Thursday, August 26, 2010

In the Bag: August 28

-Assorted Grape Tomatoes
-Green Bell Peppers
-Cubanelle or LIght Green Bell Pepper
-Swiss Chard or Lettuce

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Porter Farm Happenings-August 21, 2010

Thank You!
Thank you to everyone who called, emailed, and posted on our blog about the tomatoes! Close to 200 members responded to our question, with an overwhelming majority voting yes to harvesting. Thanks for understanding that vegetables do not need to look perfect to taste great!
We would also like to thank some members who have spent time at the farm helping us on Saturday mornings as we pack your produce bags. Every Saturday, Richard Beatty and Rae Ann Engler of Batavia are at the farm bright and early working alongside our crew. They have been weekly contributors for the past few years, and we cannot express how thankful we are for all of their help. We also had two additional helpers last Saturday, Jeannette Kreher and Jan Grzedzicki, who are co-coordinators of our new Cheektowaga group. Jeannette and Jan also were at the farm before the sun came up and caught on to our packing routine quick. It was great to have four extra hands as we packed the really heavy bags last week!
If anyone would be interested in helping pack bags on Saturday mornings, please give us a call. We have been short of workers this week, and any additional help on Saturday mornings would be greatly appreciated! We begin packing at 5am and are usually done by 8am.

Safe Travels, Zoe!
On Friday, Zoe, Bess, and Eric took a trip to New York City to move Zoe into her dorm room at Hunter College. Bea and Julie will be traveling to NYC as well to meet up with the Johnson’s and do a little school shopping with Zoe. We wish Zoe all the best as she begins her college career!

Tomato Update
The dry weather this week helped keep the tomato disease from spreading rapidly. We were going to rip some diseased plants out of the ground and burn them, but decided against it. When you rip plants out and move them through the rows, the diseased plants can touch disease free plants and spread their spores. We left the diseased plants in the field and are hoping that the weather forecast continues to stay relatively rain and humidity free.
The Pestminder newsletter this week discussed the diseases in the tomatoes, and mentioned that early blight could also be a found around here. We are still not sure which disease or diseases has found it’s way to our tomatoes, but we are happy to say that our tomatoes are not totally ruined like they were last year.
Many members have contacted us about purchasing extra tomatoes for canning and making sauce. At this point we cannot say if extras will be available. Our first priority is making sure that we have enough to distribute to our CSA members. We will continue to update you!
Farm News
We were very happy to have a dry, low humidity week at the farm. One inch of rain fell on Sunday night, but it dried up quickly. This drier weather is key to keeping the disease from spreading in the tomatoes.
This week we were finally able to transplant the last of the broccoli and kohlrabi. We also direct seeded more Swiss chard. Our early broccoli plants went right to seed due to high temperatures, but we have more plantings that look ok. Summer broccoli is always tricky because of the heat, but we will have a lot in the fall.

Orchard Update
Since planting the raspberries and orchard trees, our main project in the orchard has been battling the weeds. It seems that this is a never-ending battle in every field!
This orchard is a learning experience for us, and it is going to take us quite a few years to get everything just the way that we want it. We have one third of the space left, and are leaning toward adding a lot more berries to the space. It will take a couple of years before we see any of the fruits of our labor in there, but are excited that we will eventually be able to incorporate fruit into our CSA in some way. We have another question for members: What do you think about u-pick raspberries for CSA members only? Please email or post a comment on our blog!

What’s in this week’s bag??
• Sugar Baby Watermelon
• Yellow Watermelon
• Red Tomato Berries
• Yellow Grape Tomatoes
• Assorted Large Tomatoes
• White or Purple Kohlrabi
• Red Leaf or Green Leaf Lettuce
• Red Beets
• Green Bell Peppers
• Light Green Bell Pepper

Cherry Tomato Bites
-1 pint cherry tomatoes (tomato berries!)
-Fresh mozzarella, cubed
-Olive oil
-Fresh Ground Pepper
-Basil, julienned

1. Cut a small slice off the end of each tomato so that they sit level. (Make sure not to cut too big of a slice or else the cup won't have a bottom.)
2. Make another slice on the opposite side of the tomato and scoop out the pulp inside using a mellon baller or small spoon. Be careful not to puncture the skin on the bottom. (Don't worry about what it looks like because it will soon be stuffed.)
3. Season the tomato cups with salt and pepper. Place a cube of mozerella in each cup.
4. Drizzle olive oil over the stuffed tomatoes. Garnish each bite with a bit of basil. Transfer the bites onto a serving platter and chill until ready to serve.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

In the Bag: August 21

-Watermelons (Not sure which kind--will be harvested Friday)
-Red Tomato Berries
-Yellow Grape Tomatoes
-Assorted Tomato
-Red Leaf or Green Leaf Lettuce
-Green Bell Peppers
-Light Green Bell Pepper

Monday, August 16, 2010

Porter Farm Happenings-August 14, 2010

Every week throughout the growing season, the Cornell University Cooperative Extension Vegetable Program writes a weekly publication called the PestMinder. This newsletter is mailed to area subscriber farmers throughout Western and Central New York, and provides information about crop development, pests, weather conditions, and crop diseases. It also contains pesticide recommendations for battling various diseases and pests, as well as a small organic farming section.
After looking through the PestMinder this week, we read about some new diseases that we think may be in our vine crops and tomatoes. A vegetable specialist with Cornell University wrote a section about a new race of cucurbit powdery mildew. This mildew was observed in Athena cantaloupes in upstate New York. These cantaloupes are resistant to the other two races of powdery mildew, but not this new race.
This week’s publication also spent a great deal outlining various diseases that have been found in tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants in the area. Last year, a fungal disease called Late Blight wiped out our tomato crop. This disease has been confirmed in tomatoes on a farm in Erie County and a farm in Norfolk County, Ontario. Norfolk County is located across Lake Erie from the Erie, Pennsylvania area.
This week we found signs of disease in our tomatoes. They were fine on Monday, but by Wednesday morning they weren’t. We thought that we would be able to give everyone 4 to 5 yellow tomatoes, but when we went out to harvest them, we had to overlook many because of disease spots and rot. We received 2 inches of rain on Monday, and think that the disease may have come in with the rain. Fungal diseases are air born and rain helps deposit their spores. However, what may look like late blight in our tomatoes may actually be another disease that was outlined in the publication this week. A disease called Zonate Leaf Spot, which occurs sporadically in this area, produces lesions on fruits as well.
We are not sure which disease has hit our tomatoes, but as organic farmers, there is nothing that we can do to combat it. It has been another damp growing season, which is the ideal condition for many of these diseases to flourish. Next year we are going to make more changes in the way that we grow our tomatoes, because for the third time in five years, we have had a lot of disease problems with them. Our heirloom tomatoes are always a favorite with our CSA, but unfortunately these tomatoes get diseases first. This season we planted over 10,000 heirloom tomato plants and are hoping there will be some salvageable. Next year we are going to try using double the amount of space for the same number of tomato plants. With more space between tomato rows, more air will be able to flow through the plants and keep the moisture out of them.
We have often thought about putting high tunnel greenhouses in at our farm. These greenhouses give farmers tomatoes earlier in the season, but unfortunately, researchers are starting to see that the same troubles that hit tomatoes in the field are also present in the tunnels later in the growing season.
Please enjoy the tomatoes in your bag this week. Some tomatoes are showing signs of disease quick. If you see a spot on your tomato, it may be the disease showing up after we had already picked it. Mike has been eating them all week, and just cuts around the spot if he sees one. He says they still taste good, especially after no tomatoes last year!
As the disease moves through the tomato plants, we may start to see more spots on them. We have a question for you: would you mind eating a tomato with a small spot on it that could be cut out, or would you rather us not bother harvesting these tomatoes? We would like this to be a member decision, so please let us know by either sending an email, commenting on our blog, or leaving a message on the farm answering machine by Wednesday night. After this time, we will go with the majority and make our decision.

*Look for an orchard update next week!*

Farm News
With all of the rain that has been falling at the farm (another 2 inches fell on Monday), it seems like we are always trying to keep up with the fast growth of the weeds. We also spent time this week baling straw. This straw came from the harvested barley crop. Once the barley is harvested using a combine, the stems of the barley are baled and used for livestock bedding.

What’s in this week’s bag??
• Zucchini or Yellow Squash
• Tomato Berries
• Tomato
• Green Bell Pepper
• Cubanelle Pepper (Sweet, frying pepper)
• Yellow/Light Green Bell Pepper
• Savoy Cabbage
• Leeks
• Green Beans
• Sugar Baby Watermelon
• Yellow Watermelon

Balsamic Salad of Roasted Leeks and Peppers
-4 leeks
-2 peppers, cut into chunks
-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
-1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
-generous sprigs fresh oregano and thyme
-2 cloves garlic, crushed
-generous sprinkling ground sea salt and black pepper
-1 oz. pine nuts
-1 oz. parmesan cheese
-handful of arugula

1. Place prepared vegetables and seasonings in a roasting pan along with the olive oil and balsamic.
2. Cover with wetted baking paper and scrunch over vegetables to seal.
3. Oven roast for 30 minutes until tender and just starting to brown.
4. Combine with the remaining ingredients and serve.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

In the Bag: August 14

-Red Tomato Berries
-Tomatoes (not sure what kind yet, will be harvested Friday morning)
-Watermelon (Not sure what kind yet, will be harvested Friday morning)
-Bell Peppers
-Cubanelle Pepper
-Yellow Squash
-Green Beans
-Savoy Cabbage

Monday, August 9, 2010

Porter Farm Happenings-August 7, 2010

This past week one of our members asked us if we sold our vegetables to a supermarket. We would like to address this and make sure that it is clear to all of our members that you are our first priority when it comes to our vegetables. We do not sell to any supermarkets, but we do sell very small orders to the Lexington Cooperative Market, and two Feel Rite Markets in Buffalo when extra produce is available.
For the first time in seven years, we were able to sell cucumbers for wholesale. Cucumbers used to be a major crop of ours, but due to downy mildew, we have drastically cut down our acreage. 100 half bushels of cucumbers were sold a few weeks ago to Tuscarora Organic Growers. We only sold these cucumbers because you were receiving seven cucumbers in your bag and we did not want to overload you.
Each year we do grow onions and cabbage in volume for Whole Foods Market. Starting in late fall and into the spring we will ship these vegetables to a warehouse where they will later become available in stores in Manhattan and Boston. Our CSA members are not short changed when it comes to onions and cabbage either; as most returning members know, you will receive a lot of these crops this fall!

Farm News
Two weeks ago we direct seeded spinach into the field. After the eight inches of rain last week, the small seeds were washed out or buried under silt. This week we once again direct seeded spinach, and also beets and turnips. The light rain that we received earlier this week was beneficial to get these seeds started. We also transplanted the last of the zucchini and yellow squash.
This week we also harvested 60 acres of barley. This year’s crop was average—we brought in 60 bushels for every acre harvested. We also continued baling hay in various fields.

Guest Bags
We will continue to offer guest bags to prospective members throughout the season. Please call the farm by Wednesday of the week you would like to order one to ensure its delivery for that week. Thanks for spreading the word!

What’s in this week’s bag??
• Zucchini
• Yellow Squash
• Cucumber
• Swiss Chard
• Purple Kohlrabi (tops off)
• Green Bell Pepper
• Sweet Frying Pepper
• Red or Green Leaf Lettuce
• Caraflex Cabbage
• Eggplant**

**Only some members will be receiving eggplant this week. We were able to find some large eggplant in our field, that if left until next week, it would become too big and split. Therefore, we harvested all that was out there and will distribute it to some groups on Saturday. Whoever does not get eggplant this week will get it in the following weeks. There are many more small eggplant out there!
Please note--even though we planted three times as many eggplant as last year, high heat makes the eggplant blossoms fall off, thus decreasing vegetable production. We planted WAY more than is needed for all of our members, but once again, this shows how large of a factor the weather plays in what vegetables you receive in your bags from week to week.

Super Stuffed Tortillas
-1-2 cloves garlic (minced)
-1 large onion
-1 green pepper
-2 cups corn
-1 small-medium zucchini (sliced)
-1 ½ tablespoons ground cumin
-2 cups black beans
-1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
-6 tablespoons salsa
-flour or corn tortillas
-cheddar cheese, feta, or queso blanco (shredded or crumbled)
-green onions or chives, salt, pepper, fresh cilantro to taste

1. Sauté garlic in 2 teaspoons oil for 1 minute. Add onion and pepper and sauté until crisp-tender.
2. Add corn, zucchini, and ground cumin and continue to sauté until all vegetables are tender but not browned.
3. Add black beans, broth, and salsa. Cook until there is no excess moisture. Remove from heat and add salt, pepper, sliced green onions or chives, and chopped fresh cilantro to taste.
4. Preheat a frypan with a bit of oil and place a tortilla n a pan. Add cheese in center of tortilla and add ¼-1/2 cup vegetable filling. When the tortilla is crispy, remove, and fold in half. Or place a second tortilla on top, flip, and fry crisp.
Source: Simply in Season

Guest Bags

Someone called the farm on Sunday afternoon to request a guest bag, but they did not leave their name, pick up location, or a phone number to contact them. If this was you, please give us a call back so that we can set you up with a guest bag!

Please remember, if you would like to order a guest bag, please call or email us by Wednesday of that week! Include your name, phone number, and the location you would like the guest bag sent to.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

In the Bag: August 7

-Caraflex Cabbage
-Swiss Chard
-Sweet Frying Pepper
-Green Bell Pepper
-Last of the cucumbers
-Yellow Squash
-Purple Kohlrabi
-Red or Green Leaf Lettuce

**Only some members will be receiving eggplant this week. We were able to find some large eggplant in our field, and if we leave it until next week, it would become too big and split. Therefore, we harvested all that was out there and will distribute it to some groups on Saturday. Whoever does not get eggplant this week, will get it in the following weeks. There are many more small eggplant out there!
Please note--even though we planted 3 times as much eggplant as last year, high heat makes the eggplant blossoms fall off. We planted WAY more than is needed for all of our members, but once again, this shows how large of a factor the weather plays in what vegetables you receive in your bags from week to week.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Porter Farm Happenings-July 31, 2010

Downy Mildew
In a little over a week we have received over 8 inches of rain at the farm! The effects of this rain can be seen all over--those of you driving down the driveway this week, take a look at the large pond that has developed by the Porter Farms sign! This water has been sitting there for ten days already! Check out the pictures that were posted on our blog!
Last week we mentioned that even though we have received a lot of rain, our vegetables were still disease free. It seems that we spoke too soon! Last Saturday morning Mike went out to inspect our cucumbers and discovered downy mildew in the plants! Downy mildew is a fungus that is easily carried by wind, and is most aggressive when heavy dews and frequent rains occur. Although it does not overwinter beyond the southernmost region of the United States, the spores are easily blown northward during the summer months.
When this disease hits, it can wipe out and kill a plant in a matter of two to three days! Symptoms first appear as pale green areas on the upper leaf surfaces, which soon change to yellow spots. A fine whitish growth will quickly appear on the lower leaf surface as well. The infected area later spreads outward, causing defoliation and poor fruit development, and later plant death (
This disease, which infects vine crops, is most aggressive in cucumbers. Our cucumbers were the first to become infected, but were quickly followed by our cantaloupes. The cantaloupes looked picture perfect last week, but now are displaying yellow and dried up leaves. The zucchini and yellow squash are also beginning to display some symptoms of downy mildew, but so far our watermelon still look great! There are mini watermelons in the field right now, so hopefully the disease will stay away for a few more weeks while they develop and ripen! Pictures have been posted on our blog of the cucumbers, cantaloupes, and watermelon.
Conventional farmers down the road from us have been trying to keep this disease at bay in their fields as well. They were spraying chemicals all week to slow down the spread of the fungus, but even these strong chemicals will not kill the fungus completely. As organic farmers, there is literally nothing we can do once this disease hits! We may try a new variety, a burpless cucumber, next year. These cucumbers are more tolerant of downy mildew. We will continue researching this and will give you updates!

What’s in this week’s bag??
• Zucchini
• Yellow Squash
• Cucumbers
• Beets
• Green Cabbage
• Caraflex Cabbage
• Romaine Lettuce

*You may notice small spots on the yellow squash and zucchini. These spots are from the hail that fell during the strong thunderstorm last Wednesday. They may not look great, but they still taste good!

Farm News
This week we continued to assess the damage from the rain. The thunderstorm last week beat up our barley that will be harvested for livestock feed. We also lost some lettuce to flooding.
Our crew spent a lot of time this week weeding the fields. The field where our earliest beets were planted became overgrown with weeds. Therefore, we decided to harvest all of the beets in this field! We hope you enjoy them!
Be on the lookout for peppers in your bags soon!

Citrus-Ginger Roasted Beets and Carrots
-4 beets, peeled and sliced
-3 large carrots, peeled and quartered
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1 teaspoon sea salt
-1/3 cup fresh pink grapefruit juice
-1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
-1 tablespoon honey
-1 teaspoon ground ginger
-1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
-1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Set aside ½ cup each of the beets and carrots for the dressing. Place the remaining beets and carrots in a 9x13 inch baking dish, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with the sea salt, and toss to coat. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.
3. Bake the vegetables in the oven for 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, place the reserved beets and carrots into a blender. Add the grapefruit juice, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, ginger, soy sauce, and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Blend until smooth. After the vegetables have roasted for 15 minutes, stir in the citrus sauce, then recover and continue cooking until the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes more.