Monday, November 18, 2013

Fare Thee Well, Dear Angela, by Melinda

Angela, the woman clothed with the sun, suffered practically Biblical plagues at the farm this summer--plague of tractors, plague of floods, plague of drought, plague of "rust," plague of water pump; the list goes on. We lost many crops we'd hoped for because of this, but Angela, bless her heart, never lost her spirited enthusiasm and love of the farm!

Thanks to Joanne Rosenbaum--and to you all--we were able to put together a little going-away celebration of her time with us. If you'd like to see a video of her gratefulness for her time with us, just slide on over to our Facebook page (the video's got too many MBs to insert here). The Facebook page is "Red Hill Farm, Sisters of St. Francis," and here's the URL:

A very good time was had by all. Joanne is a wonderful hostess, and her house is beautiful. The firepit outside was a lovely added touch. Keep the homefires burning....

Monday, November 11, 2013

Red Hill Farm, Week #24--The Last Week! By Angela

"So long for now..." English Corn Dolly
This is a Full Share Pickup and Bi-Weekly Friday Pickup week. This is our last week of pickups with the exception of the Bonus Broccoli pickup for ALL members on Saturday November 23rd, from 10 a.m. to noon.

I am in the shareroom this week with our new Farm Manager--Lilley! Please come say hello! It's been such a great season and a great roundup this week.

To help prepare for next season, please take a moment to fill out our end of season survey. Please click the link below to do so.

Thank you so much.

Armistice/Veterans' Day, , the "Eleventh Hour," St. Martin of Tours, and Old Agricultural Practices, posted by Melinda

(photo source)
"The eleventh hour...": perhaps you've heard that phrase, as in "Wow, you sure waited till the 11th hour to get *that* done!" The phrase goes back to the Bible (Matthew 20:6, in the parable of the vineyards--click here), but in succeeding millenia, the notion of 11 o'clock, especially on November 11th, took on further meaning. As food blogger/photographer Cynthia Bertelson notes (click here for her blog), it was on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 that Marshall Foch declared that all hostilities would cease at 11:00 a.m., French time, and would not resume until further notice. (For her post on Armistice Day and St. Martin of Tours, click here--hers is one of the most beautiful blogs we follow; it's called "Gherkins and Tomatoes," and you'll see it in the blog list at lower left.) About a century earlier, all Prussian serfs also had been freed on November 11th (probably because of the date's connection to both agriculture and religion); Bertelsen lists other military treaties, too, that were signed over the years on November 11th, beginning in 1500 CE.

So what has this to do with St. Martin of Tours and old agricultural observances?  As Bertelson explains, the choice of the 11th hour on the 11th day reveals the Catholic traditions that many of the Allies shared, in particular that November 11th is the Feast Day of St. Martin of Tours, patron saint of soldiers, beggars, vintners, innkeepers, and geese (yes, there's a Martinist story behind the geese, those darn loud-mouths [!], which you can read on Bertelson's post!). The significance of beggars hired to work in the vineyards is clarified if you read all of Chapter 20 in Matthew--see here--e.g., he who is last shall be first, "for many are called but few chosen," a notion that also has been applied at times to soldiers.

Jean-Francois Millet, Killing the Hog, National
Gallery of Canada, late 1860s (source)
For our purposes, in the context of farming, November 11th--Martinmas--was regarded as the beginning of winter and the day that religious rites connected with Advent began. Martinmas marked the seeding of wheat for the following year, as well as the grape harvest and production of new wine, and the slaughter and preservation of wheat-fattened hogs, calves, geese, and other animals to provide meat over the winter. (The connection to wheat and grapes, of course, has religious overtones, as does the concept of slaughter/sacrifice.)

Many of us don't like to think about such slaughter, but it was a necessity at the time to put food by to get through the lean winter ahead. (The Bible often uses harvest and slaughter as parables for the cycle of life-death-life; even Jesus was not a vegetarian--click here for a Red Hill Root article on the controversy over Jesus' dietary habits; see page 5.) Hence the harvest also was a time of feasting for all (starting at the 11th hour), including beggars and serfs, with goose often featuring in the feast. I have to say, however, that Millet's painting, above, always makes me sad, as pigs and hogs are such intelligent animals, and the hog knows what's coming up (or coming down) for him or her. The children watching in the background are there to reinforce the notion of cyclical life-death-life, as, when they mature, they too will kill the hog.

Finally, the wheat that had been harvested, again reinforcing both pre-Christian and Christian concepts of life-death-life, was baked into bread loaves shaped like humans, as shown in this lovely, atmospheric photograph by Cynthia Bertelsen.
Martinmas bread, photo by Cynthia Bertelsen (source)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Reuse-A-Shoe, by Angela

In the spirit of a well worn farm year, we are very rough on shoes out here and wear them out beyond usage. Many years ago I discovered Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program, which recycles worn-out athletic shoes by grinding them down to create a new material used to make high-quality sports surfaces for courts, playgrounds, etc. We already have a box full of shoes, and I invite you to join us in this recycling effort by bringing your worn-out sneakers to the farm share room or dropping them off by my office. (My office is connected to the greenhouse labeled "Greenery in the Glen" in the parking lot across the street from the main entrance to Our Lady of Angels Convent.) Shoe collections will be taken up through Saturday, November 23rd, then I will deliver them to the Nike factory store in Philadelphia. 

Please see Nike's link, here, for more information on this program:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, posted by Melinda

My friends who are into Brussels sprouts say this is really the only way to eat them!

(photo source)
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • 1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed off & any yellowed leaves removed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 F. Meanwhile, put trimmed Brussels sprouts, oil, salt, & pepper in large jar or resealable plastic bag and shake them to coat with the oil & s/p. Then pour them from the jar or bag onto a rimmed baking sheet, and place it on center oven rack.

Roast in the preheated oven for 30 to 45 min, shaking pan every 5 to 7 min. for even browning. Reduce heat when necessary to prevent burning. Brussels sprouts should be dark brown when done. Adjust seasoning and serve immediately. Great Thanksgiving dish!  (recipe source--there's also a recipe on the same page for "Saucy Brussels Sprouts"!)

Week #23 at Red Hill Farm, by Angela

Week #23 (one more week to go)--plus broccoli bonus pickup for EVERYONE (see below)!

This is a Full Share and Bi-Weekly Tuesday Share pickup week.

Brendan will be in the shareroom to assist you this week. We've felt the brisk change of seasons as the cooler mornings have come, and now the abrupt darkness soon after the day is over.
Samuel Palmer, Cornfield by Moonlight with Evening
, ca 1830 (image source)
Due to the lack of a tractor in August, most of you will recall that our broccoli plants were transplanted nearly a month later than planned. This late transplanting has also put them behind in terms of maturing in time for our CSA dates. Please mark your calendars for the morning of Saturday, November 23rd: I invite you ALL (Full Shares and Bi-Weekly Shares) to come out for a bonus broccoli pickup that morning between 10 a.m. and noon. If you are unable to come, please send someone in your place to sign off for your share of broccoli. The broccoli will not be held for another date, and broccoli shares that are not picked up will be donated to Anna's Place. If you ask me, the timing is perfect for some farm-fresh Thanksgiving broccoli!
Broccoli Fractal (image source)
There are still places left to join Libby Mills this weekend for a Vegetarian Thanksgiving Demo! Please see the flyer in the last post (click here) for more details. Another good event to get some great ideas on what to do with the fall produce.

This week you may anticipate:

  • Salad mix
  • Beets (bunches with more greens than roots)--the greens are excellent used like spinach
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Peppers
Cheers, Angela