For 25 years, this stack of two-inch-thick boards has sat under the house waiting to become a beautiful farmhouse table. It waited and it waited. For 25 years, it waited.
We would propose the table project with incentives—for this anniversary, let’s make the table. For my birthday, let’s do it. Let’s do it later, we are too busy building the farm. The farm was born; the children were born. We’ll do it when the kids are older, because we are going to ruin the kitchen table with projects. We got a hand-me-down kitchen table. How many projects were done on the kitchen table? Incubating chickens probably shouldn’t have happened on the kitchen table. Stamping seedling tags with permanent ink probably shouldn’t have happened on the kitchen table. But they did. We knew they would. All the while, this stack of cherry boards waited.
We started to realize the cherry table project would never fit into our routine. We will never get to it, but we’d really appreciate the table. That big permanent black ink stain on the hand-me-down table is starting to bother me. Let’s make the table for our 20th anniversary. We have heard that one before.
When my husband, Phil, prepared the land to build our house…
This is Tracy. She and I go way back. She was one of our first CSA members twenty years ago. We became friends and raised our kids together when they were quite little. She is volunteering on the farm this summer. She always told her kids, “You need to fill your basket.” She’s talking about your internal soul-nurturing basket, filled by moments that just seep in and nurture contentment.
On harvest day, I sent Tracy out to pick the beets. I knew she loves beets, so I figured she would enjoy picking them. Tracy came out of the field with a smile on her face and her crate full of beets. I took this photo. She told me that the delight of picking those beautiful bountiful deep red beets filled her basket. Literally and figuratively.
I love this because it taps into our farm mission of connecting you to your food, the land and community. Making these connections fills your basket. It seeps in and satisfies deep inner needs. It satisfies the need to take care of yourself. It makes sense that there is an instinctual deep satisfaction in growing your own food and knowing where your food comes from.
At House in the Woods Farm, our mission is to fill both your harvest basket and your soul-nurturing basket. When kids leave the farm with an experience of pulling a beet or planting a sweet potato plant, they connect to their food sources in a really special way. It is an experience that fills their basket.
It’s mid-May and CSA harvests will begin soon! Let’s take a look at some of the crops we expect to harvest first. Eating seasonally is part of the adventure of participating in a farm share/CSA. Spring crops feature leafy greens, scallions and radishy crunchy vegetables like turnips and kohlrabi. Here is a snapshot of some of what’s growing.
We are growing lots of red and green lettuces, succulent and crisp. Some are almost ready, but there are younger sets growing to harvest a bit later. Napa cabbage is a very diverse Asian cabbage–make Chinese Chicken Salad, chop and dress with sesame salad dressing, stirfry lightly, use as wraps, or make kimchi. We are growing two kinds of kale–red flat kale and curly kale.
From top left: a row of lettuce at the early stages, succulent green leaf lettuce, Red Russian flat kale. Bottom: Napa cabbage.
Connect to your food, the land, and community…always, but most importantly, now.
“Know your farmer” has always been our mantra, but it resonates even more during uncertain times. People are going to find out how wonderful it is to know your farmer, in good times and in bad. –Ilene Freedman
House in the Woods Farm has been honored and trusted to feed families in our community for the past 20 years. This year, we are taking on the upcoming harvest season with a wartime determination to feed our community. It’s a victory garden for our local community.
Agriculture is essential for a safe and reliable food supply.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture has identified farms as “essential businesses” that are encouraged to maintain or expand operations at this time. From the MDA: “Reliable access to food is a human right and it is critical that our food supply chain maintain – and even be prepared to expand – operations throughout this state of emergency.”
We are taking this appeal seriously at House in the Woods Farm. We have always enjoyed growing food for our community, but we have never felt such a community responsibility to “feed the people.” We are on it!
It is not easy to maximize production on a diverse organic farm. It is time-intensive work to grow and harvest, and then sales need to happen quickly for perishable goods. We have found that this is best done by a direct customer-farmer agreement, for most of our crops. In order to feed the most people with very efficient sales, we will need to make share agreements ahead of time. We have capacity for about 50 more families.
Connecting you to your food, the land, and community…always, but most importantly, now.
May a farm or garden provide you with comfort and healing this summer. It looks like we are all going to need it.
*Growing your own Corona Victory garden? We can support you. We are growing plants for your garden. Join our House in the Woods Facebook Page and stand by for more gardening guidance.
House in the Woods Farm is taking the following precautions on the farm:
Cancelling large group volunteer days and children’s programming, until further notice.
Social distancing along rows while planting, more hand-washing protocols. Being outside provides plenty of fresh air and room to spread out. Less helpers at one time.
We will post our plan for more-careful-than-ever harvest and distribution guidelines closer to our May harvest time.
Join our CSA early, so we have time to plant accordingly and at maximum capacity. Take some pressure off the grocery stores by committing in advance to source directly from the farm. You get to arrange pick up days at the farm with flexibility and select which items you’d like from our harvest list. Less hands on your food, direct sourcing from our fields to you.
Help us grow all this food. House in the Woods Farm is also accepting workshares–healthy adult volunteers who can help at the farm for a weekly four hour shift. Not a kids opportunity and no kids in tow. Learn with us in very small groups, get some fresh air, support your community, and take home some of our organic produce. As three group volunteer workdays at the farm will likely be cancelled, these workshares are even more important during peak planting time.
Donate to our Food Bank shares
We donate produce weekly to the Frederick Food Bank, with grants from The Common Market and private donors. Let’s double their share this season. Quantities are matched by House in the Woods with even more donated produce. Tax-deductible. Contact me for more information or subscribe to our newsletter. Online donations option coming soon.
We also need to collect contacts for people who want to buy excess product, as available, via our online farmstand. For now, subscribe to our newsletter on our website and wait for details about farmstand notifications.
I hope it brings you comfort and security to know that you have farmers growing food for you right now.
As the State of Maryland continues its unprecedented response to COVID-19, the Maryland Department of Agriculture is emphasizing the need for businesses involved in the state’s food supply chain to continue production….
All Farm Hands are washing their hands when they arrive at the farm, before they leave, and before harvesting.
All Farms Hands are bringing their own work gloves and water bottles.
We have a designated wash sink for washing hands, available to all who visit the farm, and a separate sink for washing produce.
This is Emily’s Stand, in its second season. Emily’s Stand is a patch of sunflowers, Emily’s favorite flower. It is a patch of joy and bright sunshine at House in the Woods Farm. This sunflower patch brings smiles and hope to those who admire it. It honors the life and spirit of Emily Duckworth. Emily had a bright smile, positive nature, and a gentle yet determined way of bringing goodness to the world.
The Duckworth family are House in the Woods CSA members and have been so for 17 years! Emily was raised on our produce and made memories on our farm. They are a big part of our farm community and our homeschooling community. I have taught Emily and her siblings in our homeschool coop, that their mother Lisa organizes. We go way back! Here are some photos from way back.
On a day that Emily brought me crappy news about a brain scan, we stood in front of the garden and I told her that I will plant a sunflower patch for her in the spring because we are all standing with her. And it will be called Emily’s Stand. We both smiled on a hard day. Neither of us knew if she would see the garden grow, and I don’t know if that even crossed her mind at that time. No matter. We smiled on a hard day, and that is all that mattered.
Sunflowers stand so tall and always turn toward the sun. Like Emily.
Emily passed away December 28, 2017 at age 21. I think of her often, but especially in July, when the sunflowers beam with joy right in my garden.
With CSA harvests up and running, dinners are getting easy again. Here are two easy sides I made to go with roasted chicken. Basically, add any protein and grain, and you are set.
Steamed or sauteed Asian spinach. I used a whole bouquet of tatsoi, it shrinks down a lot in the cooking. Sautee garlic scapes, the white part of scallions, and tamari/soy sauce. Steam with a little water. Salt. Ginger and maple syrup would be good. Chop scallions to toss on top.
Lettuce Cabbage—this delicate leafy Napa Cabbage variety is like lettuce and celery all in one. Chop the stems as celery and the leaves are lettuce. Toss in some peeled slices of kohlrabi or salad turnips. Add dressing of your choice. I like an asian sesame dressing, or a ginger vinaigrette. Chop scallions to toss on top.
As the air starts to chill, I am preserving the last crops of the season. In the summer, I freeze tomatoes, zucchini, and basil pesto. In the fall, I dry peppers, garlic, and herbs. My herb garden is brimming with oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, mint. Autumn is last call to harvest these frost-tender herbs and preserve them before a hard frost. I like to dry the fragrant leaves and crumble them into jars, making my own homegrown spices.
Preserving herbs couldn’t be easier: Just bag it! Harvest stems and leaves of herbs and put them in a large paper grocery bag.
To read the rest of my article that was published in the Frederick News Post, click here: