Blog/Farm Newsletters

Posted 1/8/2013 9:11am by Debra Brubaker .

As a farmer, I have opportunities every day to be completely amazed by the wonders of the living world.  Over the past weeks, this has been particularly the case as I watch mesclun greens transform from limp and frozen to crisp and upright as the sun emerges on a 15 degree morning.  And the animals, turkeys choosing to roost under the moon on a fence row rather than in the cozy shelter of the barn which is available for them.  Or the mother hen who takes meal worms from my partner’s hand and holds them in her beak until her chicks, one my one, take and eat them. It is good for me as a farmer to take the time to observe this resilience, toughness, and natural instinct of the living world, for it helps me to my role in perspective.  These living things what to survive and flourish, and my job is to try to facilitate them to do so by careful observation of their natural preferences and working to create a system that supports these.  As we plan for the coming season, I’m trying to keep this in mind. 

In the Box…   Butternut Squash, *Potatoes, Carrots, Mesclun mix, Sweet Potatoes, Garlic, Napa Cabbage, Hakerui Turnips, Spinach

Note: Summer Sign-ups will be coming soon... We hope to have details of our Summer Season Signup completed by next distribution.  Stay tuned.

Upcoming events at the Farm:

Saturday, Jan 12th 2013 at 10am to Sunday, Jan 13th 2013 at 3pm, Village Acres FoodShed: Squash Hunger! With The Greenhouse : A delicious & heartwarming volunteer opportunity!

You are invited to Squash Hunger! Farmers from around Pennsylvania are setting aside their excess produce to be transformed into a delicious and nutritious soup for those in need. Please join us in sorting, preparing and freezing a bounty of squash soup. The soup will be donated to the St. Francis of Assisi Parish Soup Kitchen for distribution directly to those in need in the Allison Hill neighborhood of Harrisburg. For links to more information visit our Upcoming Events page on our website!

Posted 12/18/2012 9:48am by Roy Brubaker .

After a long silence I (so-called Farmer Roy) am again glad to greet you and share a few lines with our CSA friends/ members. We have had some beautiful weather for December, but I think we farmers also delight in the darkness of December, with the opportunity it provides for retreat to our homes after shorter work days. Relaxation, long restful nights and catching up on reading are pleasantries I relish these days. But during these shorter days we also review planting schedules, production records, work performance and profitability (of our first year operating as a daughter-Deb and Dad-Roy partnership).
Though we had some crop failures and didn't achieve our full potential we did have a profitable operation this year. And I as Dad, am very delighted that Deb has joined me in this partnership. I am also very grateful for the fine hard working staff currently with us. They are indeed worthy of the profit share they have earned this year.
With that note of gratitude, I also recognize with gratitude you CSA members, and your vital role in sustaining Village Acres Farm. Thank you, everyone! Some of whom have supported us from the very beginning, a total of 15 years. We hope and plan to keep rewarding you with good healthy food in the future. We believe we can improve our performance over time, and hope you will see and taste the difference in the year and years ahead.
As for other happenings, last week we had a farewell for David Ruggiero, CSA manager the last three years. Dave was a delight to have the total of five seasons here, and we wish him success as he begins his own vegetable production near Carlisle.
Also, seed orders are going out this week, also orders for raspberry and strawberry plants. Straw mulching on strawberries, garlic and asparagus is under way. Green- house plantings are taking more time with the additional large greenhouse this fall, and this should mean CSA members should have a consistent supply of greens through the winter months. We do not have the pork shares to offer this fall, as we have deferred to Blue Rooster Farm to be the pork distributor (email for more information)
To conclude, we hope all of you will delight in the darkness of December, and also the light and peace of the holiday seasons.

~Roy Brubaker

In the Box this week…Butternut Squash, *Potatoes, Carrot, Parsnips, Mesclun mix, Sweet Potatoes, Garlic, **Red Onion, *Cabbage, Kale/Arugula, Watermelon Radish, Spinach

Outside the box… Bok Choi and Tatsoi (for those of you who can’t get enough)

Note on this week’s vegetables:
*While 2012 was overall a good growing season we did have some difficulty. We had a potato crop failure (wet caused seed potatoes to rot in our heavy clay fields). Also our cabbage transplants were stunted with extreme heat in mid-summer and didn’t produce. Luckily our neighbor farmer Steve Wengerd has been able to help us make sure you folks get these staples this season.
**The Red Onions are certified organic onions we purchased from our growers co-op. While onion are reasonably good storers, we have had some difficulty keeping good quality onions year round. In order to help supply you with better quality, we often sell our own onions earlier in the fall to our co-op and in exchange have the ability to purchase good quality as needed through the winter months. We hope to find some better varieties and storage methods to be able to store our own onions better in the future as well.

Today’s box is a hefty box! We hope you like the variety. There will be a 3 week window and perhaps several Holiday feasts till our next distribution on January 8/9 so we thought a little more bulk could be utilized!

Upcoming events at the Farm:
Saturday, January 5th: Live Music at the FoodShed: “The Heggs”: a local bluesy, folksy band (staring our own Will Markely, part time farmer, full time musician.)Café opens at 6pm, music starts at 7PM. Event is co-sponsored by the Juniata Cultural Arts Committee. BYOB

Saturday, Jan 12th 2013 at 10am to Sunday, Jan 13th 2013 at 3pm, Village Acres FoodShed: Squash Hunger! With The Greenhouse : A delicious & heartwarming volunteer opportunity!
You are invited to Squash Hunger! Farmers from around Pennsylvania are setting aside their excess produce to be transformed into a delicious and nutritious soup for those in need. Please join us in sorting, preparing and freezing a bounty of squash soup. The soup will be donated to the St. Francis of Assisi Parish Soup Kitchen for distribution directly to those in need in the Allison Hill neighborhood of Harrisburg. For links to more information visit our Upcoming Events page on our website!

Posted 12/4/2012 12:12pm by Debra Brubaker .

Farm Notes…

Welcome to Village Acres Winter CSA 2012-13! We are happy to have you all be part of our extended farm community, whether you’ve been a member in previous seasons or are joining us for the first time this winter! We are grateful for all of your support of our farm and for your dedication to eating seasonally year round!
Just to start off with introductions, I am Debra Brubaker, the youngest child of Roy and Hope Brubaker, founders of Village Acres Farm. I have been involved with this farm since our family moved here in 1982 and have grown to love this land immensely. This year has been an important transition year for our family and this farm as I have stepped into the role of business partner alongside my father- the first stage of our family’s succession planning. This past summer, I worked closely with our CSA manager, to learn the ropes of CSA coordination and now with the start of this Winter CSA, I’m taking the reins. I’m grateful for the opportunity to connect with all of you and to work to fulfill our farm’s vision of connecting people to their food, the earth, and each other. I welcome comments and suggestions throughout the season. I also want to extend an open invitation to come and visit the farm. We will try to keep you informed of events happening here, but we welcome visitors at any point (calling or emailing ahead is a good idea just to make sure we are around.)
I look forward to seeing each of you at some point during the season, Deb

IN THE BOX: Butternut Squash, Daikon Radish, Red Beets, Hakerui Turnips, Sweet Potatoes, Bok Choy, Garlic, Mesclun Mix, Napa Cabbage,  Spinach, Carrots


Sandor Katz, author of Wild Fermentation, Cabbage Kimchi

Makes 1 quart
• sea salt
• 1 pound chinese cabbage (napa or bak choi)
• 1 daikon radish or a few red radishes
• 1­2 carrots
• 1­2 onions, leeks, a few scallions, or shallots
• 3­4 cloves of garlic
• 3­4 hot red chilies, depending on how hot you like your food, or any form of hot pepper, fresh, dried, or in a sauce
• 3 T fresh grated gingerroot

Mix a brine of 4 cups water and 4 tablespoons of salt. The brine should taste good and salty.
Coarsely chop the cabbage, slice the radish and carrots, and let the vegetables soak in the brine, covered by a plate or other weight to keep the vegetables submerged until soft. This can take a few hours or overnight is even better.
Prepare the spices: grate the ginger, chop the garlic and onion, remove seeds from the chilies and chop or crush, or throw them in whole. Kimchi can absorb a lot of spice. Mix spices into a paste. You can add fish sauce to the spice paste; just make sure it has no chemical preservatives which function to inhibit microorganisms.
Drain brine of vegetables after soaking. Reserve the brine. Taste the vegetables for saltiness. You want them salty but not unpleasantly so. If they are too salty, rinse them. If you cannot taste the salt, sprinkle a couple teaspoons and mix.
Mix the vegetables with the ginger­chili­onion­garlic paste. Mix everything together and stuff it into a clean quart size jar. Pack it lightly, pressing down until brine rises. If necessary, add a little of the reserved, vegetable­soaking brine to the submerged vegetables. Weigh them down with a small jar, or a zip­lock bag filled with some brine. If you remember, you can just push them down with your fingers. Cover the jar.
Ferment in your kitchen or other warm place. Taste it every day. After about a week, when it tastes ripe, move it to the refrigerator or cool storage space like a root cellar.

Posted 11/13/2012 12:14pm by Dave Ruggiero.


Next week (Nov 20) is our last Summer Share delivery. Some new Winter members (those that paid for the extra Thanksgiving box) will also be joining us that day, and it’s also the day for turkey delivery (and turkey payments).  If you are reading this note, you are most likely a summer member and will be getting a box next week of the same size (Full or Medium) that you have gotten all year, but please contact us if you’re at all unsure.  There is no delivery (for anyone) on November 27th, and then Tuesday, December 4th will be the first regular delivery for Winter members.


Four and a half years ago, in May 2008, I headed out to Village Acres for a six-month apprenticeship.  I had spent a lot of time in school studying land use and conservation; I was looking for a hands-on way to apply it.  I wanted to move back to the ridges and valleys of Pennsylvania, which I had fallen in love with during my own time in State College.  And, perhaps most importantly, I loved to grow, cook, and eat good food.  A couple times during those years I’ve made plans to leave and been drawn back in at the last minute by the anxious call of the work we do here at the farm.  After 2010 I mostly stopped even planning to leave.  But circumstances have at last pulled me on to other things, and so as many of you know I will finally be moving on from the farm after the end of this summer season, to try my luck at farming on my own near my new home in Carlisle.  If farming teaches us anything, it shows us that time is both a wheel and a straight line.  Every moment is different; the past is never fixable and the future is always unexpected.  But at the same time, the events of each day, of each week, of each year never really change the underlying pattern.  I will miss you all on Tuesday afternoons for a long time to come, and will be thinking of the farm’s year (and my years at the farm) as I do all the same tasks for years into the future.  I hope that you all have as restful a winter, as frantic a spring, as exuberant a summer, and as bountiful a fall as we hope to in the years to come.

-Dave, CSA Manager 2010-2012.


CSA Boxes:  We appreciate all of you who have been diligent in returning boxes every week. We are asking that everyone simply take the plastic liner out of their box (or bring their own bags) for the last distribution of the summer season (November 29) and leave the box. We'd like to take stock of how many boxes we have at that point, before moving into the winter season. If, by any chance, you have a box that needs returning from a previous week, please do so right away. Thanks!


Thanksgiving Turkeys and Winter CSA Shares:  A few Winter CSA shares left, but if you still need a turkey, you should call us right away. If we we do have any unclaimed turkeys (we might not already) then they’ll be gone by Friday.


In the box this week: Beets, Turnips, Celeriac, Lettuce, Bok Choy, Tat Soi, Winter Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots (for fulls only).

Produce Notes:  

Two new crops today, which might be especially interesting to those of you not joining us for the winter.  Turnips have a reputation as a sort of poor peasant’s food, but as long as you have something else to eat for six months I find them quite delightful.  They’re tasty roasted with other roots in a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and they will also take well to soups (especially…mmmm….pureed soups with cream).  Celeriac, although it may look like some sort of squid monster, is a delightfully delicious vegetable that has the texture of a potato and the taste of celery.  Obviously this makes it a shoo-in for stocks, but keep in mind that unlike potatoes celeriac are also delicious grated raw.  See below for more information on both of these.

Blue Rooster Farm- On special for Tuesday, Nov. 20, beef brisket for $6. 75/lb.  When your out-of-town guests are tired of turkey leftovers, put a brisket in the Dutch oven, slow cooker, or smoker for a simple, delicious meal.



Celeriac, sometimes known as celery root, is an unattractive looking vegetable. Celeriac has been called The Ugly One! Even its own mother wouldn't call it handsome, yet celeriac has been called "the unsung hero of the vegetable world" However, beauty is only skin deep- look below the surface!
Celeriac is a wonderful vegetable if you just know how to handle it…In the fall celeriac comes into its own for great soups and stews, so now's the time to get cooking with celeriac…In fall and winter, celeriac mash is a change from the dull old mashed potato. Another great way to use celeriac is in celeriac soup. Celeriac is a great base for many tasty soups.


Celeriac Mash

Celeriac adds a distinctive taste to your mash. It does, as its name suggests, have a slight celery flavor. You can make a mash entirely with celeriac, or you can make a potato and celeriac mash for a milder taste.

If you're following a low carbohydrate diet another good celeriac recipe is to mash celeriac with pumpkin or squash. All of these give you the texture of potato without the carbohydrate.
Peel your celeriac, chop into slices, and boil in salted water as you would do with potato. When the celeriac is soft, you can smash it with a potato masher, a fork, or you can put it through your food processor.

Now's the time to add a few extras to your celeriac recipe.
Mash a little butter or olive oil into the celeriac. Add some wholegrain mustard to the celeriac mash. Add herbs of your choice (we like chives), or a little coriander for a spicy taste.


Roasted Turnips with Balsamic Vinegar

2 large turnips
1 T olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
additional 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar for finishing
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 F for convection or 450 F for regular oven. Peel turnips with knife, then cut into pieces about 1 inch square. Whisk together olive oil and balsamic vinegar and toss with turnips, then spread in single layer in roasting pan. Roast turnips 25-30 minutes, or until slightly browned and softened.


Remove turnips from oven and place into serving bowl. Toss with additional 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar, season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper, and serve immediately.


Posted 11/6/2012 10:32am by Dave.

Hello again, Tuesday folks, after just five short days without us! After weathering the hurricane and a schedule change we are moving on today to our next complexity – Election Day – and afterwards we will be back on our normal routine.  Alas that’s only lasting for about a week – in two weeks it will be Thanksgiving, time for a busy and bountiful box for Summer and Winter shareholders as well as turkey deliveries, and then our Winter schedule begins and we will be welcoming new members and saying goodbye to some of our summer friends as well.  And with the end of Daylight Savings Time, distribution will be unusually dark today too, so no matter how you look at it things definitely have a different feel to them at this time of year.  At the farm our tasks have gradually changed too, following the trend we have been on since mid-summer.  Our day is now almost completely devoted to harvesting; except for a little bit of greenhouse work seeding, planting, and weeding are rare tasks. The farm’s whole effort is bent on bringing in all that we can before the nights get cold enough to spoil our efforts.  With beets, bok choy, and broccoli, cabbages, carrots, and celeriac, we need to prioritize – what can survive at 30 degrees? At 25? At 20?  The turkeys are growing, the pigs are getting fat, the air smells like snow and woodsmoke.  Welcome to November and the final three weeks of our Summer CSA! - Dave   

CSA Boxes:  We appreciate all of you who have been diligent in returning boxes every week. We are asking that everyone simply take the plastic liner out of their box (or bring their own bags) for the last distribution of the summer season (November 16) and leave the box. We like to take stock of how many boxes we have at that point, before moving into the winter season. If, by any chance, you have a box to return from a previous week, please do so right away. Thanks!

Thanksgiving Turkeys and Winter CSA Shares:  Going fast – order online to reserve your spot!


In your box: Broccoli, Sweet Potatoes, Leeks, Butternut Squash, Mesclun Mix, Carrots, and Spinach and Garlic (Fulls) or Arugula (Mediums)

Produce Notes 

Broccoli is coming in all sizes today as we cleared out the patch in anticipation of last night’s freeze.  We are trying to even out portion sizes, but some of you may get one big head and some may get three or four small florets.

Full Shares are getting spinach today while medium shares are getting arugula.  Both work well sautéed in all sorts of dishes and will cook down to much smaller than their fresh size – and both will also work to add to your mesclun mix as an additional green (especially the smaller leaves of each).

Butternut Squash have not yet officially appeared in your boxes yet this year, as we have been using up smaller and more perishable squashes, but they are probably familiar to all you already.  Some of our squashes have ring- or bullseye- shaped scars on them; they may look ugly but as long as your squash is hard this is just a cosmetic injury and the squash inside should be delicious and unharmed.






Egg, Arugula, and Herb Tartine

Serves 1 for breakfast or lunch

2 thick slices of good bread
2 big handfuls fresh baby arugula
1 sprig tender rosemary
Several chive stalks
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg 
Salt and pepper

Toast the bread and scrape on a little butter. Roughly chop the herbs and arugula as the rest of the butter heats in a small heavy sauté pan. Sauté the herbs and greens for just about a minute or until slightly wilted. Add the egg and quickly cook over medium heat until barely scrambled around the greens. Remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper, pile on the toasted bread, and eat immediately.


Steamed Broccoli & Squash Dish


1 pound broccoli, cut into spears

1 medium yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano


Combine the broccoli and squash in a steamer basket; place in a saucepan over 1 in. of water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and steam for 5-8 minutes or until crisp-tender. Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients. Remove vegetables from steamer; drizzle with oil mixture and toss to coat.


Spinach, Potato, Leek Frittata


1 teaspoon butter

2 cups thinly sliced leek (about 2 large)

10-ounces of fresh spinach

1/3 cup milk

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

4 large eggs

4 large egg whites

2 cups cooked, peeled potato (about 3/4 pound)

Cooking spray

1 1/2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs

1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded provolone cheese



Preheat oven to 350°.

Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leek; sauté 4 minutes. Add spinach; sauté 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Place mixture in a colander, pressing until barely moist.

Combine milk, basil, salt, pepper, eggs, and egg whites; stir well with a whisk. Add leek mixture and potato. Pour into a

10-inch round ceramic baking dish or pie plate coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and top with cheese. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until center is set.

Preheat broiler.

Broil frittata 4 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into wedges.

Posted 11/1/2012 9:52am by Debra Brubaker .

Thanks to everyone for your flexibility this week.  While we were spared significant damage here in Central PA, we all have been reminded of the amazing strength of Mother Nature.  As I mentioned in an email earlier this week, we had quite a frantic start to the week- Steve and Marsha changed their plans and processed our last batch of chickens a day early in order to avoid processing in driving wind and rain, and much of Monday we spent securing animal shelters and greenhouse plastic/doors and harvesting as many of the more sensitive crops from the field (this will explain the large amount of greenery in your box today.)  Luckily Tuesday morning came, and we were pleasantly surprised that we did not have a large amount of clean up and the roads were even passable, but having already made the decision to postpone our CSA delivery, we enjoyed the most leisurely Tuesday of our season so far!  We hope you all also were spared too much damage, and perhaps also enjoyed a change of schedule this week.  We plan to be back on our Tuesday schedule next week, but with it being Election Day, it will  be little exciting as well (State College folks please see note below.)  Wishing you all a great weekend, and please vote on Tuesday!




State College Distribution Next Tuesday (Election Day): The Friends Meetinghouse is a polling location for the university area.  This means that there will (hopefully) be lots of traffic in and out of the parking lot and potentially lines of people.  We will still have our distribution there, but we ask CSA members to park as much as possible on the street to make sure folks coming to vote have places to park. 


CSA Boxes:  Please, please return your CSA boxes. We hand-build the boxes and had over 200 large and 200 medium boxes several years ago and are now down to about  75 Large and 25 medium. Amnesty day?J  For our last Summer Distribution (Thanksgiving week) and continuing into our winter CSA, we will be asking folks to bring their own boxes/bags, or to simply take the liner in efforts to significant cut costs of packaging.  We apologize to all of you who have been diligent in returning boxes over the years. 


Thanksgiving Turkeys:  Still a few left.  Order online or sign up on list at distribution.


Winter CSA Shares still available: We are still accepting signup for winter shares as well.  Sign up on our website ( or on the lists at distribution. 

In the Box…  Broccoli, Bok Choy, Tatsoi, Lettuce heads, Sweet Potatoes, Leeks, Acorn Squash, and Carrots


Baked Acorn Squash Rings:  Martha Stewart Cookbook

1 small acorn squash
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
Cut the unpeeled squash crosswise into 1/2-inch slices and place them on a cutting board. Using a biscuit cutter or cookie cutter slightly larger than the seed center, cut out the seeds from each ring and discard.
Place the squash rings on a lightly buttered baking sheet. Dot each ring with butter and season to taste. Sprinkle a bit of brown sugar over each ring.
Bake the squash for 15 minutes. Turn the rings over, dot with more butter and sugar, and bake until tender, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Serve hot.



Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli:


4 to 5 pounds broccoli
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. You should have about 8 cups of florets. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 5 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.

Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan, and basil. Serve hot.

7 ways to cook leeks -

Leeks are a truly versatile vegetable. They have a milder, sweeter flavor than onions and a smooth texture similar to asparagus.

Leeks can be cooked in all sorts of different and delicious ways. Try these:

Pan fried

Heat a small amount of olive oil and butter in a frying pan, add some sliced leeks and gently cook for about 5-10 minutes until tender.


For super-healthy leeks, saute with fennel and garnish with fresh lemon juice and thyme.


Heat a little oil over a high heat in a frying pan or wok, add some prepared leeks and stir-fry for a few minutes.


Place some sliced leeks in an oven-proof dish, sprinkle with cheese or cover with white sauce and bake for 30-40 minutes at 190C.


Pour some olive oil into a roasting tray and add leeks, making sure they are coated all over. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and roast in the oven (210C) for 30 minutes.


Pour a small amount of chicken or vegetable stock into a frying pan, add some prepared, sliced leeks, cover and gently cook for 10-15 minutes. Braised leeks dusted with fennel or mustard seeds are a delicious accompaniment to fish, poultry or steak.


Spice up a salad by adding finely chopped leeks and dress generously with vinaigrette.

Leeks make an effortlessly easy side dish. Equally, they work wonderfully in a wide variety of recipes such as casseroles, omelets and frittatas, risottos, quiches, pasta sauces and soups.




Posted 10/23/2012 12:04pm by Dave.

Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of leisurely wandering the farm collecting a selection of our “in season” produce to take for a booth at an event at the Unitarian Church in Harrisburg. We had had our first frost two nights before and the items harvested were the true cold tolerant vegetables. Even though I have been planning, planting, and weeding all these vegetables all season long, it was striking even to me the amazing beauty and diversity of vegetables that can be produced on this land at this time of year: Pumpkins, 4 types of squash, refreshing Hakurei Turnips, zesty watermelon radishes, the ever reliable carrot, broccoli (coming to everyone’s box soon we hope!), kale, the delicious red beet, celariac, tatsoi, bok choi (our cabbage alternative this year), onions, garlic, the comforting sweet potato, potatoes, spinach, and arugula.


In the box: Acorn Squash, Carrots, Red Beets, Watermelon Radishes, Potatoes, Onions, Bell Peppers, Hot Peppers, Mesclun Mix, Broccoli (Full Shares), Spinach (Fulls) or Chard & Beet greens (Mediums).

Produce and Cooking Notes…
Watermelon Radishes – Be sure to slice into these beautiful radishes and take a look at the vibrant pink flesh. A very tasty radish, indeed!
Potatoes – These potatoes are not from our farm, but from a neighboring Amish grower who is spray-free but not certified organic. We had a rough year for our storage potatoes and so bought some in for the winter from friends of ours who meet our standards for natural growing.
Bell Peppers - The last of our bell peppers for the year - they are unfortunately not holding well in storage. Full shares are also getting a couple of the skinny, red, wrinkly Jimmy Nardellos - and nobody is getting hot red cayenne peppers in their boxes.
Broccoli – Just starting to head up and tends to come in at different times which makes it hard to offer it to everyone at the same time. We hope to get it to everyone as soon as we can.
Mesclun Mix – Always delicious, sometimes spicy salad mix. Mesclun is a French term that originally meant a mixture of tender salads that were wild-harvested to renew the blood each spring. For you, with the aid of field tunnels, the renewal is available in the fall and all winter long as well!
Spinach or Chard & Beet Greens: Everyone is getting some sort of fresh cooking green today, suitable for adding in to most any dish. Full shares are getting a bag of spinach greens, while medium shares get a mix of young chard and beet greens.


Sweet Pickled Onion Watermelon Radish Salad

1 large watermelon radish, sliced into thin rounds
1 small mild onion, sliced into thin rounds
1/3 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper (fresh ground)
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
splash of rice wine vinegar (optional - adds an extra layer of tart-sweetness)
1. Slice your onion and radish. Place in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add the remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl - toss well.
3. Place in fridge to chill overnight.
4. Serve!

Mesclun Beet Salad

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
3/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, finely minced or pureed (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 ounce mesclun mix
2 medium or 4 small beets, roasted (to roast, simply place whole, sliced or cubed beets in a high heat oven or under the broiler), peeled and cut
A handful of fresh herbs, like chervil, tarragon, parsley and chives, chopped
Whisk together the vinegars, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl or measuring cup. Whisk in the olive oil. Toss with the lettuces, beets and herbs just before serving.
Variation: Add 1 to 2 ounces crumbled feta or goat cheese to the mix.


*A note from The Greenhouse organization on their YES WE CAN Event at the FoodShed…

The Greenhouse is a community organization dedicated to transforming Harrisburg, Pennsylvania from a food desert into a food oasis by recovering food that would have otherwise been wasted, preserving it in healthy and creative ways and then distributing it to the community.

Yes We Can! is the Greenhouse's inaugural formal event and we are hopeful that you will take part in this exciting endeavor.

October 27: Stuff the Bus! is the fundraising and equipment gathering event for Yes We Can! Stop by Lenker Manor Park (just a block off the intersection of Derry Street and Wilhelm in Swatara Township) on Saturday October 27, 2012 anytime from 1:00-5:00 pm to Stuff the Bus with cases of canning jars (and other canning equipment). In return for your kind canning or monetary donations please enjoy some spicy chili, warm cornbread and hot cider. Special guest Bobbi Carmitchell will provide music.

November 3: YES WE CAN event - The Greenhouse is working in collaboration with Village Acres Farm & FoodShed for this event. Village Acres is in Mifflintown, PA, north of Harrisburg. Carpooling will be available. Please visit their website to view the amazing facility that we will be using for the Yes We Can! event. We will begin canning at noon on Saturday November 3, 2012. Shifts will be available throughout both Saturday and Sunday. Please mark your calendars now.

WHO ARE WE? The Greenhouse is a community group made up of passionate people that believe that healthy fresh food should never be locked away in dumpsters and buried in landfills while people are hungry. We believe that access to healthy and delicious food is a right, not a privilege. The Greenhouse is seeking energetic and passionate individuals to carry this mission forward.

WHAT DO WE DO? We recover food that would have otherwise been wasted and preserve it through canning, drying and freezing. The food that we use is always high-quality and we use safe food handling techniques. The food is recovered from farms, gardens and grocery stores. The Yes We Can! project will involve cleaning, sorting, canning, boxing and distributing apple sauce for a nonprofit service organization in Harrisburg that serves children.

WHY? Because access to healthy food is a right. We are hopeful that you will participate in this hands-on project. Take this first step toward transforming Harrisburg into a food oasis with us.

Can't make it to either event? Donations of canning equipment, jars, seals, lids, and other general kitchen utensils are being accepted on an ongoing basis.

Please contact Ashlee Shelton at ( to arrange to make a donation or to be added to our mailing list.

Posted 10/12/2012 9:34am by Debra.

Farm Notes…

Well, here it is: We are 23 weeks into our 28 week season. Hard to imagine! Please note that our winter shares are filling up and Thanksgiving boxes and turkeys are available. You can reserve your turkey and sign up for the winter season right here on our website.

In the Box for Friday: Mixed Bell Peppers, Garlic, Lettuce Heads, Yellow Onions, Kale, Bok Choy,        Hakurei Turnips, Carrots, Rosemary, Spinach, Pie Pumpkin, Sweet Potatoes, Parsley,Sweet Dumpling Squash 

This week, we thought it may be fun to share a few photos from this season...

Our On-Farm Community  (from left to right): Debra Brubaker, Hannah Smith, Steve Freed, Will Markley, Marsha Freed, Owen Scott-Smith (front), Roy Brubaker, Megan Filoromo, Hope Brubaker, Byron Child, Chandler Scott-Smith (front), Dave Ruggiero, Etayehu Zenebe, Nick Lyter. 

An early summer share

Beautiful variety available in root crops- Watermelon radish, hakeuri turnips, carrots, purple top turnips. Many of these are still in the field, continuing to "size up".  We are systematically moving through the fields trying to make sure everything is harvested as close to the ideal time as possible.  THis week we were harvesting many carrots and sweet potatoes.


Early summer photo of our summer intern Etayehu Zenebe.


Kid goats born in spring that are now much bigger and have done a wonderful job of helping to control multi flora rose and other invasive plants that are present in the margins of our farm.  


 Mid-summer harvest of color!


If you haven’t “liked” us on facebook, please do so you can see more photos…


 In the box this week: Sweet dumpling squash, garlic, onions, kale, mesclun mix (fulls), spinach (mediums), hakurei turnips, bell peppers, carrots, pie pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and herbs (rosemary & parsley).

Produce and Cooking Notes

Sweet Dumpling Squash - This small, mildly sweet-tasting squash resembles a miniature pumpkin with its top pushed in

Hakurei Turnips - A small, delicately flavored variety that will win over even the harshest turnip critic

Kale – Full shares are getting a bag of kale; mediums are getting a smaller amount, in the same bag as their spinach (but easily separated out).

Pie Pumpkin - Small and sweet, with dark orange-colored flesh, they're perfect for pies, soups, muffins and breads. A medium-sized (4-pound) pie pumpkin should yield around 1½ cups of mashed pumpkin. This puree can be used in all your recipes calling for canned pumpkin.

Here are two ways to transform an uncooked pumpkin into the puree used in baking:

Baking Method

  • Cut the pumpkin in half and discard the stem section and stringy pulp. Save the seeds to dry and roast
  • In a shallow baking dish, place the two halves face down and cover with foil
  • Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for about 1½ hours for a medium-sized sugar pumpkin, or until tender
  • Once the baked pumpkin has cooled, scoop out the flesh and puree or mash it
  • For silky smooth custards or soups, press the pumpkin puree through a sieve

Boiling Method

  • Cut the pumpkin in half, discarding the stringy insides
  • Peel the pumpkin and cut it into chunks
  • Place in a saucepan and cover with water
  • Bring to a boil and cook until the pumpkin chunks are tender
  • Let the chunks cool, and then puree the flesh in a food processor or mash it with a potato masher or food mill




Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Dumpling Squash

Emily Ho,

Serves 3

3 sweet dumpling squashes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
8 dates, coarsely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup cooked quinoa
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds. (The seeds can be roasted, like pumpkin seeds.)

Place squash face-down in an oiled baking dish. Bake until tender when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes. Remove squash from oven but keep oven on.

Prepare the stuffing while the squash is baking. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until onion is translucent. Add pistachios, dates, lemon zest, and cinnamon and sauté for another minute. Stir in the cooked quinoa and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Turn the squash upright in the baking dish and stuff with the quinoa mixture.

Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for another 20 minutes.

Serve warm, garnished with extra pistachios or lemon zest, if desired. The peel of sweet dumpling squash is generally tender enough to be eaten.


Roasted Radishes, Hakurei Turnips & Onions


As many radishes as you have, quartered
As many hakurei turnips as you have, quartered
As many scallions (or onions or leeks) as you like, chopped into 1-inch pieces.
Toasted sesame oil
Tamari or other soy sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In baking pan large enough to fit all your vegetables, toss the vegetables with enough sesame oil and tamari to lightly coat everything. Spread out vegetables evenly on a baking pan. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until tender, stirring once or twice in between. Delicious!

Posted 10/5/2012 7:43am by Dave.

With the coming of October fall seems to have completely overtaken the farm.  The vibrant greens of spring and ripe tomato reds of summer have disappeared; the color of the season is orange now.  The trees along the creek have changed color, and the ones on the ridge, always a week or two behind, are on their way orange as well. The flower beds are mostly fading now, except for the bright marigold patches along the drive.  The orange carrots are ready to pull; the sweet potatoes wait for a dry day to dig up; the squashes and pumpkins are already in storage and in our boxes. Even the turnip leaves are turning a little orange, as the plants finish growing and wait for our attention.  As we look toward the rest of the year, when the orange will eventually fade to gray and then the brilliant black-and-white contrast of winter, we both look forward to a rest from the busy summer season and wonder when and how we can do all the things that need to be done in the meantime.  But part of the glory of October and November on the farm is that things can be done and finished, as they can be in so few things in life.  The carrots that we dig, the rye that we seed, the compost that we spread, can be checked off our list and our lives for another year and forgotten.  They don't constantly demand editing and revision, can't be done a second time or a third - they sit in the cooler or in the ground as a finished project.  And so the work of October has a satisfaction to it that picking August sungolds lacks - since those little tomatoes seem to be growing back again at the beginning of a row by the time you finish the end.  I hope you all feel satisfied this October with the end of another growing season and happy with where your year has taken you! Dave

Produce and Cooking Notes

In the box this week: winter squash, collards(fulls only), mesclun, leeks, garlic, onions, arugula, bok choy, herbs, and green bell peppers.

Winter Squash– Everyone is getting delicata squash today; plus the full shares are getting a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin – a big squash shaped like an old-fashioned wheel of cheese.  Although called pumpkins, they are really more like a butternut squash in flavor and texture, and are well-suited to pies and baking.

Collards – These greens are great sautéed or cooked with a bit of pork (as is traditional) but anything with a little fat and flavor will work: butter, olive oil, or stock will all make great collards too.

Arugula- A great leafy green with a bit of a kick.  Add it to your salads, or make it into a pesto (recipe in last week’s newsletter).  These greens have not been washed, and do have some grit from the rain so wash them well before using.

Bok Choy – These stir-fry favorites are a little dirty from their hurried harvest yesterday, but a quick wash should leave them just perfect for your culinary needs.

Bell Peppers – These green bell peppers were salvaged from our field tunnel planting, which has recently been turned under to make way for fall and winter crops.  Green bells are just unripe red or yellow peppers – as such they are not quite as sweet or fully-flavored, but have a crisp texture that goes well in stir-fries or salads.


Black-Eyed Peas and Greens

From From Asparagus to Zucchini


  • 3 cups dried black-eyed peas
  • 6 medium-sized cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 2 medium-sized leeks, cleaned and chopped
  • 6-8 cups packed chopped mixed greens (collards, arugula, and mesclun would all work)
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Place black-eyed peas and 6 cups water in a very large soup pot or Dutch oven.  Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer, partially covered, until peas are tender. (Check water level occasionally; if it’s getting dry, add more water. About 15 minutes into cooking, add garlic. The pas will take 30-35 minutes to cook.  When they are nearly tender, stir in salt, leeks, and greens. Cover and continue to simmer a few more minutes. The greens and leeks will cook very quickly. Season to taste with pepper and serve hot.


Winter Squash Bisque

From From Asparagus to Zucchini


  • 1 large acorn squash or equivalent
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp dried thyme (1 tbsp fresh)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp rum (optional)


Poke several holes in squash with a fork and bake at 325 F until it pierces easily with a fork, about 45 minutes. Cut in half, remove and discard seeds, scoop out pulp and reserve. Melt butter in saucepan, add leeks and sauté over low heat 20 minutes. Place in blender or food processor with squash pulp, stock, thyme, salt, and pepper; whirl until smooth. Return to saucepan; simmer over low heat 20 minutes. Stir in cream and optional rum and heat through just before serving. Adjust seasonings.


Bok Choy with Shiitakes and Oyster Sauce

From Mark Bittman, NY Times

  • ¼ cup dried shiitakes
  • 1 ½ lbs bok choy, trimme
  • ¼ cup peanut oil
  • 1 tbspminced garlic (optional)
  • 1 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced
  • ½ - ¾ cup oyster sauce


Soak shiitakes in one cup of very hot water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid. Trim mushrooms and chop. Separate leaves and stems of bok choy; cut stems into 2-inch lengths and slice leaves into ribbons.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. When oil is hot, add bok choy stems, garlic if you are using it, reconstituted mushrooms, and about 1/4 cup reserved mushroom water. Cook, stirring frequently, until stems are crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil; sauté fresh shiitake mushrooms over medium-high heat. Continue cooking until they begin to brown and crisp on edges.

Into the large skillet or wok, add bok choy leaves and oyster sauce and toss vegetables gently to combine; continue cooking until greens wilt, about 2 more minutes. Serve immediately, topped with crisp mushrooms.

Posted 9/28/2012 8:06am by Hannah Smith.

Farmers Aren’t the Only Ones Working Hard for You!

At Village Acres, we believe in producing food in a way that honors the eco-system around us. In concrete terms, this means we are often performing a balancing act involving animal, vegetable and mineral, quite literally.

In addition to the domesticated creatures (goats, chickens, turkeys, pigs…) that we have integrated into our farm system, we are honored to be part of the same system as the wildlife on our farm. Wildlife that seem to be non-stop workers themselves: the Great Blue Heron we can see fishing in the creek while we are eating our own breakfast, the myriad pollinators who are constantly at work even while we stop to give in to our raspberry cravings, the bats who control pests while we are sleeping (mind you, the chickens would argue they play a larger role during the day!), even the earthworms who stimulate microbial activity in our tough clay soil and provide channels for root growth.

I have this habit of waking up at 4:30 in the morning and I’m starting to hear the sounds of birds I haven’t heard since the spring, now on their way south for the winter. I sometimes run outside to stand under a sky dripping with stars and try to focus on the hidden activity that is going on all around us. We do work hard, but sometimes I think we forget there are many, many creatures working just as hard or harder around us all the time!

Next time you get a chance, walk outside and pay attention to what’s going on out there!

Fondly, Hannah

In the Box: Delicata Squash, Acorn Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Edamame Soybeans, Arugula, Garlic, Leeks, Onions, Watermelon Radishes, Rosemary, Parsley, Thyme. Full Shares: Mesclun Mix and Tomatoes


Produce and Cooking Notes

Delicata/Acorn Squash– Two different types this week so you can compare.  Both kinds are easy to prepare – just slice them in half and roast them, cut-side-down, for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees or so.

Sweet Potatoes- A Fall favorite to be sure.  The first of our sweet potatoes have completed their “curing” in our greenhouses and are ready for your box.  Sweet potatoes are great baked, fried in stir fries, made like French fries, or even made into hash browns- versatile and delicious.

Edamame (Green) Soybeans- Another shell bean.  This type is easily popped out of the shells after boiling.  Add salt to the boiling water to make for a wonderful pop in your mouth snack, or add the beans to other stir-fries, succotash’s, etc.

Arugula- A great leafy green with a bit of a kick.  Try it in salads, or make it into a pesto (recipe on back).  These greens have not been washed, and do have some grit from the rain so wash them well before using.

Leeks- A nice mild allium. Leeks can be gritty-they need to be washed well before cooking. Chop the white and pale green parts and place them in a bowl of cold water. Stir them briskly to loosen dirt, then let them stand so the grit can sink to the bottom of the bowl. Lift the leeks out of the water, leaving the grit behind, and transfer them to a sieve to drain.

Watermelon Radishes: These big radishes are "watermelons" not because of their flavor, which is spicy and zingy, but because the green exteriors contrast so nicely with the red inside.  As such they look beautiful sliced into thin rounds and put in salads or pickles - and they'll also stand up well to cooking in a roast or a stir-fry.



Mushroom and Leek Soup with Thyme Cream (Epicurious, Nov 2007)
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 pounds crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (10 1/2 cups)
3 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 1/2 cups)
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Using electric mixer, beat cream just until soft peaks form. Fold in 2 teaspoons thyme. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours to blend flavors. (Thyme cream can be made up to 1 day ahead. If cream separates, whisk until soft peaks re-form. ) Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before serving to come to room temperature.

In 4-quart stock pot over moderately high heat, heat 2 tablespoons butter until hot but not smoking. Working in 2 batches (add 2 more tablespoons butter before second batch), cook mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to large bowl.

In same stock pot over moderate heat, heat remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in leeks, cover, and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add cooked mushrooms, sprinkle with flour, and stir until flour is evenly distributed. Stir in stock, then salt, pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon thyme. Bring to boil, stirring often, then reduce heat to low, set lid ajar, and simmer 20 minutes. (Soup can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated, covered. Reheat before serving.)

Divide soup among 8 bowls and top each portion with dollop of thyme cream. Serve immediately.

Boiled Edamame


1 lb fresh edamame in pods, or frozen edamame in pods

2 Tbsp and more salt (The desirable amount of salt vary, depending on the amount of water to boil edamame.)

Preparation: Wash edamame well and put in a bowl. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and rub edamame with salt. Boil lots of water in a large pot. Add about 2 Tbsp of salt in the boiling water. Put edamame in the boiling water and boil for 3 to 4 minutes, or softened. Drain edamame in a colander. Taste one edamame and if it's not salty enough, sprinkle more salt over boiled edamame. Spread the edamame on a flat tray to cool.

Arugula Pesto
1/2 cup (2 oz/60 g) walnut pieces
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups (2 oz/60 g) packed arugula leaves
1/2 cup (2 oz/60 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt
1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

1. In a food processor, combine the walnuts, garlic, arugula, Parmesan, and 1 tsp salt and pulse to blend. With the machine running, pour in the olive oil through the food tube in a slow, steady stream and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

This Is a Cookbook
Recipes and text © Copyright 2012 Eli Sussman and Max Sussman
September 2012