Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Our story of 2012

This was given to the Wickham Family as a gift from several staff members. (It takes a minute or so to load.)

Build your own high-quality photo books at Shutterfly.com.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Odds and Ends Dinner Pancake

Odds and ends dinner pancake. Try substituting extra veggies that you've been meaning to use!

1 medium onion, diced
2 small heads of broccoli, cut into very small pieces
3 leaves of kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 tbs olive oil, plus more for the pan
1 cup corn meal
3/4 cup whole spelt flour (or any whole grain)
3 eggs
1/2 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Over medium heat, sauteƩ the carrots, kale, broccoli, and onion in the 2 Tbs olive oil for about 7 minutes, until softened a bit.

Mix the sauteed veggies with all the other ingredients in a mixing bowl, it should be the consistency of pancake batter (plus veggies, of course).

Heat the extra oil over medium high heat in a non-stick pan, use just enough oil to coat the surface of the pan, and gently pan fry 3/4 cup of batter at a time. Allow to cook on one side undisturbed for 4 minutes, flip and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

We ate them warm over a bed of baby spinach, with a spicy pepper sauce on top. Very yummy and versatile!

Friday, July 13, 2012

What's growing this week...

We harvested the first of our green beans this week. Yellow beans aren't far behind.

We're seeing a lot of deer damage to our beans. See all those sticks pointing straight up? They should have flowers and/or beans on them. The deer aren't killing the plants but they are reducing and delaying the harvest.

Beets are looking great! We will most likely harvest and distribute next week.
We've planted a lot of broccoli. We distributed our first of it this week. It will likely continue next week (and beyond).

Broccoli is interesting because plant produces one large primary head. On this one, where you see the grayish cut, the primary head has been harvested. Then, we get more shoots, which are smaller. Some people prefer the smaller shoots because their stems are not as thick.

Cheddar cauliflower seems to be coming along well -- so far. Cauliflower is temperamental, which is why a lot of local CSAs don't grow it. It prefers consistently cool temperatures, which is why almost three fourths of commercial cauliflower is grown in the coastal valleys of California. The other disadvantage is that one plant produces only one head, unlike broccoli. We are giving it our best shot, though, because we know a lot of people like it.

Concord grapes look beautiful so far. Because these vines have not been pruned for years, we are not sure how productive they'll be and how much we'll be able to offer our CSA members.

Because of the heat, this should be a good year for melons. We re growing smaller "Sugar Baby" melons. The smaller melons are the most practical ones to grow in our climate because melons need lots of long, hot days to grow. We usually  don't have as many of those days as the bigger melons need. This year has been very different, though! We wish we knew that back during the cold month of April!

We've seen some deer nibbles on our melons, but a bigger concern is crows. Some growers encounter serious trouble with crows in watermelons, and not much can be done in terms of control. They wait until they are just ready to be harvested and then start pecking away. We have seen some crows in the field -- we're just hoping they aren't savvy ones!
We're starting to see baby peppers. We're still weeks from being able to harvest them.
Pattypan squash -- two colors of them -- look good, and should be ready next week.

Summer squash and zucchini will continue next week.
We've planted sunflowers for our members to enjoy. We have just one in bloom right now. It looks a little lonely.
A lot of people have been asking about tomatoes. We understand -- we love them too! They are coming along but are still a few weeks away from being ripe.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Shares, weeks 1-5

WHEW!!! We've survived four weeks of harvesting and distribution, and we've entered week five. It's hard to believe that we're almost a quarter of the way through the CSA. We're getting a lot of positive feedback and constructive suggestions, and we've already made a number of adjustments along the way. Here's a quick recap of weeks one through five.

Week 1 was, as expected, a fairly small harvest as we're just beginning to harvest. It included some beautiful tender lettuces, kale, mizuna, radishes, spinach and rainbow Swiss chard. Some hungry deer made our sugar snap peas a bit later than expected, but everyone got a handful -- enough to nibble on the way home!
Week 2: Everyone was excited to see plentiful snow peas! They are definitely popular among our members. We also harvested our first arugula and red Russian kale. In addition, we had various lettuces, mizuna, radishes, spinach and spring onions. We swapped with another local farmer who uses a high tunnel farming technique to get some early zucchini and squash. We also started to cut some herbs and wildflowers. People with cats especially enjoyed the catnip!

Week 3 brought our first harvest of kohlrabi! It was a first-time veggie for a lot of members. Early-season greens continued; to avoid palate fatigue, we allowed members to weigh (1.75 pounds -- that's a lot of greens) their choice of greens from arugula, tatsoi, mizuna, kale and red kale. Leaf lettuce greens continued, as did snap and snow peas.
In week 4, we continued to offer a choice of greens, including arugula, tatsoi, mizuna, kale and red kale. Leaf lettuce continued, as did sugar snap peas, snow peas, kohlrabi and radishes. We also offered yellow squash, which was not harvested in time to make our picture.

Week 5 began the transition to some of our popular summer crops -- broccoli, green beans and cabbage! We also had zucchini, yellow squash and the tail end of snow peas. We had three kinds of lettuce to choose from (2 heads total). Our choices of cooking greens continued, with a choice from arugula, tatsoi, mizuna, kale, red Russian kale, and Swiss chard. Our herbs really came on this week, with several available for cutting.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Harvest Pick-up Begins Monday!

We are so excited to start harvesting! Our member pick-up begins on Monday. Here's a sneak peak of what's coming.


Radishes -- these are Easter Egg radishes. See how they are shaped like Easter eggs?

Lettuces will be small "baby" lettuce.

Rainbow Chard

More baby lettuces

Spinach. Use the small "baby" leaves for salads. Use the larger leaves in cooking.
Mizuna. You can use this raw or cooked.
If you haven't received your email with your pick-up dates and times, please contact us at the farm as soon as possible!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Rainy Days & Plastic

Starting the weekend with a rainy day is a little gloomy, but after a hot week our crops really needed the rain! We now have some of every kind of crop planted -- but there's still lots more planting to do. Weeding, too!

Every crop that we're planting with black plastic is now in the ground. That includes peppers, tomatoes and melons. The plastic controls weeds and also provides extra heat to the plants. Laying the plastic over a former vineyard has been a challenge -- those old vines keep getting in the way. We're glad to have this particular task behind us.

So far we're on track for our first crop distribution in mid-June.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Planting Seedlings

Purple cabbage seedling
For the past couple of weeks, we have been planting seedlings, which were started in the greenhouse. Some crops will only be planted from seedlings. For other crops, we will plant both seedlings and seeds to extend the time when they are available. The first weeks will come from plants grown from seedlings, and the following weeks will come from the plants grown from seed.

Paul and Debbie planting on the water wheel planter
If you've ever planted seedlings or small plants at home, you know that getting on your hands and knees, digging a hole and putting in the plant takes time (and is hard on your back). With more than 2,000 seedings to plant, we needed a more efficient process. That's why we invested in a used water wheel planter, which has been a godsend for planting seedlings. The water wheel, which you can see between Paul and Debbie, makes a hole and fills it with water, and then Paul and Debbie insert a plant. As the water is absorbed by the soil, it pulls the plant into the hole.

Yep, that's muddy.

Debbie says that the process is murder on a manicure, but all the leaning and twisting is giving her obliques a great workout. Maybe we could do a "get rid of your love handles" exercise class and have people help plant seedlings on the water wheel planter!

Hoeing the rows
Once the seedlings are in the ground, Paul and Debbie go down the rows with a hoe to make sure the roots are fully covered with soil.

We have planted broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Swiss chard and other plants in this manner -- more than 2,000 seedlings in all. They are coming along, but the cool weather has resulted in them growing more slowly than we had hoped. Our best estimate is that our first pick-up day will be in mid-June, but that will depend on the weather. The plants need warm weather to grow!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Planting Potatoes

Red seed potatoes.
You may be surprised to see what a potato seed looks like. It looks like a potato, because it is one! That's a couple of red seed potatoes above.

Lorie, one of our cutting machines.
To prepare the potatoes for planting, we needed to cut the red potatoes into two to three smaller pieces. Each piece needed an eye, which is like a raised spot. In larger farms, there's a machine that does the cutting, but we're small so our cutting machines were Lorie and Tracy! (That's Lorie, left.)

Last week, we got all of our potatoes in the ground. We planted three varieties. The red potatoes are shown above. We also planted Lehighs, which are a yellow color and are especially good for boiling, like salt potatoes,. We also planted Adirondack Blues, which are bright blue all the way through the potato. If you have a mandoline, you'll be able to cut them thin to make blue potato chips! Or put all of the varieties together to make a beautiful red, white and blue potato salad!
Red potatoes, ready for planting.

This is just the red potatoes, drying overnight before planting. All in all, the potatoes took up four rows, each row about 750 feet long. That's a lot of potatoes! We planted plenty because everyone seems to love potatoes and they are especially delicious fresh from the ground

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Plowing Time

We have owned our vineyard property for just over a month, and we've started plowing! In the Rochester area, mid-April is very early to start plowing -- we are so happy and thankful for the weather we've had.

The first step in tilling the soil is using a mold board plow, shown here. The curved blades actually roll the soil over.

This plowing takes everything growing on top of the soil -- grass and weeds -- and turns it underneath the soil. In time, those grass and weeds will die and provide organic matter to the soil. This is a good farming practice that we do annually.

The next step is using a disc, which cuts up clods and roots, again facilitating organic matter returning to the soil. It also helps level the soil. We can sometimes skip this step, but it is needed this year because remnants of the grapevines remain in the soil. We still have one more step before we plant -- using a drag tooth harrow for final tillage and leveling the soil to prepare a nice seed bed.

Today we plowed a total of 1 1/2 acres, giving us a good start on the season. We hope this good weather continues!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Vineyard, Week Three

In almost three weeks, we've made a lot of progress on our new property. It's looking less and less like an overgrown vineyard, and more like a farm where CSA vegetables, fruits and flowers will grow.

Don, Paige and Bill Wickham, together with other workers and family members, have reeled in rows and rows of wire that supported grapevines.

  Many posts have been pulled out of the ground. (If you need posts, we've got lots for sale!)

 We estimate we'll eventually have to remove 20,000 posts in all.

 We now have row after row of unsupported grapevines that have to be pulled out of the ground.

We have retained and pruned 10 rows of Concord grapevines, which will provide our CSA members with a chance to pick Concord grapes, which are usually used in jellies and jams.

 We've gathered samples of our soil, which are headed to the Cornell Nutrient Analysis Lab. The information we get from the lab will help us understand the quality of the soil and what nutrients we need to add to grow healthy crops.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A New Home for our CSA

One of the first questions people ask about our CSA is where we'll grow the crops, because it's evident that we don't have enough room in our property on Route 250. Our answer has been that we farm on a lot of rented acreage in Penfield. We were always hoping to have the opportunity to acquire land that would be the long-term home to our CSA.

We're thrilled to announce that we've purchased 100 acres of farmland on Sweets Corners Road in Penfield, walking distance from our farm on Route 250. If you know the area, our purchase includes all of the vineyard north of Sweets Corners Road as well as the vineyard south of Sweets Corners Road and west of Dublin Road. Casa Larga, from whom we purchased the vineyard. has retained ownership of the vineyard south of Sweets Corners and east of Dublin.

Now the big work -- turning vineyard into traditional row crop production -- begins. The first step in the process is removing the wires that support the vines. We have to clip all the vines that have grown around the wire. Here's Bill and Debbie working on the task.

Once they are free, the wires are spun onto a reel that's mounted on our tractor. (That's Don Wickham, Bill's father, on the tractor. Don had a 1500-acre vegetable farm for decades, so he's a great help to us at the farm.)

This coil, next to Abby, our golden retriever, is from one row of vines. It's going to be a long process, but we're excited about having plenty of room to serve our CSA.

As you can see, Abby, our Golden Retriever, is thrilled with having a new place to roam.

Why should our CSA members be as happy as Abby?
- Our purchase of 100 acres of farmland shows our long-term commitment to our CSA. Keeping our members satisfied and returning in the coming years is a priority for making that happen.
- We will leave some rows of grape vines, so that Concord grapes will be part of our CSA offering. Concord grapes are tart, and aren't usually eaten out of hand. They are usually used in jams and jellies, but can also be used in baking (such as pies.) Because not everyone will be interested in Concord grapes, they will be offered as a U-pick bonus.
- We promised volunteer opportunities to our CSA members and the vineyard is the first. We would be grateful for any help we can get clipping the grapevines. It's a great arm workout and a chance to enjoy the nice weather we're having. This task is suitable for adults only. If you are interested in helping out, please contact us at: office@wickhamfarms.com. We'll be working every day while the weather is nice, so just let us know what time is good for you.