While we are still deep in winter citrus, and the fruit blossoms are everywhere, we only have a few “crops” that are ready (or close to ready). But we do have some of the good stuff. The mix of sun and light rain brought the herbs back to life, and with gusto. Oregano, marjoram, tarragon, thyme, mint, chocolate mint and the always-present rosemary are thriving. Still have to wait on basil, but soon (sigh). Artichokes and potato plants seem to bend the laws of nature, they grow so quickly. And the blueberries and strawberries are forming, first tastes in 7-10 days (hopefully). Serious planting is starting soon….
While we miss our own farm, it is hard to be sad here on the east end of Long Island. We are on some of the best farmland in the world, next to some of the best beaches in the world. And where you don’t have vacation homes, you still see many productive farms. And farm stands selling fresh produce are just about everywhere. The corn, potatoes, zucchini, squash, berries and stone fruit are all great this year. Yum.
But there is one very special farm, Quail Hill, that is more than just some tasty produce. It shows the true potential of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to benefit an entire community. Quail Hill is a CSA on 30 acres of donated land and is supported by over 200 member families. The member families pay for a share of the produce and harvest a few times a week (anyone can visit, you just can’t harvest). The staff run the farm and have an apprentice program to educate future farmers. Farmland is preserved, new farmers are trained, families get access to a “real” farm. Oh, and the produce is awesome. Good land, great weather and hard work get you a good crop.
While we aren’t members, our friends Chad and Monica are, and we got to visit for a Tuesday harvest. The farm is beautiful and bucolic, but also a place of work. Everything at the farm is there for a reason. While many people (including us) wax poetic about growing food, somebody has to spend some time in the dirt. But it is certainly good dirt. Good dirt makes a good farm. We will let the pictures tell the rest of the story.
A big week of transitions at Putney Farm. Firstly, the heat has settled in and our spring crops are at their end, while summer crops are coming in. And most of us will be on the road for the next few weeks, so we decided to harvest all of our remaining spring crops and either eat them or give them to friends. This meant the last harvest of blueberries, lettuces (for now) and sugar snap peas. While a bit sad that the blueberries are over, they lasted into July again- nothing to complain about. What saddens us a bit more is leaving our garden and orchard during such a good season.
And there are so many crops just coming in. Our peaches came in and we ate them, made peach-lavender jam and preserved them in simple syrup (and made cocktails). Nectarines next week. Our radishes, zucchini and cucumbers are booming and they go into salads and pickles. Carrots, green beans and peppers just came in, and we just got our first sweet 100 tomatoes. We have a number of melons growing (and looking good) and the eggplant looks promising. And of course the strawberries are just booming. Never better.
When we return we should see all the tomatoes, eggplant, melons and peppers at their peak. In the orchard we should have more nectarines, another peach, figs, blackberries and some fully ripe gravenstein apples (maybe the macintosh as well). Things may go wrong and varmints may beat our defenses, but we can’t help feeling that this is a special year and we shouldn’t miss a minute.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but we are already very much in love with our garden now. Happily, we are going to one of the best areas in the world for fresh seafood and produce…perhaps that will soften the blow. And some time at the beach tends to clear the mind. Happy summer!
- Orchard Update: Red Haven Peach Harvest! (putneyfarm.com)
- Peaches! And Updates From The Orchard and Garden (putneyfarm.com)
- Orchard Update: The Battle Begins! (putneyfarm.com)
- Heavy Branches and the Lonely Peach (putneyfarm.com)
- Garden Update: Planting and Harvesting (putneyfarm.com)
- The Rewards of the Garden (putneyfarm.com)
- Bonus Cocktail: The Orchard Moonraker (putneyfarm.com)