Happy Easter with thoughts on Spring, farming and open space

Happy Easter!  What a difference two weeks makes.  The last Farming Matters blog was March 21st when there was over a foot of snow on the ground.  Now it’s Spring, 80 degrees and flowers are starting to bloom everywhere – just in time for Easter!

It is a lovely time of year; early Spring bulbs like crocuses and daffodils refresh one’s entire being – as well as providing winter lazy bodies incentive to get out there and begin tending the flower, vegetable and herb beds.

Prepping the vegetable fields is late this Spring due to the snow and rain accumulating in the fields and surrounding meadows.  Check out this picture of the flooding we experienced when a blockage on the nearby ponds was removed, causing a rush of water to roar into Brick Yard Brook and our meadows.  Amazing what a big effect the actions of another can have on someone else’s water and land.  A good reason for cooperation among citizens and neighbors to safeguard natural resources.

Protecting the natural resources of our farm is one the reason Yellow Stonehouse Farm’s organic CSA was established – it was a way to continue as a working farm and maintain the open space for agricultural use.  Did you know that our farm and just a few others are all that are left of Westfield many farms?  Farming was a huge part of Westfield’s history – in fact, our section of town is called East Farm’s because it was basically all farms at one time.

Sustaining farms and open space are important for our community.  These few remaining swaths of farm land not only protect the flora and fauna but maintains the recharge area for the aquifers which supply us with clean water – lately a big issue in Westfield.  Farm’s and open space need protection to safeguard natural resources such as our air and water so they are there for future generations.

Membership in Yellow Stonehouse Farm’s organic CSA is a way to support open space and farming in Westfield – while enjoying delicious certified organic vegetables and field fruits. We also offer community members free activities such as the guided bird walk coming up on May 7th for those who want to explore the property and see the array of birds and other wildlife resident on the farm. Other activities available to members include hiking, pick-your-own vegetable and flower picking, and member gatherings like potlucks.

There are still a few organic CSA shares available – though some pick-up days are filling up fast.  Call us at 413-562-2164 or email us at the farm at yellowstonehousefarmcsa@gmail.com for more information or come visit during our Open Farm day this Saturday, April 15th between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm.  Hope to see you then and Happy Easter!

The Lovely Month of June

strawberries in spring

June is when I celebrate my birthday and also when Summer starts – so of course, June is a favorite month of mine!  You can’t blame me – there are the fabulous flowers of June: irises (my favorite!), peonies, roses and wisteria (which unfortunately didn’t bloom well this year due to that nasty freeze in March); Spring fruits: strawberries and rhubarb for sauces and pies (which can replace birthday cake anytime for me); and the first luscious vegetables: asparagus, tender lettuces, sweet peas and the mint the flourishes at just the right time, along with the spicy radishes that add a special crunch to salads.

For our CSA members in June, we also grow bok choi aka Chinese cabbage, dandelion greens, Spring turnips, kohlrabi (which didn’t make it due to a great wave of flea beetles, we think because of the warm winter), kale, mizuna and Spring raab (bitter greens that are so good for us), Swiss chard, and tatsoi – a type of oriental spinach.

What’s interesting to me, is most of these vegetables are packed with nutrients we all need to stay healthy.  Take rhubarb, for instance – did you know that it’s been used medicinally for thousands of years?  Folklore credits Benjamin Franklin for first importing rhubarb to America in the 1700’s, but it originated in Asia over 5000 years ago.  Its’ roots and rhizomes were used in Chinese medicine to treat everything from liver complaints to senility.  More recently, rhubarb’s beneficial qualities have been validated by modern science who’ve found a slew of compounds that may prevent and fight cancer & senility, anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatories, vitamins such as C, K, and B-complex plus the minerals calcium, potassium and manganese.

ysf rhubarb in spring

This brings me to an idea that at first may not seem appetizing – food as medicine!  My herbalism teacher Jade Alicandro Mace, of Milk & Honey Herbs, recently introduced me to the concept that what we eat not only provides us our day to day sustenance, but can also actively support our good health.  I am so enthusiastic about this idea.  In future columns, I plan to start introducing some of the power house vegetables that we can all eat to protect and improve our health!

We still have a couple EOW shares available for a couple of pick-up days even though the season has started!  Please call us or stop by the farm Tuesday through Saturday.