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Monday, August 26, 2013

A Jar of Pickles and A Special Place



When I looked at the calendar during breakfast this morning, a glowing picture of a bowl of tomatillos looked back at me.  The bright green fruits with their slightly purple husks sing the song of summertime, of making salsa verde and climbing down tightly packed rows of plants, ducking and weaving amongst the bees that cover the tomatillo flowers.  I start to get lost thinking about the harvest of the week ahead and picking sticky tomatillos for hours, when I finally notice the important thing that the calendar is showing me; it’s the last week of August.  I’m pretty sure I then get lost in an inner scream-fest—with lots of ‘no way!’ ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’ and ‘this can’t be true!’—when I come back to reality and take a long sip of strong coffee, I begin to sort out the feelings that the calendar has so sneakily unveiled. 

the barn dinner crew!
The end of August, even though not truly the end of summer, is a big transition at Powisset, as it is in most of your lives. School is starting up, summer vacations have come and gone, you may be coming for your share at a new time that works with all these changes.  For us, our summer crew has gone back to college, or moved on to their routines outside of the farm, leaving our crew to it’s core, the five full-timers pushing hard to get a massive amount of work done around fall harvests, end-of-summer weeding marathons and doing this all with tired, tired bodies.  

On this eve of the end-of-Summer, our farmers and CSA members came together this past Saturday to celebrate our farm our food and our friendships, warming the barn with the heat of an August night, festive conversation and glorious potluck dishes.  The best way I can describe our dinner from this past weekend is to call it nourishing.  I felt full of farm food, expertly and lovingly prepared by our members and farm crew. (I even got a jar of homemade Powisset pickles to enjoy throughout the week).  I was full of laughter and smiling and listening to people’s stories of their days or weeks outside of the farm.  I was fully content to watch as new friendships were made as strangers, brought together by the farm, shared their lives across a picnic table.  And I was nourished as all fifty or more of us took a few minutes to share with each other what makes Powisset a special place to each of us.

kasey and fellow farmer, katie
I opened the sharing that evening by explaining why Powisset is special to me.  It is here that I have experienced so many successes and so many failures.  With each success, I learn to appreciate the glorious moments in life and learn how to appreciate my hand in those successes.  In each failure, I learn how to pick myself up and start over. And I learn the power of community and that many hands working together can lift me back up and give me hope and patience and strength.  Through these ups and downs I have grown and changed and learned to accept myself.  For those reasons (and so many more), Powisset is special to me.

It’s time to enjoy this last week of August—so, pick those beans, and make some salsa and eat a meal at the picnic tables on the farm and think about what makes Powisset special to you.


I’ll see you at the farm,
(I’ll be eating potluck leftovers at the lunch table)

Meryl & the Powisset Farm Crew




Maine Wild Blueberries

It’s been a short but sweet season for the Maine blueberries this year; and as the weather starts to turn, we are anticipating that this is the last week the berries will be available until next August!

For that final, delicious taste, we’ll have pints for sale in the farm store (on Thursday and Saturday only). We’ll also have a small number of extra bulk boxes for sale, on a first come, first served basis. Please email Tessa at tpechenik@ttor.org if you’d like to reserve one.

We’d also love to hear your feedback, so if you purchased bulk boxes or pints of blueberries this summer and have any thoughts to share, please email Tessa.



Bushel + Crumb pies are back!

This week’s savory flavor sounds like summer in a crust: roasted summer squash, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes with a bit of sharp cheese and herbs! As usual, if you are a pie share member, please remember to collect your pie; and if you’d like to purchase a pie, we’ll have some available in the farm store. Enjoy!


What's in the share:
In the barn: tomatoes, peppers, arugula, greens mix, cabbage or kale, carrots or beets,
 basil, cukes or squash
In the fields: cherry tomatoes, beans, chard or kale, dill, parsley

Monday, August 19, 2013

No Time for Cooking



Last week I had a visit from one of my oldest, best friends. She arrived at the farm a few minutes past seven after we had just finished closing up after distribution.  We hugged a big hug and she grabbed her camera to capture the almost-dusk views of the farm.  Over the past seven years, my friend has rarely seen the farm in daylight, as most of our hang-outs revolve around winter holidays when she finds herself back in Holliston visiting family.  In these slow winter hangouts, we make meals entirely of farm veggies and meat and slowly enjoy many courses in the leisurely evening hours of winter.  So, when my friend came to find me mid-week in the heat of August, covered in dirt at the end of a twelve-hour day, it was a bit of change from my well-rested, Thanksgiving day glow. 

After pictures were taken and decade old jokes were shared, I told my friend to jump in the car; we were going to get a chicken for dinner.  She said, “we’re going to kill a chicken?  Cool!”  I gave her a look, shook my head, and let her down easy on the way to the market.  We buzzed quickly over to the local market where I grabbed a basket and started to load it with a pre-cooked chicken, chips, ginger ale, frozen mac and cheese and chocolate chip cookies.  My friend’s face grew more and more contorted with every item I tossed carelessly in the basket.  She was horrified and began to yell at me in the store, as we walked.  She scolded each of my selection and said that she couldn’t believe what I was going to be eating.  “Who are you?!” she questioned to me in front of the check-out man.  I said, “I’m a farmer.  And it’s August.”

The truth is, July and August leave so little time to do much else besides weed, harvest, wash, plant, make a plan for the day, the week, think about the fall crops, turn over the spring crops…there’s no time for cooking.  I’m pretty sure I ate mostly Doritos and frozen enchiladas from trader joe’s for most of the last five weeks.  Now that the tomatoes are in, I’ll move into sliced tomatoes and bread and salt.  It will be an improvement. 

My friend and I ended up agreeing that we could eat the roasted chicken from the market, but that we would sauté some kale and onions with tomatoes.  It was delicious and it was the most I had cooked in weeks.  I know all farmers are not as neglectful of their cooking as I am, but it’s not rare to find farmers gathered around a bag of chips and some beers in August and call it dinner.

With dinner in mind—please join me and the farm crew for a beautiful farm dinner this Saturday in the barn.  We will be holding a potluck gathering along the length of the barn, sharing the farm’s bounty with each other.  I am even going to cook!
(see info below to sign up for potluck)


I hope to see you at the barn dinner,
(I’ll be the one not eating chips that night)

Meryl & the Powisset Farm Crew



 Powisset Farm Dinner In The Barn!

On Saturday, August 24, Powisset Farm will host "Dinner in the Barn"!   You are invited to join this celebration of the great community that supports Powisset farm. Imagine the scene: one long table the length of the whole barn that could seat as many as 90 people!  The dinner will be pot luck, family friendly, and we're allowed to bring beer & wine for the table.  Part of the fun will be to incorporate farm produce in as many dishes as possible.  But don't wait, spots at the table are limited, and first come, first served!  
To put your name on the list:
  email Tod Dimmick at tdimmick@tastingtimes.com with the number of people attending. 


What's in the share:

Up in the Barn: lettuce, arugula, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, garlic, onions, peppers, kale or chard
In the fields: cherry tomatoes, chard or kale, dill, beans, flowers


The CSA Survival Guide:

Powisset Farm recently partnered with writer, Heather Vitella, to produce the Powisset Farm CSA Survival guide. Have you ever struggled to figure out how to properly and efficiently use and store your CSA bounty?  Heather's guide may be just what you need.  Heather has worked with many local farms, to help guide you through your CSA experience in a positive and helpful way. Check out her description below.  She will be selling the e-book online for $8.  




CSA Survival Guide 
  
When you compare your weekly CSA share with similar items purchased at a local, organic grocery store, you will be astounded at the value you are getting.  But a big part of managing that value is properly storing the produce when you get home.  While most items benefit from refrigerator time, there is a big difference in shelf life when you store items washed or unwashed, in plastic, paper bags or just loose.  



  • Get the most out of your CSA experience!
  • Keep good produce from going bad!

This includes properly storing (and then using) all of the items grown at the farm.
  The CSA Survival Guide walks you through this with details on every item we grow.  Click on the link and head over to Cover Crop Marketing to learn more.  






Monday, August 12, 2013

Listen to the Melons.



Last week I had one true moment of zen in a week filled with the back-to-work after vacation kind of chaos.  I walked from the carrot patch to the melon patch on a mid-week, mid morning harvest last week.  My mind endlessly whirled through the to-do list of the week and the weeds laughed at me from the winter squash patch as I walked by.  The popcorn glistened and felt a smile creep in despite my annoyance at the weeds this season.  I landed in the melon section with the spectacular Powisset summer crew.  They had been picking melons all week while I was away and knew the routine.

When picking melons, the first thing I look for is a dead melon tendril nearest to the stem of the melon.  If the once-tender tendril is dry and brown, I gently turn the melon to the side, checking to see if there is a small yellow spot on the underside of the fruit.  If there is, I take one final measure to determine the ripeness.  I listen to the melon.  I tap it with my fingers and listen to the tone they give.  Does this help me at all…probably not, but it’s my moment to hear the melon, to try to get a sense of not just what a ripe melon looks like, but what it sounds like, what it feels like. 

Last Thursday, with the summer crew, the six of us spread out along the six watermelon beds.  A harvest that had only moments before been boisterous, the morning chatter at a good hum, was quieted.  For thirty minutes, we picked in silence.  We walked in silence, each of us systematically making our way down each row of melons.  We reached left and right, the plants sprawling and mixing with each other.  Look, listen, feel, fill buckets, watch your step, taste a melon, greet the morning bees, get another bucket.  As we were finishing up, I realized that I was taking deep, steady breathes as I played the melon seeker role.   Breathing in August…there’s not much of that as we try to keep up with the never ending list of crops to weed and harvest and plant and tend.  But here in the melons, I was breathing.  Among the melons and crew members I suspended the ‘to-do’ list mid rotation.  I nourished my brain and organs with oxygen and had some bites of melon along the way. 

We picked over two hundred melons from our little patch that day.  Each of us walked away from the patch with a melon in hand, fuel for our next task.  I passed my ‘little baby flower’ (that’s the name of the variety we are growing), from my right to left hand, grabbed by knife to pop the rind open.  I tore the melon in four pieces to hand out to my fellow pickers.  We smiled and continued our quiet melon harvest until we spit out the last seed into the field.

See you out there,
(I’ll challenge you to a seed spitting contest….)

Meryl & the Powisset Farm Crew



At the Farm Stand:
 

Maine Wild Blueberries
The weather has kept us in suspense, but with the rains subsided and fields drying, we’re hoping to have a fresh delivery of Maine wild blueberries this week! Pints will be available for sale in the farm store, and pre-ordered bulk boxes will be here to be claimed.

If you’d like to order blueberries in bulk, sign up in the distribution barn, or email Tessa at tpechenik@ttor.org.

Pies!
Bushel + Crumb pies will are back this week! If you are a pie share member, please remember to pick up your pie. If you would like to purchase a pie, we’ll have a few in the farm store for sale. Don’t miss this week’s sweet summer flavor: blueberry peach with almond streusel topping!


What's in the Share:

In the barn: carrots, lettuce, celery, chard or bok choi, cilantro or basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, leeks
In the fields: cherry tomatoes, beans, dill, sunflowers, chard

 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tomatoes, Basil, Coffee and Paul Make Me Happy

This morning I woke up at the farm after my week-long summer vacation to far off lands where I didn’t pull a single weed. The sounds of the farm were my alarm clock, as I heard the crackling of the farm truck pulling down the gravel road and into the fields; the crew’s voices humming as they grabbed bins to begin the Monday morning cucumber harvest.  Then, I slowly cracked my eyes, to find my dog Henry curled at the edge of my bed, the blue window curtain pushed into the room gently by the morning breeze.  I was home, at the farm. 

Only two days prior, I had opened by eyes and ears to the sights and sounds of Northern California (to weather remarkably similar to today) and spent my morning at the Grand Lake Farmers’ Market, strolling slowly by each stunning stall, observing the vegetables—as a consumer, not a producer.  What draws me in to a particular stall? Is it the display?  I tend to prefer messy piles of produce—broccoli falling on top of eggplant falling on top of peppers.  But, I can’t help but swoon when I see rustic boxes filled with striped eggplant and pints of alternating figs and sun gold cherry tomatoes displayed in a pyramid in the middle of a glowing tent lined with fresh greens. I picked up melons to sniff and return to their resting place.  I purchased pluots and let the juice drip down my chin as I wandered through the crowd, my eyes lighting up when the produce looked exactly like what we have growing in the fields of Dover, and my eyes lighting up when there were veggie varieties I’d never seen before.

tomatoes, basil and coffee! yes!
I imagine that each market stall is like a mix tape—a thoughtfully crafted selection of songs, perfectly arranged in just the right order, to present an idea, a state of mind, a mood.  I think about our Barn that way.  The way we arrange the produce, the things we select for the share each week—it is a creation, designed for enjoyment, for putting you in a good mood. But, it’s a vulnerable thing, sharing a mix tape—I mean, sharing our produce.  It is out there, on display, what if you don’t like it?  What if that vegetable isn’t your favorite or that Talking Heads song just gets on your nerve.  At the Farmers’ Market I can walk in and out of Stalls, making my selection—lettuce here, tomatoes there—buying singles (do they still make singles?)  At Powisset, we are making you a mix tape every week and hoping you like it.   

It’s a scary thing putting our vegetables out there on display, so as I walked in and out of the tents in that market in Oakland, CA, I smiled at the vendors, gushed at their beautiful produce, and purchased some basil and tomatoes and cheese for lunch.  And enjoyed for that moment being on the receiving end of such delightful mix tapes. 

See you in the fields,

Meryl & The Powisset Farm Crew
(i'll be listening to the Talking Heads while picking tomatoes)


Ps. How do you like the vegetables? The experience? We are at week ten of our CSA! Half-way through.  If you have feedback, please let me know by emailing me at: mlatronica@ttor.org




My Good Friend, Paul

Many of you know him as our Saturday greeter, our community organizer, our smiling philosopher, an artist of collage and installation, a poet, a kind soul.  His name is Paul Campanis.  He came to Powisset in 2008.  He found me out in the fields one Spring day.  He was wearing a teal button-up shirt with a bolo tie and a wide-brimmed straw hat.  He said he had heard about me and we needed to talk.  We sat at a picnic table where the flower garden now is (there was no flower garden then).  He told me about the elders in our community and that we needed to connect.  The farm needed our elders and his community needed and wanted the farm.  I said I wanted the very same thing. It was something that I had known I wanted since before I came to Powisset.  

That year he worked at the farm every Saturday as a work share.  He took very few vegetables for himself and gave the rest away, at lunches and teas in town, and at "A Place to Turn," a food pantry in Natick that he cares deeply for.  Our vegetables went all over town and beyond with Paul.  And with the vegetables, he told about our farm to all who would listen.  That year we also had our first Powisset/Council on Aging Luncheon.  Together, our crew, our farm and Paul were beginning to make the connections to our community that we had dreamed of at our magical picnic meeting.

Sometimes he would ask me if he could read me something.  I heard poetry in the wash station sitting on the stoop looking up at Paul. Sometimes we would pass like conductors on moving trains, doing our own business, winking at one another as we passed by.  Sometimes we would stop and sit and talk about food and feeding people and doing more and making a change.  And sometimes we would be quiet with each other, like we were this past fourth of July.  Together, we held space in the barn, running the distribution.  Me making 'to do' lists and saying hi to members, Paul bundling our rubber bands and taping a ribbon to each bag he completed.  

Last week, Paul moved to Nashville, Tennessee to be with his son and son's family.  There are so many ideas and "to-do's" on Paul's list that I know he will soon be beloved by many in his new life as he will, I imagine, be as involved and committed to his community there as he was here.  I didn't get to say a proper good bye to Paul, as it was his desire to quietly fly south, so I thought I would say goodbye here;  Paul, thank you for your friendship and kindness and all that you did to help make this Farm the special place that it is. I will miss you deeply and will continue with the work we started the day we met, to grow and nurture our community, always.

If you would like to send your own goodbye to Paul, please let me know and I can provide you with his mailing address.  Or, if you are ever so moved, Paul is devoted to "A Place to Turn,' in Natick and I'm sure would be grateful if there was ever a donation made to help with the good work done there.


Paul at the Powisset Farm Spring Fest!

Farm Stand Update!

Pottery!
This Saturday, Lisa B. Walker will be at the farm for her Mid Summer Pottery Sale!
Come check out her amazing works of art!

New Dairy Items!
We now have spreadable cheese and butter from the Appleton Farms Dairy Store! Yumm!

Blueberries!
Did you order blueberries this week?  Unfortunately, due to some unexpected rain up in Maine, we won't have the blueberries for the Tuesday and Thursday pick-ups.  We most likely will have blueberries for the Saturday pick up.

See you at the Stand!


What's in the Share:

Up at the Barn: lettuce, bunched cooking greens, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, watermelon, cukes and squash, scallions, basil or cilantro, beets, carrots

In the fields: sunflowers, cherry tomatoes, chard, kale, dill




Monday, August 5, 2013

Tomatoes, Basil, Coffee and Paul Make Me Happy



This morning I woke up at the farm after my week-long summer vacation to far off lands where I didn’t pull a single weed. The sounds of the farm were my alarm clock, as I heard the crackling of the farm truck pulling down the gravel road and into the fields; the crew’s voices humming as they grabbed bins to begin the Monday morning cucumber harvest.  Then, I slowly cracked my eyes, to find my dog Henry curled at the edge of my bed, the blue window curtain pushed into the room gently by the morning breeze.  I was home, at the farm. 

Only two days prior, I had opened by eyes and ears to the sights and sounds of Northern California (to weather remarkably similar to today) and spent my morning at the Grand Lake Farmers’ Market, strolling slowly by each stunning stall, observing the vegetables—as a consumer, not a producer.  What draws me in to a particular stall? Is it the display?  I tend to prefer messy piles of produce—broccoli falling on top of eggplant falling on top of peppers.  But, I can’t help but swoon when I see rustic boxes filled with striped eggplant and pints of alternating figs and sun gold cherry tomatoes displayed in a pyramid in the middle of a glowing tent lined with fresh greens. I picked up melons to sniff and return to their resting place.  I purchased pluots and let the juice drip down my chin as I wandered through the crowd, my eyes lighting up when the produce looked exactly like what we have growing in the fields of Dover, and my eyes lighting up when there were veggie varieties I’d never seen before.

tomatoes, basil and coffee! yes!
I imagine that each market stall is like a mix tape—a thoughtfully crafted selection of songs, perfectly arranged in just the right order, to present an idea, a state of mind, a mood.  I think about our Barn that way.  The way we arrange the produce, the things we select for the share each week—it is a creation, designed for enjoyment, for putting you in a good mood. But, it’s a vulnerable thing, sharing a mix tape—I mean, sharing our produce.  It is out there, on display, what if you don’t like it?  What if that vegetable isn’t your favorite or that Talking Heads song just gets on your nerve.  At the Farmers’ Market I can walk in and out of Stalls, making my selection—lettuce here, tomatoes there—buying singles (do they still make singles?)  At Powisset, we are making you a mix tape every week and hoping you like it.   

It’s a scary thing putting our vegetables out there on display, so as I walked in and out of the tents in that market in Oakland, CA, I smiled at the vendors, gushed at their beautiful produce, and purchased some basil and tomatoes and cheese for lunch.  And enjoyed for that moment being on the receiving end of such delightful mix tapes. 

See you in the fields,

Meryl & The Powisset Farm Crew
(i'll be listening to the Talking Heads while picking tomatoes)


Ps. How do you like the vegetables? The experience? We are at week ten of our CSA! Half-way through.  If you have feedback, please let me know by emailing me at: mlatronica@ttor.org




My Good Friend, Paul

Many of you know him as our Saturday greeter, our community organizer, our smiling philosopher, an artist of collage and installation, a poet, a kind soul.  His name is Paul Campanis.  He came to Powisset in 2008.  He found me out in the fields one Spring day.  He was wearing a teal button-up shirt with a bolo tie and a wide-brimmed straw hat.  He said he had heard about me and we needed to talk.  We sat at a picnic table where the flower garden now is (there was no flower garden then).  He told me about the elders in our community and that we needed to connect.  The farm needed our elders and his community needed and wanted the farm.  I said I wanted the very same thing. It was something that I had known I wanted since before I came to Powisset.  

That year he worked at the farm every Saturday as a work share.  He took very few vegetables for himself and gave the rest away, at lunches and teas in town, and at "A Place to Turn," a food pantry in Natick that he cares deeply for.  Our vegetables went all over town and beyond with Paul.  And with the vegetables, he told about our farm to all who would listen.  That year we also had our first Powisset/Council on Aging Luncheon.  Together, our crew, our farm and Paul were beginning to make the connections to our community that we had dreamed of at our magical picnic meeting.

Sometimes he would ask me if he could read me something.  I heard poetry in the wash station sitting on the stoop looking up at Paul. Sometimes we would pass like conductors on moving trains, doing our own business, winking at one another as we passed by.  Sometimes we would stop and sit and talk about food and feeding people and doing more and making a change.  And sometimes we would be quiet with each other, like we were this past fourth of July.  Together, we held space in the barn, running the distribution.  Me making 'to do' lists and saying hi to members, Paul bundling our rubber bands and taping a ribbon to each bag he completed.  

Last week, Paul moved to Nashville, Tennessee to be with his son and son's family.  There are so many ideas and "to-do's" on Paul's list that I know he will soon be beloved by many in his new life as he will, I imagine, be as involved and committed to his community there as he was here.  I didn't get to say a proper good bye to Paul, as it was his desire to quietly fly south, so I thought I would say goodbye here;  Paul, thank you for your friendship and kindness and all that you did to help make this Farm the special place that it is. I will miss you deeply and will continue with the work we started the day we met, to grow and nurture our community, always.

If you would like to send your own goodbye to Paul, please let me know and I can provide you with his mailing address.  Or, if you are ever so moved, Paul is devoted to "A Place to Turn,' in Natick and I'm sure would be grateful if there was ever a donation made to help with the good work done there.


Paul at the Powisset Farm Spring Fest!

Farm Stand Update!

Pottery!
This Saturday, Lisa B. Walker will be at the farm for her Mid Summer Pottery Sale!
Come check out her amazing works of art!

New Dairy Items!
We now have spreadable cheese and butter from the Appleton Farms Dairy Store! Yumm!

Blueberries!
Did you order blueberries this week?  Unfortunately, due to some unexpected rain up in Maine, we won't have the blueberries for the Tuesday and Thursday pick-ups.  We most likely will have blueberries for the Saturday pick up.

See you at the Stand!


What's in the Share:

Up at the Barn: lettuce, bunched cooking greens, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, watermelon, cukes and squash, scallions, basil or cilantro, beets, carrots

In the fields: sunflowers, cherry tomatoes, chard, kale, dill