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TINY HOUSE SCULPTURE 1

Tuesday November 12, 2019

Two weeks ago, I said that I was going to tell you about growing carrots the following week.  Well, the weather turned very cold last week, so it seemed more relevant to write about how plants survive the extreme cold.  I should have been talking about carrots because that's what I previously said I was going to talk about.  Arlo once said to a receptive audience, "We can't always be doing what we're suppose to be doing."  So, with that in mind, here's our story about carrots.

First off, you should all know that I love carrots passionately.  A good crunchy sweet carrot is one of those things that helps me realize how awesome vegetables can really be.  It just reminds me how connected we all are to the life source that keeps the planet turning round and round.  I do not take this passion lightly.  My other name is "The Carrot Scientist", a part of who I am that is dedicated to making sure that real delicious, and nutritious carrots are available to you in as many months as possible.  One way to have carrots at odd times is to root cellar them.  Currently, we don't have a root cellar.  But what we do have is hoop houses both low and high.  And within them lies the magic.

Our goal is to have new carrots available by Mother's Day (Just in case you want to give some to that important Mother figure in your life for Mother's Day!).  To do that we actually plant the carrots now.  Yes, now.  The date that we pick is very specific.  If you plant them too early, they'll go to seed and only produce hard, fibrous roots that are inedible.  And if you plant them too late, the seedlings will be too fragile to withstand the harshness of Winter.  A formula has emerged that seems to work.  We find out when the days become longer than 10 hours and count back 12 weeks.  That is our date. 

Prep work is pretty intense.  An identified bed is broad forked and fortified with both compost and organic fertilizer weeks before our date.  Weeds are encouraged to grow so that they can be destroyed before planting.  Carrots do not like weeks at all.

This season, Joel is trying pelleted seed in our four point seeder.  Pelleted seed has an organically approved shell around the seed so that once wet, it will stay wet and make for better germination. As the seed grows, the shell melts away. That's the theory, anyway.  The four point seeder is a beautifully engineered little gem that has a hopper for the seeds and a brush holding the seeds from falling out all at once.  The brush sweeps the seed, one at a time into a machined scooped out hole that rotates in such a way as to drop the seed down a short chute.  One pulls the seeder so that the result is several parallel lines of seeds spaced out from each other the correct amount.  After seeding, the ground is gently rolled to make sure that the seed is in contact with the earth.  Then water, to soak both the ground and the pelleted seed.  After that, we'll build a small tunnel over the bed to keep it warm and encourage good germination.   We expect to see emerging carrot seedlings within 6 weeks. 

After that, our job is to keep the weeds down and make sure that the bed doesn't dry out.  The tiny seedlings stay at a very small size all Winter until we reach the a 10 hour length of day, which is somewhere near the end of January.  At that point, growth begins in earnest.  Maturity is around mid May.  Its quite a heroic journey.  I love this.  And I love the carrots that are a result of our hard efforts.

We've had a favorable response to our CSA a la Star Light.  You're part is to send us $100 and we'll give you credit at the store and/or the Farmer's Market for $120.  That is a 20% savings, which we think is pretty cool.

This week, like last week, we've an exciting array of fresh greens for both salad and side dishes.   If you see something that you like, email us back by Thursday 8AM and your order will be waiting for you in the shed after 2PM on Thursday.  If you come after dark, bring a flashlight or use your smart phone.

Salad Greens- with mizuna, a variety of lettuces, baby kale $6/bag

Arugula-  $6/bag

Baby Kale- for salad or an elegant side dish, lightly wilted $6/bag

Spinach- green green and full of iron and goodness- $6/bag

Pea Tendrils- again, they're best now.  For  pea tendril pesto and Asian cooking $6/bag

Carrots-  $5/bunch

Radishes-French Breakfast, Rover, Watermelon (a big favorite) and Lobo $4/bunch

Hakeuri and Namasaki (a deep purple) Turnips-  What's most amazing about both of these kinds of turnips is that they are even better to eat raw, sliced up for salads.  Roasting works well, too $4/bunch

Bok Choi- $3.50/bunch

We're concentrating on a few things that would be great to cook, namely braising greens.  Last week we introduced two braising green collections.  One has mustards, bok choi, a carrot, kale, and a few Asian greens.  All you do is lightly rinse the greens and braise in a pan briefly.  $10/bag.  The second one is a soup mix, with turnip,carrot,celeriac, radish, onion, potato, kale. Again $10.

Big Kale, Swiss Chard, Collards- $4/bunch

Peruvian and French Fingerling Potatoes-newly dug! $5/lb

Ginger- our ginger is so aromatic and delicious!  Nothing at all like you'd find at the supermarket $5/piece

Parsnips- $4/bunch

Turmeric- it turns out that everyone wants turmeric for inflamation, general health and a grand tea  $6/piece

Parsley and Cilantro- more beautiful than I can describe.  Both herbs can kick up any dish at least 4 notches $2/bunch

Beets- $4/lb

Garlic- $3.50/head  If you want to plant your own garlic, this is a perfect choice.

Peppers- $5/lb

Hot Peppers-$5/lb

 

Posted by: David Zemelsky
11/11/2019 9:47 am

After giving you a very small taste of how amazing soil is and all the  incredible things that go on down there, I thought it would make sense to talk about how some plants have figured out how to tolerate Winter. It seemed more important to talk about this than late carrots this week.( as promised last week.)

A little background first.  Twenty years ago when Ty and I started Star Light, we took a trip up to visit Eliot Coleman in Maine. Way up.  Eliot, for those who don't know is a rock star in the world of farming.  Kind of a Brittany Spears equivalent. (Or maybe JLO, depends on your taste!).  Anyway, Eliot is a very curious and inventive farmer who  realized that it was possible to have fresh food locally grown all Winter long.  Not all vegetables, of course, but a wide variety of greens, radishes, kale, chard, claytonia ( a lot more about this amazing Winter green in later weeks) and spinach.  Eliot put up hoop houses (a greenhouse without the heat) and constructed them in such a way that he could move them from one place to another.  Basically, he put them on runners, like a sled.  When the time was right, he'd get two tractors and pull the houses over an area that was planted for Winter harvesting. 

Hoophouses are marvelous ways to make a micro climate.  Covered with plastic and then covering the plants with rowcover (kind of a blanket for greens)  this system would make the world that the vegetables lived in 7-10 degrees warmer than being outside.  Also, the plants would be sheltered from the wind and the rain.

Eliot chose his vegetables wisely.  There are some vegetables that just won't tolerate  cold at all.  Tomatoes, peppers, basil, green beans to name but a few.  The ones that he did  grow for Winter harvesting had an inner wisdom about the cold.  Kale, claytonia, spinach, the ones that I call Winter Warriors, are the best suited for this lifestyle.

I find this plant skill truly amazing.  How does it work?  I'll give you a simple explaination and also refer you to a website that can explain it best.  Essentially, when it gets cold, the water in a plant's cellular structure can change density.  By doing that, the freezing point also changes to a lower temperature.  AND, its a bit more complicated than that, so I"m going to refer you to a website that will do a better job.  Here it is:https://www.newsobserver.com/news/technology/article46478820.html

Available food this week? So much! And so wonderful.  As in other weeks,send us your order by 8AM on Thursday and your order will be waiting for you in our shed at 54 Fowler Ave./Durham after 2pm.  Bring a light if you come after dark!  Payment goes in the Payment Jar.

We are offering you a money saving idea again for the rest of the season.  Its a modern approach to CSA.  For $50, we'll supply you with $60 worth of food. That's a twenty percent savings.  Just send us a check at Star Light/54 Fowler Ave./Durham, CT 06422 and order food like you have already been doing.  The difference is that you've prepaid! And Saved!  Thank you for considering this.

We're concentrating on a few things that would be great to cook, namely braising greens.  Last week we introduced two braising green collections.  One has mustards, bok choi, a carrot, kale, and a few Asian greens.  All you do is lightly rinse the greens and braise in a pan briefly.  $10/bag.  The second one is a soup mix, with turnip,carrot,celeriac, radish, onion, potato, kale. Again $10.

Another incredible vegetable to consider this week is our lettuce heads, both green and red.  Here's a picture.  They taste even better than they look.

I just took this picture out in the field.  Pretty effective with the rain glistening all over it, right?!

You're looking at both a red and green butter leaf, but there's also red oak leaf and red and green romaine.  Please specify, if there's a preference for type and color.  $3/head

Salad Greens- with mizuna, a variety of lettuces, baby kale $6/bag

Arugula-  $6/bag

Baby Kale- for salad or an elegant side dish, lightly wilted $6/bag

Spinach- green green and full of iron and goodness- $6/bag

Pea Tendrils- again, they're best now.  For  pea tendril pesto and Asian cooking $6/bag

Carrots-  $5/bunch

Radishes- ditto.  French Breakfast, Rover, Watermelon (a big favorite) and Lobo $4/bunch

Hakeuri and Namasaki (a deep purple) Turnips-  What's most amazing about both of these kinds of turnips is that they are even better to eat raw, sliced up for salads.  Roasting works well, too $4/bunch

Bok Choi- $3.50/bunch

Big Kale, Swiss Chard, Collards- $4/bunch

Peruvian and French Fingerling Potatoes-newly dug! $5/lb

Ginger- our ginger is so aromatic and delicious!  Nothing at all like you'd find at the supermarket $5/piece

Turmeric- it turns out that everyone wants turmeric for inflamation, general health and a grand tea  $6/piece

Parsley and Cilantro- more beautiful than I can describe.  Both herbs can kick up any dish at least 4 notches $2/bunch

Beets- $4/lb

Garlic- $3.50/head  If you want to plant your own garlic, this is a perfect choice.

Peppers- $5/lb

Hot Peppers-$5/lb

Tomatoes-still way way better than anything from the supermarket $4/lb

Onions- $3/lb

Have a great week,


 

Posted by: David Zemelsky
11/5/2019 12:36 pm

There's a loud, robust conversation going on right below our feet.  Not in the usual sense of the word of "loud", because you won't be able to hear loud noises if you put your ears to the dir10/lb.10/lb.  Loud, in the sense that once you realize what's going on,  you'll feel like you hear what's going on.  Soil is an amazing  thing to contemplate.  It is literally alive and teaming with life.  Some of it you can see in the form of worms, other burrowing insects, small rodents etc.  But in sheer numbers, the microbial life in one cubic foot of soil would range in the millions or millions of millions.  Each of one of them has a specific and important job to do in keeping the health of the soil alive.  This is Nature at its most important and sacred levels, trying to keep the planet healthy.  These millions of microscopic living creatures  want to be able to make the environment that they live in the best possible place for living plants and trees to survive in.  If people could cooperate with each other at 1/100 the level that  these invisible creatures operate at,  I would venture to say that all of societies major problems would be solved.  Let me name but a few of the important jobs that all these under the ground creatures accomplish.  First off, the worms and other burrowing creatures create pathways for water and other nutrients to be distributed throughout the soil.  Other microbes affix themselves to plant roots providing them with an easy access to micronutrients and nitrogen to put  to good use in their own photosynthesis  factories operating topside.  Further, there are very sophisticated microbes that can help transmit information to fellow plants in the event of an attack by some unwelcomed pest.  The information gets transmitted electrically.  Go figure.  On a bigger scale, trees can correspond to each other if a unwanted predator and be able to create an actual scent that makes the tree undesireable to intruders.  What I"m describing is just the beginning of the story.  I encourage you to surf the web or go to the library to further this knowledge.  I, for one, am just at the beginning of it all.  Maybe for starter, try "The Secret Life of Trees".  It'll get you thinking-I promise.

Still harvesting everything from outside plantings.  A hard killing frost must be right around the corner.  Its officially late, as of this writing.  We've put up the small hoops, and there's plenty of row cover to protect the plants from frost for another 3-5 degrees.  But sooner or later, they'll get wacked with a serious freeze.  We'll talk in a week or two about how some plants manage to overcome cold.

Before mentioning the available produce for this week, I want to run the following idea up your flagpole.  We'll be offering a modified CSA plan for the rest of the year to anyone interested.  This will be CSA a la Star Light, strictly speaking.  You can buy for $50, $60 worth of our produce.  That's a 20% savings.  Nothing to sign up for, just send us a check.  You could also do $100 and get $120 worth of produce.  Once we have your check, we'll be able to take your order every week, tract your purchases and let you know what your balance is.  Order whatever you want.  If you want to order it all in potatoes or ginger that's fine,too.  Whatever you see on our list.  Mail your checks to Star Light at 54 Fowler Ave./Durham, CT 06422.  This is the best way to get local, organic produce at the best price.

Here's our list.  The Durham and Madison Markets are now closed for the season.  Except that there'll be a POP UP Market in Madison on November 22 2-5pm.  Our shed is a great place to come pick up our very fresh food.  Just look over the list and let us know by 8AM on this Thursday.  Your order will be waiting in the shed after 2pm on Thursday.  Bring a light if you're coming after dark.  Payment goes in the payment jar.

NEW this week!-Sweet Potatoes.  They're what we all need to live by! $5/lb

Braising Green- a really big bag for $6.  Probably twice the usual weight.  We're going to just get the biggest handful possible and call it a day.

NEW! Braising Green Kits.  Complete with everything needed for a stir fry.  Braising Greens, onion, carrot, pak choi and maybe a surprise or two.  $10

Salad Greens- with mizuna, a variety of lettuces, baby kale $6/bag

Arugula-  $6/bag

Baby Kale- for salad or an elegant side dish, lightly wilted $6/bag

Spinach- green green and full of iron and goodness- $6/bag

Pea Tendrils- again, they're best now.  For  pea tendril pesto and Asian cooking $6/bag

Carrots-  $5/bunch

Radishes- ditto.  French Breakfast, Rover, Watermelon (a big favorite) and Lobo $4/bunch

Hakeuri and Namasaki (a deep purple) Turnips-  What's most amazing about both of these kinds of turnips is that they are even better to eat raw, sliced up for salads.  Roasting works well, too $4/bunch

Bok Choi- $3.50/bunch

Leeks-big on both size and flavor $4/bunch

Jen's Flower Bouquet- $8

Big Kale, Swiss Chard, Collards- $4/bunch

Peruvian and French Fingerling Potatoes-newly dug! $5/lb

Ginger- our ginger is so aromatic and delicious!  Nothing at all like you'd find at the supermarket $5/piece

Turmeric- it turns out that everyone wants turmeric for inflamation, general health and a grand tea  $6/piece

Parsley and Cilantro- more beautiful than I can describe.  Both herbs can kick up any dish at least 4 notches $2/bunch

Beets- $4/lb

Garlic- $3.50/head

Green Tower Lettuce Heads- $3.50/each. NEW! Crunchy, and very full of flavor

Peppers- $5/lb

Hot Peppers-$5/lb

Tomatoes-still way way better than anything from the supermarket $4/lb

Onions- $3/lb

Next week, my intention is to talk about late late planting of carrots.  They are the best!

Have a great week,

 

 

Posted by: David Zemelsky
10/29/2019 9:53 am

I'm going to assume that all of you know that good food means a great opportunity for good health.  And also, you already know that many conventional ways of growing/producing food can be harmful to that very same health. 

A good example of this was brought to my attention by a simple but concise report in the latest issue of "The Cultivator" on the difference between organic and conventional milk.  The report, done by Emory University showed that in a blind test of 69 conventional and organic milk samples that the conventional milk contained pestcides, antibiotics and synthetic growth hormone residues.  The organic samples showed none.  The implications of these facts are ominous, to say the least.  For one thing, the overuse of antibiotics in livestock is directly linked to antibiotic resistance.   This threatens the effectiveness of antibiotic  treatment in everyday medical applications for both humans and animals.

"The Cultivator", by the way is magazine of a wonderful organic watchdog organization called The Cornucopia Institute.   Over the years, they've exposed weak and questionable practices in the organic food movement, often documenting how the USDA has bent over backwards to help huge companies get their organic label.  Big business has corrupted the organic movement and made the label in many cases dubious, to say the least.  The best thing is to buy local and "know your farmer".    If you can do that, that will go a long way for you and your health.  It is truly unfortunate that it has come to this.  The organic industry has many wonderful, dedicated and committed people within its ranks, however it is wise to stay skeptical of nationally marked brands of organic products.

On to farm business, though.  I would have to say that as it stands right now, we are sitting on the most eclectic variety of wonderful produce ever.  Diversity has always been the key to so many positive things.  At our farm market stand this  Saturday at Wooster Square New Haven, we had 25-30 different things to chose from.  Some items are always popular , while others are in need of a nudge from me to help show you new things.  I'm going to talk about one of them.

Braising Greens.  We now have beautiful, big robust, tasty, nutritious greens for you to cook and use as a wonderful side vegetable on your dinner plate  (or even a lunch plate).  A lot of people are reluctant to try them.  And I get that.  Its new, different and maybe a bit strange.  I will say, with total conviction that braising greens will satisfy - and in a big way.  So, to encourage you, we're going to offer the $6 bag of greens to be overstuffed.  Try some, and let me know what you think.

Other news: Impending killing frost has got to be just around the corner.  We've had about 3 light ones that have hardly said "boo".  But today is October 21st, so it won't be long.  Promise.

To that end, we're busy putting up small hoops for our outside low tunnels.  These will be covered with plastic, making for a good, temporary home for the greens that will spend the winter "outside".  These low tunnels are actually a micro climate that  gives the plants another 5-8 more degrees of warmth.  There'll be a few experiments, too.  For example, we've some swiss chard that is well established already.  In the next week or two, we'll completely cut it down to almost a stump and let that winter over.  In the late Winter, we'll be looking for new and tasty growth.

Our winter date for planting carrots will be coming up in a few weeks.  I'm going to hold off  talking about this late planting until next week or maybe the week after.  This activity is one of my favorite things to do and to share with you.

For those of you who are new to our ordering system, let me say the following.  Read the list below and decide what you'd like.  Email us back before 8AM on this Thursday with your exact order.  Come to our shed next to the house at 54 Fowler Ave after 2PM on Thursday.  Your order, with the price stuck on it somewhere , will be waiting for you.  If you are coming after dark, bring a light.  There's a payment jar on the table.  We think that this is an awesome way for people to get great food without having to shop the supermarkets.  Hope you'll feel the same.

Note: The list below is a copy of last weeks list, just in case you noticed some of the same photos.  There's something soothing about repetition sometimes.

Braising Green- a really big bag for $6.  Probably twice the usual weight.  We're going to just get the biggest handful possible and call it a day.

Salad Greens- with mizuna, a variety of lettuces, baby kale $6/bag

Arugula- not to be boring, but this is arugula's moment to really shine $6/bag

Baby Kale- for salad or an elegant side dish, lightly wilted $6/bag

Spinach- green green and full of iron and goodness- $6/bag

Pea Tendrils- again, they're best now.  For  pea tendril pesto and Asian cooking $6/bag

Carrots- boring to say cause I'm being so repetitive, but carrots are most sweet and crunchy right now $5/bunch

Radishes- ditto.  French Breakfast, Rover, Watermelon (a big favorite) and Lobo $4/bunch

Hakeuri and Namasaki (a deep purple) Turnips-  What's most amazing about both of these kinds of turnips is that they are even better to eat raw, sliced up for salads.  Roasting works well, too $4/bunch

Pak or Bok Choi- $3.50/bunch

Leeks-big on both size and flavor $4/bunch

Jen's Flower Bouquet- $8

Big Kale, Swiss Chard, Collards- $4/bunch

Peruvian and French Fingerling Potatoes-newly dug! $5/lb

Ginger- our ginger is so aromatic and delicious!  Nothing at all like you'd find at the supermarket $5/piece

Turmeric- it turns out that everyone wants turmeric for inflamation, general health and a grand tea  $6/piece

Parsley and Cilantro- more beautiful than I can describe.  Both herbs can kick up any dish at least 4 notches $2/bunch

Beets- $4/lb

Garlic- $3.50/head

Green Tower Lettuce Heads- $3.50/each. NEW! Crunchy, and very full of flavor

Lemon Grass- $3/bunch

Peppers- $5/lb

Hot Peppers-$5/lb

Tomatoes-still way way better than anything from the supermarket $7/lb

Onions- $3/lb

Have a great week,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: David Zemelsky
10/21/2019 8:30 am

Before I get started, I feel that its important to share with you that NOW is the very best time to enjoy greens from Star Light.  Our greens are outstanding all year long, but they are most outstanding in the Fall.  The mustards, the spinach, the salads, the kale and chard etc- all our designed to knock your socks off just as effectively as the tomatoes can in the Summer.

A few weeks ago, the Durham Library sponsored a potluck supper as part of a bigger move to promote the "one book one durham" concept.  The potluck was intended to underline the theme of the book called "This Is Where You Belong" by Melody Warnick. This book is all about making your immediate surroundings, including local businesses so much more important and satisfying then they currently are in your life.  Yes, its about buying local and yet so much more.  Its about the wisdom of putting your dollars into a local choice and helping to keep those dollars within the community.  Its also about how your life quality changes for the better when you are more connected to all the other immediate people close at hand. 

I'll give you a quick example of that.  My daughter in law in Northampton, MA is at home with the two small kids.  She needed to bring the car to get the oil changed at the service station, which is located at the end of her block.  On the phone to the mechanic she said that she'd bring the car down but wasn't sure, with two little kids how to accomplish that.  "No problem! Just leave the keys in the car, and I'll walk down and pick it up".  Such a simple, perfect solution.  She wouldn't have gotten this kind of service from Jiffy Lube!

Its just a small beautiful fact that when you interact with those immediately around you, they know who you are and are more interested in trying to make things work better for you. 

There are also problems with thinking along this model.  True, the local hardware store  owner may know your kids and your kids kids, but that doesn't change the fact that a hammer will probably cost more there than at a box store.  For people on a very tight budget,(which is most of us!), that would be the factor that weights the heaviest often.  Its a deliema that we all face.  In the long run, keeping our dollars local helps preserve the immediate experience of your environment not being flooded with corporate entities.

Buying organic locally grown food works the same way.  Its more expensive than Stop N Shop on the one hand.  But it is fresher, more tasty (a fact, not just an opinion!), less of a carbon footprint and the growing practices are environmentally friendly.  Plus, by supporting your local farmer, you're helping to keep the dollars earned right here in our community, as opposed to surrendering your dollars to a big corporate box store.

It is not too late to participate in this "One Book One Durham" event at the Durham Library.  There's a book discussion this coming Monday (10/21) 7:30pm or Saturday (10/26) at 11am.  I hope to go, and hope to see you there.

We'll be at three Farmer's Markets this week.  Durham on Thursdays from 3-6, Madison on Friday from 3-6 and Wooster Square on Saturday from 9-1pm.

If you're ordering from us for the first time, our system is easy.  Just email what you want from the list below.  Deadline for ordering is 8AM on Thursday.  We'll process your order and have it waiting for you in our shed after 2pm on Thursday.  If you come after work and its dark, just use your light on your phone!  Or bring a light.

As I mentioned above.  Greens are at the top of their game at this time of the year.

Salad Greens- with mizuna, a variety of lettuces, baby kale $6/bag

Arugula- not to be boring, but this is arugula's moment to really shine $6/bag

Baby Kale- for salad or an elegant side dish, lightly wilted $6/bag

Spinach- green green and full of iron and goodness- $6/bag

Pea Tendrils- again, they're best now.  For  pea tendril pesto and Asian cooking $6/bag

Braising Greens- a lot of hearty zesty mustards, mizuna for an awesome side vegetable dish $6/bag.  Seriously.  You should try these!

Carrots- boring to say cause I'm being so repetitive, but carrots are most sweet and crunchy right now $5/bunch

Radishes- ditto.  French Breakfast, Rover, Watermelon (a big favorite) and Lobo $4/bunch

Hakeuri and Namasaki (a deep purple) Turnips-  What's most amazing about both of these kinds of turnips is that they are even better to eat raw, sliced up for salads.  Roasting works well, too $4/bunch

Pak or Bok Choi- $3.50/bunch

Leeks-big on both size and flavor $4/bunch

Jen's Flower Bouquet- $8

Big Kale, Swiss Chard, Collards- $4/bunch

Peruvian and French Fingerling Potatoes-newly dug! $5/lb

Ginger- our ginger is so aromatic and delicious!  Nothing at all like you'd find at the supermarket $5/piece

Turmeric- it turns out that everyone wants turmeric for inflamation, general health and a grand tea  $6/piece

Parsley and Cilantro- more beautiful than I can describe.  Both herbs can kick up any dish at least 4 notches $2/bunch

Beets- $4/lb

Garlic- $3.50/head

Green Tower Lettuce Heads- $3.50/each. NEW! Crunchy, and very full of flavor

Lemon Grass- $3/bunch

Peppers- $5/lb

Hot Peppers-$5/lb

Tomatoes-still way way better than anything from the supermarket $7/lb

Onions- $3/lb

 

Posted by: David Zemelsky
10/15/2019 10:27 am

Dear Friends,

I hope that you won't think it presumptuous of me to share with you about my trip to the Shetland Islands.  If so, just skip ahead to  the food part of the letter.  I'll understand.

The first thing that you need to know is-why Shetland.  And I got asked that a lot.  Not just by friends of mine around here, but by fellow travelers and even the citizens of Shetland.  Why would you want to go visit a very small isolated place in the middle of basically nowhere.  A place where the sun shines sometimes and the wind blows all the time.  The answer to Why Shetland is not easy to answer.  I'll start by saying that it looks so damn inviting on the map!

Two years ago, just before Ty got sick, we made a decision to go travel.  This, in itself was a rare decision on our part.  We'd barely gone anywhere in all our years together.  Her vote was for Italy and specifically the mosaics of Ravenna.  My vote was for Shetland.  She, at least, had a professional reason for her choice.  Mine was just a gut feeling.  We "compromised" on going to Italy.  "We'll go to Shetland on our next trip". 

When the diagnosis of cancer came, we very quickly realized that the trip (we'd now bought tickets) should be cancelled in favor of treatment.  Whether that was a good decision or not remains a mystery to me.  I do know that the treatment looks to me like it hastened her death.  But we'll never know  So now, two years later, I decided to do the Shetland trip.

Shetland is really small.  One can get from one end to another in less than  2 hours.  My trip was well planned, but only because I enlisted the services of Sarah from Sponzo Travel (Yes, this is a plug!).  With her help, I was able to get a well formulated trip going.  One can take a ferry to Shetland. Its 12 hours.  It made most sense to just get there, so I flew into Sumburgh Airport on the very southern tip of Shetland.  From there, I picked up my tiny Kia and began my first mantra.  "Look to the right.  Drive on the left."  This worked. Oh.  One more thing about arriving in Shetland.  In order to leave the airport, I had to cross over the landing strip of the airport.  There was a person at either end to direct traffic in the event that your departure coincided with a plane arrival.

My next six days were spent sleeping in Lerwick, the largest and only city on Shetland.  Beautiful, quaint and easy to get around.  I used Lerwick in a most effective way.  Thanks to a great walk book that I picked up online,  I'd  pick a destination that looked great and drive there and then walk.   This was absolutely wonderful and rewarding.   Two important things to say about walking. 

First is that the trip convinced me-I am a walker.  Who knew?  I've known for some time that I"m a runner and a biker, but didn't realize that walking is totally me.  I would refer you to Thich Nhat Han's very wonderful book called "How To Walk ".  The main premise is that every step is an opportunity to arrive where you are.  In other words, being able to immerse yourself in the Now will help you to become fully present.  How many times in our day to day life, to we get totally distracted by details, both large and small who's presence in ones brain can be annoying and nonproductive.  To me, this is a lifetime pursuit.  One that I'm very willing to engage in.

The second thing is that Shetland is positively beautiful.  Not in some of the ways you might think of, but in its own unique way.  No trees and a constant wind.  A wind so strong that for the first time in my life, I began to understand how disruptive wind could be, especially if it knocked you off your feet.  That never happened to me, but it got close.

I got a new respect for birds and seals.  They were mostly everywhere.  There was one walk that I took around a large penisula where a group of six seals followed me avidely  for most of the first half.  They were so curious about what I might do next.

On day six, I visited the only vegetable farm on the island (according to them).  It was called Transition Turrifield.  It was a small place, with a lot going on.  They grew most of the same things we did with a lot of success.  Which is amazing because there's a lot going against farming in Shetland.  For one thing, the soil is oozing with wet.  Their outdoor plot had a big moat around it that would help with soil drainage.  They had numerous Hoop Houses (called Polytunnels there).  The actual hoops were the discarded hollow tubes from salmon farms that were used to deliver food to the salmon.  Very resourceful.  Early on they made a call to people around to bring them discarded tires.  They would mound them up and use them as a wind break.  Again , very resourceful.  But, as Penny (one of the owners) said, the damage to their crops from wind was of big concern. 

Climate change has affected them, too.  The days were often less sunny now affecting crops as well as the quality of the light.  Penny expressed concern for their future.  But even so, she showed me the sight of several more polytunnels that will go up in the next few years.  Their mission is to both educate the community about the value of growing, and hope that other people will start their own gardens. Additionally, they must make their farm a viable business.  It was an amazing project that looks like its working.

My next stop after Lerwick had to be cancelled-a big disappointment.  Off the mainland of Shetland by 20 miles is the very small and very mountainous  island of Foula.  Because the wind was so fierce at this time, the ferry was cancelled.  Instead, I went to Yell (yup, no spelling error here!).  I spent two nights there and continued enjoying and relishing the walking.  It was here that I began to appreciate the Norse tradition of Shetland.  I saw on my travels in Yell, many excavated Norwegian sights from 1000's of years ago.  Shetland use to belong Norway, but the king of Norway in the mid 1400's  used Norway as a security deposit for his daughters dowry.  Somehow, the Norwegians never got it back after this.

My last stop on Shetland was Unst, which is the most Northern piece of land in the UK.  It was here that I went to Hermaness, a bird sanctuary.  Its beauty is unmatched in my book.  It is home at certain times of the year to hundreds of thousands of birds, including the Puffin.  Unfortunately, the puffin had already moved on before I arrived.

I'll stop my description there and leave you with a few thoughts.  First, it was wonderful to travel on my own.  At the time, I was nervous that it would be lonely.  Not at all the case.  The situation helped me to be adventurous and decisive.  This trip will probably be a trip of a lifetime for me.  I feel lucky and in awe of how amazing the world really is.  And complicated.  For all its pristine qualities , the local newspaper was full of a controversy between those who wanted to reduce the carbon footprint by utilizing wind power and those who were equally concerned that a wind project would destroy the peat environment that one finds there.  It occurred to me that WOW, even in a remote place like this, there are no simple answers.

I hope that you enjoy the photos.

 

Moving on to our food.  There's lots, as you have learned to expect.  If you'd like, come to the Durham Farmer's Market this Thursday (and for the next two Thursdays after this)  on the green from 3-6pm.  If you'd like to order from us and pick up at the shed,  please write us back before 8 AM on Thursday.  Your order will be waiting for you in our shed at 54 Fowler after 2pm on Thursday.  If you come after dark, bring a light.  Self pay in the payment jar.

Orders in by 8a.m. Thursday for 2p.m. pick up out front.

If you're ordering or picking up for the first time at the farm please reach out to us with any questions or if you'd like to check the place out.

Remember please email  directly at our new address starlightgardensdurhamct@gmail.com

Simply replying to this email will do the trick

Cherry Tomatoes are now officially a Summer Memory.  I hope you enjoyed them.  Regular tomatoes?  We hope to have some, so order up and we'll see what we can do.  $7/lb.
 
New! This is our first week for shed orders!  Ginger and Turmeric.  Both are of excellent quality and flavor.  They are totally a different and better experience from buying either one at Stop N Shop.  And its smell is also amazing.  For the ginger, the stems are also of use for teas.  Turmeric's value  as an anti-inflammatory are well known and documented.  A good sized piece is $5 for either one.
 
Peppers of multi colors and the same for eggplants-both $5/lb

Salad Greens- $6/bag

Arugula-$6/bag

Pea Tendrils-$6/bag

Braising Greens-$6/bag

Red Russian Kale-$6/bag

Spinach-$6/bag

Swiss Chard,Kale and Collards $4/bunch

Bok Choy -$3.50/head

Potatoes- newly dug and as full of flavor as anything anywhere $5/lb

Garlic -$3.50/head

Hot Peppers- $4/basket

Radishes- $4/bunch

Green Lobo Radish- $4/bunch

Hakurie Turnips $4/bunch

Beets- $4/lb

Leeks-$4/bunch

Scallions-3$/bunch

Lemon Grass, Thai Basil, Holy Basil, Parsley and Cilantro $2/smallbunch

Award Winning Flower Bouquets $8/each

Last word would be a public appreciation for Jen and Joel's work while I was gone.  I almost think that the place runs better when I'm gone!  In any case, thank you both.  A spectacular job was done!.

Have a great week

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10/6/2019 9:21pm Shetland

 

Posted by: David Zemelsky
10/7/2019 7:36 am

First off let me say thanks.  Thanks for choosing us, working with us, supporting small farms and sustainable agriculture.  You've won us over and we've fallen for you.  Without you our loyal customers, customers who support small business and unique enterprise in all of it's forms, none of us would be what we are.

David will be away for this next week so please contact me directly at our new email starlightgardendurhamct@gmail.com

Yes fall it's a beautiful time of year.  Don't get me wrong there are truly few things I love more than a beautiful summer day.  However, with the passage of time and my hands in the dirt, perspectives change.  Sometimes in the early morning sun some of the late summer sown brassicas harvested in the fall compete with those summer days.

One tough thing about fall is that the Tomatoes got to go. Every day more plants are pulled from the ground and added to our compost pile.  The soil is prepped and we begin the journey to fall and winter plantings.  It's heart breaking but as inevitable as the changing seasons.  We will do our best to accommodate orders.

Orders in by 8a.m. Thursday for 2p.m. pick up out front.

If you're ordering or picking up for the first time at the farm please reach out to us with any questions or if you'd like to check the place out.

Remember please email me directly at our new address starlightgardensdurhamct@gmail.com

The tomato waterfall is truly shut down so we will do our best to accommodate, first come first serve

Here's the choices: Heirloom, with their funny shapes and glorious colors at $7lb. Then, there's Juliet which are red, sweet and easy to both cook with and eat raw. 

As for the cherry toms, there's sukura, a red red sweet sweet small tomato and the Artisan Variety with reds, greens, yellows and a cosmic flavor you won't forget, and sun golds.  When you order sungolds, be prepared to get a substitute cause we're not as sure of the supply.  All $6.5/pint

Peppers of multi colors and the same for eggplants-both $5/lb

Salad Greens- $6/bag

Arugula-$6/bag

Pea Tendrils-$6/bag

Swiss Chard,Kale and Collards $4/bunch

Potatoes- newly dug and as full of flavor as anything anywhere $5/lb

Garlic -$3.50/head

Hot Peppers- $4/basket

Radishes- $4/bunch

Hakurie Turnips $4/bunch

Beets- $4/lb

Leeks-$4/bunch

Scallions-3$/bunch

Lemon Grass, Thai Basil, Holy Basil, Parsley and Cilantro $2/smallbunch

Flower Bouquets $8/each

 

Happy Fall

Joel

Posted by: David Zemelsky
9/25/2019 1:44 pm

I want to talk to you about making decisions.  For me, this can sometimes be painful and stressful.  Or I should say, always painful and stressful.  I wish otherwise, but haven't mastered the skill of trusting myself totally yet.  If not now, when, I ask.  It can certainly be argued that decisions need to be informed.  And I would argue that often, no actually almost always the tools to get informed are usually right under ones nose. 

Here's a good example:  Let's say that I've got a beautiful path of lettuce growing out in our fields.  And I want to know the right time to harvest it.  Is it too small? Am I waiting too long? Is there a risk of pests?It is at this point that I do a very important thing.  I stop.  I stop and really look at what's in front of me.  What is this patch of lettuce saying to me that I've been so busy  talking around the decision that  I don't slow down (very important) and really look at it.  On closer examination, some of the imperfections in the leafs might be apparent.  They might be slight and not even something that someone who bought the lettuce would notice.  But I would.  Thanks to spending that extra moment to really take in the world right in front of my eyes.  Or maybe there isn't any telltale sign of disease.  Instead, my closer examination might reveal that the  growth could be more resulting in a heavier (i.e. more profitable) stand of lettuce.

The same goes for disease.  There are charts and charts of things that you could do to get rid of disease.  The very first and most important thing is that stopping to understand what the threat is.  Its like I said at the beginning-the answer to most questions are right under your nose if you care to slow down enough to read all the signs.  And to round out this conversation, its important to slow down and in some cases be still, even.  I say this with the total knowledge that I'll often forget this good advice myself.

As a reminder, we're also at the Durham Farmer's Market on Thursdays from 3-6:30pm.  September 12th ends the regular season, but the Market Master is arranging to reopen the market in October, too.  This is a wonderful and very underutilized market.  Not sure why, but you would enjoy its space, its friendly flavor and the great fruit (Dondero Orchard) and vegetables (both Forest City and ourselves)

Ok.  On to food.  If you're ordering some food to be picked up at the shed-please do so by 8AM on Thursday.  Your order will be ready after 2pm on Thursday, at the shed.  Look for your name.  Payment goes in the payment jar.

Below is a photo I took of an interesting collard recipe that a customer gave me recently.  It looks delicious.  Let me know if you try it.

Right now and for the next FEW weeks, the tomatoes will taste the best.  This is the time to enjoy them.  Not February!

Here's the choices: Heirloom, with their funny shapes and glorious colors at $7lb. Then, there's Juliet which are red, sweet and easy to both cook with and eat raw. 

As for the cherry toms, there's sukura, a red red sweet sweet small tomato and the Artisan Variety with reds, greens, yellows and a cosmic flavor you won't forget, and sun golds.  When you order sungolds, be prepared to get a substitute cause we're not as sure of the supply.  All $6.5/pint

Peppers of multi colors and the same for eggplants-both $5/lb

Salad Greens- $6/bag

Swiss Chard,Kale and Collards $4/bunch

Potatoes- newly dug and as full of flavor as anything anywhere $5/lb

Garlic -$3.50/head

Hot Peppers- $4/basket

Radishes- $4/bunch

Beets- $4/lb

Cucumbers- $2/each

I hope you have a great week.

David

PS Joel will be writing the letter next week and the next three weeks after that.  If you write to me, it will get lost in the electronic space galaxy.  I won't be gone all that time, but next week, I'll be unavailable, the next two weeks onweek.   So please stay well and eat well.

Posted by: David Zemelsky
9/3/2019 9:01 pm

Big Decision got made a few months ago, that I've not shared with you until now.  I'm going traveling on September15 and will be gone for two weeks.  Now, from a food point of view there's nothing to worry about.  Joel and Jen have everything in hand.  Well in hand.

For those of you interested (I would be!), I'm going to the Shetland Islands off the North coast of Scotland.  For reasons that are virtually impossible for me to explain, I've been drawn to northern destinations for quite some time.  In 1989 and 99, we took trips to Newfoundland, which was totally wonderful.  As you can see by the dates , I don't get out too much.  My attraction to Shetland goes way back beyond those mysteries that most of us watched on Public Television. (They actually weren't filmed in Shetland!).  Thanks for some research and help from friends, I've located a friendly farm that would happy for me to visit while there.  And there'll be plenty photos of more than just Shetland ponies!

By the calendar, its still Summer, but we're heavy into Fall in our minds.  Already, some of the tomato plants are coming out of the tunnels in anticipation of  cooler weather.  In its place we'll be planting kale, spinach, onions, pak choi, swiss chard.  Right.  Its time to realize that tomatoes aren't forever! Same for cukes , peppers and eggplant.  There'll be more on fall plantings later, but just want to remind you that one of the things that we like to do is to plant carrots by mid November so that  we get an enormously early start for next Spring.  There's something so spiritual about planting things in one season, so that they can be harvest in another one.

Again, we'll be at the Durham Farm Market on Thursdays from 3-6:30pm.  Madison Farm Market, Friday on the green from 3-6pm and Wooster Square,Saturday from 9AM to 1PM.  You can pick up our food at any of these locations.  Additionally, we'll be doing preorders at our shed at 54 Fowler Ave./Durham of Thursdays after 2pm.  Email me before 8AM on Thursday with your order.

What's available this week?

Let's briefly touch on tomatoes.  They are magnificant and tasty beyond your wildest imagination. The colors, taste and texture help me realize how incredible Nature is.  AND, they aren't going to last forever.  I can't make them available in February!  The supply is still very high, but we can already tell that the plants are becoming less productive.

Here's the choices: Heirloom, with their funny shapes and glorious colors at $7lb. Then, there's Juliet which are red, sweet and easy to both cook with and eat raw. 

As for the cherry toms, there's sukura, a red red sweet sweet smalll tomato and the Artisan Variety with reds, greens, yellows and a cosmic flavor you won't forget, and sun golds.  When you order sungolds, be prepared to get a substitute cause we're not as sure of the supply.  All $6.50/pint

Grendaro Tomatoes-for sauce.  $10/quart

Peppers of multi colors and the same for eggplants-both $5/lb

Salad Greens- $6/bag

Swiss Chard,Kale and Collards $4/bunch

Potatoes- newly dug and as full of flavor as anything anywhere $4/lb

Garlic -$3.50/head

Onions- $3/lb

Scallions- $3/bunch

Pak choi- $3.50/bunch

Hot Peppers- $4/basket

Radishes- $4/bunch

Beets- $4/lb

Cucumbers- $2/each

Leeks- $4/bunch

Jen's Already Famous Flower Bouquet-$8

Sunflowers- $5/bunch

Have a great week

 

 

Posted by: David Zemelsky
8/27/2019 10:09 am

Dear People of High Interest,

I might get into trouble about this one.  Not that I have anything negative to say about chefs, but you just don't know if one accidentally  says the wrong thing.  Dont want to do that! Restaurants are about half our business.  Its been steadily like that for many years.  There are restaurant that have been with us almost since day one (1999) and new ones that we've just added as of Saturday.  If there's one thing that's true about the restaurant industry, its that things are always changing-including chef's jobs.  I didn't get it at first.  In the first few years, when it was easy to observe that the chef's keep moving from place to place.  My assumption was that chefs were a restless cohort that needed a change every year or two.  This turns out not to be what I believe today.  In most cases, when a chef leaves, its usually because upper management is "going in a different direction".  In most of the cases where I've heard something like this, the chef never gets a chance to adopt to what Management wants.

 

This is a difficult situation at best and often can lead to a long resume for a short period of time.  If one doesn't know this about the restaurant business, it would be easy to look at a potential chef as a wanderer.  But in reality, any chef with a long resume/short period of time, might just be the victim of management trying to go in a direction that the chef can't predict.

It is easy to say that chefs are a certain breed of individuals-high strung and Type A, but that really doesn't cover adequately what goes on.  Chefs really do come in all kinds of sizes and temperments-no different than the rest of us.  They just happen to have an unusually stressful job.  There's so much riding on each and every plate that gets sent out.  Even if they aren't the ones that cook it, their name is on it.  A good chef is not unlike the principal at your kids school (if you have kids).  They set the tone for the work environment and create the place for great cooking to take place.  And of course, they have to depend on everyone at the front of the house to finish the job correctly.  Its not unlike a well choreographed ballet.  Something beautiful to behold when it comes off right.

I've been lucky to make strong connections with several of our chefs over the past twenty years.  When this does happen, I'm treated to an inside view of what goes on in their heads.  It is a particularly special time when a chef will share with me a favorite dish or a new dish that they hope will be a favorite dish.  The shear enthusiasm for what they do or hope to do is so apparent.  Such passion helps the world be a better more creative place.

My chef friends have shared a lot with me over the years.  I've been to family funerals, visited chefs at hospitals, given baby shower presents to them.  I've even found myself utilizing my previous skills as a Family Therapist (my past profession 20 years ago) in hopes of helping a chef in need. Chefs are a hard working, driven sometimes to perfection, type of indvidual.  Knowing chefs has always been one my favorite parts of doing this work.  Oh man, I am lucky.

One last thought though.  Why, do you think there are so few woman chefs?  Is it more of that men have been given an advantage by the rules of how our society works?  I'd like to know your thoughts.  Why are there so few woman chefs?

An announcement before telling you whats available this week.  Star Light, as usual, will be attending the wonderful Wadsworth Mansion Open Air Market this Sunday. Its 8/25 from 10-4.  I'd love to see as many of you as possible there.  It'd be fun to meet those of you whom I've only met electronically, for one.  The event is a sure fire day of wonderful things to eat and see.  There's music,unusual crafts, all the friends that you haven't seen in over a year.  Free and free parking.  More details at their website: http://www.wadsworthmansion.com/

In case you didn't know: Its all about tomatoes right now at Star Light.  If you haven't tried an heirloom, please consider now.  We're at the top of the season.  It is impossible to give you over the internet the utterly amazing experience of eating an heirloom tomato. However, I'll say this: if you don't jump up in the air with total delight after trying one of our heirlooms, I'll give you something else for no charge.  Its that much of a sure thing.  And yes, I know they're expensive.  You can't buy one like this in February. If you buy a lb at the $7/lb price, we'll throw in some extra tomatoes to soften the blow.  Give it a try.  You'll know its the right decision as soon as you try one.

There's also the Sun Gold, Sukura and Artisan Tomatoes.  Each of them deserve a place at your table. $6.50 /pint.  Same iron clad guarantee.  You got to jump or I'll give you something else.

And the Juliet.  Can't say enough about how sweet and head rolling you're going to feel when you try Juliet.  They're the only tomato you'll ever need for both salads and cooking.  An extremely rare situation.  In most situations, a tomato is either good for cooking or eating raw.  Juliet does them both. And they're perfect for drying.  You can buy dried ones from us $5/for a small bag.

We also have a sauce tomato-Grendaro.  Perfect for just the right sauce. $10/quart

NEW this week.  Leeks for soup, stirfries $4/bunch.

New Garlic- and a beautiful crop, too! $3.50/head

Sweet Peppers- all different colors, purple, yellow,orange, and red $5/lb

Hot Peppers -$5 for a half pint

Cucumbers- three different kinds.  Pickling cukes.  A big handful for $3 and an even bigger handful for $5.  Katrina- thin skinned and very few seeds- $5/lb.  Soyu-an Asian variety. Great flavor, texture and look.  $5/lb

Salad Greens- $6/bag

Kale, Collards and Swiss Chard-all awesome choices for those greens that we all need to eat more and more of.  $3.50/bunch

Beets- gratitude gratitude gratitude.  That's what I think after eating our beets.  Roasted or pickled.  I say "oh yes!" $4/lb.

Carrots:    Truly a gift. $5/bunch

Red Long of Tropea onions $4/bunch

Scallions- -both white and red $3/bunch

Summer Squash- both green and yellow.  Let me know which ones. $4/lb

Pak Choi - $3.50/bunch

Fennel $5/head

Jen's Now Totally Famous Bouquet-even though this is her first year going solo on flowers, Jen has mastered the bouquet with ease. $8/bunch

Sunflowers - $5/bunch

Thanks again for all your support.

David

PS I thought I was done, but realize there's one more thing.  A big salute to Jen and Joel, who work harder than anyone anywhere.  They've help bring Star Light to a new level of production.  Ty and I might have started something, but now, I'm so lucky to have these guys bringing us to new heights.  That, really is how it should be.  The seed has been planted and watch it grow!

 

Posted by: David Zemelsky
8/18/2019 9:33 pm