Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Week 20 CSA Newsletter

Welcome to Week 20!

Week 20!  The CSA is winding down, only 2 more weeks of deliveries after this week.
Of course, I have to start the newsletter talking about the weather.  As I have said before, as farmers we tend to obsess with the weather!  Today is to be beautiful!  Temperatures in the 70's and beautiful sun.  I hope everyone gets a chance to get outside and enjoy these mild temperatures, because this weekend is predicted to be much different.  Saturday will struggle to get out of the 30's with overnight temperatures predicted to be in the low to mid 20's.  I guess this means our snap and wax beans are finished for the season. 

Many of you will see broccoli rabe in your boxes this week.  This is another Italian green and we grow and heirloom variety.  This variety is known for its edible leaves and stems, rather than its florets.  This raab can be treated like any of the leafy greens.  We like to lightly steam or blanch it and then give it quick saute with olive oil, lots of garlic and some salt and pepper.  This saute is really good served over pasta.  Try adding sausage or white beans for some added protein.

Our apple trees are pretty much finished for the season, but we are still getting some really good apples from our friend and fellow grower Mervin Hoover.  Mervin originally started a small minimum spray apple orchard for his family's consumption.  As these trees did well, he planted more and now offers these apples for sale.  He is currently managing this orchard organically and producing some beautiful and tasty apples!

With the regular season CSA drawing to a close, you will begin to hear more about our winter buying club.  Our winter buying club operates similar to our CSA, in the sense that you log into our website to place your order.  With the buying club, we have limited pick up sites and we meet you to collect payment.  We currently deliver buying club orders to Bloomsburg, Dallas and Forty Fort.  You can also pick your order up on farm.  We are considering adding a Mountain Top site after the CSA ends.  If you would be interested in a buying club delivery to Mountain Top, please send us a quick email so we have an idea of how many people may want to participate.  We are currently operating the buying club and will continue to do so until the weather prevents us from harvesting.  Buying club ordering opens up Tuesday morning and ends Thursday morning.  You must purchase a free winter buying club share to participate.  Purchasing the share does not in any way obligate you to place an order.

Speaking of the buying club, we will soon be adding sustainably produced meats to the buying club.  In addition to pastured poultry we also produce pastured pork on our farm.  In the next few weeks, we will be adding individual cuts of our apple orchard pork to the buying club.  We are also working with a neighboring farm to offer grass fed beef.  Watch your email for when these items are added.

Boxes!  It seems I have talked about boxes in many of our newsletters this year.  Thank you for taking good care of our boxes!  We do re-use our waxed share boxes.  These boxes cost the farm close to two dollars each and our cost in boxes adds up very quickly.  Please remember to return boxes to your pick up site for us.  After the last CSA delivery, return your box to your drop site.  We will make the rounds once more to retrieve boxes and supplies.  If you received you box at home, please drop your last box at one of our drop sites or keep your box for us for next year. 

Are you looking to keep in touch with the farm during the off season?  We do have a facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dancing-Hen-Farm/111155465564952), a blog (http://www.dancinghenfarmcsa.blogspot.com/) and a pinterest page (http://www.pinterest.com/dancinghencsa/).  We do update all three of these sites with farm news, pictures and recipes.  In addition, I will try and occasionally write and off season newsletter and send it out to farm members.

2015, yes we are already preparing for our 2015 season.  We are currently working with our web designer to open the 2015 CSA registration.  We will be sending emails and posting on facebook, once registration opens.  As with other years returning members and members signing up early will receive a discount.

Farmer Neil has already left for deliveries and the coffee pot is already half empty.  Or should I be saying the coffee pot is now half full?  It is all a matter of perspective!  In any event, this means, time to wrap up this ramble and get on to the day's chores.

"Be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies"


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Week 19 CSA Newsletter

Welcome to Week 19!

Our season is 22 weeks, so there are 3 more deliveries after this week.  This is an egg week and week 21 will be the last egg week.

Our farm was in celebration mode this week!  Farmer Neil and Serena were married on Saturday.  It was nice for all of us to take a day away from the farm and spend some time with family and friends.  What a beautiful day and for a truly wonderful couple.  May they enjoy many happy years together!

Other news this week was the chill.  Sunday night brought freezing temperatures to the farm.  These temperatures pretty much mark the end to any warm season crops still in the ground.  We are trying to keep some tomatoes going in one our unheated greenhouses.  This is the latest we have kept tomatoes , we will keep you posted on how they do.  However these cold temperatures do not mark the end of our growing season.  We still have plenty of greens yet to harvest and storage crops to be distributed.

Speaking of greens, we are currently harvest turnip greens.  Like most greens turnip greens pack a nutritional punch.  Among other nutrients, they are high in Calcium and vitamins A, K and C.  Turnip greens can be cook like any leafy green.  As with other greens, if the bitterness is too intense, try lightly boiling or steaming them before a saute.  Turnip greens are often the green used in classic greens dishes served in the southern part of the country.  Here is a link for a beautiful turnip green tart (page down to see the recipe!)  http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/turnip-green-tart-recipe.html    You could substitute any green for the turnips and I find the use of cornmeal in the crust really interesting.  Maybe recipe for the upcoming holidays?

We are in the midst of our radish harvest.  We are harvesting our gourmet salad radishes right now as well as some of our winter or storage radishes.  Members who have been with us in the past know how much Farmer Don loves his winter radishes!  This week we are sending out some Black Spanish radishes.  These are easy to recognize in your box, because, their skin is black.  Their flesh, however is creamy white.  These radishes can be grated or sliced and eaten raw or cooked.  Historically these radishes have been grown in Europe since the 1500's!  I think that would qualify them as an heirloom?   They are also used medicinally to treat a variety of conditions.  Recently, from an article published in 2012, their juice was shown to reduce cholesterol and gallstones.  Although the study involved mice and not humans, it does show real promise for using the juice from radishes for lowering blood lipid levels.  On farm we do eat them sliced raw and also add them to soups and our roasted vegetable mix.  

Please watch your emails for the opening of our 2015 CSA registration.  This should be occurring soon.  We will again be offering early sign up and returning member discounts.

Our winter buying club will continue as long as the weather allows us to harvest.  Last year we delivered buying club orders into December.   Within the next few weeks our own apple orchard pork will appear for sale through the buying club and we are working with a neighbor for possibly adding some grass fed beef.  If you have questions concerning the buying club, please contact us at the farm.

This week we will be at Forks Farm market.  This is the last regular season Forks market of the year.  If you have not made it to market, why not visit this Saturday.  This is a great market right on farm, featuring vendors selling a great variety of local products.  As always, if you come to market, please stop by our table and say hello to Farmer Don!

Well the sun is up, although we seem to be fogged in.  Time to finish the newsletter and move onto the chores of the day.  So, be safe, be well and enjoy the veggies!

Sunday, October 19, 2014


The farm had reason to celebrate yesterday!  
Congratulations Neil and Serena!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Buying Club Open


With outside temperatures nearing 80's it is hard to believe we have opened our winter buying club.  But, we have!  Ordering opened today at 5 am and will close Thursday at 5 am.

All buying club orders need to be placed online.  If you are not already registered on our website you will need to create and account and purchase a FREE winter buying club membership.  On our home page (www.dancinghenfarm.com) please follow the link to "purchase shares".  This will guide you through creating your account and purchasing your share.  Purchasing the buying club share does not obligate you to buy, it simply allows you to have access to our ordering system.

We are hoping to continue with the buying club until the weather forces us to stop.  Last year we were able to make deliveries until the end of December.

Every week the ordering window will be the same (5 am Tues to 5 am Thurs).  The delivery schedule will also be the same.  On farm pick ups will be ready anytime after 5 on Friday or anytime on Saturday.  On Fridays we will meet customers in Bloomsburg at Bloom Naturally from 5:30 to 6 pm.
On Saturdays we deliver to Dallas and Forty Fort.  We will be in the parking lot at 100 Lake St in Dallas from 10 to 10:30 am.  We will be at 900 Rutter Ave in Forty Fort from 11 to 11:30 am.  In Forty Fort, we are in the parking lot at the opposite side of the building from Maines Cash and Carry.
In most cases we will be delivering in our white delivery van or black Honda CRV.  If you do not see either of these vehicles, look for someone with boxes of vegetables!

Thanks again for your support of our farm and local agriculture.  If you have questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us at the farm.

Happy ordering!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 18 Newsletter

Welcome to Week 18!!!  Our winter buying club is starting this week.  See below for more details.

How many weeks have I been talking about frost?  Frost and bugs!  This past weekend we had a heavy frost.  Although this frost killed our peppers and eggplant, the gnats survived.  Thankfully the covering Farmer Don put on our beans protected them and we will be able to harvest and fulfill our orders for green and yellow beans.  He also covered a small planting of peas and we are waiting to see if they will produce peas or not.  This time of year is always a bit of a gamble for our last plantings of some tender crops.

While we are on the subject of beans.  If you ordered dry or soup beans this week, please either try and shell them soon after receiving them or spread them out on some newspaper.  They were harvested today in the drizzle and dampness and their pods may be damp and molding could result.

Farmer Don harvested peppers and eggplant before the frost on Saturday night in order to avoid losing the entire crop.  He harvested all fruit, regardless of size.  Therefore you will see a real variation in size of these products, with some being quite small.

Members receiving Farmer's Choice boxes this week will be getting, among other items, a long red radish.  These  are currently also our specialty radish on choice.  They are a traditional long red Chinese radish and have hot, but also sweet flavor profile.  They can be eaten raw, added to salads, added to stir frys and soups or roasted.  You can also pickle them, using your favorite recipe for refrigerator pickles.  Rumor has it Farmer Don will be adding these to his kimchi as well!  Don't forget radish leaves are edible.

 We are now harvesting our rutabagas.  Rutabagas are a vegetable which used to intimidate me a bit.  I think because I always pictured the huge wax covered rutabagas at the grocery store.  But, they have become one of my favorite fall and winter rood vegetables.   Rutabagas originated as a cross between a turnip and a cabbage.  They can be eaten roasted or mashed, as you would potatoes.  I always add them to my mashed potatoes.  The leaves are also edible and our rutabaga are not waxed.  For a special treat try creamed rutabaga greens.  Simply substitute the spinach or turnip greens in a creamed greens recipe.  This weekend Farmer Don made a recipe out of the cookbook Vedge, a roasted rutabaga salad.  It was delicious!  Here is an internet reference to the recipe.  http://lisacohen.typepad.com/my_weblog/2014/03/roasted-rutabaga-salad-with-pistachios-from-vedge.html

With no markets this weekend, we are restarting our Winter Buying Club.  All orders will need to be placed online.  This means, if you have not already done so, you will need to sign up on our website and "purchase" a free winter buying club membership.  This buying club is separate from our CSA.  Winter buying club ordering opens at 5 am on Tuesday and closes at 5 am on Thursday.  You can pick your orders up on farm after 5 on Friday or anytime on Saturday.  We will deliver Friday to Bloom Naturally.  Please meet us between 5:30 and 6 pm, to the side of the store.  On Saturday we will deliver to Dallas and Forty Fort.  Our Dallas meet up site is 100 Lake Street.  We will be in the parking lot of the building between 10 and 10:30 am.  Our Forty Fort site is 900 Rutter Avenue.  We will be at Forty Fort from 11 to 11:30.  Look for us in the parking lot furthest from the Maines Cash and Carry.  At all sites, either look for our white delivery van or black Honda CRV.  If you have questions concerning the Buying Club or need help getting signed up, please do not hesitate to contact us at the farm.

Please watch for upcoming information on our 2015 CSA.  Registration is not up on our website yet, but should be soon.  For 2015, all members will again be able to choose the items they receive in their box each week.  Egg shares will also be available and we are considering adding a chicken share.  Watch your email for details coming soon.

We are still taking reservations for our pastured "apple orchard" pork.  More information will be coming soon, including pricing.  Again watch your email.

Farmer Don is downstairs packing share boxes.  Both dogs are snoring away at my feet and I need to move off this chair before the snoring duet becomes a trio.  Sooo  "be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies"

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Another great dinner

Last night, Lydia, one of our interns from the summer, was in town and stopped over for dinner. Farmer Don outdid himself with a menu from the cookbook Vedge and of course featuring Dancing Hen Farm vegetables.  We started dinner with a delicious roasted rutabaga salad with pistachios. The main course was pho (or Vietnamese rice noodle soup) with roasted butternut squash. Unfortunately, I forgot to get the camera out and take pictures until all that was left of dinner was a pile of dirty dishes!

But, it just so happens early this week, Farmer Don was also creating and this time we had the camera ready!  That night he was featuring Dancing Hen Farm sausage and vegetables.

Puffed Pastry Cups filled with sausage and chard and served over a arugula cherry tomato salad.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

CSA Week 17 Newsletter

Welcome to Week 17! 

Well, finally the dreaded frost has arrived on farm.  Over the weekend we had our first frost of the season.  We were able to cover our green beans and a late season planting of peas.  However, we lost our outside basil and our small late season summer squash planting.  But, this first cold snap was not enough to rid us of the bug invasion!  The cooler temperatures are great for our greens.  You will notice the leafy greens taking on a sweeter flavor as the temperatures cool into fall.

Speaking of greens.  We are in a bit of a transition for lettuce right now.  Salad mix and head lettuce should make their way back onto our choice in larger numbers soon.  Our latest planting of salad greens is sizing up nicely in the field and we are trying to patiently wait for it to grow a bit before we start harvesting.  We have several succession plantings of arugula which look really good.  The arugula we are harvesting is young and tender - just beautiful!  Kale and chard are continuing to grow and be harvested.  We are also harvesting turnip greens right now.  Turnip greens have a flavor profile a bit like mustard greens and they are very high in calcium.

Speaking of greens, again.  Did you know that radish greens are edible?  They are a bit hairy, but cooking them tames the hairs.  Try them in stir frys, soups or add them raw to your smoothies.  We are harvesting some nice radishes right now, so if you get radishes in your box, don't toss those greens!

The sweet potatoes in boxes last week were our own.  This is a large milestone for Dancing Hen Farm.  After 7 years of production, this is our first successful crop of sweet potatoes.  Those of you who have been with us over the years, know that we generally buy in certified organic sweet potatoes from our friends at Landisdale Farm in Lebanon county.  We will again be purchasing sweets from these great folks, but for now we are enjoying a small harvest of our own.  And speaking of edible greens, did you know that sweet potato greens are edible?  Farmer Don read this after he had composted all the greens.  So, maybe next year we will try sweet potato greens as an item.

We are receiving a lot of calls and emails concerning our pastured pork.  Farmer Don is still working out our costs, but we should have pricing details to you soon.  In addition to freezer meat this year, we will also be selling individual cuts of pork.  Again, stay tuned for more details, including price per pound on the freezer meat. 

Did anyone happen to see the lunar eclipse this morning?  Rosie and I went out a bit before 6 and although the stars were shining brightly to the east, to the west clouds obscured the moon.  But about a half hour later, the clouds cleared for a bit and there the moon was obscured this time by the earth's shadow!  If you are interested, here is a link I found showing when eclipses will occur and where they will be visible.  http://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/list.html

Another gentle reminder concerning share boxes.  Please treat your share boxes gently and return them to us for reuse.  You can return your box to your pick up site, left on your porch if you get home delivery, returned to the farm or handed to us at a farmer's market we attend.  We also reuse the berry boxes we use for packing and egg cartons.  Thank you for helping the farm be more sustainable!

The 2014 season is quickly winding down.  This Saturday is our last market at the Back Mountain Library.  That means our Winter Buying club will be starting up next Saturday.  This buying club runs independent of our CSA.  All buying club ordering is done online, so if you want to participate, you will need to register on our website and "purchase" a free winter buying club membership.  Watch your email for more details concerning this buying club.

Speaking of markets, rumor has it we will have some helpers at market this Saturday.  Our nephew Phil will be helping me at Forks Farm this week.   Phil and his family just relocated to the area and are excited to be getting settled into the community.  Lydia (and possibly Noah) will be at Back Mountain helping Farmer Don.  The weather looks beautiful, so come on out and catch the last couple markets of the season!  As always, if you are at market, please stop by our table and say hello.

The sun is up now, time to get the day's chores going.  Thanks to each of you for your continued support of our farm and local agriculture.  We could not do what we do without you!  And in Farmer Don's words: "be safe, be well, and enjoy those veggies".