root vegetable production with numbers

We put this graphic together yesterday with some pictures Margaret took through the 2015 growing season.

  1.  Seeding
  2.  First Growth
  3.  Full Growth
  4.  Mow Down Greens
  5.  Dig Roots
  6.  Put Roots in Tote Bags

From here, we use the tractor to put the tote bags into refrigerated storage for the Winter-Spring Produce CSA Shares.  The roots get taken out of storage and cleaned up just before CSA Shares are delivered.  The root vegetables will store in prime condition, unwashed, for months.  With the correct storage temperature and humidity, the unwashed roots continue to live in a dormant state in storage until they are distributed.  They think they’re still in the ground!

This is the same basic process we use for: Carrots, Potatoes, Beets, Daikon, Watermelon Radish, Black Radish, Turnips, Rutabagas, and more.

Not all roots can be treated like this, however.  One notable exception is Sweet Potatoes.  Sweet Potatoes would rot very quickly in the high humidity and chilly storage conditions preferred by the above list of root crops.  Sweet Potatoes need a high level of air circulation, a warmer temperature, and very low humidity.  Maybe I’ll do another post later about our Sweet Potato and Winter Squash production system.

 

Arlington Arts Center

Arlington CSA members pick up on Wednesdays 3-6pm at the Arlington Arts Center.  Here is a brief tour in pictures of the user-friendly setup for our Produce Share.

Arlington Truck

We’re at the back of the Arlington Arts Center near the white box truck.

Arlington Sign In

Sign in first at the sign-in table.

Arlington Pickup Stained Glass

The produce Shares are laid out by the stained glass windows.

Arlington CSA signs

The chalkboard on the left tells you how much produce each member can take.  The board on the right tells you what is new and exciting in the Farm Store that you might want to try.

Tom Arlington Pickup

The produce is laid out in the same order as it is written on the board.  Heavy stuff first, light items last to aid in packing your bags.

There are printed recipe suggestions as well as a 1 page Share Guide to take home.  The Share Guide concisely recommends storage techniques and cooking ideas for each item in the Share (usually 7-8).  Many people put this list right on their fridge when they get home so they know what’s in it!

We’re happy to answer any questions.

Winter Share info

Help yourself to some snacks before checking out the Farm Store to get dairy, granola, extra fruit, chocolate, coffee, apple cider, honey, sauerkraut, pickles and much more!

In addition to the Produce Share we offer an Egg Share, Chicken Share, Meat Share, Cheese Share, and Whole Farm Share.  Check out our Winter-Spring Share page for more details on the Arlington CSA!

My wife Margaret and I started Groundworks Farm 7 years ago.  She was 21 and I was 22 years old when we started this business and I never expected to come as far as we have come.  We struggled for many years to make ends meet on leased property at first, and more recently on land we own.  Now, at 27 and 28, we’ve never felt so successful or supported by our members and community.  Our vision of a successful Whole Diet CSA has come true before our eyes, and I feel compelled to express my eternal gratitude to everyone who has ever helped us–and Groundworks Farm–reach this point.

When we started our own farm we already had about 4 years combined experience as farm hands for other farmers, which was a great asset.  But, we had no business experience, no equipment, no money, and really no idea what we were up against.  Starting a farm, as it turns out, is not for the faint of heart.  It is a rocky road full of the highest highs and lowest lows, as many of you know.

I’ll sum up the history of Groundworks Farm quickly like this:

Our first season we did one farmers market in Concord NH, and somehow we were able to round up 10 or so CSA members to pick up on the farm (then called Huckins’ Farm) in Hebron, NH.  We grew produce and Pasture-raised Chicken.  That first boot-strapped year we learned a lot.  After that first year we had an opportunity to lease a larger farm in Vermont.  We started from scratch again the very next year–moving our greenhouse and all our supplies over the winter.  That next year we switched to CSA-only and started to take steps towards our dream of a Whole Diet CSA.  We added hogs and laying hens to our produce and pastured poultry operation that year.  We learned a lot and continued pinching pennies to get the farm started.  We were there one more year and added our Meat Share option.  We then had the exciting opportunity to purchase our farm in Maryland, where we started from scratch yet again.  We hit the ground running–building all our infrastructure from the ground up while spreading the word and farming all at the same time!  The first year in Maryland we supplied 200 families–an astonishingly high number for our first season in the area.  A good sign!  The second year in Maryland we supplied 250 families.  This year we supply 300 families and are starting to experience recognition and success we never dreamed of 7 years ago.

What we lacked in experience that first year we made up for in energy, open minds, a desire to succeed at all costs, an eternally optimistic attitude….and, A LOT of support from friends and family.   Looking back now, if we had been lacking in any of these categories–especially friends and family–we would have failed.  We are happy to have endured the tests of these past 7 years, and are truly grateful for the blessed lives we have lived thus far!

We’ve come to find friends in our CSA members, neighbors, and partners who have come on this journey with us–and we are forever in your debt for all you have done for us.  Truly we consider you all friends-and we are truly rich in friends.

We have never been so committed to the goal and dream of a Whole Diet CSA as we are today, and we believe in it profoundly.  Our greatest desire is to provide the best food and CSA experience possible in the most environmentally responsible manner.  We hope to continue to farm for many years to come, and will keep you all informed of our continued progress.

Thank you.
Kevin

Margaret and Kevin

While we bake in the summer heat this week–working to keep up with everything planted–we are already thinking about winter.  This week I am working on planning out exactly what our Winter Produce Share will look like.  I am thinking forward to flavorful sweet carrots, potatoes, and tender leafy greens while harvesting summer squash and cucumbers.  Last week Kevin was able to begin prepping ground for some fall and winter-harvested crops.  We have offered a Winter Produce Share for many years now, and through much trial and error and  innovation we have figured out how to put together a Winter Produce Share that is equally as diverse and bountiful as our Summer Produce Share.  We are working on finalizing the details of this year’s Winter CSA and will have signup info out soon.

As we work to hammer out those details we always appreciate hearing what you want to receive in your Share.  The year before last we heard requests for more greens.  I responded by adding pea shoots and a few other items to the wintertime repertoire.  Let us know what you want in particular from your Winter Produce CSA Share and we will work  to make that happen!  Would you like locally-sourced hothouse tomatoes?  Mushrooms? Dry beans? Frozen berries? Popcorn, even MORE greens? Less of something? More of something?…  Please let us know if there is anything you are dying to get in your Winter Produce Share by talking with me or Kevin at the CSA pickup, or by replying to this email.

Pastured Egg Shares, Pastured Chicken Shares, Pastured and Grass-fed Meat Shares, and Local Cheese Shares are also offered in the winter months.  Signup details for all your Winter Shares are coming soon.

I hope everyone had a great holiday week! We are pumped to be back to delivering Shares this week.

I have been really appreciative of everyone in the past weeks who has sent me recipes and such.  Keep them coming. It it awesome to have a catalog to pull from when something pops back into the Share again.  Another great way to share what you are up to in the kitchen is on the farm’s Facebook page.

This week’s Produce Share is the epitome of the start of real summer food.  Tomatoes and basil are in the Produce Share and in the Cheese Share you will find some fresh mozzarella. If that did not make you feel like summer enough, I worked with Fifer Orchards this week to provide blueberries and peaches in the Share!

More than in past years you will continue to see us working with other local sustainable partner farms to fill out and diversify the Shares.  We are hoping this means that (within the confines of eating locally and seasonally) you will not tire too much of any one crop.  And it means we can offer you awesome items that we don’t grow on our farm, like the fruit this week.

We are also super pumped to be adding to the egg supply by working with a couple other farmers.  Anticipating that we would have a gap in supply coming up, we reached out to some other local farms.  Our grass-fed beef and lamb supplier (Valentine’s Country Meats) also raises pastured laying hens.  I also connected with Wholesome Living Acres in Pennsylvania. Between these sources we will have an ample supply of pasture-raised eggs. Now that we are working with a couple other farms we will even start to have a few extra again for those of you who prefer to buy eggs every once in a while from the store. We will still be collecting egg cartons for ourselves and for Valentine’s Country Meats if we get more back than we need.

Happy Cooking!

Kohlrabi and Carrot Slaw

Serves 4-6
1 large kohlrabi, peeled, stems trimmed off, grated
1/4 head purple cabbage, shredded
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
1/2 red onion, grated
4 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1/4 cup golden raisins (optional)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Combine the kohlrabi, cabbage, carrots, onion, cilantro, and raisins (if using) in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, cider vinegar, sugar, and salt. Pour the dressing over the slaw, and mix until fully coated. Chill for several hours before serving.

Kale Quinoa Salad

1 bunch kale cut in bite size pieces

1 cup cooked quinoa

½ cup chopped almonds

1 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp tamari

1 garlic scape finely chopped

juice of 1 lemon

2 tsp agave or honey

ground black or red pepper

 

Combine ingredients from olive oil to pepper. Pour over kale and massage wet mixture into kale. Combine quinoa and almonds into kale mixture. Increase quinoa content for heavier meal.

Copied from The Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without by Mollie Katzen

Grinding flavorful green leaves into a delicious paste provides a great opportunity for packing a full serving of vegetables into a few exquisite bites.  This arugula version is truly revelatory! The peppery, slightly bitter flavor is enriched by the pecans and softened by the light, sweet (and hardly discernible) presence of golden raisins.

Notes:

  • The Pecans do not need to be toasted, but you can experiment with toasting them lightly to see if you prefer the slightly enhanced flavor.
  • The pesto will keep for up to a week in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.  a thin layer of olive oil over the top surface will help preserve it.

4 packed cups arugula (about 8 ounces)

1 small clove garlic

1 cup chopped pecans (toasting optional)

1/4 tsp salt (or more)

1-2 tsp lemon juice (or to taste)

1-2 tbsp (packed measure) golden raisins (or more)

5-6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (possibly more)

  1. Place the arugula, garlic, pecans, and salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Pulse until pulverized, adding the lemon juice and raisins as you go.
  2. Run the food processor again, drizzling in the olive oil in a steady stream.  When it reaches the consistency that looks right to you, stop the machine.  Transfer the pesto to a small container with a tight fitting lid.  Taste to adjust the lemon juice and salt.
  3. Smooth the top of the pesto with the back of a spoon, add a thin layer of olive oil to cover the top.  Cover and chill.  Serve as desired.

Yields 1 1/3 cups

 

Arugula

 

We are proud to announce our Memorial Day Membership Drive. Here is how it works–

Our goal is to sign up 50 new Shares from NOW TILL the end of MAY.  This is 50 individual Shares which means that a Whole Farm Share counts for 5 Shares: 1 Produce, 1 Egg, 1 Chicken, 1 Meat and 1 Cheese Share.

If we reach our goal, Groundworks Farm will make a donation of 5% of the gross sales of all Shares added during the drive to Got Your 6. Got Your 6 is an organization that directly supports veterans through charitable partnerships and aims to bridge the gap between military service members and civilians.

We chose this organization because they are the primary giving partner of  Sword and Plough, founded and run by college friends of Kevin’s. Their mission is to empower veteran employment, reduce waste and strengthen shared civilian-military understanding.  They re-purpose surplus military materials into stylish goods, working with veteran owned, operated and staffed manufacturers and donating 10% of their profits to Got Your 6 and other veteran focused organizations.

Do you already have a Share and have been thinking about adding on an Egg or Meat Share? Already have a Meat Share and have been thinking those vegetables look pretty delicious? This is the time to do it! If we reach our goal, we will make our 5% donation for as many Shares as we can sign up in the duration of the drive. Our goal is 50 Shares!

So NOW is the time to tell your friends and neighbors about the farm! We hope to inspire you to spend time with family this weekend and perhaps make your own donation to an organization that supports our military service members.  Being a part of Community Supported Agriculture, like Groundworks Farm, is a way to build and strengthen community ties and eat healthy in the process.

We will be posting the progress of the drive on Facebook, so make sure you follow us there to see how we are doing!

Your Farmers,
Margaret and Kevin Brown

The shift has taken place in the air around us and I can feel the summer season creeping up. There are plants pretty much everywhere I look. There are plants in the heated greenhouse, small tomatoes and peppers popping up above the soil and starting to form into larger plants. There are heads of lettuce and bok choy, now in trays germinating, in a few weeks they will go in the fields and then before we know it the first week of June will be upon us and those lettuce and bok choy heads will make their way from the fields to your kitchens.

When the sun is shining the greenhouse fans are running, keeping the plants from getting to warm. Our germination room changes daily. It is a heated room but there is no light so we check the plants multiple times a day and if they have germinated we move them to the greenhouse. It is like a giant heated mat. The fields are drying out and begging to be tilled in. We have to be patient this time of year. We don’t want to plant to early and have everything ready the last week of May, before we begin our Summer CSA and after the Winter CSA ends.

The piglets that we have had in the woods all winter are finally starting to run around and grow. The ground is no longer frozen and they are rooting around like crazy. The chickens are starting to venture out further from their shelters to where the grass is green and lush. The farm is coming to life.

Thank you to everyone who has already signed up for our Summer CSA. We still have space, especially for more Produce Share members so if you have not yet signed up or think you know someone who may be interested please feel free to pass us along. Word of mouth is a big part of how people find out about us.

Have a wonderful spring weekend everyone!

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