Tuesday, August 20, 2019

August 20th and 23rd

10 Year Anniversary!


20 years ago I met a fellow in Pennsylvania who was looking for a farm hand.  I did a two week working interview with him and I think by day two I was in love with farming.  The farm was similar to the one I run now, CSA model but just a bit larger in size.  I worked there for 3 years, my learning curve was huge and from there I sought out farming opportunities; traveling through France, Argentina, Italy and ending up in Maine.  We came to Maine with no exact plan except knowing that one day I wanted to run my own farm.  We happened onto this piece of land and bit by bit built my dream.  YOU and the surrounding community have been a HUGE part in making it happen.  Neighbors, friends and family loaned me money, donated huge amounts of time and granted me unending support.  We are so excited to be celebrating 10 successful years and look forward to many more!!


Please join in our celebration and thanksgiving to you

This Sunday August 25th from 1-4pm

Check out our facebook page for a history of photos 
and more information


This Week's Bounty: lettuce, beans, summer squash, zucchini, sweet onion, cucumber, carrot, chard, hakurei, beet, kohl rabi, tomato, basil, dill hot pepper, melon (full shares)

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

August 13th and 16th

Summer Sweetness

So many crops are right on the edge of ripening; corn, melons, peppers... Every day I keep checking!  Soon we will be in summer's full tilt. Unfortunately the rain showers have all passed north of us and we are still frantically doing rain dances (ie irrigating).  I am thankful for what is ripe and delicious right now though, hopefully you too are enjoying summer's sweetness.  

This is me weeding and thinning winter turnips while Puffa works hard at relaxing.  Every few minutes I would need to move ahead to the next section of field and he would just get up, saunter forward and snuggle back up.  Not too bad for a office mate : )

PYO Cherry Tomatoes and Tomatillos open!  Enjoy these tasty treats!!  Picking them is like working in a candy store, with the candy just dripping from the walls!

We have been working hard at trying to keep up with the last of the weeds, harvest and irrigation.  And starting to prepare for fall seeding and planting (already?!) Prioritizing has been difficult as there is so much to do!  Hope you are enjoying the bounty!!

This Week's Bounty: lettuce, chard, cabbage, hakurei, new potatoes, beans, zucchini, summer squash, cucumber, tomato, eggplant, pepper, onion, basil, cilantro, parsley

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

August 6th and 9th

Ok, NOW we need some RAIN

The crops are really producing well, every week there is something new to harvest!  The majority of our day is spent harvesting; beans, cucumbers, summer squash...and soon melons!!  usually by now we have the weeds under control, but this year we seem to be overwhelmed still in a few areas.  if there is anyone who would like to get heir hands dirty for a few hours, let me know, it would be greatly appreciated.  Weeding can be very therapeutic and satisfying :) 

I can't believe I am saying it after the crazy wet spring we had, but we really need some rain.  'Tis the season that the clouds seem to skirt right around us.  If you do a rain dance, please be sure to be specific about where the raindrops fall : )

 

This year we are excited to be growing a new crop; hemp!
100% of this crop will be for a local company called Healing Harbors located in Durham, Maine.
A woman owned company with a superior product, we are proud to be working with them, be sure to check them out!

Hemp was classically grown for its fibers for clothing and rope.  It has also been found to have medicinal properties in its oil (CBD).  Hemp is NOT marijuana.  It has no properties that would make you "high" but it has medicinal value like any other herb or plant might (elderberries, echinacea, chamomile etc). Many people use it to help in muscle soreness, arthritis or insomnia.  It has also been known to help reduce seizures in animals and humans.  Here is some additional info:

When did I decide to grow Hemp? 
Last fall I was approached by one of my shareholders who runs a woman owned company called Healing Harbors located in Durham.  She wanted to see if I was interested in growing hemp for CBD oil for their product line.  They were excited for the potential to have a local, organic woman farmer.
For the last 3 years, I have been searching for opportunities to increase farm income & viability so that I may better compensate both my employees and myself for all of our hard work and in light of the unfortunate fact that my CSA numbers have been declining.  I have secured more wholesale vegetable avenues and researched other ideas around just veggies, but growing hemp seemed like a positive opportunity to continue to grow crops with greater profitability and for a good cause/good company.   

After careful consideration and several meetings with Stacey and Ashley of Healing Harbors, this winter I decided to give it a try.

Will I produce the oil?
The dried hemp flowers will be brought to a local extracting facility where the CBD oil will be extracted and given to Healing Harbors.

Organic seeds? Use of fertilizer?
The seeds were purchased from a hemp grower in Richmond, ME.  Hemp needs 50% less nitrogen than corn and less fertilizer than many crops I grow.  It will be fed a lower concentrate of my certified use fertilizer and crab shell flour that I use on all of my other crops.

In addition, I would like to add here that the growth of hemp is legal as well as the use/sale of CBD oil (LD630).  I have paid for and obtained a license from the state of Maine (see attachment).  There are rules I have to adhere to, for example any seed I use has to have a certificate proving that it tested below the allowable THC levels.  In the fall, a state inspector will come to the farm, collect samples and send them to a lab to again test to make sure any THC levels are below the allowable level.  In addition, Healing Harbors will take samples and do lab testing looking for any mold, bacteria or pesticide residue to make sure the crop I grow is of the highest quality for their product.

Do you have buyer? 
Yes.  Healing Harbors and I have signed a contract and all of the flowers I grow will be sold to them for extraction.

Will it be rotated with other crops, tilled in and or given to the livestock? 
This crop is certified organic by MOFGA, so it will be treated with the same rules and restrictions as all of my other crops.  I am growing .5 acre, so it will take up one entire field.  The location of this field will rotate around the farm in accordance with my current crop planning/rotations.

Hemp grows into a small tree-like woody shrub.  It will be too woody for me to til in, so I will clip the plants, burn them and possibly use the by product as bio char.

No hemp product will be fed to the livestock. 

What other benefits do you see by this crop (botanically/soil enhancing, etc..)with the other produce?
Hemp plants have a very deep root system which will help break up my clay soils.  It is naturally insect free so there will be no need for use of pesticides.  And as I mentioned earlier, it’s nutrient needs are less than many other crops, so even fertilizer (although organic) will be minimal.  It also has the potential to clean soils of heavy metals and other toxins.  Luckily I do not have toxins or heavy metals, but it is still considered to be a good soil purifier and a great plant to have in crop rotation for its deep roots and large canopy which shades out weeds.


This Week's Bounty: lettuce, red onions, scallions, zukes, summer squash, hakurei turnip, cukes, green beans! fennel bulb, eggplant, broccoli, basil cilantro...

If you still have a cabbage hanging out in your fridge, use it up as another is on its way!
Check out this recipe from a shareholder:

Monday, July 29, 2019

July 30th and Aug 2nd

HOT HOT HOT

Picking raspberries has been most delightful.  They are bright and cheerful and taste so delicious.  We usually pick for the the last hour or so of work, or I do so on my "time off" as a "relaxant".


The Pick Your Own garden is looking magnificent as usual.  I am so thankful for this place we call home and are happy to share it with you.


Zach bought a fat tire bike last summer and its main purpose has been an Irrigation Mobile.  The little cart he tows behind full of irrigation equipment.  It's been great!  Using the truck was a little overkill and now that we are down to just one, we found ourselves fighting over it.  So the bike has been a great solution and he loves zipping around the farm on it to turn on/off irrigation and say hi to the pigs.  I am thankful he finds irrigation work so entertaining as for me it is a lot of extra time I would rather spend doing something else....like picking raspberries : )


This Week's Bounty: lettuce, arugula, red onion, scallion, fennel, kohl rabi, beets, baby carrots, cucumber, zucchini, summer squash, scapes, basil, dill, cilantro...

The Farmer's Table: 
*summer cooked turkey (with the A/C on!) the last of last years spuds, fresh salad
*zucchini casserole with sour cream, yogurt and dill


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

July 23rd and 26th

Ruby Red 

Raspberries!  What a treat to pick these rubies.  They survived a tough winter and I am thankful for the abundance.  Pick your own opens this week -- one of the many benefits of being a shareholder at Little Ridge Farm!  If you are not a shareholder already, check out our website for all we have to offer; www.LittleRidgeFarm.com


The summer's color has been magnificent.  Although we started with too much rain, it seems to have settled into nearly the perfect amount.  Irrigating takes a lot of time, not nearly as efficient as nature, so I am happy to get the weekly rain events.  The crops (and weeds) are looking good.  We are busy keeping up with both.  I am blown away that it is nearly August.  The plus side is that the diversity of crops available changes every week and I am excited to see the fruits of our labor come into the barn!


THANK YOU to all who participated in last week's annual fund raiser for our area food bank, LACO.  Your donation helps hundreds of local residents find better food security.  This money is used to "purchase" food from The Good Shepherd food bank at pennies on the dollar so it is an incredible value.  


This Week's Bounty: lettuce, chard, zuchinni, summer squash, chinese or green cabbage, hakurei turnip, red onions, garlic scapes, dill, cilantro, basil

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

July 16th and 19th

Bright Sun, Warm Days

Zucchinis and Summer Squash have arrived!!  Half of these plants were planted directly into a puddle back in early June, but they are making a come back with this drier warmer weather!  As a farmer, I am very excited to have this new product available, but any of you who have grown zucchini knows that without a daily check, these guys can quickly become baseball bats : )  So now starts my daily haul of hefty produce.  Cucumbers will be on their way soon!!


The little turkeys are growing bigger by the day.  They have discovered their legs and wings and are now running around like they are on an airstrip and perching on top of anything they can find.  But mostly they sleep, all snuggled in the warm sun.


Shiitakes are better than ever, be sure to give them a try!!


Scallion, celeriac, garlic scape and carrot....our seasonal version of the Italians' foundation to any good red sauce (onion, celery, garlic and carrot).  Of course we used some frozen 2018 tomatoes....get some from the chest freezer and try it yourself : )

*Reminder that the PYO garden has basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary and parsley!


Donate to our Local Food bank this week buy purchasing an 
ice cream cone or a Get Sticky Fruit Bar!!


This Week's Bounty: lettuce, scallions, zuchinni/summer squash, kale, beets with greens, hakurei with greens, kohl rabi, garlic scapes, dill, basil

The Farmer's Table (A snippet of what we eat with our and other local product)
*Sauteed hakurei turnip and greens, parsley and LRF hot sausage on pasta (or not)
*Chard Lasagna (use instead of noodles), sauteed broccoli and mushrooms
* LRF Tenderloin salad with homemade Italian Dressing
*Broccoli, Shiitake, Sausage Frittata


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

July 9th and 12th

Summer's Bounty

Today has been a busy harvest day!  Lots to chose from, but I think I have settled on some perfect ingredients for a summer meal. Garlic Scapes are a new addition to your plate this week.  They are the flowering stalk of garlic.  Some argue that by nipping it off, more energy goes into producing a bigger bulb.  Either way it does not hurt the plant and the scapes taste great!  They are juicier than garlic with a lighter flavor.  They can be sauteed, pureed, fried, pickled, used in a flower arrangement...so many unique uses!!


While we do not have enough strawberries to open for PYO, we have been harvesting enough to put in the freezer for Winter Shares, and jam as well as have a few quarts for sale at pick up.  They look gorgeous and taste delightful.  I enlisted free labor (Mom and Dad) to help top them for freezing : )
Berry picking is one of my favorite farm tasks. It's a hard pill to swallow knowing that I will not make my money back for labor and materials we put into growing them last year. Although I am very sad we cannot open the patch for PYO, I am thankful we are getting what we can and I am hopeful the plants will regrow and be happier for next year!  


PYO Flower Garden opens this week!  The kaleidoscope of colors is brilliant.  Be sure not to cut too low as some of the plants are still growing.  Let these intricate beauties brighten your day!!



Get Sticky

Eat a Treat for LACO (our local food bank)
It's our annual food bank fundraiser next week, July 16th and 19th
And while we will still have Big Dipper ice cream, we are also going to have some locally made ice pops containing locally sourced fruit!!


This Week's Bounty: lettuce, radicchio, beets with greens, hakurei with greens, broccoli, green cabbage, scallions, garlic scapes and parsley

Monday, July 1, 2019

July 2nd and 5th

Summer Rains

Although we did not need any more rain this weekend, I will admit I enjoyed the thunderstorms.  The rolling thunder, darkened skies and streaks of lightening.  The air feels so alive and the sky so near.  This week looks quite a bit drier and warmer so I am excited to see how much the plants grow!!


The pigs are delighted to be in fresh pasture.  It was actually bitter sweet to move them because the field was so sweet and beautifully picturesque with daisies and clover, I didn't want the pigs to crush it.  But this is why we grow it, so the pigs have a place to frolic and fresh greens to eat.  

We have a bit of pork left to sell for October pick up....if anyone is interested, let me know!

 
And this past week we received our Turkeys.  Yes, it is quite amazing, they come in the mail.  They are hatched in Ohio and then sent overnight to our post office.  For such a long journey, they do amazingly well.  This bunch has been quite chatty, but also super friendly.  They have taken a quick liking to their new "moms" (Simon and I : )  Be sure to visit them often!

Hope your summer meals are tasting scrumptious! 


This Week's Bounty: lettuce, spinach? radish, chinese cabbage, hakurei turnip....

The Farmer's Table: (A glimpse into what we ate this week using LRF and other local goods)
*beef briskett with rhubarb bbq
*radish and spinach greens sauteed in fat back
*super yum crudites -- kohl rabi, radish and broccoli with a yogurt dill dip
*FLUX -- if you have not dined there yet, do!!  We had amazing meals there Saturday night.  Our friends there do an incredible job with our produce and other local products, be sure to check them out!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

June 25th and 28th (with a recap of last week)

Happy Summer!

Meet this year's crew: Michael, Keena, Tyler and Elizabeth!  
Good attitude, good energy!  A big shout out of thanks for all your work to make Little Ridge Farm the best that it can be!!


 So I think summer is here to stay.  We logged another 2" of rain over the past 3 days.  Needless to say that we didn't need that much.  There are puddles everywhere, even inside the hoop house, driving around the farm is like maneuvering through a swamp and the pigs have puddles as big as ponds (ok they are happy about that).  Most plants look amazing.  The cool season crops are loving the extended spring and extra moisture.  I am just hoping with the shift in warmer temperatures, the warmer season crops (like squash and tomatoes) will straighten their stems and find the sun.

The weeds have of course taken off and we are finally starting to have "drier" ground and the time to tackle them.  It's hopeless really, but I like things neat and tidy and so I am forever obsessed with trying to outsmart them.  Having weed free fields really do make everything easier; planting, harvesting, even growing (the veggies do not like to share their soil nutrients).

It is a busy time of year!  (Hence the lack of last week's blog)  We are out from under the pressure of huge amounts of transplanting.  I mean we still have more to plant, but we have moved away from a job that takes an entire day to plant....now we are into taking an entire day to weed and on the edge of taking the entire day to harvest (which is he ultimate goal I suppose!).


There are lots of new exciting veggies nearly ripe and you will find them in your pick up over the next few weeks.  One of them is pictured here, kohl rabi.  It looks a little crazy but the flavor is stupendous.  You can eat the leaves but they are a bit like collards and need a lot of cooking.  The best part is the sweet, crunchy juicy bulb.  They are an awesome snack raw, on a salad or lightly sauteed or even roasted.  You could probably grill them!  Sometimes the outer skin (more so on the purple kohl rabi) is a little thick and you may want to peel it, but others you could eat just like an apple!  Give it a try, it may become your new favorite vegetable!!


Shiitakes are back!!!  This week will be our first harvest.  o my gosh the flavor is amazing!!!  WAY WAY WAY better than store bought.  perfect for sauteing with your weekly greens!


This Week's Bounty: lettuce, arugula, radish, spinach, beets with greens, kohl rabi, pac choi, rhubarb and maybe chard and kale : )

The Farmer's Table: 
*My new favorite quick meal: sauteed kale, beets with greens, and broccoli with sausage.  The beets are sooo sweet
*Recipe from a shareholder: Yogurt & Dill Chicken Salad

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

June 11th and 14th

A Bit of Sunshine!

I hope you have noticed the glorious plethora of flowers this year!  The flowering trees have been bursting with color.  So nice to see between the raindrops.  We have been planting planting planting!!  This time if year we put thousands of plants in the ground, some who take the rest of the season to fully grow.  For example, yesterday we planted winter storage cabbage which we will not harvest until late October!  


Sun for 4 days in a row!!!  Of course it is raining as I write this and the rest of the week looks rainy, and CSA harvest will be in the rain, but I suppose all those plants we put in the ground yesterday will be happy to get settled in.  At least it is a little warmer!


I have been farming for almost 19 years now and we have been eating seasonally/farm food for almost that entire time.  It seems as though I should be used to it by now, but I will admit dinners still amaze me.  Amaze me that everything on our plate was produced on this farm or from a friend.  AND THE FOOD TASTES AMAZING.  I hope you are embracing fresh local food too!



Ok this pic is not as beautiful, but it was sooo good!!
country style spare rib on a bed of lettuce cilantro and dill
rhubarb bbq sauce
roasted beets and parsnips


This Week's Bounty:
lettuce, spinach, broccoli, kale, beets with greens, pac choi, asparagus, dill, cilantro lovage ....

The Farmer's Table: ( a view into what we ate this week)
*Taco Salad/Huevos Ranchers (pictured above)
Our favorite Tex Mex spicing

*Country Style Spare Ribs (pictured above)

*Wilted spinach and egg salad

*Grilled steak salad with grilled asparagus



Tuesday, May 28, 2019

May 28th and 31st

Looking on the Bright Side

Well I cannot say this May has been easy.  Many of the farm's tribulations are weather related and although I try and not dwell on them too much (admittedly you will probably get tired of reading about it), I think it is good to give folks a healthy perspective of what we deal with/how we handle things that are out of our control.  A little reality insight into the romanticized farming life.  Strictly for educational purposes...not to complain...I Do Love my Job : )

As I type this VERY least minute Blog, right before pick up starts, it is raining yet again (surprise, surprise).  And since I am running late and need to get pick up set up, I will mostly show pictures this week, with some captions of the highs and lows from May....although funny enough, they are all highs and lows withing just 5 days!!

We planted and covered over 1000 plants in one day!  
And then the wind ripped apart our remay and decorated the trees.


Kale is looking beautiful in the greenhouse

Our "Sink Hole" field has held on to its namesake by sucking me in while trying to aerate the soil.  Luckily my neighbor has a larger tractor and he pulled me out.

The greenhouse is BUSTING at the seams and looking lively.  LOADS of planting to be done in the next couple of weeks ... just need to get the fields dry enough to prep!!


The pigs are out and about.  A little skittish still but fence trained, seemingly well behaved and vigorous.  Be sure to visit them!

Borrowed equipment....a mulch layer.  I bought a drip tape attachment (the thing sticking upright) which lays the drip tape under the plastic.  When this mulch layer is working perfect, it goes so smooth and MUCH faster than laying everything by hand like we used to do (sorry Jean). Not that I love using plastic but in our colder, shorter season it enables us to grow better crops for those that like it hot (winter squash, tomatoes, peppers, melons, cucumbers and sweet potatoes).

Plastic all layed and ready to be planted -- yeah!!


Celery and Celeriac going in the ground with the help of an awesome crew!

Thank you all for supporting Little Ridge Farm!  We would not be here without you and we enjoy serving you with product that is tended to with love.


This Week's Bounty: lettuce, tat soi, kale, cilantro, dill, lovage, beets, spinach and asparagus

The Farmer's Table (A peek at what we eat in a week using the products we grow)
*Fresh pork shoulder, smoked in our smoker with shredded carrot/beet salad
*Grass Fed Beef Steak Salad
*Cheeseburgers with local cheese, roasted parsnips and spinach salad

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

May 14th and 17th

Planting Planting Planting!

Between drops of rain we have managed to find a few dry spots of soil and have planted thousands of plants already.  Yeah!!  It is a sophisticated process which sometimes takes hours to plant just one crop.  This time of year, the added part is to cover everything we plant.  It makes a tent-like cover over the beds and keeps the plants a bit warmer in the cool wet weather.  It will also help protect them from insects who will begin to emerge and make their way to feeding sites soon.  


We are lucky to have a great crew this year!  I had to hire 3 people to replace the one fabulous Jean.  They are doing awesome, picking away at the task list and getting so many things done when we have a break in the weather.  So far, with their help, I feel like we are pretty caught up on things.  I am a bit anxious about wet soils.  (I am sure many of you have noticed the excess of rain)  Most of my fields are still very wet.  I have not been able to "prepare seed beds". This means creating a smooth surface to plant tiny seeds like carrots, arugula, turnips.... So I am behind in getting these in the ground.  We were lucky enough to get peas in the ground.  Those seeds are larger and can take clumpier soil.  I have faith once I am able to get the smaller seeds in the ground, they will catch up and we will be enjoying them sooner than we think!


I am grateful for this spring and am looking forward to this year's bounty.  We have an excellent number of CSA shares and are also adding some new wholesale sales as well as producing hemp for CBD oil.  I will give you more info on that soon, so stay tuned!

Welcome new shareholders and welcome back old friends!  I hope you find season with Little Ridge Farm full of flavor, good energy and exciting visits to the farm. 
THANK YOU for your support and love!


This Week's Bounty: spinach, lettuce, spring parsnips, storage carrots, beets, garlic, onions


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

April

Feeling Springy!

Although it has not been consistent, spring DOES feel like it's approaching.  There are already days in the greenhouse where a tank top is necessary and sunglasses are a must.  The hoop house greens are filling out and tasting sweet.  And the robins are flitting and singing like every day is the best day.


One spring chore is to uncover the strawberries from their winter comforter of straw.  The plants looked happy, well rested and ready to produce copious amounts of lusciousness this summer!  Amazingly, the ground was still frozen and heaved under the straw, but I think Monday's sun helped. 


I am feeling excited about the 2019 growing season!  Greenhouse and Hoop house work has been so pleasurable this spring and all the plants already look so happy.  Don't be afraid to share the good news of Little Ridge Farm!  We love what we do and are passionate about our product.  There are always good things happening here...don't miss out!

This week is the last Winter Share pick up and soon Summer Shares will begin!  Be sure to reserve your spot now!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

March

Longer Rays of Sun

Outside the days are getting longer, brighter and warmer!  Even though the thermometer still reads below normal, the intensity of the sun is increasing and that feels good!  


Inside the greenhouse, seedlings are germinating and happily reaching for the sun.  It's a hot spot on a sunny day and I have been enjoying wearing t-shirts and ditching the long johns!



Inside the house, we are still planning, crunching numbers and ordering materials.  Thank goodness I have Puffa, my office assistant, to help!


Simon and I are enjoying the last of our days "out and about" reflecting on life and soaking up free time.  We are looking forward to a new growing season and all it has to offer.  I think Simon is thinking about groundhogs, lying in the shade and getting dog treats from shareholders.  I am thinking more along the lines of bountiful harvests, weed free fields and happy customers : )


SUMMER CSA SIGN UPS
We have a few spots left, please don't delay and reserve your fresh veggies now!
Spread the news about the incredible Little Ridge Farm!!