Saturday, March 16, 2013

2013 CSA Greetings!

Dear CSA friends, We hope everyone has been having a great winter. We’d like to say we’ve been catching up on lost sleep, but we’ve been busy organizing, building, baking, and planning a great 2013 season. The winter farmers markets just ended (best winter season ever!) and this is the first chance we’ve had to sit down and write this long overdue letter. We are looking forward to the 2nd year on our new field across town. Oliver says that the 2nd year is the best for new plots. The first year it’s always tough to break the sod. The perennial grasses, milkweed and wire worms are a pain, but then the spring of the 2nd year comes and the field is already plowed, the organic matter from the sod is more readily available, the field has been divided into rows and some of the rocks have been dealt with. All we have to do is jump in and plant… well it’s not quite that easy, but in the 2nd year, pest and pathogen populations haven’t built up yet, the native nutrients haven’t been depleted, the soil hasn’t been overworked or compacted. Sounds good! And with compost and crop rotations it can ideally stay that way. Of course we try not to think about the fact that for this particular field, the third year rotation will likely be parking lot. So here’s to enjoying the goodness of the 2nd year! Over the winter, improvements here have included our new wood fired sauna, which you are all invited to use. We have been keeping it fired up on the weekends, and it is so exhilarating to get really hot and then go roll around in the snow. In the summer it should be even better to jump right into the pond. It hasn’t happened yet but later this spring, we’ll be building some walls for the CSA pick-up. Its part of our plan to install glass door display coolers, so folks can grab their produce right out of the fridge. This will make setup and breakdowns easier for our crew, and improve veggie quality especially for the highly perishable greens which never like to sit out. In other farm news, we recently got word, that we are the recipients of funding for VT value added farm producers. We’ll use the money to purchase blast freezing equipment for our veggie burgers. As part of this process Oliver was invited to speak about our operation to a joint VT Senate and House agriculture committee. So of course, we packed up the kids for a family road trip to the statehouse. The experience made us proud to be Vermonters. The government in Montpelier was amazingly open and friendly, and we brought bread and veggie burgers for the legislators. It was great to share the experience with the kids and teach them about participating in our democracy. On to the important stuff… its time for 2013 CSA signups. Still keeping the price unchanged. $460 for full shares, $300 for small shares, and $75 for 20 weeks of bread. Pickups are still at the same times: Tuesdays 12:00 to 1:00 and Fridays 4:00 to 6:00. We are planning to do a lot more pick your own crops this year. We hope to have lots of snap peas, string beans, raspberries, husk cherries, culinary herbs and cutting flowers all in close proximity to the CSA area. Also we are in the process of making a children’s play house (with a gated area) near the herb garden. We love it when families linger at the pickups, when folks can talk, and taste, and pick bouquets and kids can play. Once we had a CSA member who used to come in the house and borrow Bonnie’s shoes every week, that was a little weird, but that’s ok, we’re flexible people and we want to feed you, we want to be a part of restoring our area’s farming and food culture. So go ahead and sign up, bring the kids, take our shoes… whatever comes our way it is good to be in it together and we look forward to the best season ever! Returning members sign up by the end of March and we’ll add an extra week to the end of the CSA season for a whopping total 21 weeks . Go sign up on the website, or better yet stop by the farm. We’d love to see you, and we’ve got lots of good food to share. Many thanks to those of you who have signed up already and/or spread the word about our csa. Oliver and Bonnie Levis Earth Sky Time Community Farm (802) 384 1400

Monday, July 23, 2012

CSA week 7

Hello CSA folks

As I write, the food processor is going full speed.  Hannah is preparing for our first FARM NIGHT!!!!!  We cook a huge gourmet vegetarian meal from our own produce and serve it buffet style on the terrace of the Wilburton Inn.  Tomorrow (Tuesday, July 17th) is our opening night and it's going to be especially fun because we are also hosting a contra dance with the Hubard Hall Tune Jam Band.  The cost is $20 per person, $10 for kids, under 5 free.  Dinner starts at 7, dancing starts at 8. Full bar service available.  Please make reservations at 802-362-2500.  We'll be doing Farm Night every Tuesday through September, so don't be devastated if you've already got plans for tomorrow night.

A project that has been close to Oliver's heart lately is haying our new field.  Since our flail chopper exploded at the beginning of the season, we had to drag out some ancient haying equipment that we haven't used in years (and that hadn't been used for decades before that).  With the help of wise locals (Hamilton Hayes and Gerald Wilcox) and wwoofer sweat, we've got tons of hay baled and ready for mulching at the new field and here at the home farm to make the chickens happier.  

Speaking of our new field, we have been really happy with the quantity and quality of the veggies growing there.  We've had some of the best broccoli, kohlrabi, and turnip crops we've ever grown and the future veggies look promising.  With all the help we've got now, we've even been able to vaguely sort of almost keep up with the weeding. 

In our spare time, we've been cranking out VT Goldburgers.  This month we are the producers of the month at the Brattleboro Food Coop which made us feel a little bit like rock stars with our photo on the cover of their newsletter and a full article/photo spread, and a radio spot.  Oliver and I got an especially warm welcome when we did a demo there last week and the orders have been flying in.  Mental note—do more things like this but maybe in the winter! 

As the saying goes, all work and no play…. So we managed to fit in some playing last week with a farm field trip to the stunning Hamilton Falls in Windham.  We also hosted a couple of circus smirkus kids and we all went to an amazing performance.  And we've been spending time watching our newborn kittens (Ramona, the proud mother, will be spayed as soon as possible).  We'll be offering kittens for a CSA point in a few weeks.  It's me and Oliver's 12 year anniversary today. We've been celebrating grandly so far… I cleaned out the fridge, organized 9 wwoofers, dealt with screaming children and Oliver is running around doing too many things on too little sleep.  Maybe we'll do something fun later.  Like go to sleep early if we're lucky...  we both know that we are infinitely lucky.

Hope to see you at farm night tomorrow!


-Bonnie, Oliver & Crew 

Oliver and Bonnie Levis
Earth Sky Time Community Farm
(802) 384 1400

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

CSA week 3

Hello CSA friends

As we head into our third week of pick ups, we thought it would be a good idea to take a moment to stop and breathe and send you all an update.  We had a bit of a wwoofer shortage this spring, but we are grateful that a wonderful crew came together earlier this month to help us do everything we do.  Sarah has been with us since January and is much more than a baker, even though that's what she spends most of her time doing these days (have you tried her croissants!?!).  Someday she will figure out how to combine farming, baking, water conservation, herbalism and   midwifery into some sort of a career, but until then we hope she sticks with us.  Tristan, our assistant farm manager, hails from the West Coast with more attention to detail than we've had in all our years of farming.  Our cukes have never been so well mulched.  Hannah, a student at Vassar, is lots of fun to work with in the kitchen and has been learning the tricks of the veggie burger trade.  Her alarming quantity of sneezes has been a talent of hers since a young age and she likes to harvest spinach.  Abby and Peter are students at St. John's College in Annapolis and they read a lot of books.  Abby has been spending time doing farmers markets, CSA set ups, and French braiding Talula's hair while Peter has become our official tomato love person, spending hours upon hours pruning and trellising.  He is also a very good lion in jail for Eden's lion in jail game.  Marshall arrived out of the blue and we don't know what we'd do without him.  His gentle presence and ability to just sort of do everything that needs doing (baking, tractor work, raspberry wrestling, etc.) is remarkable.  Ally got here a few days ago and seems to have adjusted quickly to life in the Levis fast lane.  This group of folks works so hard with such a great collective attitude.  And they are so darn wholesome.  Once again, we have lucked out. 


While we are done with most of the early planting frenzy, we are still busy getting things into the ground.  Since the fire truck went to a higher bidder, the lack of a water source in our new field is still a big issue for us.   So we've been planting a lot at the home farm as well.  Besides the usual veggie crops, our latest accomplishment (as of 9 pm last night) is the completion of what we have dubbed "blueberry hill".  Approximately two hundred new blueberry plants have joined the ones we have been planting for the last several years towards the back of the meadow here (behind the garlic and to the right—feel free to check it out this week).  Much mulching still needs to be done, but we're glad they're in the ground.  We've also been planting a lot in the pick your own flower and herb garden.  Sarah and I took a vacation from the kitchen yesterday and spent many glorious hours in the sunshine creating a beautiful maze of flowers.  They need some time before they can be picked, but the basil is almost ready. Also, there is a healthy stand of lemon balm- perfect for iced tea in this heat.

-Bonnie (& crew)

Oliver and Bonnie Levis
Earth Sky Time Community Farm
(802) 384 1400

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

2012 CSA

Bonjour CSA friends!

It's been too long since we've seen many of you. The winter flew by even faster than usual, (if it even came at all). And now it feels like spring and it's time to think about the CSA season. Oliver and I just returned from an exciting French adventure that of course revolved around food.  The reason for our trip was ostensibly the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie, literally the bakery world cup, held every four years. Team USA won silver! But, our time in Paris was also spent biking around the city with Sarah and Dave our beloved British friends  (CSA folks from two seasons ago will remember them). We also had the opportunity to visit our friend Christine (from Saratoga Apple) at her family's farm in Provence. Out our window were their family's ancient olive trees and grape vines. It was striking to experience the deep history and the importance of locality of food in France.  

Upon my insistence, we drove through Le Puy, the center of French lentil growing.  Legally, one cannot call one's lentils Le Puy lentils unless they are actually grown in a specific radius around the city.  Our friend Christine is from Brie (who knew it was even a town?) and one cannot call one's cheese Brie unless it is produced there. The same for Camembert… Champagne, you name it.  In our globalized food system, that concept seems as ancient as the chateaux we stayed in. It makes sense- standards of quality must be higher if you are producing something that is your specialty, part of your history.  Of course, this could just be my romanticized impression of a very short visit. 

We had ample time on our flight back to make an overwhelming punch list for the beginning of the season. Oliver, inspired by our trip and being who he is, added "plant vineyard" and "build things out of stone" to the list.  Oy vey.  It does feel great to be back in the greenhouse.  Seeds are flying into soil blocks and frozen irrigation lines are getting repaired. Wind battered end-walls are being rebuilt.

As you might know, one of our biggest limitations has been the amount of farmland we have access to.  Crop rotation, an important component of organic production, is extremely difficult with such a small landbase and it generally turns into a very frustrating game of Tetris.  This year, we are extremely lucky to have the gotten the opportunity to use a huge piece of land in town.  It is a big relief to know that we'll have plenty of room to transplant out what we're starting in the greenhouse this spring.  And the hard working soil here on the home farm will certainly appreciate the rest.

We are also improving the logistics of the CSA. Now, in addition to the standard pick up times (Tuesdays 12-1, Fridays 4-6) we will also have a self service area in the farm stand where CSA members can pick up basic seasonal selections like: prebagged salad greens, tomatoes, new potatoes, as well as hearth breads, hoomoos,  Goldburgers and more, anytime.

We are keeping our share prices the same for yet another year. And we are striving to grow more plentiful, delicious and beautiful crops than ever. We hope you will all continue to be a part of the Earth Sky Time family.  If you sign up by April fools day, we'll give you an original EST silkscreened t-shirt. 

Here's the link to the CSA sign up.

PS: we have plenty of eggs so stop by the farm…  and fresh bread on Fridays after 3. we'd love to catch up. 


-Bonnie, Oliver, Gavriel, Talula, Eden, and all the wwoofers, chickens and plants

Earth SkyTime Community Farm
(802) 384 1400

Friday, October 14, 2011

October news

Greetings CSA compatriots

We made it to the last week. Today's pickup is the last of the season and as we look back, here are a few things that come to mind.

Occupy Wall Street

A couple of weeks ago we had an epic farm trip down to wall street where we schlepped a van load of produce collected from other likeminded Vermont organic farmers. We brought many loaves of bread and about 500 lbs of veggies right to the protest and were given the rock star treatment (well almost… al sharpton and kanye west came the next day and the paparazzi seemed somewhat more interested in them).  Folks there were incredibly psyched to have our food and support. And we were genuinely moved by the spirit of the place.  I think it is the Woodstock of our times. A unified resistance giving voice to a host of injustices, having fun, and stirring up a little ruckus… but not too much.

Learning to bake (and farm)

As our CSA family you have seen us evolve, by now you must be familiar with our quirks- our piles of junk, our erratic newsletters, our ragamuffin wwoofers (often shirtless), our inability to figure out our sign in system after six years. Over the last 2 years many of you have watched our bread baking evolve. This year's major accomplishment has been building the oven and bakery, and there is still much to be done before winter (like 3 out of 4 walls- but it does look good from the front!)

It is with a hint of sadness that I realize I have stepped back from doing much of the farm work in order to really take on the baking. Hopefully next year I will be able to balance my time better between these two aspects of our business. I'd like to think that once the building is done and the kinks are worked out of the recipes etc... the bread will be a bit less demanding and I can do a better job building our soils, growing your food, and maybe even cleaning up some of the junk. By the way did you notice the pile of safes in the driveway? They were given to us by the friendly men dismantling the vault at the old factory point bank. I am thinking of arranging them in a circle to create a Stonehenge sundial, thoughts? Bonnie is not impressed.

Last pickup of 2011

As a farewell treat we are giving everyone extra quantities of late season veggies this week. But please scrounge up any egg cartons or pint/quart containers you may have accumulated at home and bring them by the farm. 

If you've got a hankering for our bread, eggs, cold hardy winter greens, and the rest of our prepared foods after this week, come to the market on Sundays from 10-2 at jk adams.  All the way through February! 

(or stop by the farm or email or call us, me miss you already)

Again, thanks so much for your continued support.  We look forward to feeding you in the future. 

ps.  just snapped the following pictures of the greenhouses this afternoon. 
just to show what we've been up to... greens through the winter!

did you know each of our greenhouses are named after our favorite tomato varieties... now you do!

kale and arugula in the Green Zebra
chard, turnips, tat soi and parsley in Cherokee Purple

radishes and spinach in Sungold

BrandyWine ready to plant

new greenhouse just completed (tentatively named Juliet)

bull's blood beet greens, cold hardy lettuces, tatsoi and spinach to plant into the BrandyWine

oliver's new junk... or stonehenge art or something

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September news

Dear CSA friends,

I knew when we got married over eleven years ago that life with Oliver would probably lean more towards chaos than order.  I was right. The combination of Levis life and our choice of farming as our livelihood has made me a lot more comfortable not knowing what's coming around the bend (hmm… we're building a bakery… okay, sure…) and can handle the idea that I'm not totally in control of things (hmm… the walk in cooler thermostat went haywire and all our produce is frozen).  I am used to highs and lows, but I have to admit that this past week has felt significantly more out of control and a little more low than usual.
We've been hearing about more and more farmers that have lost all of their crops, all of their fall and winter income.   Seeing the photos of flooded, decimated fields feels raw and empty.  It's not just about the vegetables or the money but their way of life that has dissolved. The same for folks who aren't farmers who have lost so much in Vermont, in Texas with the fires, in Japan with the typhoon.  Checking up on the news has become a bit like checking up on the apocalypse.  And it has felt heavy, unsettling and just not right.
In that mood, I walked out to the CSA pick up today.  And I was reminded that I really like what I do and didn't feel like the world was completely falling apart.   To be able to see your babies growing bigger (even if I forget their names), meet your parents, learn about your new business ventures and chat about school politics, fermentation and husk cherries was the highlight of my day.  I value these relationships and feel very lucky to live in a community where people support what we do. I also feel deep gratitude to our crew who we could clearly not function without.  They are a group of folks who are incredibly generous with their energy and patience and are just plain fun to be around.  They care about what they are doing here and they hold an important place in our business and our family.
After the CSA was Eden's naptime and then on to pick up Guv and Talula from school.   Which is when the second highlight of my day happened.  It was Talula's first day of full day pre-k and I was, of course, a tad late.  As I was rushing towards the cafeteria entrance, they walked out of the building holding hands and she had a huge, beaming, ear to ear smile on her face.  And I pretty much melted.  All three of them are such amazing kids.  Not easy, but awesome.  I occasionally need to remind myself of that.  And of everything else that is good in life. 
Here are 2 suggestions for how you can help Vermont farmers affected by hurricane Irene:


The Vermont Farm Fund offers small, zero-interest loans very quickly to storm-affected farmers. or 802-472-5840. This fund was set up by Pete Johnson, a hugely successful organic grower in northern VT whose barn burned down over the winter. After the fire he raised $160,000 in donations to help him rebuild. Since then he has been repaying that money into a fund to help other farmers with interest free revolving loans for their emergency needs.


Alternatively visit Evening Song Farm's website, they are a young couple whose farm just south of Rutland was devastated by the storm. 7 of their 10 acres were washed away when the Mill River stormed through their farm. Most farms only suffered a loss of produce, but these folks lost their soil, permanently eroding their farm (which they just bought last year). They have posted a link for donations at .

Sunday, August 14, 2011

August news

Hello CSA folks,

July flew by as it usually does with lightening speed.  This season has been an interesting challenge because of the bakery and the expanding VT Goldburger enterprise (we recently realized that we are in 18 co-ops throughout VT, NY and MASS ). Although the work is (mostly) fun, we do try to emerge from our bubble occasionally and we did it in high style last week—we celebrated Oliver's birthday with a retro roller skating farm prom.  Oh man was that fun.  We highly recommend Rollerama in Schenectady—totally worth the schlep. 

In more farmy news, we harvested our garlic last week.  It was a lot of fun to have the whole team out doing one task together- we're usually scattered amongst many field/kitchen/construction projects so it was a treat to have many hands taking a big project to completion.  Those (approximately) 5,000 heads of garlic have been drying out in the greenhouse and today's goal is to tie and hang them from rafters in the bakery loft.  Speaking of the bakery, you'll notice the beginnings of walls. Baby steps. 

Another agricultural accomplishment of the past 2 weeks has been planting our new asparagus patch (500 crowns).  They are usually planted in the spring, but we got a deal on these from our friend David at Elmore Roots nursery in the Northeast Kingdom, he specializes in cold hardy plants and fruit trees.  The asparagus won't be ready for harvest for a couple years, but we are excited to be putting in more long term perennial plantings (like rhubarb which should start producing next year). Both of these crops will help fill out the early season csa shares .

We are also pleased to announce that our youngest chicks are now laying eggs.  We are proud of them for this very delicious developmental milestone.  Especially in the midst of some harrowing experiences—we have seen a dramatic increase in predation, Matt, one of the bakers and general jack of all trades wwoofer, decided to do several stake outs and has shot: a fox, a skunk, and 3 raccoons (one of which is being turned into a hat). As you can see- chicken is very popular.

Another project that we've been working on is farmer's table night at the Wilburton Inn.   We cook an enormous globally inspired vegetarian buffet dinner and bring it over to the inn for folks to enjoy on the terrace.  We think about a theme that we're in the mood for and then jump headfirst into the walk-in cooler to see what veggies are left from the csa pick up to create the meal.  Today's theme is Mediterranean.  $20 covers the buffet and dessert; beer and wine is available for purchase.  Seating is from 7-8.  It's a kid friendly, fun way to spend a Tuesday night.  Call the inn at 362-2500 to make a reservation.  And look for your potatoes growing on the hill as you go up the driveway.


If you're hungry for more earth sky time delicacies, we'll be vending food at the Hildene arts and crafts festival this weekend.  Expect grilled goldburgers, hoomoos , breads and seasonal salads.    Also, there's a new special treat available at the Friday pick ups—swoon worthy Isobel and Appleby fruit pies.  We know they are fabulous because our good friend Lily Calfee bakes them here in our oven.  And we get to try them all.  We are truly lucky folks. 

Hope you're all having a great summer.


Bonnie, Oliver and crew

Oliver and Bonnie Levis
Earth SkyTime Community Farm
(802) 384 1400