Spring is finally coming!

Even with the forecast of more snow this week, it still feels like spring around here! The greenhouse is up and running with onions, leeks and scallions already seeded.  Snow is melting, maple sap is flowing and overwintered spinach and greens are growing in the tomato houses.  It’s time to get excited about another bountiful season here at Picadilly Farm!

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Shares on the farm for 2014

For our renewing shareholders:

Greeting! At this share renewal time, we’d like to offer some of our thoughts about the Picadilly Farm share size and value. Increasingly last season, we heard a repeating refrain in the pick-up barn: “We can’t eat all this food”, and “I’ll share my share next year”.  Of course, your farmers are paying attention. Could too much of a good thing become a problem? Might we lose good farm supporters in those who feel burdened by too much food? Or might we burden our farm finances, as shares that we design with a single household in mind are increasingly shared among multiple households?

Up to now, we have easily allowed folks who pick up at the farm to share a share among multiple households, with few questions asked, and the simple stipulation that the share be picked up in its entirety (rather than partially by several people).This flexibility has been great for a relatively small number of shared shares, with everyone following the guidelines pretty well. We are concerned, though, because multiple households, sharing one share, will typically put a bigger dent in the abundance we create, making it harder for us to keep up, for the price we offer.

We think some of the most-loved features of the Picadilly CSA, for those who pick up at the farm, are the choice and the abundance. To facilitate the choices in our Mix-and-Match distribution style, we plan to “over” produce and “over” harvest in order to provide a wide range of choices to everyone each week. This assures availability of common and well-loved crops, and allows for nice variety in our crop line-up, while also assuring that no one gets stuck with crops that they don’t want to eat. The Pick Your Own garden is another piece of the abundance, with a “take what you can use” share for most crops. Also, our increasing use of a “surplus and seconds” table has been a way to create even more abundance while we highlight another layer of the CSA concept – putting to use edible but imperfect crops that many farms typically leave un-harvested. These very “Picadilly” highlights, though, may be taking us in an unintended direction of “too much food in my CSA share”! To us, it begs the questions: What is a Picadilly Farm share? And, what is it worth?

What is a Picadilly Farm share? Perhaps a share is more than a designated amount of food. At the heart, our shares are designed for each shareholder to satisfy household produce needs from our harvest, hopefully without excess or waste. The intent of our CSA is also to connect our farm and farmers directly to the consumers of the food, and to connect us all with the land and forces that provide for us. The share embodies both a transaction for produce as well as a relationship that allows us to celebrate agricultural community. This is deeply important to many of us, a driving force for our participation in Community Supported Agriculture.

What is a share worth?  We intend that the farm food that shareholders take home be comparable in dollar value – or a better value – to similar foods available in the marketplace. Of course, since we don’t give everyone who picks up at the farm the same set basket of produce, every shareholder goes home with different share contents – different crops, and likely a different dollar value. Is the share a good value for your household dollar? Whenever we take a random week’s full share, compare it to average organic produce prices in our area, that week’s  value climbs well over the share price per week, sometimes close to double. It is our hope that the sliding scale of $21-29 per week addresses affordability, as does the fact that we accept SNAP benefits for share pick-up at the farm. And value, for many, goes deeper than dollars, to include the nourishment of spirit as well as body that comes from eating food to which we have a connection. Worth includes eating with our values in view – local, sustainably-produced, protecting our community’s farmland and natural resources, and more.

It is also our intention that income from the produce sales covers all costs of running the farm for the year. Currently, harvesting from 28 acres of crops, we offer 300 local shares and 500 pre-boxed shares delivered to eastern Massachusetts, with an additional 15% of our harvest allocated to local co-ops and custom cropping for other CSA’s.blackjack skemaAlle toere er jokere i denne version af Video Poker. Overall, though our farm business is well established, the annual finances are always tight. In seven years, we have hardly begun to repay our farm start-up debts. In this sense, it is hard to admit that we are typical American farmers, not quite seeing the light at the end of the debt tunnel.  So, still a bit to figure out regarding our financial sustainability, and fair pricing is a part of the discussion.

How does this all bring us back around to that topic of “too much food”? We encourage you to embrace the idea of a share as enough to meet your needs. Take enough food, even if this is less than is offered. Some weeks, you might take all that is offered and spend hours harvesting in the PYO; other weeks not so much. You can take less, and still get your “money’s worth” for the seasons share! Take home just the right amount for you, and at an average of $23 a week, our share is still an unbeatable value for fresh, local, organic produce.

For shareholders who pick up at the farm, we would like to encourage each household of two adults (or more) to buy their own share. This supports our distribution style on the farm, including the Pick Your Own garden, the Mix and Match set up, variable item sizes in the barn, and the surplus table during particularly abundant weeks. This will allow us all to continue to enjoy the atmosphere of abundance that your Picadilly crew works hard to create. And, at $21-$29 a week, our share is a good value for fresh, local, organic produce for many individual households.

We understand that there may be some circumstances in which a shared share makes sense – single person households, or perhaps a shareholder who travels frequently. We expect that some will share a share in 2014. If you decide to share a share among multiple households, please remember we require that shareholders take their entire weekly share in one visit to the farm – come together, alternate pick up weeks, or split the produce at home. Thanks for your attention to this detail.

And thank you for being a part of Picadilly Farm Community Supported Agriculture!

Jenny & Bruce

 

Welcome to the 2012 season!

June 2, 2012
Dear Shareholders,

The 2012 harvest season is here! Welcome friends old and new! Thank you for joining us this year – we’re off to a good start and hoping for a fabulous harvest season. All told, it’s been a fine spring here on the farm. The strange weather hasn’t been nearly as strange as the strange that we’ve come to expect, so, we’ll take it. Fields are a bit saturated right now, but we’re getting back out there to plant the winter squash, another round of sweet corn, and fall cabbages as soon as things dry out a bit. There is a nice harvest of greens this week, with herbs for picking and strawberries ripening. We hope that you will enjoy the farm as a source of good food all season, and as a place to picnic, play, walk, and visit with the pigs or chickens.

We’ll have some goods for sale in our little farm shop again this season. This week, we’ll be sampling mustards and preserves from Cheshire Gardens, chocolate milk from Manning Hill Farm, and *new* cheese from Chase Hill Farm. Also check out the Picadilly eggs, maple syrup from My Old Farm, and yogurt from Side Hill Farm. Lots of good grub to go with your farm veggies.

We have some extra herb and tomato plants from our greenhouse – feel welcome pot a few up this week to take home for your own garden.

Do you have favorite farm-food recipes? Send ‘em along – we’d love to try them, and to share them in this newsletter.

SAVE THE DATE! Our first farm event this season is coming up soon, on Saturday June 23th. At our third annual strawberry shortcake concert, we’ll have hayrides, strawberry picking, plus homemade strawberry shortcake with local vanilla ice cream. And a fun, family-friendly outdoor concert presented by farm friends, the Family Folk Chorale from Arlington, MA. About 40 performers will sing – and ask us to sing along – in the yard outside the barn, at 1pm. We hope you’ll join us, rain or shine. This event is open to the public, and all are welcome. Here’s a sampling of what the Family Folk Chorale will be singing, a very appropriate song called “Greens” by May Erlewine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bR-qzqieMYQ

THE PICK YOUR OWN GARDEN

Cilantro & dill. We plant these herbs in a bed together about 8 times over the course of the season, in the hopes of having them fresh most weeks. Snip what you can use.
Perennial herbs. In the raised beds just outside the barn, some of these herbs are ready for use. We’ll tell you more about each of these herbs, and how to use them, as the weeks move along. This week, pick mint, chocolate mint, sage, thyme, oregano
Strawberries are just coming on. In spite of losing lots of blossoms to those cold morning in mid-April, there are loads of fruits coming on out there. With a few sunny days, we’ll be picking.

WHAT’S NEW IN THE SHARE?
Spinach. A very pleasing first crop, with more to come throughout the month of June.
Scarlet turnips. A new spring crop for the farm. A little spicier than the white spring turnips, with nice leaves for cooking.
Arugula. a peppery green, nice in salads and on sandwiches, available spring and fall.
Lettuce. we plant about a dozen different varieties into 20 successive plantings, with hopes of offering lettuce every week of the season.
Salad mix. A mix of small-leaf cut lettuce with a nice blend of mild greens. To really make this and other greens last in your fridge, wash them again and then spin or pat the leaves dry. Storing the greens dry will help them keep longer.
Bok choy. Really beautiful this week. An elegant cooking green, most popular in Asian cooking. Try cooking the white stems for a little longer than the green leaves.
Mizuna. A classic element of a salad mix, also delicious on its own. Try slightly wilted with a nice dressing, or on sandwiches.
Tat soi. A lemony component of salad mixes, also nice in wraps or lightly wilted with rice.
Garlic Scapes. Scapes are the seed pods of the garlic plant, which we pick off at this time to encourage the garlic bulb to swell up into the garlic we all love. The scape has a mellow garlic flavor – chop and use the entire thing the same way you would use garlic. Sautee them with any of the greens, or try the pesto recipe below.
“Red Russian” kale. A flat-leaved spring kale. Remove the center stem before cooking.

Tips for storing and using greens, greens, greens!
Thanks to shareholder Laurie for sending these along
Storing greens dry will help them keep longer – wash and use a salad spinner to dry the loose greens in the share.
Use clean cooking shears for cutting greens.
Add a drop of molasses to the cooking liquid for kale.
Sautéed onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes enhance the taste of most greens.
Lemon juice or balsamic or red vinegar are good finishing touches.
Try chopped, toasted nuts on top of greens.
A tiny bit of butter added to the olive oil will keep the oil at a more manageable temperature.

Braised Turnips with Soy Sauce
A good-sized pat of butter
A couple of scarlet turnips, sliced thinly
A couple garlic scapes, chopped
A splash of soy sauce
Finely minced cilantro
Turnip greens and/or braising greens, chopped
Melt the butter in a medium-hot skillet. Add the scapes and turnips and sauté for a few minutes until they start to brown. Add a splash of water, stir, and cover to steam-cook the turnips until tender, about 8 minutes. You can check and stir them periodically. Turnips should be golden-brown in places, almost caramelizing, when they are done, and in any case tender all the way through. Toss in chopped greens for the last two minutes or so. Add a splash of soy sauce directly to the pan and sprinkle on minced cilantro.

Garlic Scape Pesto
1 cup garlic scapes (about 8 or 9 scapes), top flowery part removed, cut into ¼-inch slices
1/3 cup walnuts
¾ cup olive oil
¼-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
Place scapes and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and whiz until well combined and somewhat smooth. Slowly drizzle in oil and process until integrated. With a rubber spatula, scoop pesto out of bowl and into a mixing bowl. Add parmesan to taste; add salt and pepper. Makes about 6 ounces of pesto. Keeps for up to one week in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Make some pasta, eat it with this. Very pungent.

Enjoy the first harvest!

Jenny (for Bruce, Susie & the crew)

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