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Not the weather, but there’s one thing we can count on

With Fall right around the corner it’s difficult not to wonder what the cooler months have in store for us. Looking back on the summer and even the last few weeks, one thing can be sure is that Mother Nature will be making all the decisions and more than likely they will be unpredictable. This seems to be the pattern we’ll have to live with in the foreseeable future stronger and less predictable weather events.

The past few weeks our particular section of the state received some really strong rain events. Washing away freshly seeded beds of cover crop, salad, turnips and radish. Drowning what was quite possibly our most beautiful beds of arugula this year, beating down new transplants and generally taking the wind out of our sails. Its hard on the spirit and the psyche working in the face of forces which we cannot control. Yet we need look no further than the very plants we are cultivating and their resolve. In the moment of or the direct aftermath we look a upon a field of transplants thinking that nearly all is lost. Yet in time and with a little help the veg not only survive but often thrive, seemingly defying the odds. So we’ll replant, we’ll reseed, staying strong and staying the course taking a cue from our little plant friends. Mother Nature can be fierce and unpredictable but she’s also strong in her resolve and we can be too.

Things on farm this week look a little bit different for a few reasons. First off our work and harvest schedules will be slightly adjusted for the fact that our 2023 Durham Farmer’s Market season has come to an end. Thanks to all the great customers and market staff who made this season not only possible but a great year. And of course a big thanks to Sam for running the show and holding it down at the Star Light Gardens tent this season. In addition to the extra on farm time we will have this week, there is also only one pickup day available with the Durham Fair taking place at the end of the week. This Wednesday 9/20 is the only pickup day we will be offering this week. Next week back to business as usual.

Those of you that spend every week just waiting to hear what’s going on at SLG will remember rumors of free range dads and father in laws being sighted at and around the farms. Well the truth seems to be worse than the rumors as our centralized surveillance system has recorded weekly occurrences in both Middlefield and Durham

All joking aside we would like to give a big shout out, thank you and we love you to Chuck and Brian or Dad as we call them. It is a fact that we do what we do only because of the support structure we have around us, Family, Friends and of course you the Good Food People. But today we want to highlight some family specifically our Dads. Keeping everything nicely mowed around Middlefield and doing a regular clean up and organizing around Durham have really helped us. These are things that we often cannot keep up on during the season of 8 day weeks and 12 hour days. The help you both have done to keep things looking good not only is aesthetically pleasing but also contributes to our peace of mind and the overall functionality of the operation. Knowing that it brings you joy to help your children is powerful and touches our hearts. In our hearts we know that we are making you proud and that alone makes it worth while.

Have a great week

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Looking forward into the past

Often times we find ourselves truly enamored with the ways growing and in fact nature mirror life as we know and experience it. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that the lessons of life in general have a more specific application to the everyday situations of the individual. For us in the here and now both thinking ahead to the coming cooler season as well as reflecting on the successes and failures of this past season, a simple question comes to mind. How can we repeat these successes, while avoiding past failures, leaving a generous amount of room for this years new failures and mistakes?(Okay maybe not so simple) Whats a little different about growing compared to other work is that we basically have one time each year to do either your cool season or hot season main plantings. In essence someone with 20 years of experience farming has actually only planted a tomato crop for example 20 times. There are few opportunities to scratch everything and start again so its easy to say one thing we learn is to live with our mistakes.

There are a few things that haven’t been mistakes and though previously mentioned, deserve a revisiting. That is this years potato and pepper crops. Both of these have really benefited from receiving a bit of extra attention early on. Perhaps putting this down in writing a few times will aid us in next year’s recollections. Another obvious winner, is cover crop. The time is now for cover cropping before the cold and lack of light set in. You may recall our mention of some first time hot weather cover cropping with Sudan grass and buckwheat. We achieved successful germination in over 2/3rds of the areas, resulting in around 480 row feet of lush biomass. The plan will be to mow that down within a few weeks, incorporate into the soil and seed winter rye and vetch, the go to winter cover mix. People better and more interested than ourselves have likened good cover crop practices to investing in your soil creating a savings with compounding interest like benefits. Thinking of that investment metaphor in the terms of soil life and an extremely intricate ecosystem, is in our opinion just pretty darn cool. Now add to that the overall benefits to not only to your health and life but the health and life of the planet as a whole and we’re putting some weight behind the idea of this Good Food Movement.

On the subject of learning from the past one change we are making that is new concerns on farm pick up the week of the Durham Fair. The 103rd Durham Fair takes place Thursday September 21st through Sunday September 24th, yup that’s next week. As a result we will only be doing Wednesday on farm pick up, Friday and Saturday pick up will resume the following week. Fowler Ave and the surrounding area become quite busy with Fowler and Cherry becoming a one way street to allow for pedestrian traffic. This all makes conveniently picking up your order not much of an option. We hope this once a year change will not inconvenience anyone too much. This week is also the last week we will be attending the Durham Farmer’s Market for the 2023 season. The market is off the week of the fair then returns for a few weeks ending in October. There are 4 more weeks of the Sunday Chester Farmer’s Market then we will be down to Madison and New Haven. These are all great markets and if your gonna miss us in Durham come see us at one of those and remember on farm pick up is an option 12 months of the year.

Have a Great Week

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Sweet September

For some Labor Day weekend is the last hooray of Summer. Understandably so for most here at SLG, it’s not so easy to let go. Maybe that’s part of why we practice season extension. Are we chasing the endless Summer? Seeing as Summer is the time for 8 day work weeks and 12 hour shifts, you may think not. After all warm season holidays come and go but with both farm properties and animals to boot, days off are mostly subjects for crytozoologist. Then again when you come into this time of year, with all the bounty of Summer, balanced by the earlier sunsets and fall like overnight temps, we find ourselves in quite a sweet spot. After all the first few weeks of September wouldn’t be such a bad place to be stuck however, time and light have plans of their own. But don’t forget summer really does extend a few more weeks until the equinox and with this weeks predicted temps it’s gonna feel like it.

Spinach seeded in the paperpot trays awaiting transplanting

Now don’t get us wrong we do love summer, it comes with abundance but also comes with challenges mainly due to heat and humidity. Besides the obvious challenges of working in the heat, planting and transplanting in the heat are quite problematic. Here at SLG we are heavily reliant on a transplant based system for much of our production. Carrots, radish and Asian greens for salad are about the only things we exclusively direct seed. With everything else being either a mix of the two or exclusively transplanted. In the heat of the summer this translates into two things, transplanting in the evening and the use of shade cloth. Simple enough however, after 3 or 4 it’s only J and J on the farm of which there are two locations. With thousands of transplants going in monthly that is a bit of a labor bottleneck. Enter the paper pot transplanter, a genius transplanting human powered machine that sort of looks like a big orange scooter. It comes with a learning curve and is far from perfect but it allows us to put down hundreds of perfectly spaced transplants in a short time when we’re short on help and before the sun goes down. After that its shade cloth and watering, easy right?

Now it wouldn’t be Labor Day in our opinion without a shout out to our farm crew, Sam, Zoe, Ben, & Lindsay, who’s holding it down. They may not be doing a lot of transplanting in the heat of summer but they are doing just about everything else and weather permitting will be the transplanting machine that will have us well positioned going into the Fall and Winter. It’s not just on the farm but at the markets we are blessed with excellent help. In addition to their on farm work Sam and Ben have been essential fill ins in both New Haven and Madison. Not to mention Sam’s solo taking on of the Durham Farmer’s market has been key and may just have something to do with the excellent season we’ve had there. If you go to the New Haven market you know what we mean when we say Emily and David are quite the duo. We really appreciate all of are farm and market crew, we couldn’t do it with out them.

There are a few more people who though they might not be working on the farm are pretty darn important and well we couldn’t do it without them either. Yup its all of you the good food people. We are truly blessed to be so strongly supported by you all. Knowing that we are bringing happiness and health through food to you and all of yours is such and honor. We may not be at a Labor day celebration with you but the food we grow is and that’s really special. Besides the veg has better taste and are much better conversationalist than Joel.

This weeks Recipe & Nutrition Inspiration by EmPower is a twist on a summer staple for us, tomato sandwich. Take it to the next level by making your own mayo! SLG Tomato Sandwich with Homemade Mayonnaise . Let us know what recipes you’ve tried, or if there is any produce you are hoping we feature!

Have a great week.

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Two Farm Dog

Four years ago J and J took an afternoon ride to meet a pup to potentially join the family and Star Light Gardens. This muscle bound pup was a bit intimating at first, so excited and pulling on his leash. They threw his bed into the back of the car and he eagerly jumped in, starting the journey home for what we so naively considered a trial night. Needless to say from that day forward Sid the best farm pup around joined our lives and Star Light Gardens forever. Better at catching rodents than the 5 cats he lives with this hard working dog eagerly patrols the fields in both Durham and Middlefield gaining him the nickname of “two farm dog”. Lover of rides, tug and cuddling its hard to say where we would be without Sid. But its so easy to say that he has made and continues to make our lives and SLG better everyday.

With the dog days of summer well behind us the farm mindset is shifting much like the cooling weather. A weekly ritual of staring more transplants than we probably have room for, prepping wherever we can and the at times difficult process of deciding which high tunnel to convert first, is here. The battle to get spinach started is on and comes in all forms, soil blocks, paper pot transplants and of course direct seeding too. The peace and rest that will come with longer nights also means slower growth and a ticking time clock. The push is really on now with only about a month and a half left to get everything we want for fall and winter planted.

The first installment of the 2023 spud harvest went off in spectacular fashion. According to our estimates and looking back at last years records we are fairly certain we have already well surpassed last years total harvest weight with more than half of the areas planted still to be harvested. Our potato digging farm crew made short work of this first harvest even leaving enough time for some desperately needed weeding. Its has been a long haul this summer and things like SLG best potato and pepper harvest ever happening in the same week is more than amazing. Literally seeing the fruits(or tubers) of all of our cumulative efforts, in addition to the joy and nutrition we are bringing to the Good Food People is well, a big part of why we do what we do.

September means more than just shorter days, spinach and back to school. It also signals the beginning of the end of our intensive 4 market a week schedule. There are just 3 more weeks of farmer’s markets in our home town of Durham before they break for a week because of the fair. This break signals the end of the market season for us as we must meet the ever increasing demand of work in preparation for winter plantings. After that we are down to 3 markets until October when Chester ends, late November for Madison and of course you can find us all year round in New Haven. As always preorder pick up for on farm also goes year round.

Have a Great Week

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Two tails Eight hooves and rumors.

Jacobs sheep are a consistent theme here at Star Light. If you talk with some locals in Durham they were under the impression it was a sheep farm at one time. These days though Durham is without its former sheep and chicken residents the air in Middlefield at SLGNW is filled with that familiar sheep baah and the proclamations of a rooster. We’ve had our 5 Jacobs sheep Betty, Bo, Kenga, Sunny and Willard since December 2021(actually Sunny was born April 2022). Currently mostly pets and mediocre landscapers, we are beginning to work grazing them into our growing practices. Its part of a more holistic approach which we have long term goals of transitioning to. The fact of the matter is that there is a lot of new (to us) ground to be managed and sometimes we wonder what the sheep are even eating. The answer then did seem easy enough and seeing as J and J had recently moved into their home, what better house warming present for a couple of farmers than 2 more sheep. Jen’s grandparents, Charlie and Kathy had this idea when they first came to visit the new homestead. Growing up on his family farm instilled a love for animals in Grampy and he was excited about the idea of there being more to love at SLGNW, and we certainly welcomed the idea. So, just over a month ago Charlie and Kathy the sheep were added to the flock just 8 weeks old and cuter than you could imagine. We are still in the process of integrating them into the flock, in addition to shoring up fencing but so far these two are quite the veracious grazers. In fact don’t mention it to their brothers and sisters but the new sheep on the block are grazing circles around their older siblings.

In other farm news tomorrow is being honored in the name of tubers, with the first installment of the 2023 Spud Tuesday Potato Harvest ’23STPH for short. We have been really pleased with how the plants have looked so far this year. Over half of the areas planted have a good standing of Fall planted peas and oats or peas, oats and vetch and the benefit to the plants is apparent. Our early August cover cropping has had around 50% success getting established so far and its now time to switch to cool weather cover crops, likely this week or next. The real questions on everyone’s mind is what is going on with the lawn in Middlefield and the wash station in Durham. Though it is confirmed that our overly generous neighbor in Middlefield has retired from mowing, rumors of Fathers and Fathers in law are circulating throughout both locales, demanding a deeper investigation. Stay tuned for deep dive into just what is going on.

Lastly, our kitchen was turning into a canning dept last week with the help of our friend EmPower. Those of you pickle fans will be happy to know we’ve got about 5 cases in reserve so far. Also having a killer season this summer is our Cherokee Green Heirloom tomatoes, so we thought Salsa “Verde.” Instead of tomatillos we used our green heirlooms and let me tell you it’s taking a lot of self control to not crack open a jar. But don’t take our word for it here’s the recipe: SLG Salsa Verde. Preserve some of that summer goodness for yourself, all the ingredients except for the salt and vinegars are available on our site or at the markets!

Have a great week

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Welcome to the Jungle

The first time we set eyes upon the 200 ft high tunnel at SLGNW (aka the Middlefield property) our thoughts turned to something of the tune,”how in the world could we ever grow in here”. Thorny wild rose, sumac ready to poke through the roof, thistle, perennial grasses. You name it chances are that tough to handle perennial weed was in the high tunnel we have affectionately named “The Jungle”. Built by the previous owner, an organic veg farmer turned greenhouse builder. The Jungle was constructed to show a potential buyer as well as themselves, that they could in fact construct a 200 ft high tunnel. The Jungle sat mostly unattended, allowing the weeds to take over and creating the daunting task of trying to grow crops within. Thankfully we have some friends who have a taste for thistle berries, rose thorns, sumac, and most of all grasses; Willi, Betty, Bo, Kanga, and Sunny, of course. Once it was cool enough last fall our oldest 5 Jacobs sheep were deployed to The Jungle, where the spent a couple weeks chomping away. Even with their help it took several long and difficult clear out sessions, squeezed in when we could find the time over the past 18 months, to get us to a place where maybe we could plant into half of it. In a very New England (and farmer) manor, we could not let things from the former residents go to waste, like landscape fabric. An excellent tool for weed suppression the fabric would be just what we needed to get a first crop going in the Jungle. All that remained is the task of freeing the fabric that was half buried from it’s overgrown corners of the farm, a fun couple of days to say the least.

Flash forward 6 months and there are sunflowers growing as tall as the sumac and rows of heirloom tomatoes that aren’t far behind. There have even been ambitions for a last crop of cucumbers on the eastern edge, but we’ll have to see where that goes. There is still a lot to be done, like finishing the end walls before winter, getting the solar powered ridge vent operating, not to mention the challenge that awaits converting that first 100ft from summer to winter production. It is the future for the latter 100ft that has us the most excited though. Today we will mow it and tomorrow with the help of our excellent farm crew cover it with a tarp. We’ll leave it tarped for 2 weeks before we remove the tarp, prep the beds as best we can and plant some peas and oats. With any luck and proper irrigation this will turn not only into a lush grove of cover crop but also lush winter pasture for the sheep, all seven of them. For now we’ll get it covered and keep harvesting flowers and tomatoes, with an eye on the future.

Enough about the future(sort of) lets get into the now. We have done a good job of adapting to new pest like the allium leaf miner, evident in the abundance of this year’s onion crop in an arguably wet year. We have similar hopes for our potato plantings which from the benefit of an excellent cover cropping are still looking big and lush, so much so we can’t yet bring ourselves to harvest. The last carrot seeding (besides those for overwintering) will happen this week, beets the next and it’s prep, plant, transplant outside for the next month plus. We are keeping the inside conversion from summer to winter in the back of our minds and will more than likely be direct seeding the first round of spinach this week. It’s funny how fast the seasons really can change so we better all get out there and enjoy what the day has to offer.

Have a great week

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Cover Me

With August here and the Fall quickly approaching our thoughts and hearts are beating and thinking the mantra, plant plant plant. Which means a few basic things. When it comes to transplanting it means make dirt, make trays, seed trays, move to the germination chamber and lastly transplant out. For direct seeding this means turning over a bed from the previous crop, prepping for the new one. Usually dead bedding for a week or two, which means letting the weed seeds grow before seeding so we can eliminate that first flush. Sometimes priming seed and lastly the seeding itself. Priming is the process of soaking raw seed for around 6 hours then drying it back out allowing it to be planted using one of our seeders. This is a recommendation which coming directly from David and certainly pays off with hard to germinate seeds like spinach or carrots. Here at SLG we use mainly 3 human powered seeders; the 6 point, the earthway and the Jang 3, however these days we rely mostly on the last two. Transplanting itself is also a human powered task done by either one or many farmers depending on if we are using the paperpot transplanter or not.

Now with all of this seeding, prepping planting and transplanting going on at a critical time of year one could certainly ask themselves,”why would you create even more of a work load planting things that aren’t crops going to market?” The simple answer is the soil will thank you. Putting this in the perspective of the fields in Durham, there we have one main block where the majority of our quick turning crops get planted. In addition to this there is an equal amount of space on the fringes where longer season things like garlic, kale, potatoes. ect are grown. Generally post harvest these beds would not be replanted with market crops so would be left exposed to the elements or become overgrown with the perennial weeds which occupy these fringe areas. The soil is an ecosystem that wants to stay covered which is why these weeds will quickly take over. Something that is maybe not a bad thing for the soil life but one heck of a thing to deal with as a grower. By putting in a cover crop you can out compete those weeds while offering both a thriving environment for the soil life and adding vital nutrients through your cover crop choice. In addition to this prep for planting next’s seasons veg in these beds is much easier.

Grazing in the moonlight

Choice of cover crop is another difficult thing, yet one factor overall will drive your decision and that is the time of year. We don’t usually focus on hot weather covers but this year we have buckwheat and sudan grass in a few spots. Hopefully our timing with these is not too off. The go to fall mix is peas and oats. The timing on this is quickly approaching if not here These are considered winter kill cover crops the idea being they produce a big bio mass which covers the soil for element protection as well as weed suppression but will not regrow come spring. There is also vetch which will over winter but is often added to this mix. The go to when it gets late is winter rye. Even very late plantings can establish themselves enough to provide some early winter protection and grow big and tall with the return of light in spring. These are only the cover crops we use and indeed there is a large variety out there. Most research points to the value of having a diversity of cover crops planted at once in the same bed. Six is rumored to be the magic number so we are trying to diversify our mixes as we go. Tillage radish and vetch will be added to the peas and oats, with the rye planted early enough also getting a vetch companion. Incorporating the sheep and cover cropping in Middlefield is something we plan to do more and more as we put more outside space into production. We also plan to cover crop half of the 200 ft tunnel(aka The Jungle) and house the sheep there for a good portion of the winter. The funny thing about all these growing methods is that they are nothing new, just out of practice. The art and science of growing cover crops in conjunction with pastured animals is more than likely older than we have good documentation for. Its something we are certainly looking forward to exploring more.

Photo cred- Sammy K

Enough about cover crops though, lets talk tomatoes. We are probably about as close to the tomato waterfall as we are going to be. There are a few reasons we may not seem as flush with tomatoes as years past. One is we had taken a break from grafting this year as we incorporate a better rotation as a disease prevention method. One thing is apparent though we should still graft a bit to get that boost in production. Rotation is another big factor. We are trying not to plant every house with tomatoes, not to mention there is a large workload associated with each plant. We also focused on a few things like new trimming and trellising methods as well as trying to trellis peppers for once. All of which we are pleased with but do take time away from tomatoes. As we grow and grow we shifting and refocus will certainly be a thing as we search for balance. All that being said things are looking good and we encourage you to reach out if looking for something that is unavailable on line. Enjoy the cooler rainy day as we hope the cover crop also is.

Have a great week

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Spreading the Love

July, gone so fast that we miss you already. Sure you may be full of heat, humidity, sweat, dirt and toil. But you are all ours and there is no other month like you. With everyone’s favorite month behind us , there is no choice but to look forward to the fall. We’ve already added spinach seeds to our virtual cart and ordering Tulips for next year is high up on our list of priorities. We should probably also order our old friend claytonia, seed we buy plenty of each year but somehow do a excellent job of misplacing as well.

This past week marked the harvesting of the last of the Love Garlic. What started as 200 hundred pounds of seed now lay drying in our barn with the first half nearly ready to be clipped and stored. We are hoping to have a small gathering with friends, family and good food people to help us do the clipping, while we enjoy libations and grub. We will see if time allows such a gather or perhaps it will be J and J supervised by the sheep, clipping garlic in the moonlight.

If you have not heard the origins of our Love Garlic now seems to be a fitting time for such a tale. You see the garlic we grow here on the farm, a lot of it(over 50%) is what we call Love Garlic. This is not a recognized variety(yet), in truth what we grow here is German White a hard neck variety. Though all of what we grow is German White, each year a larger and larger percentage of it is also Love Garlic. The start of the LG goes nearly all the way back to the first time Jen and Joel met. Having already met but still yet to fall in love, J and J found them selves both working for their perspective farm employers at the Saturday Farmer’s market. Towards the end of the market Jen found herself at SLG’s tent and her and Joel struck up normal market conversation. Joel kindly offered Jen to take anything she wanted from the display, but the only thing she wanted was a bulb of garlic. As if with magic, as the Garlic passed through one’s hand to another a spark lit the air. The spell had been cast and J and J were now bonded by the power and love of that bulb of garlic. Though that specific bulb was consumed some point around there 2nd or 3rd date in a delicious soup, garlic from this same crop has been saved and replanted year after year. Currently we plan to save and plant 200 pounds of the LG, which would be 100 percent of the plantings. But with more real estate in Middlefield we will be hard pressed to buy another 100 pounds or so of seed garlic and test out the garlic growing prospects there.

In life and in farming there are many strong and powerful things. Arguably Love and Garlic are two of the strongest and most powerful forces which touch our hearts, bellies and dinner plates. We would say our lives and meals can always use a little extra of these, so don’t be shy when adding them to your day. Saying we are honored to help spread more love and garlic into the lives of all of you would be a drastic understatement. Just keep in mind the power you can wield when a big bulb of Garlic is paired with a big heart. You may just find yourself in a field some December planting your 2nd or 3rd generation of LG, paired with your better half.

This weeks Recipe & Nutrition Inspiration by EmPower comes from another favorite allium of ours, Red Long of Florence onion! Check out this Red Long of Florence Onion Dressing/ Marinade recipe . We will have Red Longs for another week or two.

Have a great week.

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Garlic, Tomatoes and the Struggle

There isn’t really a way to beat around the bush(or weeds as the case may be)when it comes to this time of year. If you’re lucky enough to be catching your breath from the spring, you still have so much summer work to do and of course our old friend fall is right around the corner. The weeds are growing faster than we can pull them and understandably a few things must fall to the wayside.

So in an effort to not beat around the weeds we are keeping this weeks farm update on the shorter and sweeter side. As you can surely gather there is a lot going on. Some of the biggest news you’ve heard last week. We’re back on track(or tractor) and the coolers are cold. This years Garlic crop is about half way harvested and looking beautiful. With vacations leaving us a little short handed, it may just be J and J pulling up the last of this year’s Love Garlic. But there something romantically fitting to that. The sheep have been putting in work in our late carrot high tunnel. We had hoped to accompany them with the chickens but predator pressure is forcing us to keep things a little more locked down than usual.

But lets stop beating around the weedy bush, after all it is summer and the Good Food People want tomatoes. Both heirlooms and cherry tomatoes are available to preorder this week for all your sandwiches, salsas, salads or whatever else you want to make. Another newer item available for preorder is bread from Sweet Sage Bakery, if you haven’t had it and like bread there is only one question you should be asking yourself. Pick up Friday only orders due by noon Wednesday.

One last shout out, an instance of last but certainly not least. That is to all of our hard working farm crew and market help. These hot summers are in themselves a lot to deal with. When taking into account the unpredictable weather patterns it really puts context to the phrase the “struggle is real”. With a strong and capable crew backing us up, helping to hold everything down and keeping smiles on their faces the whole time, the struggle is not only manageable but at times not a struggle at all. Thanks to Ben, Lindsay, Sam and Zoe for all you do on and off farm. And of course thanks to Emily and David (and Sam) for making this market season great for both SLG and the Good Food People.

It’s difficult while writing this not to realize just how fortunate we are here at Star Light. There are a lot of farms not only north of us but here in CT that have been devastated by the recent turbulent weather. Our hearts and tears go out to all our fellow growers who have been effected. We encourage you all to support any struggling farms you can at this time, this Good Food Movement is a powerful community, thank you all so much for that.

Have a great week

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Gifts that Keep Giving

Mid July is really a special time of year on small farms everywhere but especially here at Star Light Gardens. Not only is it when we begin to harvest our Love Garlic(more on this to come) but it is also J and Js Birthdays on the 16th and 21st respectively. Typically the plan is for at least one beach getaway to celebrate however, with things firing on all cylinders the logistics of such an outing are still being worked out. In the mean time we will have to settle for a few afternoon trips to Miller’s pond for a swim. Last week already felt like it was J and J’s bday week with just the type of gifts they needed this time of year. First off was squaring away our refrigeration issues. Since the compressor on our walk-in cooler died over a month ago we have been struggling with shuttling things back and forth to Middlefield and holding things in our stone cooler(named for it’s cinder block construction)where the temp hovers at 45 and using wet sheets and ice to hold humidity and a cooler temperature. Renaissance man and friend Jimmy took time on his day off last week to cut a bigger hole in the stone cooler and a new hole in our walk-in with the broken compressor. Utilizing a device called the coolbot which tricks air conditioners into running extra cool we are able to forgo the expenses and electric bill of a new compressor while still having the cooler down around 34 35, just where we like. Next up was the return of our John Deere tractor, just in time as Joel’s now 40 year old back was certainly feeling the cumulative effect of it’s absence. Big shout out’s to Jimmy, Danny of Danny’s Unlimited and our trailer wielding friend Ronny for getting us back where we need to be.

On the subject of being places one place we were not this week was the Chester Farmer’s market due to inclement weather cancellation. It’s always tough losing a market and we reluctantly accepted a much needed day off in it’s place. In other market news this week the Durham Farmer’s market will be returning to the town green because of scheduled paving of Pickett lane, where the community center is located. We apologize for the continued confusion with this market. Another comment about the markets is concerning product availability. Due to the difficulty with predicting harvest amounts especially early in a crops season, more variety will often make it to the farmer’s markets. The last thing we want to do is oversell through the online store and disappoint any of you, so if you haven’t been to any of the 4 markets SLG attends we recommend checking them out. Have questions about any of the markets? Just reach out. That being said rest assured things like tomatoes will be available soon.

While at the markets or online you can reach for one of the newer items we’ve been selling in the heat of the summer Callaloo aka Jamaican Spinach. This Caribbean Amaranth was introduced to us through one of our favorite market customers as a replacement for spinach in the hottest months and has become a hit with both the farmers and the good food people. Amaranth also known locally as pigweed is also a common “weed” here in the northeast and as a result has a insect friend waiting to chomp on it, the pig weed flea beetle. In organic growing there are OMRI approved products which can be used in production and can be at times a necessary tool. However as targeted as these products can be there is often beneficial insect friends who will also be affected. On the Callaloo we’ve chosen not to spray but rather inform our customers as well as aggressively harvest to encourage new growth. While harvesting the Callaloo this past week Joel came upon soldier bug after soldier bug gladly feeding on the larvae of those beetles, confirming our decision not to spray.

Want to try out this new veg but need some inspiration besides the tale of two bugs? Check out this weeks edition of Recipes & Nutrition Inspiration by Empower; Callaloo & Mushrooms with Ghanaian Pepper Sauce. This recipe combines some great market scores from Seacoast Mushrooms and Oh Shito! There’s nothing like looking at your plate and knowing where your food comes from!

Have a Great Week!