At the end of 2013, I find myself gathering thoughts about the past year, while looking forward to the new year with a spirit of optimism and anticipation. Two thousand and thirteen was the year that we completed renovation of The Barn at Beech Springs Farm. The year was filled with events pertaining to its renovation, as well the debut of garden and wedding parties at the farm.
I am reminded how grateful we are to the workers who helped us with the renovation and the township officials who were so supportive, the people who were members of our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and the endearing couples married here. I am equally grateful for the relationships initiated with local vendors and lastly… Kiah, Kathy, Stephanie, daughter Jennifer and grand-daughters, Marissa, Kennedy and Amelia, who helped make all of it possible.
This was such a busy year; looking back I wonder how we were able to accomplish everything that we did. In addition to the weekly distribution of produce to our twenty CSA families from early May thru the end of October and seven weddings, we also hosted a number of events for the community.
In June we were honored to have the Plein Air artists from the Gettysburg Festival visit us once again. Over the past four years the artists have been here many times and a number of their paintings adorn our home. In October, we hosted the Civil War Barn Dance organized by Historic Gettysburg Adams County (HGAC). This was the second time that we hosted the dance and it is one of our all-time favorite events.
In recognition of our efforts to preserve our barn for future generations, HGAC presented us with the 2013 Barn Preservation Award at their annual dinner in May.
Two dinners that benefited local organizations – Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve and the Adams County Children’s Advocacy Center were also held at the farm. The dinners were auction items offered by each organization for their respective fundraisers. The Strawberry Hill dinner, prepared by Jayne, featured seasonal produce from our garden as well as the bounty from other Adams County farms. The Children’s Advocacy dinner was a collaboration between the Gettysburg Wyndham and Beech Springs Farm. Chef Claude Rodier and his wonderful staff from the Wyndham prepared dinner for twelve in our kitchen and served it on the patio to our special guests. In September, the Shippensburg Garden Club enjoyed lunch in the barn and a tour of the farm's gardens and the Chambersburg Quilt Guild held their monthly quilting bee here.
I’ve never kept a guest log of the number of people who have passed through the farm over the past five years, but a rough estimate would put the number around two thousand. When we originally purchased our farm, I wondered how we would be able to share such a special gift with others. Over the years, opportunities have evolved, whether planned or serendipitous, and we have been blessed to share our special treasure with many. Our beautiful Goldens, Taylor and Paige have had the privilege to be the special greeters for every guest.
The ongoing relationship with our CSA members and the couples who choose our farm for their wedding, is a gift that not only sustains the farm, but also provides us with wonderful personal connections that we cherish. This is the most important reason why we have decided to bring our barn up to code and develop the farm in the manner that we have.
Our hope for the New Year, along with practicing more creativity and sustainability at the farm, is to spend more time and effort reaching out, connecting and engaging with our friends, neighbors and our ever-growing Beech Springs Farm family. We thank each and every one of you for sharing your lives and special occasions with us and wish you all a blessed, happy and healthy New Year.
With special thanks,
Jayne, Bill, Taylor and Paige
Hallelujah!! It is FINALLY raining and the air seems much cooler after our relentless heat wave. The plants must be blissful from this afternoon's shower from above. The heat last week was so intense that even the drip irrigation that we installed earlier this year did not make an impact on some of the crops; however, without it I doubt that much would have survived. No matter how much you can irrigate, there is no substitute for the real thing. The rain is timely since I spent yesterday sowing carrots, radishes, bok choy, beans, arugula and butternut squash for Fall.
This has been a week of surprises... This morning, as I was making my rounds through the garden, I found the best surprise ever - the first ripe tomato of summer. There is absolutely nothing better than the taste of a tomato fresh from the garden and still warm from the sun! And, I confess - I couldn't help myself... I had it for breakfast. Sorry, CSA members, I couldn't figure out how to divide it between all of you and I couldn't have it go to waste... so, I did the next best thing. I ate it on your behalf!! But, hope looms on the horizon, a number of others are beginning to ripen and hopefully within the next week we will have heirloom tomatoes for everyone.
Another surprise was the peppers, eggplants, cucumbers and lima beans I noticed forming on a few plants, and the emerging leaves of the salad greens planted to grow in the shade of the climbing beans.
But the greatest surprise, the one that I have been waiting for for weeks, were the butterflies that returned for the season. Every year, I wait with anticipation for their arrival. Their grace and beauty are such a pleasure to behold in the garden. A recent article posted on the internet stated that butterfly populations are down 80% due to the GMO crops, which makes me a little anxious. I was so very happy to see them return to the farm for the summer.
This week we harvested all of the garlic and hung it in the barn to dry, along with the shallots that were harvested last week. The battle of the bugs continues and even though many of the squash have bitten the dust from the squash beetle, many more have survived and the harvest this week is abundant. New this week in CSA shares are Zephyr Squash, a very pretty yellow squash with faint white stripes, light green blossom ends and an unusually nutty taste.
I received a recipe for Summer Squash Soup from the Adams County Farmers Market Association today, which looks very yummy. http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Summer-Squash-Soup
A number of other squash recipes can be found on this page as well.
One last reminder to CSA members - the herbs in the Herb Garden are abundant. Please feel free to come and pick your own.
The rain has stopped and the sun is coming out. Perhaps we will have a rainbow.
I cannot believe how many beans I planted this year. I think I must have been planning on feeding the U.S. Army instead of 17 CSA members. To date, this week, we have picked 88 lbs. of beans and they just keep on coming. Unfortunately, the Mexican Bean Beetle really seems to like my garden because he is wreaking havoc on my bean patch for the second year in a row. My beautiful green, yellow and purple beans have been invaded by a nasty intruder.
Bean Beetles are very difficult to eliminate and often hard to identify. They are very similar in appearance to lady bugs and often go unnoticed until the damage to the plants is obvious. Options as an organic gardener are limited. as far as insecticides, so I’ve decided to take a different approach
Today, I introduced a parasitic wasp, Pediobius foveolatus, as a biological control for the Beetles. From all of the reports that I have read, P. foveolatus appears to be a very effective as a biocontrol agent, which has resulted in substantial savings to the growers in reduced insecticide costs and environmental pollution. This is my first experience with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) so I’ll keep you posted about how successful we are.
Beans (legumes) are among the oldest cultivated plants. There are more than 13,000 species of beans, which are second only to grains in supplying calories and protein to the world’s population. The common bean, which originated in Peru over 7,000 years ago, was then spread by migrating bands of Native Americans into Latin and North America.
The major health benefit of beans is that they are very low in calories, contain no saturated fats and are a very good source of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. Green beans contain excellent levels of vitamin A, vitamin B6, thiamin and vitamin C, in addition to minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese and potassium. They are a very rich source of dietary fiber which aids in elimination and the reduces blood cholesterol levels. The high fiber content of beans also helps prevent blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance, or hypoglycemia.
When preparing beans, remember to remove the strings and stems before cooking. More nutrients are retained when beans are cooked uncut. Simmer or steam beans for about 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook. I like to blanch them quickly in boiling water for about 2 minutes and then plunge them into ice water to cool them down. The beans remain tender crisp and retain their color. Unfortunately, purple beans revert to green when they are cooked.
Since garden tomatoes will be available very shortly, here's a recipe for fresh green beans, herbs and tomatoes from the "Asparagus to Zucchini" cookbook all CSA members receive when they join our CSA.
Prizewinner Green Beans with Tomatoes and Herbs
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 cup sliced onions
2 Tbsp. fresh oregano
1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
1 lb. green beans
1 sprig rosemary
2 medium tomatoes cut in small wedges
salt to taste or 2 Tbsp. salted butter
Heat olive oil in a deep pan over medium heat. Add garlic and pepper flakes, saute util fragrant. Add onions, saute util translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water, spices and gren beans. Stir, cover and steam cook beans until nearly done, approximately 10 minutes. Do not overcook. Stir in the rosemary and tomatoes. Cook very briefly until tomatoes are warmed through and beans are done. Season with salt, or melt salted butter over the beans before serving. Serves 8.
This beautiful picture of our produce garden was painted by Roberta Staat during the Gettysburg Festival's Plein Air Paint Out, June 2011.
The Artists Colony visited our farm for a day and Roberta decided on this location to do a painting. I offered to move our RTV and was concerned about a weed patch I had missed, but Roberta assurred me that she loved vegetable gardens and equipment and that I shouldn't do a thing.
The result is this beautiful painting, a copy of which Roberta framed and left on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago. I LOVE it!! Many thanks, Roberta. I will treasure it always.
Sliced Chiogga Beets, showing striped interior.
Beet Salad with Goat Cheese
Ingredients1/2 pound beets, ends trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/3 cup pine nuts
4 ounces goat cheese
4 cups baby greens
4 cups baby spinach
Tarragon dressing, recipe follows
4 very thin slices red onion, separated
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Wash and dry the beets and trim off the ends.
Take a large sheet of aluminum foil, 12 by18, and double it over.
Put the beets in the middle, drizzle with olive oil and season with the salt and pepper.
Bring the sides of the foil up around the beets to make a pouch.
Put in the hot oven and bake until the beets are tender, about 1 hour 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool.
When cool enough to handle, gently peel off the skin and slice into julienne pieces, about 2 inches long by 1/2-inch thick.
Chill until ready to use.
Lightly toast the pine nuts in a small saute pan over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove to a plate or small bowl and cool.
Slice the goat cheese into 1/2-inch rounds and press the pine nuts onto both sides.
Chill until served.
When ready to serve, lightly toss the baby greens and the spinach together in a large bowl and dress the edge of your serving bowl with 1/4 cup of the tarragon dressing.
Toss the greens and then top with the beets and the goat cheese rounds.
Drizzle with additional dressing and serve immediately.
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons dried tarragon
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In a small bowl or glass jar, combine all the ingredients, except the olive oil.
Whisk until well combined, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
This recipe works really well with a stick blender.
Recipe courtesy Guy Fieri
Sources: http://www.nutrition-and-you.com and http://www.foodnetwork.com
Health Benefits of Sugar Snap Peas: They're Heart Healthy Sugar snap peas are a natural when it comes to heart health. Not only are they fat-free, but a whole cup has four grams of heart-healthy fiber to help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Snap peas are also a good source of folate - a vitamin that's important for heart health. Diets low in folate raise levels of homocysteine - an amino acid associated with a higher risk of heart disease. It's not clear whether higher homocysteine levels actually increase the risk of heart disease or whether it's simply a marker for people already at risk; but most experts agree that people should eat more folate rich foods for better heart health.
Health Benefits of Sugar Snap Peas: They're Good for the Waistline
Sugar snap peas are so low in calories you can munch on them without a second's guilt. A single cup of these green beauties has only sixty-seven calories and the fiber makes them quite filling and satisfying. For a low-calorie snack, enjoy them with low-fat French onion dip as a guilt-free substitute for potato chips while watching your favorite television show. It's a healthier alternative to non-nutritional, high calorie snacks.
Health Benefits of Sugar Snap Peas: Other Health Benefits
Did you know that a cup of sugar-snap peas has almost as much vitamin C has a medium- sized orange? Vitamin C is important for keeping the immune system primed to fight off infection and plays an important role in wound healing. It also keeps skin and joints in great shape.
Peas contain carotenoids such as beta-carotene which may help to protect against certain types of cancer. Vitamin C and the carotenoids found in sugar snap peas are a powerful antioxidant combination.
Sugar snap peas are an excellent source of vitamin K to maintain strong bones and ensure that the blood clots properly when the body is injured. It's also a good source of iron to build healthy, red blood cells.
Enjoy sugar snap peas raw with your favorite dip or sautee them in olive oil and a little garlic for a tasty and nutritious side dish. Don't forget to add them to salads and Chinese stir fry.
Sugar snap peas - take a look....they're what's for dinner!!
Chicken Scaloppine with Sugar Snap Peas, Asparagus and Lemon Zest
6 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 cups julienne-cut, trimmed sugar snap peas
2 cups (1 inch slices) asparagus
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespons fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap.
Using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet, pound to 1/4-inch thickness.
Season chicken evenly with salt and pepper.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a little olive oil.
Add 2 breast halves to pan; sauté until done, plus minus 3 minutes per side.
Remove chicken from the pan and keep warm. Repeat with remaining chicken.
Add broth and wine to pan and turn up the heat, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.
Add the vegetables, mint, zest and juice.
Cook until the liquid is reduced by half and the vegetables are cooked but still firm.
Remove from heat; stir in butter.
Plate the chicken onto a large serving platter or individual plates and garnish with sauce and vegetables.
Makes 6 servings.
(Sources: Dr. Anna Marie and http://www.associatedcontent.com)
You couldn't have picked a more perfect day to have a garden party!! The weather was perfect, the food divine! We loved hosting the Gettysburg Festival Fundraiser! With special thanks to Walter Schieb, former White House Executive Chef, and Claude Rodier, Executive Chef at the Wyndham Gettysburg and the Wyndham's excellent staff for creating such a special evening.
Tonight I made one of Walter Scheib, The American Chef's, recipes. My husband, Bill, loved it and asked that I make sure that I don't forget how I made it. I thought I'd share it here. It's a wonderful use for the fresh asparagus from your CSA shares.
Asparagus with Bacon and Goat's Cheese