Small Family Farm CSA

We Dig Vegetables

 

August Fifteenth

In all of the years that we've been farming, none have been like this one.  I'm not talking about the long drought or the intese heat this time, I'm referring to my frame of mind and our level of progress as farmers.  This may be the first season ever, in my career as a farmer, that I have felt like we have a handle on the reigns.  Each season, each revolution around the sun, every dawning of a new season brings with it a theme.  The season begins with a slow, comfortable start of the season in the nice and cozy greenhouse.   Then we're off to a trot in April and May transplanting and dancing around the rainclouds and frosts and windstorms.  Early Summer, in high June, we're at a steady gallop and the pace quickens little by little.  By July we're in a full fledged race.  The bets are on and the race is for the experienced and seasoned dogs.  The intensity of the high season usually brings an element of chaos, anxiety and stress.Purple_VikingFreshly Dug Purple Viking Potatoes

I am happy to announce, although there is still plenty of chaos, anxiety and stress in our lives, it is to a much lower degree this year.  So far this season I have not headed back out the door after dinner to go back to work cleaning produce in the packing shed.  I have not needed to wake up at 5:30 or 6 to get 1.5 hours of chores done before the help arrived at 8am to start the day, and I have not worried how, in the name of all the gods and myths we were ever going to get all of the work done.  Something switched or changed or evolved this year.  Something very good that brought an element of balance and evenness to the farm.  Even with the drastic change in our lives with the new babe to care for, we've achieved a lifestyle that feels wholesome.  

We still work hard enough that our bodies are sore and our minds are tired.   Sometimes we still drag our dirty butts in just before dark and manage to eat a decent meal before we shed our dirty layers and fall into bed.  I am not saying that farming is now easy.  It is not easy.  What I think that I am saying is that I don't feel like a spinning top anymore.  I don't feel like a current is pushing against me.  I don't feel like I'm trying to empty the ocean with a 1 gallon pail.  Because of systems and experience and knowledge and careful planning, the farm feels like it is functioning somewhat.......smooth.  

I can say this today at high season even though the farm truck needs a new starter, the tractor is leaking a little hydraulic oil, the drought continues and the baby still doesn't sleep through the night.  Perhaps now I am just broken in and the weight of all of this just doesn't feel as heavy as it once did.  Maybe it is just as crazy as it ever was, but it is somehow less absurd to me now.  I am the broke horse that does not buck or kick anymore and goes in the direction that I am steered.  While the space for improvement is still vast and endless, the farm feels sustainable.  The farmers feel that they can sustain the farm with the resources they have to care for and steward it.  This is very good news my friends.

Sooo, What's in the Box???

Purple Viking Potatoes-  Freshly un-earthed potatoes!  These beauties have a swirling purple and pink skin with a white flesh.  They're a wonderful all-purpose potato.  They hold firm when cooked in a soup, are great baked, and also make a nice mashed potato as well.  

Green Top Carrots-  Large, beautiful carrots.  To us they tasted a little dry, as though they are reflecting some of the drought.  As we dug these carrots the soil looked so dry.  It was amazing to see that even so far down in the earth, the moisture reserves simply are not there.  

Celery-  Wow!  Can you believe that we grew celery???  We can't either!  I'll have you know that we've been trying to grow celery since the first year we planted it and, thanks to the drought, we (meaning Adam) put it on irrigation this year and watered the heck out of it.  What do you know that celery loves water?  They're not the huge, crunchy California celery stalks that we're all used to, but they are a nice Midwestern celery.  Usually we have a lot of issues with rotten hearts, slug damage and calcium uptake in the soil.  

Tomatoes-  You will notice that we harvest our tomatoes "with a blush".  This means that we harvest anything that is showing any kind of ripening blush.  Once the tomatoes begin to blush, they will ripen off the vine just as nicely as they would ripen if they had been left on the vine.  We need to pick them before they are too ripe or too soft that they still have some amount of firmness to them so they can handle the shipping.  We don't want to try to ship fully ripe tomatoes and end up sending you tomato sauce instead.  LEAVE YOUR UNRIPE TOMATOES ON YOUR COUNTERTOP TO RIPEN.  If you put your unripe tomatoes in the fridge, they may not ripen at all.  Tomatoes prefer 50 degree storage temps as do the cucumbers, summer squashes, peppers, eggplants and more.  Some of the tomato varieties are yellow, pink, purple, orange and red when they are ripe.  If you want to know if your tomato is truly ripe, give it a very gentle squeeze.  You will find a nice mix of heirloom tomatoes this summer.  The funky shaped tomatoes are heirlooms.  They have a bit of a mind of their own at times.  2.7lbs per member this week.  

Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes-  A half pint of sun gold cherry tomatoes for everyone this week!  Remember that they are ripe when they are orange.  They will not turn red!  Possibly the most flavorful cherry tomato out there!

Eggplant-  The eggplants are really producing a lot of fruits this season.  Admittedly, I am not someone who craves eggplant, but I have been making nice friends with it this summer.  We've been getting along nicely so far.  

Broccoli or Cauliflower or Lettuce-  Still some of the broccoli heads are looking a little stressed from the heat and lack of rain.  Some of the broccoli looked just fine.  We tried to harvest the Cauliflowers that were still pretty white and looked appetizing.  A lettuce head or two for those who didn't get a broc or cauliflower.  

Jalapeno Pepper-  More hot peppers to spice up your life!

Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers-  Also known as Banana peppers.  These are technically a hot pepper, but they are one of the most mild of all the hot peppers.  

Sweet Pepper-  We tried to give a colored bell pepper to everyone this week.  We resorted to taking some of the peppers that were not fully turned in color just yet.  Your pepper may be half green and half yellow or red.  We're noticing a lot of peppers with bad spots on them this year.  We've done some research that shows that during extreme heat, the plants use the calcium for their leaves which deprives the plant of the calcium it needs to make the fruits.  There may be some peppers that we let in through our screening process with minimum damage that you may have to cut off.  We'll have more info on this next week.  

Lacinato Kale-  Beautiful bunches of lacinato kale with very little flea beetle damage.  

Green Beans-  A nice bag of green beans at .55 lbs per member!  Not as many beans this week as last week.  Hoping for a nice picking for next week.  

Cucumbers-  The cucumber production is waning.  Not quite as nice of quality on the cukes this week, but we are still picking the patch faithfully.  

Summer Squash/Zucchini/or Patty Pans-  Squash production is down as well.  We're still picking, but squash loves the heat and with some of the more mild weather this last week they slowed down a bit.  

Curly Leaf Parsley-  Parsley for potato salad, tabouli, egg salad or drying in your dehydrator.  Did you know that parsley is one of the most nutritious foods in your box?  It is highly alkalizing to the blood, is loaded with Vitamin C and is rich in anti-oxidants and chlorophyll.  Who knew?  Parsley is a super food!

White Onion-  A white onion for the masses

Garlic-  Asian Tempest is a spicy, red-skinned garlic with 4-6 large cloves per bulb.  A very nice garlic, indeed.  

Recipes

Puree of Celery Soup

Toasted Garlic Green Beans

Eggplant Potato Moussaka

August Eighth

It's high tide at the Small Family Farm.  All systems are in peak production.  The ball that we've been pushing up hill all Spring and Early Summer has reached the top and is now beginning to roll back down the hill.  It is gaining momentum and there is no stopping it now.  The long-season favorites like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, potatoes, corn, beans and more all coming to fruition now.  It feels like tomatoes will never get here when you must eat your way through the entire first half of the summer anxiously awaiting their arrival and not even a cherry tomato appears on your kabob.  Week_10_2012The Week 10 Bounty

The games are on now, folks!  We are now routinely and faithfully picking tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, and broccoli every other day.  Green bean harvest, a notoriousely labor-intensive and time-consuming harvest, has begun.  We're actively defending the sweet corn, watering the heck out of our fall successsions of broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower and watching over the potato plants closely.  We expect we'll have red potatoes to send in next week's box.  Even the celery, another challenging crop to grow (especially in a dry year), is actually looking alright.  

We owe Thanks for the contents of this week's box to farmer Adam.  He has been running the irrigation lines for almost 12 hours a day, six to seven days a week during the times of heavy drought.  When we do get a little rain, Adam would get to take a day or two off from irrigating, but the process has been incredibly labor-intensive and requires close monitoring.  There are now hoses, drip lines, and irrigation head-lines laid all over our farm.  Adam has been in charge of closely watching which plants need water and how much they have gotten from either rain or irrigation.  So 'Thank You', to Adam, for silently working so hard to ensure our crops didn't shrivel up and die.  

We've heard from climatologists on the news that the drought is expected to contine through October.  Our spirits are dampened by this reality, which makes this one of the most challenging years we have had so far in our young years as farmers.  We are prepared to continue watering for the remainder of the season, or for at least as often as we need to to ensure that the crops we have worked so hard for will reach maturity to look and taste wonderful.  While we're in the mood for a good, old-fashioned rainy day, we know that just when it starts to feel like the summer will never end, the nights become cool, the pumpkins start turning orange and the leaves begin to fall from the trees.  It's all down hill from here.  

Sooo...What's in the Box???

Red Cabbage-  We sent everyone a red cabbage this week.  Cabbage keeps best in the fridge with it's outer wrappers on to preserve it.  

Beets-  A golden beet mixed in with your Detroit Dark Red beets.  The greens are still looking pretty good to eat!

Sweet Corn-  Another week for sweet corn, but just 3 to four ears per member this week.  This is likely the final giving of sweet corn for the summer.  Thank you Ebon and Mugzie for guarding the patch so faithfully for us at night!

Tomatoes-  You will notice that we harvest our tomatoes "with a blush".  This means that we harvest anything that is showing any kind of ripening blush.  Once the tomatoes begin to blush, they will ripen off the vine just as nicely as they would ripen if they had been left on the vine.  We need to pick them before they are too ripe or too soft that they still have some amount of firmness to them so they can handle the shipping.  We don't want to try to ship fully ripe tomatoes and end up sending you tomato sauce instead.  LEAVE YOUR UNRIPE TOMATOES ON YOUR COUNTERTOP TO RIPEN.  If you put your unripe tomatoes in the fridge, they may not ripen at all.  Tomatoes prefer 50 degree storage temps as do the cucumbers, summer squashes, peppers, eggplants and more.  Some of the tomato varieties are yellow, pink, purple, orange and red when they are ripe.  If you want to know if your tomato is rully ripe, give it a very gentle squeeze.  You will find a nice mix of heirloom tomaotes this summer.  The funky shaped tomatoes are heirlooms.  They have a bit of a mind of their own at times.  1.5lbs per member.

Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes-  A half pint of sun gold cherry tomatoes for everyone this week!  Remember that they are ripe when they are orange.  They will not turn red!  Possibly the most flavorful cherry tomato out there!

Eggplant-  The eggplants are really producing a lot of fruits this season.  Admittedly, I am not someone who craves eggplant, but I have been making nice friends with it this summer.  We've been getting along nicely so far.  

Broccoli or Cauliflower-  Still some of the broccoli heads are looking a little stressed from the heat and lack of rain.  Some of the broccoli looked just fine.  We tried to harvest the Cauliflowers that were still pretty white and looked appetizing.  

Jalapeno Pepper-  More hot peppers to spice up your life!

Swiss Chard or Collards-  The swiss chard was looking so beautiful this week, we couldn't resist.  We were short about 10 bunches, so we went over to clean up some of the collard plants.  

Lettuce X 2-  Possibly the final lettuce giving for at least four weeks until our fall successions start coming on.

Green Beans-  A nice bag of green beans at 1.12 lbs per member!  Think of all the hours it takes to pick 200 families 1.12 lbs of beans.  Plenty of good conversation going on in the bean patch!

Recipes

Teriyaki Green Beans with Cashews

Eggplant Lasagna

Eggplant Parmesan

Vinegared Beets Nested in their Greens

August First

It takes a very special kind of person who succeeds in farming.  The lifestyle is such that it demands more from you on a daily bases than what you have to give.  Your job is to keep things alive, be it animals or plants.  In an ideal world, a good farmer would have compassion for the animals she raises, the plants she sows and the people who help her on her farm.  Farmers need to be of the incredibly hardworking kind.  The kind that would rather check the weather every few hours than the score to the game.  Farmer's need to learn to accept tragedy with grace for it is a likely to be frequent.  They must know how to persevere through hours if not days or weeks of uncomfortable weather or working conditions.  They need to be the kind of people who know how to invest and spend their money wisely and carefully for the future is always uncertain and the market will always fluctuate.  wk_9_2012The Week 9 Bounty!

To be a woman and a mother and a farmer takes another kind of person.  She must be half crazy, widely unconventional and curiously different.  With her new child she must then learn to be endlessly unselfish, eternally patient and spontaneously creative. She soon learns that her needs are met last after the needs of her child then the needs of her farm and the living things she keeps alive and then herself.  In the short time that I have known parenting, I have learned to trust and depend on my spouse, my friends and helpers to help me because I cannot do everything anymore.  Even though I try to sing to the baby, harvest and bunch parsley and make sure everyone elses' bunches look to meet the quality standards I cannot keep all flames burning evenly at once.  I observe that my left bicep has doubled in size from holding a child, my singing skills have improved slightly and my ability to multi-task, while previously a strong suit of mine, has only become a sharper tool in my box.  

There are likely mothers out there that would shake their head at me.  They would see me on the tractor transplanting with the babe strapped to my chest or advancing the babe every 40-50 feet or so down the vegetable rows while I harvest or weed, or tote the babe along in the stroller or sling for an 8 or 9 hour work day with a couple naps in between.  Some might say she shouldn't eat the dirt or get her clothes so dirty or be exposed to so much sunlight.  Others might say she should spend more time away from her mother, she shouldn't spend so much time in the fields or she should have more toys to play with rather than carrots, cucumbers or kale leaves.  I don't know what I would say to mothers like this other than to remind them that I am in fact a mother and a farmer.  I am not simply a farm wife that cooks, cleans and raises children under a roof.  

Despite all of my worries about parenting and farming together, we go to bed every night and the work is somehow getting done.  The bills are getting paid and the world is still turning on its axis.  There hasn't been any major calamity, the child is growing up and the CSA boxes are getting packed.  To my surprise the season is going quite smoothly.  I have found that the community of people around us also love our child and wish to see the farm prosper.  The weight of being a mother and farmer is heavy and it is true that a rare breed of a woman is up for the task.  The difference is that when the day begins and when I'm ready to walk out the door, I must now remember to pack a stroller, a daiper bag, a variety of toys, a sun hat for the baby and myself and the beach umbrellea we use to keep her shaded.  Just when I thought that my life was already too complicated, I humbly admit that it was not.  

Sooo, What's in the Box???

Scarlet Nantes Green top Carrots-  Beautiful orange carrots.  Top and store in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Broccoli-  Rememer that our broccoli is behaving quite strangely this summer.  These broccoli successions are maturing much later than planned for and are showing obvious signs of bolting.  We deducted that there is still plenty of food value here and that it is better to send the broccoli than for all of our efforts to be for not.  Use the broccoli as quickly as possible.  lemoncukesLemon Cucumbers

Eggplants-  An eggplant for everyone this week again!  We sent some long and skinny asian-type eggplants and we sent some of the traditional round eggplants.  They are similar in flavor, but their shapes are different.  Eggplant prefers storage at around 50 degrees.  Refrigerators are not the ideal storage for eggplant.  You might even want to leave it on your counter if you plan to use it up quickly.

Cucumbers-  We had a new pair of hands helping us this week on the packing line.  Each member received 5 cucumbers.  At the beginning of packing some folks were only getting one lemon cuke and at the end of packing, some folks were getting several lemon cucumbers.  The distribution of regular slicing cucumbers and lemon cucumbers was not exactly even.  I appologize if you received several lemon cucumbers in your box.  Cucumbers also prefer 50 degree storage.  Don't leave them in your fridge too long or they may become wilty looking.

Summer Squash, Zucchini and Patty Pans-  While the squash plants look very healthy, for some reason the squash production is down.  We were still able to give everyone at least three squash.  Remember that squash also prefers 50 degree storage as so many of our heat-loving summer vegetables.  

White Onion-  A nice round white onion for everyone.  The onions can be stored on your counter at room temperature out of direct sunlight.  

Sweet Corn-  Thanks to Ebon and Mugzie (our two fierce farm dogs who have been guarding the sweet corn patch every night), we have SWEET CORN!  The ears are sweet and large and delicious!  Please excuse the bugs!  In organic sweet corn production, worms are part of the game.  In order to stop the bugs from getting into the corn we would have to walk down the rows and spray each corn silk with oil to stop the bugs from getting in.  This method is extremely time consuming and an unviable option for us.    We ask the end user to cut the tips off before you eat them.  

Tomatoes!  The moment that we have all been waiting for!  Tomatoes are making their debut for the 2012 season.  Each member received a either a half pint of cherry tomatoes or an actual tomato.  Our first tomato harvest was small, but we promise that there are still many, many more pounds of tomatoes on their way!  If you're new to our CSA, you will notice that we harvest our tomatoes "with a blush".  This means that we harvest anything that is showing any kind of ripening blush.  Once the tomatoes begin to blush, they will ripen off the vine just as nicely as they would ripen if they had been left on the vine.  We need to pick them before they are too ripe or too soft that they still have some amount of firmness to them so they can handle the shipping.  We don't want to try to ship fully ripe tomatoes and end up sending you tomato sauce instead.  LEAVE YOUR UNRIPE TOMATOES ON YOUR COUNTER TO RIPEN.  If you put your unripe tomatoes in the fridge, they may not ripen at all.  Tomatoes prefer 50 degree storage temps as do the cucumbers, summer squashes, peppers, eggplants and more.  Some of the tomato varieties are yellow, pink, orange and red when they are ripe.  If you want to know if your tomato is rully ripe, give it a very gentle squeeze.  

Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers-  These are also called Bananna peppers.  Some people tell me they're hot, some people tell me they're not.  Sometimes it's a surprise.  Technically the Hungarian Hot wax are considered a hot pepper, but they are the most mild of all hot peppers.  

Jalapeno Hot Peppers-  These are the little green peppers probably rolling around the bottom of your box.  The Jalapeno peppers are hot, I assure you this!  If raw hot peppers don't appeal to your cooking style, you could dry them in your dehydrator, blend them into a powder and have a home-made hot-pepper seasoning using the seeds and all.   

Basil-  We did our best to be very generous with the basil this week.  Basil will turn black from refrigeration!  Do not stick the basil in your refrigerator!  Basil does not keep well at all when fresh, but you can put it in a vase or cup of water and store at room temperature with it's stems submerged in water.  If you don't think you'll make pest or use up all of your basil right away, it's very easy to pluck the leaves from the stems and dry or dehydrate the basil for winter storage.  It smells so good even when it's dry!

Curly Green Kale-  The kale looks beautiful this week!  Minimal damage this week from flea beetles.

Lettuce-  To our surprise, we had enough to give everyone two heads of lettuce.  Some heads were smaller than usual, but in this heat it's better than nothing!

Recipes

 Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

Ratatouille

 

July Twenty-Fifth

Ode to the Worker Shares

Do you ever wonder how we get it all done?  When there are only 24 hours in a day and no way to negotiate with the gods for more time?  The Small Family Farm is run by a small family, of course, but also with the help of a few extra pairs of humble hands.  We have two full-time helpers, Adrianne Orso and Sam Varney.  Adrianne and Sam are here every morning at 8am and stay with us until 5 or 6pm each day, depending on wether or not it is a harvest day.  They endure the high temperatures, high humidity, high winds and heavy work load with us every day of the work week with an hour for lunch each day.  I assure you this, folks, it takes a special kind of person to be able to work on a farm like this.  You might think that you could do it, but it would take some getting used to.  eggplant_fieldHarvesting Eggplant at 95 degrees!

It takes a disciplined mind and body to make it through a heavy harvest day like this Monday.  The body need to be acclimated to the heat, the muscles need to be able to lift the heavy cabbage and sweet corn bins, the eyes need to be able to identify a ripe eggplant and the fingers need to know how to clean the dried leaves off of the beet and strip a chard plant clean.  The spirt needs to have a certain level of love and respect for the work.  The mind, while constantly whining to you about how hot, thirsty, hungry, tired, sore or weak you may feel, needs to know how to calm and quite itself until you make it the end of the endless cucumber and zucchini rows.  

We have our beloved Adrianne and Sam, and we also have 18 other people who come to the farm and work a pre-determined three-hour shift in exhange for their CSA box of produce.  These 18 soldiers are a blessing to this farm.  The beauty of the program is such that each person brings to the farm their unique personalities, talents, experiences, and passion for organic farming.  Conversations usually remain quite stimulating during the early morning hours when we usually have worker shares working their shifts.  We talk about everything Together we accomplish amazing things!  At the beginning of the season the farm promises them a weekly box of our bounty and they promise the farm to show up every week for their pre-determined 'shift'.  On Monday mornings we have 8 pairs of loving hands harvesting your kale, beets, kohlraib and chard.  On Thursday morning we have a strong crew that does everything from harvesting to weeding to trellising.  A few days out of the week we have a real, genuine "crew" and it starts to feel like we're a real, genuine "farm" producing real, genuine "crops".  

Our worker share crew is worth real recognition.  While three hours a week on the farm might sound like a modest investment of time, the weekly commitment is a challenge to keep when the summer weeks are busy and finding the time to get their own laundry done at home becomes a squeeze.  It's the faitfulness that I love and appreciate.  The season is long and the days are hard, but the work is meaningful.  Thank you so much to all of the worker shares on the farm, keeping the wheel turning.  

Sooo, What's in the Box???babeAyal, our 8 month old babe, waiting for her mommy while she harvests cherry tomatoes.

Green or Red Cabbage-  The cabbages were a little smaller still than what we are used to sending by peak season.  During the time period that the cabbages are normally filling out and are putting on some weight we were going through our long drought stretch.  Cabbages are a high percentage of water, and when there isn't much to drink, they don't size up the way we like to see them.  They are still quite dense and cute little guys with minimal looper damage.  

Beets-  You will also find a golden beet mixed in with your detroit dark red beets.  The goldens are very similar in flavor to a red beet, but will not turn your dish pink or red.  Remember that the tops are edible and can be used like Swiss Chard in your cooking.  Top the beets and store the roots in a plastic bag to preserve moisture and to keep them firm.  The tops can be stored separately along with your chard or collard greens this week!

Sweet Corn!!!  Yeah!  We succeeded in growing beautiful sweet corn for you.  We saved a few back for ourselves and noticed they aired on the slightly under-mature side.  We ate every ear we peeled, but knew that a few more days would have done them some good.  It can be difficult deciding when to harvesting something like Sweet Corn for the CSA because we would need to pick them this Monday or wait until next Monday when they could have turned over-mature or gotten raided by the raccoons, and we figured that by next monday it would have been too late.  We would also like you to know that the raccoons got into our first two beds of sweet corn.  We would have been able to deliver sweet corn last week, but the patch stood unguarded.  We have resorted to tieing up our two fierce guard dogs Ebon (a sweet, doscile, harmless black lab) and Mugzie (a Sharpe/Rotweiler mut-like dog) on either end of the sweet corn rows.  Every night since the raccoon invasions we have been dilligently luring the two farm dogs out to their tie-up posts with handfuls of chicken, ham and beef scraps all the while praising them the "Good Dog" chant.  Even on the rainy nights they stand on guard inside their portable huts.  The sweet corn patch will remain on guard for the next couple weeks by Ebon and Mugzie every night until the last succession of sweet corn has been picked.  aguriSam and Aguri. Aguri is a Japanese student staying with us for two weeks who is interested in learning about organic farming.

Onions-  You may have received a bunch of red bunching onions or, because we harvested the last of our bunching onions this week, you may have received a full sized white onion.  

Summer Squash, Zucchini or Yellow Patty Pans-  The squash harvest is still going strong!  We were able to give everyone at least three squashes this week.  We are slicing our yellow straight neck summer squash and zucchini squashes lengthwise, marrinating in a basic oil and vinegar marrinade and then grilling them on a hot grill.  Tonight we had them diced into our egg roll mix.  Remember that if you're feeling a little squashed you can grate your squash raw and freeze in quart freezer bags or cube, blanche and then freeze.  

Cucumbers-  Cucumbers are going strong this week!  We were able to send everyone around 6 cucumbers!  The small little yellow cucumbers in your box are called 'lemon cucumbers'.  The lemon cukes are very similar in flavor, with a fun yellow color and round shape!  Slice a lemon cucumber into a gallon of water and chill to enjoy cucumber water.  Add a couple lemon wedges to have true lemon-cucumber water as a refreshment!

Swiss Chard or Collard Greens-  Swiss Chard production is down slightly from the heat.  Chard seems to thrive in the cool and wet weather.  We switched to harvesting collards when the chard ran out.  The collard plants needed the bug-damaged leaves cleared from their stalks so they could focus on sending their energy to the new, young leaves for future harvest.  Store your greens in a plastic bag in the frige!  

Eggplant-  Another stunning eggplant week!  Eggplant prefer to be stored at around 50 degrees.  You might find that your refrigerator is too cold for eggplants.  The countertop might be a happy medium if you plan to eat it up quickly.  

Cherry Tomato, Cauliflower or Broccoli-  A few of the items we harvested this week that were in smaller numbers that are either just beginning (cherry toms) or are waning (broc and cauliflower).  Please note that the Cherry Tomatoes are called Sun Golds.  The Sun Gold Cherry tomatoes are fully orange when ripe.  Don't wait for them to turn red!  Keep your cherry tomatoes at room temperature to finish the ripening.  We're hoping that tomatoes won't be too far off!

Lettuce-  One small head of lettuce for everyone this week.  We figured a small head was better than no head at all.  Enjoy lettuce while we have it.  We have about a week or two more of it, and then we won't have lettuce for a good month or so.  Keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Parsley-  We tried to give everyone a bunch of flat leaf italian parsley, but resorted to picking some curly leaf parslely towards the end.  Think Tabouli!  

Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers-  These are also called Bananna peppers.  Some people tell me they're not, some people tell me they're not.  Sometimes it's a surprise.  Technically the Hungarian Hot wax are considered a hot pepper, but they are the most mild of all hot peppers.  

Jalapeno Hot Peppers-  These are the little green peppers probably rolling around the bottom of your box.  The Jalapeno peppers are hot, I assure you this!  If raw hot peppers don't appeal to your cooking style, you could dry them in your dehydrator, blend them into a powder and have a home-made hot-pepper seasoning using the seeds and all.   

Recipes

Beet Chocolate Cake

Oven Fried Zucchini Spears


Sweet and Spincy Chinese Cabbage Salad

Quinoa Tabouli Recipe

July Eighteenth

A blessed 1/2 inch of rain fell on our farm early Sunday morning.  While the farm is now on life support (irrigation), it gave us a reprieve from the hustle of filling the irrigation tank, laying out lines and pumping the water.  The stress-o-meter went down a couple notches Sunday morning and our hope was renewed.  But just because a measly half inch of rain came and teased us, we are far from being in the clear.  In a perfect year (which never comes) and under perfect conditions (which never happens) 1 inch of rain per week in the months of May, June, July and August would provide the vegetables with ideal soil moisture to keep the blossoms from drying up, nutrients available to the plants and the soil soft enough that their little roots can stretch and grow providing yet more energy to the leaves and fruits of the plants.  In the last six weeks, we have received 2 inches of rain coupled with blazing temperatures in the high 80's all the way up to the triple digits.  If you haven't heard yet, we are suffering through an extreme drought.  carrotsHappy Hands Harvesting Carrots!

Someone once pointed out to me how highly unsustainable growing vegetables really is.  Truthfully, I do not like to admit this fact and it is scarcely a good marketing tactic to explain this to our faithful members and customers.  But in 'times like these', it becomes almost obvious when you see the highly intensive amount of labor, time, and energy put into keeping these vegetables alive through a drought like this, that there is nothing sustainable about it, actually.  To produce vegetables, one must completely turn the soil under using heavy and expensive machinery like plows, discs, tillers, spaders and large tractors that use diesel oil.  Usually the soil needs to be disturbed at least twice before preparing a bed.  No where else in nature do you find bare, loose soil that is vulnerable to erosion by wind or rain.  To keep the nice vegetables growing strong, you must continue to cultivate (work the soil again and again to kill germinating weeds).  Most vegetables need highly fertile soil to grow and need plenty of disturbed soil around them so they do not have any competition with neighboring plants for nutrients, water and sunlight.  

Any experienced gardener knows that vegetables are also highly susceptible to blights, diseases and insect pressure.  There is definitely a fair amount of time, money and labor that goes into keeping the squash bugs from devouring the entire pumpkin patch or the potato bugs from eating the potato plants down to skeletons, and flea beetles from chewing tiny holes in your every kale leaf.  Eating only vegetables is touted as being more 'sustainable', but these days where a cow walking on undisturbed grass that needs no sprays, machinery, hand labor or water is starting to look a little more sustainable to me.  Pastures do not risk erosion from rain or wind, they do not become blighted with powdery mildew and they are not a field of but one crop (such as cabbage), but are a mixture of a many different species of grasses, tap-rooting broadleafs, clovers and perennials such as alfalfa.  

Sadly most of the animals in this country are not even raised on grass and pasture, so most meat produced here is far from being honestly 'sustainable'.  I love my carrots and my broccoli and my green beans and I am willing to work extremely hard to keep them alive.  I may be healthier if I foraged, hunted and gathered for all of my food, but I also value the substance we are able to produce on the farm.  You would have to look awful hard to find the same girth, poundage and mass of food that hybridized and cultivated varieties offer.  But when we're laying 18,000 feet of plastic water lines all over the farm and spending hours and hours of labor trying to simulate rain while the lambsquarters and the purslane (wild plants) look perfectly delicious and nutritious, I begin to wonder if the joke is on me.  

Sooo, What's in the Box????

Kohlrabi-  Possibly the final kohlrabi harvest for this spring.  The leaves are looking a little more chewed up compared to what we've been seeing so far this spring and early summer.  Still perfectly shaped and crunchy little ground apples to share.  

Cucumbers-  Cucumbers are such a nice treat when the weather is so hot like this.  It's like they knew to start producing at just the right time.  Adam has the cucumbers under drip irrigation, so we should not loose the to the drought.  The cucumber beetles are a little heavy this summer, so there are some cucumbers with some cosmetic damage, but the majority look quite nice.  

Yellow Stright Neck Summer Squash, Zucchini, and Patty Pans-  Folks, the squash harvesting is just beginning!  Get creative with your squashes.  This week alone we made moist zucchini brownies, zucchini enchiladas, and even even put some zucchini in our Sloppy Jo meat.  We're getting quite creative with the zucchini.  If you have any fun squash recipes that you love, please send them my way, I would love to share them with everyone!  Remeber that squash is easy to just grate, bag and freeze if you think you want to make zucchini bread this winter.

Eggplant-  What a nice surprise!  The eggplants snuck up on us a little this season.  The plants were covered in blossoms quite early.  We are harvesting some of the large, rounder eggplants and some of the longer and more slender asian eggplant.  So far it's looking like it's going to be a good eggplant year, so it's likely that you'll receive at least one of each by the time the season is over.  Admittedly, I'm not an eggplant lover, but I do love the mediterranian dip Baba Ganouj.  See the recipe below!

Green Top Carrots-  Yeah!  Beautiful, tall, slender, glowing, gorgeous CARROTS!  It's about freaking time!  Mamma Jane has been asking me for the last few weeks "When are we gonna get carrots".  I'm so happy to deliver her her wish.  We're also finding it's a good first food for the babe.  The tops are edible.  You can use like you would use parsley, they are quite similar, or you can cook with them as though they are cooking greens and put them in eggs, soups, or stews.  Maybe a small amount would be good in your sloppy joe meat?eggplantOur first Eggplant Harvest!

Dill-  Dill can be hung and dried and then stored in a mason jar if you're finding that you don't have the creativity for it today.  Think sour cream veggie dip, potato salad, egg salad, borscht or pickles.  Have fun!

Green Onions-  Or shall I say Red Bunching onions?  Use these guys like you would use a normal green onion.  Use them from the roots all the way up to the tops of the greens.  

Lettuce- One or two heads of lettuce for everyone this week.  For those who did not receive at least two heads of lettuce, we did harvest around 30 radicchios.  Radicchio is in the shape of a small cabbage-type head.  It is a bitter cooking green that you sometimes shave very thin and raw into salads.  

Lacinato Kale or Red Curly Kale-  The kale are some of the greens that are toughing it through the drought and heat quite well.  There is a small amount of bettle damage on the leaves, but we tried to take only good leaves.  Store in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Garlic-  We made room to hang all of our medium and large garlic in the rafters of the shed.  There are still piles of smaller garlic on the ground that have not been hung.  We plant to move through a couple piles sending you a garlic each week and then we'll move onto the more normal sized garlic bulbs.  The garlic is curing down very nicely this year is no mold or moisture issues with this dry weather.  Garlic does not need refrigeration.  

Recipes

Zucchini Enchiladas

Baba Ganouj