Small Family Farm CSA

We Dig Vegetables

 

September Fourth

Bounty.  The good earth is giving.   Despite the drought this season, the land is fruitful.  Because Adam has been working so hard this summer to keep the irrigation lines dripping, we have beautiful looking food right now-and lots of it!  Because we finally got a little heat wave last week, our tomatoes and peppers decided to turn red. squash_harvestHarvesting our pumpkins here and the rest of our winter squash! Hard work!

It feels a little like we’re defying nature when we’re running plastic hoses of drip line irrigation all over the farm.  It’s shameful to run the gasoline engine water pump to break the beautiful silence and the sound of the crickets and cicadas.  It feels punishing day after day to check the 5 or 10 day forecast to see bright yellow sunshines all across the board.  Where is the reprieve? 

We need a good cleansing.  A good rain.  We need a rain that starts with a dark sky, the kind that gives you the willies and makes you roll up your car windows, bring your laundry in from off the line and sends you running indoors so you draw the shades down on your windows.  We need a rain that brings thunder and lightening and wind and RAIN!  We need a rain that will start in the evening after 5pm and will pitter and patter on the rooftop slowly all night long.  A rain that comes down long and slow and soaks into the ground the way sleeping eyes soak into bed. 

The rain not only waters our crops, it lifts our workload and brightens our spirits.  A modest ½ inch of rain might be enough to keep us hopeful and optimistic and believing that rains will come.  But because we are farmers and we aren’t willing to throw in the towel that easy, we remain forever optimists.  We’re forgiving and understanding and tolerant and hardened.  We’re hardy and maybe a little bit crazy too. 

Maybe the tomatoes are the reason we do it all.  Yeah…that’s probably it.  We do this hard work all Spring, Summer and Fall for the tomatoes.  And they’re finally here!  There is nothing I love more than a fully ripe, yet slightly firm, large, juicy, in-season, late-summer, red heirloom tomato.  I truly believe that my love for these tomatoes plays at least a minor roll in my drive as a farmer.  I love BLT’s too.  I love eating thick slices of tomatoes on almost everything that I eat in breakfast, lunch and dinner for the whole duration of tomato season.  No matter the forecast, rain or sunshine, at least we have our big bags of tomatoes.   Ahhhh.

Sooo, What's in the Box???

Red Cabbage-  These are nice dense heads of cabbage that are great for shaving raw onto salads or making a hot cabbage slaw (see recipe below).

Carrots-  I think the carrots are getting sweeter as the season goes on.  Maybe it's the drought concentrating all of the sugars, but these guys are tasty.  The best is yet to come as the fall carrots get even sweeter!

Yellow and Dragon Tongue Beans-  Growing side by side we had the yellow wax beans growing next to one of our new favorite varieties of beans- the Dragon Tongue Beans.  These beans are naturally a bit larger, but seem to have a great flavor even though they're a bit bigger.  These are an heirloom variety as well.  The Dragon Tongues will loose their purple color when cooked, unfortunately.  

Tomato Mix Bags-  8 lbs per member this week!  We grow so many different kinds of tomatoes it's hard to decide where to begin.  Some varieties are red, yellow, orange, purple, pink or bi-color.  You'll know if your tomatoes are ripe by giving them a very gentle squeeze.  We are now in the tomato glut.  It won't get much better than this folks.  But new varieties will come into season as we continue on.  Remember that if your tomatoes are not fully ripe, leave them to ripen on your countertop and do not put them in the fridge, unripe tomatoes will not ripen in the fridge.  

Broccoli-  Beautiful heads of broccoli again this week.  Broccoli likes to be kept very cold, this is a good reason to get to your dropsite as quickly as you can to get your broccoli in the fridge.  Broccoli keeps best when it is kept very cold.  

Sweet Red and Yellow Bell Peppers-  A whopping 5 peppers per member this week.  Stuffed peppers anyone?

White Onion-  A nice sweet onion for sauteeing with almost anything.  

Garlic-  Another bulb of garlic to boost your immunity as the seasons begin to change.  These guys are good and cured now, so they will last best in the fridge for several monthes, or on your countertop for several weeks.  

Jalapeno Pepper-  A nice and hot pepper to spice up your life.  Remember not to touch the membrane with your fingernails.  I wear gloves when chopping Jalapenos, call me a woose, but I've been 'burned' too many times.  basil_harvestJillian, Joe and Todd harvesting Basil on Tuesday morning.

Eggplant X2-  I know, I know, I KNOW!  You've had eough eggplant.  I haven't actually gotten any mercy e-mails or phone calls, but some of the locals have been hinting towards too many eggplants, so I've been getting the message.  But the plants are so productive and it's a shame not to share the bounty with you.  I have learned how to cook with eggplants over the years and have learned to love it.  If you make eggplant parmensan, you will love eggplants, I promise.  

Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes (or extra slicers)-  Either a clamshell of the glorious, orange Sungold cherry tomatoes, or extra slicers in your box.  

Swiss Chard or Red Curly Kale-  We tried to pick swiss chard for everyone this week, but the plants were looking really rough since this is one crop that we did not have on drip line.  We are stringing it up this week to get the drip line on it to bring it back to life.  When we ran out of swiss chard to pick, we filled in with red curly kale.  

Basil-  The basil plants have not been picked in a few weeks, so the plants were going to flower.  You'll notice that your basil bunches have plenty of flowers on them, just snap the flowers off and use the leaves for pesto or pizza or drying or however you prefer.  Have fun with this aromatic herb!  

Recipes

Stuffed Peppers

Warm Red Cabbage Salad

Toasted Garlic Green Beans

July Seventeenth

Do you ever wonder how we get it all done?  Do you wonder how many people it takes to get the labor done to fill your boxes full of these beautiful vegetables?  I’m the orchestrator of this symphony, and I still wonder how we pull it off every week.  I’m the lucky gal who gets to take credit for it all, but really I’m just another pair of hands on this crew. tomato_trellisingGettin' that tomato trellising up!

The Small Family Farm is truly a family farm, run by Adam and I and Momma Jane.  But we have 2 full-time employees, 4 baby-sitter shares, and over 18 worker share members.  Our full timers, Joe and Todd are the backbone of the structure.  They’re the compassionate and sensitive “big strong men” we hired because we knew we needed at least two hardy folks who were up for a season of endurance.  Without their consistent, reliable and resilient nature we would only be half the strength we are today. 

Since we have a 20-month old and I’m the one who runs the show and I wanted to continue to work, we needed some friends and neighbors to watch our toddler in the mornings in exchange for a CSA Share.  These “sitter share” members add to the rich community aspect of a CSA farm.  It really does take a village.  We found four loving and playful folks who play with Ayla on Mon., Tues., Thurs. and Friday mornings so I can manage the crew.

By “crew” I mean our impressive numbers of worker share members.  Over 17 people in the community drive out to our farm early in the morning in their rubber boots, their sun hats and their long sleeved shirts.  They bring a water bottle and an inspiring desire to learn, grow and share.  They show up week after week in the rain, the heat, the humidity, and the fog all because they made a promise to the farm that they would.  They keep coming back for more and they work their 3 and a quarter-hour shift and I think they feel good about it. 

There is a feeling you get when you walk out of a field with knats flying all around your head, ripped holes in the knees of your pants, the back of your shirt soaking wet from sweat and your leg muscles feeling worked and used.  There is a part of you that wishes that no-one was looking at you because you look your worst, but there is a part of you that wishes that everyone was looking at you because you’ve just done something meaningful and peaceful and there is purpose to your stride. 

Sooo, What's in the Box???

Kohlrabi-  We shipped out some really big white kohlrabis this week.  Kohlrabis are almost out of style, enjoy them while they last. 

Peas-  This is likely our final giving of peas this spring.  Three very generous givings of peas this season so far.  Enjoy them raw for a snack, in a stir fry, or in salads.  

Red Beets-  Three nice sized red beets for all this week.  The greens on these beets look beautiful.  Beets are in the same family as spinach and swiss chard, so it's no wonder that beet greens are so tasty for cooking and just as tender.  potluckSpectacular turnout for our Summer Farm Tour and Potluck! Thanks for coming out everyone!

Summer Squash, Zucchini, Patty Pans-  We had so much squash to give this week, we actually had to save some back because we couldn't fit it all in the boxes.  About 6 squash per member this week.  You may have received a mixture of zucchini, summer squash, or patty pans.  We've started picking the squash a little smaller because of the sheer quantity we are harvesting.  All of theser squashes can be grated or chopped and frozen without any blanching before freezing.  Enjoy in the winter time in zucchini bread.  Squash prefer around 50 degrees for storage temps.  

Cucumbers-  We're off to a great start on the cucumber season.  An average of about 5 cucumbers per member this week.  See our simple and delicious cucumber salad recipe below.  Cucumbers prefer around 50 degrees for storage temps.  They could get a little soft from a cold referigerator.  

Garlic Scapes-  Our final giving of garlic scapes for the season.  These little guys were fun while they lasted.  Use them like you would use garlic all the way up to the little nodule.  

Broccoli-  Really nice broccoli for everyone this week.  Keep it very cold if you don't plan to use it soon, or else use it soon.  Broccoli needs very cold storage in order for it to keep.  

Cauliflower-  A wide variety of sizes in cauliflower this week.  Some were very large and some were a little smaller.  But still some nice looking cauliflower none the less, especially considering the hot weather we're having.  

Green Onions-  Another beautiful giving of green onions.  Use all the way up to the tips of the greens.  We topped some of these this week because we couldn't fit them in the box.  

Collards-  The collards were looking so beautiful and perfect and large, we couldn't help but to pick them this week.  We knew you wanted at least one bunch of cooking greens from your CSA farm this week.  sitter_shareOur Tuesday Morning Sitter Share, his son and Ayla playing around down in the barnyard.

Lettuce X3-  Okay, the lettuce is out of control this year.  We have more lettuce than we know what to do with for sure.  We tried to pack 3 heads per member into an already full box.  This is what you get when you're a CSA member and you get to experience the bounty.  Things are looking great!

Curly Leaf Parsley-  An herb for your cooking delight.  Remember that you can dry your parsley and keep it in a jar with a tight lid to be used this winter if you can't use it all now.  

Recipes

Cucumber Salad

Oven Fried Zucchini Spears

Penne with Green and Gold Zucchini and Ricotta

Tofu Broccoli Cashew Peanut Madness

July Twenty-Fourth

The heat is on folks!  We survived a week’s worth of hot and muggy weather reaching up in the 90’s.  The heat-loving plants like the peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, sweet corn and melons are thriving in the heat and humidity.  If you were still enough, you could almost hear the plants growing last week on Wednesday and Thursday.  The plants just love this heat.crewWhat a crew for Monday morning harvest! Wow, great job you guys!

It looks like we have a bit of reprieve coming up this next week with highs only in the low 80’s.  We began hearing the cicadas this last week for the first time, then the full moon posing as the sun in the night’s sky, and then the coyotes and the lightening bugs keeping the evening hours alive.  The summer is like one long party that I just can’t seem to stay up for. 

The heat of the summer has us in a little mini drought.  A stubborn 4/10th of an inch of rain fell on the farm on Monday night after 3 days of anticipation and teasing and threatening not to fall at all.  Plenty of wind and lightening and thunder for a measley 4/10th of precipitation.  I know that I sound a bit ungrateful, but truly I am grateful for each drop.  I am also thankful for Adam’s expertise in irrigation. 

Farmer Adam is in full irrigation mode.  Everything on the farm that we have laid irrigation lines for when we planted it, has been watered so far.  Many of the vegetable plants need to have water when they are flowering and beginning to set fruit so that they do not drop their blossoms.  All of our melons, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and onions are all receiving routing watering from Adam, our rainman. 

Still a warm week ahead of us to help those melons ripen and those tomatoes to swell.  We’re hoping for a few more chances of rain in the forecast to soften the ground for our carrots and garlic harvest coming up this week.  I think a nice inch or two of rain would do wonders just for Adam’s spirit alone.  I think Adam needs it to rain about as much as the carrots and lettuce do.  Fingers crossed! 

Sooo, What's in the Box???

Green Cabbage-  Pretty large heads of green cabbage this week!  The leaves were still looking so great with very minimal bug damage.  

Kohlrabi-  We're down to our final kohlrabi giving this week.  You may have received a purple or white kohlrabi.  

Green Onions-  Also our final green onion giving this Spring.  After this week we'll have fresh, large, white oinons to start giving.  

Red Curly Kale-  We tried to give everyone curly red kale this week, but we made our last 10 or so bunches of green curly kale instead.  

Eggplant-  We harvested three different kinds of eggplant this week.  Some were Asian eggplants that are long and thin, some were the light purple colored eggplants, and some were the standard dark black eggplants.  They varied in size quite a bit, but we'll be offering eggplants for quite a white yet, you'll likely get one of each at some point.  Eggplants do not love refrigeration and may turn soft in a refrigerator.  They prefer 50 degree storage areas, or a cool place in your kitchen on the countertop.  

Sweet Basil-  Of all the vegetables we grown, Basil really does not love refrigeration.  It will turn black if refrigerated.  We like to stand our basil bunch up in a vase of water like you would do with fresh cut flowers.  Fresh basil leaves are highly perishable, so use them up quick.  You could make pesto or dehydrate them if you got a large bunch and don't know what to do with it all.  

Cauliflower or Broccoli-  Most folks received cauliflower this week.  We keep the wrappers on the outside of the heads to protect the heads from bruising.  

Celery-  Yes, this is local celery.  Local celery looks and tastes much different from Califlornia celery.  Local celery is darker green in color and has a stronger celery flavor.  This celery is not quite as succulent as we like to see, but we started to see that some of the outer leaves were starting to die back a little earlier that we hoped, so we started to harvest it right away.  We will be able to give celery every week for the next 3 or 4 weeks consecutively.  Use up your celery!  The greens are also great for cooking, adding flavor to a soup or dehydrating and using like parsley to flavor dishes.  We like to use our celery greens in cooking.  watermelonsI spy a watermelon!

Cucumbers-  Cucumbers slowed down a touch from the cooler weather this week.  We've got plenty more cucumbers on their way.  Cucumbers also love 50 degrees storage and will turn a little rubbery in too cold of storage.  

Zucchini, Summer Squash or Patty Pans-  More squash!  Squash production also slowed down from the cooler nights this week, but plenty more squash to come!  Squash also prefers 50 degree storage area.  

Recipes

Chunky Celery Soup with Wild Rice

Zucchini "Pasta"

Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

August Twenty-Eighth

I do my best to write about the beautiful side of the farm and keep the newsletters on the up beat so as to portray a beautiful image for you for where your food is coming from.  The truth is that the farm is beautiful, the workers are happy and the food is good.  But once in a while on a working farm with all of the heavy lifting, heavy machinery, and high heat, there is a risk that someone could get hurt.onion_harvestJust a few of our handsome helpers harvesting onions last Thursday

Last week I was diagnosed with Lymes disease.  It was a relief to get a diagnosis, to be honest because for almost four weeks, we didn’t know what was going on.  Being the hard-working farm girl that I am, I put my boots and hat on every morning and went to work with the crew, believing that with a little extra rest, a break from the coffee and sugar, and some stretches throughout the day, I would improve in good time. 

But I didn’t.  More and more symptoms kept popping up, the pain kept moving from shoulder to shoulder to neck to back while the physical and mental strength it was taking from me to keep up with the farm and our daughter was draining my reserve.  I could barely pull my shirt over my head, much less harvest tomatoes and onions all morning.  The workers needed direction and the work needed to get done.  But the experience of losing my drive, my arms, my back, my will, and my perseverance was humbling.  I was nearly non-functional on the farm for the last couple weeks, faking my way through the days asking everyone else to do all of the heavy lifting. 

While I was in the midst of this journey, it got me thinking about how or if the farm could run without one of it’s main farmers.  What if one of us gets hurt or sick for real and pills don’t make it go away?

Because I am on the mend now (thanks to western medicine), I have a happy ending for this story.  I had my first “normal” harvest and pack days on Monday and Tuesday of this week.  It feels good now to be lifting bins of produce and putting in a full day’s work.  I really do love my job and I love working hard.

The CSA boxes were packed more full than ever these last couple weeks and we have another bumper crop week here now where we can barely get all of the food in the boxes.  And the reason that the boxes are packed so full is because it’s more than just me working out here.  We have a team of people who work in shifts and work well together to get the work done.  We had friends and neighbors volunteering and working extra shifts to fill in for me when I needed rest.  My lovely husband and mother carried my weight in the home and family while Adam did double-time on the farm to make sure the irrigation lines kept dripping and the animals all got fed.  Slowly I regained my strength and mobility and the things are looking good-just in time for the weight of tomato season to start hitting!

Thank you, everyone, for helping to support this truly community-based farm. 

Sooo...What's in the box?

Canary Melons-  These are not spaghetti squash.  Adam thought that if I didn't mention that the melons were not Spaghetti squash, everyone wouldn't know that they were melons.  These melons are bright yellow on the inside and the flesh is a firm green flesh that is quite sweet.  There is no need to wait until the flesh turns soft, because they might be bad by the time that happens.

Purple Viking Potatoes-  These potatoes have a purple and pink swirl on their outer skin, but a white and creamy flesh.  They are on the more firm side of potatoes and take a bit longer to cook for baking or boiling than a softer potato like a yukon gold, for example.  An attractive potatoe that we have fallen in love with!  You'll notice that we do not wash our potatoes because freshly dug potatoes are more likely to skuff and their skins will skuff off, also it saves us loads of time.  Your potatoes will keep longer with the dirt on as well.fall_rutabegaDrip line irrigation on a few of our Fall brassicas. Here we have rutabaga and kohlrabi.

Yellow (Wax) and Dragon Tongue Beans-  There was a small first-picking of the second succession of beans.  More where these guys came from next week!

Celery-  This was probably the final week of celery.  We're sorry to say.  It was a good run while it lasted and we were so pleased to be able to give celery severl weeks in a row.  The outer leaves are getting yellow now and the pickings are getting slim.  Remember to dehydrate your celery greens and use your stalks for soups or stocks.  

Eggplant-  Several different kinds of eggplants shipped again.  Some light purple ones, some big black ones, some long and skinney ones.  It's the Dr. Seuss eggplant selection.  Think o fmaking Baba Ganouj (dip), eggplant parmesan or Begunis (recipe below).

Red Peppers-  Yeah!  Red peppers!  They're really turning colors now.  More where these guys come from next week, and their yellow and orange cousins too!

Jalapeno Peppers-  A little more spice for your life.  

White Onion-  Finally some room in the box this week to fit an onion!

Cucumbers-  Okay, you might be getting sick of cucumbers, but they're almost out of season, believe it or not!  Get your fill on cucumbers before they're gone!

Zucchini, Summer Squash or Patty Pans-  This is definately the final week of summer squash, zucchini and patty pans.  The pickings here are very slim now and the plants have finally exhausted themselves.  We had a good run, I would say!  

Broccoli-  Humongous heads of broccoli this week!  We like this variety!

Tomatoes-  A nice four-pound bag of tomatoes this week for everyone.  We tried to give everyone a mix of the varieties that we're growing.  We have an early maturing yellow variety (Taxi), a few different kinds of paste tomatoes, and some of the heirlooms are beginning to ripen.  A couple of the heirloom varieties in season now are the cherokee purple and the brandywine.  Cherokee Purples ripen when they are a darker purple and the brandywines are a nice pink color when fully ripe.  Heirloom tomatoes are usually a bit different in shape.  Get used to some funky shaped tomatoes this year!

Cherry Tomatoes-  A half pint clamshell of orange cherry tomatoes.  Remember to let your tomatoes ripen on your countertop.  They won't ripen in the fridge!

Lettuce or (extra red peppers)-  A head of lettuce for everyone, except that we came up about 30 heads short this week.  A couple extra red peppers for those folks.  

Cilantro-  The cilantro was bolting this week, but we decided to go ahead and harvet it anyways.  We thought that bolting cilantro still tastes great and it's better than no cilantro at all.  So many people tell us that they love cilantro, and it is so nice to give along with tomatoes.  

Recipes

Begunis (chickpea battered and friend Eggplant)

Tomato Onion and Cucumber Salad with Feta and Kalamatas

A very simple Fresh Salsa Recipe