1. Fall CSA has commenced with the Spaghetti Squash!
Our first week’s share was spaghetti squash, Chinese yard long beans, baby lettuce and arugula, baby red Russian kale, and a medley of the last of our tomatoes, eggplants, and bell peppers. We have two more spots available, so email us if you want in! Learn more at movementgroundfarm.csasignup.com
This week we present to you the first of our Winter squash; this one being one of my favorites – Spaghetti Squash. Once you bake (or microwave) it, you fork out its contents which come out like noodles! Then, it’s up to you whether you want to just add some garlic, butter, and salt (and parmesan cheese), or go all out and make this spaghetti squash pesto with tomato or some other fancy pasta dish. You can also refuse to believe it tastes or resembles like noodles at all, and instead use them as you would shredded potatoes and fry them up. These spaghetti squash fritters look pretty good.
2. Fresh pasture-raised chicken ready to pick up this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!
This is your only opportunity to try our chicken meat fresh! After this weekend they will only be available frozen. To reserve your fresh chicken and choose your pick up spot, visit our online MGF Chicken Country Store!
3. Chicken Processing Workshop offered due to popular demand.
Can you process a live chicken in the event of a disruption to our global food distribution system? Or to impress (or scare) your date? Reserve your spot in our Chicken Slaughter & Processing Workshop offered on the farm on Saturday October 15th, 10 – 2. Instructor Matt Anderson will be assisted by Sarath Suong.
4. Farm Update – Reflections on hardship and perseverance at Movement Ground Farm
I’m not dead. My customers know this because they keep getting their food. But I’ve hardly had a free minute to get behind a computer and answer emails or write this “weekly” blog. It’s been a challenging year. To add icing to this (dry) cake, we had an early freeze strike us Monday morning and all signs point to an early, cold winter.
So what was the actual effect of this drought on Movement Ground Farm? Well, about 50% of our direct seeding plantings never germinated. Even when we irrigated, the dusty dry earth seemed to suck up every last drop, and what water remained must have evaporated up into the air during the continuous onslaught of long and hot summer days. With no rain in the Spring, my shiitake logs just lay dormant throughout the whole season (although the tropical storm in early September brought us a brief flushing – enough for the CSA). Many efforts of transplanting ended in failure as we struggled to provide enough water to keep them alive. 10-pound watermelons turned into the size of softballs, and onions into squash balls. Some rows of tomatoes succumbed to a 70% rate of blossom-end rot. Crops that were supposed to be dependable back-ups, like kale and chard, shriveled and collapsed. Time that we didn’t have was diverted to finding creative ways to irrigate or harvest. Before we knew it, we found ourselves over a month behind in our fall crop planting schedule. Everyday we knew we were slipping behind, but how did a whole month go by? We asked ourselves… and then continued on with our daily work.
Other challenges that marked this season? An extended family of groundhogs claimed just about all of our summer lettuce heads. A deadly owl – we think a Great Horned Owl – found ways to silently pick off and decapitate a good number of chickens, ducks, and quails… one by one. A lapse in hiring led to an understaffing issue in August and September (not good months to be understaffed by the way).
Okay. Challenges felt insurmountable. And these challenges felt very different than challenges I’ve experienced before. For one these had to do with the earth, the weather, and the elements. They were effected by critters, from micro-organisms to foxes and coyotes. One day lost of labor seemed to push back a whole month of work by one day… with no possible way to make it up. I couldn’t just finish the work up later or find an extra day. I couldn’t just do it all in one of those crazy caffeine-filled all-nighters.
What we could do – and I really thank my Assistant Farm Manager, Serena, for making this happen – was adjust our expectations and make some hard decisions to identify ultimate priorities and then get back to the drawing board. Small things like deciding to cull our plans for broccoli and cauliflower because we were just too late and why waste the time and field space, or switching from planting our spinach outdoors to planting indoors given that the cold seems to be coming faster than we anticipated. We decided to continue on full force with the summer CSA and the farmer’s markets, but to shrink the fall CSA membership and potentially cancel plans for a winter CSA.
But even in these conditions great things did happen. For 13 weeks, we continued to deliver pounds of produce to 63 families and three farmer’s markets. Volunteers made it possible to run multiple farmers markets and have multiple CSA drop-off sites spanning two states (haha, only we can say this here in New England). Over 200 people visited the farm and many tasted their first husk cherry or dug up their first potato. We have CSA members who actually depend on our produce to feed their children, and children who have all of a sudden transformed into vegetable lovers. As one incarnation a beautiful goat becomes the centerpiece of an event, bringing people together who actually knew where that goat came from and others who even knew what that goat looked like and how it played. A fuller picture and appreciation of the meat we eat, often triggering mixed emotions, but a picture and sensibility that could never have been triggered a trip to the grocery store.
Our food nourished 63 families, supplied one fund-raising dinner for Boston-area non-profits, and one pop-up dinner thrown by a worker-owned Asian American culinary cooperative. Our food was accessible in six cities, distributed by three social justice organizations, and donated weekly to one daring member-led organization in Providence. Our land was cultivated not by tractors but by the hands of yes… 200 volunteers! It served as a space for two youth organizing retreats.
Whatever. My struggle is not larger than that of anybody else. The farm’s achievements, a work in progress. The okra and beans that blossomed, trellised upwards towards the sun, and fruited all summer, without irrigation and somehow without rain either…an everyday miracle of life.