Small Family Farm CSA

We Dig Vegetables

 

Small Family Farm
Below are current issues of The Weekly Dig Newsletter, from Jillian Varney, owner of the Small Family Farm. Stay up to date on what's happening on the farm!

July Thirteenth

What a wonderful season it has been!  The temperatures this summer have been mild, the rains have been regular and plentiful and the quality of the produce has been superb.  In all of our short 11 years of farming vegetables, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so much regularity and consistency in the rain department.  An easy and soft inch per week has blessedly fallen on our farm with much gratitude to follow.  With the effects of climate change always looming overhead, there is an air of discomfort when we check the forecast.  I suppose that this may have always been the case for farmers, but somehow it feels very immanent at present day.   Even in a text book summer such as this, I remain skeptical. DSC 0131 1

Each day, week and month passes by and we survive.  We even thrive and grow and remain remarkably hopeful and optimistic, because what other options do we have? We sow our seeds, set down our roots and keep to it.  We are devoutly loyal to keeping our sweet little 21 acre farm in organic production.  We do our part to keep the air, water and soil clean on one little patch of the crust of this earth.  We keep our heads down and our hands moving and by the grace of the community and (and the weather patterns) we succeed at producing enough vegetables for a 310 member CSA program year after year.  And our gratitude swells. 

Our farm has survived two FIMA recognized flood seasons, one serious drought year and a couple other years of extended drought periods that were manageable, but difficult.  We have some built-in protection against drought with an irrigation system.  We chose to build or little farm on top of a ridge as to assure some protection against flooding.  We are always working to improve our grass water-ways in low spots of the fields to reduce erosion during heavy rainfall.  But short of a removable dome that we sometimes wish we could place over our farm, our vegetables are stark naked out there standing in the rain, wind, frost and hail when severe weather arrives. 

I mostly refrain from talking about subjects such as ‘climate change’ and ‘severe weather’ in these newsletters, partly because I know that ‘climate change’ is a political subject that some people are still trying to deny and also because I don’t want to jinx ourselves by mentioning severe weather and ultimately calling its name.  Tonight as I write this newsletter the winds are blowing strong.  There are two huge willow trees next to our house that are humongous and probably should be taken down by professionals.  When the winds on this ridgetop blow fiercely, it puts a kind of fever and anx into a person.  I’m feeling a little more bold in this moment. 

The glaciers are melting, the monarchs and honeybees are disappearing and weather patterns everywhere are changing.  I remain saddened, but remarkably resilient and optimistic to this information.  I find it helpful to be reminded, but also to forget periodically to stay strong.  I remind myself that I am doing my small part by reducing the carbon footprint on the food that my community eats.  You are taking part as well by buying or working for the food that is produced by conscientious farmers and eating this food with a low carbon footprint.  Let’s all buy local food whenever possible even if it costs more.  Let’s not forget the big picture, and in the same breath, let’s be thankful together for this (so far) absolutely beautiful growing season! 

Sooo….What’s in the Box????

Broccoli-  The broccolis really ranged in size quite a bit this week.  Some were smaller and some were quite large.  Summer broccoli is always a bit more difficult to grow because broccoli really performs well in the cool season, so the hot weather stresses the plants out a bit and causes them not to reach their full potential. 

Cauliflower-  The Cauliflower also ranged in size quite a bit this week.  Some were large and some were smaller.  Cauliflower also performs best in the cool season, so the hot weather stresses them out a bit and causes some of them not to reach their full potential. 

Slicing Cucumbers-  4-5 Slicing cucumbers per member.  Cucumbers prefer a 50 degree storage temp.  Depending on the temperature of your home, the countertop could be a fine place to keep them for the week until you get more next week!  The fridge could work too, but still not the ideal storage temp. 

Pickling Cucumbers-  5-6 Pickling Cucumbers per member.  You can eat these like regular cucumbers, or make a quick batch of refrigerator pickles and enjoy later!  See our recipe below!

Zucchini and Summer Squash-  4 Squash per member.  Dig out those favorite summer squash recipes the get creative.  They’re just starting to crank now!DSC 0142

Lettuce x 2-  One Red or Green Leaf Lettuce and one Red Oakleaf Lettuce per member.  The lettuce is still so tender and wonderful.  We are having salads for dinner a lot at our house these days!  Keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge to preserve moisture. 

Bunching Onions-  The bunching onions are still looking amazing.  One more week of green onions before we move on to harvesting full size white onions.  Yum!

Garlic Scapes-  This is the final giving of garlic scapes.  We will begin harvesting fresh garlic next week so we can look forward to that!

Red Curly Kale-  Very nice bunches of red curly kale this week for your regular dosage of cooking greens!

Flat Leaf Parsley-  Cute little bunches of flat leaf parsley.  Parsley is loaded with anti-oxidants, so don’t let this major health food go to waste!

Green Top Beets-  Beets pulled fresh out of the ground with their greens still attached.  The greens on your beets are a bonus item in your box this week.  Don’t let those greens go to waste.  If you want to keep your beets a little longer, cut the tops off of them and store the roots in a plastic bag in the fridge and use up your greens right away!

Fennel or Eggplant-  These were the two items that we had small numbers of.  Only 150 fennel and almost 150 eggplant.  We tried to make sure there was either a fennel or an eggplant in every box.  The long and skinny eggplants are the Japanese Eggplants. 

Next Week’s Best Guess:

Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini, bunching onions, carrots, swiss chard, celery, eggplant?, hot peppers, garlic

Recipes

Kale Salad with Poppeyseed Dressing

Honey Lemon Refrigerator Pickles

Beet and Goat Cheese Pizza with Cauliflower Crust (or whatever crust you want to use;)

Zucchini Fritters

Cucumber Ranch Salad Dressing

 

July Sixth

Okay, so every week you open up your CSA box, and the most prominent color in your box is, well, green!  Yes folks, GREEN!  Green is the color we see everywhere out there when we open up our door and step outside.  Nature is smothered in the color and offers the most edible volumes in this color.  There are more edible greens on the planet than there are foods available in any other color.  This is nature’s way of telling us, EAT YOUR GREENS! IMG 2621

When we walk into a supermarket there are many other colors and shapes of food that we humans have managed to cultivate and process and package, and the poor leafy greens get one measly corner on the shelves of the produce aisle inside these giant stores filled with “food”.  There has been much nutritional advice out there about eating the full rainbow, and I do believe that there is a lot of value and merit to this idea, but the poor greens receive far too little attention and importance and we become quickly bored with the color amidst all of the colorful food marketing out there.  The other colors of the rainbow usually have a higher sugar content than the greens, are a little tastier and ultimately win our spending dollars for this reason.  So I am here today to try and speak for the greens! 

The tomatoes are still a month away and our colorful sweet peppers, melons and sweet corn are also a few weeks away as well.  But for now, you find Collard Greens in your box and you are passive about them.  I am hopeful that we can use this time of greens bounty (while we bide our time waiting for tomatoes and sweet peppers) to make better friends with the color, learn to honor it and embrace the deep nutritional importance of the color. 

I have done some traveling in my short life and have lived in places where eating raw greens was a cultural no-no because of the questionable sources of water used to irrigate and then wash the greens.  We are blessed to live in a part of the world where we have clean, potable water and eating raw green salads is actually something of a privilege.  There are many places on the planet today where if you wish to eat green foods, they must be cooked to death to ensure you don’t get salmonella poisoning or exposure to some other kind of bacteria that would make you sick. 

I pulled this little piece off of Dr. Mercola’s Website:

Green foods and vegetables contain an array of antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds that are very difficult to get anywhere else. Plant chemicals called phytochemicals can reduce inflammation and eliminate carcinogens, while others regulate the rate at which your cells reproduce, get rid of old cells and maintain DNA. Studies have repeatedly shown that people with higher green vegetable intake have:

-Lower risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease

-Higher scores on cognitive tests

-Lower risk of certain types of cancer, eye disease, and digestive problems

-Higher antioxidant levels

-Reduced risk of kidney stones and bone loss

-Lower biomarkers for oxidative stress

Further, if you eat your veggies raw, you'll also be receiving biophotons, the smallest physical units of light, which are stored in, and used by all biological organisms -- including your body. Vital sun energy finds its way into your cells via the food you eat, in the form of these biophotons. They contain important bio-information, which controls complex vital processes in your body. The biophotons have the power to order and regulate, and, in doing so, to elevate the organism -- in this case, your physical body -- to a higher oscillation or order. Generally, the more sunlight a food is able to store, the more nutritious it is.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/04/08/eating-sprouts.aspx

Without any further ado, Happy Greens Eating! 

Soooo…..What’s in the Box????

Green Cabbage-  Cute little heads of green cabbage for all this week!IMG 2629

Lettuce x 2-  A Green Leaf Head and a gorgeous red oakleaf variety.  Use your lettuce leaves as wraps this week and fill them with rice, meat or other sautéed vegetabels. 

Strawberry Pints- The final giving of Strawberries, sadly.  We’re always a little sad when they go out of season, but so many other fun things to look forward to. 

Kohlrabi-  Either a white or a purple kohlrabi.  We can look forward to more kohlrabi in the fall.  Peel your kohlrabi and slice up the crunchy insides into veggie sticks for a healthy snack. 

Fennel-  Fennel is in the umbelifferae family along with carrots, parsnip, dill, parsley and celery.  It is an aromatic vegetables that has a licorice flavor when eaten raw that almost entirely disappers once cooked.  The frawns of the fennel are edible but used more commonly as garnish.  Slice your fennel bulb lengthwise and cut out the core at the base of the plant.  Slice up your fennel in whichever way your recipe calls for. 

Peas-  .74 lbs per member this week.  Peas may be out of season for now.  Peas are a cool-season plant that starts to slow down in the heat of the summer.  It sure was nice having peas back for a while!

Basil-  Small little bunches of basil.  We wanted to give an herb this week and we noticed that the basil was wanting to make seed heads, so we gave the plants a trim.  Basil does not keep well once it has been washed, so we did not wash the basil.  It keeps best in a vase on the counter like cut flowers.  Never refrigerate basil as it will turn black in temperatures in the 30’s.  

Summer Squash and Zucchini-  4-5 fruits per member.  The summer squash plants are very generous.  We can look forward to several more weeks of summer squash givings, so dig out your favorite squash recipes!  They have a very mild and agreeable texture, so they are easy to sneak into almost any dish you are preparing. 

Cucumbers-  2-3 cucumbers per member.  So excited about cucumbers coming into season!  Make cucumber salad, cucumber water or even cucumber smoothies!  They keep best in the fridge, or closer to 50 degrees like squash. 

Bunching Onions-  Another fine week of green onions for your everyday needs!

Garlic Scapes-  Funky garlic scapes for dicing up into almost anything you are preparing.  Garlic scapes have a more smooth, mild and less pungent and spicy flavor once cooked than cured garlic.  Enjoy this seasonal delicacy while it lasts!  Probably one more week of garlic scapes. 

Collards-  A southern green in our northern state.  Collards can be subbed into any of your favorite greens recipes.  Use them in soups, fritattas or just sautéed with onion and garlic scapes.  Collards have a more smooth texture and hold together very nicely in cooking.  Try collards insead of swiss chard in that Tamale recipe from last week.  I know I’m going to! 

Asian Eggplants or Broccoli as bonus items-  There were 100 Broccolis to distribute and 85 asian eggplants to share while we packed 310 boxes.  We stuck them in boxes with smaller cabbages or boxes coming off the line that still had room in the top to stick them in.  Lotts more broccoli next week and eggplants are just coming into season, so more of those on the way as well!

Next Week’s Best Guess:

Kale, Green Onions, Garlic Scapeas, Zucchini, Summer Squash, Cucumbers, Parslely, Beets, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Lettuce, and maybe fennel or eggplant. 

Recipes-

Summer Squash and Zucchini Salad

Cucumber Salad

Fennel Cucumber Salsa

Spring Salad with Fennel and Orange

Southern Style Collard Greens

Greens Smoothie

Does anyone out there have a fantastic Collard recipe to sahre the love?  

June Twenty-Nineth

Wow, what a weekend!  We had a very eventful Saturday and Sunday on the Farm!  Saturday was our Early Summer Strawberry Pick, Farm tour and Potluck on the farm.  We had a modest turnout for the Strawberry Farm Tour and Potluck (I think next year we will have Vanilla Ice Cream on hand and offer a free pint of Strawberries for members) and a spectacular turnout for the Bike the Barns on Sunday!  We had the farm all cleaned up, the wagon hitched to the tractor and our clean clothes on!  The weather was fine and spirits were high! IMG 2594

Sunday’s Bike the Barns event was a very well attended event celebrating local area farms (like ours!) and also a fund raising event for the Partner Shares program that Fair Share organizes.  The 53-mile Bike Ride began in Viroqua and the first water and snack stop was at our farm.  We offered wagon-pulled farm tours, strawberries, strawberry picking, and there were GoMacro bars and OV Fuel Drinks available for the riders.  The riders then rode on to Knapp Creek Farm, another CSA Farm several miles away where there was an all-organic lunch served featuring local area produce and farms.  After lunch, the riders trekked over to Nordic Creamery for a little local ice cream and cheese and then biked 10 miles of head-wind back to Viroqua to finish off the day evening with Turtle Stack Beer, WiscoPop Sodas, Maple Lattes from Kickapoo Coffee, Music from a few local area musicians, and finally another delicious meal served up by Rooted Spoon Culinary for dinner showcasing, again, all-organic and veggie-filled dishes loaded up with veggies donated by several of the areas organic vegetable farms.

Whew!  We were busy this weekend, folks!   There is nothing that fuels our fire so much as to see so many people so passionate about eating local, organic and fresh vegetables and to have them come out and celebrate food justice and sustainable farming.   The Bike the Barns Driftless Ride raised thousands of dollars for the Partner Shares program that helps low-income families afford CSA Shares from dozens of area CSA farms. 

There was a videographer at each farm stop interviewing the farmers.  Mike from Use Your Words Videography was asking us questions about the Partner Shares Program and our role in the program, what a CSA Farm is, and why we think it is so important for people to buy and support local, organic farms.  Why is local so important?  While I felt like I struggled a bit answering his questions on camera with my four year old on my lap, I know in my heart why local is best.  The food is fresher than anything available in a grocery store.  Organic farms help keep our communities water, soil and air clean.  Organic farms are local families that support our local economy.  The money stays in our state and keeps our state’s financial health strong.  Local farms provide work for local people.  Local farms are operated by people we know and trust.  Maybe your child or you or your cousin works on a local farm and learns about where and how food is grown by their experiences on a farm.  I am a living example of this. 

This farm is important because we are a living, breathing, and eating community.  Without this farm and others like it, what would our food system look like?  Food does not need to be imported from the other side of the country or the other side of the world needlessly using precious oil to transport food ridiculous distances.  Our food autonomy is at steak here.    We are perfectly capable of growing food right here at home where the soil is healthy, it actually rains, and there are people who want it grown at home.  People like you!  You are part of the living example of why local food and farms are important.  I feel endless gratitude and empowerment from our community of friends who help nurture this movement along.  We wouldn’t be here without you! 

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

Strawberriy Quarts-  Another wonderful week of Strawberries!  Strawberries are extremely perishable!  We recommend eating these guys up ASAP and do keep them refrigerated if you need to keep them a day or two before eating them.  

Garlic Scapes-  What is a garlic scape?  The scape is the garlic plant's attempt to make a seed head.  They shoot up these scapes, and if left on the plant, the small nodule toward the top of the scape would swell and bloom into a flower or seed head, but we are sure to snap them up good and early so the garlic plant puts more effort into making a larger garlic bulb, and not into growing out the seed heads.  The garlic scapes also happen to be delicious if diced up into almost anythiung you're cookinug.  They're great used like you would normally use garlic in almost any dish with a seasonal look.  Have fun!IMG 2599

Green Cabbage-  The green cabbages were looking great, so we got them while they were still small and quaint.  Green cabbage is great for slaws or egg rolls!  Cabbages will keep for a few weeks in your fridge, but don't plan to hold onto them too long as you'll need that room in your fridge for next week's giving of veggies.  

Purple Kohlrabi-  We tried a new varity of purple kohlrabis this year called Kosiak that we really love!  We have never had such great looking and tasting purple kohlrabis before at this stage in the season.  Peel them and use them as veggie sticks for your favorite home-made veggie dip or hummus!

White Kohlrabi-  More white kohlrabis as well.  Remember that the greens on your kohlrabis are edible like kale leaves.  Kale and Kohlrabi are in the same family of plants, the brassicas.  

Broccoli-  Either one large or two small heads of broccoli per member this week.  For some reason, or early summer successions of broccoli are not turnung out quite as we had hoped.  We had to harvest many of them smaller because they were showing signs of heat stress.  Broccoli is a cool weather loving plant, and we do our best to choose heat-tolerant varieties, but we never can tell what they're going to do in the Spring.

Swiss Chard-  Goorgious bunches of Swiss Chard.  If you're new to this green, this is NOT rhubarb.  Many people who are new to this plant commonly mistake it for rhubarb.  Swiss Chard is in the same family of plants as spinach and beets.  Chard has an earthy flavor, one that I have grown to love and appreciate over the years;)  The stems are edible as well and make a nice addition to a stir fry!  Chard comes in red, pink, orange, yellow and white.  Fun colors to eat!  

Green Onions-  Green onions are edible from the bottom on the white stalks all the way up to the tops of the greens.  These guys are still quite young and tender.  Such a fun early summer treat to hold us all over until actual full sized onions are ready for harvest in late July or early August.  

Rouxi Green Lettuce-  These are the smaller, lime-green colored lettuce heads with leaves shaped like oakleaves.  The Rouxi are meant to be a smaller, more compact head.  

Romaine Lettuce or Red Leaf Buttercup-  Either a Romaine Lettuce head or a red leaf buttercup head for everyone.  Lettuce keeps best in a plastic bag in your refrigetrator to preserve moisture.  

Snap Peas-  .75lbs per memeber!  A wonderfully generous giving of peas for everyone this week!  We're very happy about this!  Fresh snap peas are wonderful snacks, cut up on top of a seven layer salad or even in stir frys.  

Zucchini and Summer Squash-  The beginning of the summer squashes!  There were between 3 and 5 squash per member this week depending on the sizes.  Squashes acutally keep best at about 50 degree storage, so a refrigerator is not necessarily ideal storage for them.  If there is no room in your fridge, they sometimes keep well on the counter.  Either the fridge or the counter, but neither is actually a perfect storage temp for them.  Luckly these are versatile little vegetables that I'm sure you'll find many uses for so they won't be laying around for too long;)  

Next Week's Best Guess:

Disclaimer:  This is only our best guess from what we see up and coming from field walks.  Next week's actual box may look slightly different from this projection.

Lettuce, strawberries, kohlrabi, zucchini and summer squash, fennel, peas, maybe cabbage, maybe broccoli, kale or collards, maybe cucumber, garlic scapes, bunching onions, 

Recipes

Kohlrabi, Berry and Fennel Salad

Swiss Chard Tamales

Savory Zucchini Chard Muffins

Garlic Scape Pesto

Lettuce Wraps

 

June Twenty-Second

The Summer Solstice brings long days, warm nights and moderate temperatures.  Nothing welcomes the summer months like strawberry harvest!  We have been picking our berry patches with fervor and loyalty making sure to keep up with the every-other-day picking with as much persistence as we can manage as to make sure none of those sweet berries go to waste!  How wonderful it is to be eating the tender buttercup lettuces, sweet strawberries and even the crunchy kohlrabis and salad turnips to keep our meals refreshingly local. IMG 2559

We have about a half acre of strawberries on the farm this year.  If you have trouble imagining what a half acre of strawberries might look like, imagine half of a football field covered in tiny little red berries glowing in the sunlight and blanketing the ground with succulent red globes.  Strawberries are a very time-consuming harvest, but we know that everyone loves to eat them and they are a true jewel to find in your CSA box when you open it up. 

A strawberry patch will produce well for about 3 years.  Our current management plan is to always have a fresh a strawberry patch that is no more than two years old.  Strawberries produce well from about mid June through early July, so we are hoping for three good weeks of Strawberry offerings in our CSA boxes, but we’ll see what happens, maybe longer, hopefully not shorter!  Strawberry plants are mowed down in mid to late summer and then covered with a blanket of straw before winter sets in to protect the plants root system from the harsh winter.  In the Spring we rake back the mulch off of the plants again so the plants can begin sending out new growth and making blossoms that ultimately yield the season’s fruit. 

Remember that this Saturday we are hosting our You-Pick Strawberry Harvest, Farm Tour and Potluck.  Bring out the kids, the Frisbee and a dish to pass to the farm on Satuday from 2-6pm.  We want to share this wonderful experience of strawberry heaven with you.  We have more berries than we are even able to pick, so we would love your help!  We are selling them for $3/lb for the U-Pick and will also have extra berries available for purchase on Saturday.  It’s a little like being in a Rainbow fantasy-land out there and the weather will be fine for your adventure spirit.  The fields are looking great and we would love to show you around your farm! 

This week we plan to begin trellising tomatoes, keep up with the strawberry harvesting as well as the beginning of zucchini and summer squash harvest.  This week also marks the beginning of our Summer broccoli that is always a hit.  With such warm temperatures, many of these harvests need to happen every other day which makes for a very full week managing the harvesting and weeding of something every day.  But there is so much excitement (and a little exhaustion) that comes along with this bounty.  We can watch the diversity of our CSA boxes shift somewhat now from tender Spring greens to some of our favorite summer time fruits!  Welcome Summertime! 

Sooo….What’s in the Box????

Lettuce Heads X 2-  We had one Red Leaf Buttercup lettuce per member and one Green Leaf Romaine head lettuce per member this week.  Lettuce keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge to preserve moisture.   IMG 2548

Kohlrabi X 2-  We harvested both purple and white kohlrabi this week.  Both kohlrabis are white on the inside.  We noticed that the kohlrabis have a mild sweet flavor this season!  Remember that the leaves of the kohlrabi are edible and can be used like kale. 

Salad Turnips-  Our Salad turnips were planted a little too close together so they are all a little on the small side this year.  We have a thick stand of salad turnips.  These little guys are a very smooth texture and are wonderful coined onto a green salad.  The turnip greens are edible if you can find yourself a fun recipe. 

Yellow Summer Squash or Zucchini-  For our first Summer Squash/Zucchini harvest of the season, we were able to pick enough squash to give everyone one squash.  This is a nice beginning to what will be an bountiful harvest.  The plants look like they’re ready to start cranking!

Strawberries-  Yes!  Strawberry Quarts!  Fresh, ripe Strawberries are extremely perishable, so be sure to eat these guys up asap.  If you must wait to eat them, be sure to keep them in your refrigerator as cool as possible as strawberries do not keep well at room temperature. 

Dill-  A small bunch of dill this week.  Dill is wonderful on fish, in potato salads, in egg salads, in soups, and even minced up and tossed with green salads.  If you have a little extra dill, lay it out on a dehydrator tray or on a try in your oven on low heat overnight until it is dry enough to crumble into a jar.  Dill is wonderful dried and used in small amounts in any dish that may call for a bit of dill. 

Green Garlic-  This is the last giving of green garlic.  Next week we will have garlic scape bunches for everyone.  Do you know what a garlic scape is?  Get ready to find out next week if you don’t already know what it is! 

Peas-  A very small first giving of peas, but the plants needed to be picked none the less.  We can expect at least two or three times this amount of peas for next week. 

Green Curly Kale-  A most excellent green curly kale harvest this week!  The leaves looked beautiful and were also very crispy and tender as well!  Kale keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge to preserve moisture.  

Celeriac Root or Broccoli in some boxes-  We had some over-wintered celeriac roots.  These are a very ususual vegetable that is a specialty cultivar of celery plant.  The roots are cultivated to grow large.  Celeriacs are great peeled and boiled and mashed with potatoes.  Celeriac can also be grated raw into a slaw, egg slad or potato salad.  We only harvested 20 broccoli for our first harvest and put them in boxes until we ran out of them.  More broccoli for all boxes next week!

Recipes

Kale Mushroom and Dill Triangles

No-Bake Strawberry and Cream Cheese Pie (Jillian's Favorite!)

Layered Lettuce Salad (grate your kohlrabis on this salad and layer in your coined salad turnips as well!)  Get creative with this one!

June Fifteenth

The beginning of the season returns like an old friend.  The warm air feels like an embrace and the rain feels like renewal.  I love the rhythm and structure the harvest and delivery season provides.  There are designated harvest days, designated delivery days, designated planting and weeding and catch-up days.  We even have designated laundry and family days again (well sort of). IMG 2537

My own personal schedule shifts somewhat dramatically as well.  I am a mother of two small children ages 1 and 4 and in the off season I am their Full-time mother and homemaker, while handling much of the marketing, administrative and day-to-day tasks associated with running a business, all in the interim and after bed time hours.  In many ways it feels like we make our life in the off-season and make our living during the CSA season.  I constantly, that is daily, feel torn between being there for our children and wanting to be a hard-working farmer.  As I imagine that many working parents share this same feeling, I digest it aloud with you now. 

I deeply value this time of year.  The summer months are our busiest, most fruitful and yet most challenging time of year, but I absolutely love it.  I am working in the fields every morning thanks to childcare helpers that come in early to watch our girls.  I walk out the door feeling both guilty and free.  I work hard, have fun and keep a strong pace while I’m in the fields, and I feel like I’m exactly where I am supposed to be.  When I return at lunchtime I can flip the switch and resume the mommy roll immediately after stepping in the door.  At that time I feel satisfied, guilty again, and somehow more patient and loving than I was before I left. 

In the afternoons, I am mommy again.  Depending on the tasks of the day, I may feed the chickens and water in the greenhouse with the girls by my side.  I may help in the packing shed with them.  I may even get them really excited to go and harvest something like asparagus or strawberries for as long as they can enjoy and then tolerate the task.  We may even help weed or transplant for a bit.  And there are days where we just do laundry and make dinner or make a town run together in the afternoon.  I feel guilty when I work with them (I think guilt a big part of parenting, right?) and I feel like we achieve balance again when we hit the library or Kickapoo River instead of the vegetable fields.  When we work I tell myself I am modeling work ethic and they are learning our trade.  When we play, I tell myself I am modeling balance and how to re-connect as a family. 

These newsletters won’t all be about me, I promise!  As a practice I try to refrain as much as possible to exposing too much of our personal lives.  But I think you might find it somewhat interesting, if even for one insignificant newsletter, to know some of the heart and feelings behind the farm wife who belongs to the partnership that keeps this farm alive.  

In a future newsletter sometime I’ll tell you all about Adam.  Adam is my loyal, hardworking husband who is so much more than he seems.  I am thankful for him and his incessant commitment to the farm; and his late night and early morning field walks, cultivation or pest control.  I am thankful he is farmer enough for the both of us during this tender time of our lives when our children are still so very young and small.  I am thankful he works so hard and helps to make all of this possible for you and I. 

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

Asparagus-  I have to admit, we buy the asparagus!  It comes from a friendly amish neighbor of ours, Elmber Beechy who has 18 acres of Certified Organic Asparagus.  This is the only item we ever buy from another farm in your CSA box, everythign else that you will receive this summer will be grown on our farm.  We haven't had the field space to devote to planting a couple of acres of asparagus, so we're happy to buy it from Elmer.  He and his 15 children do such a nice job, don't you think?

Herb Packs-  Every herb pack contains one sage, thyme, oregano and flat leaf parsley plant.  We suggest planting these guys outside somewhere in full sun or in cute little planter pots set either outside or in a window with excellent sunlight.  Sage, thyme and oregano are perennials and they will over-winter wherever you plant them and spread from year to year if you let them.  They will also do fine in a partial-sun area.  The basil really does need full sun to thrive.  Plant them all at least one foot away from one another in fertile soil and enjoy fresh herbs for your cooking all summer long!

Pac Choi-  Pac Choi is an Asian vegetable in the brassica family that these little, tiny bugs called flea bettles love to eat.  Flea bettle damage is very common in organic production of brassicas, but we do our humanly best to control this insect as biologically and organically as we can.  We cover our beds of pac choi with a white floating row cover called Remay, but the bugs still do a little damage to the leaves.  We think the damage is very minimal on these and they look great!  They are nice, crunchy heads that make a wonderful Asian style salad too, not quite as jumbo as they were last week.  See our recipe below!  Also keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge to preserve moisture.

Cherry Bell Radish-  Wowzers!  These are some beautiful radishes!  They are large, but they are not woody!  Did you know you can eat radish greens?  Yep, use them in salad, stir fry or whatever creative way you can think of to incorporate more greens into your diet!  

Rhubarb-  Another nice .5 lb per member this week.  Not quite as much hail damage on the stalks this week.  We still tolerated a little more spots on the rhubarb than what we would have liked to.  But we're thrilled just to have rhubarb in the boxes this week as this is the first year we have grown and harvested our own rhubarb and had enough to offer in our CSA boxes.  We can hope for better next Spring. IMG 2521Shallots-  About a half pound of shallots per member.  These little puppies were over-wintered from last season.  Shallots are in the allium, or onion family and they are wonderful minced up and used most commonly in sauces, dressings and marrinades, but you could just use them like onions if that's easier!  These guys kept so well for us all winter because of cold storage.  If you don't think you'll use them right away, keep them in the fridge!  

Purple Kohlrabi-  Yes!  What gorgeous kohlrabis!  These are the round, purple vegetable in your box.  Be sure to peel your kohlrabi, if you are new to preparing this vegetable.  The insides of kohlrabi are crisp like an apple.  We thought these even tasted quite sweet!  They are great if cut into chip-sized pieces and eaten with your favorite veggie dip.  My dad alwasy loved to just cup them up, sprinkle them with a little salt and snack away.  The greens of your kohlrabi are also edible, use them like you would use Kale in cooking.  Kale is in the same family as kohlrabi (a brassica).  

Cilantro-  One of my favorite herbs.  We don't wash cilantro because once you get it wet, the leaves will deteriorate quite quickly.  So you might want to give it a rinse just before using it.  Cilantro is a powerful detoxifying herb.  

Alkindus Red Butterhead Lettuce-  One beautiful head of red buttercup lettuce per member this week.  Enjoy these tender buttercrunch lettuce heads that we can all enjoy in the Spring.  Once the temperatures start to get hot, we are only able to grow your standard red and green leaf lettuce varieties that are heat-tolerant so they don't bolt on us right away, but they're never quite as tender and delicious as the butterheads we enjoy in the Spring.  Have fun with em!  

Pea Shoots-  We probably planted our pea shoots a little too early this year.  The idea was to give young, tender pea plants, but these guys are looking a little more like mature plants.  The stems are a little tough, so pluck the leaves off of the stems and toss the pea leaves with your salad for a flavor that resembles actual peas!  

Green Garlic-  This is the long-stemmed veggie that looks a little like a Leek.  Green garlic is really an in-mature garlic plant that we pull up early for the first few CSA boxes.  Slice it up and use it like you would use garlic in almost anything you're preparing.  It is edible from the white tips all the way up the stalk.  Great added to almost anything you are preparing with a more mild flavor than cured garlic!  

Spinach-  A .33 lb bag of Spinach per member this week.  A slightly heavier giving than last week.  We get to enjoy wonderfully tender spinach in the Spring, as spinach is a cool-weather loving plant.  The Spinach will be missing from the boxes from here on out until it returns in the cool Fall CSA boxes.  

Next Week's Best Guess:

Disclaimer:  This is only our best guess from what we see up and coming from field walks.  Next week's actual box may look slightly different from this projection.

Lettuce Head X2, Purple and White Kohlrabi, Salad Turnips, Dill, Celeriac Root, Green Garlic, Strawberries, Green Curly Kale.  Maybe?:  Summer Squash, Peas, Broccoli, bunching oinons

Recipes

Spicy Chicken Lettuce Cups-  Thanks Anna for sending this one to us!  

Kohlrabi Slaw

Rhubarb Crumb Bars