Posts Tagged ‘farm’

The summer season means prime time for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in New England. And since Jay and I are trying to support local and sustainable, we decided to purchase summer and fall vegetable shares from the Many Hands Organic Farm CSA.

First, a little background on CSAs. They’re mutually beneficial to farmers and consumers: farmers get money up front to help fund the seasons’ crops, and consumers get local, fresher produce and other farm products. The way it typically works is that you purchase a “share” of the crops for the season, which provides you an assortment of produce (or whatever you choose to buy a share of) every week during that farming season. Depending on the farm you choose, you usually have several options for pickup days and locations in your area, which makes getting your weekly shares easy and convenient.

We opted for the medium share of the Many Hands CSA. Our first pickup was three weeks ago. We managed to find the pickup location—even though it was a random house in a random neighborhood—and grabbed our bag of goodies off the front porch (it was labeled with our name). The purple canvas bag felt extremely light, but we shrugged it off and sped home to see what it contained.

To be honest, we were not impressed. The bag contained what looked like several heads of lettuce, a bunch of scallions, a plastic bag full of green leaves, a handful of mint, and five (yes, five) sugar snap peas. It was then we realized that most people buying shares are using them to supplement regular meals – not as a full vegetarian menu. Whoops. We also weren’t sure how to use most of what was in there. Thankfully, the farm sent an email letting us know generally what was in the bag and some ideas on what to do with it. Hint: we didn’t have several heads of lettuce. We did manage to use the bulk of what was in that bag in salads, eggs, and mixed drinks. The freshness was duly noted.

Last Friday, we drove to pick up our bag with trepidation. What would be in it this time? More green leafy things? We poured through the bag the second we got home. This time around, one of the lettuce heads was replaced with kale. We got more scallions, along with weird green curly things (turned out to be garlic scapes). And this time, there were a whopping 10 snap peas! The bag also contained some mystery items we didn’t recognize. The weekly email from the farm informed us that they were daikon radishes and radishes (or turnips – still not sure on that one). Good thing we’ve been getting emails outlining what’s in the bag! It’s also nice to read about how the farm is doing in general – it’s kind of like a heads up on what’s to come.

I’m looking forward to today’s bag; we’ve been told carrots, peppers, and other non-leafy vegetables will be coming soon. It’s exciting to feel as though we’re part of something and to think that our vegetables will differ depending on what the weather’s like and how the farm does. You really get a taste for how local living could be. I also like knowing these vegetables came from an organic farm that’s a 30-minute drive from us.

The fun part is we’re learning about “new” vegetables and ways to cook them!

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Though it’s been some time since my last post, I wanted to let you know that we did make it out to the Raw Milk Dairy Days open house at The Robinson Farm. The afternoon was beautiful (I wish I’d brought my camera). This place was much easier to get to than Misty Brook Farm, which makes a difference when thinking about weekly excursions to buy milk. We’d only planned on going to buy milk and get out of there, but we got suckered into doing their walking tour. (By suckered, I mean we were handed a map by the nice lady at the welcome desk.) That was interesting. The tour, which we did on our own, commenced near  one of the pastures where a group of cows was hanging out. On the way to those cows, we observed several chickens and roosters roaming in small fenced-in areas, foraging for bugs. We stood there in the afternoon sun, along with a family, watching the cows attempt to shake flies off their faces. One cow even peed on another one. A bolder cow approached the father of the family and licked the crap out of his hand. I really wanted to pet that cow, but as we started to make our way toward the next pasture, he seemed to get a little skittish.

The next stop was another pasture where some calves were hanging out. I’m not sure if they were the veal cows (I hope not) or just up-and-coming milking cows. The map did distinguish between the two, but as it’s been a month since we walked through these pastures, my mind’s a little rusty. (Makes me wonder what the state of my mind will be in 20 years.)

Across a side street was another enormous pasture. Despite the pasture’s size, the cows were once again gathered in one large clump behind some trees, completely inaccessible to us. By the time we made it through that pasture, I wished I’d brought my sunglasses. Toward the end of the tour, we passed another small enclosure with more calves.

Our walking tour finished, we went to check out the farm stand. Like the one at Misty Brook Farm, it was a small barn/shack with fridges and buckets of fruit and vegetables. It was also a self-serve type arrangement. At least this place had a scale, so we could really weigh our produce and pay accurately. At the time, we only got milk and cheese. We decided to try their “A Barndance” cheese, which is similar to French Abondance. Can you say YUM? That stuff was amazing. Great Panini cheese. Anyway, we wrote out a check for the cheese and two gallons of milk and headed home.

The milk at The Robinson Farm is sold in the plastic half-gallon and gallon containers and is significantly less expensive than the milk from Misty Brook. (I’ll also mention it’s a lot easier to pour when it’s not in a glass jar.) Now don’t go assuming their raw milk is cheap; it’s still costlier than the pasteurized stuff you get at the grocery store (even the organic milk).

All things being equal, my preference is for the Misty Brook Farm raw milk. Maybe it’s the glass containers, but to me it tastes slightly better. Unfortunately, not everything’s equal. The Robinson Farm is closer and easier to get to. Their farm stand is larger and better equipped to handle consumers. And their milk is less expensive and is sold by the gallon. So if we’re going to be drinking raw milk regularly, we’ll probably be heading to The Robinson Farm. And next time, I’m going to bring my camera, so I can take pictures of their traditional red barn.

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