Farm Happenings at Oxen Hill Farm
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Oxen Hill Farm Summer 2020 CSA Season Week 17! (week of October 11)

Posted on October 10th, 2020 by Lisa Griffin

We still have two more weeks of Summer CSA pick up (unless you have an Every Other week share then this is your last week, if you pick up this week,) but we are excited to be offering the Autumn CSA for folks that want to keep local organic food on their table thru early December.  The Autumn share will have 3 sets of biweekly pick ups, starting with Nov 5 and running through December 8; depending upon which pick up day and location you chose.  Pick ups will be available on Tuesday afternoons at the Suffield farm, as well as Saturday mornings at the farm and at the First Church in West Hartford.  A very limited number of home delivered shares will be available for portions of West Hartford. 

The shares are available in 2 sizes and will be customizable and pre-packed, as in the Summer CSA. We do anticipate greater timeframes for customizing shares, due to the hardier nature of most of the items that will be available.  You will again have the opportunity to swap and add on extra items to your share before each pick up.  

Example of an Autumn Ox share 2020

Example of Autumn Ox share ($60/biweekly pick up)

Example Autumn Calf 2020

Example of an Autumn Calf share ($35/biweekly pick up)

We plan to offer a wide variety of winter squash, sweet potatoes, some Irish potatoes, some of our jarred tomato sauces, some heartier field greens such as kale and cabbage and leeks, as well as (hopefully) some carrots that have been slow to plump up due to this year's extraordinary drought. We have a limited number of shares for Autumn CSA this year so please act quickly if you wish to secure your spot.   We are happy to answer any questions you may have at your pick ups this week, or you can reply to this email!  You can sign up now  using this link:

sign up page screenshot

Starting this week, we will be offering multiple kinds of potatoes.  You may be wondering, "what’s the real difference between sweet potatoes and Irish potatoes?" Well, speaking from a grower’s perspective, sweet potatoes are started from slips, which are sprouted plantlets that have been harvested from a bed of last year’s sweet potatoes.   Our growing season here in Connecticut is short enough that we have to get the slips shipped up from North Carolina (where they get a hot head-start) so that they will have time to fully mature before the threat of frost.      

 sweet potato slips

Sweet potato slips for planting (first photo)            

Irish potatoes cut  

 Irish potatoes cut for planting (second photo)

Irish potatoes (including Russets, Yukon Golds, Reds, purples, and fingerlings) are started directly from a cut up potato or from smaller “seed” potatoes from last year’s harvest.  The Irish potatoes don’t mind the cold too much and can be planted soon after the soil is workable, while the sweets have tropical heritage and must be planted well after the danger of frost is over.   

Sadly, due to the extreme drought conditions and limited water available for irrigation this year, we lost more than ¾ of our Irish potato plantings as well as some of the sweet potatoes.

Botanically speaking, sweet potatoes are in the morning glory family and produce a lovely flowering vine on the ground.  Irish potatoes are in the same botanical family as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant, and are thus subject to many of the same pests.  As for nutritional benefits, you may be surprised that the caloric content of Irish potatoes versus sweet potatoes is roughly equal. Sweet potatoes have slightly more fiber and more vitamin A.  Eating the entire (well-scrubbed) potato, skins and all, makes sure that you benefit from all of the nutrients available.       

sweet potato flower

Sweet potato flowers in bloom

irish potato flower            

Irish potato flowers in bloom

Ideally, Sweet potatoes should be kept out of the refrigerator in a cool, dry, dark place not above 60°F /15°C, which would fit the characteristics of a root cellar. Yet since most people don't have root cellars, we'd suggest just keeping your sweet potatoes loose (not in a plastic bag, but if desired, a brown paper bag with multiple air holes punched in it will work) and storing them in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated cupboard away from sources of excess heat (like the stove.) As the flesh of sweet potatoes will darken upon contact with the air, you should cook them immediately after peeling and/or cutting them. If this is not possible, to prevent oxidation, keep them in a bowl covered completely with water until you are ready to cook them.    

The best place to store Irish potatoes is in a cool, dark, ventilated yet humid environment. A loosely tied and/or perforated plastic bag will preserve humidity but allow air circulation.  Avoid exposure to light to prevent greening. Do not store potatoes and onions together as the high moisture content from the onions can spoil the potatoes faster. Cut away any green portions before eating.