First Frost and Garlic Planting

After a beautiful stretch of mild fall weather it looks like the cold autumn winds are here. It’s hard not to forget that this time last year Hurricane Sandy was headed our way, and the year before we experienced that freak October snowstorm. Who knows what will be next, but reflecting on last year’s experience I am reminded again to be thankful for the luxury of electricity which keeps the house warm, the food cold, and the water flowing.

Here at the farm we prepared for the first frost by getting out the giant white floating row covers and blanketing the more tender crops like lettuce, arugula, radicchio, beets and carrots.

Only two more weeks of CSA pick-ups to go. A reminder that the last share is Tuesday Nov. 5 and Thursday Nov. 7th. These last few shares will contain butternut squash, one of my favorite fall vegetables. This recipe for Minestrone and Parmesan Biscuit Potpie from Martha Stewart is a favorite in our house, especially since it utilizes leeks, kale, butternut, the tomatoes I canned from earlier in the summer, and delicious buttery homemade biscuits. The perfect comfort food after a cold day.

 The last big job on the farm is happening this week: garlic planting! A major thanks to everyone who helped break up the garlic at the farm’s Harvest Festival Garlic Social- what an unbelievably huge help that was for us.

Each individual clove is planted 6 inches apart in rows of 3, in our 225 foot beds. This year we are aiming to plant 18 beds- that’s over 24,000 cloves!, then covering them all with a thick blanket of straw mulch where they will grow for the next 9 months. See you next summer, garlic crop!

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Additional photos by Tom Murtha and Alysha Day.  

Posted in On The Farm

Cuban Pumpkin, Harvest Fest a Success

I am often asked by people what new crops we are growing at the farm. Not all our experiments always work out, but this week’s share sees one new addition which we were very pleased with: the Cuban pumpkin. Also called Calabaza, or Jamaican pumpkin, it is mottled green, yellow and tan, with a light yellow flesh and a smooth sweet flavor. As the name suggests it is typically grown throughout the Caribbean as well as Central and South America. A popular Cuban dish is Arroz con Calabaza, or Pumpkin Rice. Chunks of squash are simmered with rice, garlic, onions, peppers, and fragrant herbs and spices. The squash can also be baked or made into soup, and substituted in recipes for other hard skinned winter squashes like butternut and hubbard.

CSA share, week 21, 10/15/13

Thanks to everyone who came out to the farm’s Harvest Fest on Saturday. After the torrential rain on Thursday and Friday, we ended up with a gorgeous afternoon, and a wonderful turnout.

When you’re at the farm, check out the results of the community earth loom, and feel free to add to it on your pick-up days. It will remain there throughout the seasons to weather and be recreated. You can also see the giant paper mache tomato created by Spiral Q puppet makers from Philadelphia. Festival goers answered the question What does Blooming Glen Farm mean to you? and glued their red slips of papers onto the tomato. More details on our 4th annual pie bake-off contest are coming soon! The winning recipes- both for the popular vote and the judges vote- will be posted here in the next few days, so stay tuned!

Thank you to 4th Street Foodworks of Frenchtown, NJ for generously giving out their delicious organic kettle corn and for The Coffee Scoop for providing their fair trade, locally roasted coffee. Thanks to artist extraordinaire Katia McGuirk for manning the earth loom and bringing my vision to life. The beautiful artwork of Jennifer Schuster of Sunny Face Painting was on display on arms and faces throughout the festival. And local bluegrass band Goose Creek Pioneers provided the great toe-tapping music and good vibes! Thank you also to our wonderful farm community, and to all our volunteers and others who made the event a success!

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Photos also contributed by Juan Manzo and Katia McGuirk.

Posted in On The Farm

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili

sweet potatoesIt’s hard to find a person who can’t appreciate sweet potatoes. They’re often something I recommend to clients who need to add a little more color into their diets — both literally and figuratively — because their sweet flavor, beautiful color and ease of preparation make them a relatively safe new veggie to try.  I’ve found that sweet potatoes, specifically fresh ones, have the ability to impress even the most fastidious of palates :)

Nutritionally speaking, sweet potatoes are most noted for providing beta carotene, which helps increase the cancer-fighting antioxidant, vitamin A in our blood. They also provide a healthy shot of fiber, vitamin C and manganese, in a low calorie, low fat, low cholesterol package.  As is the case with many fruits and vegetables, it’s important to eat the skin since that’s where many of its nutritional benefits are stored.

Unfortunately, we have a tendency to add far too many sweeteners in sweet potato recipes — the most classic example being, of course, the marshmallow-topped Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole! There’s nothing wrong with adding a small drizzle of maple syrup to sweet potatoes, but having these potatoes fresh in our CSA shares each week offer a great opportunity to experiment a bit and try them prepared different ways. We can simply bake them and top with a small dollop of butter, or mash them adding a sprinkle orange zest and cinnamon. They also make a good addition to soups and chilis, as seen in the chili recipe below. This chili pairs the sweet potato with savory and smokey spices, and boosts nutrition with heart-healthy black beans and one one of my all-time favorite superfoods, kale. An added bonus: In total, it uses five veggies (potatoes, kale, onion, peppers, tomatoes) from our share!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili

sweet potato and black bean chili

Ingredients
2 small onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 tbsp chili powder
1-1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
2 cups chopped kale
1 cup sweet peppers, diced
3 – 4 cups sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean and diced.  Leave the skin on, but cut out any gnarly spots.
2 15-ounce cans black beans
1 24-ounce can diced tomatoes or equal amount of fresh diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
salt and pepper

Method
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot (I used a Dutch oven), sauté onion and garlic with a sprinkle of salt over medium-high heat for a couple minutes until onion begins to soften.  Mix in spices and cook for another minute. Add potato, kale and peppers and a splash of the broth and stir well.  Cover and cook for ~5 minutes until veggies begin to soften.  Add tomatoes, beans and broth, stir well and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Salt and pepper to taste, serve with vegan (or dairy) sour cream and fresh cilantro.

Post sources: Nutrition Data

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

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Lemongrass: flavorful and medicinal

Last year we experimented with growing a few plants of lemongrass in the discovery garden. The aroma of the fresh lemongrass, like the warm scent of tropical flowers, won us over to this delightful herb immediately. The grass hung in my kitchen all winter for delicious herbal tea. This season we attempted to grow enough of the giant 5 foot tall masses to be able to include some in the share.

Lemongrass grows in individual stalks, in a giant clump much like ornamental grass. Layers of tough green leaves surround a tender central bulb, similar to the way spring scallions grow. Since it is a tropical plant we grew ours in bags of soil in our greenhouse, moving them outside once it was warm enough.

A popular ingredient in Thai cooking, lemongrass imparts a delicate floral lemon flavor due to its high content of citral oil. It can either be finely chopped and integrated into stir-fries, marinades, salads, spice rubs and curry paste, or chopped into sticks and bruised and used to flavor dishes like broths, soups, braising liquids and stews while they cook, then removed before serving. The longer it’s left in, the stronger the lemon flavor- for a light flavor add it in toward the end of the cooking time. Only the bottom six inches or so of the bulb and stalk are typically used in cooking, with the more tender center being used for dishes where the lemongrass will be left in. The less flavorful grassy leaves can be made into a wonderful tea — just cut with scissors into pieces, add hot water, steep for 5-15 min , strain and serve.

In eastern cultures, lemongrass has long been used to treat fever, flu, headaches and to aid digestion. There is some research that has even shown potential cancer fighting and preventative properties in lemongrass. Many patients take to drinking lemongrass tea during chemotherapy treatments. To store, the stalks can be refrigerated for a few weeks, or frozen for up to 6 months, and the grass can be hung to dry.

Also in the share this week, you’ll see what happens when Farmer Tom spends too much time indoors with the seed catalogs in the dead of winter. He was boondoggled by a photo of a Dutchman in a seed catalog holding an 8 pound kohlrabi. That’s right, an 8 pound kohlrabi. You can look forward to (or blame Tom for) those alien monsters this week. They are amazingly sweet and delicious- the size does not negatively impact the flavor at all- so enjoy!

We hope to see you at the Blooming Glen Farm Harvest Festival this Saturday October 12th from 2pm until dark. Join us from 2-5 pm for all sorts of wonderful crafts and activities, our fourth annual pie contest, wagon rides, relay races, a puppet show, live bluegrass music, earth loom weaving and more! Come for the potluck dinner at 5:15 pm- bring a dish to share, your own beverage and place settings. Celebrate the bounty of the season!

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Posted in On The Farm

Looking toward Winter

Coming up soon: “Winter Wednesdays” at the farm! We will be opening up a market stand in the pick-up room at the farm on Wednesdays from 12-7 pm starting in December. We will have all our fall greens and roots for sale, and more! We hope you’ll consider continuing to “shop” from us through the winter months. CSA members who sign back up for the 2014 season will receive 15% off the farm stand prices throughout the winter. 

Blooming Glen will also be participating in the Easton indoor holiday market on Saturdays in December (10-2pm), the Headhouse Farmers Market in Philadelphia on Sundays until Dec. 15th (10-2pm), and the Wrightstown winter market on the 2nd and 4th Saturday’s from December through April (10-11am).

Looking toward the cold months ahead, the greenhouses are being prepped and planted with late fall and winter greens. The last of the heirloom tomato plants had to be removed to make way. Sigh. Any later and the greens won’t have enough time to get established before the short days of winter. We’ve transplanted spinach, kale, lettuce, arugula, and swiss chard.

Carrots will also be direct sown into the greenhouses for a late winter, early spring harvest. Outside the final field planting of direct sown carrots has been thinned, as well as the beets, winter radishes and turnips.

The last of the field plantings also went in- broccoli raab, fennel, beets and arugula. Clean up continues- fields of drip tape need to be removed- if the mulch is biodegradable it is disced under, if not, it’s wound up and removed. Then the cover crop seed is spinned out, with a final discing to bury it. A new purchase this fall, a drip and mulch winder, eliminates (mostly) the dreaded and dirty task of pulling up drip by hand.

New in the share this week: a rainbow of kabocha squash to choose from, crunchy juicy bok choy and the first of the winter radishes- the daikon. All are popular staples in asian cuisine. The name daikon is Japanese for large root. It’s wonderful in miso soups, slow cooked in any recipe you’d use turnips, in kimchi with carrots or as refrigerator pickles.

CSA share, week 19, 10/1/13.

Looking ahead, the last week of the CSA, week 24, is Tuesday November 5 and Thursday November 7. The delivery share ends next Friday, October 11th. We will be offering Thanksgiving boxes of fall produce for purchase again this season. Order requests will be sent out Nov. 18th and boxes can be picked up the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, November 26.  CSA reenrollment information will be sent out in the next month. We hope you’ll consider coming back for another season!

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Posted in On The Farm

Meet our Crew: Robin Hernandez

One of my favorite things to do on the farm is harvest tomatillos. Just today I found myself with a black crate, walking through the tomatillo jungle, feeling the husks for ripeness.

A tomatillo is ripe when it’s green bulge of a body pushes it’s leafy husk to the brink of splitting.  And there is digging for potatoes; pulling up garlic cloves by their stalks; torpedo and sweet onions surprising us with robustness.  Intimate interactions compose farming.

There were also strawberries with sunrise, which my boyfriend was not happy to help with, but he did!  He also helped me move here, to Perkasie.  We drove in a U-Haul on a snowy day in March, all so that I could become a member of the 2013 Blooming Glen Farm team.  I was leaving my home on 53rd street in West Philadelphia; international house (a great movie theater in Philadelphia); a job I felt so fortunate to hold with Project HOME; tons of friends; some furniture; and a guinea pig.  

But my departure felt like a new beginning and I believe that with my time here at Blooming Glen, I have only grown as a person.  I do miss my home on 53rd street, and my great neighbors.

So many people have opened their homes and hearts to me this past growing season.  I would like to thank all my coworkers, admiration abounds; to my family and friends for supporting me; and especially to Tom and Tricia- your vision is profound and important, thank you for letting me take part.

I don’t know what the future beholds. One day I’m planning for a return to the city, the next a puppeteer career, and last week an adventurous bike trip. But I continue to feel fortunate. I am fortunate to have been able to leave a full time job to join Blooming Glen; to have had a job; to have a job; to have a job where people care about me; to have had the opportunity to travel and attend college; to speak a second language, conversationally; to be accepted and tolerated; and to be able to change.

There are so many people I have missed, or have never met, but nonetheless have had a profound effect on my life. I am grateful for the experiences that have facilitated my belief in the dignity and worth of each person, like taking a class inside a maximum security prison, or being with the Zapatista Army of National Liberation in Mexico. In seeing society as a macro organism, I know that my choices as a United States citizen and consumer matter and will affect people across the world. A purchase is like a vote, and while I still contradict my intentions (and probably always will), I strive to participate in practices that contribute positively to the world, and as a white woman in America, often a choice in consumption is an easy place to begin.

Post written by Robin Hernandez. Photos by Tricia Borneman and Rebecca Metcalf.

Posted in Crew profiles

Herbed Acorn Squash & Quinoa Risotto

Acorn squashAutumn has arrived at Blooming Glen Farm, as noted most deliciously by the lovely winter squashes making an appearance in our shares over the last couple weeks. Autumn-time squashes, including acorn, kabocha, delicata, butternut, and sweet dumpling, are high in fiber, vitamin C, potassium and manganese (which helps or bodies absorb nutrients). They also provide vitamins A and B6, thiamin and magnesium (good for maintaining healthy blood pressure). All this nutrition is delivered in a sweet-tasting package that is low in calories, carbs and cholesterol!

The recipe below uses health-boosting acorn squash along with super grain, quinoa — which isn’t really a grain at all, but a seed. Quinoa is known for its nutrient density; most notably, it offers plant-based, complete protein, meaning that it has all of the essential amino acids the human body needs. Cooked risotto-style with a generous helping of herbs de provence, the dish below makes a savory side, perfect for fall.

Herbed Acorn Squash & Quinoa Risotto

Herbed Acorn Squash & Quinoa Risotto

Ingredients
2 tbs Earth Balance, divided
salt
1 acorn squash
1+ cup chopped onion (I used 2 small onions from the share)
1-1/2 tbs herbs de provence
1 cup uncooked quinoa
4 cups No-Chicken broth (or sub veggie broth)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast, optional (or sub Parmesan cheese)

Method
Cut squash in half, lengthwise, and scoop out seeds and pulp with a spoon. Peel the skin off with a peeler and then cut squash into small cubes. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add squash in a single layer, sprinkle with salt, and let cook for 5 minutes. Stir squash and cook until tender, about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in a large skillet, and add onions and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in herbs and cook for a minute. Stir in quinoa and cook 3 minutes. Turn up heat to medium-high and add 1-1/2 cup of the broth, bring to a simmer, stirring often, until the broth is absorbed. Add broth like this, 1/2-to-1 cup at a time, until the quinoa becomes creamy and the germs have burst. This should take about 20-25 minutes. Stir in nutritional yeast, and then gently stir in squash. Salt and pepper to taste.

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

Posted in Recipes Tagged , , , , ,

Big Sky at Blooming Glen

Last week I saw a bald eagle fly over the farm. The following day was the autumn equinox. The rain held out Saturday evening long enough for the beautiful Outstanding in the Field dinner to be in the field, (even with a last minute back-up plan of an empty greenhouse).

Chef Josh Lawlor from The Farm and Fisherman cooked an amazing meal, one in which I would be hard pressed to select a favorite course- they were all spectacular. Spectacular but simple, highlighting the flavors of our seasonal farm fresh vegetables and protein.

I do love this time of year. The morning fog, the giant puffy clouds in the rich blue sky, the setting sun, cool mornings and warm afternoons. This is my favorite time of year to be a farmer.

This week a forgotten hand hoe in the field punctured the tractor tire mid cover-crop seeding. But the seeding continues….

Different seed blends for different fields- mixes of rye, vetch, clover, tillage radishes and more, depending on what was planted in the fields this season, and what is destined for them next.

CSA share, week 18, 9/24/13

Post and by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Photos with gray border taken at Outstanding In the Field dinner contributed by photographer Chris Dardaris.

Posted in Uncategorized

UFO… or Lightning Strike?!

A mysterious circle was found in our field of fall kale. There is a perfect circle of about 30 feet diameter where the small plants have died- the stems look black and burnt, the entire plant “cooked”, dry and brittle. After examining the evidence, and doing a bit of internet research, we concluded it came from a lightning strike from last Thursday’s thunderstorm. A loud crash around 7 pm startled us in the house- that must have been it. Crop damage from lightning is definitely a first here at Blooming Glen!

What I learned online was that the most severe damage to plants by lightning may be caused by the extreme heat and shock waves generated by the electrical current, although other damaging effects probably occur. The current produces temperatures greater than 50,000 degrees Farenheit in millionths of a second. The heat turns plant fluids into steam and burns plant cells and tissues, leading to a wilting symptom and blackened, scorched tissues, including roots, stems, branches, and fruits. Yikes! More reason than ever to keep out of the fields when storms are approaching!

CSA share, week 17, 9/17/13

The first winter squash was in the share this week- a choice between sweet dumplings and spaghetti squash.  Both are a new addition to the farm this season. We’ve been getting lots of positive feedback about another new crop, the dandelion greens. If you’re still not sure what to do with them, check out Mikaela’s latest blog post, 10 Uses for Dandelion Greens.

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Share photo by Meghan Clymer.

Posted in On The Farm

10 Uses for Dandelion Greens

One of the (many) benefits of belonging to a CSA is being introduced to new vegetables.  It can be a little intimidating at first, and can even feel a little overwhelming as you try to figure out just what the heck to do with kohlrabi, delicata squash or tomatillos.  But, once you learn a little about their taste and have the opportunity to prepare them a couple times, chances are you’ll start wondering, Where has this been all my life? Dandelion greens are certainly a vegetable that falls under this confusing-then-loving category :)

Nutrition-wise, dandelion greens have a lot to offer, even in comparison to other green veggies.  I primarily recommend people eat them for heart-healthy fiber and for a great source of plant-based calcium and iron.  However, they offer a whole plethora of nutrition.  Dandelion greens are also used for their diuretic properties, as they promote liver, gallbladder and kidney health.  And, as with all dark, leafy greens, dandelion is a wonderful little fighter against inflammation, helping protect us from all kinds of illness.

Because dandelion greens are so versatile, and because greens are something we really should be eating every day, I’m offering a top-ten list of ways to use dandelion greens, instead of just one recipe.  Be sure to let us know how you like to use dandelion greens!

Digital greens
Top 10 Dandelion Greens Uses

  1. Rip them up and add them to your veggie salad.
  2. Sauté them with onions and garlic, stir in tamari sauce and top with sesame seeds for a side to your main dish.
  3. Chop them up and add them to spaghetti sauce.
  4. Blend them with cucumber and pear slices for a refreshing smoothie.
  5. Use them in place of basil in pesto.
  6. Cut them into ribbons along with your beet greens, sauté for a few minutes and combine with roasted beets and slivered almonds for a warm salad.
  7. Add a layer of steamed dandelion greens to lasagna.
  8. Blanch, chop and add them to your favorite grain side or salad.
  9. Steam or water sauté them, drain, then sprinkle with malt vinegar and nutritional yeast.
  10. Use them with other veggies in a pasta primavera.

Post sources and recommended links:
Health benefits of dandelion greens on the SFGate.
10 recipes for dandelion (and other) greens on Kitchn.
Greens for Winter Wellness article on the Blooming Glen Beet.

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

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