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Weekly Updates

Welcome to the blog.
Posted 2/13/2018 3:01pm by Jeff Schrimmer.

Last spring Circle Brook Farm built a “chicken tractor”- a mobile chicken coop used for raising birds on pasture. They acquired a flock of laying hens; Rhode Island Red crosses, and by mid summer the flock was in full production.  Egg shares became available to our members, and the eggs were fantastic, which was no surprise to fans of Farmer John's work.

The birds are generally outside all day, where they feed on the grass and other plants and insects as well as the vegetable wastes which the farm generates. The birds spend the night on roosts inside the chicken tractor protected from predators. Their foraging diet is supplemented with milled grain that is locally sourced and non GMO. John has not yet been able to find a nearby source of organic feed in the quantities he requires.

John's Rhode Island Reds have continued producing wonderful eggs this winter, allowing us to offer winter/spring egg shares.  Egg share members have been picking up eggs every two weeks since November, and this will continue until May 23.

If you are not a winter/spring egg share member but might be interested, please e-mail us at downtownharvestcsajc@gmail.com.

Egg shares will be available to produce share members during our June to mid-November 24 week season for the following fees: $120 for 24 weeks of 1 dozen/week, $220 for 2 dozen/week, and $320 for 3 dozen/week.

 

Posted 2/10/2018 5:27pm by Jeff Schrimmer.

Downtown Harvest CSA is thrilled to announce details of our 2018 season, our 14th year of bringing healthy New Jersey food to our urban community.  We will be adding new options to our offerings this year.

1) Farmer John Krueger, our farmer for more than a decade, will continue to be our farmer.

2) The 24-week season will begin in early June and will end in mid-November depending on weather and growing conditions.

3) The price of a full share will remain the same as in 2017: $675 for a full share.  Members who enroll before March 1 will receive a $25 discount, reducing the fee to $650.

4) Members who purchase produce shares will have the option of purchasing egg shares.  The fee for 1 dozen eggs/week will be $120, 2 dozen/week for 24 weeks will be $220, and 3 dozen/week will be $330.

5) We will continue to use “market style” distribution for full shares, in which members choose items from bins and may be offered choices of items.  Our popular "exchange bin" will be there, again, so you can exchange items you may not need for others that you want.  Items that are not picked up will be donated to the Our Lady of Sorrows food pantry in addition to shares generously donated by our members and our farmer.  

New for 2018:

6) Groups of people who wish to split shares will no longer need to pay additional administration fees for each member of the group.  One person will sign up for the group, insure that payment is made, and list the names of people authorized to pick up when you fill out the enrollment information on the website.  How you do your splitting is up to you.

7) Based on your feedback we will offer pre-boxed Half Shares as an alternative to splitting shares with partners.  “Grab your box and go” will be an attractive option for people who want a convenient way to purchase less than a full share‎. The pre-boxed share is $400 for the 24-week season.  Members who enroll before March 1 will receive a $25 discount, reducing the fee to $375.

8) The administration fee for one Full share or one pre-boxed Half share will $25 for the 24-week season.

9) Last season’s members will not automatically be re-enrolled.  We hope you wish to be a part of Downtown Harvest in 2018, and we ask you to visit our website and enroll for the 2018 season.

Click on this link to go straight to the enrollment page! http://www.downtownharvest.org/members/types

Notes: after enrolling for the 2018 season, members will receive payment instructions (enroll first, pay later).  Payment must be made by check.  However, we cannot provide refunds, so please be sure of your commitment before mailing or dropping off checks.

We are looking forward to another great 24-week season and encourage you to take advantage of the early enrollment discount!

Posted 11/13/2017 11:47pm by Jeff Schrimmer.

And now, a few words from Farmer John Krueger.....   

Hello Everyone,

So we have arrived at the end of another CSA season; a sad time for many of you and perhaps a relieve for some of you as well.  I know that it sometimes a challenge to put to good use all of the produce you receive in your share each week. We try to give a good value but sometimes we overwhelm.  We have tried our best to provide variety and quality and I believe for the most part we were successful.

In any growing season there are challenges and disappointments; this year it was with the tomatoes and to some extent the melons.  Both of these were the result of a wet summer.  For next season we will be constructing more high tunnel greenhouses to grow tomatoes where they are protected from wet conditions.  We have a few of these now and were continuing to harvest a few tomatoes each week for market but never enough to ship to members, at least until last week when we suddenly had a preponderance of ripe fruit. We sent a few out to several groups and will be attempting to cover the rest this week. For me and my crew the season is ending none too soon. We have been enduring cold wet conditions for several weeks and this past weekend’s polar blast wreaked extensive damage on the crops remaining in the field.  My worker tried valiantly to either pick or protect what we could but in the end time ran out and the temps dropped to low (16 degrees). I would have liked to have finished out the season a little stronger but it is what it is (as the say!).   Of the greens, spinach is about the only thing that survived the cold.  Arugula and the other mustard family crops were not killed but are too badly damaged to cut. Some of these will recover and continue to grow so we hope to have some in the stock up share for next week.

I have tried to make the updates informative and humorous and tried not to complain about the weather in every single one (I believe I succeeded once or twice).  You know what they say- everyone complains about the weather but no one ever does anything about it. But the weather is different than the climate, even though the climate change deniers have difficulty grasping that fact (among many).  We are all able to do something about climate change by the way in which we live our lives.  Supporting local farms and reducing the transportation impact of our food is one of those ways and I thank you for that.  Agriculture has a tremendous impact on the global environment and a huge role to play in our planets restoration. But as we strive to be good stewards of the land, to be restorative and sustainable we are still faced with the ultimate challenge- economic viability. Faced with declining CSA membership and farmers market revenues we have had to attend more markets with less profit. This year even the small wholesale component of the business has faltered, presumably because other farmers in the same situation have turned to this avenue to sell their excess produce.  As consumers turn to the convenience of meal kits and home delivery services small farmers will be left out of the loop. I love what I do and hope to continue but it’s going to take some creativity to develop a new distribution paradigm as community supported agriculture fades away.

In the meantime we need your help to spread the word about the importance of supporting your local farms. Talk to your family and friends about joining a CSA or shopping at the farmers market. If you have time, participate in the core group at your site and help us figure out what the impediments are to joining a CSA and what might be the solutions.  Thank you all for your support. Please thank the core group organizers at your site for all that they do.  I wish you all Happy Holidays and a safe and healthy winter.

The share for this week will be: Carrots, spinach, potatoes, onions, beets, sweet potatoes, leeks, butternut squash and Brussels sprouts for those who did not receive them last week.  There will be celery for the premium shares.

(Note: Downtown Harvest CSA is a Premium Share CSA)

Enjoy!     Farmer John

Posted 11/6/2017 9:38pm by Jeff Schrimmer.

Here's our weekly update from Farmer John Krueger:

Hi Folks,

So We’ve enjoyed a very mild fall thus far but it seems that is about to end. We are expecting frost every night this week and temps are forecast to dip into the teens on Friday night. This is quite worrisome as temperatures that low can damage even the hardiest of crops. We are going to have to harvest a lot of stuff ahead of the deep freeze and cover whatever we can that is left in the field.

We will be trying to get some Brussel’s sprout out to some groups this week and to others next week in the final share. These are tremendously time consuming to harvest; made even harder because the outside leaves are a bit damaged and my workers have been painstakingly peeling them. I’m afraid we may need to curtail this endeavor and ask you to pull one or two of the outside leaves off at home if they are not pretty.

We are sending Yacon (pronounced jacone) this week in the premium shares; it is a tuber that is in the sunflower family. It is native to South America. I brought some roots back from Colombia a few years ago and we have been expanding our planting stock. The look just like sweet potatoes, but are best eaten raw, so don’t confuse then. They are sweet and juicy and can be chopped up and added to salads. They are a light orange color and taste a little like carrots. They keep very well but begin to turn black rather quickly after they are peeled. At the farmer’s market in the mountains outside Medellin, where I discovered them, they kept the peeled pieces in a glass of water.

The share for this week will be: Brussel’s sprouts or broccoli, lettuce, peppers, potatoes, onions, cabbage, choice of spinach or chard, sweet potatoes, parsnips, buttercup squash (kabocha) and baby bok choy. Premium shares will include fennel, yacon and choice of parsley or cilantro.

(Note: Downtown Harvest CSA is a Premium Share CSA)

Enjoy! Farmer John

Posted 10/30/2017 6:22pm by Jeff Schrimmer.

Our Week 22 update from Farmer John:

Hello Everyone,

So we received 4 inches of rain from Sunday’s big storm. We lost power around 8:30 just as we were sitting down for dinner. Power was restored at around 2 AM. We still maintain a considerable amount of produce in the walk-in coolers, so it is always worrisome to experience an outage. Fortunately it was brief and we did not suffer any damage form the high winds. We have some very muddy conditions in the field to contend with but all in all very lucky to have been spared the damage that has befallen much of New England.

I have come to accept worrying as an occupational hazard of farming. One of the first songs I ever learned on the guitar was “Worried Man Blues” an old folk song popularized by the Carter family (and covered by just about every folk and bluegrass artist). I didn’t know back then just how well it would serve me!

The cauliflower is still abundant and the next planting of broccoli will be heading up soon. Brussel sprouts will probably have to wait until the final delivery of the season and of course there will be some in the stock up share (hint, hint).

Apparently I told a fib last week when I predicted the end of the peppers as we still have a few for you this time around. The sweet potatoes this week will be a variety known as Jersey’s or white sweet potatoes. The winter squash will be an assortment of delicata, sweet dumpling and Jester (a cross between the first two). It will be another colorful share with orange carrots, yellow onions, redskin taters and lots of greens.

The share for this week will be: Lettuce, potatoes, spinach, choice of kale or chard, sweet potatoes, carrots, peppers, choice of arugula, broccoli raab or tatsoi, onion, cauliflower and delicata/ sweet dumpling/ Jester. Premium shares will receive celery root and either salad turnips or radish/daikon.

(Note: Downtown Harvest CSA is a Premium Share CSA)

Enjoy! Farmer John

Posted 10/25/2017 3:44pm by Jeff Schrimmer.

Here is our weekly update from Farmer John:

 

Hi Folks,

So a week after our frost event we are seeing the damage that was caused. It seems bit strange but while the peppers and beans were not completely killed, we had damage to some crops that are usually quite hardy. Lettuce which is much tougher than one might think had quite a bit of tip burn as did the chard. Even the broccoli and the kale have some white spots on the leaves- a sign of frost damage. I’m guessing that it’s because the cold came somewhat suddenly and the plants did not have time to prepare.

Plants adapt to cooler temperatures by producing compounds, primarily sugars that act as anti-freeze and protect their cells from rupturing. The rupture is the result of a strange property of water. All other materials contract as they get colder; and so does water at first; right down to 4 degrees and then it begins to expand.

I remember arguing with my 7thgrade teacher about this fact. From what I had been learning about the properties of atoms it made no sense to me. He shut me up by sending me to the nurse’s office where there was a freezer to place a full bottle of water in it. The next day on finding the broken water bottle I was convinced! But I digress…

We have another nice share for you this week. We have a few more peppers for you (mostly green) and with these we bid farewell to the warm weather crops. Now that the sweet potato vines have been thoroughly blackened we have begun harvesting them in earnest. We have a tremendous crop and you will be enjoying them for many weeks to come (especially if you purchase the stock up share! nudge nudge). We are sending spaghetti squash as the winter squash du jour (du semaine?) partly because people seem to like it and partly because we have a lot and it doesn’t keep well for us.

The share for this week will be: Peppers, potatoes, spinach, choice of arugula with either tatsoi or broccoli raab, cauliflower or cabbage, leeks, bok choy (purple), spaghetti squash, beets and sweet potatoes. Premium shares will also receive daikon and choice of endive or escarole.

(Note: Downtown Harvest CSA is a Premium Share CSA)

Enjoy! Farmer John

Posted 10/17/2017 3:06pm by Jeff Schrimmer.

From Farmer John:

We will host several more events at the farm this fall. These will all be opportunities to see the farm, help out a bit and to receive a pumpkin.

Harvest Festival- Saturday, October 21st, 11 am ‘til ? and Sunday October 22nd, 11 AM until 4 PM. Saturday will be the main event, with Sunday as a rain date or for anyone who cannot make it on Saturday. This will be similar to the spring event. It will be potluck for lunch, there will be grills available for cooking. Members can begin arriving after 10 am. I will give 2 farm tours- the first at 11:30 and the second at about 2 PM. If there is interest we can do some pumpkin painting or carving for the kids. Also if there is interest we will build a fire at the back of the property and have a campfire sing-along. Bring your acoustic instruments and your voices. Bring your own food and beverages. We will provide apple cider. Take home a pumpkin.

Sunday November 5th, 11 am- Come out and help prepare the garlic for planting. This will be done inside the barn, so it will be rain or shine. If there is interest and the weather permits I will be happy to show folks around the farm in the afternoon.

Please RSVP to me directly if you will be attending either of the volunteer days or would like to hang around for a campfire. Also anyone willing to come a little earlier for the farm visits and help out with parking or other logistics- your assistance would be welcome. kruegerjohn@earthlink.net

I look forward to meeting many of the members in the coming weeks! Farmer John

Posted 10/17/2017 2:57pm by Jeff Schrimmer.

And, now our weekly update from Farmer John:  

Hi Everyone,

Today in addition to harvesting for the Tuesday deliveries, we spent preparing for another cold night.  This will be our first hard frost and will likely finish off most of the tender crops such as the peppers, eggplant, beans and summer squash.  We have covered as much as we were able to try to keep them alive for a few more weeks.  This will be a single cold night after which it will warm up again for a week or so.   The sweet potato vines will certainly be killed and we can begin harvesting them in earnest.  They will be featured in most if not all of the shares remaining in the season.

The spinach crop is now large enough to cut and highly tolerant to cold, so it too will be abundant through the final weeks of the season. Cauliflower is heading up and we will be including them in the shares over the next few weeks. We also have lots of beautiful carrots for you to finish out the season! As I have been hinting the season is winding down- just 4 weeks left after this week.

I have sent out the information on the end of season stock up share.  This is an opportunity to continue eating quality local produce well into the winter and to support your favorite farmer (I hope lol).

Please RSVP ( kruegerjohn@earthlink.net ) if you plan to attend the farm event this weekend, so I can have an idea of what to expect.  I especially need to know if there is interest in a campfire on Saturday night as this requires more planning.

The share for this week will be: Lettuce, peppers, gold potatoes, red onions, choice of arugula or broccoli raab, broccoli or cauliflower, rainbow carrots, acorn squash, spinach. Premium shares will receive bok choy and choice of an herb.

(Note: Downtown Harvest CSA is a Premium Share CSA)

Enjoy!

Farmer John

Posted 10/10/2017 9:24pm by Jeff Schrimmer.

Please note that we have attached Farmer John's Fall Farm Event schedule to the bottom of this update.

And now a few words from Farmer John Krueger:

Hello Folks,

As I write we are receiving some much needed rain; hurricane rain but without any damaging winds. This will be of great benefit to the greens and the fall brassicas which have been slowed down by the dearth of precipitation through most of September. We have some spinach that is sizing up and may be ready to begin harvesting next week. We also have a lot of broccoli planted which will be heading up through the rest of the season and cauliflower should be starting soon as well.

We will continue the winter squash with butternut this week followed by acorn and delicata in the weeks ahead. We have some nice beets for you this time around, with salad turnips for next week and plenty of carrots as we finish out the season. The sweet potatoes are still sizing up so we will hold off another week or two but I expect a good crop this season.

We will be offering several more chances to visit the farm this fall, beginning this Sunday with a volunteer day to help us bring in the rest of the winter squash crop. On October 21st and 22nd we will host a fall harvest event. More details to follow.

The share for this week will be: Butternut squash, peppers, beans, choice of arugula or mizuna (Asian mustard), lettuce, beets, choice of kale or chard, broccoli or kohlrabi, yellow onions, red skin potatoes and choice of cilantro or dill. Premium shares will receive eggplant and choice of radishes or daikon.

(Note: Downtown Harvest CSA is a Premium Share CSA)

Enjoy! Farmer John


Circle Brook Farm 2017 Fall Event Schedule

We will host several more events at the farm this fall. These will all be opportunities to see the farm, help out a bit and to receive a pumpkin.

Harvest Festival- Saturday, October 21st, 11 am ‘til ? and Sunday October 22nd, 11 AM until 4 PM. Saturday will be the main event, with Sunday as a rain date or for anyone who cannot make it on Saturday. This will be similar to the spring event. It will be potluck for lunch, there will be grills available for cooking. Members can begin arriving after 10 am. I will give 2 farm tours- the first at 11:30 and the second at about 2 PM. If there is interest we can do some pumpkin painting or carving for the kids. Also if there is interest we will build a fire at the back of the property and have a campfire sing-along. Bring your acoustic instruments and your voices. Bring your own food and beverages. We will provide apple cider. Take home a pumpkin

Volunteer days
Sunday October 15th, 11 am. Come out and help with the winter squash harvest and be rewarded with an ornamental or edible pumpkin.
Sunday November 5th, 11 am- Come out and help prepare the garlic for planting. This will be done inside the barn, so it will be rain or shine. If there is interest and the weather permits I will be happy to show folks around the farm in the afternoon.

Please RSVP to me directly if you will be attending either of the volunteer days or would like to hang around for a campfire. Also anyone willing to come a little earlier for the farm visits and help out with parking or other logistics- your assistance would be welcome. kruegerjohn@earthlink.net

I look forward to meeting many of the members in the coming weeks! Farmer John

Directions to Circle Brook Farm: 141 Brighton Rd. Andover NJ 07821

Take I-80 West to Rt. 206 North. Follow 206 for about 8 miles. Just after passing a Shell station (the 2nd one) you will pass under a tunnel. The next left is High St., you will see a blue sign for County Route 606 and on the left a yellow sign for low bridge ahead. Turn left there, up a steep hill to a traffic light. Go through the light and follow Brighton St. for about 2 miles, it will turn into County 603 and you go down a hill and around a curve. Turn into the driveway at the 2nd and larger yellow house with a red barn on both sides of the street. If you miss the turn on High St. continue through the Borough of Andover and turn left on Brighton Rd, County 603 (Simon and Peters Sport Shop is on the corner). The farm will then be on the left in 1 ½ miles. Use the address above for navigation with your phone or GPS. If you use Circle Brook Farm it will take you to the wrong place!

Posted 10/3/2017 1:49pm by Jeff Schrimmer.

Here is our weekly update from Farmer John:

Hello Everyone,

So you may have noticed I haven’t had much to say about the weather for the past few weeks; a deviation from the norm since most of my updates begin with a weather report. I jokingly refer to it as griping about the weather but it’s really meant to help the members understand what we are up against and in what ways the weather affects our production.

With the devastation caused by Harvey and then Irma and now Maria it didn’t seem appropriate to utter a single word that might be construed as complaining. Besides, the frequent rain had ceased and after a cool beginning September warmed up nicely.

So at this point it hasn’t rained (except for a bit of drizzle) for over 3 weeks and the heat wave we had at the beginning of last week actually damaged some to the acorn squash, leaving white sunscald marks. We have had to move the sprinklers around to get the last round of seeds I planted to sprout.

I always tell folks that out here in the highlands of Northwest NJ we can have a frost as early as October 1st. As I watch the long range forecast carefully, I was expecting our first frost this year around the 22nd or 23. Imagine my surprise when today I spied the blackened leaves of the sweet potato vines. On closer inspection I saw that the basil too had been singed as well and there was some damage to the beans and summer squash. It was a very light frost but a frost nevertheless; and completely unpredicted and unexpected.

But it will gradually warm up again over the next week or so until the next big dip and we may get some much needed rain early next week. So I ain’t complainin, I’m just sayin! As farmers we are accustomed to making the most of whatever Mother Nature gives us!

And so, we have another splendid share for you this week. Broccoli has begun and will be in your share either this week or next, with kohlrabi filling in. Carrots are back and we have beautiful chard or kale. We are giving you a break from eggplant this week, as I am aware that most of you have had your fill! And we are starting the winter squash season with spaghetti.

The share for this week will be: Peppers (of color, of course), beans, arugula, lettuce, carrots, garlic, baking potatoes, broccoli or kohlrabi, spaghetti squash and choice of chard or kale. Premium shares will include: Radishes, choice of escarole or frissee and choice of parsley or garlic chives.

(Note: Downtown Harvest CSA is a Premium Share CSA)

Enjoy! Farmer John

Farm Update as of July 30thJuly 30th, 2018

Hello Folks,   “And the rain let up, and the sun came up, while we were getting dry”- Van Morrison.    So it was a challenging week but it could have been worse. So I guess

Farm Update as of June 11thJuly 16th, 2018

Hello Everyone, I am happy to report that the weather has been uncharacteristically cooperative this past week. The temperatures have been moderate and we have had several nice gentle overnight rains.

Farm Update as of June 25thJuly 16th, 2018

Hello Everyone,So I guess I should have known better than to have believed the weatherman.  I postponed the farm visit based on a forecast of rain and thunderstorm through most of the weeken

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