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!