The tempo of the farm is changing as we ease into fall from the summer. The evenings are cooler, and the mornings are crisp. The farm has had its first frost. Summer squash harvests have given way to winter squash harvests. These changes signal the beginning of the end of the growing season here at Elkstone. Not coincidentally, today is the last day of calendar summer as well. The metamorphosis of the farm has begun.
The pace of activities on the farm in winter is different than it is in summer – more thoughtful and less frenetic – but the work is still abundant. Currently we are planting cover crops, which are plants that manage soil erosion, soil fertility, soil quality, water, weeds, pests, diseases, biodiversity and wildlife in our agroecosystem. These cover crops will over-winter in our vegetable beds to restore health to the soil and provide the other benefits mentioned above.
We are entering the final month of the farm stand as well – it’s amazing how quickly things have gone from the first CSA pickups of the spring and our plant sale to the conclusion of the farm stand for the season. Nevertheless, we have enjoyed sharing the bounty of our fields with you and cooking for you. We will continue to have the opportunity to share our products and our culinary philosophy with you throughout the winter as we add dates for cooking classes and Chef’s Table dinners.
Our attention has also turned to food preservation. It is safe to say there is always at least one food preservation project underway in the kitchen at any given time during this season. We preserve our cucumbers and onions for sale as ‘Mama Dan’s Pickles’, and we also make our famous ‘Strawberry Park Preserves’ out of our very special strawberries. We have already harvested crab apples, and now we’re just waiting for the regular apples to finish ripening so we can make apple butter. We have also used canning as a method of preservation for tomatoes and squash so far this year. The dehydrator is constantly running as we dry herbs for our spice blends, and we also use our freezer for preserving fruit like figs, cherries, and strawberries.
We’re not done growing our fall crops yet, so please come by the farm stand and see what our head grower Sophie has brought from the fields this week! We are open Tuesday from 3-5pm and hope to see you there!