Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Week 20

Hello all,

Rain and beautiful weather usher in the final week of Bluebird Farm 2010 CSA. The official Bluebird Farm rain gauge registered 2.1 inches from the first drops Sunday am to the final rain Monday night. Thankfully, the rain came in well measured bursts interspersed with drizzle. The last thing we wanted was a 2 inch deluge in one hour.

On Monday our older pigs loaded into the trailer to go to the butcher. Getting to the trailer was a little bit of an adventure. We had mixed the two age groups of pigs together about two weeks ago. So we had to somehow open the fence and herd the big pigs out while holding back the seven, very curious and excited little pigs. In the end four little ones came along for the walk to the holding pen. They had a great time exploring the woods without the older pigs bothering them (they were too busy exploring as well). But after the hullabaloo of corralling the older pigs into the holding pen the younger pigs were ready to head home. Petunia had jumped into the herding at the corral (usually she was more in the way than a help) and now she wanted to “help” with walking the young pigs home. So Marie and Petunia led the way along the forest road with the four little ones trotting along behind. I brought up the rear to make sure no one stayed behind. It was pretty funny seeing Petunia’s fluffy tail leading four curly pig tails up the road.

The big vegetable field is looking tired and worn out. The tomatoes are showing more blackened branches than ever before. Many fruit are damaged by insects, the sudden switch from dry to wet, and fungus that invades when plants become weak. It is the sort of garden that makes me start to think about clean up: the hard, dirty, but ultimately satisfying work of pulling up plants, taking down trellises, removing irrigation, mowing, and soil preparation for next year. I can already see the field in its fall state. The landscape of towering tomatoes, sprawling vines, and unruly weeds replaced by the groomed look of a made bed or mowed lawn-a welcome respite from the exuberance of summer vegetable gardening.

The garden from the hill. Next year's garden is in the far left

We feel a little like the garden at the end of a season. Our muscles are past tired and our minds have trouble with basic organization and focus. Cooler weather and shorter days make us want to spend more time reflecting than actually working (of course we don’t get to do that quite yet). As we talk about this year we never cease to be amazed at all the support and encouragement we receive. When we moved back to North Carolina we didn’t expect Morganton to be very interested and passionate in what we are doing at Bluebird Farm.

A moment with the bee (look closely in the center of the photo)

In our early planning discussions we frequently pointed out Morganton’s proximity to Hickory, Charlotte, and even Winston-Salem. But you have shown that you care about what we are doing. You care where your food comes from, you want to know your farmers, and you believe in what we are doing. We have been humbled, excited, and inspired to receive this response. Without such positive feedback it would be hard to want to continue working this job that is challenging in the best of years (and this wasn’t one of the best years). And so, even as we clean up from this year we are preparing for next year. We have been spreading organic soil amendments (manure, granite dust, lime), seeding cover crops, and writing down thoughts and observations about this year’s crops before they fade in our minds.

We want to hear from you as well. Please watch for an upcoming survey about your experience with Bluebird Farm CSA. We will be asking questions about quantity, quality, variety, communication, and logistics. When you do receive the survey please take the time to fill it out. Community supported agriculture requires open communication both ways between farmer and consumer.

With our increased knowledge of the fields we are working, improved soil conditions, and more planning based on a year of work we look forward to a great year next year. We hope you will join us!

Bluebird Farm after the CSA

· You can find us at the Morganton Farmers Market on Saturday 10/2 and 10/9 from 8-noon

· We will restart our Farmer Fridays at Catawba Valley Brewing Company after the Morganton Market ends with greens, eggs, pork, and chicken

· We will continue to be at the Hickory market on Wednesdays and the Conover market on Saturdays through October

· We will have pork and eggs available for much of the winter, see upcoming emails for availability at the farm and in town

· There is one post-CSA chicken batch in mid-November

Week 20 box


Sweet potatoes

Boc Choi

Swiss Chard


Old favorites



Basil has retired for the year


Roasted Sweet Potato Puree with Coconut Milk (from Grub by Anna Lappe and Bryant Terry)

3-4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

4 tablespoons pure maple syrup (molasses is good too, but does have a stronger flavor-start with 2-3 tablespoons if using molasses and taste for flavor)

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse sea salt

½ cup coconut milk, warmed

· Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly oil a baking dish or roasting pan

· In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, maple syrup, olive oil, and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Toss well.

· Transfer the sweet potatoes to the prepared pan and roast for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until slightly crisp on the edges.

· Remove from the oven. In a food processor, combine sweet potatoes with the warmed coconut milk. Puree, adding more coconut milk for your desired consistency, and transfer to a serving dish.

Parky’s Southern Braised Kale with Sweet Potatoes (from Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon)

3 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed

1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil such as canola, corn or peanut.

1 bell pepper, diced

½ onion diced

1 to 2 jalapeno peppers minced

2 pounds kale, washed, tough ribs removed leaves stacked and coarsely chopped (you may substitute any hearty green or combination of greens)

1/3 cup mild vegetable stock

1 orange

1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 medium tomatoes chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

· Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add sweet potatoes, lower heat, and simmer until just tender, about 25 minutes

· Heat oil in nonstick deep skillet over medium high heat. Add bell pepper, onion, and jalapeno. Saute 5 minutes

· Add kale. Top with sliced sweet potatoes. Pour the stock over the dish, cover, and braise until the call is cooked, but still bright green, 4-5 minutes.

· Grate the rind of the orange; squeeze its juice into a cup. When the kale is done uncover and add about 1 tablespoon of grated rind, 3 tablespoons of the juice, 1 tablespoon vinegar, the tomatoes, and salt and pepper.

· Taste, adjust flavors with orange, vinegar, salt and pepper as necessary.

Preparing for winter

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