Friday, November 19, 2010

Winter Squash, Warts and All

There's an article all about winter squash in the Home & Garden section of The New York Times featuring insightful and inappropriate quotes from Tim.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Sweetest Cherry From New York Magazine

The Sweetest Cherry

By Rob Patronite & Robin Raisfeld

Cherry tomatoes are the M&M’s of the tomato world—compulsively edible, and, at their best, nearly as sweet. And when it comes to cherries, the Sun Gold variety, a popular hybrid developed in Japan, effortlessly dominates. Off the charts in sugar and acid, it swept the top spots in our undercard match, a “dessert course” to the main event. Eckerton Hill’s “amazing” Sun Golds took first place, followed by Keith’s Farm’s, with S. & S.O.’s and Windfall’s tying for third. Avid grower Goldman, in particular, was besotted with Windfall’s juicy little flavor bombs, which she nibbled contemplatively, scrutinized for color (some pink at the top and bottom made her question their classification), and rated as “excellent.” She was so taken with them, in fact (Sun Gold or no), that she asked if she could pocket two to take home—“for the seeds,” she explained, in the manner of a true tomato obsessive. “I have no shame.”

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Illuminating the Small Farms' Struggle for Survival

Slowed Food Revolution

Obama seeks to boost demand for organic food but doesn't offer meaningful support for the people who grow it.

Morse Pitts has been cultivating the same land in New York's Hudson Valley for 30 years. His operation, Windfall Farms, is the very picture of local, sustainable agriculture. From early spring to late fall, the farm's 15 acres are luxuriant with snap peas, squash, mint, kale, and Swiss chard. Its greenhouses burst with sun gold tomatoes and an array of baby greens. Pitts, who is in his 50s and is tall with gray hair, doesn't use chemical fertilizers or pesticides or any genetically modified seeds. He cultivates biodiversity, not just vegetables.

Twice a week, he hauls his produce 65 miles south to Manhattan to sell at the lucrative Union Square farmers market. His converted school bus runs on biodiesel he makes from used vegetable oil, which he is also trying to use to power his greenhouses. Pitts does a brisk trade; demand for his produce is high, and the way he farms is increasingly valued. Since the mid-1990s the number of farmers markets has shot up 300 percent, and the organic sector has seen annual double-digit expansion.

But despite having no mortgage debt (he inherited the place), a ready market, and loyal customers, Pitts wants to leave his farm. His town recently rezoned the area as industrial, and if he wants to cultivate soil that's not surrounded by industry and its attendant potential for water and air pollution, he has to move. The problem is, he can't afford to.

Aside from the standard instability farmers must endure -- bad weather, pests, disease, and the vagaries of the market -- holistic and organic growers face great but often overlooked economic hardship. They must shoulder far higher production costs than their conventional counterparts when it comes to everything from laborers to land. Without meaningful support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, their longevity hangs in the balance. In the meantime, the USDA showers billions on industrial agriculture. Growers who've gone the chemical, mechanized route have ready access to reasonable loans, direct subsidy payments to get through tough years, and crop insurance, plus robust research, marketing, and distribution resources. Whether organic and holistic growers raise crops, like Pitts does, or grass-fed, free-range livestock, they must contend with circumstances made harder by a USDA rigged to favor industrial agriculture and factory food.

Read the complete article

Heather Rogers is the author of Green Gone Wrong: How Our Economy Is Undermining the Environmental Revolution and a senior fellow at Demos.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hindsight is Twenty-Twenty

Our research on the comparison between till and no till farming continues here at Windfall. Much has been learned so far. First of all, don’t assume that just because you have some grand plan in mind it will unfold as you expect. Second, try to anticipate obstacles before they happen. Third, things somehow seem to work out.

As you may know, timing is key in life. If you don’t get something done at the right time, you may lose your opportunity to make it work. That is especially true in the world of farming. Things need to happen when they need to happen. Of course there’s wiggle room, but you don’t want to push it. So when a key piece of equipment (a roller/crimper) for our research plots decided that it didn’t want to work when we needed it, or when the pepper plants that were specifically for the research got planted in another area by mistake, or when we didn’t have any irrigation set up to water the newly planted plants my initial reaction wasn’t exactly optimistic. We probably should have tested out the roller/crimper before we needed to use it. The pepper plants should have had a sign on them explaining they were set aside for a specific use. Relying on the weather forecast that promised rain but didn’t deliver might have been a bit hopeful. Should have, could have, would have.

Fortunately, equipment was repaired, more pepper plants were found, and make shift irrigation was arranged. Big sigh of relief. Even though some things didn't work out as planned, many things did - like Hubert flame weeding one of the rows. Check it out.

Now we are past the initial implementation stages and dealing with maintenance. There will continue to be setbacks, but somehow it will all work out.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Astor Center Celebrates All Things Herring

Nasturtium blossoms are prolific at Windfall these days. WD50 took advantage of this, by pureeing pounds of our flowers into nasturtium gazpacho. While we like the blossoms for their flavor and beauty in our salad, we thought this was pretty interesting . . .

Astor Center Celebrates All Things Herring

Friday, June 18, 2010

Our Newest Farm Residents

Reported on our Facebook page:
These are temporary "nuke" hives. We will have to transfer the comb and bees to their permanent hives during the next few days. Fun!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Windfall greens on Healthy Happy Life blog

Windfall greens photographed over at the Healthy Happy Life blog.
For photos look at Greenmarket NYC: Union Square photos, faves, tips.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Growing and Learning

Windfall Farms has always been interested in experimenting with new methods for accomplishing our goal of providing quality produce with minimal impact to the environment. For example, we currently make biodiesel at the farm (from used cooking oil we pick up at restaurants in the city) to power our tractors, market buses, and small machinery. However, not all endeavors (even if they are embarked upon with the best intentions) turn out to be something economically or practically feasible.

That is why we were very excited when one of our employees applied for and received a grant from SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education,
) to research and compare different methods of growing crops without plowing or tilling the soil. There have been ample studies on the positive environmental impacts associated with the no-till system (,, such as the reduction of soil erosion, conservation and improvement of water quality, storing more carbon in the soil, and reduced compaction. Unfortunately, a large portion of the farms utilizing no-till methods do so in conjunction with herbicide applications.

For those of you familiar with Windfall Farms, you know that we follow a strict "no" rule (no herbicides, no pesticides, no insecticides, no fungicides, no chemical fertilizers) when it comes to our philosophy on farming. During the 2010 growing season we will be setting up test plots to determine whether tilling or using the organic no-till method under varying circumstances will provide us with a clear picture of the most economical and environmentally sound system for a small farm in the Northeast. Right now we are mostly in the planning stages but a cover crop of winter rye was planted in the fall and is rapidly growing in the back field (see picture above) where the research will occur. So stay posted for updates, we'll keep you informed as we move along with the experiment.

Friday, April 23, 2010

6 new ducklings and 6 baby chicks

While it isn't clear that our ducks (6 acquired last year, 6 more this week) will ever yield any profitable gain, quantified in accounting terms, somehow their undeniable adorableness is indispensable now that it is apparent. It would seem that they pay for their keep in dividends of entertainment factor. We can't resist singing their praises just a bit . . .

As if it isn't enough that as baby ducklings they have little beaks and dark little sweetly shaped eyes and funny little webbed feet and tiny little wings sticking out at their sides, they are also FLUFFY!!!!!!!!!! Not feathery, not fuzzy, but utterly fluffy . . . nearly furry. It's either crazy or ridiculous how cute they really are. Then, they grow-up and exhibit behaviors like always following each other in a line and seemingly discussing things as they ponder where they might go next. They are lovable in the extreme!!!!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Green Gone Wrong

Windfall is featured in "Green Gone Wrong," the new investigative analysis of consumerist solutions to our environmental woes, written by Heather Rogers. The book takes a critical, on-the-ground look at market-based solutions to climate change and other grave ecological ills.

Join Heather (and us) for the NYC launch on Monday, April 19th at 7PM at Bluestockings Bookstore (172 Allen Street, btwn Stanton and Rivington, on the Lower East Side).

Friday, April 9, 2010

Ramps Coming, Garlic Going

This just in: A sizable patch of Ramps (a.k.a. wild leeks) were found today in an uncultivated field at Windfall! We will have just a handful tomorrow, but expect more in the coming weeks.

Also, there is still plenty of last season's Music Garlic from Stillpoint Farms of Amenia, NY. As it is late in the storage season, we don't expect all of it to be perfect. Therefore, we are selling bulbs two for a dollar and smaller selections three for a dollar. This way you are guaranteed at least one good head. And the good ones aren't just good, they have great flavor.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring Veggie Selection at Windfall Farms

Start planning your menu with our projected Spring produce list!

Late Winter / Early Spring

Parsnips Often considered a Fall storage crop, Parsnips are actually one of a handful of root vegetables that will survive the winter and taste all the better for it in the Spring. Medium and larger specimens are great for cooking in a multitude of ways, while the smaller are tender enough for eating raw and taste like carrots.

Chicory Chicory tastes best in the Spring. Seeds planted in the Fall lay dormant in the field through the winter and germinate as the ground thaws. As a result, the plants release sugars to keep them from freezing. This sweetness compliments Chicory’s naturally bitter flavor, creating an unusually delicious beer-like effect on the palette. We have a wide selection of Chicory this year: Clio, Dandelion, Endive, Frisée, Grumolo, Puntarelle, Rosa di Treviso (a type of Radicchio) and more.

Mâche Originally native to the French alps, Mâche is cultivated in our greenhouses through the cold season. It’s a favorite Winter/Spring green because of it’s distinct buttery, nutty flavor and tender leaves.

Claytonia (Miners’ Lettuce) Very mild and juicy, it will fill-out the stronger flavors of any salad.

Fava Greens The tender leaves are still a lesser known delicacy. They are also more readily available for harvest than the beans.

Spinach Spinach plants thrive and taste best amidst cool growing conditions. When it gets too hot it will go to seed and disappear. Get it while the getting is good and ignore its inferior Californian cousins at the grocery. Varieties: Bloomsdale, Bordeaux, Giant Winter, Olympia, Space, Tyee.

Lettuce Lettuce also thrives in the Spring months when the cool, wet weather prevails. Varieties: Buttercrunch (Bibb), Parris Island Cos (Romaine), Red Iceberg, Red Salad Bowl, Rouge d’Hiver, Tom Thumb (Butterhead), Webb’s Wonderland, Winter Density (Bibb), Winter Marvel, Winter Wonderland and more.

Micro Greens The number of varieties of our exclusively greenhouse-grown micros increases in early Spring and is then reduced as field crops become more abundant. In addition to our year-round favorites (Sunflower, Buckwheat, Purple Radish, Hong Vit, Micro Mesclun), depending on Greenhouse conditions, we have a number of other selections (Kale, Red Mustard, Golden Frill, Tatsoi, Ruby Streaks, Arugula, Chickweed, Purslane, Amaranth).

Later Spring

Sugar Snap Peas They should be called “Spring candy.” Accept no substitutes.

Fava Beans The Spring months are not always long enough to have a significant amount of Fava, but whatever we don’t eat for ourselves, we’ll bring to market.

Sorrel A strong lemony flavored green. The smaller leaves can usually be found in our Mesclun salad mix. Larger leaves are great for flavoring any number of dishes and are often recommended with fish.

Mint “The Best” is the name of the variety we grow. It is.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Remember was winter?

I spent a couple of nights walking around in the snow with a tripod at the farm this past Winter. I snagged some really beautiful shots, appearing much like daytime. I hope to find a use for them, and at least share many of them with you here, especially since it is now Spring!

Monday, March 15, 2010

This week at the farm we are experiencing..... mud. There is so much mud that one must be careful when visiting, as Hubert's friend Paula discovered on her way to the farm from NY, this early afternoon. As she got closer to the farm she dialed the farm for directional reassurance and responsibly pulled her '88 Volvo over onto what seemed like solid ground.... she subsequently sank into said "solid ground" and needed to be forcibly removed by Tractor. (luckily she was closeby) Windfall crew saved the day and Paula was embarrassed but unscathed and we were happy to have a new friend with a story we can tease her about. It gets old when there is only Kevin to pick on and since while Tim was away, Kevin did such a great job filling in.... it just doesn't seem right to make fun of him. I'm sure this sentiment will pass. Tomorrow is supposed to be more sunny, hopefully we will begin to get drier ground.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Jesse and Tallulah

Last Monday, Jesse gave birth to Tallulah, a healthy and beautiful seven pound baby girl. Here are a few pictures of them, for those of us who have missed her presence at the market over the last few weeks . . .

Jesse missed us as well . . . and the micro greens . . .

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Gorzyinski Method-put em in a hole!

When the root cellar was filled with Watermelon Radishes, carrots, potatoes, turnips, beets, and Gilfeather Rutabaga, Morse & Hubert sought-out more space to stash the bountiful harvest. Despite the herculean effort to get them out the ground, an experiment was hatched to put them back in the ground for storage.

Below is Morse's photo essay of burying the "excess" Gold Ball Turnips. I'm told by Morse that this is the John Goryzinski method of root storage; it is why we still have Gold Ball Turnips this season. If you want a delicious turnip for mashing, roasting, and soups make it over to the stand this Saturday, or following Wednesday and git some!

Hubert transporting the Turnips

Turnips in a freshly dug hole, as deep as the tractor bucket could dig.

Bringing some hay bales for insulation.

A one-hay bale thick layer on top of them.

Covered with soil. Goodbye 'til we need ya!

What you don't see is our depleted root cellar storage before this picture. This is Hubert returning to the buried turnips to dig em up over 6 weeks later.

There's turnips in there!

It's definitely a turnip . . . in good condition. Success!

Harvesting the turnips from the ground, once again.

If you have the pleasure of preparing Gold Ball Turnips, here's a simple recipe Hubert perfected one night at the farm.
  1. Gold Ball Turnips-diced medium size with a light coat of olive oil. roasted in the oven til soft.
  2. Dressed with sesame oil and soy sauce
  3. EATEN!

Morse on Last Chance Foods-Watermelon Radishes

WNYC has posted an interview with Morse on Last Chance Foods from November 30th, 2009.

Radishes, which get sweeter as the weather grows colder, are a great winter crop. Morse Pitts of Windfall Farms has tips for growing, storing, and eating watermelon radishes--and tells you why they go great with salsa

Maybe not the best for salsa, definitely good with hummus, dips, and mashed potatoes!

Listen to it from the WNYC website at Last Chance Foods

Friday, January 15, 2010

Windfall in New York Magazine

Gilfeather Rutabagas

It’s root-vegetable season, and if that doesn’t make you want to clap your hands and jump up and down, the so-called Gilfeather turnip might. Developed by Vermont farmer John Gilfeather in the late 1800s and recently introduced at Greenmarket’s Windfall Farms stand, the heirloom root (which is actually a rutabaga, Gilfeather’s nomenclature notwithstanding) has a sweet flavor with a mild radishlike bite, and it’s not too much to say it’s the best-tasting rutabaga around. Try a few grated raw in a salad, mashed with potatoes, or in this Finnish pudding recipe from Gastronomica editor and rutabaga authority Darra Goldstein, whose passion for the much-maligned veggie might only have been matched by John Gilfeather himself.

Darra Goldstein’s Finnish Rutabaga Pudding
2 1/2 pounds Gilfeather rutabagas
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Dash allspice
3 tbs. all-purpose flour
1 tbs. unsalted butter, softened
2 tbs. bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 1½-quart soufflé dish. Peel and (1) cube the rutabagas, and boil in salted water to cover until soft, 25 to 30 minutes. (2) Drain and mash by hand. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then add milk, salt, spices, and flour. (3) Turn mixture into soufflé dish. With a fork, mash together the butter and bread crumbs and spread over the top of the rutabaga mixture. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour, until lightly browned. Serves 6 to 8 (adapted from The Vegetarian Hearth: Recipes and Reflections for the Cold Season, by Darra Goldstein; HarperCollins, 1996).

Read more: 'Gastronomica' Editor Darra Goldstein’s Finnish Rutabaga Pudding -- New York Magazine In Season Recipe