alliums ameraucana Anthony Bourdain aphids Appleseed Permaculture aquaponics arthritis artichokes Asian Vegetables aussie basil baby chicks baby turnips bearss lime bee keeping beet greens beneficial insects benner tree farm Biochar Bitter Melon blight blooming hill farm boothby blonde cucumber brix broccoli brussels sprouts cabbage cabbage hill farm camp hill farm cancer caraflex celeriac chicken coop chickens children chinese tamale chives cilantro cilantro root coconut cold frames collard greens Compost coriander corn crop rotation cruciferous crucifers cucumber Dan Barber dan kittredge Dave Llewellyn detox dirty dozen dragon fruit Dutch white clover dwarf citrus eggplant Elderberries factory farms farm to table farmer's market farmers markets Fava beans ffarm to table fish oil flea beetle flowers food allergies food combining food miles founding farmers four wind growers Fred Kirschenmann french bulldog G6pd deficiency garlic garlic festival garlic scapes geese Glynwood grass-fed beef Great Outdoors Listening Tour green tomatoes greenhouse growing indoors Hanalei Hemlock Hill Farm heritage turkey heritage USA hudson valley farms hurricane Irene hyssop iced tea infections influenza Insect control isothiocyanates joan gussow jolie lampkin joong kaffir lime kale Kauai kohlrabi korean licorice mint Ladybugs late blight leeks lettuces local food locust tree maine avenue fish market menhaden meyer lemon mycelia mycorrhizal natural fertilizers nectary nightshades No Reservations Nurse cropping nutrient density okra organic Baby food organic christmas tree Organic Pest Control Parsley Paul tappenden peas Permaculture pesticides pesto petite watermelon plant sap pH plymouth barred rock pole beans potatoes preserving food purple basil qunice Radish Greens rainbeau ridge farm raised beds rampicante raw food real food campaign red hook Rockland Farm Alliance ronnybrook farm row covers salt-preserved duck eggs sambucus nigra seed saving seedlings Sheet mulching small space soil analysis soil blocks soil conductivity sorrel Squash Vine Borer star fruit sugar snap peas sustainability sustainable fishing Swiss Chard tabbouleh TEDx Manhattan terracing three sisters tomato sauce tomatoes trellis trovita orange turkana farms Tuttle Farm urban zen volt white clover winter harvest Winter Squash Young Farmers Conference
Indispensable Books and Resources
  • Edible Forest Gardens (2 volume set)
    Edible Forest Gardens (2 volume set)
    by Dave Jacke, Eric Toensmeier
  • The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses
    The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses
    by Eliot Coleman
  • The Biological Farmer: A Complete Guide to the Sustainable & Profitable Biological System of Farming
    The Biological Farmer: A Complete Guide to the Sustainable & Profitable Biological System of Farming
    by Gary F. Zimmer
  • The Garden Primer: Second Edition
    The Garden Primer: Second Edition
    by Barbara Damrosch
  • 1500 Live LadyBugs - A GOOD BUG! - Lady Bug
    1500 Live LadyBugs - A GOOD BUG! - Lady Bug
    Organic Insect Control
  • Acres U.S.A.
    Acres U.S.A.
    Acres U.S.A.

    The best farming and growing magazine money can buy!

  • Seed Starter Soil Block Maker Makes 4 Medium Blocks
    Seed Starter Soil Block Maker Makes 4 Medium Blocks

    2" Soil Blocker

  • Mini Soil Blocker
    Mini Soil Blocker
  • New York City Farmer & Feast: Harvesting Local Bounty
    New York City Farmer & Feast: Harvesting Local Bounty
    by Emily Brooks
  • What Doctors Eat: Tips, Recipes, and the Ultimate Eating Plan for Lasting Weight Loss and Perfect Health
    What Doctors Eat: Tips, Recipes, and the Ultimate Eating Plan for Lasting Weight Loss and Perfect Health
    by Tasneem Bhatia, Editors of Prevention







Short journal entries detailing the nuts and bolts of our ventures in growing food at our micro-farm


Uses for Purple Basil

Purple Amythyst BasilWe're growing a lot of different varieties of basil: Sweet Italian, Holy, Thai, Purple and Purple Ruffled.  I have plenty of uses for the Thai, Holy and Italian varieties but I'm often stymied when my purple basil is lush and full, waiting for a culinary use.  I do use it as a finishing herb on top of salads, pastas and appetizers as a burst of purple color but it still leaves me with an abundance of the herb.  I've tried to make a pesto from it which came out beautifully in taste but a little disconcerting in color.  The final blackish eggplant color was not appetizing to everyone.  So what to do? 



The basils make a gorgeous batch of aubergine color in the herb garden in our edible forest garden.  I figured my favorite grilled tomato basil sauce would be a perfect vehicle since it wouldn't change the color of the sauce.

I used the prolific producing Plum Regal tomato since it's so meaty with little water content.  An Aunt Ruby's Green tomato snuck in there since it was super ripe

And recent harvested Spanish Roja garlic, Dakota Tears onions making the sauce virtually all from the farm.


And the finished product looks great.  The black specks which are the purple basil actually look like the grilled bits of tomatoes and the resulting sauce is, as usual, spectacular.

For the recipe posted last year (I have yet to find a better and easier marinara to make than this one).  Click HERE.  More tomato uses to come as we are swimming in tomatoes.





Baby Chicks Have Arrived!

Yesterday we picked up our 2 day old baby chicks from the post office we ordered from Ideal Poultry in Texas.  They had a great assortment of different chicks this late in the season and the ordering and shipping process was cake.  The harder part was finding an appropriate chicken coop for our brood and settled on one from Green Chicken Coops.  The great thing about this company is they are in line with our values: wood is certified ecologically sustainable, there are no harmful toxic glues or chemicals and a low VOC paints and colors are used.  We haven't gotten that yet but the chicks won't be outside for a good 4-5 weeks from now anyway.


In choosing the varieties of chicks we went with breeds that were more docile and quiet.  Egg color was also a factor and seeing blue/green eggs is still a novelty for us I don't think we'll outgrow.  These are the varieties we have:

Red Sex Link, Barred Rock, Black Australorp, Buff Orpington, Ameraucana, and Salmon Faverolle.  So far the most docile seem to be the Buff and the Salmons.

 We initially though this chick wasn't doing well but realized that babies just sleep a lot!

The set up was simple: An old large container we found in the garage (you can use a cardboard box as well), a heat lamp with an infrared bulb, a $3 chick feeder that you can conveniently attach a quart jar to and a water bowl (we plan on making a DIY waterer with an old plastic bottle).  There are many great resources on the web for specific instructions and we also relied on the book Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens: 3rd Edition (Storey's Guide to Raising Series).


The other important consideration is the starter feed and we choose Hiland Natural Feed which doesn't contain GMO products and soy and is of course, organic.  We are many weeks, 20 to be exact to harvesting any eggs and by the time we reach Christmas the light won't be enough to support the production of eggs.  So looking forward to spring time egg abundance.  In the meantime, we'll continue to indulge in the best local eggs we've ever had from our friends at Bluefield Farm in Blauvelt.

 Our simple brooding box and sleepy chicks

We haven't been able to identify which chick is what breed but I can only assume that we'll be able to better do that once they've grown a little.  Then comes the naming process - fun!  Stay tuned for more chicken updates...


Intern's Corner: A Small Space Experiment - Planting The Three Sisters

Alison Siggelko, one of our departing interns spent a full spring with us getting things in the ground and helping us immensely at the farmer's market.  We bid her a fond adieu as she heads to California for graduate school in Transpersonal Psychology.  Good luck Alison!  You will be missed!

The Three Sisters growing technique is a Native American way of companion planting with squash, corn and pole beans.  Typically you need at least a 10' x 10' space but we had a lot less to work with.  This is our experiement:


The first ear of corn. Not the cornsilk which you can make a tea from helpful in bladder infectionsA few weeks ago, the interns were asked to plant a Three Sisters garden. With free reign to designate planting mounds and seed spacing, we were initially nervous. Between a combination of how-to planting guides and the ancient myth of Three Sisters, we figured out how to lay four soil mounds and plant our first crop of corn.

    I personally remember the legend of the Three Sisters from elementary school. Corn, beans and squash were the first crops to become domesticated by Mesoamericans and were viewed with great reverence as gifts from the Great Spirit. (The legend of the Three Sisters can be found here.) What was left out of my brief education of the Three Sisters was the sustainable science of this growing method.

    Once our corn began to sprout, we planted pole beans around each corn plant. The corn stalk will provide a trellis for the beans to climb, and the bean's presence will not only stabilize the tall corn, but will also fix the nitrogen in the soil for the corn of following years. Squash* was planted around the corn/bean mounds providing soil cover and eventually crop residue beneficial for soil structure.
    Nutritionally the combination of the three plants is also well balanced. Corn provides carbs, beans give us protein and a balance to the amino acid found in corn, and squash fruit is chock full of vitamins.
     Of course, ancient Americans didn't understand the chemistry behind this system. In all probability, they discovered Three Sisters because these crops could be successfully cultivated while maintaining balance and health for people. It is a beautiful example of common-sense sustainability and a reminder of the importance of maintaining indigenous traditions.

Corn providing the trellis for the climbing beans and watermelon as groundcover to suppress the weedsThough none of the interns follow Native traditions, I think it’s safe to say we all felt a shimmer of the ceremonial as we built our soil mounds and planted corn seeds. In keeping with indigenous tradition we decided that there should be four mounds and that they should each represent one of the four directions (N,S,E,W). Though we giggled at our unexpected reverence for tradition, I for one felt a surprising satisfaction at combining the practicalities of farming with a respect and admiration of nature.


* Instead of squash, petite watermelon were planted since vine borers had been a problem in the previous year in the same location.

 Our first trial at watermelon. Everytime I see this guy it makes me happy.


Herbal Abundance: Parsley - Tabbouleh Time!

It's early July and the much anticipated summer vegetables like tomatoes are beginning to ripen.  I'm told that last week at Union Square Market in New York, the most popular stand was a purveyor of hydroponically grown greenhouse tomatoes since most farms in the area don't have tomatoes ready to sell.  We all want those tomatoes unnaturally early since summer doesn't feel like summer without them.  The challenge in eating locally is to understand that you just can't have what you want when you want it even though it was conditioned in you for most of your life to expect tomatoes and garden salsa by June or July.  The only way you come to appreciate this truly, of course, is to grow it yourself and witness the entire process from seed to harvest.  What I do focus on as I hanker for that tomato salsa is to work with what I have in abundance for it won't be too long before I will be drowing in tomatoes and had enough of them for the season.

On the herb front, my flat leaf Italian parsley has been feeding me since the late spring mostly as chopped garnishes, tiny additions to my main meal, or juiced with kale into green shakes.  Now that there is more growing than I can handle I'm trying to find ways in which parsley becomes the centerpiece to a dish and not a minor component.


Health Benefits

Parsley is packed powerhouse of health.  Oftentimes it's added to detox regimens because it is high in chlorophyll and acts as a mild diuretic and laxative.  It's volatile oils contain high amounts of Vit K, C, thiamine, riboflavin and carotenes in addition to the flavanoids and antioxidants apigenin, apiol, and myristicin.  Some of these have anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties.  Many cultures use parsley as a digestive aid and in combating garlic breath. Try eating a sprig of parsley the next time you consume a lot of garlic - it neutralizes the odor!


One classic parsley salad is Tabbouleh.  I like the authentic Lebanese version where parlsey dominates the salad rather than the Americanized version that has a higher proprtion on bulgur or cracked wheat.  And now that I have these gorgeous heirloom Boothby Blonde cucumbers and the start of a few tomatoes coming in, this was the perfect recipe of the day.

 A savory adulteration to the oiginal recipe: Boothby Blonde Cucumbers

RECIPE: Lebanese Tabbouleh


1/2 cup bulgur, fine or medium cracked wheat. Dont use the large variety
juice of 4 lemons
3 bunches fresh parsley, finely chopped (leaves only)
handful fresh mint, thinly sliced
3 medium tomatoes, diced
6 green onions, thinly sliced (with green stems) - I used chives since I have so much growing
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste

(optional addition: though the authentic Lebanese recipe does not call for cucumbers, I couldn't resist adding them in for another texture and crunch in the salad.  Plus I had an abundance of beautiful heirloom Boothyby Blonde Cucumbers....

1. Soak bulgur in the juice of 2 lemons until the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.  If you are using medium grade bulgur you may need to soak it in hot water but make sure the final product is DRY.

2. Combine chopped parsley, slivered mint leaves, scallions and tomatoes with the bulgur.

3. Add remaining juice of 2 lemons and add olive oil, salt to taste and mix once again.

Eat with romaine or cabbges leaves or just by itself.  Delish!

 Adapted from the website Nutrition Unplugged




The Intern's Corner: Garlic Scapes, Fava Bean Tops and Micro Carrots

Garlic ScapesWe begin this spring's harvest a little later than usual due to the long cold wet weather a few months ago (though we had a long lettuce harvest!).  Finally chard, kale, edible flowers and various herbs are in abundance.  The smaller jewels of the harvest are the thinnings from overcrowded crops.  When you seed carrots, you do so closely but at some point you need to sacrifice and pull them to make room for larger carrots to grow.  These are the products, like tiny micro carrots, you'll never see for sale at the farmer's markets, usually only at higher end restaurants.  Garlic scapes fall in that category though they can now be found for sale for a fleeting time at the markets.  Here is Pippa's experience using scapes, fava tops and micro carrots in a recipe.  If you are ever invited to taste Pippa's cooking, don't pass up the opportunity!


We are just beginning to get our first taste of what our work on the farm will yield. Rissa and I harvested garlic scapes and thinned the yellow and purple carrots. Garlic scapes are the stem that grows up from the bulb and will eventually flower. They are removed not only for eating, but also to ensure that the plant puts all of its energy into developing the bulb, rather than the flower.  We went home with an abundance of scapes, a few baby carrots and some tops of the fava bean plants (Click HERE for why one might clip the tops of fava beans) Immediately I began concocting the best way to utilize my precious crops. Pam mentioned that fava tops are often used in pasta dishes and Rissa had just recently made a garlic scape pesto. So, inspired by both I decided to make a pesto-like sauce for pasta and add the fava tops and a few other greens left over from various farmers markets and create flavorful garlic-scapey green pasta! I started by grilling the scapes to impart a nice smoky flavor. 

I added them to the food processor with a half cup of a mix of walnuts and pistachios (because that’s what I had – any nuts will do), 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese, a Serrano chili (this is optional..we just happen to love heat in our food!), and half a red onion.

While the food processor is going, stream in a few tablespoons of olive oil. I then added the scape mixture to a hot pan and added 1/3 of a cup of white wine and a few ladles of starchy pasta water.


I let that cook down and the wine to reduce and then added the cooked pasta to the sauce (we used whole wheat spaghetti – but really any string pasta would work) and then folded in all the lovely greens.


I served it topped with a sprinkle of parmesan and some of the reserved fava tops. Add salt and pepper to taste. I also grilled those gorgeous baby carrots at the same time that I grilled the scapes. The end product was delicious! It tasted very fresh and the flavor of the greens and scapes really shone! The greens I used were a combo of red Russian kale, purslane, callaloo and fava tops- basically it’s a great way to use whatever left over greens you end up with!…I still have some scapes and fava tops left. Any suggestions? Happy cooking!   ~Pippa