Sunday, September 30, 2012


Tragedy + Thyme = Food

Find it, there's lots now, you have your sources. End of Summer. End of fruit. End of Tomatoes. End of Herbs. Tragedy. But wait. Your neighbor is away. There might be some thyme left in her garden. Anyway, get your hands on herbs now while you can. Preferably if the plants are still in the ground. Cut it down at the stem quickly, with scissors, and sequester in a paper bag. When you get home, clean herbs off under the faucet. Then pat dry with a towel, not a paper towel, then place on baking sheets. Leave them out, for a while, not too long, and the herbs will dry, then strip the leaves off the stems, crinkle them up, not too much, then put them in a little bottle. If you are clever, you will make a little cone out of paper for a funnel. Do this for oregano, basil, tarragon, cilantro, sage. Lemongrass. Herbs are in good shape now, September 30, 2012 in New England, no hard frost yet, (not including Hill Towns). Not basil or other herbs which have bolted, also cilantro. So loss of flavor there. Don't dry herbs that don't taste good in the first place. Save the best.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Maddie G. Gets it Done.....

the day finally arrived....our three months of sweat toil and pain plus yummy snacks have come to fruition in the form of six pizzas made from our tomatoes. yea. served to the masses at the south hadley town farm potluck supper last sunday. we rested after that.....

Maddie G. of the South Hadley Pizza Garden

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Farm Report - Pizza Garden, South Hadley

Tomatoes, herbs, everything but the pepperoni.....
By Mary Nelen, Program Director, Adam Roberts, Youth Commissioner

PLANTING SPACE: 2- 20’ x 10’ plots at the South Hadley Community Farm

VEGGIES: 43 Roma Tomato Plants (Donated by SH Community Garden)

HERBS: 3 Basil Plants, 1 Thyme, 3 Sage, 2 Rosemary 


TOMATOES: 3 bushels  (120 lbs)
TOMATO SAUCE:  15 1-quart jars

WORKERS:  Maddie Gatzounas, Lucy from Spain, Garrett Larivee, Adam Roberts, Sophia Kebbede , Katy Chevalier, Caitlyn Hoschtetler, Gabrielle Dulude, Pedro.

FIELD TRIPS: MountainView Farm & UMass Permaculture Farm

EVENT: Pizza Making and Sharing -- Potluck Supper 9/16/12


With special thanks to Maddie Gatzounas, Robert Lak and the South Hadley Community Farm gardeners.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

what is permaculture? why make this video viral?

Our goal is for this (Part 3) video to reach 50,000 views by September 15, 2012. If we reach that milestone, UMass will help fund, design and install a permaculture garden at three local Amherst Elementary Schools starting this October. Please watch and share the link widely if you feel moved this cause! -- Ryan Harb, UMass

Bill Mollison and David Holmgren at the University of Tasmania in the 1970’s collaborated to write a text called Permaculture One. It was followed up by Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual in 1988. Mollison coined the term Permaculture to refer to a nature-inspired design philosophy for sustainable agriculture. One of motivations for this philosophy was his observation of the unsustainable nature of our fossil fuel economy. An as a forester, he was impressed with the stability and productivity of mature forests. He envisioned how humans can mimic nature through observation and application in gardens and towns and structures.  Permaculture is formally described as "an ecological, holistic and sustainable design system and philosophy for human living spaces. It has been successfully used around the world to maximize food production, regenerate springs, cool homes without air conditioning, revive deserts, transform lives, reorganize towns and neighborhoods, reduce pollution, according to permaculture advocates. The essence of permaculture is summed up by these tenets:

    •    Take Care of the Earth: Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply. This is the first principle, because without a healthy earth, humans cannot flourish.
    •    Take Care of the People: Provision for people to access those resources necessary for their existence.
    •    Share the Surplus: Healthy natural systems use outputs from each element to nourish others. We humans can do the same. By governing our own needs, we can set resources aside to further the above principles.

A Food Forest mimics the architecture and beneficial relationships between plants and animals found in a natural forest or other natural ecosystem. Food forests are not ‘natural’, but are designed and managed ecosystems (typically complex perennial polyculture plantings) that are very rich in biodiversity and productivity. For example, a permaculture garden in western mass would include ground cover instead of a lawn, a body of water, food consisting of fruit trees and vegetables and flowers all planted for best use principles where animals, plants and humans live in harmony.  The result is minimal human intervention. Some plants are wintered over, others could be grown in hoop house for extended season growing. So no gas for lawn mowers, no chemicals whatsoever for pesticides or fertilization. Western Ma permaculture gardens include certain banana plants, kiwi plants, strawberries, mushrooms, kale, and other plants.

Locally there are a number of permaculture initatives. There are courses taught at GCC, there is a permaculture effort at UMass in the form of two gardens planted over parking lots at dining commons that provide food for students. That program is headed up by Ryan Harb and provides an opportunity for people to volunteer their services. That group can be found on Facebook and on the UMass website. Permaculture is best understood by doing and the UMass program is a good way to start learning about the practice. There is also a Permaculture Design Certification Course given by Lisa DiPiano called Permaculture for Social & Ecological Transformation ( and finally there is a permaculture list serve that can be joined at from:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

RECIPE: September CSA Share - Heirloom Tomato Chutney

Chutney is great with potato or whole wheat bread. Serve along with yogurt to bring down the acid and provide a good ying and yang effect. Very nice with chicken thighs or lamb kabobs. And the colored heirlooms make it gorgeous.


1 1/2 lbs heirloom variety tomatoes 
1 orange bell pepper, chopped fine
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped fine
3/4 cup yellow onion, chopped fine
2/3 cup tarragon vinegar 
1 cup apple cider vinegar 
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper 
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes

Peel, seed, and chop tomatoes. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, bring vinegars to a boil with the honey, salt, pepper, and chili. Stir in the tomato, peppers, and onions. Simmer mixture very slowly, uncovered, stirring frequently, until mixture is reduced to about 2 cups, about 1 1/2 hours. Store in the refrigerator.



One bushel of fresh tomatoes weighs 53 lbs and yields approximately 18 quarts of canned tomatoes or 15 to 18 quarts of juice. Approximately 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 pounds of fresh tomatoes makes 1 quart of canned tomatoes. 

So if you want enough tomatoes to get you through the year until next August and you are the type of cook who would use a jar of tomatoes every two weeks, or so, then plan on 36 quarts. That's three cases of Ball  Jars and two bushels of tomatoes. I recommend "plum" or "roma" tomatoes because the have the least amount of water and provide a "base" for making sauce in winter. Add dried herbs now or when you cook up the sauce later.