Bored with your current workout? Looking to spend more time outdoors? Stuck eating terribly and can’t figure out how to get out of the rut? Taking some time away from school to figure out life? So many questions! Even if you answered no to all these…do you know someone who may have said yes to some of these?

I’m looking for someone or a couple someones to help me finish off this fantastic season. Bonus if you’re interested in a longer term opportunity, as I lose all my current crew to school and life opportunities next season. Perks of the job – a good night’s sleep after a great paid workout while learning how to grow your own food in the great outdoors. Not to mention you will eat like a king…on a pauper’s salary, which is only downside to the job in my opinion. But until we as a society reevaluate if a Starbucks coffee is more valuable than an organic heirloom tomato or that dog food should be the same price per pound as never sprayed rainbow carrots, that’s all I can offer! Qualifications are a willingness to work hard, interest in learning, satisfaction in a job well done, ability to lift 20 pounds repeatedly, attention to detail, and an appreciation of working outside, even in less than ideal weather. Please share far and wide -as of 9/21, it will be just me and a part-timer. Stay-at-home parent hours would fit well with the job!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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The Great Escape, Part 2

Before I get into the excitement, I just wanted to highlight that I’m looking for help to finish off the season! Experience not required but the interest and ability to work your tail off is. Please share far and wide – this could also be a good trial run for a full season position next year.

Ok, now for the good news – the cows are finally on the correct side of the street and exactly where I’ve wanted them to be for the first time since their original Great Escape. The bad news? It wasn’t exactly how I intended, though it’s a great story that I don’t have time to tell….because, you guessed it, I was chasing cows when I should have been writing this newsletter. Long story short when they finally surfaced, I lured them back with a takeout Korean food bag from our 10 year anniversary dinner celebration that got cut short!

One quick note as I’ve been getting a lot of emails and calls from concerned customers about the aerial spraying the state is doing in Grafton for EEE. It’s a heavy handed approach to a very rare but serious threat. Because our farm is certified organic, I have the option of being excluded from the aerial spraying. I talked to the Department of Agriculture on Thursdays and they confirmed that the farm was on the exclusion list and explained that they take into account wind speed and direction while spraying to minimize drift. Surely it’s not a perfect calculation, but all 40 acres of the farm is on the exclusion map, so it’s at least a fairly large exclusion zone!

Lots of great veggies coming in right now, especially on the heirloom tomato, cucumber, and cherry tomato front. Help me eat them all! And basil basil is back in limited quantities to pair with those delicious tomatoes. Order instructions below.

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Photo Essay

My wife had a few off clinic days and things on the farm have slowed a tiny bit (15 hour days instead of 17), so we’ve been taking full advantage of the bounty coming in. I hope you are too! If you’re in a food rut, below is a photo essay with some ideas straight from our kitchen, with an assist from a CSA member’s kitchen.

We’ll start with these beautiful beets. They taste as good as they look. The first picture is simply roasted beets – the only way to eat beets in my opinion. I didn’t even peel these (really don’t need to with fresh beets) – just quartered them and dressed them with salt, pepper, and olive oil for very roughly 45 minutes at 400. I got distracted after they cooked and didn’t eat them all hot. Paddy Rose and I were looking for a snack later and ate the whole tupperware of cold beets. How about that for a snack next time you’re craving something sweet and chewy!

Next up is this gem from a CSA Card member. She told me about it at the pickup and I was thoroughly unconvinced (cucumbers, beets, dill…sounded weird) but she brought me some at the market and I was smitten at first sight. I generally stay away from cold soups but she promised me it was refreshing and she was right. Google Chlodnik for a recipe.

Next up is a TBM. Yes, that’s right…a TBM with a ripe green Tomato, purple Basil, and in this case the M stands for Mediterranean Adelisca from my cheesemaking friend (which I will have for sale on Monday). Toasted on some good bread. SO good!

How do you use that thai or sacred basil you ask? In anything I say! Jenni put it in with this cherry tomato chicken mozarella balsamic dish and it was 👌

This last one isn’t a meal idea, unless your idea of a meal is eating a tomato like an apple. In that case, this 2+ pound ripe green heirloom tomato could feel your whole family! The tomatoes are just about in full swing this week and tasting fantastic…especially those cherries! Too many great veggies coming in right now to list them all, and we’re on the cusp of tons more. If only we could get some rain we’d be bursting at the seams. Rain dances everyone!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Magical Sunsets

Another week, another gorgeous sunset picture – it was pretty magical the other night up here. Y’all should come up to experience one sometime…I might even put you to work!

We had a couple BIG days this week that hopefully laid the ground work for a great fall and next season. What does a big day on the farm look like this time of year? I’ve been waiting what seems like forever for a good rain to put in the fall transplants. We got that and then some on Wednesday. 2.16″ is what my weather app said, and that might be an understatement judging by how much water was in our harvest buckets the next morning. We planted spinach (the real stuff), chard, lettuce, kale, kohlrabi, bok choi, tatsoi, yokatta na, cabbage, and broccoli. Yea, a lot. My head is still spinning a little trying to keep track of it all. We ran out of room for the cauliflower and perpetual spinach unfortunately, but I’m hoping to squeeze them in somewhere after the next rain (rain dance everyone!). Additionally, we direct seeded spicy salad mix (oh how I’ve missed you!), radishes (you too!), turnips (and you!), arugula (ok all of you), and tokyo bekana.

After planting, we switched over to harvesting for the Saturday CSA – the zucchini and cucumbers that would have been too big by Saturday and the ripest tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. Throw in some maintenance items like trellising the cucumbers, moving the chickens, washing eggs…and yea, it was a busy one. But not over yet as a friend came to the rescue after my crew went home and helped me broadcast seed cover crop while the soil was still (somewhat) wet. And yet still the day wasn’t over. We somehow found the time and energy to make it down to Douglas Orchards to pick blueberries that evening for the Saturday CSA. Sure is a good thing the days are still so long. Although that was enough work for a week, I beat the sun out of bed the next day harvesting the rest of the veggies for the Saturday CSA!

Lots of great veggies on the list, and I’ve loosened up the limits a bit on the good stuff. Somehow we might be harvesting the best lettuce of the season (do I say that every week?), the tomatoes are starting to tomato, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how many carrots and beets we have to go through before the next plantings kick in. There will certainly be a gap, though I don’t think it will be as big as I feared. Although not enough to add to the list, there will also be some eggplant and peppers available first come first serve. Order away!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Ode to August

Oh, hello August – I missed you! Please take it easy on this heat averse farmer, unlike your predecessor. An occasional rain would be nice, especially soon, though let’s not have a repeat performance of last year. Please?!

I love August, usually. I swear I went to bed miserably hot July 31st and woke up pleasantly chilled the next morning. I think it might even be my favorite month on the farm. Until next month rolls around and I declare my love for September. Oh, and that cool but not cold air of October! Basically I love any month that’s below 90 and above 50.

As long as I’m professing my love, let me tell you about this special someone. Rock star vet and amazing mother, she can do it all. She somehow even finds time to feed her hungry clan with the ridiculous amounts of veggies I bring in the house. Nora’s out-eating Paddy Rose these days and…let’s just say I can eat (understatement of the year). I am truly blessed and beyond thankful to have just celebrated 10 years of marriage and 15 years together on August 1st – yet another reason to love August! It’s been such a roundabout road that led us here, but I wouldn’t want to share this crazy life with anyone else. Thank you for all that you do and all that you are – love ya!

The summer goodies continue to trickle in. If we get a wet few days, I think everything will explode. Can’t wait! The watermelon, cherry tomatoes, rainbow beets and carrots, and those amazing blonde cucumbers have just started coming in and are up in limited quantities on the website. The eggplant and peppers seem to be on vacation this week, but the second planting of zucchini and summer squash just kicked in while the first one hasn’t given up the ghost yet. Meanwhile the lettuce and fresh onions (so good!) are still cranking, and we have cilantro for days. If only every month was August – get it all while you can!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Almost

If there was one word to describe this season, “almost” would be it. All season long I’ve felt like we are almost over the hump. The greenhouse was almost ready in time, but it wasn’t so everything got delayed. The field was almost ready to be planted in early April…and then it rained cats and dogs for 10 straight days so we didn’t get back in until May, which further delayed everything. The deer fence was almost ready when the heat forced me to remove the covers over everything. The irrigation was almost set up in time for the first dry stretch we had. Although the plants have been heroic in trying to catch up from all the delays, summer abundance hasn’t quite come to the hill yet. We had the first modest pick of rainbow carrots, beets, bell peppers, eggplant, and cherry tomatoes for the CSA on Saturday, and they are available in limited quantities this week on the website. The second planting of cucumber and squash/zucchini is almost ready as well, so they are still limited. I tried a watermelon and it was almost ready. Sorry I’ll stop now!

As frustrating as being almost there is, the garden looks great. The variety is impressive, while the quantities not so much. One thing we have nailed this year is lettuce, which is making up for last season’s constant shortages with more lettuce than I know what to do with this year. And it’s been REALLY good if I do say so myself…not easy to do in the middle of the summer! Our leek, onion, and herb game is going strong as well, specifically some incredible basil and cilantro. We picked 60 bunches of basil for the CSA and didn’t even make a dent in it. If you like to stock up on pesto for the winter like we do, now is the time because I spotted the first signs of basil downy mildew. A relatively new (to the Northeast) disease , it pretty quickly wipes out the entire basil crop. The discount won’t show up on the website because I’m a farmer not a web designer, but buy 2 and get 1 free. Buy 4 and get 2 free. Buy 6 and get 3 free. You get the idea, no limits – stock up! Just make sure to confirm the right quantities are in your cart before checkout – there is a glitch (again farmer not web designer) that won’t allow you to add multiple of some veggies to your cart, but you can increase the quantities if you click on View Cart before checkout.

Also this week only, April is back making flower bunches. The first sunflowers started to open up and the marigold are popping like crazy. She always mixes in some beautiful wild flowers and intoxicating basil. They’re quite a treat, make sure to add one to your order!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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