Farmer’s Diary
¶7 Fall News, In and Out of the Kitchen

We’re enjoying the mild, dry fall weather. Still no frost, but the warm weather crops are looking tired – a few eggplants and peppers and cherry tomatoes hanging on. Though it doesn’t feel chilly this week, frost will soon bring an end to these as well as our much loved zinnias and basil. By the end of the month we’ll be down to nothing but root vegetables and greens. But they’ll taste great because the frost sweetens the flavor of many of the greens such as collards, kale and arugula. 

Winter squash and pumpkins matured early this year. We’ve had a good run with them but we’ll finish distributing them in the next week or two. 

In the fields, this month, we’ll be putting the farm to bed for the winter – removing irrigation and tomato trellises, tilling in crops that are done producing and planting cover crops. I’ve also begun using a tractor implement called a subsoiler to break through compacted layers in the soil. This should help make water drain better after heavy rains and give the plants’ roots more space to grow.


The Last pick-up days of the year will be:

Monday, October 28, Tuesday October 29, Wednesday October 30, Thursday October 31, and Saturday November 2.

There is currently 1 spot left in the New Leaf Winter CSA. Contact me ASAP if you want to join. The New Leaf winter CSA will go from December through February. This is a new program in its experimental stages. Pick-ups will take place at the Scott Farm on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 6 pm. (Picking up at the Brattleboro winter farmers’ market will also be an option most weeks except for a few weekends when I’ll be away.) Shares will mainly consist of greens such as spinach, kale and bok choi, and root vegetables such as carrots and parsnips as well as some parsley and leeks and probably some winter squash early on. I’m aiming for about 2 quarts of root veggies and 2 -3 bunches of greens per week. There will be NO tomatoes, zucchini, beans, basil, bananas, cucumbers or summer squash -- only those crops that can survive very cold weather with some protection or be stored in a root cellar. I’m aiming for about 2 quarts of root veggies and 2 -3 bunches of greens per week. The winter CSA will cost $210 for 13 weeks beginning on December 3rd.
In The Kitchen – Winter Squash and Kale Stir-fry

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 package extra firm tofu, drained and cut into ½ inch thick triangles
1 delicata, 1 small carnival, or ½ small butternut squash
4 cloves garlic thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon red miso
½ cup water
3 Tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add tofu triangles and reduce heat to low. Cook tofu, turning occasionally, until golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour off any liquid, and set aside. 

While tofu is cooking, peel and seed squash (delicata squash does not need to be peeled – the outside is edible). Halve squash again and thinly slice into 2 1/2 – inch strips. Remove coarse kale stems and cut leaves horizontally into strips 1 inch wide. Slice garlic and grate ginger. In a small bowl, dissolve miso in ½ cup water; add soy sauce. Set aside.

When tofu is done, heat another tablespoon of oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add squash and sauté for 3 minutes. Add kale and cook 1 minute more. Add garlic, ginger, miso mixture and tofu. Stir and cover for 1 or 2 minutes. Remove cove and test to see if squash is tender. If not, continue cooking until squash is tender. Serve hot over rice. 

Sautéed Parsnip Snips

1 Large parsnip
2 tablespoons butter
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Dijon mustard (optional)

Slice parsnip in half circles or strips 1/8 inch thick. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté parsnip slices, stirring frequently until beginning to brown, about 8-10 minutes. Remove, season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately with Dijon mustard if desired.

¶6 Turning Seasons

Notes From the Field

	September – the great turning of the seasons is approaching. This is the time of year when the summer crops (tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers) overlap with the fall crops (leeks, spinach, winter squash and root veggies). It’s a great time to harvest and a great time to eat! 

	The pumpkins and winter squash seem to be maturing faster than usual this year. We will begin distributing pumpkins in a couple of weeks. It is usually possible to make a pumpkin that is harvested in September last until Halloween. Keep it dry and protected from frost. An indoor windowsill or kitchen counter works well as long as it doesn’t get very hot. Keeping pumpkins indoors also protects them from neighborhood pranksters who like to smash pumpkins. Of course you can always cook and eat your pumpkins and squash right away. Pie pumpkin varieties have thicker walls and somewhat sweeter flesh. But any pumpkin or squash can be delicious in soups, stews, pies and curries.

We will be removing the greenhouse tomatoes to make room to plant greens for the winter. But lots of tomatoes are still coming in from the field including lots of colorful heirlooms. The heirlooms intimidate some people with their bubbly, sometimes cracked appearance, and the fact that they come in colors other than red. An heirloom tomato is ripe when its slightly soft. Some may have “shoulders” (parts near the stem end) that stay green. Heirlooms have sweeter, less acidic flavor than other tomatoes. The heirlooms come from a time when flavor mattered more than uniform appearance and shelf life. See the heirloom tomato salsa recipe below.

	September got off to a rainy start which slowed the cherry tomatoes way down. Hopefully with a few days of dry weather more will ripen up. But uncertainty is the only constant in farming. We’ll see what the coming weeks bring. 

Upcoming Events and Announcements

Winter CSA shares now available. The New Leaf winter CSA will go from December through February. This is a new program in its experimental stages. I will accept no more than 15 households on a first-come first-serve basis. Pick-ups will take place at the Scott Farm on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 6 pm. (Picking up at the Brattleboro winter farmers’ market will also be an option most weeks except for a few weekends when I’ll be away.) Shares will mainly consist of greens such as spinach, kale and bok choi, and root vegetables such as carrots and parsnips as well as some parsley and leeks and probably some winter squash early on. I’m aiming for about 2 quarts of root veggies and 2 -3 bunches of greens per week. There will be NO tomatoes, zucchini, beans, basil, bananas, cucumbers or summer squash -- only those crops that can survive very cold weather with some protection or be stored in a root cellar. The winter CSA will cost $210 for 13 weeks beginning on December 3rd.

In the Kitchen 

Heirloom Tomato Salsa 

The sweet flavor of heirloom tomatoes blends well with the spice of salsa.
3 large heirloom tomatoes, diced
¼ cup vinegar or lemon juice
½ jalapeno or serano chili, seeded and diced
½ medium red or yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
¼ cup chopped cilantro, basil or parsley
1 teaspoon mild chili powder
Freshly ground pepper to taste

	In a medium serving bowl, combine all ingredients. Stir well and serve with corn chips or Mexican food.

Freezing Herbs

	Pesto is not the only way to preserve basil for the cold winter months. It can be dried but tends to lose flavor. I prefer freezing basil in ice cube trays to have basil on hand for soups and stir fries where the cheesy pesto taste is not always wanted. 
You can either chop basil into strips or just stuff whole leaves into empty ice cube trays. Pack the cells tightly. Then cover with water. Place the trays in the freezer until thoroughly frozen. Then pop the cubes out of the trays and store in a zip-lock bag in the freezer. 
This method also works for other herbs such as cilantro.
To use frozen herbs I often throw the ice cubes directly in the pan with a curry or stir fry. You can also let them defrost in a bowl at room temperature.

¶5 Two Wonderful Salads

Notes From the Field

	Thank goodness the heavy rains have stopped and we’re no longer slogging through the mud. In years past rains like we had in June and early July would have meant disaster for the crops in such a poorly drained field (I remember digging up rotten potatoes and carrots a few years back) But two things have allowed us to harvest good yields in difficult conditions this year: the raised beds and the high tunnel (unheated greenhouse).

We did lose a few plants here and there in lower lying spots. In the pick-your-own section, a little bit of the parsley drowned. We also lost a few of the beets, squash and eggplants and two plantings of beans that sat in puddles for too long. The rest of the crops survived and are now starting to grow more vigorously again with the sunny weather.

Many crops are a little behind schedule because of late frost and cold nights in May and a very wet June and early July, but from the high tunnel we had early cucumbers and, for the first time ever, full-sized red tomatoes in July! 

More hot weather crops such as eggplants and melons that got off to a slow start in the cool wet weather earlier this year are now growing well in the field. We expect to start harvesting them later this month. 
We’re also planning to harvest purslane – a wild edible. We didn’t plant it. But purslane is growing vigorously in the field and we seem to have more and more each year. Yes, it’s a weed. But it has a great crunchy texture and excellent nutritional value. And you may harvest more of it any time you see it in the field. See the recipes below.

	Also – breaking news – we have 2 new baby goat kids born last night. The kids and their mother are living in the buck pen for now.

Upcoming Events and Announcements

Our annual Harvest Supper will take place Saturday, August 24 at 6 pm at the farm. (Rain date is August 31.) The harvest supper is a picnic dinner, and a chance to hang out with your fellow CSA members. I will provide vegetarian chili, corn bread and a greens salad. Bring chairs or blankets to sit on. You do not need to bring food. But if you want to, you can bring drinks or a desert to share.

Dutton Farm Road will be closed near the intersection with Middle Road for about 3 weeks starting Monday August 5th. See or my previous email for alternate route directions or pick up a handout at the on-farm CSA pick-ups. 

In the Kitchen 

Cucumber-purslane-yogurt salad, Greens Pie, Preserving Basil

Cucumber-purslane-yogurt salad

2 large Cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into quarter-round slices
1 bunch Purslane, large stems removed, washed and drained well
1 tablespoons each, Fresh chopped mint and cliantro
2 cups Whole milk yogurt
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
2 cloves Garlic, puréed with the blade of a knife
1 teaspoon ground Coriander
Salt and ground Black Pepper to taste

Place the cucumber, purslane and herbs into a large bowl. In another bowl, stir together the yogurt, olive oil and garlic, coriander and season to taste with salt. Add the yogurt mixture to the vegetables and mix well. Add a pinch of ground black pepper. Taste the dressed cucumber-purslane salad for seasoning, adding a little more salt if needed. Serve chilled

Purslane Salad With Cherries and Feta

This recipe comes from the New York Times and was given to me by a CSA member (I can’t remember who). For a farm-fresh variation substitute some of my goat cheese for the feta
1 generous bunch purslane, thick stems cut away (12 ounces, about 4 cups), washed and dried, or 1 bag mâche
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
16 cherries, pitted and quartered
12 kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 small garlic clove, puréed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 ounces feta, crumbled

1. Toss together the purslane, 2 teaspoons of the mint, the cherries and the olives in a salad bowl, or in a large bowl if you prefer to serve this on a platter.
Whisk together the vinegars, lemon juice, garlic, salt, olive oil and pepper. Toss with the salad. If desired, transfer to a platter. Sprinkle the feta and remaining mint over the top, and serve.

Advance preparation: 

This salad can be assembled and refrigerated for several hours before tossing with the dressing. Toss just before serving. Leftovers won’t get too soggy because the purslane is succulent, but the color of the purslane will fade.
Martha Rose Shulman is the author of “The Very Best of Recipes for Health.”

¶4 Bad weather for berries

Notes From the Field

It was so great to see the sun today and yesterday afternoon. This excessive rain has really been rough on the crops. The night before last 3 ½ inches of rain fell which finally destroyed the strawberries, turning any firm ones that remained after the previous rain storms to mush. The strawberry season had started out well with lots of nice sweet berries on the plants but the rain quickly took its toll. 

The rest of the crops are getting by but would do better with more sun. Plants need oxygen as well as water for their roots. When the soil is saturated with water plants can drown and rot. Fortunately I’ve been planting into raised beds that are formed using a tractor implement that I bought a little over a year ago. The field where I grow most of my crops tends to drain poorly. There is no body of water that floods the field but rain water falling on the field or running down from the hillside above it tends to saturate the soil. Having the planting beds several inches above the pathways has really helped and probably saved some of the later-season plantings.

Unfortunately raised beds couldn’t save this year’s strawberry crop – the rain on the berries was just too much. Hopefully the weather will stay dry.

 Upcoming Events and Announcements

The annual Harvest Supper will take place on August 24th (Rain date August 31st ). 

The Asparagus to Zucchini Cookbook and the new Farm Fresh and Fast cookbook are available for sale or browsing in the pick-up area. Look up any vegetable and find great recipes and storage information.

In the Kitchen – Zucchini or Summer Squash with Garlic and Lemon

We’ll start harvesting summer squash and zucchini soon. Here’s a Recipe from the Farm Fresh and Fast Cookbook (available for sale during on-farm CSA pick-ups). 

2 medium zucchini or summer squash
3 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup minced bell pepper
¼ teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Peel the zucchini (or summer squash) with a vegetable peeler, removing only half the skin in a striped pattern. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, then slice the halves into semicircles. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over high heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant but not brown. Add the zucchini and bell pepper and sauté by shaking the pan until the squash begins to soften, 5 – 7 minutes. Add the lemon peel and lemon juice. Cook for 1 minute more. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

¶3 In the Kitchen – Stir fry!

Notes From the Field

It’s been a great first week of the harvest season. It’s nice to see so many enthusiastic new members and returning folks. 

We’ve had a crazy mix of weather this spring: hot spells, cold snaps, late frost, a few weeks of dry weather, then lots of rain. Each type of plant has its own temperature preferences – some like it hot, some like it cool, none really like frost but some can tolerate it. So I worry about the cool-weather-lovers when it gets hot and try to protect the hot weather crops when there is a threat of frost. 

 The veggies we’re harvesting now (bok choi, Chinese cabbage, radishes, spinach and lettuce) prefer cool weather. Too much heat can make them put their energy into producing seed rather than developing the parts of the plant we like to eat. When the plant goes to seed to quickly it’s called “bolting” and this can make the crop unusable for food. We did lose a few radishes and some bok choi to bolting recently. But most made it through the heat.

At the same time, hot weather is great for growing the crops we’ll start to harvest later in the summer such as tomatoes, peppers, squash and cucumbers. These are all coming along well – especially those planted in the new greenhouse. 

We’ll keep harvesting mainly greens for the next couple of weeks. Strawberries should be ready to pick in 2 to 3 weeks and it looks like a great crop on the way. We’re still transplanting a lot of the later season crops. The weeds are really taking off now. So we’re spending a lot of time weeding as well. Come out and join us if you have some time.

Upcoming Events and Announcements

The annual harvest supper will take place on August 24th (Rain date August 31st ). 

The Asparagus to Zucchini Cookbook and the new Farm Freah and Fast cookbook are available for sale or browsing in the pick-up area. Look up any vegetable and find great recipes and storage information.

If you have a great way to use the veggies you get in your CSA share, please post it on the farm facebook page (go to and click the facebook icon in the upper right.) If you don’t have an account or would prefer to have me post your recipe, please email it to me at

Working members: this is the time when the farm needs you! You no longer need to sign up for slots to do field work. Any time any weekday is fine or Saturday before 3 pm. Just call or email ahead so I’ll know to expect you. 254-2531 or

In the Kitchen – Stir fry!

Instead of just recipes for this part of the newsletter, I’d like to start adding cooking tips that help with simple preparation of a wide variety of vegetables. A stir-fry is great for all these early greens – if you haven’t already devoured them raw. Here’s a recipe and some tips adapted from

The Basics of Stir-Frying Vegetables

• Don't Crowd the Pan: Grace advises that we stick to no more than four cups of chopped hard or medium-hard vegetables or eight to twelve cups chopped leafy greens in a 14-inch wok in order to avoid crowding the pan. (A sauté pan is fine for some stir-frying, but not great for greens like in this recipe; it's simply not deep enough to hold greens the way a wok is.)
• Dry the Vegetables: When stir-frying anything from snow peas to lettuce, it's important that the vegetables are very dry. Otherwise, the vegetables will steam and braise in the pan and lose their crisp texture. Giving the vegetables a whirl in a salad spinner is the easiest solution, but you can also pat them thoroughly with kitchen towels.
• Pay Close Attention! All stir-frying is quick, but a stir-fry of just vegetables goes even quicker. Don't walk away from the stove or pause to answer a text! Once the oil is in the pan, a stir-fry needs your full attention. For a two to three minute recipe, we think we can handle that.

Stir-Fried Chinese cabbage (or Baby Bok Choy) with Garlic Chiles
Serves 4 as a vegetable side dish
Recipe from Grace Young, author of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
What You Need

1 medium head of Chinese cabbage, cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide pieces, about 8 cups
8 to 12 cups baby bok choy, sliced in half lengthwise
For the sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry or Shao Hsing rice wine
1 tablespoon chicken broth
2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 medium cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon minced jalapeño chiles, with seeds (optional)
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
14" flat-bottom carbon steel wok or 12" stainless steel skillet
Fish spatula or other thin, flexible spatula
Lid to cover the wok

1. Cut Up the Ingredients: It is very important that all the ingredients are cut as directed in the ingredient list. The most important key to making a good stir-fry is cutting each ingredient to a uniform size as specified above. Cut the vegetables and set them aside in a bowl. Cut the aromatics as directed and set them aside as well.
2. Make the Sauce: In a small bowl, combine the sherry (or rice wine), broth, and soy sauce.
3. Prepare Your Wok Space: Set the bowls of vegetables, aromatics, and sauce near your stove. Also, have a very small bowl of water next to the stove.
4. Heat the Wok: Turn on a stove burner, as high as it will go. Set a 14-inch wok over this high heat burner. To determine when the wok is hot enough, start flicking droplets of water from the small bowl into the pan after 30 seconds. As soon as a bead of water evaporates within 1 to 2 seconds of contact, the wok is heated and ready for stir-frying. Do not overheat the wok.
5. Pull Wok off the Heat and Add Oil: Pull the wok off the heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Pick up the pan and carefully swirl it to coat the bottom and sides. (If the wok smokes wildly the moment you add the oil you've overheated the wok. Remove the wok from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes. When it's cool enough to handle carefully remove the oil with paper towels, wash the wok, and start again.)
6. Add the Aromatics to the Wok: Put the wok back on the heat. Add the garlic and chiles (if using), and stir them for 10 seconds or until fragrant.
7. Add the Vegetables: Push the garlic up the sides of the wok and add the cabbage (or bok choy, or whatever else you're using).
8. Season the Vegetables: Sprinkle the salt and pepper over top.
9. Set a Timer for 2 Minutes: It's helpful for newbie stir-fry cooks to set a timer to give them a rough idea of how long this dish will cook and to learn a sense of rhythm. But your main benchmark should be how the food looks and tastes. From this point on the vegetables will cook for approximately 2 to 2 1/2 minutes.
10. Stir-Fry the Vegetables for 1 Minute: Stir-fry for 1 minute or until the cabbage or vegetables begin to wilt.
11. Add the Sauce: Pour the sauce mixture around and down the sides of the pan instead of directly into the center (to prevent cooling the pan and lowering the cooking temperature). Stir-fry and toss to coat the cabbage.
12. Cover and Cook for 15 Seconds: Cover and cook for 15 seconds.
13. Uncover and Stir-Fry: Uncover and stir-fry for another 30 to 60 seconds, or until the cabbage is crisp-tender and bright green.
Additional Notes:

• Substituting Other Vegetables: Substitute up to 4 cups of chopped firm vegetables or 8 to 12 cups of another leafy green for the Chinese cabbage or baby bok choy in this recipe.

¶2 Kidding

Another growing season is well underway! Your veggies are mostly small seedlings starting out in the field or in the greenhouse waiting to be transplanted. But we will begin share distribution in just a few weeks with some early greens. As usual, the first pick-up days of the year will begin with the week of Memorial day. You will receive an email within about a week with logistics for the start of the season. New members, please read the next email carefully because it will explain exactly where and when to attend an orientation and pick up your veggies.  
Membership is just about full. Thank you so much for joining!
It has already been an interesting season weather-wise. A few weeks ago, I considered postponing the start of the harvest season because April was colder than usual and things got off to a bit of a late start in the field. But this year was much closer to normal than last year when we had some very warm weather in March which got the planting season off to a very early start. Typically I expect to start planting in the field around mid-April and transplanting about a week after that so this year is almost on target. Shares will be small to begin the season but the quantity and variety will build as things progress.
Lately the weather has turned dry which is I consider much better than wet weather especially in the spring – April showers are not always the farmer’s friend. I prefer dry weather because the field where I grow most of my crops tends to stay wet which can make it impossible to get a tractor through to till the soil.  Too much water can also drown the crops. Their roots need a little air in the soil as well as moisture.  Lately we’ve been having to irrigate. I use drip irrigation which takes a lot of time to set up but allows me to control how much water goes to the plants.  The other good thing about dry weather is lots of sunshine – that’s where plants get their energy.
So as busy as things are, the growing season has gotten off to a good start. I look forward to seeing you all in a few weeks!
Goat Report
Yes, we have goat kids! Two does gave birth this month including Kampala, the doe whose health I was monitoring. She safely gave birth to 3 kids (it is called kidding when a goat gives birth) with very little help from me and is nursing them well. The other doe has twins. In all we have 3 doe kids and 2 buck kids with a nice variety of colors. The kids are exploring everything in the pen and out in the pasture. Another doe will give birth later in the summer.
¶1 The springing of the year

Spring is on its way! Shipments of farm supplies are coming in and little seedlings are putting up their first green leaves under grow lights. 
These are the last quiet days before the flurry of activity of the growing season takes off. This is the time to get everything, and everyone, organized.
In other news, I will be putting the plastic on the new greenhouse soon. I’m waiting for a day with no precipitation and absolutely no wind, otherwise the whole sheet of plastic could take off like a giant sail. Maybe sometime next week? I could use a few more helpers. So, if you’re interested in volunteering for this adventure, let me know.
I’m also working on hiring this year's field crew. And, of course, I’m planting. Your peppers, eggplants, tomatoes and scallions are already growing. So make sure you’re signed up – the growing season has begun!
Goat Report
The goats are looking forward to spring. They still don’t seem to mind the cold. But this time of year the goats seem to be peering at the world outside and sniffing at the air, wondering if there might be anything green and growing yet out there. It’s not as though they don’t get enough to eat. The hay and grain they’ve been eating all winter meets their nutritional needs. But goats love to wander the pasture where they can graze and browse, picking out the tastiest leaves and grass.
The grazing goats are like CSA members in the pick-your-own section, nibbling a few cherry tomatoes over here and little parsley over there, and picking a few zinneas. Of course the goats wouldn’t mind eating all that stuff too – even the zinneas – so I do my best to keep them well fenced.
When animals graze their instinct may lead them to find plants with medicinal properties that help their systems. They also usually seem to instinctively know how to avoid toxic plants. I have seen goats graze down everything in an area except some toxic jimpson weed.    
For now though, the goats don’t get to do much wandering. There’s not much out there for them to graze yet. So the goats hang around their pens and chew their cud – they’re ruminating. Several of the does are now pregnant and waddle around the pen with big bellies. How many kids will they have? What genders? What colors? Waiting to find out is all part of the excitement of spring. The first goat births will take place in about 5 weeks. shapeimage_3_link_0shapeimage_3_link_1shapeimage_3_link_2shapeimage_3_link_3
Farmer’s Diary
is written by 
Elizabeth Wood

of New Leaf CSA, a diversified farm with a 100 member CSA serving the Brattleboro, Putney and Dummerston area.
 Farmer Elizabeth Wood started New Leaf in 2002 and uses only organic growing methods.
  For more information see 
or call 802-254-2531 or email shapeimage_4_link_0shapeimage_4_link_1