Munchkins, Apprentice Butchers, et al

Hello folks, 

It's been an exciting week at the farm! Just today we had a group of about 30 pre-schoolers with parents from the Forest Play group come out for a visit. That was loads of fun to see their curiosity and excitement. Here is a picture of them looking at our ducks:

 

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Sunday we had our first pork side butchery workshop, which was really successful! We cut sawed, cut, trimmed, and made sausage from one of our Large Black pigs. Thanks so much to our market manager Logan Higger for sharing his expertise and leading this class!

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Our pigs for market are back from the butcher, and we are loaded with everything from bacon and sausage, to smoked shoulders and hams, roasts, chops, you name it we probably got it. Full selection at market starting Friday. And of course we're picking lots of fun veggies and herbs for market! We still have peppers and tomatoes, husk cherries, and tropical things like ginger and turmeric, and delicious fall crops are coming in, too. We have 5 different kinds of Japanese mustards this week...try em all. Here's Kate and Sophie showing off some of the greenery:

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This Saturday Ben and Nick are playing a show at the Robinhood Free Meetinghouse in Georgetown with their band Rough Sawn. Starts at 5, hope to see you there or at market this weekend! more details at Robinhoodfreemeetinghouse.com

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Fresh fall crops and cool weather ahead!

Hello friends of the farm,

Well we've had a summer reprise here...it was very humid this last week, and almost hit 90 on Sunday! But fall weather just blew in and it's going to start feeling seasonal again. We have lots of summer and fall crops which meet and overlap in somewhat unpredictable ways each year, depending on the weather. Here are two:

 

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On the left is fresh baby turmeric, which we're very excited to be growing for the first time this year. The whole plant is edible and medicinal, and is so juicy! The bottom is orange, and it fades to white as you go up the stalk which is like a leek in texture.

On the right are what we call "spicy greens," which are Asian varieties of mustard greens which taste so nice in the fall, winter, and spring. We don't grow them in the summer, so we're glad to have them back.

We are getting ready for our pork butchery workshop on Sunday, which is filled to capacity with 10 participants. Yesterday Logan cut up half a pig custom for our friends Jim and Fran, who are pictured busy trimming up bits that they are going to grind into sausage. Ben is brining bacon and ham for them which we will smoke in a week or so. It's a collaborative homestead project, you could say. Here they are in the barn yesterday:

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With the cool weather rolling in, don't miss your last best chance to stock up on the summer fruits like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, husk cherries! We'll keep having them a bit longer, but they'll never taste better than they have with this warm weather. Here's a taste of what we'll have at market:

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Come see us at market, or get in touch by email if there's anything we can do for you this fall!

Thanks,

Ben, Laura, Nick and the gang

Last Days of Summer

Hello friends,

Here at the farm we are having beautiful weather for the last day of summer and the first fall weekend. This also happens to be Common Ground Country Fair weekend! We'll be headed up Sunday after we do our farmers markets here Friday and Saturday. Ben will be answering any and all of your questions about seed garlic at market:

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And here's something we've been waiting for summer, which has finally arrived:

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Ripe habaneros! Okay, maybe that's not something everybody can get behind...they are awfully hot, but the fruity flavor is like no other!

We are enjoying spicy stir-fries and soups made with our ginger, lemongrass, veggies, and mushrooms. Here's a tasty dish Logan made for lunch today! 

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Come on by the markets this weekend to get some things for your stew pot. Spinach, kale, and arugula are back alongside the most colorful array of peppers to date, along with garlic, onions, leeks, squash, cabbage, tomatoes, husk cherries, ginger, lemongrass, herbs, duck eggs, and more...

Happy Fall!

Ben, family, and crew

Seed garlic at market, Baby Ginger Hands, and more!

Hello friends of the farm,

We are finally ready with seed garlic! We have trimmed and cleaned about 15,000 bulbs, inventoried and set aside our own seed, and we are now filling orders and bringing seed garlic to market. Check out the handy new variety chart Logan made:

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We are also very excited about commencing the harvest of baby ginger! This pink-tipped beauty is called a "hand" of ginger, and when it's baby like this, it's oh sweet juicy and tender. I love to just chew on a piece, and it's fibrous at all. Great for grating fresh over food, or slicing thin like a carrot.

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Fall is right around the corner, and you can feel it in the shorter days and cooler nights. We are still harvesting summer crops, but change is in the air, and it won't be long until rutabagas! Come see us this weekend and get it while you can...

Best wishes from your farmers Ben, Laura, Nick, Logan, Kate, Sam and Hannah

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Back to School!

Howdy friends, 

Well it's back to school for the older of these boys who came to hang out with us on Labor Day. Of course, farmers have to work taking care of animals and harvesting crops even on Labor Day, but they made it a lot of fun, as you can see! 

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When Nick isn't goofing off doing animal chores, or doing his day job, he's hard at work building a house for his mom Nancy. Here he is doing the concrete foundation with a boom truck:

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And of course we're picking lots of peppers for the roaster, and many other vegetables, herbs, and flowers! Come see us Saturday at market to get some hot out of the roaster. This week Laura and her dad Peter are running the roaster while Ben and Nick play music at the market with their band Rough Sawn. Logan and Sam will be there to help check you out and keep things stocked. Looks like a great September weekend!

Best,

Ben, Laura, Nick, Logan, Sam, Kate and Hannah

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Prepping for fall!

Howdy folks, it's been a good week here. This was the end of the day Garlic Cleaning Bee with crew and family helping out:

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We are working hard to get all this garlic cleaned so we can start bringing seed garlic to market and shipping orders. Give us a week or two more and we'll have it. In the meantime, send an email to whatleyfarm@gmail.com with any pre-orders or questions.

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This is Hannah putting an "Elder-baby" in the ground earlier today. We planted 86 young Elderberry seedlings which we started from cuttings in the spring. We are planning to make syrup and things for the house, and sell the berries to brewers like Urban Farm Fermentory and the new Moderation brewery in Brunswick!

It's been a cool week, and we've been thinking a lot about fall coming. It's time to plant crops for winter harvest, and this is a picture of our big tunnel just chock full of kale and chard seedlings, with spinach going in next:

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We'll be harvesting all the kale, chard, spinach, radishes, arugula, lettuce, and other greens we can this winter for market, as well selling storage crops and a few new value-added products we've been working up: 1) pure tomato puree 2) Hot and Mild Tomato Salsas 3) Salsa Verde (Tomatillo Salsa) 4) Black Garlic and maybe more! We have Garlic Scape Pesto available now from the freezer, as well as Pekin Duck. And pork is coming end of September! There's always plenty to eat and we're thankful for that.

There are 5 spots left in our Pork Butchery Workshop 10/1. Email us for more info or to sign up!

We'll be roasting peppers and offering great deals on canning tomatoes this weekend at market. Come see us!

Best,

Ben and the Whatley gang

Pepper roasting! and upcoming Pork Butchering Workshop

Howdy folks, we're very excited to finally be roasting peppers at Saturday market! Every year it seems we have to wait forever watching those peppers ripen until we have enough for roasting...now here they are, with more variety coming in every week. This week, in addition to sweet Italian peppers, we will have mixed boxes of hot peppers with anchos and jalapenos. Come back every week to see what's new!

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We are in peak tomato season, and that means we have great deals on boxes of tomatoes for your sauce or canning projects! Come fill a 5# bag, or a 10 or 20# box of these blemished but ripe and ready fruits:

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We are also very excited to announce that our long-time employee Logan will be teaching a Pork Butchery Workshop at our farm coming up Sunday, October 1st from 1-5 PM. 10 Participants will break down half a pig with Logan, and get to cut, wrap and take home about 10 pounds of our organic Large Black pork, while also tasting charcuterie and other pork treats. There will also be a farm tour and a social hour where will all share a bit of the tenderloin, prepared by Ben. Cost is $100, email us at whatleyfarm@gmail.com to sign up.

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Thanks for reading, and come by the markets this weekend to see what's new and catch up with the Whatley crew!

Best,

Ben, Laura, Nick, Logan, Hannah, Sam, Anastasia, Sophie and Kate

Peak tomato harvests and new flavors coming in!

The tomatoes are coming in in all colors, shapes, and sizes! Here's Pink Berkeley Tie Die in front, with some German Johnson in the background:

We've been so busy the last couple of weeks processing the garlic crop, and picking summer veggies like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, husk cherries, and tomatillos, that I missed writing the blog the last two weeks. Here are a few highlights from recent harvests:

Husk Cherries (also called Ground Cherries) are in now! Come have a taste if you've never had one. It's about the closest thing to a tropical fruit that we can grow in Maine. Fruity and funky.

Here's Kate packing tomatoes for you for this weekend's markets! We'll have the full variety of heirloom slicers, cherries, plums, pastes, and beefsteaks. Plus plenty of seconds for your salsa and sauce projects. Interested in a bulk order of canning tomatoes? Let us know how much you're looking for, and we'll try to set you up right.

Thanks for reading. I'll try not to miss any more weeks this summer!

Best,

Ben, family, and crew

The garlic harvest is on!

Howdy folks, well the garlic harvest is on and I'm going to get to that, but I would be remiss not to mention my dad Nick Whatley's 60th birthday today! We are celebrating with family here tonight, including my brother and his wife Nora, who just got back this morning from their honeymoon. We are all happy here today to be together again, and the crew is doing a great job harvesting for market, planting, and bringing in the garlic..!

This is how it comes out of the field: The tractor drives down the bed with an undercutter bar, which slices through the soil just below the roots...the soil looks like it's rolling and flowing like a river while the tractor goes through. It's a really simple tool but it works beautifully!

Then we load up the bins (above is the view from the tractor while we drive down the row filling it with garlic) into the farm trucks:

You'll always know our trucks by the "TOPSHAM" on the side! That means we can drive these rust buckets within a 20-mile radius of the farm, as long as they have working brakes, lights, and a few other things...

Next we bring the garlic into our "shade house," which is a small high tunnel covered with shade cloth...here is where we cure the garlic before processing. We build up these stacks of racks, with thins of layers of garlic and enough air flow to dry the crop down. After a month or so, we can begin trimming the necks off the garlic and grading for size. Our biggest and best bulbs go for seed garlic, both for our own replanting and for sale to gardeners and farmers like yourselves!

Lastly, we are very excited to bringing fresh Pekin duck to the market this weekend! These babies are really beautiful birds for roasting on the grill in the summer (use a drip pan to catch the fat). Come to market this weekend and talk to Logan, Samantha, or Ben about it. 

Best wishes,

Ben and the folks

Crunchy summer veggies are in!

Howdy friends, we sure are happy to have carrots back! It's been too long. They are very crunchy and tasty. In fact, now is when lots of crunchy and juicy veggies are starting to come in: kohlrabi, cabbage, cauliflower, and lots of different cucumbers:

Try the Lemon cukes and Silver Slicers while you can! The light yellow cukes we grow are really exceptional heirlooms which don't last very long once powdery mildew and other pathogens start attacking cucumber plants.

Lots happening here as always! We will have fresh Pekin duck at market this weekend, and garlic scape pesto. And we will begin harvesting our seed garlic tomorrow. It needs to cure for a month or so, but we should be able to begin bringing garlic to market by Labor Day.

Finally, an update from hog land: Our 7 large black pigs are happy and healthy as can be, and growing well as you can see:

Hope everybody's summer is going well! Hard to believe July is almost over. Time is flying by on the farm!

Ben and the gang