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!

 

Last call for Summer crops

With Fall approaching, we are enjoying the last few weeks of Summer crop harvests.

Come visit the farm stand for heirloom tomatoes, corn, eggplant, fresh flowers, and much more.  Highlights below.

Heirloom tomatoes

 

 

Raspberries

 

Peaches

 

Bouquet


Community-support agriculture (CSA) baskets loaded with Summer produce and ready for pickup


Baba ganoush, tomato, picked eggplant, cabbage, and purslane – all made from farm-grown vegetables



Eggplant parmesan (farm eggplant and heirloom tomatoes) garnished with edible nasturtium flowers


 

 

Uncommon Grounds

We are delighted to have our farm’s fresh vegetables featured in delicious dishes at Uncommon Grounds restaurant in neighboring Watertown.  Uncommon Grounds owner Lisa comes to the farm personally for vegetables which chef Chris whips up into lovely featured dishes like this roasted beet salad with mesclun greens, goat cheese, fresh apples and orange slices, pistachio nuts and a homemade Sherry Vinaigrette dressing.

We are so happy to be working with great partners like Uncommon Grounds, and helping to make food seriously local!

Uncommon Grounds was voted Boston’s Best in Breakfast, 2013.

The restaurant is located at 575 Mount Auburn St in Watertown.  More info at www.myuncommongrounds.com.

 

 

Watermelon

Our farm watermelons are ready for harvest!

 

Here’s Mike harvesting the first few fruit.

Farm visitors often tell us how amazed they are to see these melons in our fields – right here in Massachusetts.  Though watermelon requires a long hot Summer growing season and is more commonly grown in the South, it is possible to grow it in the Northeast too.

A few months ago, we planted, watered generously, and laid down salt marsh hay to deter weed growth and give the plants’ long vines room to ramble and grow.  We protected the melons from animals with fencing, and were delighted to watch them set fruit and flourish.

 

We sliced one open to enjoy yesterday during farm lunch break.  It was juicy with few seeds and a thin rind – sweet and refreshing.

Community-supported agriculture (CSA) share customers received melons in their baskets yesterday, and melons are available for sale at the farm stand, Tue 3-6pm, Fri 2-5pm, Sat 1-5pm.

Ducks

These ten young ducks joined the farm in April and have charmed our farmers and visitors alike.

 

They splash in their kiddie pool, forage for bugs, and run around the farm, upright and curious.

 

A week ago, one of them laid its first egg – tiny.  This weekend, another – a bit bigger.  Hopefully by Fall we’ll have a steady stream of duck eggs.   The large brown egg in this photo is a chicken egg, for comparison.

ducks in action

Eat your…..petals?

That’s right, folks. We farmers here at Belmont Acres are not only known for enjoying our greens, but we also savor our oranges & yellows for a healthy dose of antioxidants. This time of year the bright hues of our Calendula flowers can entice hungry pollinators and laborers alike!

Calendula, a.k.a. Calendula marigold, is not technically from the marigold family, but is from a genus of about 15–20 species of annuals & perrenials in the daisy family. Originally native to Eurasia, Calendula was later popularized in New Enlgand by settlers who used the plant’s petals as a culinary substitute for more rare spices, such as saffron, to add color to butter, cheeses, breads, cookies, stews, and soups.

Calendula was also cherished for its medicinal properties both intrinsically and externally as a wound cleaner and healer. During the American Civil War and World War I, Calendula flowers were used on the battlefields in open wounds as anti-hemorrhagic and antiseptic, and they were used in dressing wounds to promote healing. The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of its petals, as well as its high levels of iodine and manganese, promote quick skin regeneration and healing from rashes, cuts, stings, and bruises.

For it’s culinary & medicinal properties. Calendula was named 2008 Herb of the year by the International Herb Association & was consequently featured in a publication by Susan Belsinger. Read on for a selection of her tasty & creative Calendula recipes.

COOKING WITH CALENDULA

Calendula is super easy to incorporate into any meal you’re serving.
After washing and lightly drying, gently pull petals from the bitter center disk of the flower head. Sprinkle petals over salads & dishes to brighten up your plate and add a subtle hint of pepperiness. (petals can also be dried & stored like any other herb)

Herb Butter with Calendula

by Susan Belsinger
To prepare 1/2 cup of herb butter:

Soften 1 stick of unsalted butter. Finely chop 1 tablespoon of washed & dried Calendula petals + 1 tablespoon of any herb(s) of your choice. Gently blend the herbs with the softened butter. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to give the butter a more spreadable texture and a good flavor. You may want to add a bit of salt or pepper, lemon juice, or even minced garlic or shallots, depending on how you are going to use the butter. Pack into a small crock and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Other Calendula Recipe Ideas:

http://www.susanbelsinger.com/calendula2008.html

• Calendula Cornmeal Crisps
• Calendula Cornbread
• King Cake with Calendula
• Banana Cake with Calendula
• Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
• Egg Salad with Calendula and Chives

CALENDULA TEA
Calendula tea is reported to soothe intestinal irritations & assist people with food sensitivities.

Boiling water method with fresh flowers: Fill a heat-proof jar with fresh flower petals and pour boiling water over them. Cap and let infuse until the tea is cool enough to drink.
Sun tea method: Fill a jar with fresh flowers (or 1/4 full with dried flowers) and cover with water. Cap and place out in the sun for at least 5 or 6 hours.
Boiling water method with dried flowers: Place around a tablespoon of dried calendula flowers in a heat proof mug and pour boiling water over them. Cover with a saucer and let steep for around 15 to 20 minutes.

Strain after infusing & enjoy. Petals can be composted or thrown away. Leftover tea can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days.

For 14 uses for Calendula tea, read here:

http://thenerdyfarmwife.com/14-uses-for-calendula-tea/

As with any new herb, enjoy conscientiously & take precautions during pregnancy.

Flowers

Our zinnias are now in full swing – adding a bright streak of color to the green vegetable fields.

The cosmos is blooming too.

We’ve begun selling bouquets in the farmstand – bigger blooms joined by fragrant stems of flowering mint and oregano…

…and we’ve added mini-bouquets to recent community-supported agriculture share baskets.

We are growing edible flowers like borage and calendula too – making lovely and delicious garnishes for salads and pretty much any other Summer dish.

Pick up a flower bouquet at the farmstand as a fresh, local and beautiful gift for friends, or to enjoy on your kitchen table!

 

 

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!