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!

September Twenty-First

Rain, Rain, Go Away.  Come Again Another Day!

This late summer has been a challenge.  While I do try very hard to refrain from complaining about the weather, the work load, the stress or the condition of the crops, farmer Adam assures me that when I portray the message to you via these sweet little newsletters, I am not complaining, I am explaining.  I still haven’t been able to get Adam to write a single CSA Newsletter in 11 years, so I have to channel him on occasion for newsletters such as these.  We are feeling very tried. hay ride

I’m going to bore you quickly with a few statistics.  The average precipitation for Vernon County, WI  in one year is 34.22 inches.  So far this year (and we’re only ¾ the way through the year) Vernon County has received about 28.9 inches of rain.  Last month alone we received over 6 inches of rain.  Just today, in a brief, quickie little storm that passed through, we received another refreshing ½ inch.  I’m really not sure how this translates in a non-farmer brain, but I do feel the information is very clear and understandable to most people.  This is A LOT of rain.  As I write this newsletter on Monday night and I peek at the forecast for the rest of the week, there are 60-80% chances of rain for the remaining days of the week with severe weather and flood warnings on the NOAA website for our county.  A gloomy outlook for a typically chipper girl. 

How is all of this rain affecting the crops?  Well, firstly some things are a little more dirty than what we would normally like to ship.  We do not wash some crops such as peppers, edamame, green beans, potatoes and more.  Some crops we believe should not be washed, some crops can not be washed because there is no way to dry them and the moisture would make them rot (such as green beans, edamame or cilantro), and some crops we simply don’t have the mechanical means or the time to wash (such as peppers and tomatoes).  We are trying very hard to clean some crops such as carrots, beets, kohlrabi, winter squash, garlic and onions.   

Another result of so much moisture is rot.  The carrots are rotting the field like we have never seen before in the history of our farm.  We have been having to dig the carrots the old fashioned way with a pitch fork rather than using a bed lifter (a simple machine attached to the back of the tractor).  This takes up gobs more time than what a carrot harvest should take.  The carrots are covered in muck and so is our clothing and boots when we leave the field.  We are feeling quite nervous about the potato harvest this year.  How will we get them dug if it never stops raining?  Will we dig them with a pitch fork?  Will a percentage of them be rotten?  Even our broccoli harvest this week shows signs of rot.  The gorgeous fall broccoli heads that are so large and usually perfect looking are ridden with black and yellow spots from rot.  We are having to tolerate some of this and ship it to you, but it will affect the storage life of your broccoli and cauliflower.  Use it up quick!

I promise that it is not my nature to complain.  Adam assures me that I am just explaining.  I want more than anything to talk about the beautiful parts of our life and this farm, but sometimes things don’t always go our way.  For the first-time CSA member with our farm, we ask for your patience and forgiveness this season.  It truly has been a challenging growing season, especially this last month with crazy rain every few days keeping the soil and the leaf surface on the plants moist almost all of the time, creating ideal conditions for mold and disease to grow rampant.  Fingers crossed that the rain lets up for a while.  We sure could use a week or so of dry weather to give things a chance to dry out.  Thank you for your support through this difficult time!  We’re doing everything we can to keep the CSA boxes looking full, colorful, flavorful and diversified!  Cheers!kids pumpkins

Sooo…What’s in the Box???

Acorn Squash-  These are the large, blue-green squash at the bottom of your box.  Cut them in half lengthwise, scoop the seeds out and lay the squash cut-side down in a 9x13 pan with about a half inch of water at the bottom of the pan.  Bake them for about an hour at 350.  After one hour, you will be able to scoop out all of the yellow/orange flesh. 

Yellow Onions-  Yellow Onions!  They’re all cured down by now and we’ll continue to shell them out until then end of the season!

Jalapeno Pepper-  Two of these little guys per box.  Jalapenos turn red as they ‘ripen’ near the end of the growing season.  You may have received a red Jalapeno.  Jalapenos pack a little more heat than the Hungarian Hot Wax peppers.  We recommend wearing gloves if you go to cut these up!

Sweet Bell Peppers-  Three sweet peppers per member this week.  You may have received red, orange and/or yellow peppers this week.  A wonderful addition to your salsas, stir frys and salads!  Some of the sweet peppers this week were a Carmen variety that are large, bulky peppers like a sweet bell, but come to a point at the tips.

Lunchbox Sweet Peppers-  Everyone received about four little, small sweet peppers that could be mistaken for a hot pepper, but they are not hot.  They usually come in red, yellow and orange colors.  We grew these little guys last year for the first time and totally fell in love with them!  Eat these for a snack raw, or cook with them like you would any other sweet bell pepper.

Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes-  We only harvested enough for about half of the members.  Some of the pints were mixed with a small, red grape tomato that ripens the color red, unlike the sungold cherry tomtoes that ripen orange.

Savoy Cabbage-  Another fun cabbage for the late summer boxes.  Savoy means ‘crinkled’ or ‘wavy’ leafed.  These cabbages don’t keep as long as a dense, green storage cabbage.  They are more tender and have more air in the heads and are nice eaten raw because they are so tender and crunchy!

Eggplant-  One eggplant per member.  Either a Japanese eggplant or a standard eggplant.  Some of these were very small, but we did more of a clear-cut harvest on these as we figured that this was probably our final Eggplant harvest and we were able to just barely get enough to give everyone one eggplant, no matter the size. 

Kohlrabi- Either a White or a purple kohlrabi this week.  These are so tender and crunchy!  Don’t forget that you can cook with the Kohlrabi greens like you would kale or any other cooking green!

Tomatoes-  Tomatoes are on the decline.  We packed about a 2 lb bag of tomatoes for everyone this week.  We did our very best to keep strict quality standards this week as to not let any tomatoes with blight spots in the bags.  We pick any tomato with a ‘blush’ or any shade of red, yellow or orange.  We grow many different kinds of tomatoes and some are romas, some are heirlooms and some are standard slicing tomatoes.  We grow many different colored tomatoes as well.  Don’t wait for your tomatoes to all turn a bright red color, some of them ripen pink or yellow or orange.  You will know when they are ripe if you give them a very gentle squeeze and they are soft and not firm anymore.  Do not put your tomatoes in the fridge as their flavor with diminish.  We recommend leaving your tomatoes on your countertop to ripen if they are slightly under ripe.  Only if they are very ripe and you are in danger of loosing them should you put them in the fridge if you can’t eat them up promptly

Carrots-  1 lb of carrots per member this week. We had to dig all of these guys with a pitch fork again this week in the mud.kale harvest

Red Curly Kale or Lacinato Kale- We tried to get enough red curly kale for everyone but we ran out so we harvested lacinato kale for the remainder of the shares.  So beautiful and delicious!

Basil-  This will be the final giving of basil for the season.  The basil plants were really looking rough here at the end of the season!  We gave small bunches of just a few sprigs. Hopefully this will be enough to top a couple pizzas or make one last batch of brushetta.   

Broccoli or Cauliflower-  Either one head of broccoli or one head of cauliflower per member this week.  We had to cut and toss a fair amount of broccoli this week due to the heads rotting in the field from all of the rain.  We’re still hopeful it will stop raining and things will dry out soon! 

Garlic-  Armenian variety.  This garlic is special.  We have been saving our own garlic seed for over 12 years and have had this garlic variety in the family for as long as our farm has existed.  We love this variety because the cloves are so large.  You only need to peel one large clove rather than peeling several tiny cloves like what you experience when you buy china garlic in the grocery store.  This is a hardy, northern hardneck variety that is also quite attractive to look at.  It should keep on your counter for months.  If you still have it after January, stick it in the fridge for the longest shelf life.

Spinach-  .33 lbs per member on spinach this week.  We were excited to offer a fairly early offering of spinach this late Summer/early Fall season.  We

are looking forward to having spinach again next week for everyone! 

Next Weeks Best Guess:

Sweet Peppers, tomatoes, onion, kohlrabi, beets, winter squash, jalapeno pepper, lunchbox mini sweet peppers, spinach, thyme, broccoli/cauliflower, potato

Recipes

Italian Stuffed Savoy Cabbage

Italian Chicken Pasta Skillet with Tomato and Sweet Pepper

Old Fashioned Creamed Spinach

Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil

September Fourteenth

Coming to the Table

The shared family meal may be more than just a means to an end.  Eating dinner with your kids or parents or neighbors creates a unifying effect on the people sitting at the table.  If you want to get to know someone, re-connect with someone or simply nurture the bond with someone, the opportunity arises every day at least twice a day.  An article I read by The Atlantic suggests that the shared meal has a positive psychological effect on us-as well as a positive nutritional effect.DSC 0129

Meals made at home are almost always healthier than fast food meals or meals eaten outside the home.   Meals served at restaurants have higher trans-fats, salts and sugars than meals prepared at home.  The ingredients sourced at restaurants are usually the cheapest possible ingredients to keep the cost of the meal down.  And even if you’re eating out at a restaurant that serves all local or organic ingredients, if you’re eating alone regularly, you may not feel as full emotionally or psychologically than if you shared a meal with a friend or loved one.

Chances are good that if you have signed up for a CSA share with our farm, you are preparing at least a healthy percentage of your meals at home.  And if you’re not, potentially this newsletter or the article in the Atlantic could inspire you to want to do so.  As over-achieving Americans with such busy and fast-paced lives, it is very easy to eat in our cars or at our computers or while checking our voicemails.  We are at a very unfortunate time in history where distractions, obligations, responsibilities, phones, twitter feeds and even work commutes are gobbling up our time and the only thing that we can afford to give is the 45 minutes we may or may not have spent sitting at a table sharing  a meal with people who mean the most to us. 

Or can we afford it?  I feel that we go into a form of an emotional debt when we sacrifice eating a meal around a table with the people who live in our home.  Soccer, Yoga or going to the gym might be good for our health and family structure in one way, but I would argue that eating meals at home with your family has the potential to be better for your long-term health than any other activity you may allocate your time towards.  The conversations that are had at a dinner table may be some of the most rich, revealing and connecting moments that we can create while serving the double function of filling our bellies and our hearts at the same time.  You may tell someone about yourself or your day that you may have otherwise not shared.  Likewise, you may learn something about someone in your home that was shared with you at the dinner table that they may not have been revealed in any other setting.  The dinner table has the magical ability to create a relaxing, comforting and consoling effect on those sitting around it. 

I remember the feeling of my mother cooking dinner in the kitchen as a child in such a fond way that it actually makes me feel warm in my chest just thinking about it.  It’s like a ‘happy place’ for me.  I remember the smells coming from the kitchen, the feeling of knowing that we were going to get fed soon, that mom was home and everything was all right now.  That the day was nearly over and we were all together again at last.  My mother happens to be an exceptionally good cook, and her cooking has gotten even better over the years.  But what I think is even more important than that she is a good cook, is that she did cook.  And while I sometimes resented the fact that we were demanded to drop everything and come to eat at the table right now, I am finally thankful for it in my later years.  We had rules too!  No elbows on the table.  We had to ask to be excused from the table, we had to use manners when asking for milk or water or if you could please pass the potatoes.  No reaching in front of anyone else’s plate or reaching far across the table.  There was an etiquette and a respectfulness that was expected to be delivered to the person who had prepared the meal for us.  While some of this may sound old fashioned to you, I would hope that that at the very least the shared meal (no matter your family etiquette) never, ever, ever goes out of fashion.  It doesn’t need to be all local and organic, it just needs to be prepared at home and shared with your family.  It’s a sort of endangerment of our emotional well being to not do so. 

So tonight make something good, even if you’re a terrible cook!  At least you’ll all get a good laugh out of it and it your efforts will have been a success! 

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/07/the-importance-of-eating-together/374256/

Sooo…What’s in the Box???

Spaghetti Squash-  These are the large, yellow, and hard winter squash at the bottome of your box.  These guys are all the rage in the gluten free world.  Cut them in half lengthwise, scoop the seeds out and lay the squash cut-side down in a 9x13 pan with about a half inch of water at the bottom of the pan.  Bake them for about an hour at 350.  After a hour is up, you’ll be able to scoop out all of the spaghetti like squash and enjoy it however you like.  Serve it with a home made tomato sauce using your tomatoes in this weeks box?!?! Edamame

Yellow Onions-  Yellow Onions!  They’re all cured down by now and we’ll continue to shell them out until then end of the season!

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper-  These peppers are also known as 'Banana peppers’.  They are most commonly seen lime green or a yellow-ish color.  When they are ‘ripe’ they turn orange or red which sometimes makes them a little sweeter.  Hungarian Hot Wax, despite their intimidating name are amidst one of the most mild of all hot peppers out there.  For a Woose like me, they’re perfect!

Jalapeno Pepper-  One of these little guys per box.  Jalapenos turn red as they ‘ripen’ near the end of the growing season.  You may have received a red jalanpeno.  Jalapenos pack a little more heat than the Hungarian Hot Wax peppers.  We recommend wearing gloves if you go to cut these up!

Sweet Bell Peppers-  Four sweet peppers per member this week.  You may have received red, orange and/or yellow peppers this week.  A wonderful addition to your salsas, stir frys and salads!  Some of the sweet peppers this week were a Carmen variety that are large, bulky peppers like a sweet bell, but come to a point at the tips.

Lunchbox Sweet Peppers-  Everyone received about four little, small sweet peppers that could be mistaken for a hot pepper, but they are not hot.  They usually come in red, yellow and orange colors.  We grew these little guys last year for the first time and totally fell in love with them!  Eat these for a snack raw, or cook with them like you would any other sweet bell pepper.DSC 0132

Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes-  We were able to pick one pint for everyone this week.  These are my personal favorite of all kinds of tomatoes!  Some of the pints were mixed with a small, red grape tomato that ripens the color red, unlike the sungold cherry tomtoes that ripen orange. 

Napa Cabbage-  Napa Cabbages are a popular cabbage variety that is used in kimchi.  It also makes a wonderful Asian salad that is eaten raw.  This is one of our favorite varieties of cabbage that we have the best of luck producing in the fall when the insect pressure is low.  Any kind of Asian vegetable variety is usually attacked by bugs in the heat of the summer.  

Edamame-  These are the little green pods in the plastic bag that look like soybeans.  The look like soybeans because they are an edible soybean!  You’ll have to give them a good rinse before you eat them because they were a little muddy from all of the rain this last week during harvest.  Boil them in a little salt water for just a few minutes and then pop the beans out of the shell and eat only the beans.  They’re great kid food and a terrific snack! 

Kohlrabi- Most of the kohlrabi that we harvested this week was the purple variety that.  Although, near the end of the harvest we harvested a few of the white kohlrabi.  These are so tender and crunchy!  Don’t forget that you can cook with the Kohlrabi greens like you would kale or any other cooking green!

Tomatoes-  Tomatoes are on the decline.  We packed a 4.5 lb bag of tomatoes for everyone this week.  We did our very best to keep strict quality standards this week as to not let any tomatoes with blight spots in the bags.  We had to cull a huge percentage of the harvest to make this happen.  We pick any tomato with a ‘blush’ or any shade of red, yellow or orange.  We grow many different kinds of tomatoes and some are romas, some are heirlooms and some are standard slicing tomatoes.  We grow many different colored tomatoes as well.  Don’t wait for your tomatoes to all turn a bright red color, some of them ripen pink or yellow or orange.  You will know when they are ripe if you give them a very gentle squeeze and they are soft and not firm anymore.  Do not put your tomatoes in the fridge as their flavor with diminish.  We recommend leaving your tomatoes on your countertop to ripen if they are slightly under ripe.  Only if they are very ripe and you are in danger of loosing them should you put them in the fridge if you can’t eat them up promptly

Carrots-  .85 lbs of carrots per member this week.  We struggled to get enough carrots for this weeks box because we had to dig them all with a pitch fork this week using hours more of labor and time to make this possible.  With all of the rain that we have been getting, we cannot make it into the fields with a tractor or digging equipment.  Furthermore, because of all of the rain this season, many of our carrots are rotting in the fields because they are sitting in ground that is always wet.  We’re hoping that we don’t loose too many more carrots to rot this Fall. 

Romaine Lettuce- One or two heads of lettuce per member this week depending on the size.  We are happy to be able to offer a fall giving of lettuce! 

Cilantro or Basil-  Most of the members received cilantro, but at the very end we needed to harvest about 10 bunches of basil to make up for what we did not get for cilantro. 

Garlic-  Armenian variety.  This garlic is special.  We have been saving our own garlic seed for over 12 years and have had this garlic variety in the ‘family’ for as long as our farm has existed.  We love this variety because the cloves are so large.  You only need to peel one large clove rather than peeling several tiny cloves like what you experience when you buy china garlic in the grocery store.  This is a hardy, northern hardneck variety that is also quite attractive to look at.  It should keep on your counter for months.  If you still have it after January, stick it in the fridge for the longest shelf life. 

Next Weeks Best Guess:

Sweet Peppers, tomatoes, onion, kohlrabi, carrots, garlic, winter squash, hungarian hot wax pepper, jalapeno pepper, lunchbox peppers, kale, savoy cabbage, basil, broccoli?

Recipes

Peanut Pasta Napa Cabbage Salad

Napa Cabbage Picnic Salad

Edamame and Veggie Fried Brown Rice

Vegetarian Quinoa and Edamame Salad

September Seventh

Each season unravels itself like a ball of uncarded wool.  As it lays there raw, and unraveled we are able to view the color differences, the different textures, and the rare soft spots.  The hard spots.  The stains.  And the ubiquitous spots of ideal and pleasing colors and textures.  So different are the weather patterns.  So different are the crews of people that come to the farm.  So different are the bountiful crops from season to season.  I am reminded how the farm is alive in so many different ways.  There is life and death everywhere and we are powerless to the forces of natures.  Storm patterns, personalities, crop pathology, entomology, and soil sciences.  The living humans that partake in this farm are merely strands of hair in the ball of yarn that is composed of millions of other living contributions.  How important we think we are.  How vital we think our role.  It is our job as pepper or person to serve as humble strands in big old ball of yarn. IMG 2735

I was out hanging up a load of laundry last Thursday night around 9pm when I saw the Northern Lights streak like blue pillars in waves across the sky.  At first I watched in amazement and slight dis-belief.  Do we really get to see Northern Lights in southwest Wisconsin?  We do!  But only if you’re crazy enough to be outside hanging laundry at 9pm.  The lights got brighter and taller and became impressively bright a few times as they slowly moved East.  I raced inside to get Adam and show him.  We watched together on the back porch for a minutes feeling blessed and lucky and grateful.  The show lasted maybe 10 whole minutes.  Then I went back to quietly hanging my laundry.

The busyness of the season leave us feeling very tired.  We’re working as long and as hard as we are humanly able to do.  We are tried and tired.  We are sore and stressed.  We aren’t getting enough sleep and the house is a mess.  The yard needs trimming and the chickens are completely free ranging now into the greenhouse, the packing shed and have even been spotted up by the house.  But who am I to complain?  The CSA boxes look amazing.  We have our health.  We have two beautiful children.  We have the bounty of the farm, a roof over our head and a restful winter to look forward to. 

They say to count your blessings, to name them one by one.  It’s damn hard to do.  It needs to become a daily chore, like brushing your teeth or feeding the dog.  Tell yourself that you have it all.  You have everything you need.  You have opportunities available to you on your worst day that someone else in a faraway land would give everything for.  The Northern Lights.  The rain (even if it is too much).  The company (even if they talk too much).  The bounty (even if you can’t eat it all).   Your car (even if it won’t start).  Kids (even if you don’t have any).  Your husband (even if he forgot your anniversary).  Change is the only constant and how fun is this magic carpet ride through the growing season of 2016?!

Sooo…What’s in the Box???

German Butter Ball Potato-  These papas were lovingly lifted from the dark earth this week by gentle hands.  We are so happy to be working with fresh, crisp potatoes again!  You’ll notice that we do not wash potatoes for a few reasons. 

1)  We know that they keep much better with dirt on.DSC 0130

2)  We don’t have the time to wash them with all of the other harvesting we’re doing.

3)  Freshly dug potatoes will scuff and the skins will peel off quite easily. 

2.5lbs per member.

Yellow Onions-  Yellow Onions!  They’re all cured down by now and we’ll continue to shell them out until then end of the season!

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper-  These peppers are also known as 'Banana peppers’.  They are most commonly seen lime green or a yellow-ish color.  When they are ‘ripe’ they turn orange or red which sometimes makes them a little sweeter.  Hungarian Hot Wax, despite their intimidating name are amidst one of the most mild of all hot peppers out there.  For a Woose like me, they’re perfect!

Jalapeno Pepper-  One of these little guys per box.  Jalapenos pack a little more heat than the Hungarian Hot Wax peppers.  We recommend wearing gloves if you go to cut these up!

Sweet Bell Peppers-  Five sweet peppers per member this week.  You may have received red, orange and/or yellow peppers this week.  A wonderful addition to your salsas, stir frys and salads!  Some of the sweet pepper this week were a Carmen variety that are large, bulky peppers like a sweet bell, but come to a point at the tips. 

Lunchbox Sweet Peppers-  Everyone received about five little, small sweet peppers that could be mistaken for a hot pepper, but they are not hot.  They usually come in red, yellow and orange colors.  We grew these little guys last year for the first time and totally fell in love with them!  Eat these for a snack raw, or cook with them like you would any other sweet bell pepper.DSC 0132

Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes-  We were able to pick one pint for everyone this week!  Some boxes may have even gotten two pints if there was room in the box at th end of the packing line.  These are my personal favorite of all kinds of tomatoes!  These little sungolds are packed with flavor and sunshine and good for your tummy and heart gloriness!

Green Cabbage-  These cabbages are large, but not as dense as a storage cabbage.  If you have been wanting to make sauerkraut, this is your chance!  Or hold off until we give Napa Cabbages soon! 

Delicata Squash-  The first giving of winter squash!  It is very important for you to know that all of our delicatas had spots of decay on them!  When you pull your delicata out of your box and see spots on it, you can take comfort in knowing that they all looked like that!  This is due to the fact that we had a very wet growing season.  Delicatas are harder to grow among the many different winter squash varieties because of their susceptibility to curcubit diseases.  We thought to give these squash first since they will not keep with these spots on them.  You’ll have to cut around the spots.  We’re very sorry about this.  It was either we did not give them at all, or we gave them now before the spots advance and they go bad.  The rest of our squash crop looks great, so this is the only squash variety that we had this problem with. 

Tomatoes-  We were able to give everyone a whopping 10lbs of tomatoes this week again.  One huge bag of tomatoes packed to the brim.  We pick any tomato with a ‘blush’ or any shade of red, yellow or orange.  We grow many different kinds of tomatoes and some are romas, some are heirlooms and some are standard slicing tomatoes.  We grow many different colored tomatoes as well.  Don’t wait for your tomatoes to all turn a bright red color, some of them ripen pink or yellow or orange.  You will know when they are ripe if you give them a very gentle squeeze and they are soft and not firm anymore.  Do not put your tomatoes in the fridge as their flavor with diminish.  We recommend leaving your tomatoes on your countertop to ripen if they are slightly under ripe.  Only if they are very ripe and you are in danger of loosing them should you put them in the fridge if you can’t eat them up promptly.

Red Beets-  About 1 pound of beets per member this week.  We cut the greens off of the beets this week.  Beets keep wonderfully in your fridge in a plastic bag for months if you don’t have a recipe to use them up now.

Brussels Sprouts Tops-  We snap the tops off of the Brussels Sprouts plants to tell the plants to stop growing upwards which them seem to want to do forever.  Once we snap the tops of the plants begin to make larger sprouts on the stalks.  The sprouts are currently smaller but will soon bulk out now that we’ve topped them.  Coincidentally, the tops are edible like kale or collard greens and can be used in any of your favorite greens recipes.   

Oregano-  A fun herb to add to your tomato sauce this week.  If you can’t use all of the oregano you can unbunch the bunch and lay it out to dry on your dehydrator trays or in a very low heat oven until it is dry and crispy.  Once it is dried, crumble it off of the stems and store the dried leaves in a mason jar with a tight lid to preserve freshness.

Next Weeks Best Guess:

Sweet Peppers, tomatoes, onion, napa cabbage, kohlrabi, carrots, garlic, winter squash, eggplant, hungarian hot wax pepper, jalapeno pepper,  edamame, lunchbox peppers, chard, cherry tomatoes

Recipes

Sliced Tomatoes with Fresh Herb Dressing

Crisp Brussels Sprout Leaves

Cheddar Tomato Cobbler

Herb Stuffed Tomatoes

August Thirty First

The rain this summer has been unbelievable!  We can hardly believe that every time we check the forecast there is more rain coming.  It feels a little like a rain forest around here this last month or so with warm, hot days and very high humidity.   We feel thankful on the farm for the reprieve from the heat that is happening now. 

We are happy to say that we are finally done planting.  It’s hard to belive that a vegetable farm like ours that begins seeding the frist of the onions and celery in the wee and early days of March continues to seed, transplant and direct seed outside all the way through mid Augst.  The last of our transplants of lettuce, turnip and rutabaga all went in about ten days ago and our fall spinach plants are beginning to show their first true leaves.  Now, finally, after all of these months of planting, weeding and harvesting, we’re done planting!  Now we’re down to just weeding and harvesting. PostPackCrew

It is impressive to see how much planning and organization goes into planning out all of these successions of plantings to ensure a steady, weekly supply of a colorful, flavor and diversified vegetable array for you to open up in your surprise packages week after bountiful week.  You’re worth it though!  This is all a labor of love!

The rains have led to blight on the tomato plants.  We’re not sure just how long the tomatoes will be able to hang in there with all of this moisture in the air.  Tomatoes do not like to have their leaves wet or the blight or disease on the leaves of the plants will take hold and slowly kill the plants.  While we are harvesting heavy harvests of tomatoes now, we predict that the tomato harvest will end sooner this year than it has in previous years.  We’ll see what happens here. 

We farmers are never quite happy, as you may know, with the weather.  No matter how much rain we’re getting it is always not enough or too much.  No matter the temperatures it is either too hot or not hot enough.  With so many different crops and so many different ideal conditions for each crop, there is no ideal amount of rain or sunshine.  It’s a good thing we have no say in the weather.  Because who could we blame if everything went our way and it still wasn’t what we needed after all. 

Finally we feel thankful that the dawning of Fall is here.  The first of the leaves on the big Maple Tree have begun to turn colors.  The temperatures are finally dropping instead of rising and the days are getting shorter and shorter by the constant and predictable 2 minutes each day.  The cooler temperatures bring back a bounce to our step.  We wake up whistling and approach each day with gratitude for yet another fruitful summer on the farm.  What a merry place to know and be a part of! 

Sooo…What’s in the Box???

Red Potatoes-  The first potato giving of the season, finally!  These papas were lovingly lifted from the dark earth this week by gentle hands.  We are so happy to be working with fresh, crisp potatoes again!  3lbs per member. 

White Onions-  Another week of  whole onions.  The onions are all harvested and laid out and looking beautiful on the curing tables in the greenhouse.  The white onions don’t keep as well as the yellow or red onions, so we’re giving all of the white onions first before we move onto the yellow and red onions. 

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper-  These peppers are also known as 'Banana peppers’.  They are most commonly seen lime green or a yellow-ish color.  When they are ‘ripe’ they turn orange or red which sometimes makes them a little sweeter.  Hungarian Hot Wax, despite their intimidating name are amidst one of the most mild of all hot peppers out there.  For a Woose like me, they’re perfect!

Jalapeno Pepper-  One of these little guys per box.  Jalapenos pack a little more heat than the Hungarian Hot Wax peppers.  We recommend wearing gloves if you go to cut these up!

Sweet Bell Peppers-  Five to 6 sweet peppers per member this week.  You may have received either red, orange and/or yellow peppers this week.  A wonderful addition to your salsas, stir frys and salads!  Fajitas anyone?

Lunchbox Sweet Peppers-  Everyone received about four little, small sweet peppers that could be mistaken for a hot pepper, but they are not hot.  They usually come in red, yellow and orange colors.  We grew these little guys last year for the first time and totally fell in love with them!  Eat these for a snack raw, or cook with them like you would any other sweet bell pepper.DSC 0132

Eggplant or Romanesco-  Either one eggplant (either a standard eggplant or an Asian eggplant).  Eggplant prefers 50 degree storage, so there isn’t really a great way to keep them.  You choose, the counter or the fridge.  They’re really the best if you just use them up quickly!  If you did not receive an eggplant, you received a romanesco.  The romanescos are those fractal looking cauliflowers that are lime green in color.  So lucky to get one of these guys!

Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes-  We were able to pick one pint for everyone this week!  These are my personal favorite of all kinds of tomatoes!  These little sungolds are packed with flavor and sunshine and good for your tummy and heart gloriness!

Tomatoes-  We were able to give everyone a whopping 10lbs of tomatoes this week.  We pick any tomato with a ‘blush’ or any shade of red, yellow or orange.  We grow many different kinds of tomatoes and some are romas, some are heirlooms and some are standard slicing tomatoes.  We grow many different colored tomatoes as well.  Don’t wait for your tomatoes to all turn a bright red color, some of them ripen pink or yellow or orange.  You will know when they are ripe if you give them a very gentle squeeze and they are soft and not firm anymore.  Do not put your tomatoes in the fridge as their flavor with diminish.  We recommend leaving your tomatoes on your countertop to ripen if they are slightly under ripe.  Only if they are very ripe and you are in danger of loosing them should you put them in the fridge if you can’t eat them up promptly.

Green Beans mixed with Dragon Tongue Beans-  Some bags were mixed with Dragon Tongue and some were not.  A .80 lb bag of beans per member this week!  We planted a row of green beans right next to a row of Dragon Tongue Beans.  The Dragon Tongues are a larger, more flat type bean that is yellow with purple streaking.  The purple color will go away once the bean is cooked.  We tried to give everyone a mix of both types of beans.

Red Beets-  About 1 pound of beets per member this week.  We cut the greens off of the beets this week.  Beets keep wonderfully in your fridge in a plastic bag for months if you don’t have a recipe to use them up now. 

Green Curly Kale-  A very nice and hefty bunch of curly green kale for everyone this week.  When we can’t have fresh lettuce, it’s nice to have a hearty bunch of cooking greens to eat up! 

Cilantro-  Consider this CSA box a nice salsa box!  All of the fixings in this box for making Salsa!  Tomatoes, peppers, onions, and cilantro!  Pico time!

Garlic-  One head of garlic per member this week.  This is the Armenian hardneck porcelain variety.  Armenian garlic have four to five large cloves per bulb.  It is a nice kitchen garlic because you don’t have to peel 15 different small cloves, it has just four or five very large cloves.  Garlic will keep on your countertop in the kitchen for at least a few more months since it is so fresh.  But if you plan to keep it any longer than that, move it into the fridge where it will keep even longer! 

Next Weeks Best Guess:

Sweet Peppers, tomatoes, onion, beets, eggplant, hungarian hot wax pepper, jalapeno pepper,  edamame, cabbage?, kohlrabi?, lunchbox peppers, chard, oregano?, potatoes, cherry tomatoes

Recipes

Nacho Kale Chips

Eggplant Potato Moussaka

Caldo Verde (Portugese Kale-Potato Sausage Soup)

Pico de Gallo (Salsa)

August Twenty Fourth

Community Supported Agriculture or CSA began in the United States with a farm in Massachusetts that was selling shares for apples, cider, and vinegar.  The basic concept was born where what is produced locally is consumed locally.   The CSA members were a core group of people who were actively interested in knowing where their food came from, that is was produced without the used of pesticides and harmful synthetic chemicals and were deeply concerned that the farm that the food was being grown on was reserved for agriculture and the production of clean food indefinitely.DSC 0139

Similar programs and efforts were happening simultaneously in Germany, Switzerland and Japan around the same time period.  We were ‘ripe’ for this change you could say.  And we have come so far since then.  The number of CSA Farms out there is growing (an unknown total number but somewhere in the 1700s in the US) and there is fear that we are straying somewhat from the initial intent and dream that the creators had for the future of CSA. 

Farm monogamy has been woven into the foundation of the idea.  Finding a farm, like choosing a wife or a husband or a life-long friend is a good comparison.  In some areas where there are dozens of CSA farms to choose from, people are farm-hopping and finding a new farm to ‘try out’ each year like a T-shirt or a brand of jeans.  People are intrigued by the idea and excited about buying local produce-but are straying from the long-term relationship part of supporting a CSA farm.  We would like for you to think of it as more like choosing a football team to support, a city to move to, a college to send your kids to, or what company to work for where you would remain loyal and committed to that team or place or company through the years of drought, flood or bounty. 

As with any relationship that you may have, there is a beauty, richness and depth that reveals itself over time that simply cannot be felt or truly known without weathering the storm with a person over the years.  There are many ways to buy organic food these days through farmer’s markets, grocery stores, CSA’s , and organic Food Co-ops ect.  These are all blessings on the land and our community and it makes me feel hopeful. 

But what makes CSA farming so special and unique is the relationship to a place.  I’m not talking entirely about your relationship to me or Adam or our kids, because it’s not possible for us to be best friends with everyone.  I am talking about a relationship to a place.  Like having a place you call home and the image that comes to mind when you think about where your food comes from.  The big, red buildings, the Maple Tree on the ridge, the tractors, the gravel lane, the familiar grounds.  You eat the food from this place week after week, year after year, and suddenly it becomes your farm.  Adam and I are merely the stewards for this brief passing of history.  And when we are gone, maybe this farm will be run by one of the children in this community and the profundity of history will be a beautifully layered component.DSC 0135

If you find a farm to know and love you will experience the blessings of wonder, relationship, and commitment.  You will feel love for the place and also feel loved by the place.  You will create a history and develop stories that are your own.  It is okay to have love for many farms, but while remaining grounded and rooted in the one love you have for your farm.  I have a farm in my heart and it will be the same farm for my whole life. 

Sooo…What’s in the Box???

Red Watermelon- Ana is the variety of this watermelon.  A red, seedless watermelon that we are very happy with this year.  You can’t be sad if you have a watermelon on your countertop!

Summer Squash and Zucchini-  We’re down to harvesting the very last of the Summer Squash and Zucchini this week.  Probably this will be our final squash giving of the year.  Summer squash and zucchini also prefer 50 degree storage.

White Onions-  Another week of  whole onions.  The onions are all harvested and laid out and looking beautiful on the curing tables in the greenhouse.

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper-  These peppers are also known as 'Banana peppers’.  They are most commonly seen lime green or a yellow-ish color.  When they are ‘ripe’ they turn orange or red which sometimes makes them a little sweeter.  Hungarian Hot Wax, despite their intimidating name are amidst one of the most mild of all hot peppers out there.  For a Woose like me, they’re perfect!

Jalapeno Pepper-  One of these little guys per box.  Jalapenos pack a little more heat than the Hungarian Hot Wax peppers.  We recommend wearing gloves if you go to cut these up!

Sweet Corn-  3 Ears per member.  Adam wanted me to tell you all that this sweet corn should be called just “Corn” and not “Sweet Corn” because it’s not very sweet.  He was very disappointed in this variety and didn’t like it as much.  But, this is what we grew and this is what we have.   Better luck for next year.  Sweet corn needs to stay very cold in order to keep its sweetness.  Sweet corn does not keep well outside of the refrigerator, despite the fact that you see it being sold by truck farmers in parking lots outside of refrigeration.  Eat it up ASAP for the best flavor!  The sugars turn the starches very quickly once it has been picked!

Sweet Bell Peppers-  Three to 4 sweet peppers per member this week.  You may have received either red, orange and/or yellow peppers this week.  A wonderful addition to your salsas, stir frys and salads! 

Lunchbox Sweet Peppers-  Everyone received about four little, small sweet peppers that could be mistaken for a hot pepper, but they are not hot.  They usually come in red, yellow and orange colors.  We grew these little guys last year for the first time and totally fell in love with them!  Eat these for a snack raw, or cook with them like you would any other sweet bell pepper.

Eggplant-  Either one standard eggplant per member or 1-2 Japanese eggplants.  Eggplant prefers 50 degree storage, so there isn’t really a great way to keep them.  You choose, the counter or the fridge.  They’re really the best if you just use them up quickly! 

Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes-  We were able to pick one pint for everyone this week!  These are my personal favorite of all kinds of tomatoes!  These little sungolds are packed with flavor and sunshine and good for your tummy and heart gloriness! 

Tomatoes-  The beginning of the tomatoes!  We were able to give everyone a whopping 6.3lbs of tomatoes this week.  We pick any tomato with a ‘blush’ or any shade of red, yellow or orange.  We grow many different kinds of tomatoes and some are romas, some are heirlooms and some are standard slicing tomatoes.  We grow many different colored tomatoes as well.  Don’t wait for your tomatoes to all turn a bright red color, some of them ripen pink or yellow or orange.  You will know when they are ripe if you give them a very gentle squeeze and they are soft and not firm anymore.  Do not put your tomatoes in the fridge as their flavor with diminish.  We recommend leaving your tomatoes on your countertop to ripen if they are slightly under ripe.  Only if they are very ripe and you are in danger of loosing them should you put them in the fridge if you can’t eat them up promptly.colleen

Green Beans mixed with Dragon Tongue Beans-  Some bags were mixed with Dragon Tongue and some were not.  1.1 pounds of beans per member this week!  We planted a row of green beans right next to a row of Dragon Tongue Beans.  The Dragon Tongues are a larger, more flat type bean that is yellow with purple streaking.  The purple color will go away once the bean is cooked.  We tried to give everyone a mix of both types of beans.

Carrots-  One pound of carrots this week per member.  We snapped the tops off of the carrots this week because the tops of the carrots are starting to dye back and it made it a little easier for us to wash and bag them rather than sit in the fields and bunch them with their tops on.  Still very fresh carrots harvested on Monday morning by loving hands.

Romanesco-  These are the fractal looking vegetable.  They are in the same family as broccoli and cauliflower.  It snaps apart in the same way that a cauliflower does into little florettes and has a pleasant nutty flavor when compared to broccoli or cauliflower.  Enjoy the funky look of this veggie as you eat it! 

Garlic-  One head of garlic per member this week.  This is the Armenian hardneck porcelain variety.  Armenian garlic have four to five large cloves per bulb.  It is a nice kitchen garlic because you don’t have to peel 15 different small cloves, it has just four or five very large cloves.

Next Weeks Best Guess:

Sweet Peppers, tomatoes, onion, beets, eggplant, hungarian hot wax pepper, jalapeno pepper, garlic, green beans, romanesco?, lunchbox peppers, cilantro, green curly kale, potatoes, cherry tomatoes

Recipes

Watermelon Salsa

Savory Tomato Tart

Angel Hair Pasta with Eggplant Tomato Sauce

Roasted Red Pepper and Sundried Tomato Soup