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week 15 update

Farm Update #17

Hello Everyone,

We received a bit more rain this past week from the storm that passed
through on Thursday. It wasn’t much, perhaps a quarter of an inch,
nothing like the downpour experienced in the eastern part of the state
and NYC. Fortunately we were also spared the high winds and hail that
accompanied the storm in these areas. We are still a little on the dry
side, but the fall crops look great and the most recent planting are
germinating nicely. The final summer squash patch is producing
abundantly, so expect lots of zucchini and summer squash for the next
few weeks. The beans too, are beginning to bear prolifically, although
they are a bit slower to size up now, as the days get shorter and the
nights cooler.  There weren’t enough to go around last week, so some
groups did not receive them.  Those who did got only a half pound. We
will try to compensate for the inequity this week, by sending larger
quantities to those who were skipped last week. Eggplant production
remains slow, so we are still in an every other week rotation. The
tomato harvest has slowed to a trickle; we will try to include a few
in the shares, but I can’t make any promises.

We have the wonderful Hakurei salad turnips available once again.
Remember that the tops are a good cooking green or can even be added
raw to salads.  The turnips can be cooked or eaten raw. Both the
greens and the roots are of better quality in the fall than those of
the early summer harvest.  The Swiss chard is absolutely gorgeous
right now and we will have spinach in the next week or two. The first
large planting of fall broccoli should be starting to head up soon, so
it should be in the shares within 2 weeks. The first of the fall
lettuce crop is also still about 2 weeks away from being ready.  Since
it’s been so many weeks without lettuce, I decided to buy some from
another local organic grower. Besides the corn, this will likely be
the only veggie not grown on the farm to be included in the share.

The share for this week will be: Boston lettuce, salad turnips, beans,
peppers, Swiss chard, fingerling potatoes, garlic, summer squash,
tomatoes?, eggplant?, and choice of an

Farmer John

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week 14 update

Hi all,

Apparently last week’s fruit was gala and regular macintosh apples.
Did anyone notice?  My pallet couldn’t distinguish, but Ginger, our
true fruit connoisseur, explained that Macintoshes are a more tart
than Britemac’s and therefore better for baking.   All I know is that
they all taste good.  Anyway, this weeks fruit share will be gala and
britemac’s.  I’ve got one lone Macintosh leftover from last week so
I’m planning to set up a blind taste test this afternoon.  Macoons
will be ready (weather permitting) next week.

The cooler air and rain is making John down right cheerful.  Imagine
that.  A happy farmer.  Almost a oxymoron. The vegetable share this
week will be: Summer squash, beans, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant,
shallots, white potatoes, radishes, celery, choice of arugula, tatsoi,
or other mustard greens and choice of an herb.    See his farm update

Also, don’t forget to mark you calendars to visit our farms on Sunday,
October 10th (Columbus Day weekend).  Both Treelicious and Starbrite
Farms are hosting farm visits that day.  John says the two farms are
about 1/2 hour away from each other, so one could easily stop by both
and make quite a day of it.  More details to follow soon.

No Havenwood Farm delivery today.  I’ve got to remember to send in my
order form for September and October.   I remind you all and then
forget myself.  Ah well.


Starbrite Farm Update #16

Hello Folks,

We had some light rain and drizzle here at the farm this past Sunday.
I don’t think it amounted to even a ¼ inch of precipitation. It will
help to germinate some of the recently planted seeds and will also
help the lettuce and some other newly transplanted broccoli and
kohlrabi starts. It really only wet the top 3 or 4 inches of soil and
was a lot less than what I had hoped for and what we really need.  I
guess we’ll be moving the sprinklers around a lot in the days to come
since currently there is no rain in the forecast for the next 10 days.

We will be sending celery in the shares this week.  This has once
again been a disappointing crop for us- growing slowly and never
really achieving good size.  I have dreams  of someday soon gaining
access to some of the black dirt or muck soils that we have nearby; I
am told that celery grows beautifully in this ground as do many crops.
It is rather unfortunate that these fields are used largely for sod
production and an inch or two of this rich soil is removed with each
harvest. The celery will be stronger in flavor that what you are used
to from the grocers, with only a few of the inner stalks being mild
and tender enough to be used in salads. The outer stalks are best used
cooked in soups or stir fries.

The tomato production has slowed way down, with mostly plum tomatoes
and heirlooms left with green fruit and a healthy plant. Despite the
dry weather and my efforts to control the blight, disease has once
again taken a heavy toll on the crop. We should still have some
tomatoes in the shares for the next few weeks, just not the large
quantities you have seen over the past 3 weeks.  The third planting of
summer squash is coming on strong despite grazing damage from the
deer.  I expect sufficient quantities for all groups this week and
larger amounts per share next week.  We are back in the bean business
as well, with green and wax beans in small quantities this week and
larger amounts over the next several weeks. We also have another
planting of edamame and some casoulet beans that will be ready in
about 3 weeks. The lettuce is beginning to grow nicely in the cooler
temperatures and we should see it in the shares again soon.

The share for this week will be: Summer squash, beans, tomatoes,
peppers, eggplant, shallots, white potatoes, radishes, celery, choice
of arugula, tatsoi, or other mustard greens and choice of an herb.

Farmer John

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week 13 update

Hi all,

Havenwood Farm delivers today.  Yum.

In a nod to Rosh Hashana and first day back at school for some of you,
today’s fruit share will be apples: Gala and Britemac.

The vegetable share for this week will be:  Tomatoes, peppers,
eggplant (maybe), red potatoes, yellow onions, carrots, string beans
or edamames, ground cherries or cherry tomatoes, arugula or mustard
greens and choice of an herb.


Starbrite Farm Update #15

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a pleasant Labor Day weekend.  There’s no 3 day weekend
here at the farm of course, we’ve got to harvest your food!  For my
workers and I, today was just another day of labor. Besides
harvesting, the major project for Monday was to finish erecting a
temporary fence around 4 acres of field to keep the deer from
destroying the pumpkin and winter squash crop.  The vines are
beginning to die back and there are only a few more weeks before the
harvest, but the deer have already done a lot of damage.  We need to
protect it until it matures and we have a chance to bring it in out of
the field.

We are back in the greens business again, this week we have arugula or
other mustard greens, next week there will be tatsoi. A second
planting of chard is coming on and the first planting has been
renovated and is beginning to grow nicely again.  We should have
spinach and kale in 2 or 3 weeks.     Unfortunately lettuce is still a
few weeks away, but once it begins again we should have a steady
supply until the end of the season.   I haven’t griped about the
weather yet; a mandatory part of these updates, but I’ll keep it
brief.  It’s been beautiful of course, but very dry; we really need
some rain and there’s none in

Beans are a bit scarce at the moment, as we wait for the next planting
to start producing, which should be next week as they are flowering
heavily. The Rattlesnake beans have been almost completely defoliated
by the bean beetle, despite the release of thousand of parasitic
wasps.  The guys from the state insect lab have been making frequent
visits to scout and release the wasps to try to at least reduce the
population that will overwinter.  In the mean time I have to tolerate
the devastation.   Zucchini and summer squash will be making their
reprise soon, possibly by next week.  I’m sorry to say that the melons
are done, but at least we had a fairly good run.   Eggplant production
is still slow, so it’s a maybe for this week, if you got it last week,
a probably not.

The share for this week will be:  Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant (maybe),
red potatoes, yellow onions, carrots, string beans or edamames, ground
cherries or cherry tomatoes, arugula or mustard greens and choice of
an herb.

Farmer John

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week 12 update

Hi all,

The fruit share this week will be gala apples, yellow peaches, and
Ozark plums. I spoke with Ginger this evening and she told me that
Tree-licious Orchards, once again, will be hosting AppleFest on
Sunday, October 10th (Columbus Day Weekend)  to benefit the Children’s
Center at Montclair University.  Beside a wonderful apple picking
experience for the family, there will be face painting, games and
other foods to enjoy.  Ginger will send us a flier soon with more
details but I thought I’d let you know now so you can put it on your

The vegetable share will be:  tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beets green
beans or edamame, garlic, sweet corn (conventional), melon or
watermelon, choice of cherry tomatoes or ground cherries, tomatillos,
red onions, and choice of an herb.

It is an off week for Havenwood Farm.  Ken mentioned that the turkeys
this year are not doing well and he does not think he will have any
for us for our Thanksgiving dinners.  He will let us know for sure
very soon so that we can make other arrangements.  Meanwhile, the Sept/
October order form for eggs/poultry etc is posted on the Google
Group.  If you haven’t sent yours in yet, be sure to get it in the
mail asap for next week’s delivery.


Starbrite Farm Update #14

Hi Folks,

As predicted we received some much needed rain this past week, a total
of a little more than an inch, that fell mostly as drizzle and light
rain over  four days.  Such a protracted period of precipitation makes
the harvest more challenging, especially for the potatoes, which had
to be dug by hand, without the help of the potato digging machine.
I’m not complaining though, after such a dry summer we’ll take
whatever we can get, and be grateful for it. Now it seems we’re
engulfed in another heat wave, but it should break by Friday and we
get another chance of rain as the high pressure moves in.

We are still picking melons and watermelons, although the peak
production is past. What we have at the moment are mostly smaller
watermelons.  We were unable to harvest many edamame soybeans last
week, so some groups did not get any as promised. If you were one of
those members who did not get soybeans, you will this week. The same
is true for eggplant.

We are bringing in loads of tomatillos at the moment, so start
searching for recipes…  These green (sometimes purple) paper husk
covered members of the tomato family are the main ingredient in salsa
verde, the Mexican condiment.       They are not picante as many
people assume, the heat coming from the chili peppers which are added
to the salsa. Salsa verde is very simple to make just  boil them until
soft, pour off the water,  and put them in a blender with onion, hot
peppers (or not) and salt to taste.

The share for this week will be: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beets
green beans or edamame, garlic, sweet corn (conventional), melon or
watermelon, choice of cherry tomatoes or ground cherries, tomatillos,
red onions, and choice of an herb.

Farmer John

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week 10 update

Hi all,

Sorry for the late notice.  John didn’t send his farm update until
after I went to bed last night.  I chatted with John at the market on
Sunday.  Apparently, the tomatoes and melon crops love this summer’s
heat, but greens are having a hard time.  The vegetable share for this
week will be:  Tomatoes, beets, potatoes, leeks, tomatoes, melons and /
or watermelons, beans, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant (maybe), choice of
cherry tomatoes or ground cherries, choice of an herb and more

Last week’s gigantic fruit share was actually twice the amount we will
normally get.  The peach crop this season has been spectacular and
Ginger wanted to share their bounty with CSA members.  She sent down
20 pounds of peaches each, instead of our usual 10 pounds.  I skinned,
sliced and froze a lot, made a peach pie for my in-laws and will make
another tonight.  Even my neighbors are benefiting from this peach
bonanza.  This week we are back to a regular size delivery and have a
combination of Gingergold apples and yellow peaches.


Starbrite Farm Update #12

Hi Folks,

This will be a brief update, since I am late in writing it. My
computer died last week and after determining that it was not worth
fixing, today I purchased a new one. Between setting it up, learning
my way around a different operating system and getting the farm work
done, it’ been a hectic day.

Greens continue to be scarce and we have run out of lettuce as well.
We’ve been planting more and should have some again in about a month.
Spinach and arugula are up and growing and should be ready about the
same time- in Mid-September.

Meanwhile, tomatoes and melons are ripening rapidly and ground
cherries are falling to the ground profusely. For those of you new to
the CSA, ground cherries are an odd fruit in the solanaceous (tomato)
family closely related to tomatillos, having the same paper husk
around the fruit. They are the size of cherries and they fall off the
plant when ripe so we gather them off the ground, hence the name. They
are very sweet and have a unique nutty pineapple flavor. They are one
of those items that people either love or hate, so we will send them
as a choice with cherry tomatoes.

We had a couple of days of drizzle this past week, which while it was
enough to help some of my recently planted seeds to come up, didn’t do
much for the overall soil moisture  levels. We have a couple of more
chances for rain this week, so hopefully we will receive some more
substantial precipitation.

The share for this week will be:  Tomatoes, beets, potatoes, leeks,
tomatoes, melons and /or watermelons, beans, tomatoes, peppers,
eggplant (maybe), choice of cherry tomatoes or ground cherries, choice
of an herb and more tomatoes.

Farmer John

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week 8 share

Starbrite Farm Update #10

Hello Folks,

We’ve arrived at August, having survived a scorching July, and happy
for the more moderate temperatures we’ve enjoyed over the past week. A
few passing storms have brought us just enough rain to keep the crops
happy and to help germinate the many seeds I’ve sown during the week.

I’ve planted more beans, cucumbers and summer squash for a late
September harvest as well as beets and carrots for October. We have
also begun transplanting the brassica crops for the fall as well.
We’ve been busy in the greenhouse seeding escarole, radicchio and
lettuces to be transplanted out into the field in 2 or 3 weeks. We
have to work in the greenhouse on overcast days or during the early
morning hours before the heat becomes unbearable. We also have to
trick the lettuces into germinating by placing them on a cool concrete
floor in the barn for several days until they begin to emerge. Lettuce
seed has a trait known as heat dormancy by which, if exposed to high
temperatures and moisture it will refuse to germinate under any
circumstances for about a month. We have to watch them carefully
because they will quickly get too leggy if not moved into the light as
soon as they begin to emerge.

It’s not easy being (a) green, especially during a hot summer in New
Jersey.  The spinach and mustard greens are long gone and the kale is
laced with holes courtesy of 2 pests; the flea beetle and the
tarnished plant bug. I have sprayed it twice to try to control them
but they continue to migrate in from the broccoli and cabbage plants
which are finished and waiting to be plowed under. The Swiss chard has
been over-cut and needs time and cooler weather to recover. About the
only greens we have in abundance are the dandelion kind; not a big
favorite (the insects don’t seem to like it much either). We will
continue to send it as an extra for those who like it bitter. I am
planting spinach, arugula, and other mustard greens this week, so we
should start to have greens in the share again in September.

In the meantime, we will have to make do, with the summer crops-
peppers will begin this week, and eggplant the next. Tomatoes will
become more abundant with each passing week. The melon crop is looking
good and some fruit should begin to ripen in the next 2 weeks.

We are still experiencing a dearth of beans, but the pole beans have
begun to flower and the beleaguered bush beans are trying to produce a
second crop, so we should  be back in the bean business soon.

The share for this week will be: Lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, summer
squash, white onions, carrots, red gold potatoes, and choice of an

Farmer John

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week 7 share

Hi Everyone,

It looks as though the tomato season has arrived. We began picking a
sizeable amount of fruit last Friday, and a lot more have ripened over the weekend.
It’s a week or two earlier than normal, one of the better consequences of this sunny, hot,
and accelerated season. There will probably only be enough for 1 or 2 fruits per member
this week, with more appreciable quantities arriving in the coming weeks. We should
have some peppers and possibly eggplant for next week. The bean plants have begun to
flower again now that they have been re-hydrated. Hopefully they will produce a second
picking of better quality than the first batch. The pole beans have begun climbing their
trellis and will begin to flower soon, so the delicious, heirloom Rattlesnake beans should
start in another 2 weeks.

Another consequence of the hot summer is that the onion crop has matured earlier
than anticipated. The tops have died back on almost all varieties. Once this happens we
must quickly get them out of the field to be dried or they will begin to rot. My workers
spent most of Friday and all of Saturday pulling, gathering, and spreading them out in the
greenhouse to dry. The volunteer work day to help with the onion harvest scheduled for
August 8th is cancelled, since we could not wait until then. The crop looks excellent with
lots of large bulbs of good quality that should store well.

We received some good precipitation on Sunday, which began as a sudden
downpour and continued for another 2 hours as a steady light rain. It caught me in the
middle of sowing a late crop of beans and soaked both me and my bags of seed before I
could flee the field. I often joke that the best way to bring rain is for me to get on the
tractor I use for seeding and head out to plant. I consider this to be a corollary of
Murphy’s Law as it relates to farming. I was in the middle of a row and had to try to
finish as the soil quickly turned to mud and stuck to the wheels of the seeder. What a
The share for this week will be: Lettuce, tomatoes, summer squash, green
cabbage, beets, Yukon gold potatoes, garlic, daikon radish, a small quantity of either
beans or snow peas and choice of an herb. Look for dandelion greens as an extra, if you
like them (most people don’t).


Farmer John

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week 6 delivery

Hello Everyone,

We had a great start to the season, with plenty of beautiful greens,
and unusually bountiful shares. As we head into mid-summer greens
generally become more scarce, and in this accelerated season we have
arrived at this point a little sooner than normal.

All of the various mustards have bolted to seed and the kale is
looking quite sad due to the heat and dry weather. At this point only
the Swiss chard remains viable and we have been cutting it quite
heavily during the past 2 weeks. I believe we can harvest sufficient
quantities for distribution this week, but then we will need to let it
rest and regenerate for a bit.   I have been preparing ground to plant
more spinach and mustard greens and I will be seeding these crops as
soon as the weather allows. These greens should become available again
in early September.

Up to this point we have provided you with chiefly “normal” vegetables
with which most members are familiar and know how to use. This week
may be the week that we cause some members to search their cookbooks
and the internet for ways to use some less common vegetables;
specifically radicchio and fennel. Even though I planted over a
thousand radicchio plants many have bolted and quite a few have been
destroyed by the groundhogs.  We may need to offer dandelion greens as
a choice with the radicchio.

This time last year we were swimming in green beans; this season
however both the abundance and quality of the crop has been reduced by
the heat and dryness. The plants are looking better now that they have
gotten some rain and I hope that they will begin to flower again and
produce a second picking.  We also have an heirloom pole bean called
the rattlesnake bean that looks good and should start producing in
about 3 weeks. I am in the process of planting more bush beans for
September harvest.

The tomato crop is looking good so far, and we may have sufficient
quantities to ship out by next week, if not, certainly in 2 weeks.
Eggplant and peppers should also become available in the next couple
of weeks. We will be beginning to harvest potatoes this week, even
though the earliest varieties have not completely died back. This
means that they are “new” potatoes and as such have thin skins that
are easily damaged in harvesting and washing. It will be best to use
them fairly quickly, as they probably won’t keep well.

The share for this week will be Lettuce ( various types), red
potatoes, cauliflower, summer squash, carrots, red torpedo onions,
fennel, radicchio or dandelion greens, Swiss chard, string beans
(either green or wax), and choice of an herb.

Farmer John

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week 5 delivery

Hi Folks,

I am happy to report that the farm received nearly 2 inches of rain
this past Friday night into Saturday morning. This was much more than
expected and a bit more than was needed, but nevertheless a huge
relief, both to my worried mind and my drought stressed plants. We
were occupying too much time moving the sprinklers around and I was
unable to begin preparing ground for the fall planting which will
begin soon.  When the ground gets dry it shrinks and tightens, making
plowing difficult and dusty.  I will have to wait a day or two for the
soil to dry a bit, but soon I will be able to get some seeds in the

I picked and ate the first few tomatoes over the weekend. The first
few always end up on my plate, since there aren’t enough to distribute
or even to take to market. And what a delight they are- acidic and
sweet, unlike anything available from far away places, out of season.
The tomato crop looks good so far and I anticipate having sufficient
quantities to begin distributing in 2-3 weeks.  Peppers and eggplant
are on the horizon as well.  The pea harvest is essentially done but
we are still picking a few shell peas and some snow peas which were
planted late. Their replacement in the legume category-the string
beans are just beginning to fill out. The plants have been looking
quite sad this past week or too, a result of the dry conditions and
also the damage caused by the bean beetle. It is necessary to tolerate
some defoliation as we wait for the parasitic wasp to do its job.

While we are on the subject, 2 weeks ago in my update I discussed the
Mexican bean beetle and the biologic control program run by the NJDA.
I like to try to inject some humor into my writings and I jokingly
referred to these insects as “undocumented aliens”.  I received a
message from one of the members saying that she found this offensive.
I apologize if any one else did not find this amusing. I did not mean
to compare undocumented immigrant to bugs, but since in recent days
some politicians have done just that, I suppose that my remark could
have been easily misunderstood.

I have tremendous respect for the hard work done by the immigrant
population, in agriculture and in other areas. I have seen the poverty
that exists in Central America and I have sympathy for the risks that
are taken and the sacrifices made by these folks in order to provide a
better life for their families. The United Farmworkers Union is
currently promoting a program they call “Take our Jobs”, encouraging
average Americans to spend a day doing farm work, in an attempt to
promulgate greater respect for these workers and the arduous tasks
they perform. I guess in some way we are unofficially participating in
this program with the volunteer work days we have been hosting. I wish
to thank those members who came out this past Sunday to help with the
garlic harvest. We were able to bring in about a third of the crop.

We have needed to harvest large quantities of lettuce in the past few
weeks in order to not lose them to bolting in the scorching heat. Some
of these varieties do not hold well and the coolers are getting quite
full. We will be sending 2 different types of lettuce in the shares
this week. Hopefully you won’t mind eating lots of salad this week. We
also had to harvest the Napa or Chinese cabbage this past week, so
that will be in the share.  While I planted sufficient quantities for
all the members and to have for market, a substantial number were lost
to either rot or bolting, so we may need to substitute regular green
cabbage if we run short.

The share for this week will be: Romaine Lettuce, green leaf lettuce,
napa cabbage, choice of kale or Swiss chard, elephant garlic, carrots,
summer squash, cucumbers, peas and or green beans and choice of an


Farmer John

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week 4 share

Hello Folks, I hope everyone had a pleasant Fourth of July weekend. We
don’t get to take much of a break for the holiday here at the farm.
Today, Monday was a regular workday and I spent most of yesterday on a
marathon mission to finish planting the winter squash
I confess that I did catch some blues music and fireworks (ooh-ahh) in
the nearby town of Sparta. The lack of rain in the last 2 weeks has us
moving the irrigation equipment around from field to field, a task
that interferes with our other pressing duties. Oh yes, and it’s been
really hot, in case you hadn’t noticed. Many things are burning up in
the fields, especially my workers and I.  It looks like it will cool
down a bit by the end of the week and we have a couple of chances of
thunderstorms to bring some much needed precipitation.
I’m all for Alliums. I rarely cook a dish that doesn’t start with
onions, garlic or some member of this tasty family. This is why I try
to include some type of Allium in each delivery. I apologize for the
absence of the pearl onions that were promised in last weeks share. I
know we planted them, but we just couldn’t seem to find them in the
Everything gets name stakes as we plant but sometimes they get lost
and at this point it’s hard to distinguish the cippolini onions and
shallots from pearl onions. No matter though, we have lots of large
onions that are ready earlier than expected, so last weeks delivery
should be the only one of the season absent of Alliums.
The cucumbers have started producing heavily and a few groups
received some last week. If you didn’t, you are likely to get some
this week.  The pea season has gone by in a flash owing to all the
heat. We have some sugar snaps left and also a meager harvest of Fava
beans, which we will offer as a choice this week.  The bean crop is
coming on strong and will be ready to fill in as the legume family
member in 2 weeks, if not sooner.
The share for this week will be: Lettuce (either Boston or Oak
leaf)  broccoli, beets(either purple or Chioggia, also known as Candy
cane), kohlrabi, sweet onions, summer squash, cucumbers, Swiss chard,
choice of sugar snap peas or Fava beans and choice of an herb (basil
or parsley)   Enjoy!    Farmer John

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