Flowers for Everyone: Tell Your Friends and Neighbors (PYO Flower Share)

An example of a first-week share from 2017

Again this year we are pleased to offer a pick-your-own flower share for non-CSA community members. (NOTE: If you are a member of the CSA and have signed up for your summer share, you will have flowers included in your weekly pick-ups.)

Many people grow what they need for vegetables at home or are members of other CSAs or simply shop farmers' markets for their produce. But fresh flowers are not always available or may not grow well at home. Some home gardeners are better at vegetables than flowers, or we may have too much shade for robust cutting gardens, or it's just nicer to have a wider variety of colorful stems to select from ICF!

We will offer a 10 week flower share which starts July 8. The flower fields are always accessible for picking 20 stems once weekly. Once you have signed up we'll contact you for a brief orientation to the fields and process.

Prepayment of $107 is required ($100 plus 7% sales tax) and may be mailed to ICF, 128 Intervale Rd, Burlington, VT  05401.

Sign up here for your blooms and please feel free to share with your friends, neighbors, and colleagues. You do not have to be a CSA member to sign up for flowers.

 

 

Complete Your Veggie Share: Bread, Eggs, and Cheese

We cannot live by veggies alone…we need bread and cheese at the very least to make a picnic!

As we’ve done for many years, we partner with local producers of goat cheese, eggs, and artisan bread which you can pre-order and pick up at the same time as you gather your vegetable share. We do have a few extra of each item we will sell on site each week, but if you want to be assured of your favorite we encourage pre-ordering.

Photo from O Bread web site

This year we are excited to offer a selection of certified-organic bread from O Bread in Shelburne.  Prices vary by type, and we’ll be testing out which loaves are popular – please let us know your favorites! For now, all loaves will be cash (or on account) sales. If we get a sense of favorites we will do pre-orders as usual.

Returning will be free-range, pastured non-organic eggs from Jericho Settlers Farm, in Jericho. Available by the share and the dozen at $5.50/dozen. 

Since 2003, Does’ Leap Farm in East Fairfield has provided ICF members with a rotating selection of several certified-organic fresh and aged goat cheeses by the share or $8 each Samples will be available during the first pick-up week.

Sign up here or see us at any pick-up to start your shares.

First Pick-ups of Summer 2019: Monday, June 3 & Thursday, June 6

It’s time! Early summer is here!

We’ll be starting our 21 week CSA pick-ups on Monday, June 3 and Thursday, June 6.

Pick-up time is from 3:00-6:30 at our pole barn area on the left/west side of Intervale Road. Look for the parking lot, buildings, and lots of smiling faces.

Bring your reusable bags or baskets, your sun hats, and bug spray. Some crops (scallions, herbs) will be “pick-your-own” and you want to be prepared.

Kathie will be on site during the first week of pick-ups if you have any account questions or want to make payments. You can also order your supplemental eggs and cheese for the summer. Does’ Leap cheese will be available for sampling if you’ve never tried it before!

We are also very pleased to announce we will have bread available for purchase by the loaf from O Bread Bakery in Shelburne. Their bread is available at many stores around town and you may have enjoyed it before.

We are looking forward to the start of our 30th year as a CSA and can’t wait to welcome you to the farm.

New Skin for a Hoop House

On Sunday, May 5, ICF staff and 4 hearty member volunteers reskinned the northwest hoop house in our complex at 282 Intervale Road.

We have to wait for non-windy, non-rainy days, as you can imagine. And such a project takes many hands and some patience. Think of trying to wrap a present that requires ladders, ropes, and weight to be successful. (In the past we’ve used large potatoes as the weight on the ropes. They are easy to toss and provide just enough tension to hold the plastic down while edges are being fastened.)

While the plastic is thick, winds, ice, and sun can do a number on the material. There is a double layer of plastic and fans provide some insulation between the layers. Air warmed by the sun can be quite toasty! We use these houses in the winter for spinach, baby lettuce, and baby kale. In the summer they are used for peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant.

Some members have wondered about our winter growing in these houses. They are not heated with anything but the sun. We cover the rows with mulch and plastic and keep the greens as warm as possible. They don’t freeze but they are in a slow growth state. So spinach sown in December might not be ready until February! January and February are the months where we are not likely to have fresh greens for our winter share members.

In the summer months we’ll hardly be able to keep up with the rapid growth in these houses. It won’t be long now!

While Waiting for Summer Shares to Begin in Our 30th Year

2018 First Pick-up. We’ll have a blank slate for you to design soon!

May is always a transition month for the farm and by extension, for the members.

In May we finish up the winter shares (what I’ve now starting calling the winter/spring share), seasonal staff return or start new with us, fields are planted with the seedlings we’ve been growing since March, and we gear up in earnest for the start of our 21-week summer share.

How can you pass the month and control your excitement?

First, make sure you have signed up for your summer share! We still have room for you, but you shouldn’t wait too long. Normally by the start of June we are sold out! Sign up here and feel free to tell your friends, family, neighbors, colleagues.

Second, if you did participate in the winter/spring share, we’d love to have you complete the survey we do after each season. You can find the survey here.

Third, we are having a pop-up plant sale at the two final winter/spring pick-ups. Everyone is invited to stop by and purchase flower and herb pots for your home gardens. You’ll find the plant sale at the winter pick-up area from 3:00-6:00 on May 9 and May 16. We will not be having weekend plant sales this year!

Finally, watch your email, our web page, and our Facebook page for the announcement of the summer share start dates. We know when we’d like to begin, but Mother Nature gets a vote also.

We look forward to welcoming you, or welcoming you back, very soon!

Pop-Up Plant Sales at the Last Winter Pick-ups

For the last    15   years we’ve been holding our annual plant sales on Saturday mornings. But who really wants to break up a weekend by running down to the farm to get plant starts when you’re already out and about on a weekday!

This year we’re trying something new. Our last two winter share pick-ups are on May 9 and May 16. We’ll have our plant sale to coincide with the usual 3:00-6:00 pick-up. Everyone is invited to stop by for purchases even if you are not a winter share member.

Instead of (or in addition to) 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 (herbs, 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.

Come to the last winter share pick-ups to get plant starts, say hello, and join us in welcoming summer!

Greenhouse Science: Corn + wood = onions

Tucked into the large greenhouse and tunnel complex on the east side of Intervale Road you’ll find a single heated greenhouse where we start all of the seeds we’ll transplant to the fields when the ground warms up. It’s important to know this greenhouse is the only one we heat.

Of course you’d expect we’d have to have a warm place to start seeds given Vermont weather! We can go from 5 inches of snow to 47 degrees in a day, as we did last week, so imagine the variables we face when opening the greenhouse the first week of March.

We use a combination of heating fuels for the house. Several years ago we installed a biofuel furnace to reduce our dependence on propane. At this time of year, Jill fills the fuel hopper with about 200 lbs of a mix of wood pellets and dried corn ( 1:2 ratio.) At night the propane will come on as needed to achieve our desired temperatures.

The daytime temperature goal is 72 degrees. The louvers open at that point and then the vent fan turns on at 76 to keep the temperature steady. The overnight temperature goal is 60 degrees. As the nighttime temperatures rise we’ll use less biofuel and propane, as you’d expect, because the sun helps with the warmth and the double layer of heavy plastic traps a cushion of warm air .

Over the course of the heating season, we usually go through 3 tons of wood pellets and 4 tons of dried corn.

Our efforts pay off when the first onions come up!





Seasons, Change, and Continuity: The Greenhouse is Open

Jill Rotondo

We're on the cusp of spring and the change of seasons that we can expect every year around this time. Granted, there is a bit more snow and ice on this date than we might have had in past years, but we have the hope of spring coming.


Rain or shine, snow or ice, we open our propagation greenhouse around the same time every year: the first week of March. The farmers have made a detailed crop plan which includes specific dates for starting seeds, how deep to plant the seeds in the starting pots, how much water is required. If onions are started now we'll see them in approximately 90 days. Onions are always the first seeds to be started. Soon the tomatoes will be started, grafting will begin, the ground in the high tunnels will be turned over, all so that we are on schedule for our summer CSA. Of course the weather may change our plans, but we do have a plan!


The more things change...change is good, right? We rotate crops so that nutrients can rebuild and we can fight any pests that have taken up residence. We change our crop production based, in part, on member feedback (as well as growing success, seed availability, etc.) We change planting and cultivating techniques so we are more efficient with materials and labor (our tomato trolleys last year are a prime example of a labor saving practice.) What doesn't change is the high quality produce we grow for an increasing number of families in the area.


Samantha DuPont

And then continuity...from scheduled equipment maintenance to organic soil practices to high customer satisfaction, we're 30 years as a CSA because of our commitment and connection to our members and the land we farm.  Key to the continuity is our staff. Andy Jones has been the Farm Manager for 26 years. Aly Martelle has been here 12 years, Silas Branson, Jill Rotondo, and Kathie Sullivan 9 years. Sara Howe and Samantha DuPont are returning for their 6th years.  We supplement staff with seasonal workers who gain knowledge and experience from working beside such an expert staff. See more about our full year staff here.


You can be a part of this Burlington institution and help us usher in the next 30 years of farming in the city! Sign up for your 2019 summer share here. Tell your friends and neighbors. We aim for 650 shares but because some of those are split between families, we think we're feeding approximately 1500 people per week (which does not include the 62,000 pounds or so of food donations to area food shelves.)  You can be a part of this food phenom today!

Meet the New ICF Board Member: Andrea Solazzo

As you know, ICF is governed by a nine member board serving rotating 3-year terms. The board meets monthly with Farmer Andy Jones for updates on the farm management, but they also discuss future planning for the farm’s sustainability and fiscal health. And they plan events for members!

Andrea Solazzo, courtesy Vermont Foodbank

Abby McGowan had to step down from her current term as she is on sabbatical in India for 6 months. It would be hard to attend board meetings from afar! We’re happy to tell you that current farm member Andrea Solazzo has agreed to serve out the remaining 2 years of Abby’s term.

We’d like you to meet Andrea.

Andrea Solazzo currently manages the Northern Vermont gleaning program, coordinates with area food shelves on nutrition education and works with the various fresh produce programs at the Vermont Foodbank. Additionally, Andrea supports the Foodbank through diversity and inclusion work, advocacy and story gathering initiatives. Prior to her time at the Foodbank, she led delegations to international conferences for UN based NGO’s around climate justice and food sovereignty issues, owned an agriculturally focused study abroad organization and had active leadership in various community organizing campaigns around livable wages. Andrea’s passion for sustainable agriculture evolved from first learning about homesteading in rural Appalachia, to then starting a small farm on her college campus, traveling around Mexico for a month with La Via Campesina on an international caravan with activists and farmers from around the world and then landing in Vermont eight years ago to work at the Vermont Workers Center and at various farms in the Burlington area. She is ICF’s biggest fan, feels incredibly lucky to enjoy amazing veggies from the farm every week and loves working in ICF’s fields throughout the growing season through her work with the Foodbank. Andrea is excited to be on the ICF board and support the farm in continuing their inspiring work throughout the community.

Root Vegetable Spotlight: Winter Carrots

Carrots are cleaned in the roots washer.

ICF has been known for their carrots over the years. Members consistently tell us, verbally and on surveys, that carrots top their list of favorite crops.

We plant two varieties of carrots, each suited for a different season and purpose. “Yaya” carrots are the summer and early fall variety you have been enjoying.
”Bolero” is the variety we prefer as our winter carrot as it stores well for long periods. Both Yaya and Bolero were developed by the Dutch company Bejo Seeds.

The Yaya carrots tend to be a bit smaller, tenderer, and milder-flavored compared to the Bolero. But the same high water content that makes the Yaya more delicate works against them in storage. The Bolero, while a bit more toothsome in their crunch, maintain their sugar, flavor and crispy texture much longer than the Yaya when stored at the proper temperature and humidity. We source carrots from High Mowing Seeds in Wolcott, VT, and Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Maine. If you’d like to read more details about storing carrots, see Johnny’s suggestions here.

Carrots are packed in 25 lb bags.

We started harvesting and processing the winter carrots in mid-October. The carrots are topped, put through the roots washer, packed into 25 lb bags, and stored in bulk bins in our large coolers. The bags have air holes in them so moisture doesn’t build up. Because of the storage method, we’ll have crunchy carrots for you right through May.

This year we harvested 15,000-17,000 pounds of Bolero carrots for winter storage. That a lot of bags of beta-carotene!

After the carrots are washed and bagged, they are stored in the large cooler next to the winter share pick-up bay. We used to keep them in bulk bins, but a few years ago we built cribs to store the bags. Air circulates better around the taller structure and the cribs help us pack the cooler more efficiently.

Sign Up Now for a 2019 Summer Share

It’s always a pleasure to open the sign-up for summer shares in the middle of a snow storm! Storm Harper can’t hold us down.

On Friday, Jill was counting seeds in anticipation of opening the greenhouse in a few weeks. Silas was helping me with some tech aspects of our web page. Aly was processing winter wholesale orders. Andy was preparing for conference presentations this coming week. We were all talking about a few logistics for summer.

There are a few things you should know about our summer shares. Returning members likely know the routine, but since we have about a 30% turnover in summer membership every year, it’s always a good thing to have reminders all in one place!

First, you can sign up online or download a paper form to mail in with payment. Paper forms will be available at winter pick-ups as well. While you can sign up online, we don’t offer online payments…the fees are just too much for us to consider with our volume. You can, however, add us as a Payee to your online checking account/Bill Pay system and we’ll get payment from your bank. And you’ll save a paper check and stamp.

Second, it’s best to sign up early. We usually have sold all shares a month before the first pick-up.

Third, if you pay in full before February 15 you can subtract the small discount indicated on the forms and web site. Your original invoice will show the full amount and the change to your account will be made when the full payment arrives. Why is the change made afterwards? Some members plan to pay in full and then just forget to finish the task or mail the check. The discount is applied to full payments postmarked by 2/15/19.

Finally, we are looking forward to you joining us for our 30th year of growing in the Intervale. We’ve come a long way in 30 years and we hope to be highlighting our progress as we celebrate all year.

Welcome to the farm…or Welcome back!

Watch this Space for News: Questions about Summer Shares?

Long time members of ICF know that mid-January on the calendar means summer is not far away! Summer share sign-ups typically begin in January and yes, we fill half our shares by the end of the early sign-up period.

Don’t despair…we are preparing the materials to roll out very soon. Several of you have inquired already, but you have not missed anything. We’re pretty much on schedule for opening the sign-up for our 30th year CSA!

Yes, we’ve been growing in the Intervale for 30 years. How time flies when you are eating well and locally!

We’ll also post sign-up information on our web page, our Facebook page, and you’ll receive an email blast.

We look forward to having you join us again this year.

Holiday Market and Final Pick-up of 2018

Thursday, December 20, will be a good day to be at the farm!

We’ve been rearranging the winter bay make it easier to make selections and spread out all the crates of food. We’ve installed more of the fabulous art work created with the help of Bonnie Acker and her public art projects. We were able to make more room because the storage bins of sweet potatoes and squash have been moved to our new packshed across the driveway. So come on down and explore the space!

We’ll have our usual group pick-up from 3:00-6:00 pm, the last group for the year. It happens to be a Group 2 week, but if you’ve missed other weeks in your rotation please feel free to stop by.

Also we’re having another pop-up holiday market. We started these events last winter and they were well received. We had one on the day before Thanksgiving and had a lot of traffic. So we’re at it again!

You can purchase extra items for yourself, you can tell your friends, neighbors, and colleagues to come down and get a taste of the delicious bounty you’ve raved about. We expect to have kale, cabbage, butternut squash, and a wide variety of roots for your selection. In addition, we’ll have a few dozen eggs and a few portions of goat cheese for sale.

We’re excited to tell you that Singing Cedars Farmstead will be on site with a selection of frozen beef cuts and whole chickens. Please plan to pay them directly to make it easier for both ICF and Singing Cedars.

We hope to see you on Thursday!

The Vermont State Vegetable: Gilfeather Turnip

I’d never heard of the gilfeather turnip until last year when I saw it listed for a farmers’ market. I certainly didn’t know it was the Vermont State Vegetable! And I didn’t know ICF was growing some for our winter shares. Now it’s my new favorite snack item!

Cut in half and ready to peel and eat raw.

I suppose I’ll end up cooking some soon, but for now I like snacking on raw slices, with or without hummus. It’s been a great snack, similar (to me) to a kohlrabi but maybe with a bit more peppery taste. We’ve had kohlrabi in the past but it doesn’t seem to store well. The gilfeather, a cross between a rutabaga and a turnip, should store better.

Daikon is long and skinny (top), gilfeather is more round and stubby (bottom.)

You’ll find them in the same box as the daikon. If you plan to eat raw, I think the daikon and gilfeather have similar tastes and textures. I haven’t cooked the gilfeather yet but there is an apparently well-known soup recipe that is highlighted at an annual gilfeather festival!

Yes, an annual festival here in Vermont to celebrate this hybrid vegetable created here! If you want to try some soups or cooked dishes, see many recipes here. In keeping with modern use of social media, the festival has its own Facebook page so you won’t miss the 2019 event.

Tell us how you’re liking this little gem and how you have been preparing it! Don’t be afraid to try something new in a salad, as a snack, or roasted with other roots.

New Wash-Pack Shed is Open

Roots washer in new winter work space.

Today I visited our new wash-pack shed, the new home of our winter washing area and additional winter produce storage. This building went up over the summer to the east of the old raspberry patch/current strawberry patch, on the east side of Intervale Road. The building is a joint venture between the Intervale Center (for the use of the Intervale Conservation Nursey mostly) and ICF. It is also what came about as a result of our successful Co-op Member Loan Program.

Aly washing baby kale.

Why did we need this additional work space? Two big reasons: we store thousands of pounds of sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cabbage, onions, etc. for our winter shares. The winter pick-up area has been getting a bit crowded with bins of produce and people at pick-ups! But also we needed a safe, warm, functional space to wash and process winter greens grown in our hoop houses. In the past we’ve hung up plastic sheeting to cut the wind and cold in the summer wash area and most recently we were heating a wash area with portable propane heaters. Making sure we had running water was always a coin toss.

With our new space, we have the ability to heat the work area, ensure running water, have additional dry storage for sweet potatoes and butternut squash, and have an additional cooler.

Totes of greens waiting to be washed.

Today the baby kale was being washed and packed for the pick-up this week. Spinach and baby head lettuce were in totes waiting for washing. Aly was happily working in a 55 degree room while it was snowing/raining out. Everything was just right at the farm on this November day.

Holiday "Pop-Up" Market at ICF

We have a winter share season with 250+ members, but sometimes you just can’t have enough ICF vegetables on hand for your holiday meals. Or your neighbors have wondered where you get all your fabulous, local produce. We have solutions and answers!

On Wednesday, 11/21 we will offer on-site purchases of our root vegetables, squash, cabbages, and kale for everyone! Spread the word to your family, friends, neighbors.

We will have things set up for quick selection and sale to get you in and out quickly with your veggies.

Carrots, potatoes, onions, beets, parsnips, rutabaga, celeriac, and turnips are available for $20/peck basket (11-12+ lbs.)

***mix up your peck contents as you wish***

 Butternut squash $5 ea

Cabbage $5 ea (green, red, savoy, or napa)

Kale $3 lb

Cash and checks accepted.

End of Summer Share but We Have a Great Winter Share Ahead

Last week we finished a very successful and abundant summer season. Thank you to everyone who participated in the summer shares, attended our pizza nights, brought baked goods, shared recipe ideas, and greeted us with smiles every week. Your enthusiasm and appreciation keep us going through both muggy, hot days as well as chilly and raw days.

Share value is the difference between what you paid for your share and what you would have paid for comparable produce at retail price.

We hope that you enjoyed this productive and diverse summer share season. After 29 years, we still never can quite predict what will happen when we put seeds in the ground. In 2018, our summer CSA share value for the summer was typical, at about 50% bonus over comparable retail.

As typical for autumn we are buttoning up: seeding fields with protective cover crops, tearing out our indoor tomato and cucumber crops to replace them with winter greens, picking up irrigation pipe, and winterizing our equipment. Mostly, though, we harvest crops for Winter Share.

In the last week, we’ve filled our coolers with cabbage, celeriac, beets, and rutabaga, and we are starting now on everyone’s favorite: late fall carrots. Delicious and crunchy beyond any aspiration of a summer carrot, we expect to pull, top, and wash over 16,000 lbs of carrots in the next couple of weeks. We still have a few winter shares left, so you don’t have to miss out on all of the bounty; sign up here! Winter shares start November 1 (Group 1) and November 8 (Group 2.) Winter shares are picked up every other Thursday from 3:00-6:00.

Results: ICF Board Election

We changed things up this year!

Normally we celebrate the end of the summer share season by having our co-op annual meeting in early November. We also elect new board members for the 3 positions rotating each year (9 members of the board, 3 rotate annually) after we’ve filled up on dinner.

This year we moved the meeting to September, changed the time and location, and only discussed the election. We moved to an electronic ballot this year with the hope of involving more co-op members who might not have attended the meeting.

We’re very happy to report we had a nearly 50% response rate for our election! The board is very appreciative of the high member involvement in this new process.

We are happy to announce that Diane Abruzzini will be joining the board in January. Diane worked at ICF as an employee in 2009 & 2010. She soon went on to be a manager at Jericho Settlers Farm, run her own Beet Box Farm, and open the wood-fired, all-local bakery Mtn. Seasons. Her love of vegetables, people, and all things entrepreneurial sent her through the Sustainable MBA program at UVM. Diane has experience preparing and analyzing financial statements, harvesting kale (very quickly), executing marketing initiatives, driving tractors, grafting tomatoes and working with people.

We would also like to welcome Lis Mickenberg and Mark Twery back for another three year term.

Finally, we’d like to thank Robin Berger for her completed service as a board member.

Any co-op member in good standing may run for an open board seat. Not a co-op member yet? Sign up now!

And the Survey Says...

As each of our farm share seasons wind down we like to get member feedback on their experiences to help us plan for the future.

While we enjoy chatting with members at pick-ups, appreciate emails and phone calls with questions, it’s very useful to us to have group data in one place with survey results. We might have kept notes from a chat or email thread, it’s extremely beneficial to see a graphic presentation of collective opinions. Yes, we can graph survey results as well as see comments and trends.

What do we do with the collected information? We plan, we revise, we respond. For instance, this summer we changed the size of the tables at pick-ups in response to comments about crowding. You might not have noticed the change, but you may have had a more pleasant experience without knowing why! We also plan future crops and quantities, ramp up communication methods if necessary, change procedures.

Please take a few minutes and let us know about your experience this summer. We do read and use the information we gather from you! The survey is here or you’ll find a link in an email message.

Remembering Gerard Rubaud, 1941-2018

Photo credit: mc.farine

Today we learned that our long time bread baker, Gerard Rubaud, died after a recent illness.

We had all hoped he might recover from a recent heart condition and get back to working in his cozy bakery, crafting his beloved, wood-fired loaves of delicious bread, but it was not to be.

Gerard has been providing ICF families with his naturally-leavened country French loaf since 1995. Children have become adults while eating this bread. Sometimes the bread would arrive still warm and it was always a pleasure (and a giggle) to see members tuck their loaf under an arm, start gathering vegetables, and sneak a chunk of bread between selecting roots and hearty greens. We know that the loaves were on the dinner table on Mondays or Thursdays…or there was French toast for a weekend breakfast, or homemade croutons if any loaf lasted that long.

Gerard's bread.jpg

Gerard loved baking and loved his loaves. I learned just how much when I made several trips to the bakery to get the boxes of warm bread for our pick-ups. I treated the excursions as part of my personal physical therapy after some major surgeries. Gerard only cared that I was handling the loaves properly, stacking them just so, placing the boxes in a certain position. He could be quite gruff, but he was the bread master and we learned to roll with his moods.

While I take a lot of pictures of the farm behind the scenes (tractors, harvests, etc.), I don’t have any pictures of Gerard. I have pictures of bread (I call them my “art shots” sometimes) but not of the baker. Oh, pictures of him at work exist and I’m including several links to wonderful profiles and pictures carried in Seven Days, on a blog called Farine, and on the City Market web site.

Services or memorials are unscheduled at this time. We’ll let you know when we have details.