Delicious Organic Vegetables Since 2001
Contact Us

2017 CSA Pick-Your-Own

Posted by: on 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!

Holiday Recipes with Local Produce

Posted by: on 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!

Keeping Your Produce Fresh: Storage Tips for Summer

Posted by: on Jul 22, 2013 | 16 Comments

When you come home from the market or CSA, you may have a big load of the season’s bounty on your hands. With such a variety of crops, it’s typically not best to open up the bottom drawer of the fridge and let everything get cozy together. In this article, we aim to give some tips for quickly organizing longer, more vibrant lives for your produce. Just a little more time/thought upfront, and you can get days more life.

If conditions are sound, vegetables will surprise you with their last-ability. For example, carrots will store for 3-5 months or more in the right cold, humid climate.

General Tips

  • Perishability – Use the most perishable things first, and the hardier stuff later.
  • Dream On. Look at your goods and dream up ways to use them when you get them. Something strange? Look it up on the internet for recipes and use that one early on, to prevent it sitting for a long while…
  • Smoothies Rule. Try vegetables in smoothies or juices – very easy to make and drink!
  • Stock it Up! – Make soup stock with your vegetable trimmings and anything you don’t think you’ll get to using. Cover trimmings with water and simmer covered for hours, then strain and store in fridge or freezer. Look up nice herbs to add. I like bay leaf and thyme.

Refrigeration is Your Friend

Here at the farm we have 3 large geothermal coolers and a root cellar to store our produce post-harvest. Cooling dramatically slows respiration and break-down processes in produce. Most of your produce would love to be refrigerated.

We make sure to lay thick sheets of plastic over all of the cooler-kept vegetables like salad greens and roots to keep them from drying out from the cool winds. Your refrigerator has cool winds too. Good for getting things cool, but protect your veggies from the wilting and drying effects.

When packing away your vegetables remember these tips:

  • Bag it Up. Never store produce directly in the refrigerator. Keep items like greens, cucumbers, beets, broccoli, all roots, peppers, even corn*, loosely wrapped in a plastic bag.
    *Keep corn wrapped in its protective husk.
  • Bunched items. Cut the edible greens from crops like beets, radishes, carrots, and kohlrabi, before storing. The greens will drain moisture from the roots if left attached.
  • Remove rubber bands, twisty ties, and other fasteners from vegetables for better circulation.
  • Keep fruits and vegetables separate. Apples, apricots, avocados, ripening bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, citrus fruit (not grapefruit), cranberries, figs, guavas, grapes, green onions, honeydew, ripe kiwi fruit, mangoes, melons, mushrooms, nectarines, okra, papayas, passion fruit, peaches, pears, peppers, persimmons, pineapple, plantains, plums, prunes, quinces, tomatoes and watermelon all release ethylene gas which will cause your remaining produce to spoil and change in flavor in proximity, especially sensitive greens. Try one of those ethylene “eggs” and report back to us.
  • Try not to wash or chop vegetables before storing. The extra water will create conditions that are too damp and not ideal for crisp, tasty vegetables. If washing before storing, make sure to dry produce as well as possible and store in the company of a dry paper towel.
  • On the other hand, Prep for Easy Use. Wash your lettuce leaves for salad and spin them nice and dry when you receive them, it will make it easy and quick later, and you’re more likely to make the salads! Same for other things you want to use soon washed.
  • Wilted from rough travels? If your greens or other items had a rough ride home in a warm car, say, or a 90 degree day at the CSA, you can perk them up with a soak in a bowl of cold water before drying and putting them away.
The gardening department at Cornell University has assembled a useful reserve of storage guidelines.  Check out this link to learn ideal temperatures and how long each crop can stay fresh in storage. 

Don’t Refrigerate These

Some crops, such as basil and tomatoes, need to be kept out of the refrigerator to maintain
optimum freshness. Basil leaves will quickly turn shriveled and brown if stored bare in the refrigerator. The best way to store a bunch of basil is on the countertop in a container of water like
flowers. You can also cover the basil “bouquet” loosely with a plastic bag to contain moisture. Tomatoes lose flavor and texture when chilled, so only refrigerate if you want to stop them from imminent death.

Sweet potatoes also are a tropical tuber and they get chilling injury if stored below 50 degrees, so keep them in a paper bag or basket.

Winter Squash – also gets chilling injury if stored below 50 degrees. Around 55 degrees is ideal. Though a kitchen will do just fine as long as you use it in a few weeks.

Okay for Room Temperature Storage

Tomatoes, Basil (in vase), Melons, dry Onions without green tops, Winter Squash, Potatoes (though keep them in the DARK, and for long storage refrigerate), Garlic, Shallots, Sweet Potatoes.

Freezing Makes for a Delicious Winter

Vegetable season in New England is short. But freezing some of your CSA bounty will let you taste summer when sunlight is fleeting and vegetables are from far away. Many items like tomatoes, green beans, broccoli, peppers, greens, zucchini, and the like, can all be stored in the freezer. Everything can be frozen direct, but some things will have longer, better freezer life if blanched.

For example, extra kale can be frozen and easily added to soups in the winter, try blanching the kale (or spinach or chard or basil etc.). Remove the bottom of the stems, wash the greens, and then follow the blanching steps below.

Blanching is a method to deactivate enzymes that reduce the storage life of frozen produce. Steam or boil produce in water for 2-3 minutes (time varies by produce, do a web search for how long to blanch your item). Then quickly plunge produce into cold water (ice in water is good) to prevent over-cooking (let soak for same amount of time you blanched to cool), and then drain and pat dry, bag in freezer bags, and label.
Save your blanching water for soups! I blanched snow peas and the water tasted like peas. Yum.

To blanch or not?
From what I can tell, blanching preserves the vitamins and nutrients in frozen vegetables, and color and texture. Blanching also kills some bacteria. Without blanching you will lose some nutritional value, not sure how much. Blanching also causes some nutritional loss itself (thus use your water as stock for soups!). You can freeze everything without blanching. Some fruits and vegetables have high enough acid that they don’t need to be blanched for nutritional preservation. Blanching takes time, so if you have no time, then just freeze direct and use earlier.

Blanching times and methods at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Cook more corn-on-the-cob than you can eat one night? It’s blanched already 🙂 Cut the corn off the cob and freeze it!


Some things you can freeze straight up… 

  • Tomatoes can be frozen as is, whole. Their skin will peel off when thawed. Core or chop if desired.
  • Peppers can be cut into large pieces and frozen directly.
  • Onions can be frozen directly.
  • Freezing herbs in water in ice-cube trays, chopped leaves or pureed, makes cubes that are perfect for adding to soups. You can also freeze them loose in a bag and take ’em out to chop up later.
  • Berries are great to freeze because they make deliciously thick smoothies! Pare them first to remove inedible pieces like stems and pits. Freeze on trays, then transfer to bags, or freeze in serving-size bags.

Most importantly, make sure you freeze your produce as soon as possible while it is lively.

Keeping Your Mushrooms Fresh…

  • Store your mushrooms in a paper bag in the fridge. The paper allows the mushrooms to breath slightly without dehydrating quickly.
  • Avoid storing mushrooms in plastic bags! Plastic restricts the mushroom’s ability to breathe, causing accelerated molding.
  • If you don’t have time to use your mushrooms, or simply forget about them, you can rehydrate your mushrooms by placing them in warm water for 20 minutes. After they’re rehydrated you can add them to soups or sautés! After rehydrating your mushrooms, you can use the water you used for rehydrating to add a mushroom-like flavor to stock or grains like rice.


Other sources:

Quality Control in Frozen Vegetables – overall article about commercial scale freezing considerations.

Other Ways to Preserve

Jamming – check out our blog post
Drying Herbs – blog post with herb ID photos
How to Store Winter Vegetables – tips for long-keeping and root cellaring

We don’t have a post on it, but you can dehydrate things too! Lactofermentation is another great way to preserve things for longer.

If you have more tips from your experience, please share them here!

~Thanks for reading!

PDF of this post to print, includes edits and comments through 8-4-2013.

The Flower Crew & How to Care for Your Bouquets

Posted by: on Jul 8, 2013 | No Comments

Whether you are getting our Flower Share or enjoying bouquets from the farmers’ market or stand, we wanted to share some tips about care for flowers.

Meet Jess, Julia, and Alana! Our 2015 flower crew did a tip-top job keeping our blooms healthy and happy.

Our Flower team gets up the earliest of all the crew, to pick the blooms when the day is coolest, starting at 5:30 am. They harvest in the morning for freshness, then they arrange bouquets later in the geothermally-cooled root cellar.

The flowers at Red Fire are grown organically, so feel free to stick your nose down into them to get the best of the scents. Not all the flowers we grow are fragrant, but many are, and we also often include fragrant herbs in bouquets to help take care of your nose as well as your eyes.

 Tips for Keeping Your Flowers Fresh:

Flower stems are like pipes bringing water up to the bloom. You want to keep the pipes clean of any bacteria that may grow in the vase in order to have longer lasting flowers. Here are a few methods:

  • Keep your vase as clean as your dinner dishes, changing the water often.
  • Re-cut stems about 2 inches above the tip when you get home.
  • Any foliage that ends up below the water line of the vase will quickly gum up the water, so strip off any leaves that might get wet.
  • Keep your flowers in a relatively cool spot, ideally out of the sun.
  • Remove individual elements of the bouquet as they wilt. Some flowers have longer vase lives than others and removing the delicate ones will help keep the water clean and the bouquet looking fresh.

Home-Made Flower Food

Asiatic Lilies are the natural fireworks of July!

Try a recipe of these flower preservatives to fill your vase.

Cut Flower Preservative Recipe #1
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon household chlorine bleach or 1 crushed aspirin tablet
1 quart warm water

Cut Flower Preservative Recipe #2
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon household chlorine bleach or 1 crushed aspirin tablet
1 quart warm water

Did you know we also do flowers for special events like weddings?

Sarah Voiland’s bridal bouquet.

You can order arrangements of various sizes, as well as DIY buckets of flowers. Organic, local and very beautiful. Contact us at to set up a time talk to us about your design ideas and what’s in season for your event.

Some event options:

  • Pick Your Own flowers with your bridal party
  • DIY buckets of flowers by color or variety to arrange your own bouquets
  • Arrangements to-order designed by our Flower Grower
  • Have your favorite florist order organic flowers from us to have local flowers for your event


Enjoy a gorgeous season!


Passion for Parsnips

Posted by: on Apr 11, 2013 | One Comment

Almost all roots we harvest in the fall for storage to eat and sell as long through the winter as we can. Except parsnips. Well, we harvest some in the fall to enjoy all winter. But we save some. We save them in the ground. They freeze in there with the dirt all winter. And now, this time of year, we dig them up.

Why? The long freeze of winter brings out in them a wonderful sweetness of flavor, beyond that of those harvested in the fall. It’s a spring treasure. A little hoard we had hidden away.

A truckload of spring dug parsnipsWe had to be patient this year and wait until the late snows melted and the ground came unfrozen. We waited and here they are – the Spring Dug Parsnips! We love them here at the farm.

Early on, when I was falling for my farmer husband Ryan, I wrote a little song for him for his birthday. The refrain goes like this…

“Passion for parsnips and radio listenin’,
fresh salad in a muddy kitchen,
raw lips from too much kissin’,
O, no, there’s nothin missin!”

You should have tasted the excellent breakfast parsnips Ryan made that inspired that one. Maple syrup, walnuts, raisins, parsnips all in a skillet.

For little Wally, I now make parsnip puree. We boil the parsnips until soft, then put them in the food processor with a little of the boiling water, some butter and a pinch of salt. Puree and eat! One bite for me and one bite for Wally is how they go down.

Spring-dug parsnips are a seasonal delicacy, gaining in sweetness from the cold winter in the ground.Roasted Spring-Dug Parsnips

Chop into sticks, coat with olive oil and a little soy sauce, salt and pepper. Bake in the oven at 400. Stir after a half hour. When cooked-through and lightly browned, remove and serve.

A few more recipe links….
Raw Parsnip Winter Salad
Parsnip Coconut Rice

You can find our Spring Dug Parsnips at the Winter Farmers Markets on Saturdays. Though not listed on our website, we are at the Northampton Winter Market on April 13 and April 20th. We may have some also for sale when the Granby and Montague Farm Stands open on April 27th, 2013.

Thanks for reading!

~Sarah Voiland
Red Fire Farm


Deep Winter Recipes

Posted by: on Nov 5, 2012 | No Comments

Here are a selection of tasty recipes with winter produce that you can try for your winter feasts, or other meals this time of year.  Great for Thanksgiving dishes!

You can get ingredients for these recipes, for your celebrations and storage, from our farm at our bulk ordering page.

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.

Parsnip “Fries” – A good appetizer

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 order page to see what is in season now. Happy cooking!

Who Are Your Farmers? — Abby

Posted by: on Oct 8, 2012 | 3 Comments

Abby Getman — Planting & Production Manager in Granby

Abby is in charge of the fields and greenhouses, from seeds to weeds.  The Granby farm produced most of the early season crops, like the first successions of cucumbers, melons and tomatoes, as well as the majority of storage items like sweet potatoes, onions and cabbage.

In the Spring, you could find Abby in the greenhouses, banging out tray upon tray of onions, cucurbits or micro-seeding all of those exotic heirloom tomatoes!  These days, there’s a lot of bulk harvesting going on, so she’s usually found on a tractor or in the field with the crew, bringing in the bounty.


How did you get into farming?  I grew up on my family’s small farm in Northern Connecticut.  My great-grandparents bought the land when they came over from Lithuania and worked in the textile mill down the street.  My mother spent her summers growing up there, so she convinced my dad to buy the farm and they’ve been farming the land for the past 28 years.  My mom got my sister and I into vegetables by forbidding us to go into the garden, so we’d snack on carrots, peppers and spinach when she wasn’t looking. Cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas were prime targets, and to this day she claims that she never got to eat a ripe pea pod until we were in high school and too busy to ravage the garden.

I was the weird kid who brought sandwiches of whole wheat bread with leftover ham (not deli sliced) and lettuce to school. I’m glad that kind of whole, local eating has become increasingly popular! Being a farm kid, or eating local and organic wasn’t that cool when I was growing up. Staples of my childhood were  broccoli, macaroni and cheese with fresh goat’s milk (yes, straight from the udder), home made sausage and eggs from our chickens. I took all of that healthful food for granted until I was studying Human Rights abroad and kept seeing major food security issues permeating the societies I was studying and living in.  Seeing, experiencing and reporting on those issues made me realize my skills as a farmer were needed much more on the farm than off.  Having grown up on the land, I also crave a certain connection to my food. Finding the amount of productivity and satisfaction from your daily labor can be hard to find in a lot of jobs these days, and the rewards of farming are so delicious!


What role does farming play in the rest of your life?  I see farming as a meaningful lifestyle.  I’ve always been involved in growing my own food, be it from bottle feeding calves or staking tomato plants, and I know that growing food suits me.  It combines the essential elements of being active, eating well, and living seasonally.  I expect to be able to share my connection with the land when I have my own family someday.


What’s your favorite vegetable? How do you cook with it?  I don’t have just one, but I always love the “first” of every season.  The first cucumber of the season, pepper, or melon, it all depends. We just started harvesting parsnips, so I would have to say I’m digging them right now, ha! Parsnips are one of the crops I spent a lot of time on the tractor cultivating, so I’m enjoying their sweet, peculiar taste.  I love making parsnip fries with olive oil, garlic and rosemary, or adding them to a hearty soup.


What do you like to do when you’re not farming?  I enjoy all of the requisite New England activities, especially those I can do with my dog Lucy; she’s the best hiking partner!  I love biking, reading and enjoy making incredible feasts with my housemates and friends. Right now, much of my off-farm time is consumed by school; I’m taking a couple night classes and considering perusing an alternative healing degree.  I want a career that will keep me involved in nutrition and health, while allowing me to have my own small farm someday.




Abby with Hamida in front of the Granby Farmstand.


Who Are Your Farmers? — Eli

Posted by: on Oct 2, 2012 | No Comments

Eli Dibner-Dunlap — Vegetable Grower/Tractor Operator

Eli spends most of his days behind the wheel of a tractor, preparing fields for planting, annihilating 96% of the weed population, and grinning gleefully while hoeing, tomato staking or transplanting.  In his 2nd year at RFF, Eli is 24 years old and from Cleveland, OH.  He is tall enough to easily pick out in a crowd, and he can’t make up his mind: mustache or beard?  Eli is a recovering political junkie, a former French horn player of 9 years, and has never been confused for legendary chess player, Bobby Fischer.


How did you get into farming? It all started back in college when I asked myself, “what is the most basic function of a human?”  I thought about it and I realized, it’s eating!  So, I started to consider eating, and what people eat.  Eating seems like such a simple thing we do daily, but the reality of how that food gets to us is a much more complex process.  It’s complex because of the consolidation of land, of merging companies that operate such lands, of an increase in food processing…this all becomes a list of 20 ingredients.  I was totally confused by what was going on in our food industry the more I learned about it that I felt I needed to find a much simpler way of doing such a simple task as eating.  I decided I wanted to eat less ingredients.  Our food industry has become disturbed on so many levels — socially, ecologically and economically, that I felt like I wanted to take control of my relationship to those disturbances.  Learning how to farm has been an essential way for me to feel like I am taking part in a real movement away from our complicated, damaging food system.


What’s your favorite vegetable? How do you cook with it?  Poblano peppers. They add such a rich flavor to any dish and also a touch of heat.  I like to throw them in all soups, but a big hit is mixing them in a roasted corn chowder.  It’s a crowd pleaser.  Try it.


What role does farming play in the rest of your life?  Farming for me has become not just a job, but a way of life.  I now follow the rhythm of the farm season, including long summer days and winter spent in hibernation.  I look forward to growing food for the rest of my life, keeping a small garden for my family’s needs and to maintain my own land connection.  I recommend it to any and all.


What do you like to do when you’re not farming?  I’m currently taking an EMT class, which requires a lot of time and energy.  Health and medicine is a potential next step for me, which feels like another layer on top of my initial attraction to agriculture.  But to get real, what I love most is a well-crafted potluck, baking a crusty loaf of bread, a raucous square dance, and a sweet smelling autumn bike ride.

How To Store Winter Vegetables

Posted by: on Sep 25, 2012 | 6 Comments

It is time to fill the cellar. Or the “cellar” as is the case for many folks. (The “cellar” is whatever somewhat appropriate environs you can carve out of your small apartment living space 🙂
We have many vegetables for bulk order that need nothing more than a cool dark place to keep well through the long cold nights of winter. If you are interested in stocking up, we recommend ordering unwashed vegetables since these will keep better (and it saves us time too!).

Here is just a little bit of basic information about how to store vegetables during the winter…

STORE THINGS DIRTY: the process of cleaning things causes tiny scratches and damage that may shorten the storage life of the produce, so store things dirty and wash right before use.

STORE ONLY THE HEALTHY: When you put away produce into storage, check for disease and damage, and set aside damaged produce for early use. It is indeed true that one bad apple can ruin the barrel.

CHECK PERIODICALLY: Go through your stored produce and remove for use or compost anything that’s starting to decay.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to have it exactly perfect to be successful in storing months worth of local produce.

True Root Vegetables – these include Carrots, Parsnips, Beets, Turnips, Rutabaga, Storage Radishes and Celeriac. Kohlrabi also stores well under the same conditions. Store all of these vegetables in the refrigerator. They need high humidity in order to stay crisp, so put into a plastic bag first with a few drops of water. I find that it is best to leave a tiny bit of air circulation though, so don’t use a twist tie on the plastic bag, just leave the top open, folded over. These crops easily can keep until May under these conditions.
Ideal conditions for storing them in a root cellar are 32-40 degrees with 90-95% humidity. You can create humid storage containers by packing the roots in damp sand, sawdust, leaves or other packing material.

Sweet Potatoes – Keep at room temperature (above 55 F is important – cooler temperatures will result in chilling injury to this tropical root.) Keep dry in paper bags or baskets out of direct sunlight.

Butternut Squash, Pumpkins, and other Winter Squash – Keep cool and dry. Traditionally squashes were kept under beds in the upstairs of farm houses where there was always above freezing temp, but not super hot either. Optimal conditions are from 50-55 degrees with relative humidity of 50-70 percent. Most homes are a little drier than that, which may cause a little drying of the squash, but that is not a huge concern. Temperatures below 50 degrees will cause chilling injury to squash. Butternuts are one of the longest storing winter squash varieties and might keep until around February at the best.

Onions and Garlic – Keep at room temperature in the kitchen for medium storage. They like it dry, and on the cooler side (32-50 F ideally, though kitchens work well for medium length keeping). Don’t put in plastic bags as humidity encourages sprouting. You can also keep small quantities in the kitchen and bulk amounts of garlic or onions in a cooler spot in mesh bags or containers that allow lots of airflow.

Onions eventually start to sprout, but you can then give them some light from a window and use the leaves that grow from the center as scallions in late winter sprout salads! Garlic will also keep well at room temp. in a dry area.

Potatoes – For shorter term storage, just keep roots in the 40- 60 F range and they can keep for weeks until they begin to sprout. Keep potatoes in the dark in opaque containers like paper bags, as light will turn them green and cause them to sprout sooner. More humid conditions will keep them from shriveling.

For longest term storage, keep under refrigeration, or similar conditions. However, if you refrigerate, take out and leave at room temperature for a week before eating. This allows the starches to convert back to normal inside the potato. Potato starches turn to sugars in the cold. You can also eat them directly out of the fridge, though they may be sweeter and have a slightly different texture.

Cabbage – 32-40 degrees, 80-90% humidity. They do well in humid refrigeration. Even if outer leaves get gross and moldy you can peel them away to find a good head underneath.

SPACES TO CONSIDER when you don’t have refrigerator space:
Spaces that are cold but don’t freeze or may only freeze if very cold outside (on these nights take your containers inside) are good options for root vegetables and other produce where refrigeration is recommended. You would need to set things up to have higher humidity in some way. Here are a few types of locations that people have used for storage.

  • Entryways
  • Stairwells & Bulkheads
  • Attached Garages
  • Four season porches
  • Drafty closet that you don’t open often

Visit these Cornell Storage Guidelines for more details on length of storage time by crop and more ideas for how to pack produce or set up a root cellar.

Happy storing and winter cooking! Please post comments about ways you’ve found that work well to store produce, especially if it might help out other folks with limited space or resources.

Who Are Your Farmers? — Max

Posted by: on Sep 3, 2012 | No Comments

Max Jiusto — Trainer

Max is responsible for teaching new employees harvest techniques and standards.  He shows newcomers what’s expected on the farm, and aims to have that the daily harvest happen efficiently and on time.  Max is 23 years old, from Worcester, MA and is in his second year at RFF.

How did you get into farming? I needed one more credit at UMASS, so I signed up for a gardening course called Garden Share.  Gardening was totally new to me, but I really liked it.  I was graduating that Spring of 2011, so I decided to give farming a shot.  I applied to Red Fire and got hired for the summer.  Since working here, my entire perception of eating food and where our food comes from has changed.  I think from now on, I will always be involved in growing my food in some way, whether volunteering or working on a farm.


What’s your favorite vegetable? How do you cook with it?  Onions.  I put them on everything.  I make what I call the “RFF Burrito” with black beans, onions, garlic, tomatoes, peppers and a green of some sort, usually spinach.  I prefer red onions best.


What role does farming play in the rest of your life?  For a while, I’ve had a growing interest in our country’s food system, as well as more generally, our world’s food system.  I thought that working on a farm seemed like a good place to start learning more about food production.  Red Fire represents the new wave of organic agriculture.  I hope we can get more and more people into this way of farming, and relying less on industrial farming.  This year I’m hoping to get into canning and preserving food.  It makes sense to put food away for the winter seeing that there is such bounty on the farm.  Tomato sauce is my goal this year.


What do you like to do when you’re not farming? I love to play music.  I play guitar in a band called Adult Fiction and I also play saxophone.  I’m also a wild man on the dance floor.  Going out to dance parties is probably my favorite thing these days.

Max is an eligible bachelor who will charm you on the dance floor, and serenade you with his saxophone melodies.