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!

August Second

Here is a guest Worker-Share Perspective Article from a first-year Worker Share member, Megan from Viola, WI! 

My name is Megan, I am a worker share at Small Family Farm CSA.  I work Thursday mornings at the farm and I love that every Thursday morning is different!  My family and I are new to this area and we are thoroughly enjoying settling in and beginning the process of putting down literal and proverbial roots.  I was fortunate enough to hear about the worker share program through a full time farm employee, and knowing my husband and I's first garden season here would not produce what we would like to have available to us, I decided to take advantage of the worker share program as a way to supplement our own garden produce.DSC 0356

I have been fortunate enough to always have had exposure to gardens and garden produce.  As a child both my parents were passionate about the role a garden played in providing for our family.  Of course if you would have tried to tell me then that one day I would describe my experience in our family's garden as fortunate, I'm sure I would have rolled my early and late adolescent eyes at you! 

I developed my own interest in gardening in my twenties starting by planting flowers, moving into herb garden beds, and finally into small garden plots which expanded every year to accommodate more and more veggies and a desire to cook and feed myself and husband a balance of good, healthy, wholesome food.  My parents may have not fully realized it at the time, but through our work in the garden they inexplicably taught me about hard work, the benefits of such work, the role sun, rain, and temperature has on our food, the importance of each of the seasons, and the value of homegrown food.  These experiences later fostered in me feelings of confidence when I dug my own gardens, planted seeds, cared for plants, and later accepted with thanks the fruits of these plants; often turning them into pint upon pint of homemade salsa, pizza sauce, dilly beans and the like to be enjoyed months down the road.  By subscribing to Small Family Farm CSA you show an interest in these things as well; the role the weather plays in the food available to you each week, seasonal eating and the confidence gained in handling, preparing, and eating of a generous variety of vegetables.  Would I have purchased, known how to prepare and enjoyed eating a crisp, sweet kohlrabi on my afternoon salad if it hadn't been in my CSA box?  Probably not.  In this way we all continue to grow through these experiences and this connection to the land, seasons, and our food.

Growing, preparing, and preserving the food of my family gives me a sense of pride, satisfaction and accomplishment which I also see reflected in my fellow worker shares, the full time employees at the farm and Adam and Jillian.  I know this mentality must also be reflected in everyone who subscribes to the Small Family Farm CSA as well.  Not everyone has the space, interest or passion to garden and that is okay.  However, knowing where our food comes from and joining in that process to the best of our ability, perhaps through educating ourselves about seasonal produce, shopping at the farmer's market or joining a CSA gives us a more well-rounded, enriched connection to our food, our surroundings, our community, and each other.  This experience has a value difficult to find on a traditional grocery story shelf and I, for one, am happy and proud to be part of it.DSC 0349

Soooo….What’s in the Box?

Green Top Carrots-  Glorious, beautiful, and sweet carrots!  We had a lot of fun cleaning these guys up for CSA boxes.  A little work to clean up the tops, but they are fun to see in the whole form like this.  Did you know the greens are edible like parsley?  Carrot top pesto! 

Green Onions-  We didn’t think there were quite enough green onions left out there for another CSA giving, but we had almost exactly enough.  Next week will be the beginning of standard, white onions! 

Broccoli-  Handsom heads of broccoli for everyone this week!  Stunning.  Keep them very cold and get them home and into your fridge if you want them to last.  We go to great lengths to get broccoli hydro-cooled as quickly as possible after harvest and then it is lovingly iced immediately after being hydro-cooled and rushed to the walk-in cooler.  Follow our tradition with broccoli and cauliflower and keep it cold to keep it fresh! 

Cauliflower-  And we’re not sure we’ve ever had such gorgeous summer cauliflower.  Ever.  This is really fun!  Same as broccoli, keep it cold to keep it fresh!  We keep some of the outer leaves on the broccoli and cauliflower to protect the heads turning transport.  You can also eat those greens if you’re really a greens-user.  The greens are actually more nutritious than the broccoli and cauliflower itself.  Use like kale or collards. 

Metechi Garlic-  Metechi is the name of this variety.  We only grow hard-neck varieties here in the ‘north country’ that over-winter well.  Fresh, raw garlic like this has a thick, juicy membrane around each clove of garlic that is surprisingly thick.  After garlic has been cured it has a paper-thin layer around each clove, but this garlic is still very fresh and new.  Farmer Adam peeled some of the dryer, more un-attractive layers of garlic off of the outer bulbs so your garlics really look clean and glow for you when you pull them out of the box.  The plants grow to be a few feet tall, but we cut them down before curing.  Enjoy! 

Celery- Wow!  Another week of this amazing celery.  Local celery that finally puts California celery to shame.  This stuff is GREEN folks!  And it has flavor!  Local celery has a bad rap for being a little tougher, greener, leafier and having a stronger celery flavor.  But I'm going to ask you think about this vegetable in a whole new way.  We're not pumping it full of water like they do in California, it is grown locally (and that's a big one!), and it is grown in nutrient rich soils on a farm you know and love.  Also, the greens can be used in soups, stocks, salads or however you can get creative with them.  Local celery does have a stronger celery flavor than California celery, but let's view that as a 'plus' for local celery, and not a 'negative'!  We had "Aunts on a Log" for a snack a couple times already this week!  Have fun! 

Zucchini and Summer Squash-  4-5 per member.  Zucchini and Summer Squash production is waning.  We are still harvesting every other day, but the plants are slowing down now.  We can still expect another week or two of squash, so we hope you’re not squashed out just yet.  Don’t forget that it is very, very easy to just chunk or grate zucchini and summer squash, stuff them into freezer ziplock bags and freeze without blanching or any other prep. 

Cucumbers-  6-7 Per member.  Cucumbers are still going very strong.  A heavy harvest, but a lovely one!  All winter long I dream about eating cucumber, so this year we are getting our fill of them at our house.  Cucumbers and summer squashes both prefer a 50 degree storage temp.  So you may notice that they don’t keep perfectly in your fridge because it is probably a little too cold in there for them.  Don’t plan on holding onto them for too long!  More coming next week!

Pickling Cucumbers-  7 picklers per member.  This should be enough to fill a couple quart jars with.  Fresh picked picklers picked a little larger than what we would normally like to pick them, but we’ve been so busy keeping up with the other harvests on the farm, these took the back-burner.  Do you love pickling cukes?  Let us know! 

Curly Green Kale-  Because life with Kale in it is much better! 

Basil-  Basil prefers to be stored in a glass of water much like fresh-cut flowers.  Refrigerators will turn basil black if they are stored too cold.  Basil is a heat-loving, sun-loving plant and it is not a long-lasting herb.  Remember that you can always pluck the leaves from the stems, lay them out to dry in a dehydrator or low temp-oven and have your own home-made dried basil this winter.  There is also enough basil here to make a small batch of pesto, so take advantage of that opportunity! 

Lettuce-  One or two small heads of lettuce per member this week.  Peak-season lettuce is hard to grow, so even though we may be tired of lettuce, we can at the very least appreciate how difficult it is to get summer lettuce.  

Next Week's Best Guess-  Red cabbage, carrots, sweet corn, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, white onion, celery, red leaf lettuce, broccoli or cauliflower, herb.  

Carrot Top Pesto

Chef T's Basil Pesto-

Honey Lemon Refrigerator Pickles

Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Breakfast Casserole Recipe

July Twenty-Sixth

Don’t worry about us, folks!  The farm is surviving the storms!  In case you haven’t heard or your micro-climate was not getting the weather the farm was getting, we received about 6 inches of rain between Wednesday and Friday.  It was the beginning of a very mucky garlic harvest on Thursday while continuing to pull garlic in the rain on Friday morning and afternoon. DSC 0362

The major damage from the ‘flood’, hail and high winds were the tender onion plants taking a beating and looking pretty roughed up, some broken branches and plants in the Pepper patch and the leaning of the poor sweet corn that keeps getting knocked down, but miraculously stands back up to the fight every time!  We also had a few fallen trees in our yard, topsoil loss and branches scattered everywhere in the yard around our home.  Quite the winds on our Ridgetop here!

Despite the storms, we were able to begin the garlic harvest on the farm.  We were pulling muddy root-balls out of the ground fairly easily, slowly and steadily.   The farm smells like garlic for a mile around as we trim the stalks and leaves in the field and through the process of breaking all of those plant cell walls in the slicing and trimming, there is a lot of garlic juice in the air.  We fill bins of semi-cleaned garlic stems and stack them in blocks in the greenhouse to allow the garlic to “cure”.  Garlic needs a minimum of three weeks to cure in a dry and well-ventilated area in order to dry down properly for storage. 

Amidst the garlic push, we are keeping up with our every-other day harvests like cucumbers and summer squash.  Cucumber harvest is hitting with a bang we’re harvesting literally truck-loads of beautiful cucumbers.  We’re getting a short reprieve from the every-other-day broccoli harvest.  Fall Carrots have germinated nicely and we’re even starting to seed some of our fall spinach already.  The crew has been keeping up with the transplanting of fall brassicas like fall broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kohlrabi.  Never a dull moment on the farm! SFF AdamJillian 2017 215 rt

We’re trellising tomatoes and waiting patiently and anxiously as the plants blossom, set fruit and swell.  Some tomato varieties have loads of green tomatoes already hanging all over them.  We’re still a few weeks away from the beginning of tomato harvest though-it’s a painful waiting period, I know!  Even the poor pepper plants-that much prefer a sunny, hot and dry growing climate have been toughing out all of this wind and rain and have small green peppers and blossoms all over them.  Sweet bell peppers might be my personal favorite summer time vegetable! 

The farmer’s bodies are tired and weary.  We’re getting sleep, and barely enough some nights.  I am constantly worried about Adam so that he is eating enough food and drinking enough water.  Farmer Adam is shouldering the weight of the strict vegetable farm harvest, planting and cultivating schedule these days.  He is the orchestrator of this symphony of food that we are experiencing these days.  But don’t worry, I’m taking good care of him!  We hope you’re enjoying the bounty!  

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

Green Quickstart Cabbage-  Another head of gorgeous green cabbage per member this week.  Coleslaw, egg rolls, borscht?  

Green Top Beets-  We call them "Green-Top" beets because we harvest them with their greens still on them.  The greens are deliciously edible and can be used like swiss chard or kale in your cooking.  We found these beets to be wonderufuly sweet!  Enjoy!

Summer Squash and Zucchini-  About 4 squash per member this week.  The plants are still producing heavily and steadily, so no fear of summer squashes leaving us just yet;)  

Cucumbers-  Holy Moley!  9-10 cucumbers per member this week!  Wow!  The cucumber production is in high gear and we're loving every moment of it!  We've been missing this alkalizing, cooling and watery plant for all of those long, cold months of winter.  Eat as many cucumbers as you can so you don't miss them when they're gone again!

Green Curly Kale-  I think my life is a little cherrier because I have kale in it.  Have you ever thought about what life would be like without kale?  Just not the same!  So we're offering this to kale to keep you cheery and healthy and happy!  Kale chips are an easy, fun and simple way to get kale into the bellies of your family members if you struggle with this one.  

Celery-  Yes, gorgeous, succulent celery that finally puts California celery to shame.  This stuff is GREEN folks!  And it has flavor!  Local celery has a bad rap for being a little tougher, greener, leafier and having a stronger celery flavor.  But I'm going to ask you think about this vegetable in a whole new way.  We're not pumping it full of water like they do in California, it is grown locally (and that's a big one!), and it is grown in nutrient rich soils on a farm you know and love.  Also, the greens can be used in soups, stocks, salads or however you can get creative with them.  Local celery does have a stronger celery flavor than California celery, but let's view that as a 'plus' for local celery, and not a 'negative'!  We had "Aunts on a Log" for a snack a couple times aleady this week!  Have fun!  

Red leaf or Green Leaf Lettuce-  One tender and beautiful head of lettuce per member this week.  Keeping the greens a coming;)  

Green Onions-  The green onions are coming to an end, so we may start giving regular onions next week.  

Flat Leaf Parsley-  Parsley for our herb offering this week.  Parsley is so versatile, you could sneak a little of it into amost any dish for flavor and a health boost.

Green Garlic-  Freshly plucked out of the earth after a nine month slumber, these sleepy garlics are still waking up, or are just being born!  Fresh, raw garlic like this has a thick, juicy membrane around each clove of garlic that is surprisingly thick.  After garlic has been cured it has a paper-thin layer around each clove, but this garlic is still very fresh and new.  We tried to pretty them up a bit for you so they look shiney and white.  The plants grow to be a few feet tall, but we cut them down before curing.  Enjoy!  

Next Week's Best Guess-  Summer Squash and Zucchini, Cucumbers, Pickling Cucumbers, garlic, celery, carrots, green onions or onion, broccoli or cauliflower, lettuce, collards, and maybe a few asian eggplants ready to share, curly parsley.

Recipes-

Cucumber and Celery Salad with Tuna

Cucumber Ranch Salad Dressing

Chunky Celery Soup with Wild Rice-

No-Noodle Zucchini Lasagna

July Nineteenth

Worker Share Perspective Article by Anna Jahns  (She's the one in the picture on the right)DSC 0129

What is your involvement in the Small Family Farm? Employee, Worker Share,

other?

Worker Share (Friday mornings!)

How did you first find out about/Start working at Small Family Farm?

A poster at the Viroqua Food Co-op!

How long have you been helping at the Small Family Farm?

This is my third year.

What is your favorite kind of work to do at the farm?

In general I prefer field work, but packing potatoes is kind of fun.

Why do you like coming to the farm? What keeps you coming back?

I like working hard as part of a crew of interesting, committed people.

What was the most surprising thing to you about SFF/Working at Small Family

Farm?

I was pleasantly impressed by what good business-people and managers Jillian and Adam are.  Running a successful CSA, especially with a lot of different worker share/employee crews, takes a lot more knowledge than just how to grow tasty vegetables.  They obviously have all aspects of their business down, and are great at managing people, too!

What is the hardest part about working on the farm?IMG 2980

Waking up early on my day off!  But once I get there I’m always glad that I did J

What do you do when you’re not at the Small Family Farm?

I work in natural resource management, so a lot of what we do isn’t so different from work on the farm, in terms of actual tasks if not the end goal.  It is nice to take a break from having to plan and orchestrate activities and just get told what to do for a few hours a week!  And for some inexplicable reason getting paid in veggies feels at least as good as working towards that paycheck!

Tell us more about your experience? What is a day of work like? What does a

season feel like to you?

Everyone arrives at 8:00, and Farmer Adam comes out to greet us, usually with a coffee mug in his hand.   “Good morning!  Welcome to Small Family Farm!”  This is usually quickly followed by something like, “Today we’re going to weed carrots!”  And then he steers us out to the carrots, reminds us what we’re doing, tells us how he wants them weeded (are we using our fingers? Hand hoes? Stand-up hoes?), and we all set to work.  Conversations start and stop as we leapfrog our way down the row – always remembering to put the work first (if we don’t, we’ll be reminded by Adam or each other)!  After the babysitter gets settled in, Jillian comes out to join us, which usually provides an extra influx of energy!  Her competitive nature and attention to detail mean that she can get more done, and more quickly, than most of the rest of us.  She corrects us when we’re doing something ineffective, or harmful to the desirable plants.  She reminds us to use two hands to go faster!  She also sings a really great little ditty to keep our spirits up along the way.  After a while, we might move to the other side of the farm and weed another crop, or pick some peas, starting new conversations with whomever winds up next to us in this new row, and I’m hoping just once to get my harvest bin filled before Jillian does!

This is how I think of my mornings at the farm in retrospect, but it is rarely that idyllic in the moment.  Sometimes we are pulling garlic in the pouring rain, and in shaking the mud off the bulbs we get it caked in our faces and hair and have to leave our clothes out in the sun for a week until the scent fades.  Or the ground is baked so hard and dry that a jackhammer seems like an ideal weeding tool.  Sometimes it is 90 degrees and we are hauling armloads of heavy mulch or trellising and wishing we’d brought bigger water bottles.  Sometimes in the fall the sun is just barely coming up and we are barehanded, picking spinach with the frost still on it, trying to work fast enough to un-numb our fingers (but yeah, Jillian is still faster).   I’ve worked in land management for over a decade, and I recognize the same pattern of morale on the farm as in every other job I’ve held that is tied to our Midwestern seasons.  August is always tough.  The days are getting shorter, but everyone’s bodies and minds are exhausted from cumulative months of short nights.  It’s hot.  It is crunch time – this is the last push before the fruits and flowers ripen, and it doesn’t seem like there’s enough time to get everything done.  Backs are sore, and the heavy harvest lifting hasn’t even started yet.  The excitement of getting to chat with new coworkers and old friends has faded, and folks might be starting to get tired of one another.  DSC 0370

And then – suddenly – the sun is lower, the nights are cooler, and there is delicious produce surrounding us on all sides!  How can you not be cheerful while filling tub after tub of red and orange peppers?!   Or anticipating that sweet, sweet day when it is finally time to get after the brussels sprouts?!  Except… sometimes even that part is hard.  Last year our area get hit by storm after storm, so that we were wearing rubber boots in the fields nearly every week.  By the time harvest rolled around, we were digging rotten carrots out of the ground, or having to toss moldy peppers off to the side.  It was discouraging, knowing that we had done so much right earlier in the season, and now we had to work extra hard to eek out just barely enough of the final product.  Adam and Jillian tried hard not to let their concern and disappointment show – but after working alongside them for months, we all know how much of their hearts and souls they put into growing each crop, and their concern was for much more than just their business and livelihood.

While I’m working hard each day, or when I think back on it after the fact, I always see myself as someone who shows up for a few hours, plays in the dirt, does what I’m told, and gets to take some vegetables home.  While I’m pulling weeds, or later on chopping up a salad, I don’t really feel that glow of “belonging to my CSA” that I thought I was supposed to.  When I think of it like this, though, as a whole season, it becomes clear to me that I really do have a connection to the people and the place.  We haven’t even hit the doldrums of late summer yet, and I’m already thinking with sadness of that last fall day of packing away the sweet potatoes and leaving Small Family Farm for the winter.  

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

Broccoli x 2-  Two beautiful heads of broccoli per member this week.  Wow!  We are so happy to share these!  Broccoli keeps best if kept very cold.  We worked hard to get these picked, cooled and iced as quickly as possible when bringing them in from the field.  We recommend picking up your box and rushing your broccoli home to a safe place in your refrigerator!  There is nothing more sad than yellowing broccoli from getting warm!  Also keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge to preserve moisture. Tomato Rows

Cauliflower-  Also a beautiful and stunning head of cauliflower per member this week.  Similar to the broccoli, rush your cauliflower home and into its safe place in the fridge.  So many fun recipes for cauliflower these days as a low-carb substitute for bread, potatoes and more!  Have fun with it!  There were probably ten boxes at the very end that received three heads of broccoli and no cauliflower.  

Green Top Beets- By "green top" we mean that they still have their greens attached to them on top;)  Did you know that beet greens are deliciously edible?  Yep!  You can use them in your cooking like you would spinach or swiss chard.  Our girls love beets boiled then peeled then cubed and tossed with butter.  

Green Cabbage-  It's always very exciting for the first week of offering cabbage each season.  These Quickstart cabbages aren't as dense as a storage type cabbage, but are all of the crispiness, greenness and lovliness that we look for in cabbage.  We sometimes leave an outer layer or two for protection on the cabbage, so feel free to snap off a couple of those outer leaves that may be not as tender as the inner leaves.  Should keep well in the fridge for two weeks.  

Summer Squash and Zucchini-  6-7 Squash per member this week.  Zucchini and Summer squash are producing well, be sure to get all of your kabob recipes, spiralizer recipes, and zucchini bread recipes out because it's high tide for summer squash and zucchini.  Remember that it can also be grated, stuffed in a freezer ziplock bag and frozen without blanching.  It could also be sliced, ziplocked and then frozen.  Squash is very easy to freeze if you just can't keep up!

Cucumber-  It's starting!  Two cucumbers per member this week.  A great way to help keep you cool!  Cucumbers in every box next week! 

Green Onions-  Still another week or two of green onions to hold us over.  It's fun to watch them get a little bigger each week as we harvest them!  Remember that you can use these guys all the way up to their tips.  We'll continue to harvest green onions/scallions for boxes for the next couple weeks to hold us over until the real onions start maturing! 

Swiss Chard- We plant a rainbow of chard colors including pink, red, white, orange and yellow.  As we harvest, it is usually the luck of the draw.  Your bunch may be a nice mix of colors, or it could be all white or all red.  It's hard to say!  The flavors are all the same, but the colors the leaves impart during cooking vary.   

Peas-  Sadly this is the final giving of peas for the season.  A half pound of peas per member this week.  We had a very nice run on peas this year with lots of helping hands to get them picked!  Thank you to all of the loving, patient and dilligent pea pickers on the farm!  

Green Leaf Lettuce -  You may have received one or two heads, depending on if there was space left in your box!  Summer lettuce is coming to an end 

Mint-  Cute little bunches of mint this week as our herb offering.  Likely won't keep long, ut best to keep like fresh-cut flowers in a vase in the kitchen or in a plastic bag in the fridge.  Use up quickly by either making tea or chopping it into a tabouleh salad.  

Next Week's Best Guess-  Cabbage, Beets, carrots, cukes, squash, celery, kale, lettuce, bunching onions, garlic, parsley, 

Recipes

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Casserole

Gluten Free Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

Beet Borscht

Beet and Goat Cheese Pizza (Beetza)

July Twelveth

The days are long.  Long and hot and humid.  The farmer’s bodies are tired and weary.  Not weak or worn just yet but feeling well-used and even sore muscles some days.  And the beginning of the heavy harvesting is only beginning.  Cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini, broccoli and cauliflower all need picking every other day.  The bending and the cutting and walking of heavy bins down 250 foot rows at 3-o-clock in the afternoon amid the 85 degree temperatures toughens you up.  It builds character.  This is the day-job.  This is not a weekend recreational excersize ajenda.  This is everyday life for the farmer. DSC 0347

The real physical labor in vegetable production seems to come in at harvest time.  The sheer weight of the produce adds up.  You’ll also begin to notice as the season goes on that your boxes will feel heavier!  We have been filling them up with leafy greens and fluffy foliage, but that space will gradually be filled with more dense and solid veggies like cucumbers, zucchinis, beets, cabbage, carrots and so on.

I feel thankful for the tractor.  The big, loud, stinky, huge tractor that consumes all of it’s oils and greases and fluids of all kinds.  The big chunks of steel filling up our machine shed that come in all kinds of weird colors and shapes that make vegetable production on this farm efficient and possible.  I think of how much extra work this would all be (if even possible) without them tractors.  I sometimes wish I was trained as a young person to work with horses.  I have a romantic enough heart that I just may have wanted to set the farm up using horses instead of tractors if I had been groomed differently from a young age. 

Even a little farm our size has 5 tractors.  Two for heavy tillage like plowing, discing, tilling and bed prepping.  The big ones are also used for digging roots, seeding, transplanting and mulch-laying.  We even have one small Allis Chalmers dedicated to a spray set up for spraying our expensive and in-effective organic sprays to kill bugs like flea beetles and cabbage loopers so your veggies don’t come covered in holes.  The other two small Farmalls are cute, antique-looking things that are used exclusively for cultivating.  The Farmalls are quirky, but I really love to watch Adam on the horizon beautifully hilling and cultivating a half-acre of potatoes in an hour or two using minimal energy.  Cultivating (or weeding by dragging steel shoe-like shanks down the rows between the vegetables) is stressful for farmer Adam, but he’s so dang good at it!DSC 0350

I know that there are some people who love farming because they have a fascination with machinery.  Machinery is fun to use.  It’s powerful and makes work extremely efficient and productive.  But machines are expensive, they break, they rust, they bend, and it takes a skilled person to know how to operate them.  Machines use oil and gas and we have designed our farm around them.  Neither Adam or I share this love or obsession with machinery that some farmers undoubtedly have.  We find them to be useful and valuable tools on our farm-but slightly annoyed by them-kind of like computers and cell phones these days too, right? 

I may not love the tractors and the machines, but I do respect them.  I put a lot of hours in on maintenance for them. I mind them.  I try to keep them sheltered and fed.  And I never take for granted how dangerous and powerful they are.  Today, I am merely thankful for them and that they help make this all possible. 

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

Broccoli x 2-  Two amazingly huge heads of broccoli per member this week.  Wow!  We are so happy to share these!  Broccoli keeps best if kept very cold.  We worked hard to get these picked, cooled and iced as quickly as possible when bringing them in from the field.  We recommend picking up your box and rushing your broccoli home to a safe place in your refrigerator!  There is nothing more sad than yellowing broccoli from getting warm!  Also keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge to preserve moisture.  

Cauliflower-  Also a beautiful, large and stunning head of cauliflower per member this week.  Similar to the broccoli, rush your cauliflower home and into its safe place in the fridge.  So many fun recipes for cauliflower these days as a low-carb substitue for bread, potatoes and more!  Have fun with it!  

Fennel-  Yes, another one of these funky things.  Fennel is a vegetable in the umbelifferea family-the same family as carrots, celery, dill, parsley and parsnips (an impressive family, I know!).  It's flavor, when eaten raw resembles licorice.  It is nice eaten raw if shaved very thinly with a mandolin into or onto a salad.  When cooked, fennel looses most of that licorice flavor and looks and tastes a lot like caramelized onions.  There is a small core at the base of the fennel that I like to cut out before eating.  The white bulb of the fennel is most commonly used in cooking, but the stalks and frawns are edible as well if you really love that licorice flavor.  The frawns also make a beautiful garnish.

Kohlrabi-  Cut the leaves off of the top of the kohlrabi and use them in your cooking like kale.  Using a pearing knife or a small knife, peel the outer edge of the kohlrabi off before you eat it.  These kohlrabis are so mild and tender and have a hint of sweetness to them!  Once a kohlrabi has been cut open, the flavor is best if it is eaten within an few hours.  Also wonderful if chopped into veggie sticks, sprinkled with salt and eaten raw and whole!  Kohlrabi is also called the "ground apple" because its internal texture is so much like that of an apple.

Summer Squash and Zucchini-  6-7 Squash per member this week.  

Cucumber-  We harvested the first 200 cucumbers of the season this week.  We had 200 cukes but had 300 boxes to fill, so 1/3 of the people did not get one.  If you did not get one, you likely received an extra squash.  Cucumbers in every box next week!  

Green Onions-  Because what would life be like without some kind of onion in our cooking?  Remember that you can use these guys all the way up to their tips.  We'll continue to harvest green onions/scallions for boxes for the next couple weeks to hold us over until the real onions start maturing!  

Red Culry Kale-  Redbore kale is loaded with all kinds of nutritious goodies.  

Webmd says:  

At just 33 calories, one cup of raw kale has:

Nearly 3 grams of protein

2.5 grams of fiber (which helps manage blood sugar and makes you feel full)

Vitamins A, C, and K

Folate, a B vitamin that’s key for brain development

Alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. (While kale has far less omega-3 than fish, it is another way to get some of this healthy fat into your diet.

Lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that give kale its deep, dark green coloring and protect against macular degeneration and cataracts Minerals including phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and zinc

Peas-  A record breaking 1.25lbs of peas per member this week!  Wow!  We have never before given this kind of weight in peas to members.  It has been a peas-ful growing season so far!  Plenty of helping hands to get these peas picked.  And imagine the conversations, laughter, stories and friendship that happens when we're picking them togehter as a crew.  A lot of love goes into these!  

Scapes-  Scapes are almost over.  We might have another small bunch for members next week, but it won't be long before we're pulling the real garlic blubs out of the ground.  Very exciting!  Remember that the edible part of the garlic scape is up until the nodule on the garlic scape.  

Lettuce x2-  A red leaf lettuce and a red oakleaf lettuce, or two red leaf lettuce heads.  Still plenty of lettuce to share each week.  Lettuce may be winding down a bit as the hotter weather takes hold.  Lettuce does not always hold well in the heat in the fields.  

Basil-  Very small bunches of basil per member this week.  We noticed that the plants were looking so lush and delicious, we wanted to share some of it with you.  Basil is very finnickey in that once it has been harvested, it prefers to be placed in water like fresh cut flowers and left on the countertop at room temperature.  Basil does not love to be refrigerated or it will turn black from the cold.  Basil also does not love to be washed once it was harvested.  We didn't have the ideal way to keeping it, so it was already starting to loose some of it's freshness by packing night on Tuesday afternoon.  So we recommend using it up as quickly as possible if you can because it likely won't keep long!  

Recipes

Cauliflower Broccoli Salad

Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Fresh Basil Leaves

Shaved Fennel Salad with Peas and Mint

Nacho Kale Chips

July Fifth

If you were not part of a CSA farm this season, and unless you’re a hard-core foodie (and I do hope you’re on your way to becoming one), you probably would not have salad turnips, kohlrabi, garlic scapes, dill and fennel in your refrigerator this week. These are out-of-the-norm items that, unless your CSA farmer gives them to you, tells you that is what is in season and encourages you to try new recipes, you might not be eating these things.  But ‘Horray’ for YOU!  You are eating these things, they are local, organic and in season, and I for one, think you’re awesome for doing it!DSC 0357

This is how a CSA season starts out.  Lots of leafy greens, quick Spring crops that can be grown in the midwest like radish, lettuce, kale and so forth to help hold us over until the fun, classic and traditional items like tomatoes, sweet corn, potatoes, onions and green beans can be grown.  You’re feeling proud of yourself for shaving those turnips on top of your salad.  You’re feeling adventurous for trying new Kale and Swiss Chard recipes and you’re feeling progressive for being part of a local, organic farm.  You’re feeling brave for eating those garlic scapes and fennel.  You even feel good in your tummy for getting all of this nutritious stuff into your body!  And if this is your second or third or more year of doing this CSA thing, you’re probably even feeling confident and capable. 

The CSA experience really isn’t even entirely just about the box of food.  With the rise of the well-marketed Hello Freshes and the Blue Apron’s in the world that offer the home-delivered boxes of food with recipe cards, I worry about the loss of ‘community and place’ and ‘local’ and ‘organic’ in these programs.  CSA is also about the place that it comes from and the people who partake in growing it.  For me it is hugely about community and family and eating locally and seasonally.  The Hello Freshes and Blue Aprons are well-marketed, competitive and convenient, but missing all of the golden gems that can be offered inherently in a CSA box share.  CSA is so much more than a box of vegetables and some recipe suggestions. 

These vegetables are grown with love by people who you can contact and at a place you can visit.  When you see that we get rain, you know that your vegetables are getting rain.  When you know it’s been dry, you know the farm needs rain.  When you saw severe storms on the radar, you think of your farm and hope the crops are okay.  When you see the pictures of the workers and the farmers in the fields, you have and intimate association and connection with the food, something that you can only get through CSA, farmer’s markets or growing your own food. DSC 0354

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

Salad Turnips-  These are the smaller white turnips bunched with their greens on.  These are nice if sliced very thinly on top of a salad with a mandolin.  The greens are also perfectly edible in any way that you might normally incorporate greens into your cooking.  Omlet with turnip greens?

White and Purple Kohlrabi-  Each member received one white kohlrabi and one purple kohlrabi-or maybe two purple kohlrabis.  We tried to give everone one of each, but had a few more purples than whites.  Cut the leaves off of the top of the kohlrabi and use them in your cooking like kale.  Using a pearing knife or a small knife, peel the outer edge of the kohlrabi off before you eat it.  These kohlrabis are so mild and tender and have a hint of sweetness to them!  Once a kohlrabi has been cut open, the flavor is best if it is eaten within an few hours.  Also wonderful if chopped into veggie sticks, sprinkled with salt and eaten raw and whole!  Kohlrabi is also called the "ground apple" because its internal texture is so much like that of an apple. 

Broccoli-  Everyone's favorite!  A broccoli for everyone!  Broccoli likes to be kept very cold to be stay fresh.  It also keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge. 

Red Oakleaf or Buttercup lettuce-  The red buttercups were holding up nicely in the fields and it won't be long before we aren't abe to get these tender varieties of lettuce as the heat season is approaching. 

Romaine Head Lettuce-  This romaine is maybe some of the nicest romaine we have ever grown.  Maybe soil improvement, maybe all the moisture, maybe the new variety, but we are happy with them!  We thought the huge leaves would make nice wrappers for chicken lettuce wraps or a spicy beef wrap.  Romaine is also great for making Ceaser salads with crutons, ranch dressing and chicken!  Yum! 

Sweet Peas-  Whaaaaaaaa?  Sweet peas?  .66lbs per member!  There isn't much in life that gets better than fresh-picked sweet peas!  And they have so much flavor!  So sweet!  We're expecting an even bigger giving next week!

Dill-  A super fun herb for making fun salad dressings, creamy dips or even soups with.  Dill is also nice dried if you can't use the whole thing.  We recommend laying the bunch out and dehydratig it.  Dill is very alkalizing in the body, so very healthy to eat!  This week it is flowering a bit, but the frawns are still perfectly edible even when the plant is at this stage.  

Zucchini and Summer Squash-  The zucchini and Summer Squah are starting!  Three this week.  The production on these goes up and up and keeps on going!  So dust off your old zucchini recipes, here they come!  Zucchini and summer squash are a very watery-soft squash that can be sauteed lightly into stir fries, marrinated and then grilled, or spiralized into a gluten-free pasta.  Zucchini and Summer squash don't have much flavor of their own, so they are great at absorbing the flavors of your home-made dressings.  They can also be used inter-changably in recipes.  The only thing really that differs about them is their color and shape. 

Garlic Scapes-  These are the long and skinney things that look a bit like a long string bean or something, but they should smell strongly of garlic.  These scapes are the garlic plant's effort at making a seed head.  Each garlic plant makes one scape.  If snapped off, the garlic plant will put more of it's energy into making a nice big garlic bulb rather than putting it's energy into making a seed head bulbous.  Fortunately for us, these scapes are delicious to eat!  Start chopping them up with your knife at the base of the bunch and use the little green chopped pieces like garlic in your soups, stir fries, pastas, eggs or wherever you might ordinarily cook with garlic!  You can also make a garlic scape pesto which has become very popular.  We like the chop up the garlic scapes beginning from the base of the bunch up until the little nodules on the scape-  the rest of the scape is still edible but a little more chewy.

Green Onions/Scallions-  The first giving of green onions.  These bunches of green onions are smaller this week.  This is the frist giving of them and the bunch size goes up as the onions grow and they get bigger over the next few weeks.  You can use every part of these onions in your cooking, all th way up to the tips of the greens!  

Lacinato Kale-  Lacinato is probably the most popular and trendy of the kale varieties today.  It is an heirloom variety (meaning open pollinated or not a hybrid).  Lacinato is a darker green than some other varieties of kale and has a smooth texture for cooking.  

Fennel-  Fennel is a vegetable in the umbelifferea family-the same family as carrots, celery, dill, parsley and parsnips (an impressive family, I know!).  It's flavor, when eaten raw resembles licorice.  It is nice eaten raw if shaved very thinly with a mandolin into or onto a salad.  When cooked, fennel looses most of that licorice flavor and looks and tastes a lot like caramelized onions.  There is a small core at the base of the fennel that I like to cut out before eating.  The white bulb of the fennel is most commonly used in cooking, but the stalks and frawns are edible as well if you really love that licorice flavor.  The frawns also make a beautiful garnish.

Next Week's Best Guess:  Lettuce x2, summer squash and zucchini, beets, kohlrabi, green onions, garlic scapes, fennel, sweet peas, broccoli and cauliflower

Recipes:

Cream of Broccoli and Fennel Soup (a long-time favorite of mine)

Spring Salad with Fennel and Orange

Risoto with Sweet Sausage and Fennel

Chocolate Kale Smoothie (Thank you Megan for these awesome Kale Smoothie Recipes!)

Classic Green Monster Smoothie with Kale or Greens

Sun Dried Tomato, Kale, Hemp Pesto (Thank you again, Megan, for this awesome Kale Pesto Recipe)