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It’s been a while since we last posted here on the blog – guess it’s been a busy season!  For more regular updates, please join our e-mail list by contacting: bennett.haynes@gmail.com or liking our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ralstonfarm

The 2012 season saw a lot of growth – we’ve expanded our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to 65 members, regularly sell produce to Arturo’s Osteria in Maplewood and Rob’s Bistro in Madison, and have kept our Farm Stand open into this winter.  We even got to sell our produce at the Chatham Farmers Market this November.

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Through the winter months, we will continue selling produce, meat and eggs on Saturdays at our Farm Stand.  Please look for our woodland-raised pork this January.

Next Saturday, December 22, please stop in for a selection of mustard greens, kale, carrots, parsnips, garlic and other winter crops – sure to make your holiday meals much more tasty!

 

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Interns hired!

 

Interested in a hands-on farm internship?

Ralston Farm is looking for an intern from April-October 2012 to assist in all areas of the farm, including season preparation, greenhouse and field-work (transplanting seedlings, weeding, harvesting), CSA distribution and small livestock management.  We are planning to expand our business in 2012, so the intern will be crucial in supporting consistent, high-quality production.

Some farm experience is preferred and applicants should be fit, healthy and willing to work long days in varying weather conditions.  A weekly stipend will be provided and a part-time internships may also be available.  Interns will get to work closely with our Field Manager, Phil Haynes, during the summer months.  Please forward to anyone possibly interested in the Mendham, NJ area.

Please contact bennett.haynes@gmail.com or call 908 334 8018 for more information.

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Pepper loves those Ralston Farm beets!

Many thanks to Judy Weinstein, who came out yesterday and picked 20 lbs of peas in only 30 minutes!  Here’s a tasty-sounding recipe for your snap peas (we’ll do our best to get you close to 1 1/2 lbs!):

Summer Green Pea Soup by Darina Allen, author of Forgotten Skills of Cooking and founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork, Ireland

This soup tastes of summer.  This soup may slo be served chilled, but serve in smaller portions.  Be careful not to overcook this soup or you will lose the fresh taste and biright-green color.  Add a little extra stock if the soup is too thick.  Serves 6-8

1 oz lean bacon
1 tablespoon butter
2 medium scallions, chopped
1 1/2 lb podded peas
outside leaces of a head of lettuce, shredded
a sprig of mint
5 cups chicken stock or hot water
salt, freshly ground pepper, and sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Garnish:
blanched fresh or frozen peas and pea shoots
whipped cream
freshly chopped mint

Cut the bacon into very fine pieces.  Melt the butter and sweat the bacon for about 5 minutes, then ass the scallions and cook for another 1-2 minutes.  Add the peas, lettuce, mint, and hot chicken stock or water.  Season with salt, pepper and sugar.  Bring to a boil with the lid off and cook for about 5 minutes, until the peas are just tender.  Puree and add a little cream to taste.  To serve, put a few fresh peas and pea shoots into a wide soup bowls.  Put the soup in a pitcher – each guest pours his or her own bowl.  If this soup is made ahead, reheat it, uncovered, and serve immediately.  It will lose its fresh taste and bright, lively color if it sits in a double broiler or simmers at length in a pot. Read the rest of this entry »

Garlic Scapes big time this week!  If you like a strong garlic flavor, I recommend making a garlic scape pesto.  Here’s a recipe I used this week:

GARLIC SCAPE AND ALMOND PESTO (by Dorie Greenspan)

Makes about 1 cup

10 garlic scapes, finely chopped

1/3 to 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan (to taste and texture)

1/3 cup slivered almonds (you could toast them lightly, if you’d like)

About 1/2 cup olive oil

Sea salt

Put the scapes, 1/3 cup of the cheese, almonds and half the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor (or use a blender or a mortar and pestle).  Whir to chop and blend all the ingredients and then add the remainder of the oil and, if you want, more cheese.  If you like the texture, stop; if you’d like it a little thinner, add some more oil.  Season with salt.

If you’re not going to use the pesto immediately, press a piece of plastic against the surface to keep it from oxidizing. The pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days or packed airtight and frozen for a couple of months, by which time tomatoes should be at their juciest.

 

This week we introduced the “washed” or “un-washed” option for lettuce mix – they were about equally popular!  Here are some camera phone shots from this week:

the lettuce mix before harvest

some nice summer squash and costata romanesca zucchini from the greehouse

“designer” head lettuce (really pretty varieties)

Field looks good!  Thanks to my brother Phil for all his hard work on weeding

waiting for these little ladies to start laying some eggs!

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Costata Romanesca Zucchini and Gentry Summer Squash this week – extra early!

Still not sure about what to do with this week’s Bok Choi?  Here’s an excellent recipe created by my mom, Susan Haynes:

Add the juice of 2-3 limes, 3 chopped garlic scapes, 1/2 bunch cilantro, 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 tablespoon honey, 1/2 tablespoon pureed ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a food processor and blend quickly.

Brown 1/4 cup slivered almonds and wash and chop 1/2 lb Ralston Farm Bok Choi, then add 1 pack ramen noodles (without the MSG-laced seasoning!) and mix with the blended dressing.

Refrigerate for 1 hr to marinate before cooking.

Fresh out the wok:

Looks good!  The radishes this week are pretty spicy and the peas are nice and sweet.  If any other CSA members take photos of meals prepared with Ralston Farm ingredients, feel free to send them my way and I’ll post them up!

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Wednesday was a great day – the sun returned, the first CSA distribution was a success and I got more chicks!  Now we’ve 25 more chicks from NEPPA Hatchery in the brooder – they are munching away and napping between rooster crows.  Below are some photos from the farm stand on distribution day:

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Ever want to eat radishes from your son’s CSA share and make it look like nothing ever happened?  Here’s Kirby Saunders showing us how it’s done: take the radish greens and a red magic marker, and then color over the radish tops – they’ll never know the difference!

(Many Thanks to Goldendolphin)

No, not that kind of factory food…

View this document on Scribd

Whether we like it or not, our food system still relies on petroleum in many ways.  But instead of pretending like local food is a perfect solution to Peak Oil, I try to be realistic and use appropriate, efficient technology to run my farm.  One example is the farm tractor, an International 424 from the 1960s, which needs regular maintenance.  At the beginning of the season, I was lucky to get all of my zerk fittings lubricated using Magnalube products.  One of my closest friends from growing up, Luke Saunders, has been running this small company for the past 2 years.

This past Earth Day, I got to work together again with Magnalube and it’s parent company, General Magnaplate, to start a small organic garden at their factory in Linden.  Luke and other company employees built some really nice raised beds in which we planted peas, beets, radishes and transplanted tomatoes, tomatillos, kale, squash, chard and parsley.  These raised beds are going to have organic vegetables growing all season long.  This is the kind of factory food I can get behind – look at this nice crop of beets coming up!

Thanks again to Candi and Ed Aversenti for their support of Ralston Farm.  Luke and I look forward to working together this summer to support local food and gardening for factory workers at Magnaplate.

Spring is here! (and after this week it feels like summer isn’t too far behind…)

Please join us for our Spring Plant Sale this Saturday and Sunday, between 9-2.  Ralston Farm is located at 327 Rt 24 W in Mendham, NJ, directly across the street from the Ralston Firehouse.

Despite the cool, wet March and April, Susanne Eckhardt, a local, organic farmer from Chelsy Farms, and myself have been growing tomato, pepper, eggplant, herbs and other seedlings.  All seedlings are organically grown right here at home (not trucked in from big greenhouses), so they are suited to our local climate and ready to be planted outside.

We look forward to seeing you this weekend!

Bennett and Susanne

Many of the plants for sale are heirloom varieties with unique colors and flavors. Some of the varieties available are listed below:

Eggplant            Diamond
Eggplant            Black King
Eggplant            Rosa Bianca
Pepper            Hot Portugal
Pepper            Beaver Dam (Hot)
Pepper            Habanero (Hot)
Tomatillo          Verde Puebla
Tomato            Rutgers OG
Tomato            Old German OG
Tomato            Be My Baby Gene Pool Cherry
Tomato            Gardeners Delight Cherry
Tomato            Black Cherry
Tomato            Beam’s Yellow Pear
Tomato            Moskovich
Tomato            Green Grape
Tomato            Tommy Toe
Tomato            Lemon Drop
Tomato            Large Red Cherry
Tomato            Brandywine
Tomato            Italian Heirloom
Tomato            Rutgers
Tomato            Green Zebra
Tomato            Nebraska Wedding


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