Welcome to Belmont Acres Farm!

We are a 5-acre, family-run farm located right outside of Cambridge. We’re committed to growing a large diversity of the tastiest, freshest produce available with sustainable methods, emphasizing a Natural approach to agriculture. We encourage people to eat produce grown in season and to enjoy home cooked meals with friends and family.

Farm Stand is now open!

We operate a CSA and Farmstand in Belmont, MA; you can find directions to us here. For Pictures of the farm! For more information about our growing practices, check out our About page, click here for recipes and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to drop us a line!

 

Corn!

The most frequently question we get asked at the farmstand could be:  “do you have corn?”  Many visitors have fond memories of corn from the farm over the years.

Well friends, the answer is yes.

We’ve carefully tended the corn over the past few months, watering, weeding, and even covering a whole block of corn rows with orchard netting to protect it from the sparrows that gobbled up much of last year’s crop.  This weekend we harvested our first bushel of corn to sell in the farmstand – incredibly sweet, tender, and delicious simply eaten raw.

Also available at the farmstand for the first time this week:  beautifully fresh, firm tomatoes and eggplants – harvests are just beginning…

Farmstand is open Tuesday 3-6pm, Friday 2-5pm, Saturday 1-5pm; current crop list is here.

 

 

Artichokes

 

 

First few artichokes of the season, harvested today.

 

That’s right, we grow artichokes.  In Massachusetts.

Takes work to baby them through the cold Spring, but what lovely results.

Snapped up by our first few happy farm stand customers today!

Yum.

 

 

 

Eat the Purslane!

Weeds are, of course, a farmer’s nemesis. We spend a good share of our time trying to stop the incredible growth of “volunteer” plants that compete with our cultivars for water, sun, and nutrients. Ironically, weeds wouldn’t grow without our help disturbing the ground and offering them resources, and, in that way, as products of the farm, it’s especially nice when they can be treated as produce.

Eating the weeds is definitely one of the more fun methods of control, and we hope you’ll be happy to help. This week we’ll begin putting one particular weed in shares and on the stands. There are lots of edible weeds out there, but we’ve decided to start with the tastiest and richest in nutrients: purslane.

Purslane is believed to have originated in India and Persia, and it has long since become established in gardens (and cracks in the sidewalk) worldwide. You probably have some growing in your backyard right now. The farm is just filled with the stuff, and we’re grateful that it’s so easy to pick, delicious, and good for us.

Purslane has a sweet, salty, lemony taste, and the crispy stalks are as good as the leaves. In many culinary cultures, it is lightly cooked and served with a vinaigrette. In our opinion, though, purslane is best when eaten raw, chopped up into a salad or used in place of lettuce in a sandwich.

As far as nutrition, purslane beats most cultivated crops hands down. According to Jo Robinson’s Eating on the Wild Side, purslane has “six times more vitamin E than spinach and fourteen times more omega-3 fatty acids,” not to mention “seven times more betacarotene than carrots.” Didi Emmons adds to the accolades in her Wild Flavors cookbook: “Purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy land plant. For a land vegetable, it has an extraordinary amount of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), an omega-3 fatty acid found mostly in fish, some algae, and flaxseed. Purslane also contains potent antioxidants, as well as vitamin A, potassium, and calcium. And it is extremely low in calories.”

The fatty acids are probably responsible for purslane’s reputation as mucilaginous, and it’s true that if overcooked it can become slimy. This is one reason we prefer to eat it raw, but it’s worth noting that there are some classic Armenian and Mexican recipes for (lightly) cooked purslane. Barbara Kafka’s recipe for purslane salad, which we’ve adapted slightly here, is our favorite by far. Traditional Mexican preparations for “verdolagas” pair nicely with other items available at Belmont Acres, including pork from Bascom Hollow. We’ve included a couple of our favorites below, but ask your neighbors for more!

Purslane Salad with Potatoes and Eggs and Citrus-Tahini Dressing

8 cups purslane cut or torn to salad size pieces (stems included)
2 cups boiled, cubed potatoes
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
4 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds (optional)

Dressing:
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 or 2 lemons
salt and pepper to taste

Wash the purslane. Toss the purslane with the dressing. Place the potatoes and eggs on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Modified from Vegetable Love, Barbara Kafka

Pork and Purslane Stew — Verdolagas a la Mexicana con Puerco

2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 pounds country-style pork ribs cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
2 jalapeno chiles, chopped seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 very ripe tomatoes, diced or one 14oz can of diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 stalk fresh oregano leaves
1 pound purslane, leaves and stems

Fry the pork in the oil to brown. Add the onion, chiles, garlic and cook until onion is golden brown. Salt. Add tomatoes and oregano. Lower heat and cook, covered, for 35 minutes until very tender, adding water if necessary. Wash and chop the purslane. Steam the purslane in a saucepan with a few drops of water for 5-10 minutes until tender. Drain and add to pork, stir, and taste for seasoning.

From Cocina De Le Familia, Marilyn Tausend

Armenian Purslane (Per – Per) Salad

1 medium tomato, chopped
1 medium seedless cucumber, peeled, chopped
2 cups purslane leaves and tender stems, gently, but thoroughly, washed; pat dry
2 cups lettuce (your choice), washed, cut into bit-sized pieces
½ cup Italian parsley, chopped
3 scallions, chopped

Place all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

Dressing:
Juice of one lemon
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. ground sumac, optional
Salt and pepper to taste

From: http://www.thearmeniankitchen.com/2012/06/purslane-aka-per-per.html

New Segment Coming: Breakfast with Abby

I was having a conversation with Mike yesterday about a CSA customer last year who, towards the end of the season, insisted we keep her Kale.  Too much! – she said.  I can’t eat any more greens!

I find this slightly comical, and I do not mean to disrespect any of our CSA customers (or otherwise) who hate the taste of swiss chard and kale.  When my parents started introducing us to dark leafy greens circa 2003, I thought they were slightly nuts and could barely scoff down two bites of the stuff.

Looking back, I refer to those years as the dark years – before I discovered the incredibly versatile and delicious nature of dark greens, before I knew that their nutrient profile was like nature’s multivitamin, and before I realized that they were the perfect complement to my morning eggs.

In light of this, I’ve decided to start a new series to give all you leafy-green nay-sayers some nutritional inspiration in the morning to easily incorporate your dark leafy greens.  I’ll typically go through one bunch of kale/swiss chard in a morning, and then have more later in the day if I’m feeling wild.  Some caution should be taken:

1.  I eat a ridiculous amount of food, and thus what is ample for me is probably going to surpass the content capacity of your stomach 3 fold (ask Mike, I could eat him under the table any day).

2.  I also bike roughly 15 miles a day for transport, and spend several days a week doing heavy labor on the farm, so reiterate point 1.

3.  I try to steer away from gluten as it makes my tummy uncomfortable (will not disclose further details for your own good) so all of these breakfasts are egg-based.  I will try to mix in a fair bit of vegetarian options, but most are pretty adaptable to personal dietary preferences/restrictions.  I also am a full believer in saturated fat from good quality animal sources, so if you are not, these breakfasts will not serve as much inspiration.

4.  I am crazy.

 

So, today’s breakfast is:

Scrambeled Egg Skillet with Pan-fried potatoes, wilted arugula, and (of course) Bubba Goat Cheese (made with milk from the one and only Bubbles the Goat!)

3 small-ish potatoes, diced into 1/4 inch pieces (think red-gold size, although I used a combo of peter wilcox, adirondack reds, and yukon gems, just the smaller ones)

1 clove garlic (I prefer the milder soft neck variety we carry in the stand for quick cooking, harder neck is good for roasts)

1/4 lb arugula, cleaned and roughly chopped

3 eggs – the good kind.

salt/pepper if it’s your thing

1 tbsp good quality butter (I use kerrygold)

Goat Cheese to taste.

 

Very rough directions:

Melt butter and saute potatoes on low heat for about 15 minutes (if you’re impatient, which I usually am, you can turn up the heat and cook them less time, they just often tend to burn or cook unevenly).  The smaller the chop, the faster they cook, so if you’re in a real hurry you can shred em.  Or, sometimes when I’m feeling prepared I’ll cook a batch at the beginning of the week.  If I don’t eat them all at once, they make breakfasts super fast.  Add the garlic in about 5 minutes into potato cooking process.  Keep low heat so the garlic doesn’t burn.  Add chopped arugula once the potatoes are 99% cooked just to quickly wilt it.  Once wilted, throw in the eggs and salt.  Once eggs are evenly cooked, serve and top with fresh goat cheese.  I never mix the goat cheese in because I feel like it masks the flavor too much, and goat cheese is yum.

A picture:

 

Ugh, I just remembered I have leeks in my fridge and those would have made a phenomenal addition.  Breakfast fail.

This is what I made for one person.  You could easily divide this by 2 if you’re smaller people or eat more human-size breakfasts.  Or you could double it for the family breakfast in the morning.
Happy Sunday everyone, and happy breakfasting!

Update for the week of September 10th and 14th

Dear CSA members,

This week’s share is a blend of a few summer crops and a few fall crops. Delicata squash, leeks and potatoes along with tomatoes, beans, green peppers and eggplant will be in your basket. Delicata squash can be stored for a few months and will improve a bit with age, so you can keep them in a cool place if you don’t want to use them for a while.

The next few days are expected to be summer like, but the temperatures will cool back down again by Friday. We have the basic ingredients in your share for leek and potato soup, just in time for those cool evenings.

We still are harvesting more potatoes and winter squash from the fields. It looks like we will have quite a good supply of butternut and acorn squash! Pumpkins are coloring up nicely. Our tomato production is slowing down, so enjoy them while you can!

 

 

 

Update for the week of September 3rd and 7th

Dear CSA members,

Happy Labor Day!

Some of us at Belmont Acres spent the morning picking crops for tomorrow pickup to celebrate Labor Day. We had to dodge a few showers, but are quite happy we got more rain.

This week we are celebrating summer with a variety of peppers along with tomatillos. Roast them or make salsa (http://www.belmontacresfarm.com/recipes/tomatillos/). The jalapenos and anchos are hot! Explore some recipes and share them with us. We are also adding in a different variety of eggplant called Rosa Bianca. Most peopled are used to the purple eggplant. Rosia Bianca has fewer seeds, so it much less bitter. It is worth trying out on the grill. Just cover with a little oil sprinkle some salt and pepper. When done, drizzle olive oil, balsamic vinegar and some grated parmesan cheese. You can use the zucchini/summer squash this way too.

Over the next few weeks, we will be moving toward fall crops in shares. For example, next week we will have delicata squash in your basket. Live for the moment, we will continue will summer crops as long nature provides them! If don’t have time to cook all the vegetables, remember you can freeze many of them. For examples, clean green beans, then place them in boiling water for three minutes. Place in ice water to stop the cooking, then drain and place in zip lock freezer bags. You will be happy you have them in December or January.

Update for the week of August 27th and 31st

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

There is no doubt about it, fall is near. School is starting (Abby started this week), the chimney swifts have fledged, the chickens are laying later into the day and the winter squash harvest has begun. We have picked the delicata squash and we will pick butternut and acorn squash over the next two weeks. We are much happier with the yields this year, so get ready for them next month!

Tomatoes continue to yield and should continue for at least the next few weeks. The cucumbers have given up and the next crop is struggling with downy mildew, so it is up in the air whether or not we will have anymore for the season. Beans are producing well and we will have several new varieties that will be ready later in September. Lima beans pods are filling and should be ready by mid September.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update for week of August 20th and 24th

Dear CSA members,

Tomatoes are ripening quickly now. Some of them are not the prettiest, but we on the farm look at produce differently. How does it taste? Many of the fruits have green shoulders and some have splitting as a consequence of the heavy July rain. It seems like in the quest for the perfect looking and shipping tomato, plant breeders lost some of the flavor (an interesting piece on it here). Perfect looking produce often comes at a consequence. Another question to consider is how much spraying is required to achieve this perfection? Where was it shipped from? How long it has been stored for matters when it comes to flavor. If it tastes better than what you get at the supermarket maybe beauty need to be defined differently.

We constantly evaluate our produce and determine whether or not it is suitable for shares. Our kale has suffered from the worst case of flea beetles we have ever seen. In a ‘normal’ year mature kale plants hardly show any damage, except for a few holes. This year the leaves look like lace work. One variety Toscano, the damage is bad and for the other variety, Red Russian the it is even worse. We have Swiss Chard, so you are getting Swiss Chard for greens now. We tried the organic certified spray, spinosad (isolated from bacteria) and it knocks down the flea beetles. The problem is that you have to spray frequently and it toxic to beneficial insects too (like bees). Flea beetles die off soon, so you will see kale again in shares soon even if we don’t spray anymore. Is it worth spraying?

Food for thought.

Update for August 17th

Dear CSA members,

We have had a beautiful week on the farm, warmer weather is expected next week, so summer is still trying to hang on! The winter squash set look really good. We wouldn’t be surprised if we could start harvesting Delicata squash in two or three weeks. Field pumpkins have sized up but are still quite green.

We continue to harvest potatoes from the field, last week we gathered over 300lbs. We still have well over 1000 feet to harvest, so we expect to have an ample supply throughout the fall. Last year we dug them by hand, this year we are using a tractor with a shovel attachment on a three point hitch. The farm tractor is so old that there is no down pressure on the hydraulic system. So we put Abby, Hadley, Narineh and anybody else we can find on the back of the hitch and drive over the hills, the potatoes come right out! Everybody has been having lots of fun with this method because it combines work with a ride.

The fall planting in nearly complete, we are down to succession planting lettuce, arugula and radishes that will continue into fall. Garlic is the last and goes in early November. Now we only have to weed and harvest!

Update for August 13th

Dear CSA members,

This is getting ridiculous, we have had to put up with sparrows, raccoons, rabbits, woodchucks and now coyotes. Last year almost our entire crop of watermelon was eaten by coyotes. The other day we noticed coyote tracks in the field and a cleanly eaten watermelon next to the driveway. We picked most of the watermelon immediately this time, so this year we have enough to go into shares. We wish there was a way to charge these animals for a share!

We continue to harvest potatoes from the field, last week we gathered over 300lbs. We still have well over 1000 feet to harvest, so we expect to have an ample supply throughout the fall. Last year we dug them by hand, this year we are using a tractor with a shovel attachment on a three point hitch. The farm tractor is so old that there is no down pressure on the hydraulic system. So we put Abby, Hadley, Narineh and anybody else we can find on the back of the hitch and drive over the hills, the potatoes come right out! Everybody has been having lots of fun with this method because it combines work with a ride.

The fall planting in nearly complete, we are down to succession planting lettuce, arugula and radishes that will continue into the fall. Garlic is the last and goes in early November. Now we only have to weed and harvest!