Archive for the 'Announcements' Category

Smorgasburg – Brooklyn, New York

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Last weekend I accompanied Eric to Brooklyn to check out Smorgasburg, the über-popular foodie event that happens every Saturday in Williamsburg on the river.

We had a spectacular view of Manhattan and reveled in the vibe of passionate food vendors and the crowds that gather to taste their wares.

Eric and I arrived early and he set up the booth, rolling into the “park” with the coolers and grill for Vermont lemonade, farm fresh egg, sausage and arugula gorditas, and butternut squash donuts.

Tanner was there to help with set-up and beverages, and Jerome arrived a bit later to grill.

The scene was hip and busy, with lots of people arriving to check out what everyone had to offer.

It’s a great opportunity to share what goes on in the food world, be it at a farm in Vermont, or a small commercial kitchen in Brooklyn.

A fun market experience!

~ Natalie

 

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Arctic Egg Farming

Sunday, February 17th, 2013
RMF Frozen Egg

Eggs need to be collected every 30-45 minutes so they don’t freeze and crack

Many years ago I had the great fortune of serving an agriculture apprenticeship with family friend Elliot Coleman. Elliot purchased his farm from Scott and Helen Nearing, authors of the homesteading classic Living The Good Life. When I arrived in Haborside, Maine, Scott Nearing was long gone but Helen was my neighbor for those eight months. On the weekends, I would stack wood for her and she would pay me in books. Scott often talked and wrote about the school of hard knocks, where he claimed to have received his PhD.

We went to that same school this winter, where we majored in sub zero egg farming with a minor in humility. Chickens as it turns out are deceptively simple, 90% of what you need to know for good egg production can be whittled down to four subjects; light, ventilation, water and feed.  As we learned this winter despite this simple equation, a lot can go wrong.

– Lighting- for good egg production chickens need a minimum of fifteen hours per day of light. Last fall we were busy with a large squash harvest, while we simultaneously tried to build a permanent winter facility for the chickens. Like most projects, this was over budget and took much longer than anticipated. To maintain good egg production, you should introduce artificial lighting sometime around September 1st. Our birds never got additional lighting until mid-November.

– Water- one of the hard lessons we learned is that chickens need lots and lots of  water for good egg production, much more than we realized. Funny thing about water, it freezes. Keeping 2500 chickens well watered when the temperature is negative fifteen, proved to be a bigger challenge than we expected.

– Feed- we try to keep a constant supply of feed for the chickens. Some time in mid-December as we were hitting our stride with winter egg production, we received a bad batch of grain. This really messed things up. Our grain company was very responsive, and quickly replaced the bad batch, but production went to almost zero. It’s really hard to get chickens to start laying eggs again, and nearly impossible during the dark days of winter.

– Ventilation- The new greenhouses we built for the chickens are long and narrow. When the sides are rolled up, they are great because ventilation is excellent. However when it’s sub zero, the sides need to be down, and we quickly learned that condensation was going to be a problem. Cold and damp is a bad environment for the birds. We switched from dry shavings to hay and have been much more diligent when it comes to bedding down the houses. Not only is this a cleaner environment but it also cuts down on ammonia orders.

When things are going well optimal production is around 100 dozen eggs per day. During the low points of this winter, egg production dipped to 10 dozen eggs per day. So yeah we got our butts kicked. But we learned a whole lot, and we’re confident next winter will go much more smoothly.

 

Eat Fresh with RMF

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

RMFonVacation
Recently Keenan, Will, and I took a small vacation from the farm – the first in over five years! The much needed down time gave us a chance to really reflect on some remarkable opportunities that presented themselves throughout the last year. Similar to those of you who planned on going to the gym every day and realized that cross country skiing (if we had the snow) was a better option for getting in shape, we’ve made a few revisions to our resolutions as well.

While we’d sure love to do everything, and have certainly tried in the past, we’re trying to really focus our resources this year to make sure we truly excel in all of our endeavors. With this in mind and although it’s been a really difficult realization, we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s best to suspend our CSA program for the 2013 season. Not to worry though – there’s still plenty of fresh food to go around!

If you live in the Burlington area, we encourage you to consider joining the Intervale Food Hub. If you’re in the Boston area we’d recommend joining either Farmers To You or Graze Delivered. All three organizations run fantastic programs and source a lot of their products from our farm – so you’ll still be able to enjoy a little RFM in your diet!

EricsEggsHens

The girls look ready to make it happen!

Also there are still some really cool things that you can look forward to:

-We hope to grow Eric’s Eggs into a regional egg brand. This is a super exciting opportunity that only really comes around once a career. We are attempting to develop a multi-farm model, that can be replicated on a neighboring dairy farm. By doing so we will be able to increase supply, diversify on farm incomes, fertilize the land, support our community by creating local jobs and deliver a superior product. Sounds good right?

RMFButternut

Can you believe this can be made into a doughnut?!

-We’ve been cooking up a storm at the markets and recently, received a grant from the state to install a commercial kitchen on the farm. This will allow us to prep for markets, produce value-added products, host on-farm dinners and finally get that doughnut business on solid footing (if you haven’t had a chance to taste Barbara’s butternut doughnuts, you’re in for a treat!)

As always we thank you for your support. Please visit the web site for frequent blog posts and follow the farm on Facebook. It’s going to be a great year and we can’t wait to share it with you!

A New Year with Eric and the Crew

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Happiest new year wishes from your friends at Rockville Market Farm!

This bluebird afternoon, the lingering snow cover, and some great tunes have us feeling hopeful and energized as we enter 2013 and start working on our “Rockville Resolutions.”

Rockville Market Farm | New Years Resolutions
During this past year we enjoyed a number of highlights such as:

  • Rockville Market Farm Friday Night Dinners which included a phenomenal clambake featuring sweet corn, potatoes, Andouille sausage, and salad fixings straight from the farm
  • 408,000 (34K dozen) Eric’s Eggs sold since the first of the year!

This coming year, we know for sure that Eric’s Eggs will expand (perhaps considerably), that we will continue our RMF Friday Night Dinner Series and that our Rockville Market Farm CSA will continue for it’s fourth year (although, we’re still working on the details). We’re also going to be putting more of a focus on this blog as a means of offering farm updates, recipe suggestions, CSA news, and insight into what makes Rockville Market Farm such a special endeavor.

Rockville Market Farm | Winter 2013 Chickens

Our chickens hunkered down for winter

Sounds great, right? But you’re probably thinking, “What are Eric and his team doing now?” Those chickens must be neck deep in snow and surely nothing can grow in sub-zero temps!” We’ve heard it before – when we tell folks that we farm, one of the first questions we get is “what do you do during the winter…in Vermont?!”

While we love the thought of a winter off, it’s not really a reality. The truth is, the farm is going year-round and since we have less employees during the winter, we’re as busy as ever. We have two sources of winter income: our peeled butternut business and Eric’s Eggs. Of the two, “arctic egg farming ” is certainly the more challenging endeavor. Keeping 2000+ chickens watered, fed, and happy and collecting eggs in sub-zero weather is a real challenge.

Our butternut peeling, by contrast, happens in a well-insulated barn with radiant heat in the floor. It’s nice indoor work where we can listen to music (Spotify rules!), drink tea, and eat whatever treat Keenann has prepared that day. Some of our recent favorites are pumpkin pie, doughnuts, and muffins. We sell the butternut in 25# food-service bags as well as 20 oz. retail packages. It’s super rewarding to deliver to over fifteen restaurants and sample the huge variety of uses for butternut. One of our favorites is the creative “Sasquash” beer at American Flatbread.

In addition to farm work we are busy putting the finishing touches on our 2013 business plan. It sure is an exciting time to be farming. We never could have imagined 18 years ago when we started that there would be so much enthusiasm!

As always – thank you so very much for your support and interest in our farm.
Rockville Market Farm Family

Farm update, Photos from Natalie

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

Farm Update:

It’s been a busy and exciting couple of weeks on the farm. We attended the Boston Local Food Festival last week, which was a blast. We are making prepations for our first ever on-farm dinner. We will be partnering with “Misery Loves Company” for a nose to tail style dinner, Sunday October 23rd. If you’re interested in attending contact us and we’ll get you the information (it’s going to be special). Last week was our first frost of the growing season, we had a long day bringing in the winter squash. This is the backbone of our winter business. The crop was good in size and fruit set but the quality is low. We simply had too much mouisture. In between all of this we’ve been busy building yet another greenhouse, cleaning up after a rough season and planning for next year. We feel like a boxer whose gone fifeen very tough rounds, gotta love farming (and we do!!).

Sunrise photos from Natalie:

Our intrepid farm photographer visited the farm early Tuesday morning and took some great photos:

The last two weeks, farm update, photos from Natalie

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

The last two weeks:

In our rather short farming career (16 years) we’ve not seen anything like the last two weeks. An earthquake, a tropical storm, pounding rains, zero heat and no sun. It has affected us, but nothing like what’s happening to neighboring farms. The flooding from Irene devasted area farms and in at least two cases physically altered them in a very negative way. The government has ruled that all food from flooded farm’s must be tilled under (we did not flood). The Burlington Free Press wrote a good article which you can read here. This is a fairly controversial ruling and a tough call to make. The problem is what’s upstream??  We know of  two farms that had a total of eight tractors under water for at least 24 hours. That’s a lot of undesirable fluids in the water. Add in sewage, toxins and a zillion other factors and we don’t disagree with the ruling. It has however affected us because we work with neighboring farms to procure root crops for our shares. Flood plain farms don’t have rocks, we do. Carrots especially are challenging for us, so we either buy them or swap crops with partner farms. Given that these farms are out of business it means we will not have sufficient product for a winter share and that our fall boxes will be a little redundant, for which we apologize. The good new is that we are in business. We have plenty of produce for the next seven weeks and we have some big plans for next year.

Farm update:

-Emmett, the Maremma livestock guard dog continues to grow at an amazing clip. He and Molly the Maremma have struck up a very nice friendship after a slightly rough getting to know each other period.

-We are harvesting winter squash. Which is a little affected by the bad weather, but overall we’d consider it to be a better than average crop.

-We are busy building our number 7 greenhouse, a 34’x96′ top vented Rimol greenhouse

-We ate our first raspberries out of our two Haygrove field tunnels. These plants will be in full production next year and we’ll be in the raspberry business.

-We will be adding 500 more laying hens this week. Eric’s Eggs have been selling out daily!!

-We have an amazing event planned for late October. The details are still being hashed out, but we know enough to say that we will be serving a “nose-to-tail” style dinner, on farm, prepared by the amazingly talented duo known as Misery Loves Company.

Photos from Natalie Stultz:

Arugula from field to wash tub.

Eric stocking up the goods at the market.

We served 114 gorditas last market, one of the many satisfied customers!

Farmer Lou at the Burlington Market

One of our mobile chicken houses

Keenann digging potatoes

 

Late summer update, food (a love story), pictures

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

Late summer update:

We’ve settled into a pretty solid routine. This week in addition to fulfilling orders, delivering CSA shares and attending the Burlington Farmer’s Market, we will be heavily focused on fall cover cropping. We will be seeding a combination of oats/field peas that will winter kill. Next spring, we will use this ground for early crops in the year 2012. We’ve been on this farm for ten years now, and we’re finally beginning to think long term. We will be seeding roughly fifteen acres to yellow clover which we will plow down in July of 2012. Stale bedding follows for optimal weed control, and re-seeding to oats/field peas in late August of 2012–the cycle continues. This will be the acreage we will use to start the 2013 season. The first decade on this farm was simply too hectic to focus heavily on cover cropping, we’ve known this to be a weak point on our farm. It’s gratifying to be able to focus on some of the things that are needing improvement, and to take these steps that will build fertility and ultimately keep us in business.

In addition to cover cropping, we watch our new livestock guardian dog Emmett grow by leaps and bounds, we are cleaning out greenhouses, and last week we slaughtered 392 chickens. Watermelon and cantaloupe are the exciting crops coming up next and we look forward to a fall winter squash harvest.

Food (a love story)

Man, we love food. It’s the number one perk of this job.  There’re kids starving in Africa, and yet we are able to gorge ourselves on gourmet food. It just doesn’t seem fair.  We’ve recently been following and contributing to Save the Children. Here’s the link.

About the food, we’ve been grilling at the Burlington Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. Breakfast gorditas have been a huge hit and we will be adding lunch gorditas starting this weekend. Last Saturday I gave a chicken and some tomatoes to our friend Serchan. His family makes some of the best vegetarian food at the market.  They’ve been our neighbors there for five years. They make the best potato salad we’ve ever tasted (lots of garlic, cilantro, and an incredible sesame dressing). After some customary haggling (Nepalese style), it was decided that he would cook the chicken and a chutney, we would split it 50/50. Last night we had one amazing dinner thanks to this deal. As a bonus they threw in some creamy  rice pudding flavored with cardamom, which is farmer Will’s favorite.

Last Sunday evening, we attended the Vermont Fresh Network’s annual forum and fund raiser. We were partnered with Blue Bird Tavern and Healthy Living Market. Michael and Sue from Blue Bird served hard boiled eggs, with house made chicken sausage on freshly baked shortbread crackers. Frank from Healthy Living prepared one of our suckling pigs.  On the side they had a cucumber salad and cherry tomato salad from the farm. We were very proud, and after sampling all the other offerings, very, very full. It was a great night and we had a nice mention in the Burlington Free Press.

Since we’ve started delivering to the Boston area, many new eating opportunities have presented themselves. On a typical run South, we will stop at Red Hen Bakery for a cheddar and bacon scone. Tewksbury, Mass is an unlikely stop for the best Schezuan food we’ve ever had, but Top Garden is indeed the tops. One of our delivery stops is Formaggio in Cambridge and they always insist we eat for free. The duck breast panini we had two weeks ago was amazing. After our CSA at Harvest Coop, we’ve been known to hop on the T and head over to Island Creek Oyster Bar, for clams, oysters and lobster rolls. Highly recommended, but it makes for a groggy trip home.

Farmer Will hard at work

Farm fresh ingredients + Keenann's pizza making skills= one happy family

Chef Chis Conn manning the RMF grill

 

RMF gorditas!!

Awesome food subsidies, Photos and a recipe from Natalie

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Awesome food subsidies:

It’s a well known fact that really bad food is heavily subsidized in this country. Corn, the building block for bad food, is subsidized to a point that would make Cuban farmer’s blush. Recently, Mark Bittman has been writing some excellent articles in the New York Times about taxing bad food and reducing corn subsidies. The saving in reduced health care cost to the nation, would go a long way toward deficit reduction. On a different angle, the Awesome Foundation recently announced that it will be handing out $1000 grants to companies that produce awesome food. It’s peanuts compared to the gazillions the U.S. government dolls out to corn farmer’s, but it’s a great idea and definitely a step in the right direction.

A recipe from Natlie (zucchini sticks and sweet onion dip):

Today’s recipe was recommended by our good friend and farm photographer Natalie Stultz. It is posted on the King Arthur web site, to view it you can click here.

Photos by Natalie Stultz:

The boys new career: male modeling!!

Eric and Justin working on the pump

Keenann at South Village Farm

It's tomato season!!

Mid-season update, Eggs Benedict pizza, Emmett, Summer Soundtrack?

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

Mid-season update:

We seem to have settled into some very pleasant growing weather. The farm is changing daily and the CSA boxes should grow in quantity and the offering will become more diversified as the season progresses. We occasionally purchase crops from partner farms where and when it makes sense. We have fairly stoney soil and carrots can be a challenge. We are not well set up to grow them, especially in the Spring when weed pressure is intense. Our friends at Riverberry Farm are expert carrot growers and have the soil and infrastructure to grow them well. We also work very closely with the Farm at South Village and expect to procure some potatoes from them in the near future. From our own farm, cucumbers will be coming on strong, as well as tomatoes from our range of greenhouses and field tunnels. For the first couple of weeks we will need to rotate pick-up locations for doling out tomatoes. This week the Tuesday route is scheduled to receive  them. We have over 2000 tomato plants so once we hit full production there will be plenty for everybody.

Blushing Beauties!

Eggs Benedict pizza:

Saturdays we attend the Burlington Farmer’s Market.  In addition to selling produce, eggs, and pork, we eat a lot. We have our own farm grill, where we sell breakfast gorditas and a lunch special. Our friend Pete Coleman has been producing some sublime sausage at Vermont Salumi. A perennial favorite lunch is the Himalayan food produced by our old neighbors. Rice, garbanzo beans, and potatoes seems so wrong, but somehow they turn it into something very special. Chase it all down with a home brewed Root Beer and top it off with a Dinky Doughnut, and you’ve got a good day of eating for sure.

American Flatbread has started using Eric’s Eggs for their Eggs Benedict pizza. We had to try it and ordered a pizza to go. Good ingredients go a long way and the result is one amazing pizza. We strongly urge you to try it, the Bloody Mary’s are about as good as they get as well (sampled on a non-workday of course).

Emmett

Our new Maremma livestock guard dog, Emmett, arrived a week or so a go. He’s one cool dog. As with most new puppies, there have been a few bumps in the road, but he is settling in very well to a life of guarding chickens. His main job is to protect the hens from aerial predation such as hawks and owls. We have some big plans for Eric’s Eggs and these dogs will play an important role.

Welcome to the farm, Emmett

Emmett has found a perch for himself

Molly hard at work down below

Summer soundtrack?

We love to listen to music on the farm. Every summer we have a favorite album, that summers soundtrack. Although we’ve purchased some great music recently, none of the albums have garnered the number one position. We’re open to suggestions if anybody can think of an exceptional album. To date Tedeshi Truck’s Band “Revelator” is leading the way.

Recipes:

Collard Greens Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes

We use bacon fat here primarily for flavor. Bacon fat provides an excellent balance to the natural bitter of the collard greens. That said, you can easily skip the bacon fat and just use a little more olive oil.

 

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs collard greens, tough stems discarded, leaves chopped

2 Tbsp medium onion, chopped

1 large garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons bacon fat

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp dark sesame oil (Dynasty or comparable)

Chili pepper flakes, a pinch

Salt, a couple pinches

Sugar, a couple pinches

METHOD

1 Use a large skillet with a tight fitting cover. Melt bacon fat and heat olive oil on medium heat. Sauté onion until transparent, a couple of mintues. Add garlic and and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2 Mix in the greens, sesame oil, chili pepper flakes, salt, and sugar. Cover and cook until tender, 8-15 minutes. (Note that young collard greens will cook up relatively quickly. Older greens may take upwards of 45 minutes to tenderize.)

If you want, serve with a little barbecue sauce.

Yield: Serves 4.  Recipe from Simply Recipes.com

Cucumber Salad Recipe

INGREDIENTS

1-2 large cucumbers, quartered lengthwise, then sliced crosswise

1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill or basil*

2-3 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

*To chop the basil, chiffonade it by stacking the leaves on top of each other, rolling them up like a cigar, and taking thin slices from one end to the other.

METHOD

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, toss to coat. Serve immediately, or make ahead (up to a couple of hours) and chill.

Serves 2-4, Recipe from Simply Recipes.com

Tomatoland, What’s ahead, Pictures and some recipes

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Tomatoland:

Five or so years ago I bought a cheap ticket to Fort Myers, Florida where I rented a car and spent three days driving through ground zero of the Florida growing area. What I remember most about that trip was the smell. The air seemed sterile and laden with chemicals. The fields, especially the sugarcane acreage, were huge and extended as far as the eye could see. Deep in the Everglades I drove for almost a day and didn’t see another person. Vermont author Barry Estabrook has just published an excellent expose of the Florida tomato industry. He describes what he calls “chemical warfare” and “real slavery, not slave like conditions” for workers. On the cover Ruth Reichl wrote “If you have ever eaten a tomato-or even plan to-you must read Tomatoland”. The RMF tomatoes are still a couple of weeks away so you have plenty of time to pick-up a copy. Eastabrook’s award winning blog is “Politics of the Plate”, where you can find a link to his interview with Terry Gross and pick-up a copy of the book.

What’s ahead:

I’m pretty sure that we don’t need to talk anymore about what a slow, wet spring it’s been. Better to look forward. We love melons, and have a lot planted. Peppers are progressing nicely, and the 1000 heirloom tomatoes we’ve planted in our Haygrove field tunnel look amazing. Sweet corn is knee high, and the onions are rebounding nicely after getting put in extra late. Beans, herbs, cukes, etc. will be following soon. Our main wholesale crop is winter squash and that went in very late, record breaking late. We’ll just need to keep our fingers crossed and hope for some heat and a very late fall frost. To date we have not irrigated once in the field.

A few farm pictures:

Our old chicken house had been standing empty for quite a while since we had increased the layer flocks and moved them out to pasture.  What better to fill an empty little barn with than some little goat kids.  These  little kids are Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats and in the far off future they will give us a small amount of  milk for drinking and a bit of chevre making.  Right now they are just being fed by bottle and entertaining us with their silly goat antics.

Fiona and Hughie joined our farm family last week

Farmer Will with Ginger and Fiona

Recipes:

We are including a few recipes with our weekly newsletters and we want to encourage members to share recipes too.  On our website homepage under the menu heading “current members” you will find “share your recipes.”  If you click on it, you will find recipes that members are starting to share. At the bottom of the page, there is a box for you to add a favorite recipe or two that you think others should try.  If you have a few moments to share one of your favoites we could really get this recipe list going.  Thanks for contributing!

Some very simple kale recipes:

Sautéed Kale

1 1/2 pounds young kale, stems and leaves coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1/2 cup vegetable stock or water

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft, but not colored. Raise heat to high, add the stock and kale and toss to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring until all the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add vinegar.

Crispy Kale Chips

1 head kale, washed and thoroughly dried

2 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.  Remove the ribs from the kale and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Lay on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and salt. Bake until crisp, turning the leaves halfway through, about 20 minutes. Serve as finger food.

Crispy Kale Chips #2

1 bunch kale, washed and dried well

1 tablespoon olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon brown sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Tear the leaves off the center rib of the kale and tear into large pieces. Place leaves in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and toss until completely coated.  Divide kale between 2 baking sheets lined with parchment. Arrange in a single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until crisp. Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle with brown sugar.

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