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 – 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.