Small Family Farm CSA

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June Fifteenth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next Week's Best Guess:

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

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


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

Kohlrabi Slaw

Rhubarb Crumb Bars