Buy Local * Eat Fresh * Live Well

The Alleged Farm is located in the Town of Easton, in the rolling hills of southern Washington County, New York. We farm on fields under continuous cultivation since 1788 and take our stewardship of the land seriously. For us, that means a commitment to sustainable practices such as crop rotation, controlled grazing, minimal tillage and the use of cover crops and compost in order to promote and maintain the health of the earth.

We are also committed to growing tasty and healthy crops. We believe that fresh local produce tastes better and that crops grown without the use of synthetic fertilizer and pesticide are better for you and for everything that lives on our farm. We do everything we can—from choosing varieties to choosing when to harvest a crop—to ensure that our customers receive the best possible produce.

If you want to try some of our produce—and we grow everything from artichokes to zucchini–you can join our CSA or visit our stand at the Glens Falls farmers' market. Individuals and businesses can also contact the farm to arrange purchases.

Thomas Christenfeld
The Alleged Farmer

The Alleged Farm News — 25 August, 2016

This week’s share: Lemon basil, Celery, Chives, Garlic, Endive, Lettuce, Melon, Walla Wall onions, Blue Gold potatoes, Squash, Tomatoes

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That part of the season has arrived when I really start to wonder if I know what I am doing. Our work has become not so much a well rehearsed operation as triage. The weeds have had time to contemplate the shortening day length and come to the conclusion that they had better grow like crazy before it is too late. In a matter of days, crops that looked like they might eventually need a bit of weeding have vanished in a thicket of pig weed, lambs quarters, galinsoga and grass. Spots that might successfully have been hoed last week now just need to be mowed.

In fact, the mower is looking like the most useful tool on the farm right now. I am fighting down the urge to go out there and mow everything. It would look so neat when I had finished, and I do like a neat farm. Not that I have ever had one, but I have seen them, and they look great.

And depress me a little too. They remind me how messy things can look in my own fields. Do look in my fields. The whole crew could–probably should–weed full time right now. But we don’t have time. We have all that other farming to do too. Only, the longer we wait, the worse the weeds get, and the worse they get the longer it takes to deal with them. It feels like we are stuck in some downward weed spiral, and soon enough the weeds will have taken over entirely and the whole farm–crops, barns, house, donkeys, even the silo–will have vanished in the mess.

Not that it is actually that bad. Well, parts of the farm might be. But there are some crops that look quite good–and that you can see look good because there are no weeds in the way. The eggplants, for instance, which we mulched heavily early on, and the last two planting of zucchini, which I have managed to cultivate several times. And we have made inroads into some of the weed patches. We recently excavated part of two carrot beds, which actually seem to be thriving (though we have made it easier for the deer to find the carrots). And then there are some spots where we really don’t care about the weeds at this point. We are pulling the last of the onions now so we can just plow down the whole patch in a few days.

And even the weedy parts are not necessarily a mess. Sure, there are practical reasons to want to get rid of the weeds. They compete (successfully) with the crops for nutrients and water and light, and a spot that is weedy this year will be weedy next year, meaning we will have the same problems all over again. If we somehow–presumably with the use of powerful magic–managed to get rid of all the weeds in our fields for several years we could reduce the weed load to the point that weeding became easy.

But my objection is not purely practical. There’s an aesthetic component. It looks bad. Note that I keep going on about the weeds, not the crops. Maybe because that is mostly what I see when I look out over the fields, but maybe that is mostly what I see because that is what catches my eye. I crave order, but the weeds insist on disturbing the order I strive to impose out there. A bunch of hooligans.

Except that they are just doing what they do. For a weed, this is the order of things. The days get shorter and they buckle down, get to work producing as much seed as they can before the frost comes. It is actually fairly neat, the process going on out there, time and energy focussed on a simple task rooted in the basic rhythm of the year and this strange urge life has to go on. Like my crops, only more effectively, the weeds are just taking advantage of all the remarkable opportunities I offer, the open space, the loose earth, the enhanced fertility. Take a look from a weed’s perspective, and I am the problem, the plant dictator, the madman trying to force everyone to live by my misguided rules, brutally punishing the disobedient.

Well, tough. This is my realm, and I say the weeds must go. Begone. Vamoose, Scat. Shoo. Go.

But no, they are still there. Damn weed, they never listen. It is my fault. I should have dealt with them when they were young. Now I have lost control of them and all my dreams of a neat farm will have to wait for another season. Such as winter. Everything looks a lot more orderly buried in snow.

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Vegetable notes: I usually don’t grow stalk (as opposed to root) celery. In fact, I can only think of one other time I have tried, and there was nothing about that experience that suggested I should try again. To grow well, celery needs extremely rich soil–black dirt–and plenty of regular moisture. Plus it is susceptible to various diseases and deer like it. But I have rarely met a vegetable I can resist planting at once in a while. So here is some celery. It is a little lacking aesthetically, but I think you will find that it actually tastes good. Which is to say, it has a distinct flavor, something that the more attractive celery one finds in grocery stores often lacks. You can also use the leaves as a herb. They will add good flavor to stock, or you could just mince a few and toss them in a potato salad or a marinade for chicken or, for that matter, anything you want to toss them in.

I figured at some point at least one of the tomato plantings would actually start producing. For the greenhouse tomatoes, that point came this week. It is about time. In fact, it is about three weeks past time. But in this case certainly better late than never.

The Blue Gold potatoes have firm flesh and good flavor and you cook them just about any way you want.

 

The Alleged Farm News - 18 August, 2016

This week’s share: Genovese basil, Beets, Cilantro, Eggplant, Garlic, Lettuce, Melon, Mustard greens, Walla Wall onion, Squash, Tomatoes

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This will be brief because I am at a rowing regatta. And for the first time in 31 years, to race as well as to watch.

What, one might fairly ask, would cause a farmer to take up arduous aerobic exercise? Well, as I have already indicated, I have not really taken it up, just returned to it. Though that just avoids the real question. Certainly, I am not returning to some earlier triumph. I had one of the least distinguished rowing careers possible. Nor am I trying to make up for past failures–and even if I were it is frankly quite unlikely I would succeed.

So why do I get up insanely early three mornings away to mess about in boats before a day of farming? I blame Liz. She started it. She joined the team last year and I never fully learned to sleep through her departure. I figured if I was going to wake up at that hour anyway I might as well get something in return.

Though clearly I should have sought something good. Something like a decent croissant, a good mug of tea and a challenging crossword. Instead I have ended up with 75 minutes of strain and frustration, plus the occasional blister, which is an odd way to start your farming day since a farming day generally just consists of another eight to ten hours of strain and frustration, plus the occasional blister.

I am beginning to wonder if maybe I just have a taste for strain and frustration. That would certainly help to explain both rowing and farming. Or maybe I just like blisters.

The Alleged Farm News - 11 August, 2016

This week’s share: Genovese basil, Beans, Chard, Dill, Eggplant, Leeks, Lettuce, Cabernet and Walla Wall onions, Red Maria potatoes, Squash, Tomatoes

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I feel like I had completely cleared my head of any thoughts regarding Tim Tebow and now he has popped back up. Someone ought to stop this guy, but he’s like a horror movie creature that keeps climbing back out of the grave just when you think everyone’s safe. We need some sort of magical incantation to rid ourselves of him.

For those of you lucky enough to have forgotten him entirely or, even better, somehow never to have noticed him in the first place, Tim Tebow is the overtly Christian college football star who proved just as devout but a lot less talented in the NFL.

And for all of you wondering why I ever thought about Tim Tebow, I really don’t know except that he was unfortunately unavoidable for a time, and somehow stirred up strong feelings, possibly because he suggested that his god took a strong interest in the outcome of his football games. Mostly I recall yet another obsessive athlete blessed with unshakeable self-confidence, a guy with all the qualities you would look for in a college football star and none of the ones you would seek in a dining companion.

That self-confidence, or what I believe coaches often refer to as character, and dedication to his sport, or what I believe rational people refer to as monomania, served Tebow well in college, but turned out not be enough for a professional career. Though he kept trying. And trying. And trying. Until it got a little embarrassing. Embarrassing to watch, anyway. As for Tim Tebow, he seems perhaps a little less easily embarrassed. Because, having failed to make it in the NFL despite all the predictions of glory, he has now announced that he would like to play professional baseball.

To which his former NFL coach responded “good for him.” But is it? It seems far more likely to be bad for him since the chance of him outcompeting people who have practiced baseball as intensively for the past 10 years as he applied himself to football is slim. He will have our attention, which he obviously craves to what seems a slightly unchristian degree. But attention for failing publicly once again. I suppose one could admire his grit–and grit is all the rage–but it seems like misplaced grit. He has been trained to strive athletically, but I would like to see him–if I have to see him at all–strive for something else.

I would be far more excited if Tim Tebow announced he had decided to become the best damn math teacher you have ever seen and then set about applying all his considerable determination to that task. We could use more great math teachers, and certainly more people employing their celebrity to promote the value (and the difficulty) of teaching.

I might be even more excited if he also announced that he was going to make sure he had some free time to read a few good modern novels, improve his bread baking skills, get together with friends, learn to play the oboe and sometimes just lie in the grass and stare up at the night sky.

Maybe it is just me. After all, I am not much of a specialist. I cannot even settle on one variety of red potato. But something about single-mindedness makes me uncomfortable. I have a job that takes up a lot of my time and most of my energy and regularly works its way into my dreams (I have the most boring, realistic farming dreams). But as I remind the crew, we just grow vegetables. We would unquestionably get more done–would farm better in a sense–if we focused our lives entirely on the farm, but at a serious cost to our lives, a cost that strikes me as unwarranted. So we try to do the best we can within reason. There are always more things to do on the farm, but at some point we have done enough. Knowing how to walk away is a valuable skill too, especially if you have something else valuable to walk to. And you are far more likely to have that when you let your mind go in multiple directions.

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Vegetable notes: I recommend cutting the leeks in half lengthwise and then into one inch pieces, boiling them in salted water for several minutes until they soften, and then mixing them, still, warm with oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, a touch of hot pepper and a decent amount of Dijon mustard. Let them cool in the vinaigrette, and then you can use them as something between a condiment and a vegetable, or mix them with cubes of boiled potato and/or beans and perhaps a little dill, or toss them with cubes of grilled eggplant and squash and a few cherry tomatoes.

Even if you don’t use the potatoes with the leeks, I would recommend boiling them. They are not bad roasted, but because of the texture of their flesh they are best boiled.

I would not say the tomato season is off to a rip roaring start, but at least we finally have some to hand out. I don’t think I need to tell you what to do with them, not at this point.

 

The Alleged Farm News - 4 August, 2016

This week’s share: Genovese basil, Bok choi, Cucumber, Eggplant, Fennel, German Red garlic, Lettuce, Walla Wall onion, Radicchio, Squash

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People tend to think of farmers as plant whispers, able to coax tender life from the ground and make it blossom. Or maybe plant gurus with a deep mystical understanding of nature and the circle of life. Or just plain experts on growing, steeped in the vast accumulated knowledge of what plants truly want in order to thrive.

We do know something about plants and what makes them grow, some of us because we have grown up on farms, some because we have studied it in school, some because we have paid careful attention over the years to what has works and what failed and we have honed our craft. And then there’s me. But I digress.

Obviously our aim is to produce food, to take seeds and cuttings and tubers and bulbs and somehow turn them into a bounteous harvest. And to do that we have to grow our crops. I could just hand out the potatoes and garlic I plant. But I would either have to hand out very little or buy a lot more–and neither would count as farming or make any business sense. What does is putting them in the ground–ideally in the right ground at the right time and right spacing–and then tending to them while they multiply.

But it’s that tending to them that makes one wonder if we are really at heart growers. I was weeding the carrots yesterday, a task that provides plenty of time for though, both because it takes a long time and is in itself insanely boring. With a little more skill and luck (just a few rainy days, for instance, in the past couple of months) more carrots and fewer weeds would have emerged. But these are hardly unusual carrot beds. And it was hard not to notice that there were a lot more weeds than carrots. So the couple of hours I spent farming those beds, while it will help the carrots grow, mostly involved killing plants.

In fact, I spend a lot of my day killing plants. Whether it is weeding or hoeing or cultivating or flex tining or plowing or tilling or laying our biodegradable plastic or putting out hay mulch or flaming, many of my tasks directly involve killing plants. Even some of the planting I do is intended to kill plants. Among other things, we use cover crops to suppress weeds–with suppress meaning to outcompete for resources and cause to wither away in the shade and die.

Growing is actually the easy part of my job, if by growing you mean sticking something in the ground and getting it to turn into a harvestable crop. The relatively easy part. I can sit on a stool in the greenhouse and listen to music while sowing trays of seedlings. Pushing a seeder up and down the rows does not require much time or effort. Our water wheel transplanter makes putting the seedlings in the fields a simple task–and one done sitting down.

Sure, things don’t always germinate as well as I hope (those carrots, for instance) and sometimes crops take far longer to mature than they should (still waiting for those tomatoes to ripen; I have been giving them quite severe looks but they don’t seem to notice) or some problem with the soil stunts part of a row. I have to think about soil moisture and fertility and temperature and crop rotation and planting depth and tillage depth. But if growing were all I had to do–if I could just make wise choices about what and when and where to plant, prepare the soil well, stick seeds in the dirt, pray for decent weather and walk away until harvest–I would have plenty of time for hobbies.

Unfortunately, there is all this other life out there bent on undoing my work. Viruses and fungi and beetles and gastropods and quadrupeds and avifauna. It’s a jungle out there. Or it would be if I just walked away and played at my hobbies. Everything I worked on would disappear into the bush and soon enough there would be gibbons swinging from towering Lamb’s Quarters where the carrots should have been.

The only way to keep that at bay (though the idea of gibbons holds a certain attraction) is to kill a lot of stuff. So that is what I do instead of hobbies. Whether or not that counts as a deep mystical insight into the nature of things I am unqualified to say. What do I know about insight? I am just a grower.

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Vegetable notes: We mostly grow German Porcelain garlic. It has proved more reliable than other varieties and it tastes good (not that I have ever grown a variety that tastes bad). But we keep trying other varieties every year. It seems like a good idea to have a little diversity, and I keep hoping to find a hardy type with more cloves per head. Unfortunately, most of the varieties we have tried have proved disappointing. They don’t size up. There have been years we haven’t even bothered to pick them they are so small. This year (well, we planted it last fall, but we picked it a couple of weeks ago) we grew German Red, which is what you have this week. It certainly did not get as large as the Porcelain, but the plants were reasonably vigorous and they made it through an odd winter. It might be worth trying a second time, but only if it passes the kitchen test. So let me know what you think of it. Mostly likely you will think it tastes like garlic, but sometimes different varieties have notably different flavors.

To really get a sense of what the garlic is like you should really eat a piece raw. But if you do you may just make everything taste like garlic for a day or two. Here’s another idea. Put your eggplant in a hot oven (stick it with a knife in a few places) and roast, turning occasionally, until the skin has blacked and the flesh is very soft. Scoop out the flesh and mash it with lemon juice, olive oil, basil, salt, pepper, perhaps a little hot pepper, and a generous amount of crushed garlic. Stir in some diced onion and let it sit for an hour or two so the flavors blend well. That should give you some idea of how pungent the garlic is, and you get some tasty eggplant mush too.

As for your fennel, I recommend you ask someone else what to do with it. I am not a huge fan and Liz hates it, cannot even abide the swell, so I pretty well never bring it into the kitchen.

The Alleged Farm News - 28 July. 2016

This week’s share: Genovese basil, Cabbage, Cucumber, Eggplant, Garlic, Lettuce, Onions, Parsley, Potatoes, Squash

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A guy I knew with in middle school recently friended me on Facebook. Now I have learned that he runs a lot–or at least dresses like he runs and hangs out with similarly dressed people, went to Italy some time recently, maybe keeps bees, likes soccer (Italian, not English), has a son in college and more facial hair than he did in sixth grade, and teaches medieval history at Tulane. It’s like the last forty years melted away and we are still hanging out eating his mom’s lasagne and talking about the Mets.

Actually, he does not seem to mention the Mets anymore. Which is fine because I stopped following baseball about the same time he moved away, back when the Mets were in their second period of incompetence. Instead, he seems to use Facebook surprising frequently to ask quite specific questions of is fellow medievalists. Things like, what was the Christian symbolism of the raven in Italy around 1430? Which is a tough one, I must say. If he had asked about some time later in the fifteenth century, well piece of cake. But 1430 has me stumped.

 

In this vein, he also recently posted a long piece by a Norwegian medievalist attacking Stephen Greenblatt, the Shakespeare scholar, for the silly views of the dark ages in his book The Swerve. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but apparently Greenblatt has seriously misled us about the middle ages. He has presented us with a “histrionic cartoon” relying on long debunked myths about intellectual stagnation and self-flagellation. It is an academic outrage, and to make it worse he is outside his specialty, he just won a huge prize in Norway, he teaches at Harvard and his book was a best seller. Now if that doesn’t make the blood boil.

There are moments when certain types of people I tend to sympathize with reveal their pomposity and pettiness and I say to myself, “ah, so that is why people hate…” I had that feeling when a historian published a complaint that the musical “Hamilton” had failed to deal with the man Hamilton’s difficult relationship with race. Oh dear, a hip hop musical on Broadway hasn’t tried to present every single aspect of the life of its title character. Here’s another tack you could take, one was a little tempted to respond: get down on your knees and thanks the show for making anyone think about Hamilton at all.

I had the feeling again reading this lengthy screed about the misdeeds of Stephen Greenblatt. I don’t necessarily disagree with the Norwegian’s complaints about Greenblatt’s arguments and it is delightfulI that she has a more nuanced and generous view of medieval history. Plus she is of course right that these sorts of books that claim world history hinges on one thing tend–who’d have imagined?– to oversimplify a bit. All human achievement does not depends solely on salt or the cod or the rediscovery of one infrequently read Latin poem.

It should have been easy, however, to make those arguments without resorting to professional petulance. Should have been, but wasn’t. However much Greenblatt’s methods and argument irritate her, she sounds far more aggrieved about a non-medievalist horning in on her specialty. As much as she claims to worry about us being misled by Greenblatt, she cannot help revealing her patronizing belief that us common folk are too ignorant and credulous to resist the lure of a well crafted story. And then her professional envy just gets the better of her, and leaves her sputtering about Greenblatt’s success, as though it were proof of his deviousness or, worse, shallowness. The whole performance reminds one why so many novelists cannot resist writing academic satires.

It made me wonder if farmers behave in more or less the same way. Do we overstate our importance, engage in vicious internecine warfare, let our learning turn us into killjoys, disparage the untrained masses? Well, it would be odd if we did not do all that at least a little. We are people too. But it is hard to bring the same passion to these tasks when you have the feeling that just about anybody else could do what you do because once upon a time just about everybody else did do what you do. A hundred years ago, the average dairy herd in Washington Country was five cows, which tells you something about how the dairy industry has changed, but also suggests that a lot of families had their own private dairy herd of one cow. Plus their own laying hens, pigs, vegetable garden, apple orchard. They made their own tomato sauce, their own hard cider, their own bacon. But they probably did not write their own medieval history books.

Not that most people produce their own food any more. Or could produce much of what we eat without significant advanced training in various forms of engineering. But lots of people could start growing at least some of their food again–and without being specialists in anything.

And should start. I recognize it is not in my business interest to say that, but it is true. Like our electrical grid, our food system would be better off getting away from centralized mass production. There are good reasons to have some farms–solar, wind, vegetable–where the conditions are just right, and not all of us can grow avocados and limes, and I would be sad without them.

Producing food, unlike the law, say, or surgery or food science or academia, has no formal barriers to entry. There’s no requisite degree, no arduous exam, no period of formal training. You can just walk out into a patch of dirt, like I did 21 years ago, and stick some seeds in the ground and see what happens. Chaos, actually, and a lot of weeds and frustration if I remember correctly (not that I need to remember because I still have all that now). But also food. Real food, just like us fancy professional farmers grow. And we know that, which helps stop us from makings pompous asses of ourselves too often.

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Vegetable notes: The timing of a number of our crops seems to be a little off this year. I am still waiting for someone to convince the tomatoes that it really is summer. Maybe the eggplants, having only just caught on to that fact themselves, could pass along the message. They could tell the peppers too, though in the peppers’ defense, they were set back somewhat when the deer ate the tops off them.

Now that you have an eggplant, you should fire up the grill. You can do lots of things with an eggplant–there’s a Turkish dessert made with eggplant–but it is probably best grilled. Plus I assume you keep your grill outside, so cooking on it won’t heat up your house, which is a good enough reason right now to use it. Cut the eggplant into thinnish slices and brush it with oil and cook it until it has good grill marks on both sides. It will go well with your grilled squash, topped with oil, vinegar, lots of chopped herbs and a healthy dose of garlic.

While you have the grill going, you could throw your quartered cabbage on to give it a little smokiness and char. Then use it to make cole slaw.

If you have a nice, smoky grill going you could put the potatoes on too–either straight on the grill or in a cast iron pan with a little oil and a lot of salt. The idea of a smoked potato may seem odd, but it tastes good.

The Alleged Farm News - 21 July, 2016

This week’s share: Genovese basil, Beets, Broccoli, Cilantro, Cucumber, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Onions, Radicchio, Squash

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People in the Adirondacks sometimes get a little grumpy that they cannot have everything we flatlanders enjoy. Like hospitals and prosperity and Walmart. It is a reasonable gripe. Well, mostly. I don’t know why anyone would actually long for a Walmart at any altitude. But I guess getting one somehow symbolizes that you matter in the modern world. What hope is there for a place that does not even merit a Walmart.

Plus pointing out that you don’t have a Walmart is a way to complain about the injustice of land use rules in the Adirondack Park. It’s the heavy hand of government that squashes economic development. Free the people and Walmart will come.

Putting aside the question of what sort of freedom involves the arrival of a Walmart, it is unlikely that regulations keep big box stores away from these northern mountains. I suspect the sparse population has more to do with it. Parts of the Adirondacks make Alaska seem a little crowded. And the population density has to do with the climate and terrain. Letting people build whatever and wherever they want does not change that.

We tend to forget the extent to which topography and weather shape our lives. We have come up with lots of ways to insulate ourselves from the limits they impose. But of course we have come up with those ways in part because we live in a country with vast amounts of space that make life relatively easy. Millions of acres of flat, fertile land, of manageable climates, of easy access to basic resources. There are all sorts of reasons life is as good as it is here (and despite the current angry gloom, life for the average American right now is about good as life has ever been for a human being), but it seems pretty clear to me that we would have had a much harder time achieving what we have in a harsher environment.

I thought about this when we went to Costa Rica this spring. It is a country of happy, helpful people who have chosen to put their money into education rather than an army. It has large coffee and tourism industries, a growing tech sector, high literacy, a good climate, considerable sustainable energy infrastructure and a stable government. But half of this small country (one third the size of New York) is also pretty mountainous. Mountainous enough to make many forms of human development incredibly difficult, especially in a country without huge financial resources. Tourism has been a great way to use this terrain to Costa Rica’s advantage, but the main route to one of the top destinations is still a 20 mile cliff-hugging narrow rough gravel road that makes you contemplate your mortality.

If Costa Rica were flat as Kansas it would no doubt still have its share of challenges. indeed, it might have more since its colonial past would have been different, more intrusive. But those mountains do get in the way.

We are a clever species, what with out freeze dried foods and rockets and Twitter accounts. We can build highways up and through mountains, terrace fields on steep slopes, move everything through the air when moving out the ground is too hard. But we do not have infinite resources, infinite will, infinite care. We thrive in the places it is easiest to thrive and then we are not always eager to share our toys. So where life is harder, it tends to stay harder, even when we have the means to overcome whatever obstacles the environment presents.

I am not advocating for human suffering, but it is not altogether a bad things that the earth sometimes makes our lives difficult. Perhaps in recognizing that not all things are possible–let alone desirable–in a norther mountain range, we will recognize how our environment helps shape us, and maybe even remember not just the limits it sometimes places on us, but also the opportunities it offers. Perhaps we will gain a little humility and gratitude and remember that we do rather rely on this planet we have to live on, and so maybe it is worth looking after it.

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Vegetable notes: I feel like by now many Americans have encountered radicchio. That was probably not true when I started growing it. In fact, we could not even get reliable seed. Most of it bolted early or formed strange loose heads. It was a new enough and unpopular enough crop that nobody had bred better varieties. Not that it has become a staple of the American diet. As far as I can tell the USDA does not even bother to track radicchio consumption. But it turns up in a lot of salad mixes and it has a certain gourmet cachet. If you do add it to your salad I suggest using a slight creamy, richer dressing to balance the bitterness. You can also use the outer leaves as serving containers. Or you could cut the whole uncored head into quarters, dunk it in salt water, brush it with oil and grill it until it has some char marks and has wilted a little.

I doubt I really need to tell any of you what to do with a cucumber. But here’s something you might not have thought of using it for: a cocktail. Peel and seed the cucumber and puree it with basil, the juice of two lemons, a little simple syrup (or just use sugar and make sure it dissolves well), gin and, if you have it, a splash of Pimms Cup. Let it steep for a couple of hours and then put it through a fine sieve and serve over ice.

The Alleged Farm News – 14 July, 2016

This week’s share: Genovese and lemon basil, Napa cabbage, Dill, Escarole, Garlic, Leeks, Lettuce, Snap peas, Potatoes, Squash

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Small potatoes are increasingly big. I know, kind of a lame joke. But it is true. In a couple of ways actually, now that I think about it. Literally, for instance. The small potatoes on our potatoes vines are getting big. Or at least bigger. To get really big they would probably need somewhat more consistent rain, rather than, say, getting almost nothing in June and then 4 inches the afternoon of July 1st. Still, they are definitely growing.

But what I really meant is that the market for small potatoes has increased significantly in recent years. Increased from essentially nothing to now making up 12% of potatoes sales. In the old days, by which I mean maybe a decade ago, potato farmers generally regarded small potatoes as an annoyance. They were just potatoes that had not amounted to anything.

 

For a seed potato grower small potatoes have some use since they make good seed stock. You don’t have to cut them before planting, which makes them far less susceptible to rot than than the normal cut seed pieces. But they were viewed as having no real culinary value–possibly because you cannot make french fries from small potatoes. I don’t know what potato growers did with their small potatoes, but it would not surprise me if they just threw them away.

Now they stick them in mesh bags and sell them at a premium as gourmet spuds. And to be fair, there are good reasons to prefer small potatoes. They cook faster and more uniformly, and they look nice. But I think a lot of people assume they are also somehow not just fancier (for some reason very small or very large often equals fancy for produce), but also fresher. After all, they must have been picked as babies so they are young and fresh–those new potatoes, whatever that means, that you see mentioned on menus.

Well, they could be, except that you see those bags of small potatoes in the store year-round, plus potato plants make a lot of tubers, and not all of them size up. A potato plant dug long after it has died (I would say of natural causes, but in fact most big potato farms kill their vines with herbicide at some point in order to have a more predictable harvest date) will still yield some small potatoes. That is just how potatoes work.

And while it is true some potato packer has bothered to sort out the nice little ones just for you, they do that anyway. They have just run all the potatoes through grading machines on the packing line like they always have. All that has changed is that they found a clever way to sell the little ones they used to grade out.

That is not a bad thing. In fact, it is good. Good for the potato farmers, who have found value in something that previously had none. Good for the planet because it reduces food waste. And good for people who like small potatoes and would never had found any in a grocery store before.

The only slight concern nagging at me is the trend, of which these small potatoes are certainly part, to bring modern American marketing to the world of produce. Not that marketing has played no role before now. People would hype new crops–broccolini, for instance–and new varieties–the Uglyripe tomato. But by and large they skipped all the suggestive aspirational lifestyle ploys used to sell soda and chips and all those other foodish edible objects that take up the vast majority of our stores and diets. Vegetables, being so obviously just themselves, don’t easily lend themselves to that sort of thing, and anyway there’s just not that much money in produce.

But now eating well, eating local, eating fresh, these have become more culturally meaningful. Now a vegetable is not just a vegetable. What you buy in the produce section can tell people something about you, about your values and sophistication and skills and knowledge and wealth. And once that happens the marketers have something with which to work on you.

Which, I suppose, could be great if it just serves to make more people eat vegetables. But that kind of marketing has a way of twisting things into new shapes, of making people think drinking soda will turn them into fit, fun-loving beach-goers when they are far more likely to end up as desperately ill diabetics. One of the attractive things about vegetables–at least to me–is that they are what they are. Unlike, say, a frozen pizza, they aren’t good at lying. You don’t need any marketing suggestions to figure out what is good. Just have a small sense of adventure and use your senses and you will know what is good.

You may even be able to tell which potatoes, such as the ones in your box this week, are actually new. New meaning early season, dug while the plants are still alive, before the skins have set. What really makes them special is that they are the first potatoes of the new season. Well that and the fact that they actually taste like something: a potato.

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Vegetable notes: Lemon basil, as one might expect, has a lemony as well as a basilly flavor. You could chop it up finely with garlic and some hot pepper, mix it with olive oil, salt and a little lemon juice or vinegar and have a nice sauce for grilled fish or steak or squash. You could make a lemony pesto, which would be good on some steamed potatoes or sautéed squash. And best of all, you can steep it in simple syrup and mix one part syrup with one part good bourbon over lots of ice and enjoy the Alleged Farm cocktail #1 (more on cocktail #2 some other time).

You can use Napa much as you would normal cabbage, or stir fry it (its tender texture lends itself to quick cooking) or you could carefully remove the outer leaves and steam them until the ribs are pliable and use the leaves as wrappers for spring rolls or stuffed “grape” leaves or whatever else you think might be good wrapped up in a Napa cabbage leaf.

These little leeks are fairly tender so you could grill or broil them and marinate them overnight and they would be good with cold grilled squash or chopped up and added to a potato salad. Or you could just cook them with the escarole and a lot of garlic and finish it with some Genovese basil. I would point out that you could add some chunks of potato and chicken stock and make a nice hearty soup, but it is way to hot to think about that.

The Alleged Farm News – 7 July, 2016

This week’s share: Thai basil, Chard, Kohlrabi, Garlic, Lettuce, Onions, Snap peas, Radishes, Squash, Turnips

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My farm is teeming with immigrants. From South America and China, India and Europe, the Middle East and Mexico. These aliens have turned up on our shores with their own sometimes peculiar tastes, odd looks, distinct habits, special needs. Some of them are full of vigor and set about outcompeting the natives. Others require constant care to survive at all. They have been here for years or only just made it to our shores. Some have entered our culture easily, some have had to work their way in, some linger on the margins, never fully accepted.

Have they wrecked our country, caused us to slip from our former greatness, debased our purity, taken opportunities from those who belong here? Maybe we should we pack them all up and send them back to their own lands.

 

Call me crazy, but I think not. Far from wrecking anything, these immigrants have added enormously to our lives, adding variety and complexity and real economic benefits, and just generally making things more interesting. Plus it would be really tough to round them all up and send them home, and if we somehow managed to do that we would quickly find that we missed them.

Just in case anyone thinks I have opened a refugee camp, let me clarify that I am talking about vegetables. I am tempted from time to time to take in some family fleeing one horror or another, let them pursue their agricultural lives in peace. For the moment, however, and rather less nobly, I have just taken in their crops: beets, tomatoes, garlic, kale, potatoes, broccoli, lettuce, parsley, carrots, onions, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, radishes, rutabagas, cabbages, peas, turnips, dill, currants, leeks, kohlrabi, cauliflower. Actually, it would be easier to list the crops that don’t come from elsewhere. It is a short list. Squash and pumpkins, beans and husk cherries, sage and… well, that may be it.

It is not that there are no other edible natives. People lived here for thousands of years before the cucumber showed up and they must have had a few green things to go with their giant ground sloth. If you want to get some idea of the variety out there, take a walk around the farm with Sean, who spend many evenings gathering wild crops from the woods and streams and hedgerows–and even some of the weeds from our fields.

You might be surprised how much is out there. Young cattail shoots and day lily roots and ramps and hickory nuts. Though you might also be surprised by the effort required to get enough of these crops (well, other than the edible weeds, which we have in dismaying abundance) to make anything like a meal. An evening of foraging will net Sean a small bag of goodies. I can pick enough lettuce for all of you in half an hour.

I suppose there is something attractive about the idea of making do with what you find right around you. It sounds sustainable and simple and natural and balanced, a sort of ideal self-sufficiency. But what’s wrong with a little help from others, especially when that help tastes as good as a tomato or garlic. And anyway, this idea of things belonging immutably to a particular place–of true natives–is nonsense. We have all been moving around for eons, peoples and plants and microbes sweeping across continents, changing what they encounter and being changed by it.

Of course, Japanese eggplants and Peruvian tubers coming to live in my Easton fields causes fewer social problems than, say, thousands of Syrians fleeing through Europe. But this vegetable melting pot I call a farm does remind one that things tend not to stay put, for which we human beings bear a huge portion of the responsibility, and that we have consequently benefitted as well as suffered. Choosing a moment in time and declaring it the point of equilibrium may impose some desired order on the chaos we inhabit. But it is a fiction, and most often told for no good purpose. Better, it seems to me, to accept the change as generously as possible, set aside a little ground to give the newcomers a place to grow. It will cost space and time and effort, but it may well improve your life too.

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Vegetable notes: As always, I make my plea on behalf of your snap peas. Do not cook them for more than a couple of minutes. They just need to turn bright green. Nothing more. Well, a little salt. But that’s it. Cook them longer and they turn from snap peas to mush peas.

As you can see, the squash patch has hit its stride. Opinions vary about whether or not that is a good thing. You may start to get tired of them in a few weeks. We, most likely, will get tired of picking them. But they are a versatile vegetable. I think of them as sort of vegetable pasta. They go well with all sorts things. I think, though, that they may be best grilled, marinated (olive oil, vinegar, smoked paprika, basil, garlic, salt and pepper) and eaten cold, in particular as an addition to a sandwich. Just about any sandwich. Maybe not peanut butter and jelly (I dare some one to try it).

Thai basil can be used in place of the more familiar Italian, and obviously it goes well in Thai dishes. It’s also good in various desserts or infused in simple syrup and mixed into various drinks (try it with bourbon for a start).

As many of you may recall, we had a terrible garlic crop last season. I am happy to say this year’s crop looks much better. Well, you can see for yourself. Right now the heads are uncured (we dug these bulbs a couple of days ago), which means the cloves are a little milder and a lot juicer. The garlic would go well with some sautéed chard.

The kohlrabi (round green object) is, I think, best just peeled and sliced up and eaten raw so it is still crunchy. But if you don’t like crunchy you could cut it into chunks and steam it.

On a general note, any pockmarks you might notice on your produce are the result of the hail we got last Friday. As hail goes, it was not bad, but ice pellets blown into vegetables at 50 miles and hour do tend to leave a mark.

The Alleged Farm News – 30 June, 2016

This week’s share: Basil, Beets, Garlic chives, Dill, Endive, Kale, Koji, Lettuce, Scallion, Squash

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As a rule I strongly approve of those who widen their taste in vegetables. I like to hear from members who have happily discovered a new vegetable or even found that they like something they thought they did not. My own wife believed she disliked beets until I started growing them and she learned that fresh beets bear little resemblance to the things she had been served at her grade school cafeteria. And while my older son is a reasonably accomplished guy and soon to be 20, I remain particularly proud of the time when he announced at the age of three that he likes turnips (and I don’t think he has gone back on that opinion since).

I have an obvious commercial interest in people eating a wide range of vegetables (I am assuming such people also end up eating more vegetables rather than just having increasingly small portions of more and more different crops). But I like to think I am in favor of broad vegephilia for other reasons too. Such as the feeling that an openness to new things suggests a more tolerant approach to the world, and god knows we could use a little more tolerance. Or that an enthusiasm for discovery suggests an active mind, and it seems we could certainly have more of those. Or that the ability to take pleasure in something as simple as a vegetable suggests an aptitude for contentment, and we could all learn to be a little more content with our lot.

But more than any grandiose dyspeptic social theory, it really comes down to the fact that I like eating all sorts of vegetables, even sometimes fennel. That is why I farm, and farm they way I do. Liz tells me from time to time that I ought to pare down my crop list, concentrate on a few crops well suited to my soils. But what crops would I jettison? I have tried a pretty broad range of crops over the years and I can think of four that I don’t plant any more. I cannot even make myself stop trying to produce artichokes, despite the obvious difficulties of that undertaking. It may not be fully efficient, but I like having a wide array of crops. And I like giving them to people who feel more or less the same way about them–and if giving people a wide array of crops helps them to discover a taste for a wide range of crops that is particularly satisfying

Given all that, I suppose I ought to feel rather pleased with the deer around here, who have decided this year to start eating all sorts of crops they normally would not touch. For 20 years they have had fairly consistent preferences: chard, beets, lettuce, endives, carrots, soy beans. And when they cannot get at those (because we have moved those crops into field houses or put up electric fence or sprayed repellant) they will eat dill and parsley and beans and peas and celery and artichokes, And in the late fall as they run out of other things they will browse on radishes and pumpkins and maybe even the occasional zucchini.

But this year they have, so far, eaten the tops off about a third of the outside tomatoes, browsed the ends of the potato rows, had a go at some pepper plants and even snacked on a few onions. Well, bravo deer. You have really expanded your palate.

I cannot help wondering what has come over them. Tolerance, curiosity and contentment no doubt. But I feel like something else must be going on too. Are these different deer? Has some new herd moved into town, immigrant deer with their own peculiar eating habits? Or just a new generation, hipster deer caught up in their own foodie enthusiasm for everything fresh and local, snapping pictures of the tomato plants on their cell phones before tucking in. Or have they started to sense the change in the climate? Perhaps the weird winters and increasingly violent storms are starting to freak them out, and they realize they are going to have to change their habits to adapt to whatever exactly this is.

That or, being deer, they are just looking for new ways to irritate me. Sure, digging up carrots and destroying row covers may still get a rise out of me after all these years, but if you keep going back to the same tricks they start to lose their power. So they have decided to mix things up a bit. If deer can chortle, that is what I would hear them doing in the dark as the ravage the tomato rows. And I seriously doubt they even like tomato plants. If I looked around carefully enough I would find where they spit out the plants.

Which is why I am less than chuffed about the deer broadening their diet. Trying new things is good, but ideally you try them and like them. And if you don’t like them at first, sure, try them again once, maybe even twice more. But at some point, move on. There’s no shame in discovering that you dislike something. Just don’t wreck it for the people who do. That’s just rude. Clearly, I am going to have to be quite stern with these deer. Well, that or just start spraying more deer repellent and hope they develop a taste for something else. Such as weeds.

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Vegetable notes: Koji, the head of crinkled dark green leaves and crisp stems, is a new variety somewhere between a bok choi and a tatsoi. You can eat more or less the whole thing, and you can cook it whole. Just steam the whole head until the stems are slightly tender (you don’t want to lose the crunch entirely) and pour over a little chili oil, vinegar and soy sauce and some chopped garlic chives. Or you can cut it apart and add it to a salad, or you could cook it with your beet greens.

As for the beets, you can boil them until a fork slides in smoothly or bake them or roast them or eat them raw. I know most people don’t think of eating them raw, but you can grate them into salad or cole slaw and have the texture of carrots and that good earthy beet flavor.

The head of frilly leaves is frisee endive. You can cook it, but it is really meant as a salad green, especially the paler central leaves. Because it is a bitter green I like to adjust the dressing a bit when I use it, maybe add a little cream or some bacon or even a touch of something sweet to balance the flavors. I know a lot of people choose to accomplish more or less the same thing by not using adding the endive in the first place, but I think it makes salad a little more interesting.

 

The Alleged Farm News – 23 June, 2016

This week’s share: Basil, Escarole, Lettuce, Mustard greens, Onion, Savory, Hakurei turnips

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Surprisingly, I have little taste for haute couture. I know, I know, you would never guess it when you see how I choose to dress myself. I guess some people just have a natural sense of style.

But it’s true. No matter how hard I try, I just cannot make myself care about the way certain fabrics drape or learn to appreciate really fine stitching around a button hole or give a damn about a playful reinterpretation of some hemline from the 1960s.

All right, maybe I have not tried hard enough. Maybe with more study I could learn to see the value in crafting obscenely expensive, deliberately non-utilitarian clothes that only look good–or at least remarkable–on women with the alien body types in order to impress the famous and wealthy.

 

But wait, fashion’s defenders say, it’s not just about some pointless self-referential world of privilege and luxury. Fashion trends trickle down and turn up in the most ordinary places. Oh goody. We common folk get to be cajoled into buying clothes we don’t need in a vain attempt to achieve some low budget version of the lives of the fabulous.

Fortunately for me, I do not have to think about high fashion often. Every now and then I flip through the New York Times fashion section to pop up my blood pressure a little, and we do occasionally discuss creating a wedding dress out of various farm materials–row covers and bug netting and the like. But for the most part fashion tends not to intrude into the life of the farm. In fact, I generally only think about clothes at all because I am wet or cold or have torn large enough holes in my trousers that they are in danger of coming completely apart.

So if I am not thinking about haute couture, what am I thinking about? Well, I do spend some time thinking about food. Which ought to be quite different from high fashion. And mostly it is. I have begun to notice, however, an unsettling trend in cooking. There has always been fancy cooking for rich people, who were after all until quite recently the only people who could afford not just fancy cooks, but also meat and sugar and multiple cooking pots and enough cooking fuel to create multi course meals. And for a long time now there have been little jokes and surprises–one thing disguised as or hiding inside another, daring or challenging combinations, and show stopper dishes. But the food itself was still for the most part just food, and it was made by people who were just cooks.

Now the top chefs are stars creating dining experiences for an insular international foodie elite that demands something new all the time and is willing to pay astronomical prices and travel across oceans for it. Colors and textures are splashed around for effect, the lights dim, scented smoke wafts about, restaurants are done up like sets, people make pretentious statements about time and sex and beauty, celebrities appear in the best seats, and something we all need is transformed into an object designed only to satisfy the wants of those who want for nothing. It all sounds oddly familiar. Haute cuisine has become haute couture.

The most sensible reaction would be to ignore this. If these people want to sit around in the dark savoring gelatin olives on scented pillows, let them, and let the rest of us get on with our simple lives of getting dressed and eating. Leave them alone.

But they don’t leave us alone. It seems that roughly half the fun of inhabiting such an exquisite realm lies in making everyone else envious. How else do you really know it is such a great place to be? Especially since the clothes are ridiculous and the tiny portions of foam and powder and scent leave you hungry. Plus, exciting our envy creates sales opportunities, and what, in the end, could be more fun that making us pay for their unattainable lives?

Unfortunately, one of the flaws of our species is the capacity to slavishly obsess over the lives of the rich and famous, a flaw our culture has learned to exploit masterfully. We are as awash in plutography as we are in pornography.

What to do? Well, short of rounding up the foodies and fashionistas and sending them to some remote island with no cell service, we can try to remind ourselves that sometimes just sitting on a rock watching the sunset or having a slice of good bread and a fresh tomato is not just good enough, but plain and simple good.

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Vegetable notes: What made the turnips turn white? Well, that’s a little complicated. Naure? Genetics? Turnip breeders? Probably all of the above. A better question, though, would be why more people don’t eat these white turnips? If they did, the turnip’s reputation would surely soar. You don’t even need to cook them. And the greens are tasty too.

I understand that some people don’t like bitter greens as much as I do, but one should make an exception for escarole. It is too good. And if you steam it first and wring out the moisture it loses a lot of its bitterness. Plus you will find it a lot easier to sauté it properly with olive oil and garlic once you have done that. Just be sure to leave some over to have cold on a sandwich the next day with some roast meat grilled sausage or mozzarella and thinly sliced onion.

The mustard greens are best raw. Add them to a salad. or just make a mustard green salad with a ginger-honey-soy-sesame-rice vinegar dressing.

The Alleged Farm News - 16 June, 2016

This week’s share: Arugula, Beet greens, Dill, Garlic scapes, Lettuce, Onions

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A couple of weeks ago we cleaned out the winter kale patch in one of our greenhouses. The kale, inspired by the lengthening daylight, had given up on leaf production and sent up tall spikes of yellow flowers (quite delicious, and sadly rather too delicate to send out in the share). We yanked the plants out by the armful and started tossing them over the fence to the donkeys, who had come to see what treats we had in store for them.

We clean out plants from the greenhouses fairly regularly during the season. We try to keep the houses as full as possible. That quarter acre of soil in the houses–irrigated, protected and heavily amended over the years with tons (literally) of compost is our most productive ground–and our most expensive too, of course, given the cost of the four structures covering it. Making sure we keep those houses full of crops ensures a steady supply of high quality produce and justifies the cost.

 

So we are often in a house cleaning out some patch to get it ready for another crop, pulling up weeds and stems and bolted plants. And a lot of that material gets fed to the donkeys. Maybe we should compost more of it, turn it back into soil and put it back in the houses. The circle of life and all that. But to do that properly, to create excellent compost rather than a weed mess, takes care and time that we cannot necessarily afford. Plus, the donkeys look so sad when we don’t give them treats, and they have a special tragic bray just in case the gloomy demeanor does not get the point across.

The donkeys get these treats regularly enough that they have learned to wander over and wait hopefully whenever they see us go into the greenhouses. Sometimes we are just going to trellis the tomatoes or transplant or pick and have nothing for them. And sometimes we are pulling out things they won’t like, such as radicchio roots or tomato plants–though they have fairly broad tastes when it comes to plants. They are basically goats. I have seen them contentedly chewing on a length of garden hose.

It seemed perfectly reasonable to think they would like the bolted kale. Especially that early in the season, when the only other things we could offer them were an assortment of small weeds. Armfuls of bolted kale ought to make a donkey happy.

They did not. Sean had already given the donkeys two loads of kale when I went over to the fence. I expected to find them happily browsing on it, but they were standing on the other side of the ditch eyeing me dolefully. It was the sort of look you would get from your kid on Christmas after he has opened the large package that he has every right in the world to think will contain his long hoped for dream toy, only to discover an itchy sweater. It is a look that says this is not merely an outrage, it is an injustice. A grand injustice. Dred Scott. Sacco and Vanzetti. The Holocaust. And now this: stalky kale.

The donkeys stared at me in disgust for a couple of minutes and then just walked away. It did not matter what else we had to offer them that day. It was too late.

I fear sometimes that our CSA shares might get the same response. Not that I am exactly comparing you to a donkey or suggesting that we fill your boxes with armfuls of crops long past their prime. But as we do with the donkeys, we aim to give you things you will enjoy eating–though we understand that, like the donkeys, you may not find everything you get delicious. We all have our tastes. I don’t like every crop we grow. We are fine with the idea that, like the donkeys, you may not enjoy turnips and simply choose to nudge them aside while grazing on your share.

We like to believe, however, that by and large you enjoy the crops we send your way and even anticipate them with some relish. But as the donkeys reminded me, there’s always the chance that, despite our best intentions, we will seriously miscalculate somehow. That’s one of the risks of distributing vegetables the way we do. One of the risks, really, of giving others anything rather than having them get their own stuff.

I will live with the risk. Mostly by doing everything I can to reduce it, such as growing a wide range of crops in a wide range of varieties chosen for their vigor and taste, using growing techniques that enhance those crops without harming the place they grow or the people who eat them, and getting them to you as fresh from our fields as possible. All of which our way of distributing vegetables makes easier for us to do.

Plus, even if we do hand out the itchy sweater equivalent of a crop, we will just keep tossing things over the fence, figuring that in the end we will offer up enough good stuff to make it worth wandering back over.

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Vegetable notes: Another leafy start to another season. Welcome to vegetable production in upstate New York. Especially in a season when we have had cold nights nearly all spring. Warm days certainly help, but for some reason, warm nights really make a difference. Maybe plants are shy about growing and prefer to do it in the dark.

Which makes what the onions did all the more surprising. I put transplants in the greenhouse late last fall in order to get an early crop. I though that meant we would have nice young onions some time in early July. But the tops on these guys started to go down (a sign of maturity in onions) several weeks ago. This is the earliest by weeks that I have ever pulled onions. Not that I am complaining. I put onions in just about everything I cook so it is nice to have a fresh crop.

I also put garlic in most dishes. This year’s crop looks good, but it is some week away from being ready. What to do? Well, garlic scapes — those odd curly things in your box — will work nicely. They are milder than the cloves so you can put quite a lot in a dish without getting any overpowering garlic taste. I roasted some cauliflower with sliced scales recently. You can also use them raw. I have put them in various salads. And you can just make a dish of them. Cut them into pieces of whatever size catch your fancy and sauté them in olive oil and salt on medium low heat until they are softened and lightly browned.

The scapes would also be good sautéed with the beet greens. You can use the greens in a salad, but I think they are particularly good steamed and then sautéed with garlic and finished with a bit of vinegar and maybe a touch of hot pepper. You can use the whole plant, roots and all.

2016 Season CSA Shares Available Now

When you join The Alleged Farm CSA you get a weekly box of farm fresh produce in a remarkable array of varieties delivered to a convenient location. We grow 65 crops, including 30 kinds of tomatoes, 10 potatoes, 16 lettuces and five colors of carrots, and we have 11 drop off points around the Capital District. We make it easy for you to eat well.

In addition, you get the weekly farm newsletter, with suggestions about what to do with the crops (and how to identify unusual ones) and opportunities to visit the farm and learn about how your food is grown and who grows it. That’s a connection to what you eat that, unfortunately, most people are no longer afforded. But when you join our CSA, that connection is not just afforded, but affordable. Our share is a great deal on great food.

 

The Alleged Farm donates 7 tons of food to local groups

We are in the business of feeding people. But not everyone can afford to eat as well or even as much as they should. That means sometimes we make it our business to give away our produce to help those people get the diet they deserve. To that end, we work with three local organizations who can deliver our crops where they are needed: Community Action, Capital Roots and Comfort Food (which is run by former Alleged Farm worker Devin Bulger).

In the course of the 2014 season, we donated about 14,000 pounds of fresh produce to these organization for distribution throughout the region. That’s a pretty big pile of vegetables, and giving it away makes us feel pretty good. We like feeding people.