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Fall Fashion on the Farm 2015

Sep 20, 2015 | No Comments


Some photos of fall around the farm. A few are a bit of a spoof on fashion photos…

It’s time to deck out for fall! We have all this gear and much more at the farmstands and markets now!

Many thanks to our models.


Haley lounges with jackolantern.

Jackolantern gets alone time. You know he can pull it off just fine.



Fall gold. Delicata squash is one of the sweetest winter squash. Not sure if Ruth is enchanted by it or the other way around.

Emmett sports a second hat. Pie pumpkins are sweet and very flavorful for pie, baking, and other cooking.

The fabulous gourds of fall can make you a little crazy in the head.

Decorating a decorative gourd…



Munchkins of various sorts. This is Chester’s badass model face.

Best used just for their looks. Not actually recommended for eating, though Chester thinks they may help with teething.

Wally says white pumpkins are sleek. Get them while they last.

Many types of porch pumpkins available. The more the merrier!

There are mums for the gardens and pathside pots too! Or you can walk around holding them, which can be awesome.

Fiercely festive ornamental corn.

In colors of fire and fall leaves. With Dorothy, Packing Supervisor.

Apple magic. Photo by Roger Ingraham.

Apples in the barn lights.

Wally with the record-setter. Largest ever pumpkin at the Franklin County Fair. We didn’t grow it, but just had to share.

Wally captured this photo of me (Sarah V.) with a final pumpkin. It’s the Long Island Cheese pumpkin, which I thought rather appropriate for this post.

Thanks for reading! Come visit us at the stands and markets for lots of fall beauty. Not to mention insane amounts of produce.


Celebrating 25 Years at Old Depot Gardens in Montague with Old Photos!

May 15, 2015 | 2 Comments

Way back when Ryan Voiland was 12 years old, he set up a little roadside stand at 504 Turners Falls Road. He thought it would be better than his paper-route job, based on some trials of selling wild harvested berries, and pumpkins in years past. The backyard garden produced the goods. In the kitchen, he made some preserves, like pickles and jams. And he raised bees for honey. It’s been 25 years since then and Old Depot Gardens is still going! Open daily from May through October, you can find the same freshness, but a lot more local food!

His backyard fields were one of the earliest farms to be certified organic in Massachusetts!

In the time since then, Ryan also started Red Fire Farm, with a farmstand in Granby opened in 2001 where we are celebrating 15 years this year also! You can read more about what drives his work in organic farming here.

Come celebrate with us at the Garden Party and Anniversary Celebration on Saturday May 23 in both Granby and Montague. Door prizes, lots of samples, tons of beautiful organic plants, workshops and more!

Here are some old photos of Ryan and the fields back in the day!

Old Depot Gardens in the beginning… With Ryan in a bee hat. The blueberries in this photo were likely harvested from the old Blue Meadow Farm on Meadow Road, where we now farm.


First fields in Montague, in Ryan’s parent’s backyard. Done with shovels, rakes and a rototiller.

Spreading compost to enrich the back yard field! Ryan’s brothers Luke and Adam helped a ton in the early days.


Ryan with his homemade dried flower wreaths.


A honey bee swarm with young beekeeper Ryan. By starting young as a farmer, Ryan was able to get through the very thin first years of having a small farm while still having basic living expenses covered by his parents. He reinvested all of the farm income back into the business to be able to do more.


Paul Voiland and Ryan hoeing in the field as he got a little older. Paul and Jean, Ryan’s parents, supported him in so many ways, from driving him to farmers markets on Saturday mornings, to constructing the stand buildings, to picking up loads of composted manure. And they still do!


Old Depot Gardens nowadays. If you walk down the path, you’ll find little kiosks full of vegetables and local goods, like jams, dressings, maple syrup, milk, cheese, and more.

Red Fire Farm Stand in Granby. Within the historic chestnut-era barn, you will find seasonal selections of produce, and an array of locally made products from all around Massachusetts.

You could say that Ryan grew up with the local food movement, and so did his farm. Thanks to the many local people who have supported his work over all these years. Without you passionate local eaters, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Come out and celebrate 25 years with us!

Garden Party Celebration Details

Farmstand Locations for Granby and Montague – open 7 days, 9am-8pm.

More History about the farm.

Farmer Favorites- On The Table This Thanksgiving

Nov 12, 2014 | No Comments

By Lauren McMullen

It’s that time of year again. We’ve been craving it since the leaves started to fall. Time to gather with your families, make a giant mess of the kitchen, and taste all of the warm flavors of fall. Here at the farm are know how to turn the seasons bounty into a plate of something delicious, and we’d love to share some of our inspiration with you.

You can find our produce right now at the Winter Farmers’ Markets, at the Granby Stand (Open through 11/25), in our Fall and Winter CSA, and as Bulk Orders for parties or storage.

Let’s see what’s cooking …

Catherine Raddatz Roasted Potatoes

When I asked Farmer Jenn what she was looking forward to most this Thanksgiving, she didn’t hesitate to reply “My Mom’s roasted potatoes” here it is:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Cut Potatoes in half, boil for 7 minutes and then drain (large white varieties are best, we have Superior and Elba)
Melt butter and vegetable oil in oven
Add Potatoes and roast for an hour – turning potatoes over occasionally to coat


Potato Leek Soup

This is a legendary recipe around the farm that I tried myself for the first time last week, I made a few alterations and think that the results are worth sharing.

5 large white potatoes (peeled and chopped)
5 cups chicken broth
1 TBS butter
3 large leeks (sliced using whites only)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
celery salt
1 Cup light cream

Peel and cut potatoes, slice leeks. Melt butter over medium heat in pot. Add leeks and let sit for several minutes. Add potatoes, chicken stock, thyme, bay leaf, celery salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are soft (about 20 minutes). Once potatoes are soft, remove from heat, remove the bay leaf, and use an immersion blender or food processor to liquify. In a separate pan slice mushrooms into tiny chunks and sauté. Return the soup to heat, add cream and mushrooms and simmer until desired consistency is reached. Enjoy!


Maria Rodale’s Pumpkin Pie From Scratch

This is a classic recipe that our flower manager, Andrew, returns to season after season. He’s tested it, he’s shared it with his family, and he keeps making it every year.

Pie Dough

1½ cups organic flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
10 Tablespoons cold, or even frozen, lard or butter
6 Tablespoons ice water


1. Put the flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl.
2. Cut the lard or butter into small bits (if it’s frozen, I use a cheese grater).
3. With your fingers, smoosh and mix the fat and the flour until the mixture resembles a coarse “corn meal” mixture. Be gentle, relax, and enjoy the sensual pleasure of mixing the fat and flour!
4. Add a few tablespoons of water and mix together gently until the dough sticks together.
5. Wrap up the dough in wax paper or a plastic bag and put it in the fridge for a half hour.
6. Flour your work surface and flour your rolling pin, too. Take the dough out and roll it until it’s as thin or thick as you want it and the right size for your pie plate.
7. Carefully lift the dough off the surface and put it into a pie plate, and press it gently into place.
8. Crimp the edges.

You can put the leftover dough into the oven on a cookie sheet with some salt, and bake until crispy, and your whole family will come running to eat it…just make sure to wait until the pieces are a bit cool or there will be burnt tongues all over the house!

Pumpkin Pie Filling


2 cups cooked pumpkin*
¼ cup white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
Dash of molasses (1 or 2 Tablespoons)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup cream
½ teaspoon salt

* If you are making the pumpkin from scratch, as I usually do, take a baking pumpkin and cut the top off and pull the seeds out. Bake it in an oven until it collapses (350 degrees for about an hour). Peel off the skin, the rest is the good stuff. Put it into a blender to smooth it out. If you just mash it by hand, the filling will still taste good, but the texture will be stringy as opposed to smooth. Both methods are fine.


1. Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix together until you have a brownish gooey mess.
2. Pour into the crust.
3. Bake in the oven for about an hour: Start the oven at 425 degrees, then after 15 minutes, reduce it to 350. If the crust starts to burn before the pie is done, cover it with tin foil.
6. Test for doneness the way you do a cake–stick a knife in and if it comes out clean, it’s done.
7. Enjoy with ice cream and whipped cream!

See more seasonal recipes on the blog.

We hope everyone has a delicious holiday filled with fresh and tasty New England vegetables!

Reporting from Tomato Festival 2014!

Aug 29, 2014 | No Comments


What you might read about here below….

Lovely Tomato Recipes…. including ways to preserve tomatoes (Bulk Order Tomatoes Here)

Tomato Tasting Results from the Tomato Festival. The votes are in…

Tomato Trot Race Results.

…Read on

Rosie and Darrah enjoy the Tomato Tasting with over 140 varieties this year!


Posing with their vegetable sculpture!

We just wrapped on Tomato Festival 2014. Thank you to all who came out – we had over 2,000 guests! Though the fest has passed, we are still swimming in tomatoes – it’s the peak of the season! Our farmstands and markets now have tons of heirloom, red, cherry, and paste types for you to try. And you can also order heirlooms, slicers and pastes in bulk for preserving.

What happened at the Festival? Check out the photos on Facebook.

Tomato Recipes for the Peak Season

We all have favorite tomato recipes. Here are some of ours. Click the links to read the recipes.

One of our favorite Boston Chefs, JJ Gonson of Cuisine en Locale. She did a demo in the Chef Tent on finishing touches, using herbs and flowers to flavor and dress dishes.

Roasted Tomato Basil Salad Dressing
Fresh Tomato-Corn Salsa
Tomato Basil Salad  
Panzanella: Tomato and Bread Salad 
Dekal’s Tomato Bean Soup
Husk Cherry and Cherry Tomato Salsa
Ratatouille Outside the Box
Garlic and Herb Ratatouille

Recipes for Preserving Tomatoes

Oven Roasted Tomatoes
Tomato Sauce Farmer-Style – the recipe Sarah Voiland did for the Tomato Canning Demo at the fest.
Canned Plum Tomatoes

We have half bushels of heirlooms, reds, or paste tomatoes that you can order for pickup in the Boston area and around Western MA at our farmstands, markets and CSA pickups. Everyone is welcome to order.

The Famous Tomato Tasting  ~ Results 2014

Tomato Tasting at the Tomato Festival

There they were – the many many varieties of tomatoes, ready to taste. This year the harvest included 147 varieties! Though we planted about 190 in the field, not all are ripe at the time of the Festival.

We laid them out in the tasting barn in sections by type with the categories of Cherry, Paste, Heirloom type, and Red Slicer. Unbeknownst to many there is also another category in our farmer minds – the Cocktail Tomato (which we break out in the results). What is a cocktail tomato… not quite a regular tomato, not quite a cherry tomato, a little bigger than a bite.

If you came to the tasting at the Tomato Festival, you received five stickers to assign to your favorite tomatoes in any way you like. As the tasting goes along you can see which ones are working it by the collection of stickers on their card. I wonder if we had the votes hidden if it would affect the winners.

It is hard to taste all the varieties laid out there anyway, so the outcome is skewed by which tomatoes people choose to taste more. Cherry tomatoes anybody? And I would say the tasting also favors those tomatoes with fresh eating qualities, as opposed to cooking or saucing qualities.

The votes are in. The public has spoken.

Overall Top 20 – Type, Variety Name, Total Votes

Cherry Lemon Drop 136
Slicer Tomimaru 84
Cherry Honeydrop 83
Heirloom Giant 11 81
Cocktail Green Tiger 75
Cherry Golden Sweet 74
Cherry Five Star Grape 69
Cherry Black Cherry 64
Cherry Matt’s Wild 60
Cherry Sungold 59
Cherry Jasper 58
Heirloom Green Giant 51
Cocktail Blush 45
Cherry Green Doctor’s Frosted 38
Cherry Sunpeach 37
Cherry Bing 37
Slicer Clermon Cluster 32
Cherry Sweet Treats 31
Heirloom Big Orange Stripe 27
Heirloom Brandywine 27

Thanks very much to our many tomato chopping volunteers, very especially Matt and Linda Soffen – who help organize the tasting.

Top Tomatoes in Each Category

Cherry Tomatoes tend to be big winners.

Results this year held many unexpected winners. It’s a rainbow of winners too! Lemony yellow, green and striped, and two pinks!

Lemon Drop won best of Cherry Tomatoes – this is a break out year for Lemon Drop, which has always had the requisite balance of sweet and tang to make it a winner.
Green Tiger won in the Cocktail Tomato category, a new variety for us this year.
Giant 11 took top honors for Heirloom style tomato. A find! One of the diamonds in the rough of our exotic tomato patch, and one you are sure to see more of on the farm next year.
Tomimaru Muchoo proved most worthy in the Slicing category. This is a pink greenhouse variety, and along with the greenhouse red Clermon Cluster did well in the top 20 – so believe us when we say that in-ground greenhouse growing makes awesome tomatoes!

And we are calling the contest off for the Paste Tomatoes, as we only had three in the running due to Late Blight in our Montague patch, and only one of them got a vote. They are much better turned into sauce.

If you would like to see the full results from the tasting, click to see the PDF of Tomato Tasting 2014 – All Results.

Tomato Trot 5K Race Results

Joanna crosses the finish line!

Congratulations to Joanna Johnson for first place! This is significant in a race which has been won by males since the first run! In fact women took two of the top four places in the race with Meredith Beaton finishing a mere .7 seconds behind 3rd place Patrick Homyak. Eric Ciocca took second place.

The Tomato Trot 5K is a cross-country style trail race through farm fields. Did you run the race and want to see your time? Click here to see the race results.

Trot race photos on Red Fire’s Facebook.

Congratulations to all runners for a great race!


Thanks to all for a great festival! It will happen again next year, round the same time, when the tomatoes start to weigh heavy and ripe on the vines.

Stay tuned for more recipes, stories, coupons and events from the farm with our e-news – you can sign up here.

It’s one of the few days where everyone can come enjoy the farm Pick Your Own – here we have the cherry tomato patch where you can see almost all those varieties on the tasting table growing in the field!

~ Sarah Voiland

2017 CSA Pick-Your-Own

Jun 17, 2014 | 2 Comments

Note: This PYO list is only available to Red Fire Farm CSA and Farmstand members.

 As part of your Vegetable CSA membership, you have access to our Pick Your Own patches. The farm is family-friendly, so bring your little ones and check out our land. PYO includes herbs, flowers, berries, peas, tomatoes, tomatillos, hot peppers, and more (changes with the season).

Late July, August, and September are great months to come for pick your own, as by then we’re brimming with crops like cherry tomatoes, basil, tomatillos, hot peppers, green beans, herbs, flowers, and ground cherries.

Pick Your Own is a perk for members that can make it out – we still aim to give all members the value of their share in harvested and delivered vegetables :). But of course, we want you to come out to visit. The whiteboards located in barns have the most updated PYO limits and info, so please follow those if they differ from what is written online.

  • If you are traveling to the farm for over 1 hour to do the picking (Boston area and Worcester members), then you probably will come for picking only a few times during the season. This means that when you are here you can pick a lot at once, once the limits have gone up.
  • If you are a member from Franklin, Hampshire or Hampden County and you can easily make it to the farm each week, then we ask that you pick weekly but not as much each time. This is why there are different limits posted for each crop depending on where you are coming from.
  • Farmstand & Market Members ($300 level) can pick a lot at once if desired, but you must pay as you go (by using credit from your card). Prices are posted for each PYO crop on the board. There are sometimes limits on crops for Farmstand Members.


What to Bring and Where to Go
Come ready for outdoor weather. Also please bring containers to take your pickings home in, and leave the quart and pint containers for reuse if possible. If you have a car, share a ride! Meet some other local food loving people. You can post on our facebook seeking rides. Read below to find out which farm location you should visit based on your CSA pickup location.



Open to CSA and Farmstand & Market Members from Granby, Springfield, Worcester and the Boston area.

Pick Your Own details are inside the farm stand in the center of the barn at 7 Carver St., including a map of field areas and a list of picking limits, and often containers for harvesting. Any time the farm stand is open you can come pick! To find farm stand hours you can check our farm stand page. The PYO is all self-serve, but please be sure to sign in at the PYO station. There’s extra parking in the Brown-Ellison Park next door if needed.

Oregano,  Savory, Sage, Chives, Mint, Chamomile and more!

CSA Members: Pick as needed.
Farmstand & Market Members: Pick as needed, no charge.


We now have a patch on our Montague farm at 184 Meadow Road. This section is small, so there’s capacity for Montague, and Northampton area members only!

Please park on the grass along Meadow Road, not blocking any thruways or driveways. 

Pick Your Own information is at the large old tobacco barn next to Meadow Road near the red hand-painted Red Fire Farm hanging sign. Pick Your Own details will be there, including an informational map attached to the side of the barn facing the road, a list of picking limits, and often containers for harvesting and measuring. Bring containers to take things home!

Self-serve. You can come to pick any day 9am – 8pm. There will be a log book, so you can keep track of your picking if you are at the $300 Farm Stand Member level, as those members pay half of retail price for PYO items. Please tally your purchases as you go, and we will process them periodically at the office. PYO for CSA level members is free up to limits provided.


Oregano,  Savory, Sage, Chives, Mint, Chamomile and more!

CSA Members: Pick as needed.
Farmstand & Market Members: Pick as needed, no charge.

Fun things to do in Montague:

  • Visit our Old Depot Gardens farm stand at 504 Turners Falls Road in Montague, very cute, with our produce and tasty local products.~ 2 miles from the farm.
  • Check out the Bookmill, a cafe with waterfall, used bookstore, cd shop, art gallery, beer. 1/4 mile from the farm stand.

Enjoy the season and the fields!

Tomato Planting Tips for the Home Gardener

May 18, 2014 | One Comment

It’s tomato planting season!  We have been busy putting early season tomato plants in our greenhouses, and gearing up our bedding plants to be sold at markets and stands.  Some of our most popular garden plants are our juicy, colorful tomatoes.  While it can be fun and simple to grow your own tomatoes, they do have their quirks.  We thought we’d share some of our tomato planting tips with you, the home gardener!

Start with Good Soil

To begin, it’s important to know that soil quality is key for growing healthy tomato plants.  They are most happy where they can get full sunlight in fertile, nutrient rich soil.  Spreading compost is a very effective way to give your tomato plants a healthy environment.  You can buy it at garden centers, or make your own at home.

If you’d like to test your soil to find out the pH and how you are doing for nutrients, Umass offers soil tests. Their “Routine Soil Analysis” for Home Grounds and Gardens, currently $15, is a great basic test for home gardens and will give you recommended rates for how much fertilizer and lime to apply.

Compost in the making

Timing Your Planting

In Massachusetts, it is usually safe to plant your tomatoes outdoors towards the middle or end of May, keeping an eye out for frost to protect them as needed.  Memorial Day weekend is the classic time for planting tomatoes. Tomato plants can be transplanted as late as the end of June and still have time to ripen their fruits before fall cold arrives.

How to Plant

When you are ready to plant your tomatoes, dig a hole in the ground, deep enough to cover the base of the plant and all its roots. You can mix compost into the hole, or fertilize the whole area.  Settle the plant in, fill in the hole around the plant, and pick off any leaves towards the bottom of the plant that are touching the ground.  If your plants have a “leggy” look (their stems are overgrown), you can plant them on their side in a trench with just the top point and a few leaves above ground (remove any leaves that will be underground).  Tomato plants grow roots from anywhere along their stem, so they will straighten themselves upright a few days after planting.  Place tomato plants 18’’-36’’ apart from each other.  If you have had problems with cutworms in your garden, you can try protecting your tomatoes using a collar around the base of the plant such as a paper cup or toilet paper roll.  Once your plant is nestled in the soil bed, pat down the soil, and water it in to secure its placement.

Support Systems

Tomato plants grow wildly; they would sprawl all over the ground if you let them.  You can let them do this, however, it is often preferable to give them some standing support, so the tomato fruits do not end up compressed on the ground or scalded by sun.  If you only have a few plants, you may want to buy cages like these that you can place around each plant, or make some out of concrete reinforcement wire.

Stake & Weave Method – sandwiching the plants between string

Another option is to use a stake & weave method, which is what we use for our tomatoes.  Secure wooden stakes deeply in the ground (roughly the height of your future plants) about every three plants in your row of tomatoes.  Using a thick string that will last the season, go down the row at the level of the current growth, looping the string tightly around each stake, and then go back down the other side, effectively sandwiching the plants between a string on each side.  We find it effective to string a row along the bottom of the plants, another one along the middle, and a final one along the top, as they grow.  The string should be pulled tight to provide a stable structure for the plants to stand within.

To Prune or Not to Prune

As your plants grow, you will notice them growing “suckers”.  These are new growing points that grow in the “v” between the main stem and lateral branches.  Suckers will eventually grow and produce fruit.  You can pinch suckers off to prevent your plants from getting top heavy, and to focus the plant’s energy on the main stem.  Pinching the suckers will mean fewer, but larger fruits.  We only do this for our greenhouse tomatoes, and don’t find it necessary in the field. If you are going to prune, only prune indeterminate varieties of tomatoes (most types, see labels at the stands or look up your variety online). Determinate varieties grow only so long and set their fruit all at once – some paste tomatoes, for example, are determinate – so you will prune away part of your total yields if you remove suckers.

Diseases and Late Blight Resistant Tomatoes

Late Blight – the scourge of 2009, seems to return every year now

Tomatoes are fairly vulnerable plants in our climate.  There are many diseases to watch out for, some you can prevent, and others you just have to cross your fingers and hope you don’t get.  Early Blight and Septoria Leaf Spot are common problems that many tomato farmers in the area experience every year. These two diseases slowly kill the foliage of the plants.  Early Blight is a disease that overwinters in the soil, so rotating the tomato placement in your garden each year can help.

Late Blight now seems to come every year to our area towards the latter part of tomato season, and when it arrives makes quick work of the foliage and the fruits of the plants.

We sell quite a few Late Blight resistant tomato plants that we recommend mixing into your garden plot to add variety and prevent against the loss of all of your tomato fruits, should blight happen to find a home in your garden.

Our Late Blight Resistant tomato plant varieties are:

  • Defiant
  • Mountain Magic Cherry
  • Iron Lady – also resistant to Early Blight and Septoria Leaf Spot. Which basically means you should grow this tomato.
  • Plum Regal Paste
  • Matt’s Wild Cherry

Look for them at our farm stands over the next few weeks as you begin your planting. Each one is its own unique variety with its own unique fruit. Matt’s Wild, for example, has little red fruits that have excellent tomato flavor and cherry tomato sweetness, often a contest winner!

Blossom-end Rot is another common problem.  This is caused by low calcium intake due to uneven moisture or to low levels of calcium in the soil.

Be sure to water your tomato plants regularly if nature isn’t keeping up, but allow the soil to dry out between waterings.  You want to provide your plants with constant water, yet not create a soggy soil.  Try not to water from above; aim your sprinkler at the base of the plant to keep the leaves dry.  Airborne diseases are more likely to infect wet leaves.

Some tomatoes will have a split skin or begin to crack.  This can happen when there is a sudden change in moisture (after a period of extended dry weather), or when the fruit is overripe.  Not to worry though, split skin tomatoes are still perfectly healthy and delicious to eat if you get to them quickly.

If you see a disease or problem on your plant and would like to identify it, a great resource is the Vegetable MD page at Cornell.

Harvest Time

As your plants bear fruit, harvest the tomatoes when they are in their expected full color and size.  Then onto culinary feats!  Tomatoes can be used in all sorts of ways in the kitchen.  Some are delectable sliced raw into salads, while others are designed for making sauces.  Check out our recipes to find unusual ways of cooking with tomatoes. Do note that tomatoes lose flavor when refrigerated, so keep them on your counter instead!

More About Variety Selection

We typically grow 150 varieties of tomatoes, many of which have won awards!  From slicing, heirloom, cherry to paste, our tomatoes come in all sorts of shades, and have all sorts of flavors.

Our recommendations for a good red slicing tomato are Jet Star and Big Beef.  For heirlooms and specialty tomatoes, try a mix of colors and types. Brandywine and Wapsipinicon Peach both have won awards for flavor at our farm.  If you’re looking to make sauce, choose a paste tomato variety, bred to cook down quicker with less juice and more meat;  Federle is a great heirloom, and San Marzano is very productive.  For a simple snacking tomato, we love Sungold Cherry Tomatoes. Having a mix in the garden is the most fun.

If seeking low-acid tomatoes, try Pork Chop- a yellow tomato, Jet Star – a red slicer, San Marzano – a paste tomato, or Sungolds for nice golden yellow cherries.

If you like tomato salads, growing a selection of tomatoes with different colors can make a stunning salad. Try Green Zebra, Black Prince, Cherokee Purple, Striped German, and Gary Ibsen’s Gold.

These and many more varieties – that we have taste-tested and field-tested at our farm – can be found at either of our farmstands in Granby and Montague as well as at our summer farmers’ markets, Tuesdays in Springfield, Northampton and Boston, and Thursdays in Stoneham.

May you have a bountiful harvest!

Helping Monarch Butterflies with a Butterfly Garden

May 2, 2014 | No Comments

Butterflies bring joy to the garden – and you can make much needed habitat for them! Plants that butterflies love have flowers with lots of nectar, as that is food for butterflies. Not all flowers make good nectar sources; these ones below are especially rich in it. We carry these varieties and more at our farmstands over the month of May and into June. Many of these flowers are frost sensitive, so we will be stocking them in mid May.

A few key tips for butterfly gardens:

  • Plant nectar-rich flower varieties
  • Multiple plants of the same kind in one spot are easier for a butterfly to see
  • Choose host plants for the caterpillars of butterflies, like Milkweed for Monarchs, Lupine for Painted Ladies, Snapdragons for Buckeyes
  • Butterfly nectar plants are also great for honey bees and other beneficials, bringing pollination and protection to the rest of your garden

If you know only one butterfly, it is most likely the Monarch! Monarch butterflies especially need our help in providing nectar plants and safe habitats for caterpillars. Many of their previous safe grounds for feeding and laying eggs have been diminished by increased use of GMO glyphosate resistant soy and corn, or plowed over to grow government-subsidized corn for biofuels. Parking lots, roads, and front lawns have also replaced the sweet fields of wild flowers necessary for a healthy butterfly population. Read more about what is happening with Monarchs and what we can do.

One critical plant for the survival of the Monarch butterfly is milkweed. Monarch butterflies only lay their eggs on milkweed and the caterpillars will only feed on this kind of plant. We have found a native variety that also has beautiful flowers and fall seed pods.


Above is Butterfly Milkweed, or Asclepias Tuberosa. It’s a bright orange wild flower that loves full sunlight and fairs well in dryer soil. Monarchs migrate north to lay their eggs and will only lay eggs on milkweeds such as this one. Seeing a chrysalis on a milkweed plant is a rare joy, something we should all get a chance to see.


Some of the other plants we grow that butterflies love:

Buddeleia Butterfly Bush: A woody shrub with fragrant lilac blooms that attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and beneficials. Lovely at the back of borders for its height and arching shape. Perennial.

Verbena Bonareisis: Tall, beautiful and purple. An excellent cut flower. Clusters of tiny flowers on top of a long stem that Butterflies love to land on.


Coreopsis: A bright blooming flower that does well in full sun. Perennial.

Marigolds: Bright colors that not only attract butterflies but also repel aphids from your garden. Annual.

Snapdragons: These attract butterflies and provide food for Buckeye butterfly caterpillars. The make beautiful cut flowers as well. Annual.

Bee Balm

Monarda (Red Bee Balm and Purple Wild Bergamot): A fragrant, fun and quirky flower. Grows tall and is also a favorite of hummingbirds. Edible for us too! Perennial.

Sweet Alyssum: This flower smells like honey and butterflies and bees enjoy the sweet scent. You will too! Growing in white and light pink. A perfect spring flower that loves cooler weather. Annual.

Echinacea: This flower is drought tolerant and makes an excellent addition to any bouquet. Also known for its healing properties. Perennial.


Salvia Gruppenblau: Shorter, fragrant blue spires that attract hummingbirds also. Great for drying! Perennial.

Cosmos: Idyllic, wispy flowers with long skinny stems. Annual.

Gomphrena: A shooting plant with spikey flowers perfect for drying. Butterflies love to dance around from flower to flower. Annual.

Cleome: Also known as spider flower, this flower is unlike any other. We feature it in many of our summer time bouquets. The large exploding flowers gain everyone’s attention, especially wandering butterflies. Annual.


Ellagance Lavender: Highly fragrant low growing purple flowers. Many uses. Perennial.

Zinnia: One of summer’s most colorful features. Will bloom into the fall! Makes a great cut flower and can be featured in single variety bouquets. Annual.

Yarrow: Large flat-top flower heads on ferny foliage make clouds of color all summer long. A mix of colors on drought tolerant plants. Superb for cutting, and drying as well.


Come visit us at the farmstands in Granby and Montague for even more varieties! Keep an eye out for our poster at the stands that highlights these butterfly flowers, and also read the plant descriptions on display to learn more about each plant.


Best wishes in the garden this summer!


Cabbage Harvest Story and Sauerkraut Recipe

Dec 6, 2013 | 2 Comments

Brassica oleracea capitata. Latin for cabbage. From a wild cabbage, through centuries of breeding and selection, came many food crops in the brassica family that we eat today… broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, cauliflower, bok choy. This family is very important on our farm, as many of the crops are hardy to the cold and help us extend the season of local food.

Hamida with two cabbages in the field. These would make a great batch of kraut!


This time of year, hopefully before we get weather in the low teens or below, we are harvesting the cabbage for winter storage.  When the big fall cabbages start rolling in, it’s also the time we start to make sauerkraut in earnest at our house. You can make it too. You can find our organic cabbage at our winter farmers’ markets, with Bulk Order for pickup around Massachusetts, and in our CSA farm shares.

First we harvest the cabbage into rows. Then it goes air-born. Zeinab catches cabbage to fill up the pallet bins.

Sauerkraut is German for “sour cabbage.” Though I would describe the flavor as tangy instead – likely from the high vitamin C content. Sauerkraut is lacto-fermented, meaning the food is made with the help of naturally occurring beneficial bacteria that create a lactic acid environment. Eating this live food is good for your health, because of the live cultures, increased nutrient availability, and beneficial compounds. Read more about the health benefits from some of our local kraut makers – Real Pickles. And more on wikipedia.

It’s one of my goals over time to weave the making of sauerkraut and fermented foods into my life year round. The flavors and health aspects are so compelling. I’ve found sauerkraut makes a good place to start, as it is simple, and very worthwhile.

How to Make Sauerkraut

  1. Chop cabbage to desired size for eating
  2. Salt to taste, and then squeeze or pound to get the water moving out of the cabbage. You can mix in flavorings at this point. See below for ideas!
  3. Pack cabbage tightly into a clean non-reactive container, pushing it down so that liquid rises above the vegetables. You can add water if needed. We usually weigh down the kraut in our glass jar with another smaller glass jar filled with water that nestles inside the mouth of the main jar, then cover the whole setup with a cloth or napkin to keep dust and bugs out of the opening.
  4. Let sit out on a counter, and taste often until you like the flavor, then put in the fridge to slow the ferment. Skim off any mold that forms on the surface (it’s okay, just remove it). Make sure the liquid level is above the vegetables when you check it, as you want to keep the process anaerobic. You can add more brine (2 tbs salt per quart water works). If the top layer gets exposed to air and looks bad, remove a layer, often it is perfect and smelling good underneath. Don’t put in direct sun like these photos, as UV rays kill your beneficial bacteria.

    Red cabbage sauerkraut.

I like the freshness and crunch of the cabbage at the 3-5 days stage, but we usually let it go longer to develop more tang and flavor over 2 weeks or so. Taste as you go and eat some when you like it! You can have cabbage ferment at a much slower pace in a cooler environment – this is how lacto-fermentation was used as long term storage for many foods to help people get through the winter. That is essentially what you are doing when you put it into the fridge as well, slowing down the ferment. But it keeps going and stays alive, and will hold a very long time in your refrigerator.

For the amount of salt, Ryan just wings it. Fermentation master Sandor Katz says, “In most ferments, including vegetables, salting can be done to taste, without any need for measuring.” He also says that commercial sauerkraut makers use 1.5-2 tsp salt for each pound of chopped cabbage. You can ferment without salt, though salt helps keep vegetables crunchy, brings water out, and makes a more secure environment for lactic acid bacteria (ones you want!).

Sauerkraut with caraway seeds. The weight jar is covered by a napkin and the cover is secured below the rim of the large jar in case of dust or bugs. Kinda makeshift.


If you’d like to flavor your sauerkraut…
Lately we are fond of caraway seeds, they add such dimension to the taste of sauerkraut, nuttiness and aromas. Some other fun options… juniper berries, dill seeds, celery seeds, ginger, hot pepper flakes, turmeric, apples, cranberries, sweet white wine, oregano, other vegetables. Go exploring!

Another way to go is to make Kimchi, which tends to be cabbage with a mix of vegetables and includes some hot pepper. Here’s a kimchi recipe from Amy, one of our members.



How to Eat It

This time of year we are starting new batches soon after one finishes, and eating them right quick. You are likely to see me eating sauerkraut or something lacto-fermented at any meal of the day now that we are in the groove. Wally likes to snack on it! I am fond of putting it out with a bit of other snacks like carrots and cheese as a finger food or lunch. Raw is best as you get the probiotics. It tops salads, goes along with any meal on the side, and dresses up sandwiches. Great with breakfast eggs and toast. And on bagels with cream cheese. Basically you can eat it anywhere is what I’m saying here. More versatile than ketchup! And it will save you from scurvy.

Further Reading
If you want to delve deeper into the fascinations of lactofermentation I recommend Sandor Katz’s books, Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation. If you have read any other good ones, please share in the comments!

Here is a larger batch sauerkraut recipe on Sandor Katz’s website.

If you add water at some point to keep your liquid level up, beware of chlorine. Chlorinated water can cause problems for fermentation, as chlorine kills your beneficial bacteria. If you have chlorinated water, you can boil it in an open pot to evaporate the chlorine, then cool it to room temperature (so hot water doesn’t kill desired microbes). You can also let it sit in an open container for a few days, and the chlorine will evaporate. Or you can filter it with charcoal filters.

Glass jars are a good container as they are non-reactive. I got some larger half gallon Ball jars that fit right into the fridge after fermenting on the counter. You can use quart jars or whatever you have. We also do bigger batches in food-safe plastic buckets.

I read recently in Katz’s book about a woman who uses the old style canning jars with glass lids and rubber seals to ferment – she says that she can close the jar and the gases of fermentation escape through the seal when the pressure builds, but it is sealed, so nothing gets in, and she has no incidence of mold. Sounds worth trying.


 Bringing in the Harvest

There’s Max pulling in a bin of cabbage. After harvest, we bring the bins in and store some in our root cellar for the winter. Storage varieties of cabbage will last months in the right conditions. We have a good amount of it this year! Please take some off our hands and make sauerkraut!



Bulk Order Online

Winter CSA Sign Up

Winter Farmers’ Market details

What’s Cooking – Our Farmers Share Their Thanksgiving Recipes

Nov 18, 2013 | No Comments

Around the farm we’re all thinking about the best dishes we can make for our families with the abundance of organic vegetables we’ve been helping to grow all season. It’s fun and satisfying to make an original dish for our families and friends with the vegetables we have so lovingly planted, tended, harvested, stored and washed.

You can find our produce right now at the Winter Farmers’ Markets, in our Winter CSA, and as Bulk Orders for parties or storage.

Let’s see what’s cooking … 

Bacon Brussels Sprouts

Leila harvesting thyme on a beautiful November day.


Leila, our Georgia native, will be flying back home with a bag of Brussels sprouts this Friday so she can make bacon Brussels sprouts for her family. How she does it? First she fries bacon in a pan, she then removes the bacon and cuts it into bits. Next she sautés the Brussels sprouts in the bacon grease. Last, she adds the bacon bits to the plate of cooked Brussels. Simple, easy, and delicious!






Beet Rosti 

Christina and Kristi enjoy their lunch break in front of our House fields.

Kristi, our Wholesale and Logistics Manager, recommends trying beet rosti as an appetizer this holiday. “The rosemary is a really nice light flavor with the deep dark flavor of the beet” she says.

4-6 red beets (peeled and grated)
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
1/2 cup flour
2 tbs butter

Grate beets and toss with rosemary and 1/4 cup flour. Toss thoroughly and then add the remaining flour. Heat butter at medium/high heat until golden brown in skillet. Add beet mixture to skillet and press firmly with spatula. Cook for 8-10 minutes. To Flip: remove patty from pan with spatula and slide onto new plate. Put an additional plate on top of patty and turn over so that the patty falls cooked side up onto new plate. Use spatula to slide patty off plate and back onto pan. Cook remaining 10 minutes or until brown. Can be served hot or cold.

Caramelized Shallots 

Kristi will also be featuring caramelized shallots on her Thanksgiving table this year. In fact, they were the first to come to her mind when thinking about holiday dishes.

Saute shallots and a few tablespoons sugar on medium heat in unsalted butter. Add a bit of red wine vinegar and salt, cook until brown. Then place sauté pan in the oven and roast until juicy and tender.

9″ Butternut Squash Pie

Packing Supervisor Rich with a purple cauliflower.

Our Packing Supervisor, Rich, says he’s excited to try a variation of the pumpkin pie this year, using butternut squash.

1 9” pie plate
2 cups of butternut squash puree
1 ½ cups of creamy coconut milk, some people use a 12 oz can of evaporated milk
¾ cup of sweetener, sugar molasses, honey, whichever
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon of ground ginger
½ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
2 large eggs or egg substitute (my favorite is soaked flax seeds 1 tablespoon of ground seeds to 3 tablespoons of water soak until gelatinous.)
1 pie crust (unbaked)

Mix spices and salt together in a bowl then add the eggs (or substitute) and pumpkin puree, mix thoroughly and fill the (unbaked) pie crust. Cook at 400 for 15 minutes then turn down the temperature to 350 for 40 to 50 minutes, until you can stick a toothpick into the pies center without it coming out covered in gelatinous pumpkin mixture. Cool on a rack. Serve. With whipped cream. And other pies.

See more seasonal recipes on the blog.

We hope everyone has a delicious holiday filled with fresh and tasty New England vegetables!

Holiday Recipes with Local Produce

Nov 14, 2013 | No Comments

The fall crops are rolling in. Read below for many recipes to try for local feasts and winter dinners. You can order produce in bulk right now for storage and parties – visit our Bulk Order page for the list of seasonal produce.

Carrots in fall gain a most wonderful sweetness from the cold. This fall they are almost like candy. With a little local maple syrup, mmm. Try this easy recipe below….

Maple Glazed Carrots

An easy side to sweeten up any cold winter meal. 


10 or so medium Carrots, Sliced
4 Tbsp Butter (Can use coconut oil also)
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Ground Ginger

Chop carrots into 2 inch long sticks or slice them into disks.

Steam for 15-20 minutes. In a saucepan on low mix together a 1/2 stick of butter a ¼ cup of maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of ground ginger.

Once the butter has melted and the spices have mixed in, drizzle it over the top the carrots and serve. You can keep a little boat of the sauce around for those who like it sweet!

More Seasonal Recipes from the Farm Collection

Roasted Watermelon Radishes – Surprisingly sweet, tasty, and so pretty.
Kohlrabi and Potato Gratin
–Rich and creamy
Raw Parsnip Winter Salad -Sarah makes this for fall and winter feasts. Parsnips are amazing raw.
Mashed Potatoes with Shallots–Shallots give a really nice flavor to the potatoes.
Daikon-Apple Salad–Refreshing and light.
Caramelized Leeks and Apples–A sweet and savory side dish.
Turnip Puff–A really fun way to serve turnips.
Maple-Glazed Sesame Sweet Potatoes -yum.
Rosemary Vinaigrette–A nice way to use this aromatic herb.
Warm Maple Dressing with Shallots–Great flavor to warm up a salad, or for slightly wilting spinach or other greens.
Beet and Winter Squash Strudel
–Appetizer or main dish.
Kale ‘n’ Apples–Stellar fall/winter combo.
Butternut Squash and Rutabaga Puree–Smooth and creamy.
Butternut Apple Bisque
Curried Carrot Dip
German Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage -Tangy and sweet, and a gorgeous purple color.
Gilfeather Turnip Puree -Featuring Gilfeather turnips from the Slow Food Ark of Taste. They are so flavorful!
Stuffed Delicata Winter Squash-You can use this recipe with other types of winter squash too.
Coconut-Rutabaga-Carrot Mash
Baked Apples-Very easy, personal-sized, and delicious dessert.
Sweet Potato Pie–Sweet potatoes make a really amazing pie. Most say it’s better than pumpkin.

Visit our Bulk Orders page to see what is in season now. Happy cooking!