The Local Harvest

THE LOCAL HARVEST   The Newsletter of Honey Brook Organic Farm CSA, September, 2018 

UNSEASONABLE WEATHER CONTINUES IN SEPTEMBER by Sherry Dudas 

The first week of September found the warmer-than-seasonable trend continuing, but by the second week, we experienced a quick reversal, with temperatures dipping down to 11 degrees cooler than normal.  Now we’re awaiting the approach of Hurricane Florence and hoping she does not, in fact, bring more rain this Tuesday and Wednesday, as is currently predicted! Of course, August had its challenges with extreme weather, with this August being NJ’s second hottest and thirty-second wettest since 1895.  

Extreme weather creates extreme growing conditions for produce and regional media is not picking up the story of how this year's weather is impacting NJ's vegetable crops, so members may not be in tune with the special challenges a wet season presents. So what have been our losses?  Our storage onions are a partial crop failure and we also lost a portion of our second planting of beets.  Sunflowers were not planted in Pennington this summer, as we did not have dry fields in time for planting. Red raspberries are not doing as well as last year as it’s been difficult for field staff to keep up with the weeding in the berries, since there are many other crops in need of hand weeding as well.  They do, however, seem to be bouncing back, though. Another disappointment was that the dill did not establish well after transplant, so Farmer Jim plowed it in in order to plant the field in fall crops.  

Summer’s successes, however, include the bumper crop of watermelon we enjoyed, the most flavorful cantaloupe, abundant scallions, garlic, pick-your-own flowers, and, of course, our continuing success with basil downy mildew-free basil. We were surprised to have salad mix as late into the hot summer season as we did, and our blackberries, blueberries and strawberries, some of our most valuable and prized crops, were the most abundant of the past two seasons (with the exception of Chesterfield’s blackberries, which continue to struggle). The tomatoes have been harvested late as the rain delayed their ripening, but now that they are being harvested, many members (and employees!) have been raving about their flavor.  Our figs, grown at our Chesterfield farm, really like the area Farmer Jim has created for them, as they are being grown in a custom-built tunnel affixed to the side of the southern face of a sunken former poultry barn.  The tunnel has a retractable top we can pull down during inclement weather in order to protect the figs.  A lot of labor goes into all this tender loving care, which is why the figs are an “add on” crop. 

As fall approaches, we are excited about cool weather crops, including the highest quality celery we’ve ever grown!  Celery likes wet soil conditions, so you couldn’t have asked for a better summer for celery!  Arugula, lettuce mix and baby boc choi are being harvested again, and we await the return of crops such as leeks, cabbage, hakurei turnips (those petite, sweet turnips), broccoli, cilantro and spinach.  Some crops, like rutabaga, purple-topped and scarlet turnips, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and, of course, winter squash and pumpkins, are only grown and harvested in the late summer/early fall. We’re also looking forward to more carrots, but the field in which they were planted has attracted the attention of some local deer, so we are concentrating our efforts this coming weekend on getting the deer out! Beet varieties to be harvested in the fall include candy-cane striped Chioggia and the ever-popular golden beets. Most of the reports from our field managers indicate a strong fall, although we have some disease in the Pennington winter squash and pumpkin fields, due to the overabundant rain andl ack of sunshine.  Just a reminder that Farmer Jim committed to planting more fall crops in order to make up for summer losses,and he has done so with gusto! 

ANNUAL SAUERKRAUT DEMO IN EARLY NOVEMBER - Sherry Dudas

Our annual sauerkraut demonstration will be Saturday, November 10, 2018 at ourImage title Pennington farm located at 260 Wargo Road, from 10am to noon. The fee is $35.00, and includes all the materials to make your own batch (approximately 4 gallons) of sauerkraut to take home.  Click here for the registration form and mail ASAP as this popular event sells out quickly.  My uncle Emil Nehila has been conducting the farm’s sauerkraut demonstration for many years now, and it’s always been the highlight of our fall season (if you'd like to read a memoir I wrote about the sauerkraut demonstration, please click HERE). 

Participants are paired up and given a cabbage cutter to share between the two of them.  Our own certified organic cabbage is shredded into bins using these cutters, and then pounded using handmade “stompers”. Once the cabbage is salted, plastic bags are filled with water to use as a weight for the top of the sauerkraut bucket each participant brings home with them.  We provide the recipe for participants as well.  The demonstration will take place in the farm’s greenhouse, so please dress in layers, and please know that this is an event appropriate for adults only.   

Frequently Asked Questions About the Sauerkraut Demo:

I can't make it on the 10th.  Will you be doing another sauerkraut demo this year?  No, we only have the demo once a year, in the fall. 

Will you be hosting the sauerkraut demo at another time in Chesterfield?  No.

My partner and I would like to register together.  Do we need to both pay the registration fee? You will only need to pay one fee if you plan to make ONE batch of sauerkraut with one bucket.  If you would like just one batch of sauerkraut, you & your partner will be sharing the cabbage cutter with another registrant. 

I have my own cabbage cutter, bucket, crock, etc.  May I bring them to use for the demo?  Yes, but please clean your equipment before coming to the farm for the demo.

Any additional questions you may have can be answered by emailing

FARMERS CONTEMPLATING OFFERING HOLIDAY HARVEST PROGRAM FOR THE WINTER SEASON – Sherry Dudas             

During the late fall of 2015 and 2016, we offered a Holiday Harvest program, where participants who were interested in extending their season for produce pick-ups in order to receive fresh produce and dried beans until the end of December could do so for an additional fee.  This program proved to be popular, so we are contemplating offering it again for 2018 and also adding one Boxed Share drop-off site (Virtua William G. Rohrer Center for HealthFitness in Voorhees) for Wednesday or Thursday pick-up.  We will be sending an email survey out shortly to ascertain interest, so please keep an eye on your inbox for more details!



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