Category Archives: What’s going on on the Farm

What’s going on down on the farm?

The program that surrounds the student farm is called Sustainable Agriculture and its main focus throughout the course studies is “sustainability”.  Our farm practices are all about these practices by growing everything organically, as not to poison the environment and the people who consume our vegetables that are grown there. Everything is done with sustainability in mind.

Exactly what is “sustainability”? It has been defined in a couple of ways.

Definition No.1: Sustainability is the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

This is the definition of sustainability as created by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development. While it is not universally accepted, the UN’s definition is pretty standard and has been expanded over the years to include perspectives on human needs and well-being

Definition, No.2: Sustainability is the capacity to improve the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of the Earth’s supporting eco-systems.

This definition has been provided by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the work of which is driven by the fact that global production and consumption patterns are destroying nature at persistent and dangerously high rates.

We have a new way down on the farm to keep our farm sustaining itself with a new choice in our soil mix. Our old mix worked really well but a lot of the components were not really sustainable products, such as the peat moss and the perlite we used. James Frye, who manages the farm, made a discovery by talking to a friend. He heard about a product called leafmold that could be a sustainable way to make our mix and still grow great plants for the farm. This mix also calls for more worm castings, which we produce right there on the farm already. It completely cuts out the perlite that was necessary for the old mix for drainage.

You are probably wondering what leafmold is all about. Leaf mold is the result of letting leaves sit and decompose over time. It is dark brown to black, has a pleasant earthy aroma and a crumbly texture, much like compost. In fact, leaf mold is just that: composted leaves. Instead of adding a bunch of organic matter to a pile, you just use leaves.

Benefits of Leaf Mold

You may be wondering why you shouldn’t just make compost. Why bother making a separate pile just for leaves? The answer is that while compost is wonderful for improving soil texture and fertility, leaf mold is far superior as a soil amendment. It doesn’t provide much in the way of nutrition, so you will still need to add compost or other organic fertilizers to increase fertility. Leaf mold is essentially a soil conditioner. It increases the water retention of soils. According to some university studies, the addition of leaf mold increased water retention in soils by over 50%. Leaf mold also improves soil structure and provides a fantastic habitat for soil life, including earthworms and beneficial bacteria.                                                        

These are all the reasons we use this in our seed starter mix because seedlings need to retain as much moisture as possible and we just add the extra worm casting for the nitrogen they will need to get started. The better start our plants have, the better they will do in the field once they are transplanted.

Hope you enjoyed this information, do some research on your own to find out how to start your own leafmold pile, I already did!

Sherry Carroll



Weather conditions affect harvest

Weather challenges greet us toward the end of this season’s CSA. Infrequent temperatures changes have affected a few crops, and some were completely lost (tomatoes, cucumbers and squash). We will completely harvest crops like spinach and salad mix to have as much to offer as possible in the CSA boxes in the final week. Some of the crops like collards, carrots, and beets have winter hardiness and are able to withstand temperatures below 20 ° F. We will see.

Post by Shaquannah Faison

Whats going on down on the farm?

CSA boxes are packed on Wed. Mornings,  but not this week due to theThanksgiving Holiday. Big boxes were packed last week to hold members through.

Lately,  we’ve been focusing on getting ready for winter.  We harvested the last of the crops in summer blocks, (including sweet potatoes), built beds to be ready for spring,  and sow cover crops. More and more Fall crops have been maturing, as well as those in our late summer high tunnel,  so there is more diversity of produce available.
We also got the North and Eastern sides of the pack shed mulched-and have inoculated the wood chips with Wine cap mushroom spawn.
 We are getting in a new Delaware rooster this week as well,  and have found a good home for “Ranger”, who has been doing a very good job of taking care of the flock in the meantime.
From this point on, we will have plenty of harvests left to do,  but most of the other time sensitive duties are winding down quickly.
Sherry Carroll

10/11 What’s in this Week’s CSA Box?

There are a couple of new items in this weeks CSA! You will see a mix of mustards, arugula, and asian greens (to be enjoyed as a micro-green salad), as well as a daikon radish included your share this week.

(Pictured left: harvested Asian Greens, known as Te You, Mebuna, and Hon Tsa Tai. Pictured right: Farmhand Ashley unearthing the first Daikon Radish of the season. Could be a State Fair Winner!) 

The Daikon radish is also known as the ‘Chinese Turnip’ or ‘Japenese Horseradish’, but despite this last moniker, this radish tends to have less of a ‘bite’ than the more familiar pink Cherry Belle. It is crisp and juicy in texture, and can be used either raw or cooked. See below the CSA pack list for a ideas on how to prepare this giant-ly healthful root crop!

This week’s CSA box also includes:

  • Shishito Peppers
  • Garlic
  • Eggplant
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potato Greens
  • Jalapenos
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Daikon Radish
  • Microgreens (Mix of Arugula, Garnet Mustard Greens, + Asian Greens)
  • Beet Greens

Daikon Recipe Ideas

  • Radish-Slaw (with carrots, apples, fennel, whatever you want to use! finish with vinaigrette)
  • Glazed with greens (butter and water and cubed pieces in pan, 2-3 TB sugar, cook until water evaporates+add greens, yum!)
  • Add to Stir-fry!
  • Quick Pickle ’em and keep them in your fridge!
  • Make Daikon Chips via the broiler! Add olive oil, salt, pepper, and whatever seasoning you’d like– garlic powder, paprika, etc)

For the serious home-chef I’ve included here is a youtube video about how to prepare a vegan version of Lo Bak Go. Ingredients needed are your daikon radish, rice flour, dried shiitake, scallions, shallots, garlic, salt, pepper, and frying oil.


Happy eating!

Post written by Laura Maule

What came first, the popcorn or the grit?

Long before the New World was ‘discovered’, corn was known to many civilizations as maize. The Zuni Indians of New Mexico called it tawa. When translated, tawa means ‘old’. The term accurately expresses how old this cereal grain is, OLD! Throughout history corn was made into cakes, porridge and even beer. The Iroquois are given credit for popcorn, maize was mixed in receptacles that held hot sand and cooked slowly until the kernels burst. Thanks to the tenacity of our ancestors we are able to craft many of the corn dishes we love today.

And even still we are finding new ways to elevate corn in the kitchen. Creating grits from popcorn is not entirely a new concept. Many chefs have recreated popcorn grits. But I thought it creatively simple enough to share.

What type of popping corn can you use?

Any popping corn will do. This recipe will use the Dakota Black and Tom Thumb to highlight the varieties included in the CSA box. If you’re interested, the seeds for both varieties are available through High Mowing Seeds. I initially thought that the purple black seeds of the Dakota Black would impart their deep hue to the grits. Not quite, the color transfers only slightly. But there are interesting bits of purple shell visible throughout the finished product.

Why take perfectly good popping corn and make grits?

The corn flavor is intensified with the corn broth, created by boiling the popped kernels in water with butter. This dish is excellent because it avoids a major pitfall,  getting popcorn stuck in your teeth.

Final notes

The recipe does not yield a large amount of grits compared to the amount of popcorn used. A corn sheller would make removing the kernels easier but it’s possible to remove them by hand. When popping the corn, avoid the temptation to use high heat. The burnt popcorn taste will transfer to the finished bowl of grits. Low and slow is the best way to go.

Here is a link to a recipe with easy to follow instructions.

popcorn grits

Two book sources used for this article are:

A History of Food by Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat

The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg


Post by Shaquannah Faison

Out With Summer Favorites, In With Fall Seedlings

This week, enjoy some of the season’s last week of summer favorites as we move towards planning and planting fall crops.



Here is what you will find in your CSA box this week:


Assorted eggplant

Sweet peppers



Sweet potato greens

Holy basil


Pinto Gold potatoes

Red Ichilleum garlic

Gladstone onions

Please note that red shishito peppers can take on a spicy, hot taste unlike the green version of the pepper.



The Gladstone onions should also be consumed soon to preserve desired freshness.


Boxes are ready for pickup

We begin the 3rd season with remnants of summer, place holding for the anticipated Fall Brassica bunches. The boxes include 14 items, all for your enjoyment and well being.

Please note: Yellow Cipollini (Chip-oh-lee-nee), meaning “little onions” are not great storage onions and will not keep for long. Johnny’s Selected Seeds recommends roasting these tiny treasures whole, in butter or oil.

Here is a list of the CSA produce:


Holy Basil




German Stiffneck Garlic

Hungarian wax peppers



Parsley (flat leaf or curly)

Potatoes (huckleberry)

Red chilies

Sweet peppers

Yellow Cipollini Onions