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Kitchen Garden Journal

Kitchen Garden 4.0 Update

Greetings from the frozen wastes of Sunderland! We have been taking a few months to rest before gearing up for the new season, but if you know us you know that we have been anything but idle. We’ve been busy charting a new course for the farm that we are excited to embark on in this coming year. We are turning over a new leaf yet again, and some major changes are afoot in 2014!

2013 was a challenging year to say the least. Aside from the significant challenges due to the weather, 2013 saw the breakup of our merger with Stone Soup Farm that began in 2012. Stone Soup has reformed as a “workers cooperative” and will be farming the land on Rocky Hill Rd. and the Porter Phelps Huntington Museum in Hadley. They will also be taking over all of our CSA business here in the Valley and in Boston. We wish Stone Soup Farm all the best in the future.

The merger helped us grow The Kitchen Garden from 7 to 25 acres in two years--no small feat. Going forward, we’re going to keep farming at this larger size at our home base in Sunderland. We’re buying the neighboring strip of land to the south of us, which will solidify our land base and give us a much more solid foothold to grow on.

By early March we’ll be planting the first seeds in the greenhouse and in April we’ll be ripping up the dirt and planting crops in the fields. By the middle of May, we’ll be doing our 5 farmers markets here in the Valley (in Springfield, Amherst, Northampton and Greenfield), and selling to our stores and restaurants.

The big change this year is that we’re expanding the reach of our wholesale sales into Boston, Worcester, the Berkshires and NYC! We’ll be doing our own delivery route to Worcester and Boston every Wednesday and working with BerkShore to ship produce to the Berkshires, and with Meyer’s Produce of Vermont to get our stuff into restaurants in New York City. If you know anyone in these places who would like to buy our produce, please put them in touch with us.

By making these changes in our business, we are returning to our fundamentals. 8 years ago, when we we started the farm, we had one acre, one farmers market and a handful of restaurants we would deliver to weekly. Now we’ve got 25 acres and we’re doing much, much more of the things we started out doing. We’re excited about expanding our reach and working with new friends like chef Neal Rogers of Volturno Restaurant in Worcester, the only DOP certified pizzeria napoletana in Massachusetts. And we’re excited about growing more of the things we love the most!

In the meantime, we’re busy as ever with our winter work: choosing the best seeds, making our crop maps, borrowing frightening amounts of money and hiring a kick-ass, (almost) all-female crew for the coming season. Tim has also been helping out at Sutter Meats, the new Northampton butcher shop. We are super stoked that Susan and Terry have moved here from Brooklyn to lend their expertise to our local food scene! This weekend we made tamales from our own corn and beans for our Daughter Lily’s 6th (that’s right!) birthday party. We’re using our down-time to get our inspiration up by doing a lot of cooking and eating!

See you all in May! May 2014 be a good year!

2013 Year in Review

IMG 6887As the needle dips below 20 degrees, it’s about time to close the book on the 2013 season. Yes, we’re still collecting the last of the fall crops from the field, but this season is pretty much done for.

I will not miss it when it goes.

In all fairness, this has been one of the most amazing fall seasons ever. But I will remember 2013 for its extremes. Extreme rains in June, extreme heat and humidity in July, and from mid-August until now, extremely favorable growing conditions (read: dry) that have produced memorable crops of broccoli, kale, carrots and beets.

IMG 5244All together, though, it has been extremely difficult. The bumper fall crops have done a lot to ease the pain of earlier losses, but not quite enough. After an unusually dry and dusty April and May, we had over 12 inches of rain in June, making it the second wettest June in 150 years. The extreme tropical weather lasted all through July, culminating in an early August storm that dumped 3 inches of rain in an hour, washing out some of our newly seeded beds of beets.

Due to all that excess moisture, we saw reduced yields in our onions and potatoes, our winter squash nearly wiped out by disease, and literally acres of early summer leafy crops drowned in standing water or choked out by weeds. It really was a shit show there for a while. We were literally carrying crates of squash and cucumbers through impassible mud puddles for weeks. 

SrirachaBut then, in August, the air seemed to clear. All of a sudden, we could breathe a little easier. Things cooled off and dried out, so that it seemed like we had three months of September—big skies, lots of sun, cool nights. Everything we touched turned to gold. We had amazing crops of sweet peppers and chilies, and a perfect weekend for the Chilifest.

We started making our own Sriracha and Habanero hot sauces, and people really like them. (They're for sale at our farmers markets or on our Etsy shop.) We were busier than ever, in the best possible way.

That’s the way I want to remember 2013. But unfortunately, the debt payments on our farm loans will remind me of the real story for years to come. May 2014 be a more fruitful year!

Here are some photos looking back on the year for your enjoyment.

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Winter Market News

fall spreadOutdoor Saturday Markets continue for another 2 weeks in Amherst and Greenfield. Come and stock up for the holidays!

There will be no Northampton Winter market this Saturday, due to a last-minute change of venue. The Northampton Winter Market will start Saturday, November 23 at a location TBD, most likely Smith Vocational High School.

Here is the schedule for winter markets in Amherst and Greenfield:

Amherst: Amherst Regional Middle School, 170 Chestnut St., Saturdays, 10am-2pm, starts Dec. 7. (No market 1/18.)

Greenfield: Greenfield High School, 1 Lenox St., one Saturday per month, 10am-1pm. Dec. 14, Jan. 4, Feb. 1 and March 1.

We will let you know as soon as possible about the details for Northampton. We are excited to keep bringing fresh produce to you all winter!

Garlic & Arts and Barleyfest!

garlic4It's festival season again and for the 7th (or is it 8th?) year we're gearing up for our annual garlic bonanza at the North Quabbin Garlic & Arts Festival this weekend in Orange, MA.

As ever, the Garlic festival is the culmination of our year, a chance to see lots of farmers and friends we've neglected during the busy season and a chance to show off some of our fabulous fall vegetables in all their glory.

garlic braidsAs always, we're bringing a good supply of six varieties of garlic (Rosewood, German White, Russian Red, Bavarian Purple, Music, Spanish Roja). If you're hoping to stock up on seed garlic come early on Saturday for the best selection!

tacoIn addition to our market stand on the main festival grounds this year we're excited to be setting up our taco stand up the hill at the food court! Come find us for a terrific taco filled with local meat or homegrown beans topped with our own salsas and tangy Mexican slaw. A few drops of Habanero Hot Sauce or Sriracha will make it extra memorable!

We've also concocted some delicious homemade beverages: jalapeno-watermelon limeade and we're especially excited about the concord grape cooler we made with grapes from Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield.

large-ga-2013-postcardThe Garlic & Arts festival is this Saturday and Sunday, October 5 & 6 from 10am-5pm. Check out the website for the full schedule of live music, cooking demos (catch Caroline & Tim at 2:30 on Saturday!), food, farm and craft vendors.

Next weekend is Barleyfest, an annual celebration of the local grain harvest and the beer it begets hosted by our friends at Valley Malt.

If you loved KGB don't miss this chance to sample an amazing selection of truly local beer on Saturday, October 12 from 1-6pm at the Young Men's Club on East Street in Hadley.

My kids had a blast last year touring the antique tractors, dancing to the No-No's and going nuts in the bounce house. The wood-fired pizza was a highlight for me.

Valley Malt is one of the only malthouses on this side of the Mississippi and by offering the missing link in the processing chain Andrea and Christian Stanley are responsible for an incredible renaissance in local beer production on the East Coast. Don't miss their malthouse tour at 27 Middle Street from 11-1, before the festival!


Chilifest: Behind the Scenes

We've been busy in the kitchen lately getting ready for Chilifest!

habanerosEvery year, we select specialty seeds and grow a wide variety of exotic hot chili peppers. We sell some of them fresh to equally adventurous eaters, but most of them get used to make our favorite chili salsas and sauces.

This year, we've been working late into the night to make our own, home-grown sriracha! Our friend Toni Young designed this awesome label for the sriracha bottles. We love it so much we decided to put the graphic on a tote bag so festival goers can load up on all the spicy sauces we've been concocting: sriracha, habanero hot sauce, tomatillio salsa and roasted chili salsa.

Chilifest! is Saturday and Sunday, September 14 & 15 from 12-5pm. Check out the full schedule of events. See you there!

Keep scrolling for a sneak peek at some of the spicy goodness in store...

sriracha making

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Sriracha bottle

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salsa making

Chilifest 2013!

The 6th Annual Chilifest! is almost here!

chilifest-chileChilifest! is the Valley's hottest farm festival, celebrating all things spicy. Come on down to the farm for a chili cook-off, local food and beer, great live music and local art. This year, Chilifest! will be a full weekend of fun for spice freaks and pepper geeks. Join us Saturday and Sunday, September 14th and 15th, 2013. The event will be at the Hadley farm, 81 Rocky Hill Rd, from noon-5pm each day. Admission is only $5. Check out this year's poster and the full schedule of events.

This year we're growing over 30 varieties of rare and unusual chili peppers from around the world, including the Bhut Jolokia, aka Ghost Pepper, aka the world's hottest pepper. We're also experimenting with making our own sriracha style chili sauce and extra hot habanero hot sauce, which will be on sale at Chilifest!

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If you'd like to be a part of Chilifest, we are looking for Chili Cook-Off contestants. You can enter in either the meat or vegetarian category. Check out the Chili Cook-Off page for more details and how to enter. You'll need to deliver two gallons of chili by 11am on Saturday.

Here's a preview of what you can expect!

Food & Beer (Sat & Sun)tacos2
Kitchen Garden Beer brewed by the High Horse from homegrown barley, malted by Valley Malt

Kitchen Garden taco stand: pork and bean tacos, Mexican grilled corn, agua fresca.

SrirachaNEW! Our own, homegrown Sriracha, Habanero Hot Sauce, Tomatillo Salsa and Roasted Chili Salsa!

King Street Eats: spicy pork and veggie banh mi sandwiches.

Velma's Wicked Delicious Kettle Corn.

Bart's Ice Cream: margarita sorbet, chili inspired ice cream.

Live Music!smallEphemeral String Band
12pm: Ephemeral String Band
1:30pm: Bela's Bartok
3:00pm: Primate Fiasco

12pm: Appalachian Still
1:30pm: Kris Delmhorst
3pm: Rusty Belle playing "Queen of the Boss" Bruce Springsteen cover set

More to be announced...

Chili Cook-Off with local foodie celebrity panel of judgessmallchili display

Cooking Demos
Neftali Duran of El Jardin will show us how to make traditional Mexican salsas
Stephen Viarengo will show us how to make Enzo's Hot Sauce
Jim and Maggie Zaccara of Hope & Olive will show us how to make spicy cocktails and bar snacks

Art Demos and Workshops by the Artisans of Western Mass

Fun Farmy Games for Kids led by The Farm Education Collaborative
Screen Printing your own Chilifest t-shirt
Chili and veggie tattoos

Chili Pepper Tastings led by the Kitchen Garden's Tim Wilcox... how many can you handle?

Want to enter the Chili Cook-Off? Want to be a sponsor? Want to volunteer to help out? Email Caroline at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

chilifest-chileSee you at Chilifest!

Tags: summer events

Al Fresco Italian Dinner, July 20th

porterphelps2We are lucky this year to be growing on some beautiful Hadley land right along the Connecticut River at the Porter Phelps Huntington Museum. This 15-acre field is a few miles south of the home farm in Sunderland and we've been spending a lot of time down there tending our potatoes, onions, winter squash, sweet potatoes and fall greens.

our onion fieldWe think these crops are looking beautiful and we're excited to invite you to join us at the museum grounds overlooking our fields at an Al Fresco Italian farm dinner on Saturday, July 20. We'll dine outside (weather permitting) and enjoy an Italian vegetarian meal straight from the garden.

porterphelps3Come at 5:30 for a tour of the historic 18th century house that was owned and preserved by the same family until the museum's founding and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The tour is included in the ticket price.

The menu and tickets are available on our Farm Dinner page.

Farm Dinner Recipe

farm dinner shot

We've had several requests for the recipe for the chilled spring garlic soup we served at the Country French farm dinner a few weeks ago so we thought we'd share the recipe along with a few photos from the dinner. Thanks to our friend Toni Young for the terrific shots!

Spring Garlic and Spinach Soup

blue barn dinnerYou can use any vegetable stock for this recipe, but I think the extra depth and richness of flavor we get comes from first roasting the carrots, onions and celery before covering with water to simmer gently for an hour.

  • tartlettes1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 bunches spring garlic (or equivalent garlic scapes)
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock
  • leaves from 3 sprigs mint 
  • 1 pound spinach
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup creme fraiche (or sour cream)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • salt and pepper

IMG 25871. Gently saute onion, carrot, celery, garlic and thyme in butter and oil. 

2. Add potatoes and vegetable stock to cover. Boil until potatoes are tender. 

3. Add spinach and mint and simmer a minute until spinach is tender and wilted.

4. Puree soup with an immersion blender.

5. Stir in creme fraiche, heavy cream, lemon zest, chili flakes, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

6. Chill and serve.