July 2014


An absolutely fun and busy week on the farm. Sweet corn and watermelon, these long awaited summer crops, were the highlight.

Sweet Corn Harvest

When we harvest sweet corn we use a tractor, a Veg-Vayer (the conveyor belt) and a wagon. Each person on the ground is assigned a row of corn. They walk behind the Veg-Vayer picking an ear of corn from each corn plant and placing it on the conveyor. The pickers have to keep up with the pace set by the tractor (please don’t drive too fast, Jesse!). The corn travels up the conveyor into a waiting wagon where two people count the ears while putting them into crates. Each crate has the same number of ears counted into it so we know how much corn we have harvested and how many ears we can put into each CSA box.

When we harvest sweet corn we use a tractor, a Veg-Vayer (the conveyor belt) and a wagon. Each person on the ground is assigned a row of corn. They walk behind the Veg-Vayer picking an ear of corn from each corn plant and placing it on the conveyor. The pickers have to keep up with the pace set by the tractor (please don’t drive too fast, Jesse!). The corn travels up the conveyor into a waiting wagon where two people count the ears while putting them into crates. Each crate has the same number of ears counted into it so we know how much corn we have harvested and how many ears we can put into each CSA box.

A closer look at the crew harvesting the corn and putting it on the conveyor.

A closer look at the crew harvesting the corn and putting it on the conveyor.

Jonnah and Thomas in the wagon on Tuesday, counting and crating each ear as it came up to them. This is also a very fast paced job. If they don’t keep up with the corn as it comes to them a big pile forms.

Jonnah and Thomas in the wagon on Tuesday, counting and crating each ear as it came up to them. This is also a very fast paced job. If they don’t keep up with the corn as it comes to them a big pile forms.

Once back at the packing shed the corn is unloaded (Jesse and Thomas) and stored in a 35 degree cooler. Yes, corn likes to be stored cold. So when you see wagons of sweetcorn on the side of the road, baking in the sun, know that it is not good for the corn.

Once back at the packing shed the corn is unloaded (Jesse and Thomas) and stored in a 35 degree cooler. Yes, corn likes to be stored cold. So when you see wagons of sweetcorn on the side of the road, baking in the sun, know that it is not good for the corn.

Watermelon Harvest

For harvest we form a line across the melon patch. In this picture only 3 of the 10 harvesters are shown. The melons are passed to Tonny who makes a pile. Note the piles that will soon get picked up and loaded into a bulk bin.

For harvest we form a line across the melon patch. In this picture only 3 of the 10 harvesters are shown. The melons are passed to Tonny who makes a pile. Note the piles that will soon get picked up and loaded into a bulk bin.

Full bulk bins of watermelon in a cooler. Posing and rather hesitant is Felix, one of the grandkids.

Full bulk bins of watermelon in a cooler. Posing and rather hesitant is Felix, one of the grandkids.

Cabbage

Bulk bins of cabbage waiting to be cleaned.

Bulk bins of cabbage waiting to be cleaned.

After the cabbage is harvested we clean it in the packing shed.

After the cabbage is harvested we clean it in the packing shed.

Jesse stacking bulk bins of cleaned, counted cabbage in the cooler.

Jesse stacking bulk bins of cleaned, counted cabbage in the cooler.

Vermont Valley Tomato Cucumber Salad

Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Fresh Dill

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:
2 cucumbers
1 large or 2 medium/small tomatoes
3 oz. feta, cut into small chunks
1 tablespoon fresh dill
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt and black pepper (or more to taste)

Cut tomato into bite-sized pieces. Place in a small bowl and add ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir and set aside for later. Peel cucumbers, cut off the ends and slice in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds by scraping out with a spoon. Cut lengthwise again, creating quarters. Dice quarters into ½-inch, bite sized pieces. Place cucumbers into a medium-sized bowl. Using a slotted spoon or your fingers, transfer tomatoes to the medium sized bowl, leaving the excess juice behind.

Chop fresh dill and add to bowl along with feta, olive oil, lemon juice and pepper. Stir until well combined. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate for later use.

Farm Cook, Becky Perkins is a Certified Health Coach, visit her blog at www.therealfoodmama.com

Two Saturday’s ago hundreds of Vermont Valley Community Farm members came out to the farm to pick basil and make pesto. It was a lovely community event. The Pesto Fest brings people together in the field, around tables as basil leaves are plucked and pesto is made. As people stand around tables picking off leaves they enjoy the quiet of the country surroundings, immersed in their own peaceful world or chatting with the person across the table, no rushing to get to the next activity; working with their hands in a satisfying way. We are so happy to offer a place for people to have fun, engage in good conversation, connect with good food and relax. We hope everyone can make it out to one of our festivals this season.

Harvesting basil. We grow several types of basil.

Harvesting basil. We grow several types of basil.

Standing around a table picking off leaves and enjoying conversation.

Standing around a table picking off leaves and enjoying conversation.

Making pesto. These girls have been coming to the pesto fest for many years. This year they had their own food processor.

Making pesto. These girls have been coming to the pesto fest for many years. This year they had their own food processor.

And look at all of the basil these girls and their families made.

And look at all of the basil these girls and their families made.

Vermont Valley Sweet n' Crunchy Broccoli Salad

Sweet ‘n Crunchy Broccoli Salad

Servings: 8
Prep Time: 15 minutes

2 heads broccoli
½ cup mayonnaise (try making homemade mayo)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
¼ teaspoon salt and black pepper
1/3 cup raisins
¼ cup sunflower seeds or sliced almonds

Rinse broccoli and chop into small, bite-sized pieces. Combine mayonnaise, lemon, honey, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk together with a fork. Using a spatula, add dressing to the broccoli. Stir until the broccoli is evenly coated. Add the raisins and sunflower seeds or sliced almonds and stir once more. Serve right away or refrigerator for later use.

Farm Cook, Becky Perkins is a Certified Health Coach, visit her blog at www.therealfoodmama.com

Vermont Valley Community Farm is a family farm. We (Barb and David Perkins) and our children left Madison in August of 1994 to begin this CSA adventure. Little did we know what a vibrant, successful farm we would create, with the help of many people. Our first CSA season, 1995, we delivered 50 shares. Today, 20 years later, we deliver nearly 1,100 shares each week. Our total number of shares is just over 1450, including standard, every other week and large shares. In 1995 David and I and our three children, along with longtime friend Joe Schmitt (still a flower grower on this farm), did all of the work. As the CSA grew we needed more and more help. We started our worker share program in 1996 and it is still a big source of labor and connection to the farm. A worker share works 4 hours each week for 20 weeks in exchange for a share. In 1999 we hired our first employee. Today we have 6 year round employees and 2 seasonal employees. About 10 years ago we brought the Cambodian crew to the farm to help us. This mix of worker shares, seasonal Cambodian labor and hired employees is what keeps this farm going. It’s a fun and diverse mix. Everyone has a niche, a specialty, a strength.

The Crew. Here goes as I introduce everyone. Top row, on top of tractor: Barb Perkins (matriarch) labor manager and much else; Becky Perkins, farm cook; Eric Perkins, packing shed manager. Standing: Elisabeth Minich, crew leader/harvest manager; Hilary Olsen and Thomas Sonnenberg, summer help extraordinaire; Chris Klaeser, farm mechanic/crew leader; Jonnah Perkins, office manager; Jesse Perkins, field operations, everything that has to do with tractors and a little bit of everything else; David Perkins (patriarch) very long list of jobs.

Check out our Meet Your Farmers page to learn more about your farm crew.

The next generation:

Paavo, Jesse and Jonnah’s son, in one of his favorite places, the shed where the tractors are kept.

Paavo, Jesse and Jonnah’s son, in one of his favorite places, the shed where the tractors are kept.

Felix, Becky son.

Felix, Becky son. He found a favorite food this June.

Mischa, Jesse and Jonnah’s daughter.

Mischa, Jesse and Jonnah’s daughter. In an attempt to find the perfect sized pool, I took this tub out of the greenhouse where it is used to fill flats with soil.

The Cambodians

The Cambodian crew working in the packing shed.

The Cambodian crew working in the packing shed.

Barb

Quinoa is a seed, which can be prepared like a whole grain such as rice. Quinoa comes in many colors. With this recipe you can use whichever you like. Quinoa has a high protein content and provides all 9 essential amino acids.

Vermont Valley Summer Quinoa SaladServings: 6
Prep Time: 25 minutes

1 cup quinoa plus 1 cup water
1 small zucchini or ½ large zucchini
3 pearl onions or 1 full-sized onion
1 medium-sized tomato or 2 small tomatoes
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled or cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
juice from 1 lemon
¼ teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper

Prepare quinoa. To prepare, rinse quinoa using a fine strainer. Place quinoa plus 1 cup water in a small pot and cover. Cook over medium heat until the water begins to simmer, then turn heat to low and continue to cook until all water is absorbed, about 15 minutes total. When quinoa is done cooking, transfer to a large bowl, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and fluff.

Meanwhile, prepare vegetables. Cut onions into thin, bite sized pieces. Cut the ends off the zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. If using a large zucchini, quarter. Slice the zucchini halves or quarters into 1/8-inch wide pieces. Place a medium sized skillet over medium-low heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Then add the zucchini and onion plus ¼ teaspoon salt and sauté for approximately 10 minutes until zucchini is slightly soft.

Cut tomato into bite-sized pieces. Add to the quinoa: cooked zucchini and onions plus the tomato, chunks of feta and the fresh lemon juice. Add a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Stir until all ingredients are well combined. Serve at room temperature.

Farm Cook, Becky Perkins is a Certified Health Coach, visit her blog at

www.therealfoodmama.com

From the vegetable’s perspective, this week marks the transition from spring to summer. Each CSA share this week contains cucumber, zucchini and tomato; those vegetables tell us its summer. The quantities will continue to increase. We plant these vegetables into the fields as soon as the threat of frost is past; then we tend to their needs (water and weeding) and watch them grow. A few others that we are watching closely are peppers, melons, and eggplant. These summer vegetables are unique because we plant then just once and harvest from the same plant for many, many weeks. Most of the other vegetables we grow on the farm are planted many times, in succession, so we can deliver them week after week. Examples are lettuce heads, salad mix, broccoli, green beans. Some vegetables we plant in the spring and then again in the fall because they grow best in cool temperatures. So as the vegetable selection in your share box changes, or for some vegetables repeats week after week, you will know that it correlates to the season. Get ready to embrace the summer bounty that is just beginning.

Cabbage harvest on Tuesday morning. This first cabbage is a summer cabbage with thin, crisp leaves. The cabbages we deliver later in the season have thicker leaves and good storage cabbages.

Cabbage harvest on Tuesday morning. This first cabbage is a summer cabbage with thin, crisp leaves. The cabbages we deliver later in the season have thicker leaves and good storage cabbages.

Peering at ripening tomatoes in the hoophouse.

Peering at ripening tomatoes in the hoophouse.

Next Page »