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September Seventeenth

Fall has unofficially arrived.  In the second half of last week we were amazed with cooler temperatures in the morning.  For the first time this season the workers showed up with wool hats and sweaters and all kinds of protective clothing.  We were c-c-c-cold out there from spending the summer in our sandals and straw hats trying to stay protected from the sun rather than the cold, wet and wind.hay_rideA wagon full of folks who made it out to the farm this weekend for our Fall Pumpkin and Raspberry Pick and Potluck. We had a blast and the weather was perfect!

Fall brings a feeling of rush and hurry for us farmers.  The cooler weather reminds us that the clock is ticking, the soil temperatures are cooling and it won’t be long before the ground is frozen solid.  Forget about firewood, we’ve got to get our carrots, beets, parsnips, celeriac, leeks, and more out of the ground before winter sets in.  We have garlic to plant, plastic to rip out of the field and strawberries to mulch.  We have equipment to put away, sweet potatoes to dig and cure and oh yes, Fall Share boxes to pack!

The Fall rush is a different kind of excitement for us.  The summer months are just as busy and loaded with work to do as it is now, but with a cool breeze in the air, leaves falling from the trees and a warm bowl of soup for lunch, it feels more like a joyful harvest season than a laborious day of work in the summer heat.  Yes, Fall means that our winter’s rest is just ahead, but the rest is only satisfying because we know we have earned our reprieve. 

Surely it’s a good thing that winter does inevitably arrive because we may not know how and when to stop if the ground did not freeze into a solid block of ice.  Just as it’s a good thing that each day comes to an end as we may never come in from the fields if the sky did not turn dark.  Some of the best farmers I know are more like hopeless addicts that cannot help but think or talk about their crops.  The ground may freeze, but the farmer continues to plan and scheme and learn and grow. 

Slightly warmer temperatures in the week ahead bobbing up and down between the 40’s at night with the 60’s and low 70’s during the day.  We are granted a bit more time before the first frost arrives putting an abrupt end to our sweet summer peppers.  The Farmer’s Almanac predicts a harsh winter ahead, and we’re counting down the weeks now until baby Varney #2 arrives.  The harvest is bountiful and we have so much to be thankful for this year.  He’s to a cozy yet productive harvest season. 

Sooo….What’s in the Box????compressed_16

Green Cabbage, Savoy Cabbage or Red Cabbage-  More cabbages this week.  We’ll switch to potatoes and carrots next week.   

Spaghetti Squash-  These are the large, yellow winter squash at the bottom of your box.  The flesh is a stringy, yellow flesh that is similar looking to spaghetti noodles.  Spaghetti squash is all the rage right now in the gluten-free crowd. 

Tomatoes-  A 3lb bag of tomatoes for everyone this week.  Tomato production is almost over for the year.  The tomatoes are kicking the bucket on this farm much earlier this season than in previous years.  We’re sorry to see them go.  They will be missed.  Until next August, little tomatoes! 

Sweet Peppers-  2-3 Sweet Bell peppers per member this week.  We harvested the peppers in the pouring rain this week, they’re a little muddy from the wet harvest.  You’ll have to rinse them good before you use them this week. 

Red Beets-  3-4 medium to large beets per member this week. 

Golden Beets- This is the yellowish/golden colored root at the bottom of your box.  Golden beets have a milder flavor than the red beet.  I also really like how you can roast them with other roots and they won’t turn your whole dish red.  Golden beets can be grated raw into salads, juiced or used like you would use your red beets.  You could even dice it into small cubes and put it into a soup where you family wouldn’t even know they were eating beets because they don’t have the red color.  Very fun! 

Broccoli or Romanesco or Cauliflower-  We all know the look of broccoli, but some members received a Romanesco this week.  Romanescos are the lime-green colored fractal-looking broccoli/cauliflower cross.  These are really a treat because they really only grow well in the fall and take about 90 days to mature. Wet_Collard_HarvestMonday morning we had a cold, wet harvest in the rain and a little wind. All of the workers showed up on time and ready to work. What troopers we have here!

Flat Leaf Parsley-  A very small bunch of flat leaf parsley. 

Collards-  Some southern cooking greens to keep you in greens this week. 

Fennel-  A fennel bulb for everyone this week.  Fennel is a relative to celery, carrot, parsley, parsnip and dill.  We usually cut out the slightly tougher core on the underside of the fennel and use the rest of the bulb shaved raw into cold salads or sautéed or roasted in your favorite fennel dishes.  A couple suggestions below.  It has a licorice flavor when eaten raw that becomes almost un-noticeable once cooked. 

Jalapeno, Cayenne Pepper and Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers-  Listed in order of heat.  Hot peppers are nice to add to your soups, chilis and stews this Fall as the weather changes to keep your immune system moving right along.   

Eggplant or Extra Sweet Pepper-  Sadly, eggplants are not loving the cooler weather.  The plants look great and as though they would happily continue growing eggplants and setting flowers if it would just stay warm enough for their likings.  This is sad news for the eggplant lovers out there but a sigh of relief if you’ve been wondering what in the world to do with them. 

Yellow Onion-  Yes, more onions!

Cippolini Onion-  Cippolinis are an Italian heirloom variety that is a bit trickier to grow.  They grow in the shape of a flattened sphere that lends them nice for roasting since they are low and flat to the pan.  Some people like to coat them in oil and roast them whole.  A sweet onions that you could then eat with a knife and fork.  Also great just added when cooking a roast. 

Asian Tempest Garlic-  A spicy garlic to keep your cooking flavorful.  Garlic will keep well at a dry room temperature for a couple months.  If you want it to last longer than that, refrigerators work great too! 

½ Pint Cherry Tomatoes-  We didn’t have enough cherry tomatoes to go around, so we were just putting them in boxes at the end of the packing line that looked like they had a little extra room in them. 


Caramelized Fennel and Onion

Risotto with Sweet Sausage and Fennel

Roasted Spaghetti Squash Hash Browns

Spaghetti Squash with Basil, Tomatoes and Parmesan

Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl with Lime Peanut Sauce

September Tenth

All of this food, all of this Midwestern bounty, all of this richness!  It’s hard to believe that with so much abundance that it could ever end.  It’s hard to imagine an earth so generous and outpouring and substantial, that it could just one day stop giving.  Now buried in Tomatoes, what will my egg breakfast be when not smothered in raw tomato?  I have survived enough trips around the sun to know that the seasons do change and that while the good earth is very giving, that doesn’t stop the spinning of the planet away from the sun and from winter from setting in.  Being the local-food die-hards that we are, we have become increasingly adept at living “off the land” as each year passes.savoySavoy Cabbage

Don’t get me wrong, we eat plenty of rice, sugar, peanut butter and foods that are not produced on our farm, but it is at least rewarding and satisfying to know that a large percentage of our vegetable and meat consumption comes from this farm year round.  We like to use the winter months to splurge and buy some tropical fruits that we usually don’t buy in the summer months when we’re inundated with food on our farm.   In January, on a trip through the produce section at our local food coop, we buy Avocados, oranges, lemons, apples, grapes, banannas and usually leafy greens of some sort (because we can’t live all winter without them).  It’s fun to eat non-local foods in the winter for us because we are so loyal to only local foods in the summer months. 

But now, with Fall winds promisingly blowing in, we are frantically thinking about preserving the harvest.  We’ve been using our ‘spare time’ in nights and weekends this summer to freeze zucchini, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet peppers, sweet corn and more.  Making time for these things means really making some time!  It’s no wonder that food in the stores is expensive.  There is a lot of time and resources that goes into not only growing it, but then processing it.  The freezers are filling up fast though and our efforts are paying off!  Grandma Jane (my mom who lives next door and helps on the farm in many ways) is a huge help with canning.  She’s been making Dilly Beans and Pickled Beets and is now getting ready to help with making several cases of home-made spaghetti and pizza sauce.  Momma Jane is the seasoned chef and true canning expert on the farm.  Adam and I become her Sioux Chefs when it comes to canning. 

Our dehydrators are filling and emptying almost as fast as we can keep up with them.  We dehydrate everything from tomatoes to peppers to fresh herbs to raspberries.  Even our chickens and soon our own pork will fill the freezers to the brim.  It became a priority at one point in our lives, probably in part for the economic benefits of growing our own food, and then re-enforced by the sustainable aspects of being as self-reliant as possible.  You could say that preserving food is a bit of a pass time for us.  In the winter we even like to make our own garlic powder with the garlic seconds. 

Preserving the harvest is very empowering.  You don’t have to be the one who actually grew it, but eating local food for as much of the year as possible trumps any trip to the grocery store.  Simply knowing and caring who grew your food is a huge step in the right direction.  And remembering that your food was grown by someone, probably a whole small community of workers and families, is a wonderful reflection to have.  If there has ever been a point in the season where you have felt like you were given more food in your CSA box than what you can eat in one week, remember that you can freeze, dry, ferment or can this bounty and play a small role in “stashing some nuts” for the winter months ahead. 

Sooo…What’s in the Box????

Acorn Squash-  We’re so happy to finally be giving a Fall Item like Acorn Squash.  These guys have been clipped and cured in the Greenhouse for over 3 weeks now.  Slice them half lengthwise, scoop the seeds out, and place face down in a baking pan with a half inch or less of water and bake for about an hour at 350.  Serve with butter and nothing else is needed.  Yum! Pumpkin_Pick-UpIrving and Paul helping to clean up the Winter Squash fleld. Don't worry, we left some pumpkins in the field. We need your help on Sunday to help get the rest of them out at our Fall Potluck!

Tomatoes-  Another hefty week of tomatoes.  Unfortunately, tomatoes will be going out of season much sooner this year than they have in the last few years.  We saw several different kinds of blight on our tomato leaves this summer than slowly killed the plants back from all of the moisture this Fall on the leaves.  We’ll have tomatoes for another week, maybe two, but they’re going out of season fast.  Enjoy your big bags of tomatoes while you have them! 

Green Cabbage or Savoy Cabbage-  We have both a green cabbage and a savoy cabbage succession planted next to eachother for Fall harvest.  They were both coming on about the same time, so we cherry picked the bigger ones from each bed.   

Yellow Onion-  Because who can’t use at least one onion a week?

Red Beets-  Beets will keep very well in a plastic bag in the fridge for months. 

Eggplant-  A good year for eggplant!  I am one of those people who never used to like eggplant and now I love it!  Are you a convert too?  It’s kind of like when you think you don’t like someone, but then you realize that you just don’t know them very well. 

Hot Pepper Mix-  A green Jalapeno, a long and red cayenne and a lime-green or orange-ish Hungarian Hot Wax pepper, listed here in order of most to least hot. 

Asian Tempest Garlic-  A spicy, red-skinned variety of garlic.  Garlic keeps best in a cold, dark and dry environment.  Referigerators work great, or your countertop will suffice for a couple months. 

Sweet Peppers-  A colorful mix of red, yellow and orange bell peppers.  When I hold these peppers in my hand, I feel a little like I’m holding gold or silver.  Aren’t we so rich and so lucky to get to eat these beautiful and delicious fruits? 

Broccoli or Romanesco-  The return of Broccoli!  Our Romanescos are coming into season as well.  These are the fractal-looking broccoli that tastes like cauliflower and broccoli.  It’s a fun(ky) food to eat! 

Sweet Basil-  These basil plants were looking really rough, but we’re predicting that we’re going to loose basil in the cooler weather ahead.  This is likely the final giving of basil.  We like to put it on our pizza, in our quiche, and in our home-made pizza sauce.  Remember that basil does not like refrigeration.  I would use it up asap as it is already looking a little rough. 

Swiss Rainbow Chard-  A wonderful year for Swiss Chard.  These leaves and stems are so succulent and fresh looking.  Eat yer greens! 


Beet Borscht

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Swiss Chard Gnochi in Tomato Cream Sauce

September Third

It has been quite the summer for vegetable growing in the Midwest.  With the later Spring that we had this year we were a little behind getting started this Spring.  It didn’t take long for the vegetables to catch up though with so many optimal growing degree days of less than 86 degrees and above 50 degrees, the vegetables have been producing quite well!boysonkaleBoys Pickin' Lacinato Kale

We were feeling like some of our successions of plants were coming on a little quicker than we expected them to this summer.  Even tomatoes, we’ve learned, require less heat than what you might expect for optimal growing conditions.  Despite a cooler summer over all, our tomatoes came into season right on schedule and have been generously pouring forth their fruits at an impressive speed.  Also, now that our peppers are in season we are seeing beautiful ripening of the fruits.  It was our job to keep them watered during a bit of a dry spell we had so Farmer Adam stepped up to the task meeting all of our watering needs. 

We are also seeing some of our Fall cabbages, broccoli, and cauliflower coming on a little sooner than we expected them to, so we’ll have plenty of cool season brassica crops to carry us through the last six deliveries.  I have to conceal a little excitement that I feel when talking about fall.  We’re excited to start sharing with you some of our Winter Squash varieties that we’ve been harvesting and we’re getting very excited thinking about our fall roots like parsnips, celeriac and radishes. 

I’m not sure if it is Labor Day weekend that marks this shift, the kids going back to school or simply noticing fallen leaves on the ground, but we’re definitely seeing the first signs of Fall now.  Maybe it is that we are getting some rain or that the days are feeling noticeably shorter again, but I’m feeling a little like I want to carve a pumpkin or something.  The apple orchards are picking apples and the due date of our baby Varney number 2 is drawing nearer and nearer with just 10 more weeks to go. 

Fall won’t officially be here for a few more weeks, but that won’t stop us from enjoying the feel of it approaching with cooler nights.  We’re about done seeding for the year with another planting of fall radishes yet to get into the ground this week.  Then we have an impressive amount of harvesting that needs to happen to get all of these root crops out of the field, cleaned and into proper storage.  But what a blessing of a season with such mild temperatures, fairly steady rain and a beautiful harvest. 

Sooo…What’s in the Box????

Tomatoes-  A hefty bag of tomatoes this week around 6-6.5lbs per member.  Remember to leave your unripe tomatoes sitting out at room temperature to ripen.  We also recommend washing your tomatoes before eating them because sometimes we pick these guys when it’s wet outside and the tomato leaves leave a green-ish resin on the worker’s hands.  This resin accumulates while picking and gets on the tomatoes.  A nice mix of Roma Tomatoes (the meatier tomatoes that are great for sauces and stews because of their lower water content) and Heirlooms (the larger, more colorful varieties that are much juicier and have a higher water content). 

Green Beans-  We’re not as proud of this giving of green beans folks.  We’re really sorry that they’re a little over mature.  These would make great casserole beans or cooked a little longer.  Use them up sooner rather than later so they don’t degrade on you. 

Napa Cabbage-  Also called a Chinese Cabbage.  These guys varied in size a bit.  We shipped some huge ones and some smaller ones.  This cabbage is great raw in a chinese cabbage salad.  It’s a great substitute for some fresh greens while we’re taking a little break from the salad greens. 

Red Potatoes-  Another nice giving of potatoes this week.  Having potatoes again reminds me that cooler weather is up ahead.  A great storage item if you need a chance to catch up with the tomatoes and greens. 

Sweet Bell Peppers-  An impressive assortment of sweet bells this summer.  We’re really very happy with our orange and yellow pepper varieties as well as our trusty and reliable red pepper varieties this summer. red_pepperFresh Peppers being picked in the rain makes for a lovely, hydrated look!

Eggplant-  Another week of delicious eggplant.  Use up this warm season veggie and revel in it’s goodness while we have it.  It won’t be long before Eggplant is out of season again.  Eggplants keep well in a 50 degree storage rather than a refrigerator.  Use these guys up first or let them sit out in a cool kitchen before sticking them in the fridge. 

White Onions-  Another lovely white globe for your everyday cooking needs. 

Lacinato or Green Curly Kale-  We tried our best to have lacinato for everyone this week.  The good leaves were running short so we switched over to Green Curly Kale. 

Sungold Cherry Tomatoes-  1 Pint.  These are the little orange tomatoes in the clamshells.  A wonderful snack for kids! 

Hot Peppers-  A little green jalapeno to keep things interesting and a Hungarian Hot wax to add flavor to your salsas and stews.  You may have receieved a red or orange Hungarian Hot Wax pepper this week.  As the Hot Wax peppers ‘ripen’ they turn red and orange later in the season like this.  As they develop more color they do get sweeter and not hotter, so this may come as a relief to those of you out there like me who don’t need a lot of heat from your peppers. 


Angel Hair Pasta with Eggplant-Tomato Sauce-  Thanks Elizabeth Davies for this yummy recipe!

Chinese Cabbage Salad

Peanut Pasta Napa Cabbage Salad

August Twenty-Seventh

You know when you get talking with a friend about an old song, an old TV show or an old car you once had?  I had one of those moments in the field the other day where I sort of felt like I was getting older.  I know you’re probably rolling your eyes at me.  Thirty-One is not old, I know, but I’m no teenager anymore!  But we were talking about the price of gas in the year 2000.  In Dubuque Iowa I think it was right around $1/gallon when I was a Junior in high school.  We had a playful debate about this, but some people remembered this time period as a brief golden period in gas prices the year of 2000 hitting a brief historical low. tomato_baggingEveryone working hard to get the tomatoes bagged up!

I know I’m young, but sometimes when I look at my daughter who I swear was just born yesterday and who is now learning how to ride a bike, I need to pause.   Or if we get talking about what our lives were like the year we bought our farm in the Spring of 2007, I can hardly believe that that much time has passed.  So much has happened.  We’ve learned so much.  We’ve come so far.  

We started our little CSA in 2006 on Adam’s brother’s farm, growing for 23 trusting families that chose to support us in our infancy.  We worked even harder then than we do now, making up for what we lacked in mechanization and infrastructure with a passionate drive to build something that felt meaningful and sustainable to us at the time.  In 2007 we “bought the farm”.  We started off with a big loan from FSA, a tractor, a spader (like a tiller but a little different) and some seeds and a whole lot of naiveté.  We did everything the long and hard way and it’s a good thing we couldn’t see quite how much at the time, but we had a lot to learn. 

And learn we did.  Every year that passed by we saved a little money, rested our tired bones, and used our winters to think about what we needed to invest in next to help our farm reach it’s mechanization goals to keep us in business.  We needed to learn about farm machinery, horsepower, standard bed sizes, cultivation equipment, transplanters, seeders, greenhouses and more!  Then we had to learn how to use and maintain all of these things that we slowly purchased as our farm grew.  We had to learn to hire help because we couldn’t do it all on our own anymore.  

Eventually we grew our crew of helpers, starting with a few dedicated worker shares who believed in us.  In recent years we have been growing our family while also slowly growing our farm in small, manageable increments.  It’s fun to think about what the next 8 years will bring for our Small Family Farm and what we do not yet know.  I’m really hoping that the price of gas doesn’t triple or quadruple on us, but I do hope that the future holds an endless unfolding of learning experiences that make us better farmers, better parents and better people in general.  I am thankful for the struggles and the hard times we’ve been through on this farm that have taught us so many life lessons.  I am thankful for the community of CSA members who have been with us over a stretch of years, (a small handful of you even from year 1) who have patted us on the heads and faithfully mailed in their Sign Up Forms and checks every year while we learned how to walk and then pedal. 

Sooo….What’s in the Box????

Heirloom Tomatoes-  A whopping 10.3 lbs per member this week!  Holy Moly man!  The tomatoes this week took up almost half of the box.  Notice that we tried very hard to give each person a mix of ripeness in their tomatoes and a mix of varieties.  Keep your greener tomatoes sitting out at room temperature to ripen.  If you have some tomatoes that are fully ripe, it might be okay to stick them in the fridge for a day or two to buy yourself some time to eat them if you’re not ready, but be ready to sacrifice a little flavor.  I’m not sure what it is about refrigerators and tomatoes, but they don’t get along very well. Swiss_ChardSwiss Chard strutting it's fine stuff!

Potatoes-  3lbs per member.  We dug three different varieties of tomatoes this week all in one very long bed.  You may have received a purple and pink skinned “Purple Viking Potatoe”, a “Red Norland” red potato, or a “Yukon Gold” potato.  It is pretty rare that we don’t give everyone the same variety but we made a little mistake in deciding which bed to harvest this week.  More reds coming next week! 

Green Beans-  An impressive 1.7lbs per member this week!  A nice giving of green beans again for everyone!  Green beans are best when eaten very fresh, eat them up asap!  They don’t keep well. 

Eggplant-  You may have received a majenta-purple Dancer Eggplant, a Dairyu Japanese Eggplant or a Standard Santana eggplant.  Send me your favorite eggplant dish recipes so I can share them with the membership!  I feel like once you’ve had an amazing eggplant dish, you’re a convert for life!  Some people struggle with this one! 

Carrots-  Sweet, large, crunchy carrots!  Yum! 

Colored Bell Sweet Peppers-  2-3 Amazing sweet peppers per member this week!  We’re growing an assortment of varieties.  This is what makes CSA so much fun, you get to eat all of these fun varieties of peppers.  We have a few more fun Carmen varieties coming into season too that I can’t wait to share with you! 

White Onion-  Probably our best onion year ever!  What a great growing season for onions!   

Rainbow Swiss Chard-  A beautiful bunch of rainbow Swiss Chard for all.  Swiss Chard is in the same family as beets and spinach, so you can use these cooking greens like you would spinach in any of your favorite dishes.  Don’t forget that the stems are edible as well! 

Hot Peppers X3-  You received a Hungarian Hot wax, a Jalanpeno and also a long, thin, red cayenne pepper this week.  These cayennes are great for drying.  If you string it or set it in a dry, well-ventilated place, it should dry nicely for you.  We like to stick a whole cayenne pepper in a pot of chili in the winter months. 

Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes-  A pint for everyone this week!  Check out Mamma Jane’s Tomato Tart recipe that calls for cherry tomatoes.  We made this one this week and decided that it’s a keeper if you can keep yourself from eating the cherry tomatoes fresh.


Tomato Tart

Green Beans with Lemon and Pine Nuts

Swiss Chard and Tomato Fritatta 

August Twentieth

Do you ever open up your CSA box and wonder why some of the vegetables inside don’t look quite like what you’re used to seeing at the grocery store?  Do you look at your peppers or your tomatoes and wonder why they’re shaped so funny or look so much different than what you’re used to seeing from grocery store standards?  If you have any experience gardening at all, you know that not every vegetable that comes from your garden looks like the ones from the grocery store.  If you don’t have any experience gardening, you’re probably wondering if we know what we’re doing out here on the Small Family Farm. Cabbage_drip_lineSome of our Fall Cabbages with drip line running over the top of the rows. It has been very, very dry on the farm the last few weeks!

There is a lot to be said on this subject.  Because we are able to include #1 and #2 quality produce in our boxes, we are able to give you more food in each box.  While our first preference is to pack our CSA boxes with all large, #1 quality of produce, conditions on the farm don’t always cooperate.  Because we are a CSA farm and we grow over 100 different varieties of vegetables, it is nearly impossible to grow first quality of everything we grow.  It might be much easier for a farmer to have only one or two crops to focus on where all of the planting, cultivating, disease and pest management and harvesting all happen in the same visits to the field.  But because all in one day we will harvest several different kinds of crops, weed a few more, and then maybe plant a few more, we have a lot going on in one day.

Our workers love the change in routine.  Because we rarely ever do the same thing on the farm for more than 3 hours at a time, we will frequently spend one or two hours on one task, and then move onto another.  This makes for a fast-paced day.  Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of repetition and monotony on the farm; but both a changing crew size and varying crop sizes are factors that determine how long we spend on one crop.  A well-diversified, small farm like ours with staggering successions of vegetables coming in and out of season can be a beautiful display to watch unfold. 

But that doesn’t explain why your peppers are sometimes half-green and half red or why your kale this week has some bites around the edges of the leaves or why sometimes the beets aren’t perfectly round or the carrots sometimes spiral or fork.  The truth is multi-tiered.  I made a short list of some of the reasons why we justify sending a mixture of first and second quality produce at times. 

-We might not be able to afford to grow 50% more of each crop that we grow, so that we can toss all of the “seconds”. 

-We think that they all taste the same, no matter what shape they are.

-We’re reducing food waste by not throwing everything that isn’t perfect looking away. 

-We’re able to give you more food at a reduced price because we can include some second-quality items like funky heirlooms at times. 

-It’s enlightening for us all to see what real food looks like that hasn’t been through an extremely harsh culling procedure. 

- We can grow new and unusual varieties of vegetables in our CSA program that you would never be able to find at a supermarket.

While this newsletter is not meant to warrant for shipping low-quality produce to  CSA members, it is to ask for a small amount of forgiveness on the part of the person who is new to eating local food.  As farmers we still take a lot of pride in growing very high-quality, nutrient-dense and very fresh produce and we do everything we can to keep the bar high.  It’s a little too easy to grow low-grade vegetables and it is the mark of a good farmer who can take the time and care and effort to do everything in their power to grow their crops well.  At times we go to great lengths to keep our crops watered, sprayed or fertilized, so we know how much work and effort goes into keeping crops healthy.  I only wish to raise awareness for the bottle-necked cucumber.  We hope you’re enjoying the flavorful ride through this pleasant 2014 growing season! 

Sooo….What’s in the Box????

Canary Melons-  These are a bright yellow melon that looks a little like a spaghetti squash.  We have had members mistake these melons for spaghetti squash in the past, so take note that this is indeed a sweet melon!  These have a green, hard, crunchy flesh like that of a kohlrabi, so don’t wait for these melons to turn soft!  Their flavor is very sweet and delicious, I’m sure you’ll love it!  These are a new favorite of ours!Muzie_and_sweet_potatoesOur lovable yet fierce farm dog, Mugzie. Thanks for protecting the sweet corn for us, Mugzie from the racoons!

Red Cabbage-  A terrific year for red cabbage on our farm!  Usually they are a little more challenging to grow.  We tried a new variety this year we’re really happy with.  We’ll take a couple week break from cabbage now and switch to carrots and potatoes the next two weeks! 

Eggplant-  Either a long and skinney Japanese Dairyu eggplant, a standard Santana Eggplant, or a majenta colored Dancer eggplant.  We try to grow a unique mixture of fun sized and colored eggplants.  Eggplants are a tropical fruit that stores best at 50% and they will wilt in the refrigerator, their flavor and texture will be best if used within a few days. 

Sweet Corn-  Unfortunately, this is the final giving of sweet corn for the season.  Our loyal dog, Mugzie deserves recognition for defending our sweet corn patch this summer.  Farmer Adam tied him up out by the sweet corn ever night for the last three weeks.  Mugzie is officially off-duty and sleeping in the house again at night, lucky dog! 

White Onion-  We distribute our white onions first because they are not a storage variety and they won’t store into the winter.  We’ve got red, yellow and cippolini to share later this season as well! 

Summer Squash, Zucchini or Patty Pans-  One or two squash per member this week.  This is likely the final giving of our soft, summer squashes.  I would say that we had a fantastic run while they lasted and we have more amazing veggie variety ahead of us! 

Cucumbers-  One or two cukes per member this week.  Also the final week of cucumbers.  It’s a little sad, but we had a good go at the cucumbers while they lasted! 

Red Beets-  Two or three  red beets per box this week.  There were also some golden beets in the mixture.  If you received a large yellow root in your box that looks a little like a beet, it IS a beet.  Consider this to be like getting the golden wrapper on your chocolate bar.  Golden beets are a little difficult to grow and we only have a small patch of them this year.  As they come to size we will distribute them.  They’re nice because they won’t turn your dish red. 

Sweet Bell Peppers-  We’re very excited that our bell peppers are coming into season now.  We are harvesting red, yellow and orange bells.  We typically do not harvest our peppers green.  There were a few green ones that made it into boxes this week that were harvested on accident or fell off the plant while reaching for a red one.  Our peppers aren’t always as perfectly shaped as what you’re used to seeing at the grocery store.  They might grow a little rumpled or squeezed or irregular shaped.  If they looked like a good eating pepper to us, we included them in the boxes! 

Green Beans or Broccoli-  Our first succession of green beans is done now, and these were the last of the beans we picked off of those plants.  We’re expecting another big flush of beans for the next couple of weeks in the boxes.  The last of our summer broccoli made it into the boxes this week if you didn’t get green beans. 

Jalapeno Hot Pepper-  These are the small, green spicy ones! 

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper-  These are the lime-green, longer, banana pepper ones.  These aren’t so spicy at all!  Sometimes these Hungarian hot wax peppers turn an orange-ish color when fully ‘ripe’.  If you get one like this, consider yourself lucky as their flavor typically sweetens. 

Curly Parsley-  These were very small bunches of curly parsley this week.  Our plants have some kind of rust or disease on them that is causing us to have to discard most of the plant leaves. 

Lacinato Kale-  Also very small bunches of Lacinato kale this week.  There was a good amount of flea-beetle damage on the leaves, so we ‘cleaned’ the plants up and gave small bunches.  We’re hoping that the plants will regenerate and we’ll have gorgeous acinato for the fall boxes. 

Mixed Tomatoes-  A mixed variety of tomatoes.  We aware that some tomatoes are fully red, yellow, purple, or even pink when fully ripe.  Not all tomatoes are red!  You’ll notice some funky heirloom behavior with some cracking in the creases on the heirloom tomatoes.  What they lack in perfect appearance, they make up for in flavor. 

Note about tomatoes and ripening:  If your tomatoes are fully ripe, it is okay to put them in the refrigerator to buy yourself a little time to eat them up.  You may compromise the flavor a little putting your tomatoes in the refrigerator, but at least they won’t go bad on you as quickly.  If your tomatoes are not fully ripe, it is important that you allow them to ripen at room temperature; they will not ripen in the refrigerator. 

Beguni (Chickpea battered and fried Eggplant)

Greek Yogurt Cucumber Sauce  (great dipping sauce for the above recipe)  

Quinoa Tabouli

Grilled Eggplant Ratatouille Muffaletta