Festivals


August, ask any vegetable farmer how they feel at the end of August and you will either get dead-pan silence or a long winded saga. A mix of long days, heavy harvests, and hot weather can make even the heartiest farmer long for the first frost. One of our favorite things about August is having our CSA members come out to the farm to get down and do some harvesting of their own. We invite members to come out on 4 weekends to pick Roma tomatoes, basil, hot peppers, and tomatillos. Most people can or freeze the bounty to extend the local eating experience into the winter. Even though the temperatures are still warm, autumn is hanging in the air which makes putting food up for winter feel like the instinctively right way to spend the weekend. We have one more U-Pick event coming up this weekend – time to gather up your tomatoes and celebrate the end of August and the transition into fall! More info.

~Jonnah

If you are a member of our CSA and have already come out to a U Pick event but would like more tomatoes, email us to let us know you will be coming again.

Tomatoes dripping from the vine.

Tomatoes dripping from the vine.

Harvesting Roma's for a big canning project

Harvesting Roma’s for a big canning project.

Judith has been a CSA member since 1995 - our second season! She comes out to as many farm events as she can. Here she is with basil she harvested for her marinara sauce.

Judith has been a CSA member since 1995 – our second season! She comes out to as many farm events as she can. Here she is with basil she harvested for her marinara sauce.

Thousands of bed feet of Roma's.

Thousands of bed feet of Roma’s.

Everyone helps to fill heaping bags of tomatos!

Everyone helps to fill heaping bags of tomatoes!

Sunday’s corn boil was a fun time for all who attended. Harvesting sweet corn is an adventure, especially if you have never done it before. David encourages tasting an ear raw in the field, always a pleasant surprise. Perfect weather, ordered up just for the day. Thank you to everyone who brought such a delicious dish to pass. The food was amazing! The day was a spectacular mix of friends, families, children, grandparents, people arriving on bikes, long time members, first time members, exchange students, babies (the youngest being 13 days old). Thanks everyone for making the 22nd Corn Boil really special.

Barb

Harvesting sweet corn for the very first time!

Harvesting sweet corn for the very first time!

Yum. Eating great food, enjoying a great view, relaxing with family and friends.

Yum. Eating great food, enjoying a great view, relaxing with family and friends.

Barb and David welcoming everyone.

Barb and David welcoming everyone.

David talking with members and answering questions about the corn and the farm.

David talking with members and answering questions about the corn and the farm.

Third generation Vermont Valley farmers. Felix, Paavo and Mischa; Barb and David’s grand kids.

Third generation Vermont Valley farmers. Felix, Paavo and Mischa; Barb and David’s grand kids.

Every summer a group of Central American students come to the farm for a tour. They are part of a UW program and accompanied by a professor. This year the students are from Costa Rica. I spent a year in Costa Rica as an exchange student so I am able to give the tour in Spanish. Coming from a very different climate and ecosystem they are very interested in the farm and always have many questions about how we farm organically.

Eric

Costa Ricans

 

What a perfectly lovely day. Hundreds of people came out to the farm to harvest basil and make pesto. It was such a perfect expression of community coming together around food. The event was captured by Julie Garrett. She produces a weekly segment called Five Minutes on the Farm. She was a Fairshare CSA Coalition staff person for several years and is now doing this work to show off CSA farms. Enjoy the piece. It’s only 5 minutes!

See photos and read more about Julie’s day with us at the Pesto Fest

 

This is the most beautiful fall I can remember. We haven’t had a frost yet, which is quite unusual. We typically see our first frost around September 25th in our cold valley. This fall we head right into the fields at 7:30 in the morning to begin harvest; most years we have to wait for the vegetables to thaw (literally). The vegetables we are delivering speak of fall, warm soups and hearty dishes. Fall crops are patient. We harvest them when it fits our schedule. Summer crops demand daily harvests or they over ripen. Fall crops wait in and on the ground. Squashes, beets, radishes, celeriac, kale, carrots, even lettuce. We gather all of our workers together for these large harvests. During the summer we usually have several harvest crews out at once, finishing one harvest and on to the next. This time of year we use large bins to carry the vegetables. They get stacked high in a large cooler and wait for us to come clean them. David and Jesse are busy tilling the ground and planting cover crops on gardens that only a few weeks ago were bursting with food. We are thankful for the great weather and plentiful crops we had this season. The frost will eventually come, it always does; but this warm weather is certainly out of character.

Barb

Last Sunday’s Pumpkin Pick was enjoyed by many. Thanks for coming out!

Last Sunday’s Pumpkin Pick was enjoyed by many. Thanks for coming out!

A teen group from Goodman Community Center came out on Monday to gather pumpkins. They will make lots of low income kids happy!

A teen group from Goodman Community Center came out on Monday to gather pumpkins. They will make lots of low income kids happy!

Harvesting Carnival squash last Friday. We clip the stems, put them into crates, carry the crates to the bulk bin and count them into the bin.

Harvesting Carnival squash last Friday. We clip the stems, put them into crates, carry the crates to the bulk bin and count them into the bin.

Red lettuce harvest. Eric J-Mo and Becca cut the lettuce heads while everyone else removes any bad leaves and carefully puts 6 in each crate.

Red lettuce harvest. Eric J-Mo and Becca cut the lettuce heads while everyone else removes any bad leaves and carefully puts 6 in each crate.

A lush crop of kale.

A lush crop of kale.

Two weeks ago hundreds of members converged on the farm to pick basil and make pesto. It was a lovely day for all who ventured out. The weather was perfect, the aroma of fresh basil hung in the air, lots of pesto was prepared and everyone seemed to have a wonderful time.

We host festivals so you can come out to the farm and we have a chance to meet you. Hope to see you out here this season.

Barb

After the basil is picked, members stand around tables picking off the leaves. It is a way to enjoy the company of friends, family and other members.

After the basil is picked, members stand around tables picking off the leaves. It is a way to enjoy the company of friends, family and other members.

Prepping to make lots of pesto!

Prepping to make lots of pesto!

This group had so much fun experimenting with the taste of their pesto. I was lucky to be standing at their table tasting and agreeing that yes this one is very cheesy or garlicky. Fun.

This group had so much fun experimenting with the taste of their pesto. I was lucky to be standing at their table tasting and agreeing that yes this one is very cheesy or garlicky. Fun.

Another season at Vermont Valley Community Farm is coming to an end: twenty years and counting! The harvests are mostly wrapping up this week, although a few Storage Share vegetables stay in the field till November. Fall colors this year have been spectacular, but they have reached their pick, with winter soon to follow. The foggy mornings are particularly beautiful this time of year; Barb and I get to enjoy the view over breakfast.

Vermont Valley morning fog

The fields get put to bed for the winter; below was my view this morning finishing fall tillage in preparation for early season plantings in the spring. The ridged soil goes through a frost/freeze cycle that will produce a mellow seed bed in the spring. The still green fields were planted with cover crops in August; these plants will end up supplying nutrients to late season vegetables. So, your food these last few weeks began their cycle with cover crops planted over a year earlier. Garlic will be planted next week, the last planting of 2014 which is also the first planting for 2015 harvests.

Vermont Valley chisel plow

Every season is unique and has its ups and downs. What I will remember most about this season is the exceptionally wonderful weather. No extreme heat or humidity during the summer months. Fall has been filled with beautiful day after beautiful day. I can think of just one nasty hot day and just one nasty cold and rainy day all season. Working outside everyday makes the weather all the more relevant; and this season’s weather was great to work in.

As some of you may remember, last winter continued on late into the year. I, like everyone else, wanted it to end; but now as I look back I have different thoughts. The cold was followed by a gradual warmup; there was no summer in March like a few years back (very bad for plants); no hot to cold to hot to cold… that killed our garlic last year (very bad), no monsoons, just a consistent warmup (very good). The extended winter also likely accounted for a reduction in the insect problems this season. So pardon me if I wish for another winter just the same as last year’s, but I am.

The rainfall was overall quite good, other than a drought from July 1 to mid-August; lots of irrigation going on then. Water is absolutely critical to vegetables, with the best water coming from the sky. We are equipped to irrigate, but are thankful when we do not have to. Temperature and rainfall are the two key elements to growing food, neither of which we have control over. The year 2014 was good to us on both counts.

We were very pleased with the quantity and quality of nearly all the crops. The most frequent comment heard from members was, “great sweet corn”. I can’t tell you how many people said “great corn” to me this season; we will go for a repeat in 2015. The mild temperatures seemed to make everything happy, even the heat loving crops did well. There are always some problems, it goes with the concept of growing over 40 different crops. Our biggest problems for the year were the early legumes, they did not come out of the ground, including beans, peas and edamame. Although, the later season beans were bumper crops. Oddly enough, we had beet germination problems as well, apologies to the beat lovers out there. That’s it for the bad, everything else did well to great. We are always trying to improve, but I’d take this year’s harvest every year.

The festivals and u-picks were the best attended ever. Over 1800 pumpkins were carried from the field at the Pumpkin Pick, the goblins must be proud. The tomato u-picks where super popular, I am curious to know the amount of salsa, tomato sauce… resulting from the picks. We host these events so you have a chance to be on the farm that your food comes from. We are happy that many of you take us up on the opportunity.

Vermont Valley Tomato U Pick

Thank you for allowing us to be your Farmers. Barb and I have been at this for 20 years now, and since starting a CSA was a mid-life correction for us, time is coming to create a strategy for the next 20 years; stay tuned. So farewell to 2014; hope to feed you in 2015; and please fill out that Survey.

David

See you next year!

See you next year!

 

Saturday morning started out foggy and overcast, perfect weather for picking tomatoes. Seventy families gathered by the packing shed and together we all walked out to the tomato gardens. Ripe Roma tomatoes hung heavy on the vines. Within forty five minutes over 2000 pounds had been picked by tomato u-pickers. The sun began to burn through the clouds and the humidity and temperature rose. By this time bags and buckets of tomatoes were leaving the farm, destined for sauce and salsa.

Tomato U-Pick last Saturday morning.

Tomato U-Pick last Saturday morning.

20th Annual Corn Boil

Sunday afternoon was a lovely time to enjoy fresh picked sweet corn and a most fantastic pot luck while sitting on the lawn, taking in the beauty of the farm.

CSA members harvesting sweet corn.

CSA members harvesting sweet corn.

Grandpa David teaching Paavo how to harvest corn.

Grandpa David teaching Paavo how to harvest corn.

Paavo knows that the best way to eat Vermont Valley sweet corn is raw!

Paavo knows that the best way to eat Vermont Valley sweet corn is raw!

Slathering butter on that fresh sweet corn. Delicious!

Slathering butter on that fresh sweet corn. Delicious!

A good time was had by all at the Corn Boil.

A good time was had by all at the Corn Boil.

Yum. Each year everyone makes such fantastic dishes to pass, using lots of their fresh farm produce.

Yum. Each year everyone makes such fantastic dishes to pass, using lots of their fresh farm produce.

Sweet corn happiness with a back drop that can’t be beat.

Sweet corn happiness with a back drop that can’t be beat.

Thank you Tom; for boiling the corn and for being such an asset to the crew this summer. Have a good year at college and see you next summer. And thanks to Hilary, wonderful part-time employee, and her friend for helping.

Thank you Tom; for boiling the corn and for being such an asset to the crew this summer. Have a good year at college and see you next summer. And thanks to Hilary, wonderful part-time employee, and her friend for helping.

Barb

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