Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fall 2008 Chicken CSA Final Newsletter

Hi Chicken CSA folks!

I know this is a bit late but I wanted to send you all off with a final newsletter. Thanks to everyone who made the Fall Chicken CSA a smooth and pleasant experience.

We're looking forward to seeing some of you back in the spring. For those of you who already signed up for the spring - THANK YOU! For those who plan to but haven't signed up: Tomorrow is your last chance to get the $10.00 discount. All membership sign ups, for both chicken and veggies, will receive $10 off if postmarked on or before December 31.


The only thing I wish we could have done was given y'all some bigger chickens on average. Usually the chickens average 3.5 lbs. But we got some early winter temperatures this fall and the chickens expended a lot of energy keeping themselves warm instead of producing meat. I tried to make up for it by giving some people extra chickens and some people extra packs of legs. Next fall what I plan on doing is keeping the birds 9 weeks instead of 8 before slaughter. That way if we get some chilly nights they'll have a bit more time to grow. I'm also building more brooders for spring so we can keep them in the brooders for longer than 2 weeks if necessary. Since we get a new batch of chicks every two weeks, sometimes I'm forced to put them outside even if they're not quite ready. Doubling the brooder space will allow birds to brood up to 4 weeks and warm themselves under the heat lamps if winter decides to come early like it did this fall or stay with us longer in the spring.


We will have frozen chickens available at both Durham and Carrboro Farmers' Markets every Saturday throughout the winter. Carrboro Market is open every Sat. 9am- noon and Durham is open every Sat. 10am-noon. We will be there with coolers full of frozen birds.


I am getting better at this by the week. Fried chicken was our last frontier. Being originally from the North, the only fried chicken Joann and I ate was from KFC, which ruins many people on fried chicken for life. It's like my cousins from Georgia who only ever ate Pizza Hut pizza. So I'm new at this, and haven't perfected it, so you might want to try Google for some other ideas as well. And I've seen some good Youtube videos frying chicken.

So here's what I do:

Use a cast iron pan or a wok. Fried chicken has to be cooked in a pan with good heat distribution. We have a good wok and I find it works well.

Pour oil into the wok (we use canola) - enough that when you put the chicken in it'll be, say, 70% covered with a bit peeking out of the top. Heat the oil up on medium/high. You can tell when it's ready by sticking the end of a wooden spoon in. When bubbles form and move rapidly around the spoon, you know the oil is ready.

Cut up the chicken, soak the pieces in an egg beaten with a little water. Take a gallon size ziplock bag, fill it with bread flour (or all purpose), salt, and any combination of spices you want. I've been using garlic power, cumin and red pepper. I'm not sure yet of the portions I like, but last time I used way too much salt and it ruined the chicken.

Put the chicken in the bag, zip it closed, and shake it around in there so the flour/spice covers the chicken.

Drop the chicken in the pan/wok slowly so the oil doesn't splash everywhere. Cook the chicken on one side for about 5-7 minutes until the crackling dies down a little. Then flip it and cook for about 5 minutes until the crackling dies down again. The outside should be golden brown. Take the chicken out with either tongs or a "spider" - and you can set it in paper towels to soak up the excess oil. If you want to check it with a meat thermometer just in case, the internal temp. should be 165 degrees.


Sunday, December 7, 2008


Click the links below for PDF brochures/sign up sheets. We are offering a holiday discount - $10 off any share if you sign up before 12/31/08!

2009 Veggie CSA

2009 Spring Chicken CSA

Please let us know if you have trouble viewing these. Download Adobe Reader for free to view pdf files.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fall 2008 Chicken CSA Newsletter #2

Hi folks! The chickens sized up nice this time. I upped their feed intake a bit in the last week and I think it really made a difference. The processing was also done a bit more nicely this time, although they got some of the prices wrong, but that's only a concern for us at market, not our CSA. We charge $4.25 per pound for whole chickens and want to be sure you get at least that value or greater.


I meant to send these out the first time. Cutting up a chicken is so easy. I wish we could sell all whole chickens at market - it would save us money at the processing plant - but people have become accustomed to buying something already prepared by someone else. For the first time this year we have sold boneless, skinless breasts, but I'm not sure if we're going to continue doing that next year. Chicken is far superior with the bone in and the skin on, and I think in general it's a good idea to be reminded that meat comes from an animal, as simple as that sounds.

The folks over at Howstuffworks.com have the most concise directions I could find for cutting up a chicken. This is a skill that was probably second nature to most of our parents or grandparents.


It's as simple as it can get. Using a sharp knife is very important. We got a little plastic handheld knife sharpener down at our feed store for $10 and it's worked for us for over a year. And remember to keep everything clean. Even as our birds are healthier than the ones from the big chicken houses, you still need to take the same precautions.


We'll be going to the processor 2 weeks in a row coming up here. So be sure to have enough space in the freezer if you don't plan on eating all your chickens.

  • On Farm: Wednesday December 10, 4pm-7pm
  • RTI Dreyfus Lot: Thursday December 11 , 4pm-6pm
  • Carrboro Farmers' Market: Saturday December 13, 9am-noon
  • Durham Farmers' Market: Saturday December 13, 10am-noon (note winter market hours)
  • On Farm: Wednesday December 17, 4pm-7pm
  • RTI Dreyfus Lot: Thursday December 18 , 4pm-6pm
  • Carrboro Farmers' Market: Saturday December 20, 9am-noon
  • Durham Farmers' Market: Saturday December 20, 10am-noon
Those picking up at Carrboro Market - we may not be in our usual space in the field, so look for us under the pavillion.

Those picking up at Durham Market - I don't have a permanent spot but I'll most likely be somewhere under the pavillion.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fall 2008 Chicken CSA Newsletter #1


For those of you who elected to receive giblets with your order, some of you had feet included with those. Some did not get feet with the rest of the giblets. Feet are great for stock along with the rest of your giblets. They are completely sterilized in the processing plant and ready for your chicken foot enjoyment. Many cultures, basically everyone but us, use the feet. Just throw it in the stock, it's awesome.


Since the size of our birds was smaller than expected we included extra legs in a few of the bags we handed out if you were more than a dollar or so below the average cost per pickup. We're hopefully going to balance this out with larger bird sizes in the next 3 pickups, but if not, we want everybody to get their money's worth at market prices.

  • RTI Dreyfus Lot, Wednesday November 26, 4pm-6pm
  • On Farm, Wednesday November 26, 4pm-6pm
  • Carrboro Farmers' Market, Saturday November 29, 9am-noon
  • Durham Farmers Market, Saturday November 29 *I'll email the Durham folks to let you know where and what time we'll meet.
Please contact us about anything, and thank you for eating Castlemaine Chicken!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Our trip to a farm in Italy

A bunch of us farmers and chefs from the Piedmont of NC visited a farm/butcher shop in the Piedmont of Italy. There will be more on this later...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fall Chicken CSA 2008!

We are offering a CHICKEN CSA for this Fall! Click here for details and the sign up sheet.

There will be 2 pickup dates in November and 2 in December (dates on the pdf). Chicken will be delivered fresh to RTI and Carrboro and Durham Farmers' Markets.

We are taking sign ups immediately. Please consider signing up soon because there is limited space available.

Thank you for supporting small farms!

If you have any questions please contact us (info below).

Have a good one,
-Brian & Joann Gallagher

Castlemaine Farm
1649 Old Dam Road
Liberty, NC 27298

Sunday, September 21, 2008

CHICKEN DINNER SUN OCT 12 at Castle Rock Gardens!

October 12, 2008
(Sunday) 4:00 pm
at Castle Rock Gardens

Castle Rock Gardens
& Castlemaine Farm present
Chicken Dinner
$25 for an all farm-raised meal featuring
pastured chicken, fresh produce from the farms, and
Ristin’s internationally known devilled eggs
Sit down or take-out, BYOB

Guest Chef Matt Dawes of Table Restaurant of Asheville, NC

This Slow Food event is a fundraiser
to help send the Joann & Brian Gallagher of
Castlemaine Farm and Ristin Cooks & Patrick Walsh
of Castle Rock Gardens to Terra Madre, the
Slow Food Convention in Turin, Italy

Castlemaine Farm, 336-376-1025 or castlemainefarm@hotmail.com
Castle Rock Gardens, 919-636-0832


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Friday, September 19, 2008

Tons of Chicken available tomorrow at Durham and Carrboro Markets

Fresh chicken, whole birds, split breast, whole legs, whole wings, livers, hearts, feet.

We'll also have tons of bell peppers, eggplant, basil, lettuce, radishes, turnips & more.

Durham Farmers' Market is on Saturdays from 8am to noon and is located here:

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Carrboro Farmers' Market is on Saturdays from 7am to noon and is located here:

View Larger Map

Here are two relevant recipes for this week:

Chicken and Peppers w. Balsamic Vinegar

* 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
* 4 whole chicken legs
* salt and pepper to taste
* 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
* 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
* 1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
* 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
* 4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
* 1 tablespoon fresh basil
* 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, divided

1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the skillet, season with salt and pepper, and brown on both sides. Remove from heat, and set aside.
2. Heat remaining oil in the skillet over medium heat, and stir in the red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, orange bell pepper, and onion. Cook about 5 minutes, until tender. Mix in the garlic, and cook and stir about 1 minute. Mix in the basil and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar.
3. Return the chicken to the skillet. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Stir in remaining balsamic vinegar just before serving.

Chicken w. Eggplant-Pepper Sauce

*½ lb japanese eggplant
*1 lb colored bell peppers
*3/4 tsp salt, divided
*1/4 tsp ground ginger
*1/4 tsp garlic powder
*1/4 tsp ground red pepper, divided
*2 whole split chicken breasts
*2 tsp olive oil, divided
*1 tsp paprika
*4 tsp lemon juice
*1 tbsp fresh basil

Cut tops off eggplant, slice in half lengthwise, and pierce skin with a fork. Cut off & discard tops, seeds, membranes of bell peppers. Microwave eggplant and bell peppers on high for 8 minutes or until tender.
While the eggplant cooks, combine 1/4 tsp salt, ginger, garlic powder, and 1/8 tsp red pepper; sprinkle the chicken with the ginger mixture. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, cook on each side until it is done.
Combine eggplant and bell peppers in a blender or food processor. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon red pepper, 1 teaspoon oil, paprika, and juice; process until smooth. Serve chicken with sauce & chopped fresh basil sprinkled over entire dish.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Last Veggie CSA Newsletter, Week #21 (Delivery was 9/4/08)

Full Share:
Eggplant - 1.5#
Peppers - 2#
Mizuna Greens - 1/2#
Cucumbers - 1#
Basil - 1 bunch
Turnips - 1 bunch
Radishes - 1 bunch

Half Share:
Eggplant - 1#
Peppers 1.5#
Mizuna Greens - 1/4#
Turnips - 1 bunch
Radishes - 1 bunch
Basil - 1 bunch

WOW. 21 weeks later, here we are, with the final delivery of the season. Sorry I'm a few days late getting this newsletter up. The tropical storm that blew through this weekend really had us scrambling to get things tied up/tied down, secured and picked up. Basically, we had to tidy up the place for Hanna. Between Hanna and Tropical storm Fay the week before, we got just about 11" of much-needed rain.

Thanks to all of you for another great CSA season!! We had a great time seeing you every week, and its always fun to meet the kids too!

We already are planning for next season, and all these rains are really helping us along getting the fields ready for their winter blanket of cover crops. We're also getting beds ready for the fall planting of strawberries, garlic, and overwintered flowers, all of which are planted by the first of October. We have 1,000 strawberry plants on order (300 more than this year) so we should have more strawberries for the boxes next year (along with me learning a great deal on how to grow them as this was my first year growing strawberries). We're hoping to also plant blueberries in the spring, but they'll take a few years before they have harvestable fruit.

We are also trying to figure out ways to make the CSA work better for both us, the farmers, and you, the co-producers. We started the CSA deliveries 2 weeks earlier this year, and ended much earlier. I'm not sure if this was such a good idea. I do like the idea of finishing up by mid-september because the fall garden can be so unpredictable. Maybe we'll start May 1st next year, and finish the week of September 15th. Then maybe we'll get a better balance. As this is only the second full year we've done the veggie CSA (first for the chicken CSA), theres still many things for all of us to learn.

Thanks again, we appreciate your support.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Carrboro and Durham Farmers Markets will both be open tomorrow!

Tropical Storm Hannah will NOT close the markets. Please come see us! We'll have fresh chicken, radishes, turnips, peppers and more! Bring an umbrella... and maybe a windbreaker?

Carrboro Market is 7am - noon
Durham Market 8am - noon


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Veggie Week #20 newsletter

Half Share:
cucumbers - 1# - $2.00
arugula - 1/4# - $2.50
Mizuna - 1/4# - $2.50
Radishes - 1 bunch - $2.50
eggplant - 1# - $2.00
peppers 1.5# - $5.25
serrano peppers - 10 - $2.00

Full Share
Cucumbers - 1# - $2.00
arugula - 1/4# - $2.50
mizuna - 1/2# - $5.00
Radishes - 2 bunches - $5.00
Eggplant - 1# - $2.00
Squash - 1# - $2.00
Peppers - 2# - $7.00

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fridays at the Farm

This is the trailer for the short movie Fridays at the Farm, about a CSA in Media, Pa, owned by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia called Red Hill Farm. A great suggestion for anyone who wants to find out what a CSA is all about.

Fridays at the Farm Trailer from Coyopa Productions on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Veggie CSA Week #19

Full share:
Tomatoes - 2#
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes
Arugula - 1/2#
Peppers - 1#
Cucumbers - 2#
Eggplant - 1.5#

Half Share:
Tomatoes - 1.5#
Eggplant - 1#
Arugula - 1/4#
Peppers - 1.5#
Cucumbers - 1#

What to do with "all these peppers"

I just love pepper season because the yield is always so high and we're practically swimming in them! I am much more of a pepper freak than a tomato freak, so this time of year is my favorite (not to mention the cooler weather, longer shadows, and football!)

Don't feel you must consume all the peppers in your box within a week. First of all, they'll keep for quite a long time (weeks) in a plastic bag in the fridge. If you still have a back log, you can chop them up and freeze them, which is a really nice treat mid-winter (they're a little mushier when they thaw, but still quite tasty, and if you're cooking them, you'll never notice). I also roast them over an open flame (or under the broiler) until the skins start to blister. Then just throw them in a ziploc bag and toss the bag in the freezer. As you need them through the winter, just take a few out, thaw and peel the skins off. This will work with the Anaheims, Poblanos, and red bell peppers. I suppose you could also roast the green bells, but they're not as sweet and it just doesn't come out the same. Also worth mentioning, the bell peppers that aren't fully ripe (red) will eventually turn red. They start out on the plant as green (unripe) and slowly turn red. Sometimes, I pick them a little early, and they haven't completely turned. But they will soon enough.

Roasted red bell peppers are a wonderful treat on pizza, in pasta, on bread with olive oil, carmelized with onions and topped on meat, in sandwiches.....

The chiles are a bit harder to get used to cooking with. Hopefully, you've been roasting them, peeling their skins off, chopping them up and adding them to the salsas you've been having to make with all the tomatoes. I love the anaheims in soups and stews, the poblanos in eggs, potatoes, beans, and rice. We make a sort of poblano "enchilada" dish thats wonderful (sorta spicy, but nothing even I can't handle). For this, we make a tomato based sauce first (I just cook down and season lots of tomatoes). Then I peel and clean the poblanos and cut them so they're one sheet (like a mini torilla). I put a topping of italian sausage, chicken or pork (already cooked), or anything else you can think of, on the poblano and roll it up. Put in a baking dish, cover with sauce and cheese, bake for a while, and YUM.

If you're still at a loss for pepper recipes, let me know. I just google for recipes and theres endless options. One of the most wonderful things about summer's bounty of produce is that we're able to preserve it for use this winter, when its cold and dreary. Peppers, especially, liven up any winter day.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Veggie CSA Newsletter, Week #18

Full Share:

Tomatoes - 4# - $12.00
Cucumbers - 1# - $2.00
Peppers - 2# - $7.00
Squash - 1# - $2.00
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes - $3.00

TOTAL - $26.00

Half Share - CARRBORO:
Tomatoes - 3# - $9.00
Peppers - 1# - $3.50
Eggplant - 1# - $2.00
Cucumbers - 1# - $2.00
TOTAL - $16.50

Half Share - RTI:
Tomatoes - 3# - $9.00
Peppers - 1# - $3.50
Cucumbers - 1# - $2.00
Eggplant - 1/2# - $1.00
Basil - 1 bunch - $1.00
TOTAL - $16.50

Whats in your box:

Lots more tomatoes! The end is near, so enjoy them, probably just this week and next. Many more of the Pink Beautys (pink) and Big Beefs (red) so you will mostly see these in your boxes, with maybe a few other varieties. The sungolds are no longer producing enough for everyone to get them, so if you really want a pint, I'll bring extras with me today to the RTI drop-off.

This is the first of the eggplant, and hopefully they start giving us more in the next few weeks. They've been slow to blossom and set fruit, but I am beginning to see many little eggplant fruits starting now. Carrboro picker-uppers didn't receive basil this week (and instead got more eggplant) because it was a drizzly, rainy morning (no complaints!) on Wednesday.

In the peppers, you'll find red bell peppers (Sweet) and Anaheim chiles (mildly hot). Below, I will post a recipe a friend of mine hands out at market during pepper season, for a green chile stew, which includes Anaheims in the ingredients, and is so yummy! The (relatively) cool weather this week made me hungry for soups, stews, and fall crops. I have been eating this stew for breakfast the past few mornings.

Alex Hitt's Green Chile Stew

Traditional dish in New Mexico served at any meal ... even breakfast! It's also delicious made with pinto beans instead of meat.

10-20 New Mexican chiles (Anaheims)
(roasted, peeled, stems & seeds removed, chopped)
2 lb. lean pork or chicken breast cut into cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped (optional)
4 cups beef or chicken broth depending on meat

Bringing it all together:
In a large pot or crockpot, brown the meat in the oil, add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft. Place all the rest of the ingredients in the pot and simmer until the meat is very tender (longer for pork, less time for chicken).

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Veggie CSA Newsletter, Week #17

Full Share:
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes - 1 pint - $3.00
Tomatoes - 3# - $9.00
Peppers 2# - $7.00
Cucumbers - 2# - $5.00
Onions - 1/2# - $1.25
Eggplant - 1# - $2.00
TOTAL: $27.75

Half Share:
Tomatoes - 2.5# - $7.50
Peppers - 1# - $3.50
Cucumbers - 1.5# - $3.00
Jalapenos or Serranos - $1.00
Onions - 1/2# - $1.25
TOTAL: $16.25

Whats in your box:

This is the last of the onions, sad but true. More cucumbers for everyone, and this planting of them has been just amazing!!

As for tomatoes, you're getting quite a few of them this week. I am really surprised at how well the tomatoes produced this past week, the best yet of this season. Just when I had given up hope! It seems as though we will have a fair amount of them for you this week and next, so if you need some sauce or canning recipes, let me know. The best performer, yield-wise, is the Pink Beauty tomato, so most of you will get a lot of them in your box. I love this sweet tomato as a sauce, or crushed and canned.

The peppers are a mixed bag of mild/hot chiles, with some bell (sweet) peppers too. So, in the plastic bag you will find the chiles, both Anaheim (long, light green) and Poblano (heart shaped, dark green). The Anaheims are mild, and the poblanos are a bit spicier. I roast both of these under the broiler until their skins blister. Once they cool, you can peel off the skins, remove the stem and seeds, and either stuff the peppers or chop 'em up and add them to salsas, eggs, mashed potatoes, your burger... We also add them to soups, sauces, and big pots of beans. Pepper season is my absolute favorite. We usually roast and then freeze these peppers to use throughout the winter.

Your sweet bells (no heat) will be seperate, and not in the plastic bag with the others.

For some weird reason, the japanese eggplant haven't started their heavy production yet...usually they're out of control by now. I see lots of fruits starting, but so far, they're sort of just trickling in. Maybe next week??

Whats happening on the farm

We had a good week off, but ready to get things in motion again. (And hoping for cooler temperatures soon!) The first of the fall garden is growing well, which includes arugula, radishes, turnips, lettuce mix, collards, and broccoli raab. We should start to see some of the greens and radishes in the boxes by the last week or two of the CSA season.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Veggie CSA Newsletter, week #16

We will NOT be delivering this week (7/30-31). I am pretty sure I talked to everyone last week about this. We are going to skip this week and add a week on to the end of the year. We did this last year, and it seemed to work out just fine. I am hoping, by going a week later, to have some fall greens for you. This isn't a guarantee, but hopeful thinking! We're getting the fall garden planted this week and next, and some of the greens, radishes, etc. take about a month to mature, so we'll see what happens.

At any rate, I will miss seeing you all this week, but we'll be back next week, 8/6-8/7 (August already?!). Hold on to those boxes, and bring 'em to me next week. In the meantime, we WILL be at market this Saturday (both Durham and Carrboro from 8-Noon) with both chicken and veggies if you're super desperate.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Veggie CSA Newsletter, Week #15

Full Share:
Tomatoes - 2# - $6.00
Zucchini - 2# - $4.00
Onions - 1# - $2.50
Cucumber - 1# - $2.50
Serrano or Jalapeno - 10 - $2.00
Arugula - $2.50
Snap Beans - 1# - $3.00
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes - $3.00
TOTAL - $25.50

Half Share:
Tomatoes - 1# - $3.00
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes OR another pound of tomatoes - $3.00
Arugula or Cabbage - $2.50
Zucchini - 1# - $2.00
Onions - 1# - $2.50
Snap Beans (RTI)- 1/3# - $1.00
Green Peppers (CARRBORO)
Jalapenos or Serranos - 5- $1.00
TOTAL - $15

Note: We will not be delivering NEXT week, 7/30-7/31. We've decided to take a week off now, and add one on to the end of the season. So, even though we're skipping a week, you'll still get 20 weeks of boxes. I will send out a few reminder emails, but after thursdays delivery we'll see you in TWO weeks (8/6-8/7).

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Veggie CSA Newsletter, Week #14

Full Share:
Melon - 1 - $3.00
Cabbage - 2 - $3.00
Tomatoes - 2# - $6.00
Green Peppers - 3 - $3.00
Arugula - $2.50
basil - 1 bunch Italian, 1 bunch Thai - $2.00
Onions - 1# - $2.50
Zucchini - 2# - $4.00
TOTAL - $26.00

Half Share:
Arugula or Cabbage - $2.50
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes - 1 pint - $3.00
Zucchini - 1.5# - $3.00
Tomatoes - 1# - $3.00
Basil - 1 bunch - $1.25
Onions - 1# - $2.50
TOTAL: $15.25

Monday, July 7, 2008

Veggie Newsletter Week #13

Full Share:
Tomatoes - 3# - $9.00
Sugar Baby Watermelon - 1 - $3.00
Onions - 2# - $5.00
Cucumbers - 1# - $2.00
Basil - 1/4# - $2.50
Jalapenos - 4 - $1.00
Green onions - 1 bunch - $2.00
Garlic - 1 head - $1.00
TOTAL: $25.50

Half Share:
Tomatoes - 2# - $6.00
Melon - 1 (or 2 smaller) - $3.00
Serrano Peppers - 5 - $1.00
Onions - 1# - $2.50
Arugula - 1/4# - $2.50
Garlic - 1 head (or 2 small) - $1.00
TOTAL - $16.00

As a reminder, for those of you who chose the payment plan, the second half of your membership ($162.50) is now due. Thanks!

Whats in your box...

More tomatoes. I need to post a list of the varieties we grow because I know a lot of you are getting different fun colors/shapes/sizes/flavors. I'll get on that really soon.

Full shares are getting watermelons - they're supposed to be small, the variety is Sugar Baby, and boy, oh boy they are sweet! As many of you may remember from last year, I have a chronic problem of not quite knowing when a watermelon is ripe. If yours isn't, just let me know and we'll try again. Half shares are getting cantaloupe or tropical melons. These I am much better at picking ripe, mostly because they change color from green to orange or yellow! The cantaloupe have orange flesh and the tropical (Galia) melons have a green flesh. Both should come to you fully ripe and ready to eat.

We're starting to see the first of the peppers. The little hot peppers are always ready first, with the green bells, which will eventually turn to red bells, coming along a few weeks after. Use these peppers in salsas along with your tomatoes and onions and garlic. Yummy. I am still working on the cilantro. All this rain helped the seed to finally germinate, so we'll see how it goes from here.

Arugula - it was a success! Again, all the rain (as of this morning, Monday, we have gotten 3.2 inches for the weekend, a big, big relief) helped them grow and its so refreshing to have some greens in the summer. Arugula is a bit spicier than lettuce, a lot of people will mix 1/2 arugula, 1/2 lettuce for a salad, many others eat it as is. Its wonderfully delicious wilted slightly and put over fish or pasta.

Chicken CSA Final Newsletter for 2008

Thanks to all our Chicken CSA members this year! I can't believe how smooth things went considering the general un-smoothness of trying to raise chickens on a small scale outdoors. We have to worry about predators, which have done some damage to us this year, the price of feed which keeps going up mostly because people want to feed their cars with corn, and we have to rely on small-scale processors who may or may not be in business by the time the birds are at market weight.

Two things you may have noticed for the last pickup, (1) The labels are different. Rest assured these are our chickens. We have started taking them to a processor that just opened this year in Siler City called Chaudhry Halal meats, and it takes a few weeks to get our names on the labels. For the first three pickups we had been taking them to Virginia which took nearly two entire days off the farm - one day to bring the birds in, one day to go and pick them up, with a drive of 2.5 hours one way. Now we drive 15 minutes to get there at an appointed time, unload the chickens, go into the office to let them know what kind of cuts we want, and drive 15 minutes home. This takes at most 2 hours out of our day, and another hour to pick them up on Wednesdays.

The second thing you may have noticed is the birds are smaller. We took them at 7 weeks old instead of 8 because we wanted to give you the option of eating them on the 4th of July. But since all the other birds were much bigger (if you're worried about math) I think it all came out even in terms of what you paid up front. In fact you probably came out ahead in the end. But people who join CSAs and buy from small farms understand that we are less likely to cheat nature by increasing volume, and we're certainly not a supermarket with a giant stock room (we are aiming to put in a walk-in cooler this winter), so you're bound to get a small box of produce in your veggie share or some smaller birds one week, but we always try to at least average it out by giving you extra another week.

We have many customers say, and this is what we think too, that you can never go back to a supermarket chicken after eating a pasture-raised bird. It's like going up a shelf on wine. But of course the chickens, as the wine, are more expensive. It costs a small farmer more to buy baby chicks because we don't own the hatchery, to buy feed since we can't buy in the volume that the big chicken industry can, to raise because we are out moving pens every day and it's more hours of labor per flock since we don't have them housed, there is a greater risk to have them outdoors where despite all our efforts they are susceptible to predators, and the chickens are more expensive to process because we don't own the processing facility.

We don't eat a lot of chicken here. We'll have a chicken or a package of legs or wings every two weeks (for 2 people). But do we really need to eat chicken every day? If we had any need for a slogan, it'd be the opposite of Chik-fil-a's: "Eat less chicken". - but eat quality chicken. The chicken industry can raise 10 times the amount of birds we can in the same amount of space. So pastured chicken takes up much more space, but that space would either be idle pasture or just used for vegetables if we didn't grow chicken on it. So, if people ate 10 times less chicken, but quality chicken, maybe pastured poultry can become the norm.

And as it is now, you can only get a truly pasture-raised chicken from small farms. Even the chicken they sell in Whole Foods is grown in a house. Though they're labeled "free-range" they probably have never seen a blade of grass in their lives. Here is how the USDA defines “free range”:

“Birds are raised in heated and air-cooled growing houses with access to the outdoors” -- http://www.ams.usda.gov/poultry/pdfs/TradDesc2.pdf

“What is access to the outdoors? Access to the outdoors simply means that a producer must provide livestock with an opportunity to exit any barn or other enclosed structure. Access to the outdoors does not require a producer to comply with a specific space or stocking rate requirement. Neither does the requirement mandate that an entire herd or flock have access to the outdoors at any one time” -- http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/NOP/PolicyStatements/LivestockAccess102902.pdf

So you see how dishonest food producers can be, even if they are within the bounds of the law. We base our business on honesty. Since we sell 100% direct to the people eating the food, we have no stake in being dishonest, and if we find we're making a mistake, we'll change it. For example, when we first started raising chickens for eggs, we put "Antibiotic and Hormone Free" on the labels to stick on the egg cartons. Then we found out hormones have been illegal to use on chickens in the US for decades - we can't use them, Tyson Chicken can't use them, and there's absolutely no need for hormones in chickens. So it was like selling "fat free beer".

My whole point is, quality can rarely be mass produced, especially with food and drink. Budweiser will never even try to produce a beer that's as tasty as some of the microbrews. The mass-production through few huge companies economic model does not enable quality, of life nor food.

I'm not pointing this out to get more people to buy chicken from us and not Whole Foods. We'll grow as many chickens as possible without over fertilizing our farm next year and I doubt we'll even meet the demand. I just want CSA members to understand that you cannot have an honest, quality food production system with a mass-production-by-few-corporations economic model. Joining a CSA is not only getting you access to good food, but participating in an alternative economic model that enables food production on a small scale, enables independent business, enables quality and enables the people who do the actual work to make an honest living that we can take pride in.

So with that to think about, I just want to say thanks to everybody for supporting us! Hope to see you next spring!


Friday, June 27, 2008

Veggie CSA Newsletter, Week #12

Full Share:
Melon - 1 medium or 2 small - $3.50
Tomatoes - 4# - $12.00
Basil - 1/8# - $1.00
Eggplant - 1# - $3.00
Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes - 1 pint - $3.00
Onions - 1# - $2.50
TOTAL - $25.00

Half Share:

Potatoes - 1# - $2.00
Tomatoes - 3# - $9.00
Basil - 1/8# - $1.00
Cucumbers - 1/2# - $1.25
Onions - 1# - $2.50

Potatoes - 1# - $2.00
Tomatoes - 3# - $9.00
Basil - 1/8# - $1.00
Leeks - 1/2# - $1.25
Onions - 1# - $2.50

As a reminder, those of you who chose the payment plan, the second half of the veggie share is now due ($162.50). Thanks!

Whats in your box...

As we head into summer, we're filling your boxes with tomatoes. This time of year, theres really just not a lot of variety out there, and we're still waiting for the eggplants and peppers to start producing fruits. Melons looks great, and I'm hoping not too much longer. Yum! Remember, the onions will store just fine for a few months, so don't worry about getting through them every week.

Unfortunately, the dry days are really taking its toll on the crops. I am pumping many hundreds of gallons of water every day (thousands?) as we are running the irrigation just about 24 hours a day. I stop for a few hours during the heat of the afternoon because its no use trying to irrigate when the water just evaporates as soon as it drips out of the hose. As I have mentioned in previous newsletters, I have been unable to prepare beds to plant more, and we have been in a holding pattern for about 6 weeks. We got 1.5" of rain FINALLY, on Sunday night. Much much better, but we definitely need more. That means no new seedings of beans or corn, and to add insult to injury, the deer have decided the beans are theirs for the snacking. Theres one more planting that may produce enough for y'all, but I apologize for not having more for you.

If things stay as they are, we may decide to extend the CSA deliveries a week or more. That way, we can make up for light boxes some weeks, and everyone will feel they get what they paid for (hopefully). I start seeding the fall garden in mid-August and usually have some greens and radishes by mid-September, sometimes a little sooner.

We are always at the whim of Mother Nature, and we just have to go along with the flow of the seasons, and work with what we get. I was fearful that we would face another dry year, because I knew it would be much worse this year because water levels never recovered (yes, Falls and Jordan Lakes filled back up, but theres much more to it than just that - ground water levels never recovered, so thats something we worry about every day as our irrigation source is a 600' deep well.)

On a positive note, we're having a great time growing food for you all. Through all the trials we are faced with every year, we still look at each other and know theres nothing else we'd rather be doing. The community we have created by growing and eating local food is awesome, and we all need to embrace it. By joining CSA and shopping your local farmers markets, you, our co-producers, are helping to strengthen our community. Your support, no matter big or small, means everything to us, and we thank you.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Veggie CSA Newsletter, Week #11

Full Share:
Tomatoes - 1# - $3.00
Onions - 3# - 7.50
Potatoes - 2# - $4.00
Leeks - 1# - $2.50
Squash - 2# - $4.00
Garlic - 1 - $1.00

Half Share:
Tomatoes - 1# or one pint sungolds - $3.00
Onions - 2# - $5.00
Potatoes - 2# - $4.00
Cucumbers - 1# - $2.50
Garlic - $1.00

Whats Happening on the Farm:
We had three chances to get lots of rain from this weekends storms. We ended up with 0.15" total. Needless to say, it didn't really help much, and didn't even wet down the dust on the driveway. I guess its starting to get scary - I'd say things are drier than last year at this time, and I'm assuming its because the ground water levels never really recovered, even though it seemed like a moderately wet spring. Our soil is so sandy (think sandbox sand on a large scale) that I can't even put the tiller through it with out covering myself and the tractor with a layer of dust. The next chance for rain is next weekend, so lets all do the dance. Not only are we trying to get spring crops turned under and plant summer cover crops (our only hope for improving the organic matter in this sandy soil) but we are also trying to get the second planting of tomatoes and melons, and the third planting of beans and zinnias seeded. Oh well, we'll see what happens, I know its all in the job description.

Whats in your box...

Yay tomatoes. This is the very very first few, so there weren't enough of one type to fill all the boxes. Some of you will get the delicious Sungold Cherry tomatoes (ripe when orange) and others are getting a smattering of all different varieties of slicing tomatoes, the most prevalent being the New Girl variety. Small, red and with a pointed tip, this is a new variety for us this year, grown because of its earliness. Let me know what you think.

You're getting more of the storage veggies this week as we are waiting patiently for tomatoes, melons, peppers and eggplant. Remember, the onions, garlic and potatoes will keep for many weeks, don't worry about using them all up every week. The onions should store well for a month or two in a cool dry place, but since they're sweet onions, they don't have the same storage life as other onions. Their sugar content prevents them for storing for more than probably a couple months. Keeping them cool will help prolong their life. Same with the garlic and potatoes.

Those of you at RTI who passed on your basil last week due to my shortage, (sorry about that) will get some this week. Thank you for being flexible. I'm also amazed at how many of you have basil plants growing at home!! I wrote everyone's names down who didn't get any, but if I forget, just mention it when you get your box.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Veggie CSA Week #10

Full Share:
Onions - 3# - $7.50
Potatoes - 1# - $2.00
Leeks - 2# - $6.00
Garlic - 1 - $1.00
Beans - 1# - $3.00
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes - 1 pint - $3.00
Basil - 1/4#- $2.50
TOTAL - $25.00

Half Share:
Garlic - 1 - $1.00
Beans - 1/2# - $1.50
Potatoes - 1# - $2.00
Basil - 1/8# - $1.25
Onions - 2# - $5.00
Leeks - 1# - $3.00
Squash - 1# - $2.00
TOTAL - $15.75

Whats Happening on the Farm...

I feel like we've finally caught up! (Sort of...) Its been a pretty hectic few months. It happens every year, and its always in May. Through the whole month, we're spending all of our time harvesting the spring crops, AND trying to get all the summer crops planted at the same time! Plus we spend a lot of time trellising, laying out irrigation, keeping things mowed, etc. But as always, by mid-June I start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Everything is looking really great, and so far, it looks like the best tomato, pepper and onion crops we've ever grown. We are almost through all the spring crop harvesting, and we've got most of the summer crops planted, except for a few more seedings of beans and melons and the second planting of tomatoes. At any rate, I'm back! and I'll try to do a much better job on this newsletter, and put up more recipes and stuff like I said I would at the beginning of the year.

So this week marks the 1/2 way point of the CSA season. Amazing. We are starting to see the tomatoes ripening, the first are always the Sungold Cherry Tomatoes. Hopefully we'll have them in everyones boxes really soon.

While things are looking great for most of the summer crops, others aren't so lucky. Potatoes, for one, will not produce the bountiful harvest I had hoped for. Early in the spring, right after we planted the seed, we got a lot of rain all at once and a lot of the seed rotted in the ground because the field stayed too wet. The field they were planted in is a new one for me, and I didn't realize how much it can fill with water (its sorta bowl shaped). So, we'll definitely have some potatoes for a few more weeks, but I'd say we'll end up with 1/3 the expected harvest. The cabbage harvest is my other disappointment. For one, I am still figuring out how to grow good brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower) and they've always been hard for me. If we got some substantial rain, the cabbage might size up, but I don't know. We'll see.

Recipe of the week

Potato and Leek Latkes:
1 1/2 lb. potatoes
1 cup chopped leeks
2 t mustard seeds
1 t salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 T all purpose flour
2-3 t peanut oil
Coarsely grate potatoes, squeeze out as much liquid as possible, and place in large bowl. Stir in scallions, mustard seed and salt. Stir in eggs and flour until evenly distributed. Heat a little of the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Drop 3 separate tablespoons of potato mixture and flatten each with spatula to form small pancakes about 4 inches across. Fry each side about 2-3 minutes until golden. Drain on paper towels; keep warm.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Veggie Newsletter Week #9

Full Share:
Lettuce - 2 heads - $5.00
Leeks - 2# - $6.00
Squash - 2# - $4.00
Cucumbers 1# - $2.50
Potatoes - 1# - $2.00
Garlic - 2 heads - $2.00
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes - 1 pint - $3.00
TOTAL - $24.50

Half Share
Lettuce - 1 head - $2.50
Leeks - 1#- $3.00
Cucumbers - 1/2# - $1.25
Basil - 1/8# - $1.00
Garlic - 1 head - $1.00
Potatoes - 1# - $2.00
TOTAL - $10.75

This will be the last week of the lettuce. I promise. The heat last week signaled the end to the spring crops, including radishes, broccoli, sugar snap peas, lettuce and beets. Beans are a week or two away, along with more basil, garlic, onions, potatoes and the first of the sungold cherry tomatoes.

I realize that the half share boxes only add up to $10.75 this week, which is much under the $15 average. We're in a bit of a lull these past few weeks, one reason being the transition from spring to summer crops, the other being the intense heat we've been having. I feel as though I should not overwhelm you with many, many pounds of squash and cucumbers. We are close to tomato, bean, melon, pepper and eggplant season, so the boxes will be more full in future weeks, therefore the weekly amount will be more than $15.

Have a good week!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Veggie Week #8

Sorry I'm so late posting this... we just got back from 2 wonderful days at the beach. It was the perfect vacation, but now we're back just in time for 99 degree heat. This will mean the end of a lot of the spring veggies, and probably the last week for the Sugar Snap Peas. But no worries - I see the beginning signs of tomatoes ripening, beans growing and melons!

Carrboro - Half Share
Lettuce - 1 head - $2.50
Cucumbers - 1/2 pound - $1.25
Onion - 1 - $1.00
Sugar snap peas - 1/2# - 2.25
Squash - 1# - $2.00
Cabbage - 1 - $2.00

RTI- Half Share
Lettuce - 1 head - $2.50
Cucumbers - 1/2# - $1.25
Sugar snap peas - 1/2# - $2.25
Onions - 1 - $1.00
Squash - 1# - $2.00
Broccoli - 2/3# - $2.00

Full Share
lettuce - 2 heads - $5.00
sugar snap peas - 1# - 4.50
squash - 2# - $4.00
Cucumbers -1# - $2.50
Onions - 2 - $2.00
Basil - 1/2# - $5.00

Friday, May 30, 2008

new kittens!

we picked up three cute little kitties last night. they were born on Cane Creek Farm 6 weeks ago.

we now have 7 cats. yes we are crazy cat people.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Veggie Newsletter week #7

Full Share
Lettuce - 2 heads - $5.00
Swiss Chard - 1 bunch - $2.50
Sugar Snap Peas - 1# - $4.50
Carrots - 1 bunch - $2.50
Kale - 1 bunch - $2.00
Garlic - 1 - $1.00
Onions - 2 - $2.00
Squash - 2# - $5.00

Half Share
Lettuce - 1 head - $2.50
Kale - 1 bunch - $2.00
Sugar Snap Peas - 1/2# - $2.25
Squash - 1# - $2.50
garlic - 1 - $1.00
Carrots - 1 bunch - $2.50
Onions - 2 - $2.00

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Veggie Newsletter, Week #6

Veggie Newsletter, Week 6

Full Share
Lettuce - 2 heads - $5.00
Strawberries - 1 quart - $$6.00
Sugar Snap Peas - 1 pound - $4.50
Onions - 1 bunch - $2.00
Radishes - 2 bunches - $4.00
Garlic - 1 head - $1.00

Half Share
Lettuce - 1 head - $2.50
Strawberries - 1 pint - $3.00
Sugar Snap Peas - 1/2 pound - $2.25
Radishes - 1 bunch - $2.00
Baby Beets w/Greens - 1 bunch - $2.50
Onions - 1 bunch - $2.00

More lettuce... I know... but, well, its been a really good spring for growing lettuce. We're now moving into the Summer Crisp lettuce, which are varieties that grow better in the heat. Very crisp, like Romaine or Iceberg lettuce, sweet and juicy without bitterness. My goal is to have lettuce for you when we get our cucumbers and the first tomatoes for the ultimate local salad (along with the onions and radishes)... we'll see...

We are getting close to the summer fruits, and you will all be getting summer squash next week. Sugar snap peas are completely edible - pod and all. Just remove the strings and chomp away! They are great raw, but blanched they're even better. Heres a really yummy recipe that we make quite a bit. I even introduced it to my Mom last fall, and she keeps talking about it!!

Roasted Beets & Sugar Snap Pea Salad 5-6 small beets, trimmed 1 pint sugar snap peas, trimmed 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 1 tablespoon dillweed.
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar ½ head (or so) Lettuce

Use the beet greens like you would cook chard or spinach. We usually make a stir-fry with some Italian sausage, garlic, olive oil, a bit of corn starch for thickening, and any other greens you may have lying around. (rinse the beet greens, chop em up and just toss them in the pan with a little water... put the lid on and steam just a bit)

If anyone is interested in purchasing our pasture-raised chicken (great for your Memorial Day cookout), please let us know.

video of yesterday's thunderstorm

*update 5/24/08... many farms were hit by hail in this storm and lost much of their crops. We luckily escaped the hail and didn't suffer any damage as a result. As a small farm an event like a hailstorm is devastating. Our friend and Chatham Co. Agricultural Extention Agent Debbie Roos documented some of the damage our fellow farmers suffered.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Veggie Newsletter, Week #5

Full Share:

Lettuce - 2 heads - $5.00
Strawberries - 1 quart - $6.00
Bok Choy - 1 bunch - $2.50
Carrots - 1 bunch - $2.75
Beets - 1 bunch - $2.50
Radishes - 1 bunch - $2.00
Garlic - $2.00

Half Share
Lettuce - 1 head - $2.50
Strawberries - 1 pint - $.300
Bok Choy - 1 bunch - $2.50
Carrots - 1 bunch - $2.75
Radishes - 1 bunch - $2.00
Garlic - $1.00

This will be the last week for Bok Choy, as I am finally cutting from the last planting. Next along will be regular red and green cabbages, but not for a few more weeks.

Lots of radishes, and plenty of lettuce... some more strawberries and the first of the carrots! They're still a little small but super sweet. Yum!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Veggie Week #4

Full Share:

Strawberries - 2 Quarts - $10.00
Kale - 1 bunch - $2.00
Lettuce - 2 Heads - $5.00
Onions - 1 bunch - $2.00
Beet Greens 2 bunches - $6.00

Half Share:

Strawberries - 2 pints - $6.00
Lettuce - 1 head - $2.50
Kale - 1 bunch - $2.00
Broccoli - 1/3 pound - $1.00
Spinach or Beet greens - $2.50
Onions - 1 bunch - $2.00

Whats in your box-

Strawberries are here! Yum, eat up. Full shares got broccoli last week, the rest of you will get a little bit this week. As I mentioned in last weeks newsletter, this first planting didn't amount to much so I had to split the 16 pounds I harvested 39 ways! Theres more on the way, and the second planting looks much better than the first.

More lettuce, and plenty more to come. You will either receive red or green leaf, green boston, or romaine.

The story with the spinach is, most of you (if not all) will get 1/2 pound of spinach. I may have to fill a few boxes with beet greens, so look for one or the other.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Week #3

Full share:

Strawberries - 2 pint - $6.00
Lettuce - 2 heads - $5.00
Garlic - 2 - $2.00
Kale - 1 bunch - $2.50
Turnips - 1 bunch - $2.00
Onions - 1 bunch - $2.00
Broccoli - 2pounds - $5.50

Half Share:

Strawberries - 1 pint - $3.00
Lettuce - 1 head - $2.50
Turnips - 1 bunch - $2.00
Kale - 1 bunch - $2.50
Bok Choy- 1 bunch - $2.50
Garlic - 1 - $1.00
Cilantro - 1 bunch - $1.50

Whats in your box?

Strawberries, finally. Lots of rain this week (3" in 24 hours!!) so the flavor may not be as intense. Still tasty though.

Full shares are getting a little broccoli. The first planting was troubled by fluctuating temperatures and ended up making heads too soon, therefore the heads ended up really small. I have another planting of broccoli (along with cauliflower and cabbages) that should be ready in a few weeks, so we should have better luck and a larger harvest.

"Why are my strawberries dirty??"

This is partly my fault, because I didn't mulch them well enough last fall. Also, all the hard rains splashed our sandy soil onto the berries. Since strawberries are so fragile, I can't wash them off before packing them, they must be completely dry to survive transport in the pint containers. Just give 'em a rinse before eating...

What to look forward to...

More strawberries and lettuce, hopefully some spinach too. Beets are most likely 2 weeks away, and carrots just after.


This was my lunch today:

I threw 2 heads of smallish baby bok choy (one larger would be enough), 3 turnips, and a couple handfuls of leftover spicy mix (kale or the turnip greens would work great here instead) into the steamer, brought the water to a boil, and steamed for about 4-5 minutes (keep checking though - you don't want to over-steam!) everything came out still a little crunchy, which is perfect, and I topped the greens with some soy sauce and vinegar (any kind works). Its simple and quick - you could easily embellish with more seasoning or even some sort of a sauce, but its not necessary.

Heres another idea for the Bok Choy:

Black Bean Bok Choy Salad


2 small or 1 large bok choy heads chopped

2 15oz cans black beans, drained

1 bunch spring onions chopped

I green garlic chopped

3 tbsp cider vinegar

½ cup olive oil

2 tbsp dijon mustard

salt & pepper to taste

You can add or subtract the mustard & vinegar rations to your own personal taste.

Use the whole bok choy except the very base, and chop crosswise from the stems to the leaves. Chop the green garlic like you would an onion or a leek. Chop the onions. Mix all together. Drain the beans, mix them in, then mix in the vinegar, oil, mustard, and add salt & pepper if you want. It tastes good right away but it’s better if you refrigerate it for an hour, or even better overnight.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Veggie CSA Newsletter, Week #2

Full Share:
Strawberries 1 Quart $6.00
Bok Choy 1 Bunch $2.50
Lettuce Mix 1/2 Pound $4.00
Garlic 2 $2.00
Spicy mix $2.00
Turnips 1 bunch $2.00
Radish 1 bunch $2.00
Cilantro 1 bunch $1.50

Half Share:

Bok Choy 1 bunch $2.50
Lettuce mix 1/4# $2.00
Garlic 1 $1.00
Turnips 1 bunch $2.00
Spicy greens 1/4# $2.00
Cilantro 1 bunch $1.50
Onions 1 bunch $1.75

We did get the first few ripe strawberries this week. Since I picked about 3 quarts, and we have 3 Full CSA shares, the full shares are getting them this week, but plenty more on the way. The first are not quite as sweet as they will be in a week or two. Tasty, though.

Things have been busy this week, squeezing in plantings in between thunderstorms. Squash, cucumbers and beans all were planted or seeded this week, and the tomatoes are getting ready to be planted on Tuesday. Whew!! We also got the peppers and eggplant one step closer to field planting - because of their erratic germination, we seed them in very small celled flats (more seeds in less space). So a few weeks before we plant them in the field, we move them up to larger cells. That way, nice, big, strong plants are ready to transplant. They'll be planted around the first of may, along with the basil, more squash, and melons.

This time of year is always the most hectic for me - the first of the week I concentrate on getting all the planting, seeding, trellising, mowing, weeding, watering done that I can, then the second half of the week is full of harvesting, the CSA deliveries and market. Then Saturday afternoon arrives, and basically, we just crash on the couch, take naps and watch movies. Sunday morning, we start all over. It will take a few weeks for me to get into the groove of this newsletter, but I promise more recipes, pictures, and news from the farm! I'm slowly getting "back into shape" so to speak.

Whats in your box...

So yes, more strawberries, for sure... they've only just begun.

Turnips - these are the Hakeuri variety of Japanese Salad turnips. Basically, just eat them like you do radishes in your salads - they are sweet and very tender. You can also roast them if you prefer. The greens are very tasty lightly steamed, along with the Spicy greens mix you're getting this week. This is a mix of mustards, mizuna, and arugula, and maybe a little kale (might as well add in the turnip greens). I have been eating them for breakfast and lunch!! Just put in the steamer for a matter of minutes (3?) and they're so good topped with a little vinegar, butter, and/or soy sauce. Simple.

For future weeks, we'll probably switch over to heads of lettuce instead of the mix. Of course more greens of all sorts are in your immediate future, but don't worry - theres plenty more to come. One dilemma I have with starting the CSA so early is that the squash and other fruits are about a month from first harvest. I started it 2 weeks early this year so we'd be ready for strawberries, but since they're a bit later than I thought, we'll adjust for the future. Anyway, enjoy!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Veggie CSA Newsletter #1

First Veggie CSA Pick-up this Thursday!

Full Shares
  • Lettuce Mix (1/2#) $4.00
  • Green Garlic (2) $2.00
  • Bok Choy (1 bunch) $2.50
  • Beet Greens (2 bags) $6.00
  • Cilantro (1bunch) $1.50
  • Onions (1 bunch) $1.75
Total $17.75

Half Shares

  • Lettuce Mix (1/4#) $2.00
  • Green Garlic (1) $1.00
  • Bok Choy (1 bunch) $2.50
  • Beet Greens (1 bag) $3.00
  • Cilantro (1 bunch) $1.50
  • Onions (1 bunch) $1.75
Total $11.75

Each week, I will list what both the half shares and full shares are getting in their boxes, along with their farmers market value. On average, the half shares will get $15 per week in produce, the full shares $25. However, in these first few weeks, that total will most likely be under that. We'll quickly make up for this by having above-average weeks with strawberries and all of summer's bounty.

As you'll see, its spring and Greens Season!!! Yum, yum. Enjoy them while they're here. Lots of lettuces, kale, turnips, beets, spinach, carrots and more are all growing well, and these rains followed by some warm days have really given them a nudge.

Strawberries are probably still a few weeks from being ready. We've snacked on a few early ripeners (3 total) and boy they're tasty. Since this is the first year I've ever grown strawberries (and I never worked on a farm who grew them) I have to learn when they're perfectly ripe for picking. The few we've tried were fabulous, but we could tell, a little longer on the plant would've resulted in a sweeter berry. I may have a few for next week, but theres lots of berries waiting for some consistent warmth to ripen. Soon, soon!!

Whats in your box?
As I mentioned earlier, lots of greens these first few weeks. 'Tis the season.

Green garlic is plain ol' garlic harvested immature. If left to grow, it would develop the head of cloves and we'd let them dry for storage. Green garlic hasn't formed cloves yet, and is, in my opinion, the best garlic. Mild but flavorful, this garlic isn't hot or sharp the way cloves can be. Just use the whole thing (white stalk and green leaves) in place of a clove or two. Chop it up like you would a leek, and add it to stir-frys, soups, raw on salads, etc. We have made a vinagrette with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and finely chopped green garlic to add to all the salads we've been eating.

Beets... I know everyone has a love/hate relationship with them - they either love them or hate them. I never had much interest in them until I started growing them myself. Now they're a staple in our spring diet. We always harvest them young, with the tender greens attached. If they are left in the field to mature, we never let them get to the size that requires peeling. The beet greens in your boxes this week are young, tender, and you'll see the tiny beet attached. Just eat the whole thing. Steam them and add butter and vinegar. Or use them anywhere you'd use chard or spinach, and prepare them just the same. Last night, we made braised beet greens where I added a little vinegar, veggie broth, garlic (green of course!) and olive oil. You could add some Italian sausage or prepare some broiled salmon and top with the beet greens.

We look forward to meeting you all this week! If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact us.

See you Wednesday (Carrboro) or Thursday (RTI)!!!!!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Hatching chicks in an incubaTOR

we just found this one on youtube. Not sure about the source. This was back in the olden days when farmers were referred to in the formal by old timey announcer guys..

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

2008 Spring Chicken CSA Newsletter #1

We hope the chickens found you well. It was great meeting everyone and seeing people again from last year.

This flock went through some cold weather but had plenty of fresh green clover to munch on. We grazed them over some of our vegetable fields where clover was planted as a cover crop, and the manure will help to fertilize the summer crops. Chicken manure is very high in nitrogen. We follow organic standards and do not harvest produce from a field where raw manure has been applied for 90 days for produce not in contact with the ground (such as tomatoes) and 120 days for produce touching the ground (such as lettuce).

We have assurances from the processor they will let us know which ones have giblets and which ones don't for next time. Other than that they always do a great job of making the bird look nice and always give us a good product.

Joann and I usually eat one bird per flock just to see how it tastes and whether it's any different from one batch to another. We were happy with this one. We hadn't had much chicken at all since our last flock of Cornish Rocks last fall (other than a couple stewers that made some excellent soup). But this one we found to be nice and juicy like they usually are.

We grilled a whole bird this time. We have a fairly large charcoal grill we acquired from craigslist, so usually we'll make a fire inside the grill out of hardwoods, let the embers die down, put the chicken on and cover it. This is how we cook most of our meat. It's great if you like that smoked flavor.

This time the rain killed the possibility of my finding any dry wood (I need to make a stack and cover it one of these days), so we bought a medium sized bag of charcoal (the plain stuff, not matchlight). I pile the coals on one side and put the chicken on the other side and cover for indirect grilling. It takes us about 75-90 minutes for a 4 lb bird depending on how hot the grill is.

I clean the bird out (the one we kept for us had giblets, which went to the dogs) (be sure to always clean out whole birds with water, just like you would with a thanksgiving turkey). Patted dry with paper towels, rubbed it with olive oil, then with a spice rub I made inside and out. I never keep measurements for my rubs, just add the stuff to taste, but this time I used garlic powder, basil, thyme, savory, cayenne pepper, salt, fresh ground black pepper. Although, the good thing about this chicken is that it doesn't need much spice if you prefer. Salt and pepper is fine and it tastes good on its own.

Next pickup date

Your next batch will be processed the week of April 28, so here are the pickup dates. Please come to the location you signed up for or let us know in advance if you want to switch this time:
  • Wednesday April 30, Carrboro Market, 3:30pm-6:30pm
  • Thursday May 1, RTI Dreyfus Lot, 4pm-6pm
  • Saturday May 3, Carrboro Market, 7am-12noon

Monday, March 31, 2008

Clancy "guards" the chicks, circa 2007

I'm cleaning out my computer at work before I retire from my job at UNC on Friday, and found this one from last year. The brooders are updated now with peaked roofs, but that doesn't stop our cats from snooping around every time peeping is heard. When we get a box of hungry peeping chicks in the mail we always look up and suddenly appears Clancy or Niro offering their chick "security" services.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The ever present deer issue

Every farmer and gardener has different methods of dealing with the deer problem but most farmers we know use electric fencing baited with peanut butter. The idea is that the deer will go for the peanut butter, get zapped, and become "trained" not to go near the fence.

We just put the electric charger and fence in this year. In previous years our free-roaming dog Mama would chase the deer enough to keep the crop losses to a minimum. Now at 10 she's still a healthy dog and does her job of herding the cars out of the driveway (video of that someday), but we think she's getting a bit too used to the deer. She does manage to bag an average of 3 possums a year. She got one earlier this year up in the field.

..."Mama! Look! Deer! Look! Down there! Go get 'em!"

We do have this little 1 year old terror though:

Maggie. Cute right? Well, she's insane. And she can't tell deer from chickens. She has plenty of room but for the health of the livestock and area wildlife in general, including bipedal package carriers, we keep her on a 100 ft. run with a long line when we can't keep an eye on her. She still manages to find a carcass here and there (see at 9 oclock). At night when she hears anything she'll let out a mean bark & growl like she's a 100 lb. wolf. That helps keep away deer and other predators, we like to think.

So that's our combination electric fence and canine method of deer prevention. Other farmers we know use the combination electric fence and lead method, which we have yet to employ.

Still though, the deer manage to sneak past our front. We had some strawberries taken - though not many.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

3-day-olds in the brooder

This photo was taken a minute after feeding at 6:30am this morning. Little dudes are crowding around/on top of the feeder. Once a few get full the feeders will be less crowded but constantly attended to by the hungry Cornish Rocks. A few look up at me suspiciously. They are still afraid of me but soon they'll learn that I'm the guy with the feed. Each time we get new chicks (every 2 weeks) a clean layer of pine shavings is applied to the bedding that is kept aerated to ensure a good carbon ratio. Otherwise ammonia will build up and the chicks health will be affected. Once they get out on the pasture and are moved daily we have no need for bedding.

A 250 watt heat lamp keeps them warm on these cold March nights with another late winter this year. We have two going for each brooder at night to ensure they're comfortable. On a warm day like today we'll turn one or both off in the daytime and they can get some sunlight coming through the sides of the peaked brooders.

After two weeks they are ready for the field provided it's warm enough at night. We've had to rig up some more lights in one of our movable pens as a transition from brooder to field because of how cold it's been at night.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

strawberries and garlic

Passive Solar Greenhouse for transplants

We built our passive solar greenhouse this past winter and as you can see we're still putting finishing touches on it. A passive solar greenhouse differs from a standard greenhouse in that you do not have to heat it with an outside source (such as a kerosene heater) during the cold months. It is heated entirely by the sun and water.

A wall facing due south and angled at 55 degrees is covered with a double layer of greenhouse plastic, held on with wiggle wire. A mounted fan between the layers inflates the plastic and keeps it rigid in high winds. The sun's path in the winter is in the Southern sky, so a South-facing wall will get most of the sun's rays during cold months, while taking in less sun during the summer when the sun is directly overhead. At a 55 degree angle at our latitude, the South-facing wall should be perpendicular with the sun's rays on the vernal equinox, March 21.

The North, East and West walls are insulated and covered with plywood. The interior will be painted all white to reflect the sunlight onto the plants. Nine 55 gallon drums filled with water are under the back transplant bench. In the day the water absorbs the heat from the sun and at night uses that stored heat to keep the greenhouse warm. Vents above both doors that we can open and close and a soffet vent along the peak help keep the heat down in the daytime.

With rising energy costs (economic/social/environmental), many are looking toward "alternative" energy sources, which in some cases may be just as if not more harmful . Others are thinking of ways to use less energy or harness solar and wind energy that is already present. Germany is building the " passivhaus " which are houses designed to require no heating or cooling systems.

We live in a small apartment above a garage, that we designed with south-facing windows. We needed something quick and cheap and with storage/workshop capacity, so we couldn't go entirely passive solar, but simply having it south-oriented means that at certain times of year (including now) we need no supplemental heat (maybe an extra blanket at night). When we have to heat it's currently with electric baseboard heating but we are going to get a wood-burning stove, hopefully by next winter, so we can be off the grid in that respect and use fuel from our woods. We get so much wind on our farm that I'm sure a windmill could at least power the refrigerator, and we'd love to be able to sell back energy from solar panels, but the infrastructure for solar and wind is so cost-prohibitive that it's impossible for people at our income level to do. In the science magazines I read there are frequent articles about less expensive solar collectors being developed so hopefully the technology can catch up to the economic realities.

In the meantime I'm wondering about the possibility of a passive solar brooder for our chicks, as we see the electric bill shoot up when we get 4-6 heat lamps going at once.

Monday, March 10, 2008

3 1/2 week old cornish rock chicks

getting some sun on a cool march day

Friday, March 7, 2008

Pictures soon!

We're getting a new digital camera in the mail on Monday so soon we'll have pictures of chickens, the passive solar greenhouse and veggies growing in the field. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Durham Farmers' Market

We have been accepted into Durham Farmers' Market for this season! We are so psyched. Brian will be selling up there on Saturdays 8am-noon (and probably Wednesdays too, starting in May) and Joann will stay selling at Carrboro.

We have a busy year ahead of us. We're growing triple what we did last year for most of our product - and with some product more than that.

Local food is a whole new way (and old fashioned way) of experiencing food, not just something you choose at the supermarket, not just a fad diet. Once you get into it, there's no turning back. At least that's the way it was for us.

We hope people will give local food time to grow and develop. It's very hard for farmers on a small scale to expand and meet the current demand. And in many cases the customers are foregoing many of the conveniences of the industrial food system. But in place of convenience, you get quality, and we hope quality keeps folks coming back season after season.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Welcome to the farm blog!

Hello CSA co-producers, market customers and anyone interested in small/sustainable/pesticide-and-chem fertilizer-free( would cost us $1200 a year to say "organic" so we need several adjectives) veggie farming and pasture-raised chicken!

Most of the basic info & news about the farm can be found on our website, castlemainefarm.com Here you will find CSA newsletters, pictures, video (as soon as we get a workable digital camera) and any thoughts we have about what's going on with the farm and small farming in general.

Hope you enjoy it. Feel free to comment.