July Twenty-Fifth

Ode to the Worker Shares

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Beet Chocolate Cake

Oven Fried Zucchini Spears

Sweet and Spincy Chinese Cabbage Salad

Quinoa Tabouli Recipe