CSA(Community Supported Agriculture) is very big in the world of locally/sustainably-grown food. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, here is how it works. The CSA,once you've joined, enables you to get incredibly fresh, reasonably priced, delicious food every week from our farm. Members show up on a day that they choose (either Wednesday or Thursday) between the hours of 2pm and 7pm for a 21 week period starting at the beginning of June. Upon arrival at our shed, there will be instructions on how much of each food you can take. There are two sizes you can choose from. The Small Share feeds between 1-2 people and the Regular Share is for 2-4 people. Based on surveying members who have been with us in the past, the portions are very ample. Additionally, we have only received extremely positive (and somewhat flattering!) compliments, so I know we're pleasing people out there. The concept of CSA has been around for over 20 years, but only recently has it been gaining in popularity. Probably, this is a result of a growing awareness of the importance of locally grown food and its superior nutritional and culinary traits. From the ecological side, CSA only helps small farms like us both plan on the size of a crop and a guaranteed income. It's presence sends a loud signal to the large food machine that people are interested in knowing everything that they can about where their food comes from.
To sign up, go to the menu choice marked CSA and choose the registration for Summer 2014. It is a very quick process. Our address for sending in the deposit is on the instructions.
Meanwhile, in other news, we are happy to report that our two new houses are now ready to plant with wonderful greens. For a while, it seemed that they'd be full of snow till June! Out in the field, there are several places that we protected from the snow and rain, that are now also ready to plant. They will be planted with kale plants-the kind that grows into a large leafed glorious plant that will make you soar up in the air with delight (guaranteed!). Additionally, we'll be planting beets and chard as soon as the ground can be worked. My guess would be by beginning of next week at the latest.
For the Tomato Enthusiast, we'll be planting our first wave of tomatoes early next week. That deserves a few words about our methods for growing tomatoes. First off, we graft tomatoes. This is a method by which the top of one plant is taught to grow on the bottom of another plant in order to increase production and resist many of the diseases that tomatoes fall prey to. Secondly, we grow all our tomatoes in a hoop house in order to protect them from too much rain. That too, will help with the disease problem. We say around here that"tomatoes don't like to get their jackets wet." By keeping them in a hoop house, the only water that they receive is water that we give them through small irrigation hoses(driptape) at the base of each plant. Thirdly, we feed them what they like-a healthy blend of compost, alfalfa and organic fertilizer. Fourth, we prune each plant in order to produce better looking and bigger tomatoes. Lastly, we salt all our plants with seaweed. That's right-salt them. The fruit absorbs the seaweed and incorporates the salty goodness of it in each fruit. You can taste the difference.
here are some photos of our ginger getting ready to be planted in a few weeks. Hope you get a chance to sample real fresh ginger this season.Posted by: David Zemelsky
Just a quick note to draw your attention to an article in the Town Times (our local paper) about SLG.
Here is the link: Cut and paste if needed.
Posted by: David Zemelsky
We wanted to keep you up to date on how things are going on the farm. There's been a lot of activity both outside and inside these days. Our basement is outfitted with a vast array of grow lights. We started swiss chard about 4 weeks ago. They are now ready to get hardened off and planted in one of our hoop houses. Picture below shows you what we're talking about.
Additionally, our two new hoop houses are moving along towards completion. Our greenhouse supplier, Growell of Cheshire, has been braving the cold when they can and putting up these houses. At this stage, we are waiting for a warm day to put the plastic on the tops and ends. This is important because if you installed the plastic on a cold day, you'd end up with a saggy loose job when it finally gets warm (and it will get warm again-promise!). Here is what it lookslike now. As many of you know, we lost all of our houses in the big snows of last year. Now, we've come back with a new improved design. Each hoop has a collar tie on it and another one on the corner of each hoop. Previous designs did not include this extra tie on the side and also the collar ties on the previous houses were only on every other hoop.
Now that the days have lengthen beyond 10 hours, we have seen our greens in the existing hoop houses start coming to life. Because they have inherent ability to withstand frigid temperatures-their health is just fine. This would include kale, arugula, spinach and claytonia. In the upcoming weeks, we'll be offering salad greens for sale on a weekly basis. It is an exciting time of year. Even though Winter is giving it to us right now, we're making serious plans for Spring and far beyond. Here are some pictures of greens in our hoop houses from a few days ago.
That is a glimpse of what's going on now. Hope you are all doing well and staying warm. Please send in your deposit now. Also, please feel free to spread the word about our CSA. There are still some available spaces.Posted by: David Zemelsky
The link below is a nice little article that the Middletown Press did on Star Light Gardens last week The almost finished hoop house in the photo is one of two new houses that will directly benefit our CSA members this Spring. If you'd like to join, there is still some available spots. Go to the Green box on the far right marked "CSA for Summer 2014. Choose from the pull down menu: "Member Sign up Summer 2014". Write us with any and all of your questions.
Here is the link. Just cut and paste.
http://www.middletownpress.com/general-news/20140120/durham-farmer-back-on-track-after-grant-from-state-plant-programPosted by: David Zemelsky
This has been a breathtaking winter so far. Even though we've been busy planning for the coming season, it sometimes feels like I spent the better part of the beginning of January either hauling wood into the house or hauling the ashes out of the house. Happiness, for a while was sitting in front of the wood stove, staying warm and imagining that the burning logs were a perfect replacement for television. Farmers can't stay that way for too long and that has been the case around here. Lists,calendars, seed catalogues, articles and much much more have taken over our office. So much to learn. Farming is like going to school, and yet you never can quite learn enough. After fourteen growing seasons, there is still something else around the next corner to learn.
Last year was the year that everything got crushed (see Hartford Courant article at: http://www.courant.com/community/middletown/hc-blizzard-farm-damage-20130303,0,263417.story). So many of you were supportive of our situation. Losing our hoop houses was such a loss, don't think we'll ever forget that. Yet, inspite of this set back we were ready to do whatever was necessary to have a great CSA season last year. In listening to last year's comments from members, it looks like we were successful.
About a month ago, we received word that the State of Connecticut was allocating money for farms affected by the catastrophic snowstorm . I am happy to say that we benefited from this program. Currently, two more hoop houses are being erected and should be ready in the next 10 days. Combined with the two houses that we put up last Spring, this will bring us back to where we were before the big storm. We are happy and excited that we'll be able to continue farming at the level that we've gotten use to by utilizing these new houses.
Which brings me to the delightful task on hand- CSA 2014. This letter is the official opening for the CSA 2014 season. We are determined to continue providing our CSA members with ultra fresh, organically grown and amazing tasting food. One of our goals is to keep popular crops available for long periods of time. Our crops and their availability are listed on our website. You can see what crops we are growing and when you can theoretically expect to enjoy them. I would like to mention our carrots, which have a reputation unto themselves. They are so sweet that I've told customers at our farmer's market that they'll make you jump up in the air with delight and if that doesn't happen, we'll refund the money. Hasn't happened yet. The spring carrot crop was started last November and with a little luck, should be available for the first or possibly the second week of the CSA. This year's CSA starts in early/mid June and goes 20 to 21 weeks till October 22/23
To enroll as a CSA member on our website-go to CSA for Summer 2014 and select Member Sign-up Summer 2014: The whole procedure takes 5-8 minutes. It is not necessary to print/mail the sign up application. Everything happens online. If you any questions, please write us. We respond. Thank you so much for supporting locally grown food.
Posted by: David Zemelsky
Posted by: David Zemelsky
Anytime of year is a good time to enjoy great food, but Fall is the best time for sweet greens and root crops. From a biological point of view, we're talking about carbohydrates i.e. sugar. Naturally occuring, that is. Plants are always producing carbohydrates, its just that in the Fall, they can't use them all up. So, if you like sweet, this is your season. (unless you want to consider Winter, which is even more so)
Our Fall CSA will start November 6th and continue till December 18th. Share Day will be on Wednesdays from 2pm to 7pm. (Yes, there will be a light on in the shed!). The cost is $200
Here is what we plan to be offering:(Subject to weather, pest and the usual interesting obstacles)
Winterbor and Redbor Kale
Red Tomatoes (this one is a maybe. However, those green tomatoes are going to turn red!)
We hope that you will consider joining us for a wonderful opportunity to enjoy fresh, locally and sustainably grown food. If you have any question, please write back. To join, please go to our website (starlightgardensct.com) and select the "CSA Membership" option on the right hand side. The process will only take a few minutes. Send in check to us at 54 Fowler Ave./Durham, CT 06422
Looking forward to hearing from you
Ty and David
We are happy to let you know that the enrollment form for the 2013 Summer CSA is now available. Most of you are already aware that we incurred lots of damage from the blizzard. 5 of our 6 hoop houses were either damaged or destroyed by the huge amount of snow. For the past few weeks, we've been busy cleaning up the ruined hoop houses and planning for the CSA. The bulk of that is behind us now. Plans for new hoop houses are in the works and our CSA remains unscathed!
We are now in our fourteenth year of growing great produce for farmer’s markets and top quality restaurants in Connecticut. This is our second year with the CSA. After one year of CSA operation, we can very safely say that it has been a totally satisfying experience for us. The response from our Shareholders has been gratifying and a big reminder of why we love this work. Having said that, every good farmer wants each year to be even better. And that is our intention for the coming year, an even better experience for all of you.
The CSA will run for 21 weeks, June 5 through October 26. Pick-up days will be Wednesday and Thursday from 2pm-7PM. We will also be offering a pickup at Wooster Square Market(New Haven) on Saturdays for an additional cost of $40. There will be a wide variety of delicious, fresh and certified organic vegetables each week for you to bring home. You can count on Field Greens, Asian Braising Vegetables, Tomatoes, Eggplant, Peas, String Beans, Summer Squash, Onions, Garlic, Potatoes, Kale, Carrots, Pak Choi, Sweet Potatoes, Swiss Chard,Peppers, Daikon, Haukeri Turnips and Carrots-to name but a few. A full crop list of what we are planning and when it should be available can be viewed on our website. Go to “CSA for 2013” and select ‘CSA Crops’. Please remember that this is a tentative list and does not guarantee that particular crop will be available.
There are two sizes of shares to choose from. The Small Share($475) is for 1-2 people. If both members are serious veggies eaters, you should consider the regular share to make sure that you’ve enough food. The Regular Share($675) will feed from two to four people. The registration form is available on our website. Please go to “CSA for 2013” and select ‘Member Sign up Summer 2013’ from the menu.
Value added products and extra portions of our vegetables will be available at the stand this season, in case you need more than what is contained in your share.
If you have any questions, please write us at : Starlightgardens@comcast.net . We respond. As always, thank you for your dedication to great,locally and sustainably grown food.
Starlight was heavily damaged in the blizzard. We lost 5 of the 6 high tunnels.Thank you to all the folks who have showered ous with their support, best wishes, offers of help and hope for the future of Star Light Gardens. We are just beginning to plan what to do next so stay tuned. There are photos here.Posted by: David Zemelsky
As of January 28th, the length of the day has gone beyone 10 hours. What that means to us, is that photosynthesis can be accomplished in earnest now. That means growth. This is a wonderful thing, because much of our greens have been cut and sitting somewhat dormant. Now they will begin to grow. Soon, we'll be sending out information about the Spring CSA. Look for it.
The following is a press release from the Northeast Organic Farming Association-an organization that we respect tremendously. They are having a conference in early March with many interesting workshops. I am leading one on winter greens productions. We hope to see you there.
Here is the release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Kristiane Huber
January 30, 2013 email@example.com
Connecticut’s Largest Sustainable Food and Agriculture Conference on March 2
WILTON—All are welcome to the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut’s annual celebration of local food and organic farms, the Winter Conference on Saturday, March 2. Now in its 31st year, the 2013 Winter Conference will feature more workshops and vendors than ever before and has moved to a new larger venue, Wilton High School.
The 2013 Winter Conference’s theme is adjusting to climate change on the farm, in the garden, and at home. With rising temperatures and increasing food prices, now is the time to talk about climate change. To discuss climate resilient farming and land management, the keynote speaker is David W. Wolfe Ph.D., the Faculty Fellow and Chair of the Climate Change Focus Group, Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and Professor of Plant and Soil Ecology, Department of Horticulture at Cornell University.
The 2013 Winter Conference will feature over 50 workshops for homeowners, farmers, cooks, students, environmentalists and activists. Beginners can learn the basics of how to start a garden or keep backyard chickens while the experts can attend technical workshops about growing fruit trees and soil biology. Connecticut’s experienced organic farmers will instruct on growing a variety of crops from grain to garlic. Food lovers can explore more adventurous foods (like wild edible plants and mushrooms), healthy foods (with workshops about GMO-free purchasing and intestinal health) and new recipes. Refer to the complete list of workshops at www.ctnofa.org to check if any of the 2013 workshops can teach you something to improve your health, garden, or ecological footprint!
Visit with any of 60 vendors and exhibitors who will be distributing information and selling delicious local foods, Connecticut crafts and garden tools. Learn about purchasing shares of food from farms with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Programs at the CSA Fair. Attendees may also bid on goodies donated by our vendors at the silent auction and help support CT NOFA’s work in 2013.
Young children can stay with a guardian in the Family Play Area where they can relax, read or enjoy music, story time, and children’s workshops. Everyone will enjoy a lunch provided by seven of Fairfield County’s favorite restaurants including: Schoolhouse at Cannondale in Wilton; The Elm Restaurant in New Canaan; Barcelona in South Norwalk; Terrain Garden Café, Dressing Room and LeFarm in Westport; and Sugar & Olives and Wave Hill Bread in Norwalk.
The 2013 Winter Conference is on Saturday, March 2 at Wilton High School at 395 Danbury Road in Wilton. Registration fees range from $30-$60 with an additional $15 fee for lunch. To register, please visit www.ctnofa.org or call the CT NOFA office at 203-888-5146. For information on being a vendor, exhibitor or sponsor, please visit the website, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office.:
Stay warm and safe:
Don't forget to check out Ty's website at : Tyzemelsky.com
Yup, we're ready for the next part of what we will ultimately be an available year round CSA. Both our Summer and Fall CSAs were incredibiy successful. We are delighted to be able to make new friends and to serve our community with local sustainable organic food. Folks expect to see produce throughout the summer, but unless one is familar with the concept of extended season growing without supplemental heat in our New England climate, one might be surprized to taste the sweetest fresh spinach in the middle of February.
This winter CSA will be from February 6 to March 27. In the winter in our high hoop tunnels we grow veggies that are cold hardy and don't mind much if they are exposed to freezing and thawing. These veggies include spinach, kale, claytonia and a few other brassica greens. Greens! Greens! Greens!
To sign up click here.
The photos above, below and around are of Ty's recent work. Many of you know already that it is from Ty's work as artist that the concept of starting a veggie farm was developed. To see more of her work and to learn how to purchase click on ty zemelsky .You will also find first glimpses of new projects and upcoming exhibits.Posted by: David Zemelsky