March Newsletter

Know somebody who eats vegetables (or should start eating vegetables)?

Help us outreach to the community!

Please pass this on to your friends and neighbors!

Join Great Song Farmers for an Open House Information Session on Saturday, March 17th at 2p.m. on the farm at 475 Milan Hill Road in Red Hook. This gathering will be a chance for folks to meet the farmers, tour the farm, learn about our farming practices, and ask questions about what it means to be a member of our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). All are welcome.  Contact us with questions at or 845-758-1572. Thanks!

Volume 2, Issue 2
March 12, 2012

From the Farmers

Dear Friends,

The advent of the growing season is officiated by the beginning of seeding in the greenhouse, usually somewhere in early March. Even though the seasons feed into one another to form one whole cycle, this event is a beginning, as we notably turn the corner toward spring, in full anticipation of the tremendous produce which will emerge out of these tiny seeds. The earliest crops to seed are onions and leeks, celeriac, parsley, and tomatoes—crops which are slow to germinate, slow to grow, or demand a longer season to fully mature and produce abundant and ripe fruit. Although we began seeding onions last week, we are nonetheless in the midst of still constructing and completing the stove and heat mass which will serve as our source of heat for the greenhouse seedlings—baby plants embedded into flats of moist potting soil. All of this—the soil, the heat, the moisture, the air circulation, the timing, the guarding-off pesky rodents—is an attempt to create the ideal conditions to raise healthy plants, healthy vegetables, healthy people, and, we hope, a healthy community.

As I have sat seeding by sunset two nights this week, I have thought about the immensity of the task we are undertaking as farmers, as growers-of-food. It seems so simple: put seeds into soil, water them, warm them, and let them do what they are naturally inclined to do. And, really, it is that simple, just about anyone can tend a garden with a little effort. But as Anthony came over to assist me in creating soil blocks (literally, 1” square blocks of firm soil that the seeds are housed within) of the perfect moistness, and the perfect uniformity and density, so that each seed would be covered with the perfect amount of potting soil, I became conscious of the delicacy of seeds, and the gracefulness required in my task of serving these seeds, so that they can take advantage of all which is being offered to them, and respond by become hearty, strong, and verdant plants—plants which will reflect the community in which they grow and flourish.

I have spent several weeks now reflecting on this concept of Community Supported Agriculture, (which, when I say it in my head, has strong pauses in between each word, to leave room for emphasis, and reflection) as it pertains to our conception of food, and our conception of farming. As a farmer, I always thought of CSAs in terms of the service, the support, that a farmer was offering a community, believing the provisions of the farmer were paramount in a CSA farm. The farmer offers skills, knowledge, time, and labor to grow the best possible produce for a group of people to eat, while also providing the community with open and productive land—a place to connect with the earth, cultivated and natural ecosystems, plants and animals, and other human-members of the community. And while this vision of CSA is true, in recent weeks it has become evident how limited this idea of CSA is, as the depth of the relationship between myself and my community manifests again and again in my daily life. The support extended to us by the community feels palpable, the generosity absolute—I am being provided for in such a clear and complete way, and my work as a farmer (and a community member), directly comes out of the support which I am given. From my housing needs to my health care needs, the time and energy of so many gifted members of the community who freely give their work to the farm, the land on which the produce is grown—we are being supported.

Maybe each of you initially came to Great Song wanting vegetables, but the connections formed between the community and this farm have become much more complex than a simple consumer-producer relationship. Those surrounding us have invested their lives into our work, and we continue to commit to investing our work into your lives. For all of your support, thank you.

A few images of our work these pasts few weeks...

Volunteers help to dig the foundation for the

(above) Sheila, Marina (of Shoving Leopard CSA), Justin, and Anthony, dig and level the foundation for the rocketstove.

Jen, Anthony, Justin, and our friend Lisa from
Philmont test the rocketstove "mock up"
before reconstructing it in the greenhouse.

Jen, Justin, Anthony, and our friend Lisa from Philmont test a "mock" rocket stove outside before constructing the real deal in the greenhouse.

Jen prepares the clay for making into clay slip and cob
to construct our germination bench for the seedlings.

Anthony and Justin laying brick.

The beginning of the rocketstove: the firebox and chimney.

The chimney viewed from above, insulated with clay slip and perlite.

A Late-Winter Recipe (or early Spring)

...adapted from one of my favorite food blogs: Smitten Kitchen... perfect for mid-March, if you've been hitting-up the farmer's markets and eating storage vegetables all winter, you might be ready for a little carrot adventure (plus, carrots will be one of the first CSA crops coming in early summer, so get ready!)

Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta and Mint

3/4 pound carrots, peeled, trimmed and coarsely grated
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 crushed clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds or about half as much, ground (I used seeds but ground them first)
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds or about half as much, ground (I used the seed but ground them first, again)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon harissa (if you're looking for a solid kick of heat, otherwise adjust yours to taste, or keep it on the side)
1/2 teaspoon sugar or honey
3 tablespoons lemon juice
a splash, or maybe 2-3, of ume plum vinegar
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
100 grams feta, crumbled or chopped into bits
salt and pepper to taste

In a small sauté pan, cook the garlic, caraway, cumin, paprika, harissa and sugar in the oil until fragrant, about one to two minutes. Remove from heat and add the lemon , ume plum, and a pinch of salt. Pour over the carrots and mix. Add the herbs and mix. Leave to infuse for an hour and add the feta before eating.

Harissa: Is a North African chile paste that has become so popular, we were tickled to find it all over tables in Paris two years ago, right next to the Dijon mustard. There is almost nothing it doesn’t make more delicious: eggs, potatoes, stews, couscous, sandwiches and more, and there are almost as many recipes as there are people who consume it. Most boil down to hot chiles ground with garlic, cumin, coriander, caraway and olive oil, often with a smidge of sundried tomatoes. You can make your own, which I would recommend putting on the to-do list for early September when the Great Song CSA hot peppers will be arriving. A pint should be enough to last you the year, unless you're a serious hot-freak.

And, lastly… A Little Something Else…

The Peace of Wild Things

By Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.