broccoli

broccoli, cabbage, Charlie the dog, chicken tractor, farm entertainment, groundhog, growing like gangbusters, summer squash

Farm News


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Here’s an entry from our Week #2 Newsletter for CSA members. 
Ben and I took our usual Sunday stroll through the garden today and it looks like everything is about to go gangbusters on us! The cabbage is beginning to head up, the squash is fruiting and blooming up a storm, the garlic is producing scapes and the leaves are starting to go yellow/brown (which is an indicator of when it’s ready for picking), the broccoli is full of baby crowns, the potatoes are starting to bloom, and, of course, the plethora of weeds are thriving as well! This week we’ll harvest scallions, tat soi, lettuce, strawberries, arugula, herbs (flat leaf parsley, dill, cilantro, and garlic scapes), kale, chard and beets for y’all. We picked the kale and the chard pretty hard last week, so we’re going to offer you the option of kale, chard, or beets for this week – which we’re calling the “choose 1 option”. Remember, the early bird gets the worm – so if you reallywant one of those things, it’s probably best to come to the pick up site as early as you can. We’re also going to offer the herbs as a “choose 1 option” – you get to pick between cilantro, dill, parsley and garlic scapes (or – if we have enough garlic scapes to give to everyone, it will be an added extra and you pick between the others). 
Last week was a good first week of getting into the swing of spring things. We had a good first market at the Raleigh Downtown Market. We met quite a few nice, new folks. We even met one of our neighbors. We also had a nice time meeting new CSA members this week and catching up with returning members. Everyone’s excitement has been infectious and has given Ben and I a much needed second wind to get more summer crops in the ground and get the cooler under way. Before we know it, it’ll be June! In between harvest, washing, boxing, and delivering to CSA drops and going to markets, we’ve managed to get some more things done on the farm. CSA member, Charlotte came out this week to help us cultivate, hand weed, and transplant tomatoes. I seeded up pumpkins and more tat soi and Ben direct seeded more mesclun and cilantro. Ben spent some time replacing the bearings on the disk harrow and disked up ground for late tomatoes and peppers. Earlier in the week, he got a truck load of compost from the city of Raleigh and spread it and then finish the beds to prep more ground for summer produce. Friday, our friends Tarah, Meredith and Meredith’s friend, Liz came out to the farm to help us harvest for Saturday’s markets and CSA pick up.
This is the chicken tractor for the “tweens”
Life on the farm means we work a lot, but it also means we’re often entertained. The not-so-baby chicks (I think they might be “tweens”) have provided a personal comedy show for us each evening this week. Ben put a few roosts in the chicken tractor and they all try to roost on the highest one. They wind up jumping on each others’ backs and struggling to push each other off the roost and start all over again. Fittingly, it’s kind of like they’re playing chicken. Charlie, our dog, also provides quite a bit of entertainment. He likes to hop in tall grass like a gazelle – and no matter how many times he does it, it makes us laugh. He’s an awfully goofy dog. He also managed to get into it with a ground hog a couple weeks ago. I had no idea ground hogs were so tough – Charlie finally met his match. By the time Ben and I were able to figure out what all the commotion was about, we saw a ground hog attached to Charlie’s face (more specifically, he had Charlie by the nose). There was quite a lot of blood for a couple minutes or so, but the ground hog and the dog left that match relatively unscathed. Charlie may have a scar on his nose and hopefully, he’ll learn his lesson not to mess with wild animals – or ground hogs, at least!
Well, I guess that’s all for now folks! Thanks for taking the time to read this and find out a little bit about what’s going on the farm. Let us know how you’re doing too!
beet and feta salad, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, kale, nutty salad vinegairette, planting party, soil blocks

Happy Spring!


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We’re hosting two more planting parties this Sunday (4/10) and next Sunday (4/17). Please come out and join us for some fun times planting and picnicking!  If you think you might be coming for either (or both!) parties, please email us at BensProduceNC@gmail.com (so we can be sure we have more than enough food for folks). 

The planting party on the first day of Spring was a success!!! Fourteen folks came out Sunday. We planted onions, kale, and cabbage. We also cut potatoes for seed. We spent two hours as a group to plant 14 beds of produce. It would have taken Ben and I days to do the same amount of work. True to the phrase, many hands make light work.

And this was truly a planting party.Throughout the day, we not only worked together to plant seedlings, folks were learning about each other, talking to each other. Some of the people here already knew each other, but for the most part folks didn’t really know much about each other, or hadn’t  previously met. In just a couple hours, I learned SO much about what people do with their time, their connections to food, agriculture, health, and we also talked about dogs and life and our jobs.

After we finished planting, we sat together outside for a yummy spread. Candy and Steve brought homemade focaccia, Kim and Andy brought hors devours(collard sushi rolls and spring rolls), and Bradford brought homemade kombucha with raspberries. We made a vegetarian minestrone soup. The tradition of minestrone soup is to use seasonal and available vegetables and other items on hand. That means there’s no set recipe, which you know, makes me happy. We used our vegetables including carrots, kale, turnips (roots and greens) and collards. We also threw in portabella mushrooms, Roman beans, pink beans, tomatoes and onions.

We also had a nice big salad full of various lettuces, arugula, mizuna, and spinach. We used our nutty vinaigrette recipe for the dressing.


  Here’s our friend Liese holding Luella Mae. Liese has been one of our amazing chicken caretakers. She and her partner, Eric, watched Charlie (our farm dog) and the chickens when went out of town for the SSAWG in Chattanooga. Liese and Luella Mae are good friends, as you can see here :0).

We’ve been steadily working to get more seeds in the soil and more plants in the ground since Sunday. Ben and I won’t be going to market this Saturday so we can get more things ready out on the farm. We’ll be tilling the soil for my new flower garden by the barn. I can’t wait to expand and experiment with flowers this Summer season!!!

Here’s a picture of Ben with hen’s bit (the chickens love it – it’s the purple flower bouquet in his arm) and tasting what we think is wild lettuce. I tried some too. It was bitter. The chickens liked it though.

Here’s Ben making soil blocks. This week Ben made tons of soil blocks and I planted tons of seeds. The rest of the pictures are the seedlings from our first round of brassicas. We also have tomato, cucumber, and pepper seedlings (not pictured). 

Well, that’s all folks! Have a fantastic weekend! We’ll see you at market next week. 

bok choy, broccoli, chickens, collards, eggs, lettuce, low tunnels, red Russian kale, roosters, tat soi, Thanksgiving

playing catch up


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Hi y’all!

We finally found our camera and the battery charger, so I took some snap shots yesterday afternoon/evening to update the blog. As you’ll see, the chicks are well on their way to being full blown adolescents. The roosters finally have their crowing figured out. For some time all we got out of them was a “cock-a-…” and no “doodle doo” of any kind. It was amusing for a while – and just as our amusement was about to wear off, they figured it out. At the moment we have three roosters: Ted, Bocephus, and Uncle Jesse (of the Dukes of Hazard variety, not Full House). We’re still reluctant to have to get rid of any of them, as they’re growing on us, but we’re also practical. We’ve decided that Uncle Jesse is the best suited rooster for the coop. He’s the least “chicken-y” guy of the three, he’s extremely protective, but he also lets us hold him, although I don’t think he cares for it very much. The hens show no sign of laying eggs any time soon, but they’re really not ready to lay yet anyway. They’re almost 4 months old and they really shouldn’t be ready until the beginning of 2011 (but we’re hoping we have a couple early layers by the solstice). The guy above the right is Ted.

The fella in the frying pan above, humorously the one we will keep, is Uncle Jesse.
The white rooster above is Bocephus. He’s kind of the biggest “chicken” of the three, so I had a hard time getting a picture of his face. Maybe I’ll have better luck next time. 

(Above) My dad and Ben built the low tunnel in the middle and the hoop house to the right (Ben built the one on the left all by himself while I was in D.C.).
Below is tat soi. It’s an Asian green that tastes kind of like spinach and bok choy crossed (although I think it leans more toward spinach).
Below is a head of oak leaf lettuce. It’s one of my favorites. I love that that color of green actually occurs in nature! 🙂

red Russian kale (below)


Then, in order, we have broccoli, a field of broccoli, red cabbage and collards, and finally, savoy cabbage.

That’s it for now. Now that we’ve finally organized our lives a bit more, maybe we’ll be posting more regularly and updating the farm pics. So much changes daily – but it’s hard to tell when those changes are picture worthy.

Have a very happy Thanksgiving! Thank YOU for caring to keep up with us and take care!

Patricia & Ben

bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, chinese cabbage, collards, CSA, green onions, greens, kale, lettuce, mustard, radishes, recipe ideas, spinach, sweet potatoes, swiss chard, tatsoi, turnips

Holidays! Holidays! Holidays!


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Hello and Welcome!

A big thanks to our new customers from the neighborhood who stopped by Tuesday night to pick up some produce! The holidays are upon us! We’re headed to Tennessee to see Patricia’s family and some friends there. It will be a needed break for us, though I will be working some. I’ll be fine-tuning our farm and CSA plan for the coming year. It’s very exciting, thought provoking and a lot of work! Anyhow, we’ll be announcing the CSA soon!

During these cold winter months, please be aware the weather may postpone our harvest of your produce. In response to this, we may postpone pickups by a day or two. We will provide primary notice of pickup changes via email (especially for those of you who place orders) as well as via blog and online store. Thank you for being flexible with us!

Next Tuesday, December 22nd, we will have produce pickup at our house, 604 Sasser St., between 4pm to 7:30pm. We will not have produce pickup Tuesday, December 29th. We will return with pickup Tuesday, January 5th.

Purchase of vegetables is made through our online store www.vendio.com/stores/bensproduce.

Community Supported Agriculture:
Information coming soon!

Current vegetable availability includes:
bok choy
cabbage
carrots
chinese cabbage
collards
green onions
kale
lettuce
mustard greens
radishes
spinach
sweet potatoes
swiss chard
tatsoi
turnips

No longer offered:
broccoli
mixed greens

Future winter vegetables will also include:
arugula
baby beets
broccoli raab
brussels sprout
mixed baby lettuce & greens

Recipes:

Quick White Bean Stew with Swiss Chard and Tomatoes

– serves 2 to 3 –

Ingredients

2 pounds Swiss chard, larger stems removed, and leaves chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup canned tomatoes, chopped
1 16-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan

Procedure

1. Fill a large pot halfway up with water. Bring to a boil and then toss in the swiss chard leaves. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes. Drain the chard in a colander.

2. Wipe out any excess water in the pot. Then pour in the olive oil and turn the heat to medium. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for 1 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the tomatoes, turn the heat to medium-high, and when the mixture comes to a boil add the beans. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.

4. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the chard. Cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add some grated Parmesan to finish. Enjoy!

Golumpki’s or Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

We made these the other day with our cabbage, carrots and turnips and they turned out phenomenal! Give these a whirl, you might like them.

– serves 4 –

Ingredients

1Tbsp Olive oil
1 leek or onion
2 med. turnip, cubed small
2 med. carrots, cubed small
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 cup cooked rice
16 oz cooked ground meat
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp lemon juice
pinch ground coriander
salt & pepper
1 cabbage head

Sauce:
1 onion finely chopped
1 cup broth or stock
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups crushed tomatoes

1. Brown ground meat.

2. To make the filling, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium low heat. Add leek or onion, turnip, carrots and celery and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until softened.

3. Remove from heat and stir in meat, rice, bread crumbs, egg, parsley, lemon juice and ground coriander. Season with salt & pepper.

4. Preheat oven to 325 F. Oil a 9×13 baking dish. Cook the whole cabbage in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, until pliable. Drain and rinse under cold water. Peel off whole leaves to stuff. Pat dry.

5. Lay leaves flat and make a pile in the middle of each, about 1/3 to 2/3 cup depending on the size of the leaf. Roll up each leaf, folding the sides to enclose the filling in a neat parcel. Place the rolls, seam side down, in the baking dish. Pour in stock. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, heat the oil for the sauce in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Stir in the crushed tomatoes. Reduce the heat to med-low and simmer about 10 minutes, until slightly thickened.

7. Using slotted spoon, serve stuffed cabbage rolls topped with the tomato sauce. Enjoy!

Happy holidays and many thanks!

Ben & Patricia