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This week on the farm

October 22, 2012

Shorter Daylight means we see the sunrise a little more often now. It’s a beautiful way to start the day on the lettuce crop.

We are a few weeks past our initial freeze, but that doesn’t put a stop to the happenings at the farm. Mornings are starting a little bit later, with less to pick and less daylight to see it in so that is nice for the field crew. The rest of the team is just as busy as ever.

Indian Summer means lettuce is still growing and we are having some amazing days of harvesting.

The last few days of Indian Summer have kept the Ice Cream Stand hopping. We are planning on keeping it open until Halloween, so be sure to get your jimmy and frappe fixes while there is still time.

Cameo is a beautiful guest to our apple festivity.

We still have around 30 varieties of apples on hand. This week saw some of the pie favorites dry up, but fresh tastes like Cameo make an appearance. We hope to have some new tastes later this week as well. Check out what we have on hand here: Apple Page.

Purple and Orange are a great combo, and normally spring bound pansies are having a moment with cool temps. Dress up your pumpkin patch with some color too!

The greenhouse is still chock full of blooming mums, and fall annuals, including a fresh shipment of fall pansies, perfect flowers for cool weather color. You’ll also find hundreds of pumpkins for perusal in and around the greenhouse as well as out in front of the farmstand near the Hay Man. While pumpkins are prevalent this year, it shouldn’t keep you from picking out yours soon. Carving time is at hand!

I love Romanesco Cauliflower so much, I am showing it too you again. This is just one of 8 varieties and four colors of cauliflower we grow. Also worth note this week is Chef Todd’s Cauliflower and Cauliflower Mushroom Gratin in the prepared foods section.

The field, despite the freeze, does have quite a bit to offer still. Broccoli and cauliflower are arriving steadily from our Standish Field.  We have several crops of lettuce at hand, that we plan on bringing in as long as weather allows. Hopefully you’ve noticed the return of homegrown cabbage to the stand, plus our fall only Chinese Cabbage.

Homegrown Chinese Cabbage joins green, red, and savoy cabbages on the farmstand now.

The salad turnips that are so sweet and even great raw that were such a hit in early summer are back as well, though only limited as we were only testing them out as a fall crop.

Salad Turnips, in white here, but also available in red.

The parsnips are still going strong as well, and we should have enough to harvest them til the ground freezes. A new vegetable also hit the stand this week. Our homegrown Flower Sprouts were a fun and unique trial crop this year. They are a cross of brussels sprouts and kale that result in tiny florets that are great when stir fried, roasted or treated in any of the methods you would to either of the parent vegetables. This special food is proving to be fairly inefficient to grow in the field, so if you love it make sure we know!

It is going to be wonderful to be open for the entire holiday season this year, and to be providing fresh produce and prepared foods to our loyal customers. As part of our look into what to offer this season the deli has been working toward getting its catering platters figured out. We look forward to presenting you with options for both deli and cheese platters soon. If you are interested please contact the deli, and we will hopefully have more information readily available on the web soon.

Deli and cheese platters available soon!

Just one more reminder that this Tuesday, Oct 23, we will close an hour early so that we can co-host an event with Babson College for Food Day. We are sorry for the inconvenience, but excited for the opportunity to introduce our farm to some of the finest chefs around. Looking forward to sharing some of the festivities with you soon.

In addition to some of the attendees to this event, we know there are quite a few customers visiting us for the first time this fall. We can’t wait to welcome you. Just a quick note on how to find us. The easiest path from major highways is to take exit 19B off 128, turning right at the third set of lights onto West Street. Follow to the end and turn left on Central Ave. Volante Farms is on the right. See you soon!

Parting Shot: cool weather slows down everyone, especially these Salamanders:

As American As Apple Pie: Results 2012

October 15, 2012

Tensions are high. Hands are wringing. Everybody is just trying to make it through these trying times. Many will tell you the choice is clear, but we know better. Choices this important are never cut and dry, in fact sometimes dredging, basting, and taking daring measures will be necessary. How could a choice be clear when the 25 amateur bakers who lobbied for votes today had over 30 varieties of apples from which to choose in the building of their pie platform?

The Full Array of Pies

While every pie from our record-breaking turnout began with a beautiful and flaky white crust, from there the diversity was astounding.  The 25 bakers arrived from all walks of life and carried in steaming beacons of Americana all with their own unique twist: Traditional, Conservative, Radical, Flamboyant, Non-Conforming and so much more. Of the 169 apples used to create these masterpieces, 18 different varieties were used. 16.5% of all apples used were Northern Spy, the most used of any apple. Granny Smith made up 13% of apples with Macoun and Cortland close behind. See the Pie Pie Chart Below for more details.

The pies were a melting pot of apple varieties and flavors, and were lined up ceremoniously for the judging panel to rule on.  We are grateful that our judges were able to diligently ply through the many offerings and rate them individually on taste, presentation, and overall strength of character.  Our distinguished panel of honorable tasters included five luminaries of the apple world.

L to R: Jon Clements, Jen Heberlein, Merri Klingerman, Emily Williams, and Ilene Bezahler

Firstly, last year’s winner, Emily Williams, was gracious enough to judge and even brought a handmade apron to present to her successor. Our new house pastry chef, Jen Heberlein, brought a critical tongue to the meet, and despite her refined palate, was perhaps the most generous of the scorers. Our former pastry chef, Merri Klingerman, graced us with her presence again, a former employee who in past years kept the staff well fed on apple crisp and peach crumble, we knew she had the chops for this. Ilene Bezahler, editor of edibleBoston Magazine, is a strong supporter of burgeoning and local food, and we are thankful she was willing to try so much of it today.  Last but not least we were pleased to host Jon Clements, Fruit Tree Expert from the UMass Extension Agency. It was his first time to visit our farm and we were only too happy to show off our apple selection to him. We were told if we needed to know anything about apples in New England he is the man to talk to, so it seems pies fall into that category.

So, after much deliberation and bites and palate cleansing and fresh plates, Teri took the judges ballots to the tabulation desk, In her absence, The crowd that had been rumbling was loosed upon the remainder of the pies. Within minutes most of them had vanished under the ravenous claws and plastic forks of the contestants, their families and onlookers who wanted to judge the competition for themselves.

Teri returned with the results and announced quickly that there had been a four way tie for Best Presentation. The following bakers’ pies had the judges eyes from the beginning: Sofie Yellin, Susan Murdock, Mary Wood, and Patty Morrison all received a $10 gift card to Volante Farms.

Then Zoe Lockhart was announced as the third place pie. Her Sour cream Apple Pie was adapted from a Martha Stewart Living Recipe and used Idared apples. The judges liked the tartness of the Idareds as well as the sugary crust. Zoe received a prize of $30 Volante Farms Gift Card and a copy of the edibleCommunities Cookbook, a beautiful collection of local food and recipes from around the country donated by Ilene.

3rd Place

Zoe’s Pie: click photo for recipe

Second Place went to Connie Moore’s Pi. Using a blend heavy on Empire and light on Northern Spy she got high marks for a flaky crust and excellent apple choice. Connie won a $50 Volante Farms Gift Card and a copy of the edibleCommunities Cookbook.

2nd place

Connie’s Pi: click photo for Recipe

First Place was testing the boundaries of Piedom, but a clear favorite among the judges. Some onlookers dismissed it as a tart, but in fact the panless pie is a Crostata. Winner Sally Gaudaitis adapted a Joanne Chang Flour recipe for Roasted Apple and Cranberry Crostata using Suncrisp Apples, but got the most points for the excellent rustic and flaky crust.

Teri Volante Boardman presents Sally with her prizes, including first place trophy.

Sally’s Grand prize haul included all the following:

  • $100 Volante Farm Gift Card
  • An edibleCommunities Cookbook
  • A handmade apron from Emily Williams, reigning champ
  • A signed copy of Amy Traverso’s Apple Lovers Cookbook
  • A first place trophy
  • A lifetime of gloating and an opportunity to judge next year’s contest

1st Place

Sally’s Award Winning Pie: click photo for recipe.

Thank you again to our judges and contestants for making this years contest another rollicking success. Can’t wait for next year, and in the meantime use our new extended season to your benefit to try out new combinations for next time. With the holidays approaching perhaps you’ll want to give these award wining recipes a go. Click on their photos above to see recipes, and visit our Events page to see all the pies from the day: Volante Farms Events

As usual, any mistakes I have made in the reporting of these events, I apologize for up front.  Please send corrections to ryan at volantefarms dot com.

Cold Snap

October 12, 2012

A clear night and cold air mark the end of an excellent growing season for many summer crops.

Brrrr! By the time you read this it may be too late. Freeze Warning in effect for nearly entire state tonight mean the effective end of the regular growing season.  For us it is actually quite late to have not had even a light frost yet, so many of our crops have gotten to live full natural lives already. Corn was picked well past Columbus Day, Tomatoes made it through September, and Peppers into October; fairly good results on all those fronts.

Romanesco Cauliflower is one of the most exquisite vegetables on the Farmstand: Spiraling fractals of vitamin goodness.

We have taken steps to preserve our final bean crop of the year and will have to wait til the frost lifts off the lettuce in the morning to see how it survived. Cole Crops like Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Kale and Cabbage should only taste better after this brush with cold. If you read this before early morning Saturday, you might want to take steps to harvest the last of your summer vegetables and to pull in any potted plants you were planning on wintering over to next year.

Salad Turnips are tasty and sweet raw or roasted.

For our part we have been harvesting right along. This week our broccoli and cauliflower crops really bumped up their production. We are picking at least 3 varieties of cauliflower right now, with more on the way. We have started picking homegrown cabbage again too this week, the hiatus between summer and fall crops finally over. In addition to regular green, red, and savoy we also have Chinese Cabbage at this time of year for a change of pace.

Cauliflower comes in a variety of shapes and colors this time of year.

In root crop news, we are still harvesting parsnips like crazy and there has been a return to the scene of the summer salad turnips. These pink or white beauties were new to us early this year and seem to really thrive n the cooler temps so we are thrilled they returned for the fall.

32 varieties of apples on the stand this weekend!

With next summer in mind be aware that all our remaining pottery is on sale for 20% off for a limited time as we want to make room for the Christmas Season. Even though we have a lot more storage space than we used to have in the new farmstand, we’d rather not have to pack it all up and away til next spring, so if there was a pot you eyed earlier this year and want to employ it in the garden next year, consider buying it now at a discount and be ready to go next spring.

Jarrahdale Squash is a beautiful blue pumpkin, homegrown at our Standish fields this year. The bright orange flesh makes for a delicious soup.

The Apple Pie Contest looks to be another stellar day. As always expect a thorough play-by-play recap after the event here, but why wait? Join us Sunday at noon for the main event.

With apple pie on the brain, remember we carry pies from three different sources: our own bakery, Mann Orchard, and Ever So Humble. Since pies may be tiring by the end of the weekend, keep in mind some of the special treats from our own chef Jen, like this rustic apple tart. She has been baking long hours today to have a lot of fresh tastes available to you this weekend!

To bookend our apple day on Sunday, Lifestyle Editor of Yankee Magazine, Amy Traverso will visit the farm at 3:30 pm to sign copies of her Apple Lovers Cookbook. This beautiful book delves into the best uses of over 50 types of apples and offers up 100 recipes to use them in. Bring you own copy in, or purchase one on site on Sunday and chat with Amy about apple choice, something we make exciting with the 32 varieties we have available on the stand today. Also note the new time of the book signing, now at 3:30 until about 5.

Halloween is right around the corner, and with hundreds of pumpkins to choose from now is the time to stop in and pick one or two up! Plus we have plenty of flowering mums, bunched corn stalks, hay, straw, and novelty decorations to make your fall and holiday displays really stand out.

 

 

Harvest Moon Heralds Fall

October 2, 2012

Harvest Moon over the corn and swamp, both are showing the colors of the season.

Hey Folks,

This is going to be a long one, so get comfortable. Did you feel the switch this weekend? There was a bit of a chill in the air, sure. And the rainy dreary days of late certainly alluded toward a post summer feel. The fun part of this is that down at Volantes we are getting into the holiday spirit. Halloween is just 30 days away! While this used to mark a real change for us, this year we are really excited and confused that on November 1st we will still be open and selling as much homegrown and local food that we can get our hands on.

Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillars are feeding on dill and and parsley plants all around the farm preparing for their pupal stage. Look for them on the overgrown dill in front of the greenhouse.

With a month of regular season to go we still have a lot to talk about. The kitchen has really made the switch to fall. The cider doughnuts are quickly becoming town-famous.  Don’t pretend you can avoid them for long, give in to the temptation and stop in for a cup of coffee a doughnut or six, available singly or ready packed  by the half-dozen for 99 cents or 4.99 respectively.

Cider Doughnuts are calling you…. Maybe this one in Particular?

The bakery isn’t the only kitchen department reveling in fall tastes, the ice cream stand is continuing its apple crisp and caramel apple offerings along with their new hours. Chef Todd’s kitchen has also made the switch, offering the return of comfort foods to the prepared food section,  like roasted butternut squash and house cured bacon and bourbon meatloaf. For the latest on his offerings be sure to like Volante Farms on Facebook, where VFChef updates his specials as they happen.

The Hay Man is surrounded by pumpkins and awaiting your kids and cameras for the perfect fall photo.

In the greenhouse, fall is in full bloom. there are thousands of just cracking into color mums ready to brighten your dulling landscape. in hues of pink, red, rust, orange, yellow, white and more the colors of these hardy mums can enhance the edges of your yard for the dark weeks to come.

Between the greenhouse and farmstand you will find hundreds of pumpkins and winter squashes, as well as hay bales, straw bales, indian corn and bunched corn stalks, plus many of the fall and Halloween decorations you want to finish off your displays.

The last week or so of Homegrown corn is here, and with a variety like Reflection, it will soon be a memory. Don’t miss out!

In the field we are picking the first of our fall cauliflower and broccoli. You will start to see more of it on the stand every day as yields increase. The broccoli is on the rise, and cauliflower will soon be coming in to its full glory of multiple color varieties. In addition to three types of white cauliflower, we grow two types of purple, one being the violet queen available now, purple Graffiti a slower and more true cauliflower, green Romanesco- a spiky Italian varietal, and Cheddar a yellow-orange vitamin boost.

You may have noticed the tomato display has been lacking in heft lately. It’s true our tomato crop has bid adieu, but we are still bringing in some relatively good fruit from area farms and certainly soon hothouses. This does mean however that green tomato season is briefly here. We will pick them as long as the plants maintain them, so if you have been holding off on a pickling or frying recipe, you can get your green rock hard fruit now while they last!

The remains of the Winter Squash field at Standish. Now we are storing them for fall decoration and autumn tables.

Corn stalks, hay and pumpkins are ready to decorate you doorsteps.

One other new crop for us this year was gourds. Farmers with lots of extra space have long grown these decorative nick knacks, and we decided to join the crowd. As it turns out you get a bushel or so of gourds of a handful of measly plants, so the yield was actually pretty impressive.

The good news is we had a full moon this weekend and no frost, which means we will keep picking corn while it lasts!. We are picking our last block now, Reflection is the variety, and we will have it as long as it lasts. Our traditional Columbus Day plan to still have corn may work yet. But don’t be lazy, if you are going to miss sweet homegrown corn like ours, plan it into every meal you cook this week for it will soon be gone for another 7-8 months.

Broccoli crop is maturing quickly!

In the farmstand, new and exciting foods are rolling in all the time. This week there are at least 5 new apple varieties hitting the floor, to bring the total available now to over 25!

Boscoe and Robert are very happy with this fall’s broccoli and cauliflower crop. We pick it every other day for the rest of the season, to keep the product fresh and on the stand

Check the apple page regularly to see what’s new! And of course we are still taking registration for our 2012 Apple Pie Baking Contest. Sign up below on last weeks blog post, or with any of our cashiers in the stand.

Violet Queen Cauliflower cooks like a purplish broccoli, but its growth habit is all cauliflower.

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Announcing the Apple Pie Baking Contest 2012

September 24, 2012

We’ve created a monster, and it is the annual Apple Pie Baking Contest. We have been hearing from many of you since August about the proposed date for this year’s contest. After much anticipation I am happy to officially announce that we are holding the contest on

Sunday October 14th @ noon!

This has become one of the most well attended and hotly contested games in town over the last several years, and as I am sure you are revved up to join the fun, it is time to register. You can register with any cashier while you are down at the farm or by filling out the form at end of post.

Rules are very basic,

Apple Pie Contest Rules

  1.  Only One Pie per entry
  2. Pie must be 8″ or more in diameter
  3. Apples must be purchased at Volante Farms
  4. Contestant must provide recipe for filling and crust, as well as apple varieties used
  5. Pie must arrive at Volante Farms by 11:45 am on October 14

Judging will commence at noon, and after deliberation forks will be handed out so that audience can size the remaining pies up for themselves.

Prizes will be determined, but usually consist of at least valuable Volante Farm Gift Cards.

For a look at previous prize winning pie recipes, please see past years’ results posts:

Apple Pie Contest 2011

Apple Pie Contest 2010

Apple Pie Contest 2009

 

Announcing the Apple Pie Baking Contest 2012

September 24, 2012

We’ve created a monster, and it is the annual Apple Pie Baking Contest. We have been hearing from many of you since August about the proposed date for this year’s contest. After much anticipation I am happy to officially announce that we are holding the contest on

Sunday October 14th @ noon!

This has become one of the most well attended and hotly contested games in town over the last several years, and as I am sure you are revved up to join the fun, it is time to register. You can register with any cashier while you are down at the farm or by filling out the form at end of post.

Rules are very basic,

Apple Pie Contest Rules

  1.  Only One Pie per entry
  2. Pie must be 8″ or more in diameter
  3. Apples must be purchased at Volante Farms
  4. Contestant must provide recipe for filling and crust, as well as apple varieties used
  5. Pie must arrive at Volante Farms by 11:45 am on October 14

Judging will commence at noon, and after deliberation forks will be handed out so that audience can size the remaining pies up for themselves.

Prizes will be determined, but usually consist of at least valuable Volante Farm Gift Cards.

For a look at previous prize winning pie recipes, please see past years’ results posts:

Apple Pie Contest 2011

Apple Pie Contest 2010

Apple Pie Contest 2009

 

Last Day of Summer: a different sort of apple frenzy

September 21, 2012

Hay Man waits to meet you at the front gate, a perfect spot for pumpkin hunting and photo snapping.

Boy did it feel like Fall this morning, huh? With perfectly cool sleeping weather and warm sunny days we are really noticing the shift of seasons this week. Most of all, we are noticing the total farmstand take over by the apple faction.

Rivaled only by the fall decor giant Hay Man out front and his many pumpkin minions, the apples are really where it is at right now. Today we had 19 varieties available on the stand, several of which we have never had before at Volante. This week’s newbies included Red Gala, Pinova, and Crimson Gold joining the rest of the gang on our apple list. Be sure to click-through to our variety guide for tasting and usage notes on your apples, and while you are shopping be sure to grab a page of our apple notepads so you can identify your favorites later at home.

Pinova Apples are a new to us variety from Tougas Family Farm this year. They are a crisp, sweetly-tart German Apple. It is a cross between Golden Delicious, Cox’s Orange Pippin and Duchess of Oldenburg.

In addition to the fresh apples, we have Massachusetts Made Cider back on the stand after along absence. And not just in liquid form. If you have been following our other social media this week you know that Cider Donuts have finally arrived at Volantes! We, and our Donut Robot, are thrilled to have found another way to get you hooked on an amazing home-made product. Buy them by the each or the half-dozen ready bagged in our bakery, and be prepared to eat them while they are still warm. Stop in this weekend for a fresh hot coffee and donut.

Cider Donuts fresh out of the fryer. Get them this morning while they last!

Speaking of warm apple treats, the Ice Cream Stand is countering with a few temptations of their own this weekend. They have begun serving warm apple crisp from Mann Orchard with a cool scoop of Crescent Ridge Ice Cream on top. This weekend they will also be making fresh caramel apples, something we have long wanted to offer, and finally have the means of keeping the mess to a minimum.

With so much apple-ing going on it seems prudent to whisper the official date and time of the years’ preeminent apple event. The 2012 Volante Farms Apple Pie Contest is Official, Sunday October 14th at Noon! Rules and Registration to follow soon, but mark your calendars and start refining your recipes. This is a different day than we had originally talked about, so be sure to note that it is on a Sunday this year, and will be well over before the Pats game if you want to keep eating and on the same day as the Needham Historical Society Walk if you feel the need to work off some pie calories.

Caramel Apples, a new treat brought to you by the Farmstand and Ice Cream Stand by combining the best of their fall flavors into one handy take with you dessert.

Finally, for a different sort of taste, this weekend is the Life is Good Festival at Prowse Farm in Canton. The two-day event raises funds for a variety of children’s charities while treating festival goers ears to some very fine music. As part of the event this year, Pete and Gerry’s Eggs invited us to be involved and had Chef Todd create a signature sandwich to be served to the volunteers and attendees this weekend. His Sandwich, “The Barnraiser” consists of Volante’s Homegrown Roasted Eggplant Spread, sauteed Homegrown Sweet Peppers, Homegrown baby Arugula, Cabot Cheddar Cheese and a fresh heirloom Ameraucana Egg from Pete and Gerry, all together served up on Barowsky’s 12 Grain Bread.

Todd’s Sandwich special at this year’s LifeisGood Festival. Also available at the farm this weekend while supplies last!

Chef Todd joined chefs from Henrietta’s Table, No. 9 Park, The Seaport Hotel, and The Met Group in creating special sandwiches for the event, proceeds of which at the festival go directly to the Life is Good charities.

If you are not lucky enough to attend the fest, which at this point has already sold out for Sunday, and will likely for Saturday as well, you will at least be able to try the Barnraiser here this weekend, 8-11 in the morning.

Otherwise, think fall. Pumpkins, winter squash, mums,  salt marsh hay, cornstalks, they’re all here and ready to celebrate the season that is New England. Pop in this weekend for a quick seasonal spruce up for your yard and some fresh tastes for the lunch table as well.

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