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Posted 3/7/2014 8:00am by Rodney Hornbake.


Hello Folks! 

Last weeks farmstand by reservation was a great success! I enjoyed reconnecting with last years CSA members and also meeting new folks who are trying our vegetables for the first time! What fun is was sharing our excitement for consciously raised and nutritious food! I see the beginning of a better way of life for us all happening right here in Lyme, CT.

Our greenhouse continues to produce healthy and vibrant greens dense with full spectrum nutrients. Come feast and revitalize your bodies to the core at next weeks farmstand by reservation as we awaken from our winter slumber from the inside out!  

Also! Next week I will be sending out an order form for our spring seedlings sale! I will take custom orders for vegetables and flowers to be ready for pick up in May. So if you haven't already begun planning your spring garden now is the time!

Farmstand by reservation only!

Pick up on Tuesday March 11 between the hrs of 3-5p.  

Please be prompt as I must leave the farm that day at 5:00 sharp!  Please pay by cash or check only. I will send an email confirming your order and total amount due.

***Reservations Close on Monday March 10, 8pm! ***

 

This week from the Greenhouse! Order by 1/4lb increments 

Sugar sweet Carrots $4/lb

Heirloom Spinach $14/lb

Arugula $14/lb

Heirloom Red Russian Kale(vibrant purple and sweet!) $8/lb

Green Swiss Chard $8/lb

Collard Greens $8/lb

Mesclun Salad Mix(med spicy) $16/lb

Hakurei Salad Turnip $4/lb

Fresh Free Ranged 100% Organic Eggs! $6/dz

 

Michael Melillo

Land Steward

New Mercies Farm

203-427-3953

Posted 2/27/2014 11:49am by Rodney Hornbake.


Hello Folks!

Our greenhouse is producing some very healthy and vibrant greens dense with full spectrum nutrients. Come feast and revitalize your bodies to the core!  Following will be a list of produce available by reservation for pick up on Tuesday March 4 between the hrs of 3p-5p  Please be prompt as I must leave the farm that day at 5:30 sharp! Cash or check only

***Reservations Close on Monday March 3, 8pm! ***

 

Whats available; Order by 1/4lb increments 

Heirloom Spinach $14/lb

Arugula $14/lb

Heirloom Red Russian Kale(vibrant purple and sweet!) $8/lb

Green Swiss Chard $8/lb

Collard Greens $8/lb

Mesclun Salad Mix(med spicy) $16/lb

Hakurei Salad Turnip $4/lb

Fresh Free Ranged 100% Organic Eggs! $6/dz

 

Michael Melillo

Land Steward

New Mercies Farm

203-427-3953

Posted 2/22/2014 11:33am by Rod Hornbake.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Michael and I spent the morning today at the farm getting the equipment ready for spring.  The hoophouse roof ventilation opened up before 10 AM meaning that it was >70 degrees inside. The kale, spinach, Hakurie turnips, meslun mix, asian greens and chard have been springing back to life as the days get longer.  You can buy all these at the Local Beet in Chester.  Please be sure to ask for New Mercies Farm produce when you visit.  

The hoophouse is solar heated and uses no fossil fuels.  

Shakshuka 
Serves 2 very hungry people or 4 normal servings

2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
1 yellow onion
2 garlic cloves
1 red bell pepper (optional)
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin

½ chili, or more to taste
2 cups  kale (about 2 large leaves without stems) or spinach (fresh or frozen)
1 large handful fresh basil or 1 tbsp dried basil
2 ,  14 oz cans whole plum tomatoes
4-6 New Mercies Farm organic free-range eggs, depending on how many that can fit in your skillet

Finely chop onion, garlic and bell pepper. Heat oil in a skillet on medium heat, add onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper, cumin and paprika and cook for another couple of minutes. Meanwhile place kale and tomatoes in a food processor or blender and process until you reach the consistency of a finely chopped tomato sauce. Pour the tomato sauce mixture in the skillet and let cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Make small divots in the sauce for the eggs and carefully crack the eggs into them. Cover the skillet with a lid and cook for 5 more minutes, until the egg whites have set. Serve with a few leaves fresh basil and whole grain brown bread or pita.

Shakshuka originated in North Africa with Tunisia a favorite.  Now it is served throughout the region.  Think brunch in Casablanca or Alexandria or Jerusalem.

I am always on the lookout for tasty ways to use Kale, the super vegetable.

This recipe came to us from www.greenkitchen.com.

Posted 2/4/2014 12:42pm by Rodney Hornbake.
Hello Folks!

You wouldn't tell by the frigid arctic weather we've been experiencing this winter but spring is on its way! That could mean only one thing, the return of fresh local produce!  Many of you have been inquiring about our CSA program for next year.  I’m pleased to announce that sign ups for the 2014 summer season will begin on Feb 10! There will be limited memberships available so do not hesitate. An email reminder will go out on Feb 9 so please keep your eyes peeled. In the meantime, we have made important updates to our website so we encourage you all to take a peek and familiarize yourself with the details of our farm and our CSA program.  Regardless of Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction this past weekend, spring will be here soon! Till then stay warm, keep cheerful and support locally produced food and its distributors!

Thank You,

Michael Melillo

Land Steward

New Mercies Farm

203-427-3953

Posted 2/1/2014 12:00am by Rod Hornbake.

Food contains life giving substances that allow us and our children to grow and thrive.  Some of these substances are carbohydrates (sugars and starches), proteins and oils.  There are also micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals that are essential to our well-being.  Finally there are special components of food like flananoids and omega 3 fatty acids that we understand have special purposes and benefits.

Yet some foods have greater quantities of these life giving substances than others.  This is referred to as the Bionutrient Density of a given food.   As an example, some organic carrots are sweet and delicious.  Others are bitter.  Both were produced without chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers.  What accounts for the difference?

Another example moves us beyond taste.  Researchers in the US (Davis D, University of Texas 2004) and Europe (Thomas D, UK Medical Research Council 2003) have documented a 50 year long downward trend in the nutrient value of fruit, vegetables, wheat, meat, milk and cheese.  For example, in the case of spinach, there has been an 80% decline in the copper content over those 50 years.  What could be causing this change? The answer is found in the soil.  Bionutrient Density (and flavor) depend upon healthy soil.  Human health depends upon healthy soil.  Let me say that again.  Human health and the health of human communities are dependent upon how we care for the soil.

For those who want a detailed exploration of the link between human health and soil see The Development and Use of Biofortified Agricultural Products, CRC Press 2009, Edited by Gary Banuelos and Zhi-Qing Lin.  This book collects a series of research projects supported by the World Health Organization.  It documents the consequences for people whose soils are deficient in minerals or when their diets make those mineral unavailable to them.  Or for a less intense approach, watch this lecture that I gave to the Bionutrient Rich Crop Production course sponsored by the Bionutrient Food Association in 2012.

In starting New Mercies Farm, Michael Melillo and I committed ourselves to enriching our customers and our community by focusing on building soil quality.  Here is what we have done so far. 

  • In the spring of 2012 advanced soil testing was carried out.  We use Logan Laboratories and rely on the internationally recognized agronomist Bill McKibben for advice on interpreting and acting upon those reports.
  • As a result, mineral levels were adjusted through the application of more than 8000 lb of mined minerals.  These were applied in conjunction with organic humate solutions.
  • At the same time a cover crop of clover and rye were planted and mowed every 2 weeks to add organic matter to the soil
  • In the spring and fall  of 2013 repeat soil testing was used to guide the application of additional mined minerals.
  • In the fall of 2013, 110 cubic yards of composted horse manure from our neighbors at Woodland Farm were applied to half the field.
  • At the same time the other half of the field was plowed in preparation for 2014 cover crops designed to enrich the soil.

 

Here is what we have planned for 2014.

  • Application of mined minerals based upon the fall 2013 soil testing
  • Incorporation of the manure applied in the fall of 2013
  • Planting of sequential cover crops in the new field plowed in the fall of 2013
  • Interplanting and underplanting of field crops with dwarf clover to enrich the soil.
  • "Top dressing" crops with composted manure.

 

Here is what we commit to doing year after year.

  • Regular soil testing and soil management based upon those results
  • Maintain a large portion of the land in cover crops at all times.
  • Use crop rotations designed to enrich the soil and avoid depletion.
  • Regular applications of organic compost and mulch
  • Use our multi-year land use plan to assure that all soil on the farm improves steadily over time.

 

But remember this is a community farm and the commitment to wholesome food is a community commitment. Production and stewardship are only half the equation.   If there is no demand for the food we produce, then we will not be able to sell it.  So spread the word.  What is happening here is special.  Let your friends and neighbors know. 

Thank you for your support.

Rod Hornbake

February 2014

Posted 1/28/2014 11:01am by Rodney Hornbake.
Dear %%user-name%%,

It's that time again! Time to sign up for the 2014 Summer Season season from New Mercies Farm. This is a priority sign up period for past members and will end on Feb 10 at which time sign up will open to the general public.  We are ony taking 50 members this share to be sure to sign up now.

Click here to begin your renewal process. Or just copy and paste the link below into your browser:

%%renewal-link%%

We look forward to having you back this season.

Your friends at,
New Mercies Farm

Michael Melillo

Land Steward

New Mercies Farm

203-427-3953

Posted 1/16/2014 5:12am by Rod Hornbake.

Today is Tu B'Shevat, the 15th day of the month of Shevat in the Hebrew calendar.  It is the day that celebrates the first buds on the trees in the land of Israel.

Jonathon Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, has prepared a meditation for today that reads in part.

"If we see our role as masters of the earth as a unique opportunity to truly serve and care for the planet, its creatures, and its resources, then we can reclaim our status as stewards of the world, and raise our new generations in an environment much closer to that of Eden."

CICK HERE  to read the entire wonderful message.

Posted 11/12/2013 7:11pm by Rodney Hornbake.
Hi Friends!
New Mercies is looking for a few volunteers to help with picking out field rocks or planting garlic. Our schedule is flexible but time is of essence. If you would like to volunteer a few hours over the next few days please contact me either by email or telephone.

Thank you,

Michael Melillo

Land Steward

New Mercies Farm

203-427-3953

Posted 11/10/2013 2:29pm by Rod Hornbake.

 

Recently the  Day of New London business section highlighted the farm as social enterprise.

Then the online Hartford Courant Sunday November 10  featured  an account of the recent visit by Senator Art Linares to the farm (pictured above).  The senator's website also features an account of the visit.

The visit was made at the request of the senator and we were prepared with 3 specific public policy suggestions.   These proposals are summarized  below  from my follow up email to him.

"First is the issue of legislation facilitating the formation of social enterprises like ours in Connecticut.  Legislation was introduced in the General Assembly during the last legislative session.  It enjoyed broad support including the Governor, the CT Bar Association, Catherine Smith, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development and Claire Leonardi, CEO of Connecticut Innovations.  The bill sailed through the lower house but died in the Senate.  I hope the bill will be reintroduced during the next session."

"Second is net metering for photovoltaic arrays installed on farms.  Our home system  has produced more than 31,000 KWH since installation.  We will be adding a building on the farm with space available on the roof to install a solar system.  Yet net metering is not available for farms and this just seems short sighted to me."

"Third,  we discussed the issue of State administered unemployment insurance.  The default rate is 4.5% for new businesses.  This is the highest rate charged and therefore implies that new businesses are risky businesses in regards to payouts from the fund.  Even if this is true on an actuarial basis (I do not know if it is or not), the effect is an albeit small damper on new business development.  An alternative approach  would be to default new businesses to the lowest rate for their first 12 months of payroll then reset the rate based on experience."

If we value wholesome, locally produced food then public policy matters to us.  The town, the state and the federal governments have opportunities to adopt policies that tend to promote or suppress local agriculture.  Taking any opportunity to influence the political process is part of being  good stewards of the land that is our common heritage and legacy.

 Rod Hornbake

Posted 11/3/2013 4:25pm by Michael Melillo.

Today  was blustery outside with temperature in the low 50's and enough wind that it felt colder.  But inside the hoophouse the air was still and temperature was 75 degrees.  A bountiful supply of lettuce, kale, beets, carrots, spinach, arugula, radicchio, asian braising greens  and chard all in various stages of maturity awaits you.

How the hoophouse works.  The hoophouse is heated only by the sun.  In warm weather the roof vent opens and the sides roll up about 5 feet.  On sunny winter days the temperature climbs quickly and the roof vent opens at 75 degrees.  As the sun sets or moves behind a cloud the roof closes and the heat is trapped.  The vent is critical since inside the hoophouse temperatures would otherwise reach 100 degrees on a sunny January day.

The hoophouse is covered by a double layer of plastic and air is blown between the layers to create a buffer not unlike a thermopane window.  Warm air and radiant solar energy warm the soil and moderate the climate even after the sun has set.  During very cold weather the crops are covered with an blanket made of Abribon.  This heat trapping allow us to grow cool and cold weather crops similar to other parts of the world at the same latitude.  Here is where we are on the globe:

            London           51 30'

            Paris                48 51'

            Rome              41 54'

            Hartford          41 46'

            Naples             40 51'

 

That's right Hartford is south of Rome and all of France!  The angle of the winter sun in Lyme means that with hoophouses we can grow what is grown outdoors in southern Italy in the winter.  In January last year we spent a week exploring the countryside in Puglia, the province east of Naples on the Adriatic.  Although the nights hovered around 30 degrees, It warmed into the 40s and even 50's during the day.  We passed field after field of cool weather crops including broccoli, cauliflower, fennel, cabbage, and greens of every type.  The farmers markets displayed the abundant local harvest and restaurants turned this local produce into special winter fare.  No peppers, tomatoes, eggplant or basil, mind you, but very special seasonal food.

 

So enjoy our recreation of Mediterranean agriculture right here in New England.  And for a real treat come to the farm around noon on a cold but sunny day and visit the hoophouse.  It's a great winter tonic.

 

Rod Hornbake

New Mercies Farm

860-918-4556