Fred's Growers Note

Note from Fred Lee

September 2014

I am happy to note that we are just passed the half way point in the CSA season.  Our succession plantings of most crops now will begin to wind down and stop as we coast into the end of the summer production season.  It was surprising to note too, that over the last week, we experienced the first temperatures of fall with a low of 54oF one early morning right within the same week we had our high of 92oF.

I look forward to the fall not just for the cooler temperatures, but because I know the bulk of the preparation work, planting the crops, is for the most part done.  Just about right, because it is in this time period all of our staff including our selves, can best be described as that breakfast item best served with butter and preserves, (no...., not pancakes, the other flat item).

Also, I have to confess, the 'watermelon therapy' that I have been administrating to myself virtually every day is coming to an end.   It is truly one of the really great things that has kept me 'going' through the month of August and up to this date.  I personally do not have 'a life' outside of farming because of the demands of the crops and the farm business.  If you've had some of our watermelon from our CSA distributions or farm stand, cold out of the frig on one of the past hot days, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  I may be simple, but it really does make my day. 

Hoping your days are filled with watermelon too.


July 2014

As you can expect, this time of year on the farm is the most challenging as far as work schedules go.  In addition to our succession seeding of many veggies, we have the cultural concerns of irrigation, cultivation, along with insect and disease pressures starting with the crops that are maturing and approaching harvest maturity.
Everyone on our staff is literally in constant motion.  Even when it rains, you might expect things to be a bit slower but the crews are still harvesting in the outside fields.  If time permits, they shift back into the greenhouses to weed, and clean up the crops that were harvested in the weeks prior.
Our real task is just keeping the proper balance of crop needs to the health and well being of ourselves, along with the staff, as we are all maxing out on the time we spend tending to everything. 
It is a welcome sight to view the gorgeous sunsets when we come out of the field at the end of the day, both from the work, and from the aesthetic perspectives.  I'm not sure why they look so spectacular, but they really do appear that way to us almost every day.
Be well, 

November 12, 2013


This week is # 25, our last summer vegetable CSA distribution.  I am happy to admit that I approach this week with a sense of gratitude, to all of our customers, and especially our CSA members for their support.  I also have much gratitude for the blessings of the season.   We had good weather, with the resulting good quality and yields in most of our crops.   

With the hectic pace of the summer over and the easing of the crops' demands, I've had the time to notice both the wonderful sunrises, and on most days, to see the beautiful sunsets too.   One morning in particular that comes to mind, just before the daylight savings change of time, was when I saw both the full moon set in the west and the sunrise in the east within a matter of minutes from each other on opposite sides of the sky. 

I've probably said this before, but I can't help thinking again how lucky I am to have the work that I do and be able to look up and see the wide open sky and clouds most anytime.  I also know that almost all of our customers and CSA members have a ceiling of some sort above their heads when they look up, whether they are at work or commuting to and from work. 

I only hope that the quality and great fresh flavors that you experienced with your Sang Lee veggies this season made up for all of those times. 

Thank you again, and be well. 



September 2013


By now every CSA member should have had one, if not more than many, wonderful helpings of watermelon from their CSA share distributions these past weeks. 

The harvest of our watermelons and enjoyment I get from having a cold piece with just about every meal represent a great reward for much of the summer's hard work.  It is symbolic end of the summer season treat for me as we begin to wind down from the frenetic pace of the demands of the mid summer season.

I may have been on the verge of going crazy from the work demands of the crops, equipment and crew issues, but having my watermelon 'treat' seems to make all the worries just melt away.  It really is like therapy to me, mentally and physically.  If I did not raise them organically myself, I'd think there was 'something' in the watermelons to bring on my blissful state of mind when I have it. 

This is the time of year that Karen becomes a 'watermelon widow'.  If there is any doubt where I might be or what I might be doing other than farm field work, I'm having watermelon.  I could be missing from the office for what seems like... weeks.., but if it's during this time of the season, then Karen knows not to panic as I'm just probably wandering around the watermelon patch looking for my next snack.

There is absolutely nothing, and I'll repeat that for emphasis, nothing, in my book that beats having a piece of cold watermelon.  I could go on  and on with a side by side comparison of favorite things to do, and with out a doubt, having watermelon wins hands down every time.  

Seriously, if you think about it, you don't even have to wait until someone else is 'in the mood' or 'ready' to have watermelon to enjoy it yourself.  You can enjoy watermelon as often as you like and where ever you like.....even in public,  you can have a different watermelon variety each time... and the list goes on and on.




July 2013 

Warm Greetings from the farm, (and I sincerely mean that too), 

I wanted to give CSA Members an update on the what's happening on the farm and to let folks know that the vegetables are hanging in there, in spite of the weather so far.  Most of the field staff, if not all, have shown signs of moisture stress with the temperatures hanging in the 90's lately.  Personally, I am looking more and more like Molly our dog with my tongue hanging out as I make my way through the day. 

The veggies in general, while hanging in there, are not as fond of the hot temperatures as the vacationers visiting the local beaches.  We are seeing several things going on in our fields that we have little control over from our plantings of lettuces bolting prematurely, (flowering before head and leaf growth), and general stress, to the extreme proliferation of insects and weed growth.  

As always, there are some positives to this story.  Our wonderful Heirloom tomatoes are maturing rapidly with some beginning to show color already!  We are of course, now pressed to stay up with that growth and keep pace with the staking and tying of the plants, which is particularly challenging in this heat.   

As you might have guessed too, irrigation is a top priority now with our sandy soils drying out rapidly in this weather and a lot of our veggies showing heat stress.  Again, there is the positive consolation of getting cooled off  ' incidentally ' with the irrigation water through the day when I have to clear the sprinkler nozzles of clogs.  (It's just tough to stay dry when I'm running under the sprinklers from one irrigation line to the next.)  

The absolute best thing about this time of year is in the early evening after the day's tasks are done and we take Molly for a walk in the fields behind the barnyard.  It is well after sunset and the skies have begun to darken.  The Lightening Bugs, aka. Fireflies begin their seasonal nightly flights looking for others of their kind for hot dates.  I don't know, or suppose that there are any of these within the NYC limits, but I think also, that you have to actually see them to know how special they are.  It is truly a magical sight with hundreds of little greenish yellow lights floating upwards from the grass and hedgerows.  It makes me think of spirits alighting on a journey to heaven.  If the sight could be described, that is what it really appears to be.  Even though, I think of ourselves as a 'grown ups' and we know that they are just insects doing their thing, it really takes both Karen and my breath away every time we see them.  

Be well,  

Fred & Karen


May 2013


The past few weeks have seemed to all run together in a similar weather pattern in this neck of the woods of cool 40's in the evenings and mild 60's oF during the day.   It's been so consistent in the weather pattern,  I've almost stopped looking at the daily weather report as it has been SOS , (same ole stuff), for I don't know how long now.   

Actually, I'll repeat, ..'almost'... because I always look at the weather forecasts, for the 5 day and 10 day outlook.   I might stop thinking about the weather around the same time I give up PBJs, (peanut butter & jelly sandwiches), but that's not going to happen as long as I'm 'vertical' for the majority of the day, if you know what I mean. 

I felt like I was getting a case of the early summer time 'blues'.   Although it isn't what you're thinking.   The reality is with all the cool dry weather, and we're talking every day,  I only see wide open blue skies.  

Really, you'd think you'd get tired of looking up at it.  I mean there hasn't even been a cloud in the sky, today, or any of the days as far back as I can remember.   All in all, even without the needed rainfall,  it still seems pretty good from my perspective. 




November 4th, 2012

With the passing of Hurricane Sandy, I can't help taking a breath of relief and thinking that we basically dodged the bullet.  Compared to the damage suffered by others here on Long Island and along the Northeast coastline, I realize that it could have been a lot worse.  We were without electric, phones and internet access for only three days.  Wind damage to our greenhouses and crops while clearly visible and significant pales in comparison to the devastating losses some communities have suffered and are continuing to endure.

With this in mind, our hearts go out for everyone whose lives were affected to that degree.



October 2012

I miss the longer days of summer.   Not so much from the work schedule as the hours of daylight.   There are occassions that I find myself out in the field at the same time of day as earlier in the summer only to realize I can't see the rows or plants as clearly.  If  I'm walking across the field, (with my head down),  looking at the plants, doing my periodic assessments for bugs, development, harvest schedule, etc.,  I'll reach into my pocket for my reading glasses only to 'finally get it' that the day light has dimished and the reading glasses aren't making any difference in what I can see.

It is usually about that time that I look up at the sky and realize what a beautiful sunset there is and what color the clouds have taken on.  I am greatful that I have the ability to look at the horizon almost unimpeded in all directions and to experience the end of each day with these circumstances.   With the stillness that settles in with little or no wind, it really is a nice time to be walking through the vegetable fields and looking 'up' at the sky.



August 2012

I know the 'dog days of the summer' farm season is upon us when I start to loose track of the days during the week.  Each day blends into the next as we seem to only be able to do the tasks now, that were supposed to be done in the field last week or perhaps the week before now.  

Folks would think it was because of the high tempertures and humidity that have some of us walking around with our tongues hanging out, but it is really is the work load that increases significantly during this time period.

It reminds me of when our dog Molly has been running and chasing rabbits thru the tall asparagus ferns for an hour.

The best part of this time of year is that we are harvesting our WATERMELON now.  Chilled in the refrigerator, it makes everything worth while to be able to snack on them after our long days in the fields.




May   2012

Spring isn't officially over until the arrival of the summer soltice on June 20, of this year.  Many of us simply think of that day as the longest of the year with regard to hours of daylight.   Although it is a month away, I feel as if summer has already arrived with the amount of field preparations and planting to be done.   

We are in the midst of what I know is the period of time when I forget what 'day of the week' it is.  It is a small consolation that there are more hours of day light now, when it is that time of year that we never seem to catch up with the tasks that need to be done each day.   

I know too, that it is terribly important to keep a proper perspective with the work scene.  I try to get enough beauty sleep every day in addition to eating properly and having time for a brief mid day nap around lunch.  I am grateful too, that we have such a good, hard working staff that are just as passionate in making sure the veggies are grown and prepared products are being made to the best of their abilities.

Enjoy the sunny days !



January  2012

Many people ask if I'm enjoying the 'time off' during the winter months.  The truth of being 'off' can be a matter of perspective. 

There is some irony that while I have more time during this part of the of year, (to do things like my hair and nails), there always seem to be too few hours in the day for me to accomplish the tasks I have.  It is a fact that there are not any full time employees harvesting, planting or performing any crop care practices we normally do during the warmer months, nor is the farm stand open for vegetable sales.  The equipment repairs that were put off during the summer still remain to be done.   Monitoring temperatures and running both heaters and refrigeration units on our winter storage vegetables as well as checking the overwintered plants in the greenhouses as temperatures vary are a few of the things that keep me busy each day.

It may sound like whinning to some of you, but it really isn't.  I not only know better than to do that, but I made it a New Year's resolution a while back to cut that stuff out of my life.  I also just wanted to set the record straight for anyone that may have happened to see me lately, (on some of the colder days below freezing).  It really is the 'extra insulation' under the coveralls that makes it appear that I have been sitting around eatting Bon-Bons waiting for the spring to arrive.  

It was just last year at this time that I had to wear snow shoes to get across the barn yard.  Now it's a matter of deciding whether or not to take my jacket to step outside.  With some days being so mild, I almost forget what month of the year it is.



November 15, 2011

The last days of our local summer CSA distribution are this week.  I always have mixed feelings about the season's end.   This season being not really different from past ones in this regard.  For this season, I feel relief that the challenges we had weather wise are behind us as is the responsibility of tending the crops in the fields.  The other feeling I've had on my mind is one of gratitude.  With so many weather events over the course of the summer from wind and record rainfalls, I am surprised and thankful that we were able to harvest the produce that we've had over the past many weeks.  

I have seen better and more productive years, and I've experienced much worse seasons, so I can easily say that this is a season to be thankful for.  With many other farms in up state New York experiencing devastating losses from the same weather events that we had locally, I know it was just a matter of how the storm clouds blew over the northeast region that made the difference of having a crop or not.  For us, over the past few months, we were spared the worst of those weather events on not just one, but a number of occassions.  For this, I am most grateful.

What better frame of mind to approach the Holiday upon us.


January 2011

I can't remember when the ground was covered by snow consistently for so long a time period, (more than a few weeks).  Perhaps it was during the last Ice Age, or an equal number of years ago.  Usually around this part of Long Island, and this time of year, we are treated to a visual landscape of dull BROWN.  The trees, vegetation, even the vast herds of deer and few rabbits all seem to blend together in the same color scheme. 

I'm still trying to figure out if this is a good thing from the global warming perspective.  Maybe for each week the snow stays on the ground here and the whole northeast, it will translate into a fraction less incremental change in the average global temperature rise expected this year.  Then again, most everyone I know has their oil burner, wood stove and various other heaters cranking so the carbon emissions we are putting back into the atmosphere from burning all this incremental fossil fuel are probably balancing out the heat reflective qualities of the snow cover.

Perhaps it's best that I get back to the equipment maintanence and seed orders I started out this morning doing.  Hope your snow filled days are happy ones.     



Early Winter 2010

Thankfully the summer season went well with great growing conditions.  I could comment on the dry hot days of July and August that made me 'accidentally' spray my self with cold well water from the irrigation pumps on more than one occassion, but what I am most grateful for was the fact that all the named tropical depressions and hurricanes in the south Atlantic never made landfall in our neck of the woods.  Had that happened, there would have been depressions of a different sort, (and we're not talking about the barametric type), in this neck of the woods, so we're 'not going to go there'.

The mild weather trend that we are currently in has given us a huge jump on our first Winter CSA distribution, with almost every fall cruciferous vegetable representated in the box.  Our late fall bountiful harvest is simply passed on to our CSA members' full boxes, which is just super for all of us. 

We give thanks too, to a wonderful staff and field crew that help make the growing year of 2010 a great one.  We are grateful too, for our wonderful customers both at the farm stand and all of our Farmer's markets, and to all of our CSA members in Brooklyn and out by the farm who have changed our lives for the better in so many ways. 

Wishing everyone a Healthy and fun filled Holiday Season!

Be Well,

Fred & Karen


Early Spring 2010     Grower’s Note

With the spring Equinox just around the corner on March 20th, the longer day lengths are more than welcomed by this winter daylight deprived grower.  Our greenhouses are being prepared for our second round of seeding for transplants and plugs.  Some Polyethylene coverings on our high tunnels need to be replaced from the damage of the wind storms of last month. 

We’re on schedule for our plantings of bulb onions, baby Bok Choy and mixed lettuces.  We have many herb cuttings ‘cooking’ on our heating tables.  We don’t really cook the seed & plug trays, but we do use electric heating coils on tables to provide more efficient warming of our germinating plants.  With the warmer temperatures on these heating tables, we can keep the immediate root zones on our cuttings and seedings at an optimum 65+ degree F without having to heat the entire greenhouse.  Much like using an electric blanket on your bed, you can keep nice and toasty at night while the rest of your room and house remain at 57oF through out the evening hours.  Lucky Plants don’t even have to freeze their buns when they get up in the middle of the night and go into the bathroom for ‘a drink of water’.

We’re looking for a dry stretch of weather before we can get our first planting of spring sugar snap peas seeded outdoors.  Hopefully that will happen before the end of the month.

Wishing you a Sunny day,



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