Our New Building Project

Heavy equipment in place.

Last week we broke ground on a shared pack house and storage facility that will support year round washing and product storage for ICF as well as a production increase at the Intervale Conservation Nursery. 

The wash-packhouse project is a joint effort between the Intervale Center and ICF and will benefit other Intervale farms as well with washing and storage areas. 

The hole has been excavated, and insulation was placed in preparation for cement pouring this week. Construction will be completed so we can use the new building for the winter 2018 season!

Want to do more than watch the progress through photos? You can help to raise the barn through our 2018 Co-op Member Loan Program. Through the commitment and generosity of our co-op members we erected 4 hoop houses in 2013 to support our summer production as well as for growing greens in the winter. Baby lettuce and spinach in the cold, winter months is a result of our members' investment in their local food source.

To find out more about the 2018 loan program, check out the details here or contact Andy Jones directly (by email or call 658-2919 ext 4).

Supplemental Products Available for Summer Shares

As many of you know, we offer supplemental products at our weekly pick-ups: Gerard's bread, Jericho Settlers' Farm eggs, and Doe's Leap goat cheese.

While we have a few of each item available for on-site purchase, to ensure you get to enjoy these products we recommend pre-ordering shares of each. We will, of course, sign you up at a pick-up at any time. 

You can sign up for your add-ons here. Prepayment is requested for these products.

You can download a paper form here or find one at winter pick-up.

 

Grafting Tomatoes

Our tomato rootstocks and scions were ready to graft right on schedule, so on a cloudy morning last week, we completed the grafting process, topping all the plants and mating the scion tops with the rootstock bases. We then moved them into the healing chamber where they will stay for the next 7-10 days.  For the first 48 hours they were in complete darkness and with high humidity.  After that crucial period, we slowly start to increase light and reduce the humidity to eventually acclimate the healed plants to normal greenhouse conditions.  This year, we built a shaded area over the healing chamber to help moderate the temperature spike that can result from direct sunlight.  In the beginning of May, we will transplant these grafted plants to our high tunnels where they will bear fruit until October!  

Grafting tomatoes

The grafting chamber....hot, humid, dark.

News from the Greenhouse: April

April 7 greenhouse

The propagation greenhouse has been open since the beginning of March so all of the onions have all germinated and are growing nicely.  Today, we trimmed the tops and by next week we will move them to one of the hoop houses which serves as our early spring cold frame.  By the end of April, they will be in the ground!  

 

We are also busy seeding our early successions of lettuce, herbs, broccoli, cabbage, baby lettuce and kale. The hoop house peppers and tomatoes have all been seeded and potted up.  They will stay in the greenhouse until May when the weather is warm enough to plant them in the hoop houses.  We have been potting up lots of flower varieties for the PYO cut flower garden and plant sale.  Look for some old favorites including Snap Dragons and Rudbeckia plus some new varieties this summer!

Summer Shares are Going Fast!

If you plan to sign up for a summer share, don't delay any longer!

As of April 9 we are 87% full and we are often completely filled by May 1.

You can sign up online here

A $50 deposit secures your spot and then you balance should be paid in thirds: 1/3 in each month May, June, July. 

We are likely to start the 21 week season in early June. Watch your email, our Facebook page, and our web site for the announcement.

Do you want to add bread, eggs, and cheese orders to your summer share? The order form will be active very soon!

Preparing Fields for Planting

Spring is coming – really!

Early spring soil preparation at ICF

It may be discouraging to look outside at the blustery snow, but down on the farm, spring is advancing.  ICF is your living proof – inside the greenhouse and out! Last week we were out on our tractors in the fields, getting an early start on our spring tillage, and we expect to begin seeding and transplanting outside by early next week.  The first field work of the outdoor season is an exciting time for any farmer, and it usually begins with tillage.

Tillage is the general term used by many farmers for the mechanical activity of preparing the soil.  This is a broad term that includes all manner of activities including plowing, harrowing, discing, rototilling, spading, cultivating, and many more.  It is often subdivided into primary-, secondary-, and finish-tillage, depending on where the particular action fits into the soil preparation sequence.  Most crops require multiple tillage operations prior to planting.  This varies with the nature of the soil surface prior to primary tillage (bare soil or covered with vegetation; if so, what kind and how much?), as well as with the intended final result (a nubbly surface acceptable for larger transplants, or a smooth-as-silk planting bed for tiny carrot or arugula seeds?), and the amount of time available prior to planting (rushing to plant ASAP, or have some weeks before the field is needed?)  In general, less is more, because repeated tillage damages soil structure and health.  In order to minimize soil damage, our aim at ICF is always to do as little as we can, while achieving the result we need.  We also employ many other practices to build soil and offset some of the damage wrought by tillage.

Chisel plowing soil-improving cover crops in preparation for the 2018 potato crop.

April Showers Bring May Flowers

If you've been browsing seed catalogs and looking at pictures of flowers, dreaming of your own colorful gardens this spring and summer, you'll want to come to our Annual Plant Sale.

Each year we grow certified organic plants for our CSA shares (both vegetables and flowers) and we grow enough for you to purchase for your home gardens. Many ICF members grow a few flowers or herbs at home just because it's fun to walk outside their kitchen door and pick something for dinner. Some of us have dreams of larger garden plots but recognize that time and space work against us. I first became a member of ICF when I was living in a home with minuscule space for gardening. That said, I've always had a few pots of something on my porch even with a CSA share.

We'll have tomatoes, herbs, and lots of flowers, for sure. Additional items may be available after we've calculated the farm planting needs.

We hold the plant sale at the last two winter pick-up dates (May 10 and 17) as well as the first three Saturdays in May (May 5, 12, 19) from 9:00 a.m. to Noon.  

There will be further notices but you can mark your calendars now and make your plans!

 

Think Ahead to Summer: Shares are Still Available

Ignore the snowstorms! It's nearly spring. You can make it!

Take your mind off shoveling and think about the summer produce we are starting to grow for you. The greenhouse is open, seeds are being started, and summer shares are selling fast.

Don't miss out on the bounty and be sure to sign up for your summer share now. Tell your friends and family, co-workers and neighbors as well. It's easy to use our web form here

Then sit back and daydream about tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and more.

Let Us Pick For You: Pre-Picked Pick-Your-Own (PPPYO) Share Option

list of veggies available for pickup.JPG

When we calculate our share value each season, we include an estimate of the value of "pick-your-own" crops...those crops we list each week on our chalk board and which members are free to gather from the fields. 

Typically these crops are either the items only a few members might desire: tomatillos, hot peppers, certain herbs. Or they are crops which require a higher degree of staff labor. But they are also the crops many members enjoy picking because childhood memories flood back or the crops small children can learn to pick and start their farming/food system education.

We do recognize that our membership is diverse and we serve members who might experience permanent or temporary physical impairments, suffer from a lack of time, have small kids to wrangle....all of which may prevent members from fully enjoying the PYO experience and share value.

In 2017 we offered a limited number of pre-picked pick-your-own (PPPYO) shares for a small upcharge and we are pleased to offer the program again for the 2018 summer season. For the additional charge, ICF Staff will harvest a selection of PYO items just prior to the start of pick-up. The items will be available to you at the desk when you sign in! We do need to know you'd like to take advantage of this program prior to the start of the season so we can schedule staff appropriately. 

To sign up for the PPPYO option, check the appropriate box on the electronic sign-up form. If you have already signed up but wish to add this option, contact Kathie

 

The Greenhouse is Open

Staff started seeding onions on March 5. The biofuel furnace was fired up on March 6. The propagation house is open for business!

Onions are the first seeds out of the packages. Jill and Aly have seeded around 225 flats of onions or over 100,000 seeds of red, yellow, sweet, and pearl mini onions in total!  Some of these onions become our storage, winter onions we have been enjoying in the winter share. 

We'll keep you updated with plant progress, news on transplanting to fields, and new work methods for early harvesting in this space. Watch for photos of plant growth which should make you excited for the start of the summer share.

 

Many Hands Make Big Impact: On Farm Gleaning Systems and Healthy Food Access

This year at the NOFA Winter Conference, Aly Martelle partnered with Andrea Solazzo from the Vermont FoodBank to connect with farm workers, farm managers, students, and those interested in food systems to detail how gleaning works at the FoodBank and at ICF.  The goal of the workshop was to highlight the benefits of gleaning, detail best practices that make gleaning easy for farms, to reach people who could implement gleaning on farms they work on, and to increase networking and volunteering.  

ICF has developed a great gleaning system.  Our system is possible because of our dedicated staff, good overall communication, and the consistency and availability of organizations that support gleaning in Chittenden County.  We have organizations that come to the farm twice a week after our harvest days.  Tuesday mornings we have an all staff planning meeting for the week which is a good time to check in about excess crops in the field or seconds that got sorted out at the wash area and need to be donated. With that information, we get in touch with our gleaning partners and find a home for any extra produce.

Gleaning is beneficial to ICF in many ways, but mostly because we are happy to donate food, we enjoy working with nonprofits that are helping to make healthy food more accessible to Vermonters in need, and it's great to get more people into the fields and enjoying the outdoors and the harvest. 

ICF's unique position as a mission driven organization is key to the success of our program.  The ICF board has identified increasing our food donations as an important priority, and this has clearly been supported by the wider ICF membership.  It is fulfilling and engaging to produce tasty and nutritious vegetables, but the real satisfaction comes from getting that food out into the community. 

We partner with several  organizations in the Burlington area who are doing the groundwork to make healthy food more accessible: the Vermont FoodBank, The Intervale Center, NOFA-VT, The Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf, The Good Food Truck, the O.N.E. Community Dinner, The First United Methodist Church, and UVM Medical Students with the ‘Here to Help Clinic.'

There is always room for more volunteers at the farm on Tuesdays and Fridays.  Visit our Gleaning & Donations page for all the information, or contact the Vermont FoodBank or Intervale Center if you want to help make veggies more accessible in our community.

Cabbage…Any Way You Like It

I can’t help but think about cabbage as St. Patrick’s Day approaches. I make a traditional “boiled dinner” and invite family and friends for the special meal, complete with Irish brown soda bread, potatoes, carrots, and corned beef. (I know this dinner is an Americanized version and the meat is not the same as in Ireland, but we enjoy it and have fun.)

But cabbage isn’t just for March. ICF stores thousands of pounds of cabbage each year: napa, savoy, red, green and by maintaining proper temperature and humidity (and thoughtful trimming), we are able to enjoy cabbage throughout the fall, winter, and spring. Right until the new and early napa arrives!

Is it possible to get sick of cabbage? Sure, I suppose. But changing up the preparation of any of the types will keep cabbage fresh for you.  Often, out of laziness or expediency, I braise cabbage in a frying pan with either soy sauce or caraway seeds and vinegar. The seasonings depend on what I am planning for the rest of the meal. The softer cabbages (napa and savoy) are easy to incorporate into Asian noodle bowls or vegetable soups without long cooking times. Red or green cabbages hold up well in crockpots because they are heartier (favorites are chicken breasts and green cabbage or pork roast and red cabbage.)  Of course any of the varieties are great in cold salads: slaws, mixed with lettuces or spinach, chopped with other vegetables. I never met a cabbage that didn’t like mayonnaise or salad dressing, but be sure to try flavored vinegars, fancy salts, and olive oils from different countries for experiments.

When I was a kid I remember my grandmother’s cabbage soup; cabbage, onions, and carrots were put through one of those old hand grinders (way before food processors) and cooked with ground beef in a broth. It was a tasty soup and the memory has remained.  Some recipes for soup or casseroles using cabbage are even more basic; in The New England Yankee Cookbook from 1939, cabbage soup is essentially boiled cabbage in water and add some cream.

Colcannon is another good Irish dish for anytime, not just St. Patrick’s Day. The main ingredients are potatoes, scallions, sometimes leftover ham or bacon, and finely shredded cabbage. I’ve made this with green cabbage before but also napa. Savoy would work, as well, because it will get tender more easily.  Don’t be afraid of this dish…it’s essentially mashed potatoes with cabbage and other things tossed in. And if you are trying to hide vegetables in main dishes your problem is solved with colcannon.

Cabbage is full of fiber, rich in vitamins and minerals, and has virtually no fat. It’s a great accompaniment to meat, noodles, and as the basis for soup. It can be a main dish or a salad course. I haven’t used it in a dessert yet, but I might have to figure out something clever soon!  With 4 types of cabbage from the farm and infinite possibilities in cooking methods, it’s possible to have this brassica at every dinner and not repeat any preparation for at least a week.

Challenge yourselves and eat cabbage every day for a week! 

Summer Share Sign-up is Open!

We're excited to start our sign-up for summer shares a bit earlier than usual...today is the day!

As you know, in addition to managing our winter-spring shares and weekly pick-ups, we spend the winter months preparing for summer. Equipment is repaired or purchased, seeds are ordered after many hours of browsing colorful catalogs, greenhouse schedules are prepared, bio-fuel is ordered, potting soil is thawed....the list goes on. We also spend time reviewing our web page for improvements in how we share our information and we examine our administrative procedures for better ways to communicate with members.

While our summer share program is three times larger than our winter share program, we do fill up fast!  Thankfully, our members talk about their on-farm experiences with co-workers, friends, neighbors, and family and we have a regular influx of new faces. Keep sharing, but don't delay in signing up.

What happens after you sign up in January? If you pay in full by 2/15/18 you'll receive a small discount on your share. And you've helped with the farm's cash flow. We'll be sending regular news via our newsletter to keep you informed of greenhouse and field progress. You'll have a chance to sign up for our supplemental products closer to June. You'll hear about our annual plant sale in May. And you'll be able to share in the excitement of watching your food grow, from seed to table.

We are in our 29th summer this year. Each year gets bigger and better with the help of our members. So welcome back or welcome aboard...let's have fun together!

Reminders: Winter Shares, Annual Meeting, Summer Survey

Winter Shares: we have a limited number of winter shares available. Pick-ups for Group 1 start November 2.  Contact Kathie as soon as possible or sign up here.

Our Annual Meeting is Saturday, November 4, starting 5:00. Details are below.

There is still time to fill out our summer survey on the season just completed.

 

 

Notice of Annual Meeting
Details
(and our 24th annual celebration Potluck!)
 
Intervale Community Farm Cooperative
 5:00-7:30 pm, Saturday, 4 November 2017
Integrated Arts Academy/H.O. Wheeler Elementary School
6 Archibald St, Burlington

 
Annual Meeting Agenda
(Dinner at 5:00; meeting begins at 6:00 pm)

1. Welcome & Introductions
2. Consideration of proposed bylaws amendments increasing board membership from 7 to   9 and board terms from 2 to 3 years.  Full text can be viewed in the bylaws section.

3.  Board Elections
4. 2017 Slideshow
5. ICF’s new wash pack building

6. Open forum, etc

7. Adjourn 7:20

 
Intervale Community Farm is governed by a nine-member board of directors, elected to three-year terms by the members of Intervale Community Farm Cooperative.

If you are interested in serving on the Board of ICF, please contact Farm Manager Andy Jones via email andy@intervalecommunityfarm.com, or phone, 658-2919 x4. Candidate nominations are due two weeks prior to the meeting, no later than October 21, 2017. All ICF CSA members are welcome and encouraged to attend, but only member-owners in good standing of an ICF Co-op share are permitted to run or vote for the board of directors. For ICF Co-op membership info, please call 658 2919x1 or visit our website to learn more.
 

Children’s activities will be available during the Annual Meeting portion of the evening.
 
Join us for an annual tradition and one of the best potlucks anywhere.
Last names beginning with:

 
A-F Please bring a dessert
G-S Please bring a main dish
T-Z Please bring a salad-like dish

ICF will provide some additional supper for those unable to or preferring not to
bring a potluck dish to the meeting.

 
Above all, bring something you love to do with ICF food!

Please label your potluck dishes and bring a serving utensil if
able. We will provide drinks, bread, and dishes/cups/flatware.

Last Pick-up of Summer Shares: Musings

I was going to write about "all things sweet potatoes" but the end of the share season brings many subjects to mind, all going through my head at the same time. What to do with my produce? Is it time to move from salads to soups?

Today I am cooking many things in preparation for the weekend: roasting butternut squash to make a lasagna on Sunday, roasting spaghetti squash to freeze for a winter "mac and cheese", stewing the last eggplants to freeze for use in a sauce or a stew (depending on whether I feel like Italian or Greek seasonings), and in the crockpot for tonight's dinner is a chili? stew? thick soup? of red peppers, onion, delicata squash, black beans, tomatoes, a bit of ground beef, and fresh cilantro. The house smells are wonderful!

I'm convinced that squash, and by extension sweet potatoes, can be used in any dish. When we started having butternut squash available all winter I started collecting recipes using it in different ways. With black beans for burritos, with white sauce in lasagna, mashed or cubed in mac and cheese (with bits of kale or chard and fontina cheese), chunks in stews, cubed and roasted with sage, soups (of course, but I've never been much of a butternut soup person.) With spiralizers all the rage now, butternut squash "noodles" are available in grocery stores...and could be an option for the home cook.

Sweet potatoes are pretty much the same as butternut squash to me, especially this year with our versions from an alternative universe. No, we didn't plan to grow pumpkin-sized potatoes. Rather, a convergence of seed type, soil, sun and rain produced what have to be contest worthy sweet potatoes. This year, you CAN eat just one!

So what do you do with the potato-the-size-of-a-small-dog? You cube it, mash it, roast it, puree it, hide it in everything.  I never tire of a simple baked sweet potato, or alternatively a cubed and roasted version. Make fries, mix with black beans, combine with white potatoes in a mash, use it in a stew, mix with a grain. Spiralize!

I am always looking at restaurant menus, cooking magazines and web sites, blogs and the like to find new ways to use ingredients. If I've had a dish at a restaurant the first thing I think is "how can I make this at home?"  The second thing I think is "how can I what I have at home to change the recipe?"  The key is not to be afraid to experiment and make new combinations of flavors and textures. Tell us on Facebook what you've come up with so we can all find new dishes to prepare!

 

 

ICF Cooperative Annual Meeting

Our annual meeting is scheduled for November 4, 2017 at the Integrated Arts Academy from 5:00-7:30.

Our traditional pot luck supper will precede the business meeting for the 24th year!  This pot luck is always anticipated by the members and it gives members a chance to showcase and share a favorite recipe using ICF veggies.  ICF provides drinks and bread and plates, flatware (just as we do at our pizza nights) and this year we’ll provide a few catered dishes in case some of you don’t want the pressure of cooking.

Why should you come? If you are a co-op member, this is the annual meeting of your business.  Farmer Andy Jones will review the successes and failures of the past season (carrots, greens, or floods), present a slide show of the farm throughout the season,  tell you about future planned projects, answer questions, and introduce you to the farm staff. We’ll also have board member elections.

All CSA members are welcome to attend, but only co-op members in good standing may vote in board member elections or by-law amendments.  To be in good standing, you must have paid your $200 co-op fee in full or you must be current in your $25 annual payments based on your enrollment date. For example, if you joined in 2015 you are in good standing if our records indicate you have paid $75 prior to November 4.

Not a co-op member? It’s never too late to join. In fact, October is National Co-op Month…wouldn’t this be a great time to become a new member or catch up on your payments and be in good standing?

Not Your Average Squash

Before I was an ICF CSA member, I'd never heard of delicata squash. I grew up with acorn and winter squash, blue hubbard, and maybe butternut. We'd get squash from the huge farmstands in Putney, VT (at the time we were living in Hinsdale, NH) and we used the cellar bulkhead as a root cellar. We had 50 pound bags of potatoes and onions as well. These were the days before my mother had a freezer and she wasn't into canning anything!

But the first time I had delicata squash I became a devoted convert. It's almost my vegetable of choice in the fall because we are still grilling and they do very well on the grill. Or they bake up easily and if you slice them into very thin half moons, you can put them on your homemade pizza. (NOFA Pizza Oven folks did this one year and again, I was hooked.) And yes...in my house, everything that can be grilled or added to pizza IS.

I think of delicata as being harder (sturdier) than a summer squash (the usual zucchini, yellow summer, pattypan) and softer than a storage winter squash (acorn, butternut, etc.) So while the species is the same as zucchini/summer, delicata arrives in the early fall. But the best thing about it? The skin is edible!

Preparation is very easy. I usually grill or bake them. Sometimes I stuff them with a quinoa mixture and bake them. Unlike the stuffed zucchini boats, I don't add a sauce of any kind. Or use your favorite Thanksgiving stuffing and make an interesting holiday side dish.

These squash store pretty well...perhaps a little longer than a zucchini, not as long as a butternut, in keeping with its texture.

If you have avoided picking these up with your share, reconsider and try them out! You'd be in for a new taste treat.

Winter Onions

Have you ever wondered how we manage to have onions available all winter long and they are "just right" whether November or March?

We plant onion varieties meant for storage as opposed to onions meant to be eaten within a short period of time. Our sweet onions (mini or Walla-Walla) are not meant to be stored. Our yellow onion varieties are meant to be dried and stored for longer periods of time.

We grow two kinds of yellow storage onions: one variety is meant to be consumed in the early fall and the other is meant to last several months longer. Onions are being harvested now, stored in bulk bins for drying (sometimes with fans circulating the warm air around them), and then will be placed in our walk-in cooler at the proper temperature and humidity.

Having onions available all the time is very important to me as I use them nearly every day! We also grow red onions, perhaps my favorite ingredient in just about any dish.

Using Your Eggplant

Eggplant is such a versatile nightshade. You can roast it, grill it, mash it, stuff it, or chop it raw. Eat it as pizza, as an ingredient in a tomato sauce, as a dip, as a spread. Season with parsley and garlic, mint and yogurt, Thai spices, Middle Eastern spices. Don't be afraid, let your imagination run wild!

One of my favorite things to do with eggplant is just to grill thick slices and eat as a regular side vegetable. Weeknight meals are usually simple and are cooked entirely on the grill. Last week we roasted the thin Japanese eggplants whole along with slices of Gerard's bread. We rubbed garlic cloves on the bread after grilling, spread some of the eggplant (skin and all on these), added a touch of nice salt....there was not much talking at the table!

Emboldened, we remembered we hadn't made Baba Ganoush in a while. Usually we use the chubby Italian eggplant for this spread. Slow roast on the grill along with whole roasted garlic, remove skins, add tahini, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper. Blend in a food processor if necessary, but a hand mash works just as well.  Let the flavors blend for a bit and then enjoy on toast, bagels, as a dip with crackers or carrots, or use as a sandwich spread.

My mind is already wondering how this would be with roasted zucchini instead (or half and half) or just adding a few garbanzo beans and making an eggplant hummus.

The pictures are from our creation, but for a more formal recipe, check out Smitten Kitchen's version.

https://smittenkitchen.com/2014/08/smoky-eggplant-dip/