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March 24, 2019
Signs of Spring
By Charis Lindrooth
Since I couldn't get a pic of the woodpecker, you have to settle for baby beets!
I spotted a pileated woodpecker for the first time on the farm yesterday. This avian insectivore is a massive bird and was too shy for my camera to capture him, but even after he disappeared from view I could here the loud rattatat of his mighty beak against the hollow trees that line the farm fields.
Flocks of robins have also made their appearance, hopping and bobbing across fresh-tilled ground in their search for breakfast. "Our" indigo bunting is back and the first crocuses and snowdrops are blooming. Even though the temperature has been chilly, the sun is strong and the seedlings in the greenhouse are growing vibrantly.
Spring holds a sense of promise on the farm. It is always a time of anticipation as we prepare to feed our veggie-loving fans.
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April 8, 2018
NOT Like a Lamb at All!
a Note from the Farmer's Wife
Did I say something about spring and lambs last week? Well, I was wrong. Spring is pent up, shut down, suppressed and altogether stalled by a persistent chill in the air that refuses to let go. Our daffodils are pushing up and forming buds on short stunted stems.
Still the tractors push on, back and forth, hour after hour. One tractor disks the long straight beds, another follows spreading compost and a third tills the clods of earth, leaving a smooth, flat canvas, ready for planting. Our nursery is exploding with seedlings waiting to be transplanted. It looks like the weather will be gentler later this week, and that is when we will set them in.
On his day off today, the Farmer is planting trees. We recently received a shipment of 90 trees, shrubs and bushes and he is happily designing the bare landscape around our home. He’s been at it for about 6 hours already, and I think he’s got about 20 done - not easy work on a shale-dense hillside. The Farmer’s Wife is particularly excited about the hydrangeas - 10 of them! Hopefully they will take hold and grow quickly producing loads of cut flowers. Mmmm! I can’t wait!
Speaking of waiting, the Farmer has just made the call to delay the Spring Share by one week. We will deliver 6 items/week, instead of 5, so you will still get the full share value. Bread shares will get one extra specialty loaf on the final week and egg shares will get and extra dozen the first week. Pickup and delivery details will be sent before the end of April.
New Spring Share start date: Wednesday May 2.
Our Spring Share is only half full, so please jump in to enjoy the sweetest and most tender early vegetables of the season: baby salad, pea shoots, radishes, scallions, arugula, salad turnips and more.
Isn’t it time to eat fresh from the garden again? Yes!!
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March 17, 2018
"Spring!" says the Robin to the Witch Hazel
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
Winter is holding on with icy fingers that sneak down my shirt collar. I shake it off determined to focus on signs that reassure me that spring will indeed arrive soon.
The cheerful racket of birds in the early morning grabs my attention first. The sound fills me with joy and relief, the way the first rays of morning sun dispel anxious worries during a sleepless night. I figure these birds have some private intelligence informing them that now is the time to make ready for warm and abundant days ahead, and this encourages me.
The sun has changed too. If I can find a sheltered spot out of the chilly wind, the renewed strength of the solar rays force me to take off a layer or even two, which I immediately regret as soon as I step out of the shelter. The nursery is fairly bursting with warmth when the sun is out and thousands of baby plants insist that the season’s change must be near. Do you remember last year? I think March and April switched places, so after an early start in March, cold winds and frosty nights damaged fruit trees and tender seedlings alike. I am hoping that paying the Chilly Piper now will pay off with a balmy, perfect April. No matter what, I am heartened to think that soon I can stop purchasing my vegetables at the grocery store and go back to “shopping” in my own back yard.
And finally the blooming Witch Hazel heralds the end of winter with it’s blazes of yellow prayer-flag blossoms. The sight makes me so happy I could kiss them. So take heart my vegetable loving friends! Soon you will have the freshest and tastiest greens back on your plate, reviving your palate and strengthening your health.
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February 18, 2018
Snap Snow
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
Once again the view over the farm makes me think of Narnia during the Snow Queen's reign.
Last night I took Mara's new sled and zipped down the steepest hill to the nursery. The snow fell so thick I had to close my eyes and surrender to the thrill of gravity and a slick slope. At the bottom, the nursery gleamed like a beacon through the storm, lit by the grow lights that give our light-dependent seeds a jump start. I couldn't help but wonder if an overhead reconnaissance survey might be drawn to the lit greenhouse, raising questions about what exactly we grow here. I suppose ten thousand onions might be a boring answer to the follow-up investigation, but to us the new green shoots emerging from their planting trays thrill us. Thyme, mint, rosemary, lavender, pansies and other slow growing herbs and flowers have also made their appearance.
When fantasy trips to distant tropical islands remain out of reach, spending time in the nursery on a sunny February day puts a dent in the winter blues. The air is warm, humid and reviving to our parched skin and nasal passages. Potting soil under the finger nails is a happy thing and the time we spend in there as a family, all four of us working with a peaceful rhythm will likely be something the Farmer and I miss when we are empty-nesters.
The forecast tells us that this snow will be short-lived on the ground, with temperatures nearing, or exceeding 70 this week. That means the nursery will brighten up like a green onion lawn before the first of March. The anticipation of spring, and the hint of it in the February air, fragrant with the scent of thawing earth never fails to quicken the heart of the Farmer and get him moving out and about, itching to warm up the tractor and plough. Soon we will have information about our Spring Share available so that you can take advantage of the most delicate early greens and sweet roots of the entire season.
Spring is my favorite; always has been and always will be.

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April 15, 2017
Endeavor to Eat More Veggies
By Charis Lindrooth
Nothing cheers a person up about Tax Day more than the very first baby green salad out of the greenhouse. Come midsummer I might take salad with a ho-hum attitude (note that I said “might”), but in spring the return to our homegrown bounty is a relief. Some may call me a veggie snob, but I truly believe nothing tops fresh picked baby lettuce and radishes…except the summer heirloom tomatoes!
Everyday I think about the obstacles that keep me from eating 8-10 servings of vegetables daily - not an easy thing to accomplish, even for the Farmer’s Wife! I see the issue as two-fold. First is the ready access to fresh produce that inspires the palate. Second, is the time and know-how needed to prepare the vegetables in a way that satisfies the family. I am always looking for creative and simple ways to incorporate more vegetables into my family’s diet.
I have decided to run a “Kitchen Series" through this season offering tips on storage, preparation and time savers for the dedicated veggie eater. If you have suggestions or recipes, send them my way - I’d love to incorporate your ideas too!
Of course the first step to eating more vegetables is to buy, or grow, local produce. The flavor and nutrient value will leave your kids asking for more.
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April 1, 2017
The Economy Share
By Charis Lindrooth
No fooling, things are heating up on the farm. The tractor hums by me daily, the driver happy and content to be back in the “saddle,” as it were. The nursery is turning a brighter shade of green, touched by the magic of popping seeds and emerging shoots. The haygrove, our triple-bay hoop house is covered and full of baby lettuces, bok choi and sweet salad turnips, designated for Spring Share boxes later this month. Did I say later this month? Yes! In less than 4 weeks, our season begins again. I can hardly wait to taste those first, most tender and sweet baby vegetables. I cannot wait to visit the grocery store less often, when my refrigerator is bursting with vegetables.
I still get a CSA box every week. Being the Farmer’s Wife, I get a steep discount, of course. You might think that because the farm is right at my feet I wouldn’t need a box, but thirty acres is a lot of ground to cover when you want something specific. And nothing beats the thrill of the weekly list that magically appears each week, picking my favorites, planning my weekly menu and then the delight of opening the fresh box each week.
Recently I asked our members what works and what doesn’t work for them about CSA. If you haven’t responded to this question yet, feel free. We are listening! Almost everyone lists “choice” as a top priority, and we have that covered. Others mentioned the need for pick up site closer to their home. We are willing to accommodate any group that organizes enough interest to host us - we need help with that! And others mentioned that they wish we had a smaller, more affordable share size.
Our recent work on our Community Supported Accessible Food initiative has highlighted this same issue. We have created a new Economy Share to fill a niche for a smaller share for those people who want a more economical option. This share will include 5 Farmer’s Choice items weekly for 22 weeks. The Farmer will pick vegetables for these boxes that are family favorites, with the hopes that the customer will easily be able to use the contents of the box each week. The cost of the share is $306 for 22 weeks, just $13.91/week. In mid summer the box might hold 1 large head of lettuce, 1 quart of tomatoes, 1 quart of potatoes, a quart of green beans, and 4 juicy cucumbers.
Please let us know if you have questions or feedback for us!
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March 6, 2017
The Early Bird Gets the Veg!
Announcing the Spring Share
It's official! For those of you who cannot wait to get your hands on Red Earth produce, we are once again offering a Spring Share. The early greens are the sweetest and most tender of the entire season, and not to be missed! We are offering a limited number of shares to select locations.
The Spring Share will be Farmer's Choice only (no ordering, take what you get - you know like those old fashioned CSA's?). The cost will be $115 for 6 weeks, 5 items/week, beginning April 26.
Possible and likely items in your box will be green onions, radish, baby salad, arugula, bok choi, head lettuce, kale and swiss chard. Egg shares are delivered weekly for $4.25/week.
All deliveries will be on Wednesdays.
Your participation makes a difference!
Log in to sign up for the Spring, and/or the Main Season. You won't be sorry!
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March 4, 2017
Herald of Spring
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
The tractor has already been busy. Never ever have we been able to start our field prep so early. Beautiful even rows of brown earth wait for the Farmer, like a blank canvas awaits the artist. In many ways farming is an art and the summer fields become an expression of the passion of the farmer. Nothing feeds his spirit like the miracle of growing food. Every time seeds sprout and thrive, it feels like magic.
In spite of winter-like temps today, the Farmer made the trek to Farmer's market with early greens and radishes from the hoop house. Even on chilly days, which have been scarce, you can now feel the power of the sun again. The birds know it. Chirps, twitters and a flurry of activity remind us that nest building is underway.
If things continue this way, we will be on target for our Spring Share, a 6-week share featuring the priceless first greens. We have set the date for this to start in late April, so stay tuned for all the details.
If you haven't registered for the Main Season, jump in now. We are happy to have you back.
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April 16, 2016
Dandy Springtime!
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
As you can see from this picture, we don't spray our lawn for dandelions. This carpet of gold manifested quite suddenly, and at it's appearance our daughter leapt from the car. She only paused a moment to say, "Mama, is it "Dandelion Day?" Yes, I guess it is! Only once a year, and only for a few days, can you see this burst of sunshine in the grass, without one single "wish," the white puffy seed heads. There is something magical about it, tempting one to take a nap in the sun and listen to the buzz of honeybees.
Although many lawn aficionados decry the dandelion as a weed, these prolific blooms provide essential nourishment early in the season for pollinators. Bees and butterflies, beetles and even birds, benefit from the dandelion. Often this plant offers the very first feeding for insects, and so can make or break a colony's successful survival. Instead of jumping on the mower early this season, consider leaving the blooms for at least a few days. Take a little time, and a small person with you, if one is handy, and investigate the life at your feet. Discover the variety of six legged and two wingers that industriously get to work when the blooms start.
Gooserock Farm, a farm full of apiaries, has a great article on how we can help save pollinators. In line with my thinking they add a lot of detail if you would like to learn more:
"Most of the important bee plants in the northeast are wildflowers. Of these, probably the single most valuable early spring wildflower is the dandelion. If a hive survives the winter, beekeepers know the bees will be safe from starvation if they can stay alive until dandelions bloom. Dandelion pollen is moderately nutritious and the nectar is abundant. It doesn’t normally produce what we call a ‘surplus’, i.e. enough nectar to produce honey above and beyond what the bees will use for themselves, so you won’t generally see dandelion honey for sale, but it gives the bees a huge boost and adds to the health and wellbeing of the hive."

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March 24, 2016
Wild Goose Party
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
Photo used with permission from Microsoft.
If you notice dark circles around the Farmer’s eyes these days, or his Wife’s, I can tell you why.
Many urban-dwellers grow accustomed to night time noises, such as sirens, people yelling and traffic. Here in the country, sleep time is usually more serene. Crickets, the hoot of an owl or a yap of a coyote become akin to a sleep machine for us. But lately, there’s been a racket that permeates the dreams of even the soundest sleeper. Across the street from us lies a lovely small pond. It’s fresh waters attract all sorts of wild-life. We’ve seen migrating osprey dive at blinding speed to it’s surface and snatch up dinner. Kingfishers perch on the telephone wires that stretch across the field there, keeping a constant watch on potential opportunities for food. Deer pause to drink. It’s all very picturesque.
Then the waterfowl return to nest, notably the Canada goose. Most of the time, they spend daylight hours honking their courtship messages at each other. Most birds, owls and mockingbirds excepted, are instantly asleep when the sun goes down. You can walk right up and pluck one from it’s nest, as long as its dark. Inspired, or fooled, by the moony-ful brilliance however, these rambunctious geese start to party.
Last night as I lay in bed, eyes wide open, listening to their racket, I gazed outside. Indeed I could see every detail of the barn and grounds, not quite as bright as day, but clear enough that I could imagine the geese decided to waste no time. Honking and splashing, there could've been a thousand of them for all the noise they made. At dawn this morning, the usual time for birdsong, the pond was silent. The partiers had either completely worn themselves out, or they had finally accomplished their mission. As proof, we soon will see them proudly swimming in circles around the little pond, followed by a trail of fuzzy, lemon-gray little darlings. And that makes the lost sleep all worth while!
Spring is truly here. The birds and beasts know it and so does the Farmer. Our tractors are in full use already, whereas last year at this time they were snowed in, or close to it. We guess you are starting to fantasize about tender young fresh things (vegetables, that is, not goslings) on your plates. We have plenty of space in both our Spring Share and Main Season, so please keep spouting good things to your friends and relations! I also want to say a personal "thank you!" to Dish Works for their recent blog post, "Weekly Pick: A Farm Blog with Character," featuring Notes from the Farmer's Wife! Nice to get a little encouragement to keep at it! And thanks to all of you who take the time to read these notes...its nice to know someone is out there!
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March 13, 2016
Warm Thoughts
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
The spring peepers started peeping this week. The tractor has begun its work, tilling and amending soil. The triple greenhouse is warm and beckons the first planting. And the birds, well I guess here is my chance to throw out the work “cacophony,” for surely that is descriptive of the racket they are making. And just like the birds, the Farmer and I wake each day earlier and earlier, instinctively preparing for the long days ahead.
A Pennsylvania country spring holds magic for me. I still burst with childish delight when I find the first purple crocus appear amongst the leafy mulch of my garden. Eagerly, I push aside debris and think of little Mary Lennox, in The Secret Garden, doing the same. Then I will sit back on my heels and watch my daughter aptly dig for worms while Robin Redbreast admires her work from a safe distance.
It feels a little odd to have this indulgent warmth so early, but I cannot resist the happiness it fill me with. It also inspires me to plant flowers. 3500 gladiola bulbs, 400 dahlia tubers, several thousand sunflowers…the list goes on. The Farmer, naturally, is thinking vegetables: 60,000 onions, 20,000 heads of lettuce, 4000 tomato plants…you get the idea. How do we get so excited year after year about so much work? The answer lies in the magic of growing things, combined with the ultimate satisfaction of feeding people who love to eat them. That would be you!
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March 5, 2016
A Farmer's Inspiration
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
I couldn't resist re-posting this photo that we shared with March 7, 2015. Just one year ago we had a heavy snowfall that slowed our plans for an early start significantly. This late winter is decidedly more friendly. Yesterday we replaced the cover on the triple-bay greenhouse and it already feels like Florida when you walk in there. Soon it will be filled with babies destined for your Spring Share boxes.
The sun’s strength increases noticeably in late February. On a sunny afternoon and one can feel the sun's warmth in a way that inspired hope. It feels stronger. Early in morning the returning birds chatter, preparing for the days task of foraging and flirting. As the angle of the sun’s light changes, all of us, people, animals, plants, and the soil can feel it. Soon winter’s grip will slip away and the bounty return.
A farmer who isn’t ready loses precious time. The soil is full of moisture after the long winter. Plow too early and the weight of tractor and plow pack the muddy earth, damaging its structure, destroying valuable air spaces. Wait too long and we may lose the benefit of that moisture as the increasing sun’s intensity slowly dries the earth. Working and planting that moist spring earth is key to the success of our early crops. The soil never turns better than soon after the first spring thaw. Crumbly, soft and sweet smelling. That beautiful earthy smell is full of vigor and potential for the farmer. Few things inspire him more.
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March 14, 2015
Spring Has Sprung!
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
Our four year old leapt from the car yesterday, abandoned her boots and sunk her toes into the muddy grass. I couldn’t blame her. Tempted to do the same, I sniffed the air instead. A flood of childhood memories never fails to inspire me each Spring. The smells and sounds of awakening life have the same effect on my heart. What a relief!
The Farmer had planned to build a “gutter-connect” hoop house this week, but with persistent snow, combined with copious amounts of slippery mud, he abandoned the plan.
He will try again next Friday. What is a gutter-connect? Picture a greenhouse made of giant hoops, like a long tunnel. Now picture three of them snug up against each other. Finally remove the walls between them and you have it. This will cover a good portion of ground, allowing for early planting of salad and other cool-loving crops. What does it mean for you? Potentially, we will be able to offer a small early Spring CSA, for those of you who can’t bear to wait until June. We will keep you posted if that possibility becomes real for this year. Otherwise, you will have to wait.
Every winter, we try to use as many of our own vegetables as possible. We have become veggie snobs, and grocery store produce in this year doesn't provide the same satisfaction to our palates as the fresh harvest from the farm. Late winter challenges this resolve. Lately we have been enjoying baby arugula salads, baby arugula omelets and baby arugula smoothies. Okay that last item is only enjoyed by the Farmer’s Wife (see recipe below). The arugula this time of year is perfectly sweet and mild. The kids, who mid summer turn up their noses at the pungent flavor, eat it happily this time of year. The Farmer also recently brought home a bunch of young Red Russian Kale, a treat you should all be jealous of!
We have a tentative date for a Meet the Farmer (and his Wife) Dinner at Agno Grill at 2104 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. Mark your calendars for May 17th. We will be in touch with confirmation details and ticket prices soon. We look forward to the opportunity to meet as many of you as possible this year! Even if you cannot make it to any of our Farm events this season, we will be making an extra effort to regularly post pictures here and on Facebook, as well as send regular updates about what’s happening on “your” Farm.
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March 7, 2015
A Farmer's Inspiration
A Note from the Farmer
Spring is here, or is it? As we watch yet another layer of white stuff deposited on our farm it feels almost silly to be gearing up for planting, yet that is exactly what we are doing. This snowy weather is just a short delay of the inevitable change that is at hand.
The sun’s strength increases by the day (when we get to see it). Every year in late February we get a sunny afternoon and I look up and feel the sun's warmth on my face and realize that it suddenly feels different. It's stronger. There may be snow and ice on the ground and the air may be 25 degrees but the sun feels warm. As the angle of the sun’s light changes, we, and the plants in the greenhouse, can feel it. Soon winter’s grip will slip away.
It takes only a day or two for the farm to transform. A couple sunny March afternoons in the 50s and the snow will be gone. Two more blustery days to dry the soil and it is time to plow. We can go from winter white to plowing up beautiful rich earth in less than a week.
A farmer who isn’t ready loses precious time. The soil is full of moisture after the long winter. Plow too early and the weight of tractor and plow pack the muddy earth, damaging its structure, destroying valuable air spaces. Wait too long and we may lose the benefit of that moisture as the increasing sun’s intensity slowly dries the earth. Working and planting that moist spring earth is key to the success of our early crops. The soil never turns better than soon after the first spring thaw. Crumbly, soft and sweet smelling. That beautiful earthy smell is full of vigor and potential for the farmer. Few things inspire him more.
So we go out to shovel the path one or two more times, knowing that the sun will return. It's strength builds and one day we walk outside to the signs of spring flooding us. Why wait? Look for them now. As sure as the whiteness all around us, the awakening of Spring is already here. Bird song, smells on the wind, the swelling buds and rays of the sun. Enjoy every moment, it will be hot summertime before you know it.
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