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Image: Fat Toad Farm

Who can’t resist caramel? Especially as we come into apple season. Or, if you’re refusing to let go of your summer, caramel over your ice cream. In any event, please go to Fat Toad Farm today and buy some caramel — or a really cool Tshirt or Hoodie. Please? Pretty please?

The reason for my pleading is that today Wednesday September 7th, Fat Toad Farm in Brookfield VT is helping out their friends and our friends Evening Song Farm with a fundraiser where they are donating all profits from orders placed today to Kara and Ryan at Evening Song Farm. For those who might not know, Kara and Ryan lost everything in Hurricane Irene, their farmland has been decimated and now has the newly re-routed Mill River running through it, rendering the property completely useless for farming.

Fat Toad Farm folks, who escaped the storm relatively unscathed are trying to help out fellow farmers, fellow goat people, fellow Vermonters. Can you help too?

 

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I look at the tomatoes sitting on my countertop. They are all very different from each other. Different varieties (grape, cherry, slicing, heirloom). Different colors (some green,yellow, pink and bright red). Some are from my own garden picked yesterday afternoon, some are from our local CSA picked just prior to the flood waters of Irene destroying their farm. What do they all have in common?

They were all grown with love.

 

 

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I couldn’t be happier to see my friend Kara of Evening Song Farm at the Rutland Farmer’s Market this morning! Kara and Ryan were able to pick tomatoes prior to the storm and of course they were already drying their onions, shallots and garlic in the barn, which thankfully wasn’t damaged.

They are maintaining a very positive attitude with the help of such great community support. I was heartened to hear that they are undertaking the task of moving forward with the same veracity to which they attended their crops.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Evening Song Farm is a 3 acre farm owned by Kara Fitzgerald and Ryan Wood-Beauchamp in Cuttingsville. They purchased the property just a little over a year ago and have put their heart and soul into turning the land into a community supported agriculture farm. Their farm which bordered the Mill River was forever changed by Irene. The course of the river literally changed and now runs through what was their bountiful farmland.

Here is a video where Kara and Ryan show the devastation to their land.

If you are inclined to help, please visit their webpage on how to donate to their rebuilding effort.

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It is incredible how much damage Irene did to Vermont. We are seeing and hearing about incredible damage. So very, very sad. We are very fortunate that the damage to our property was extremely minimal compared to those around us. We lost a couple small trees. The road leading to our house has been washed away almost completely in both directions and we are without power. The road crews are doing their best to get us a way down off the hill via Sugar Hill Road, although there really aren’t a lot of places to go from what we understand since so many roads and bridges are just completely gone.

One of the extremely disheartening stories about our neighbors involved our friends at Evening Song Farm. The farmland was literally destroyed by the storm. The river berm gave way and the river has diverted through their property.

The land in this picture was farmland as of Saturday evening. Acres and acres of vegetables for their CSA patrons and farmer’s market customers. As you can see, not only is everything washed away, the farmland has been replaced with river silt, sand and rocks. Their land has apparently been rendered unusable as farmland.

This was Kara and Ryan’s first year here in Vermont and in our community as CSA farmers. My heart breaks for their loss. Yes no one’s life was lost here but their livelihood was destroyed and the devastation is heart wrenching.

We were able to get down there and express our sympathies for their loss and in a true testament to the spirt of Vermonters, while we were standing there talking, several folks stopped and offered their hands to help.

One of the things about it just being Tom and I (besides quiet) is that we get to have dinner …or not… without a whole lot of complaining or confusion. For instance, last night, this was dinner:

We had a couple types of block cheese, some homemade herbed goat cheese (thanks Kara and Ryan!), fresh snap peas, baby carrots, fresh strawberries and homemade bread. The bulk of this came from the farmer’s market yesterday morning. I love summer for the ease of all different and yummy things to pick and eat.

It was yummy and light and good — all the best parts of dinner. The company….wasn’t bad either. 🙂

Here’s the ingredients for our stir fry dinner tonight.

Chicken breasts chopped into bite size pieces

Baby bok choy and sliced red bell pepper

Green garlic, chopped scallions, fresh basil, fresh cilantro, lime

broccoli rabe

threw in some pea shoots (these are DELICIOUS!)

The finished product – thanks to Wallingford Locker’s chicken and Evening Song Farm’s veggies……..served over jasmine rice. Yum.

We picked up our weekly veggies from Evening Song Farm yesterday and I was thrilled to get some beautiful basil and cilantro. There were also baby beets and fresh garlic that I took too in addition to our usual lettuces and salad fixings. Here’s the haul this week……

I stopped by the Wallingford Locker this afternoon and picked up some great looking fresh chicken cutlets — and the jasmine rice is the rice cooker now. Can you guess what’s for dinner tonight? S-T-I-R  F-R-Y! Dicing and chopping makes me feel like I came from culinary school and the actual cooking part takes but a few minutes. Tim’s not in the house, so even sesame oil and sesame seeds might find their way into this stir fry tonight.

By contrast things are growing …slowly….. in the garden, but at least they are not (as of yet) being eaten by any bugs or critters — and I do already have tomatoes on the vines thanks to my awesome oldest son’s biology project.

I am however very proudly nursing along some rosemary from seed — which I understand isn’t the easiest thing to grow. (Read: Yay me!) Don’t anyone of you tell me that it’s easy to grow or I will cry. I’m proud of my efforts and I love rosemary so I am one very happy girl.

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Yesterday, we picked up our second week of CSA from Evening Song Farm. My goodness, I am just amazed at how things are growing so close to our house and I have, with the exception of tomatoes, essentially just seedlings in the garden. Plus, it was nice to meet Kara’s mom – also a fellow New Jersey-ite – and chat over the farm, the old Jersey neighborhood (since I grew up in the town next door to where she lives) and Vermont. I also ran into another acquaintance while I was there and we had a nice chat about the yoga class in town, which I am now going to definitely give a try. I probably could have been there talking for at least another hour, happily chatting away, except Tim was with me and after he was chatting for a while, politely reminded me that he did have to study for exams. Not only do I get my veggies, but I also get to talk to a bunch of very interesting people. Oh well, off we went.

This week I chose a beautiful head of lettuce, baby bok choy, spinach, green garlic, scallions, arugula, and chard. The variety that you can choose from is widely assorted – there were also radishes, salad turnips, mesclun mix, baby lettuce, parsley and kale – although I am sure that I am missing a choice or two.

For dinner last night, we enjoyed the lettuce in a salad. Today, I am sure that I am going to make sauteed baby bok choy again. That was delicious.

Sauteed Baby Bok Choy

Needed:

1 bunch baby bok choy – with ends trimmed

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce

Process:

Saute the garlic in the olive oil at medium heat. Add the bok choy and Sriracha sauce.

Saute, stirring constantly until bok choy is tender crisp.

 

Today was our first CSA pickup! This afternoon, we ran over to Evening Song Farm to chat with Kara and Ryan and Echo (who was behaving himself very nicely with all those potential playmates coming and going) and gathered our first CSA of the season.

After spending a nice chunk of time speaking with Evening Song Farm owners, Kara and Ryan for my article that I did on their farm a month or so ago, I feel a connection to them. They are a genuinely nice couple that make you immediately feel at home. I was so very happy today to see so many people coming and going from the barn that is the CSA pickup location. They are a great addition to the community and I was so looking forward to the first pickup today.

Since I grow my own garden, and quite a large one at that, many people questioned my sanity at joining a CSA. Why would I do that? Simple answer, my family and I use more produce that I can produce and those that know us know that we have a lot of company. Since I usually go to the Rutland Farmer’s Market and purchase at least as many items as I am getting in my weekly CSA pickup, why wouldn’t I want to get a discount (yes it’s cheaper than purchasing the same items at the farmer’s market) and have the convenience of being able to pick it all up within five minutes of my own door? To me, these are good reasons, along with the fact that I’m helping a new local business get a leg-up in a less than desirable economy.

Since Evening Song Farm provides its members with a free choice CSA, I can tailor my weekly pickup to my needs which is another great idea in my opinion. This week’s pick looked like this:

Another good reason for joining was that my veggies are merely little seedlings right now and I’m certainly not growing a lot of what they have to choose from at the farm. We chose broccoli rabe, lettuce, baby lettuce, pea shoots, baby bok choy and these beautiful long and amazingly delicious garlic scallions that are at least two feet long.

Thanks so much to Kara, Ryan and Echo for some beautiful, fresh and delicious local veggies.

Needless to say, tonight’s dinner was angel hair pasta with sauteed broccoli rabe, garlic scallions, olive oil and crushed red pepper. It was delicious!

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There are some very amazing people I get to meet as a result of writing for the Rutland County Express.They are inspirational to me. People often comment that I’m industrious with all the plates I appear to be spinning at the same time, but when I get a chance to interview other people, it really isn’t all that industrious or amazing.What some of my interviewees are up to is far more interesting and inspiring than anything that I appear to be doing.

The reason that I love the writing, (well, besides the fact that I love writing) is that I’m not a very outgoing person on my own, so if it weren’t for “having” to find something or someone to write about each week, I might not have found some of the nicest and most inspiring people in our area. It forces me out of my shell and I’m lucky to have a great deal of leeway in what I choose to write about each week, I can be flexible and go along with what catches my eye or something interesting I’ve noticed.

For instance, this morning I had an opportunity to sit down with Ryan and Kara of Evening Song Farm which is located just down the road (Vermont-style, of course) on Route 103 by the Cuttingsville/Wallingford border. I have been passing this plot of land which was home to a lot of stuff on the lawn before Kara and Ryan purchased it for the better part of almost a year and watching the transformation of this property. Little by little, fields have been tilled and hoop houses set up, manure was spread, more tilling and then recently, lots of activity and green things growing.

The 20-ish couple (Kara is originally  from Teaneck NJ – geez– it’s really a small world) purchased the land and started their own farm. They previously ran a successful small vegetable farm with CSA in Pennsylvania. Originally looking to start a farm in northern Vermont and unable to find a suitable spot, by sheer luck they found this property right on the bank of river, which they now call home, along with their adorable puppy Echo.

The couple are selling CSA shares for their farm which is really rather neat, since there aren’t any local CSAs close to us. CSA is community supported agriculture and essentially you buy a share, entitling you to a portion of the harvest from the farm during the growing season. The member picks up their share once a week on a designated day. The shares are usually a fixed assortment of whatever is ready for harvest that week, along with accompanying recipes. Evening Song Farm is offering a different twist on CSA – a “free choice” share. Essentially instead of getting a fixed basket of veggies and be damned those of you who hate broccoli or tomatoes, etc., Kara and Ryan will give their CSA members choice of what items they want to fill their share for that week (barring some unusual circumstance where a specific crop is very limited). So, the salad lovers, can fill their share with all salad fixings, the broccoli lovers can gorge and the adventurous souls can load up with all sorts of goodies that they’ve never tried before. It’s a great idea even if you have your own home garden, since, let’s face it, we all can’t grow everything that we’d like to.

They are also going to sell at the local farmer’s markets five days a week.

Today, after our interview and photos, they offered me a bag of pea shoots which I most gratefully accepted. I then rushed home, wrote my article, submitted it and broke into the pea shoots.

Damn. They are good. Here is how they were transformed by me into lunch.

I mean, seriously, look at how nicely Kate & Ryan’s delicious pea shoots fit in with my fried rice mix-together lunch.

Lunch was delicious and my morning conversation with Kara and Ryan certainly was amazing and inspiring.  I hope that they have a very successful year of farming.

By the way, that awesome sign in the picture was designed and painted by Kara and the frame was crafted by Ryan from timber from his father’s grove. Talk about inspirational!

Evilwife on the move

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