Help Save the Popcorn!

As you know, our popcorn crop is a little weed challenged. We either need to get the weeds out before they go to seed, or mow the popcorn in. We’d really prefer to keep the popcorn! We would love your help saving the popcorn!

Want to help? This Friday afternoon, staring at 2:00, you all (really, all of you!) are invited to help weed the popcorn. Ten minutes, an hour, all afternoon – however much time you can and want to contribute will be greatly appreciated.

Check in with the shopkeepers about where to go. We will be pulling weeds from one row at a time and the row to be weeded will be marked by a red flag. I estimate the job will take 20 person-hours: every little bit will count!

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Recipes for Summer!

Wondering what to do with your carrots, zucchini, summer squash, etc.? Check out 12 Ways to Use Up All That Zucchini and Summer Squash, to see lots of really nice recipes. Or try Summer Squash Pasta with Green Goddess Dressing and toss in a handful of shredded carrots and some green beans.

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Farm news. Lots of it.

Time for a farm update. There really hasn’t been time to sit down and fill you in on the details of this farming season until now. Sorry about that. We’ve a little breathing room right now, thanks to our fantastic farm crew, equipment that mostly works and Mother Nature. It is that time of the farming season when the harvests increase in diversity and bounty, the weeds have been wrangled (or are past wrangling) and your farmers have a chance to reflect.

There have been many bright spots in the season so far. Most involve people or weeds. And of course, tasty vegetables!  First up is our team of talented and committed apprentices and volunteers. Apprentices Tim, Henry and Hadley are excellent student farmers. They ask thoughtful questions, soak up the answers, and then take the time to explore topics by reading, visiting other farms, asking more questions. They are fun, and sometimes silly and just quite wonderful to have around! Our regular volunteers, Paula, Laurie, Dave, and Bill take care of so many important details. Hard to imagine how’d we get it all done without their cheerful help.

Bright spots involving weeds? Let me just say, Bezzerides, duck sweeps and two foot steel knives on a toolbar. The weed control in our vining crops (winter squash, sweet potatoes, watermelon) is fantastic this season. Two foot long steel knives on a toolbar, pulled behind our tractor, skim the soil surface under the vines and take out most of the weeds. Sweet! Bezzeride cultivators, mounted on our red Cub tractor, throw soil at the base of sweet corn, carrots, leeks, beans, cilantro, and more, smothering weeds in the row.  Yes, in the row, where it’s toughest to get at those little buggers. We’ll never have to hand weed another one of these crops again! Duck sweeps are flat cultivators mounted on a Cub tractor that we pull ever so slowly through rows of lettuce and salad mix, greatly reducing the time we spend hoeing these crops. A special bonus, duck sweeps do a great job killing grass weeds!

IMG_0647There have been more than a few challenges this season. Most involve weeds and equipment.  Moraine Farm is lightly equipped with the farming equipment we need to manage the diversity of crops we grow. When a piece of equipment fails, or four pieces of equipment as happened in June, growing food and being excellent land stewards gets pretty tough. Our disk harrow broke in June and all three of our cultivating tractors were out of commission during a crucial period of time. Other big challenges occurred – our overhead and underground irrigation systems were compromised – but it was the loss of useable equipment that really put us to the test. There have been many consequences, some you may have noticed (we lost most of our beets and Swiss chard to grassy weeds) and some you might not be aware of (an almost complete lack of summer cover crops).

We’ve just about recovered, with most of the weeds under control now. Our popcorn crop is so weedy we may need to plow it under. Or perhaps a flash mob of eager weeders will show up. (Wish I knew how to arrange that!)

Lots of bright spots on the horizon. Tomatoes are looking good!  Fall carrots (yum!) have been seeded. We’re planting broccoli and cauliflower today! Our 4th Annual Moraine Farm Fall Festival is being planned and will be even more fun this year than last! We are just about ready to launch our Food Access fundraising campaign, this year with some fun raffle prizes for those who donate.  The star-gazing event in June was so successful we are doing it again with the Beverly Public Library in September.

Thank you for your support this season! The pleasure you take in the veggies we’ve grown for you means so much to us!  Your words of encouragement, especially on the hottest and most humid days imaginable, really do lift our spirits. You guys are terrific and it is our pleasure to grow food for you and your families.


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Scenes from Moraine 7/20/2014

This gallery contains 3 photos.

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What’s in the Share?

I just posted my best guess at what will be in the share this week over on What’s in the Share?

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Edible and Medicinal Weed Walk at the Farm!

Moraine Farm is sponsoring an Edible and Medicinal Weed Walk this coming Saturday. This walk was very popular last year and we expect it to be popular again this year, so please sign up asap. Limited to 20 people. I believe there will be an opportunity to take home some weeds! Fees for the walk support our Food Access work!

Edible and Medicinal Weed Walk
When: Saturday, July 19, 9:00-10:30 AM
Where: Moraine Farm, a property of The Trustees of Reservations, Beverly
Walk Leader: Dr. Nicole Andrade, Moraine Farm CSA shareholders, Traditional Medicine Woman
Fee: $10 per adult, $5 per child. As in past years, the fee supports Moraine Farm’s Food Access work.
Registration Form: Edible and Medicinal Weed Walk

We are surrounded by a wealth of yummy, nutritious and/or medicinal wild plants, otherwise known as weeds. They grow everywhere and are mostly ignored, no longer valued for their nutrients and medicine, or simply overlooked. Some of these marvelous plants are native to this country or this hemisphere; many came with European settlers and other immigrants and became garden escapees and then disappeared from popular consciousness.

On this walk, Nicole Andrade will introduce you to these wonderful plants that provide such bounty just for the picking. Nicole will focus on the plants that grow in New England, that are often literally in our backyards. These are usually the plants that have the most to offer us here in this part of the world, and they are the plants that we can most easily access and use. Some of the “weeds” that we will see and discuss include, dandelion, burdock, chickweed, queen Anne’s lace, milkweed, evening primrose, purslane, goldenrod and nutsedge.

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What’s in the Share?

I just posted next week’s share over on What’s in the Share? We’re trying something new this week, hoping to introduce more choice into your farm share: choose two veggies from a selection of five. You can choose any two different veggies from kale, chard, radicchio, cabbage and celery.

I mentioned during our CSA Orientations that are moving toward giving shareholders far more veggie choice at each farm share pick up. There will be a bit of a learning curve for us as we learn how much of each veggie to harvest when choice is increased. We trust it will be a tasty learning curve.


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Stormy Weather

Sometimes we’re able to work around Mother Nature, and sometimes we just get lucky. Both happened this morning.

Your farmers just finished the 4th of July harvest in record time! The threat of heavy rain and lightening may have contributed to the breakneck speed at which carrots, celery, chard, lettuce and herbs were harvested. :-)

It’s very unlikely that the pick your own fields will be open today. If you miss the PYO today (or any day) because of bad weather, you are welcome to come by the farm on any CSA farm share distribution day (Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday) and pick the PYO portion of your farm share.

Happy 4th everyone!

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Veggies Don’t Take Holidays!

And neither do your farmers! We will be at the farm all week, including the 4th of July, harvesting and distributing farm shares.

We’ve got picnic tables and Corn Hole platforms and bags (thanks to volunteer Laurie P!) set up in the shady area near the Bean House. Feel free to bring a picnic lunch and hang out on the 4th, or anytime!

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What’s in the Share?

This week’s share and an offering of some new recipes are posted on What’s in the Share? Couple of recipes below, too.

Carrot, black bean and crispy onions. Our farm educator, Kim Wass, shared this recipe.

Shareholder Judy Nelson shared this Marinated Chioggia Beets, Feta and Basil recipe:

2 T olive oil
1 T freshly pressed lemon juice
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 T  Elderberry Flower concentrate (Available from IKEA Food Mart, closest location Stoughton, MA )
250 grams Chioggia beets
125 grams Feta, crumbled
1 sprig of Basil Leaves

1. Peel the beets, and slice very thinly, easiest with a mandolin. Arrange the slices on a large plate.
2. Mix the Elderberry Flower concentrate, lemon juice, olive oil and drizzle over the beets, then sprinkle the kosher salt. Let this marinate about 30 min.
3. Spread crumbled Feta cheese and basil leaves over the beets at serving time.

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