Small Family Farm CSA

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August Third

This is it.   These are the glory days!  These are the CSA boxes we dream of all year long.  Sweet corn, melons, celery, garlic and the beginning of peppers!  Sweet peppers and tomatoes are just around the corner and the harvest is heavy.  The days are long (although they are waning) and humidity and temperatures are high!  The farmers and the farm helpers are all weary and tired.  And it is only Week 9!DSC 0134

I have enough years of farming experience under my belt now that I know the tides.  There are the low, calm waters of the Spring time.  There are the rising and quickening waters of the early summer months.  There are the rocky, choppy and high waters of the late Summer months.  This is the time of year when everyone is hot, everyone is working hard, and everyone is tired.  We’ve been on this boat for a few months now and we’re getting a bit sea-sick.  But we got on this boat and it’s sink or sail!

I believe a true test of character can be made in August.  Or possibly character building happens in these months.  Either way, those who survive a season on a working farm such as this certainly walk away from the experience changed and improved.  Lucky for us we all get to eat like Kings and Queens on the highest quality organic produce around while we work our tails off, smell like sweat and wear rags and sunburns .  I often remark that we ‘survive’ the season.  It sometimes feels like a survival game out here when total sleep hours are below recommended levels, quality family time takes the back burner and the fever to preserve the bounty and stuff as much of summer into canning jars and ziplock bags as possible makes a disaster of your home. 

I try to keep a vase of fresh-cut flowers on the kitchen table at all times.  My four year old is very helpful in this way.  Taking the time to actually pick the flowers and then put them in water is a ritual that somehow helps me feel grounded this time of year.  I’m a relentlessly pragmatic person and taking the time plant, weed and then harvest flowers when there are millions of other things to do on a farm used to feel like a waste of time to me.  But watching my four year old pick them and sing her little songs and talk to them while she picks them helps me live in the moment.  Mostly we grow flowers for her because she loves picking them so much.  But if I have learned nothing from parenting so far, I have at the very least learned how to slow down. 

The summer months are laborious, arduous and down right demanding at times.  But it’s the melons and the sweet corn and the fresh cut flowers on the kitchen table that help us get through it.  It is showing up every morning alongside our friends and sharing the experience with our community that makes it not only tolerable, but meaningful.  We’ve got something pretty good going here and if it wasn’t hard to do, we might not walk away from the fields at the end of the day feeling the satisfaction with a sprinkling of humility that we do.  My father always used to say you gotta “Make hay when the sun shines.” and my mother used to say you can “Sleep when your dead”.  And look where that advice got me!  

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Because I can't figure out how to include a caption beneath the photos each week anymore, we put up a new High Tunnel pictured here.  This High Tunnel was funded by a USDA grant incentivising season extension.  If we can get a little good soil and compost spread in there before fall rolls around, we plan to seed winter spinach in there.  

Sooo….What’s in the Box????

Ananas Melon-  Correction:  The soft, green fleshed melon in last week’s box was an Ananas Variety melon, not a honeydew.  There is another Ananas variety melon in this week’s box.  The rinds look a little greenish or sometimes yellowish with lots of small cracks like a cantelope rind if you’re trying to determine which variety is which! 

Cantelope Melon-  Everyone should have also received a canteope melon that has an orange flesh on the inside EXCEPT for about 30 people who did not receive a cantelope, you received a Canary Melon.  The Canary Melons are a bright yellow rind with a yellow/green flesh that is crunchy and sweet.  The Canary melons have been confused for spaghetti squashes in the past.  The canary melons are not a spaghetti squash.  Everyone will receive a Canary Melon next week!

Broccoli-  Very nice broccoli heads for everyone this week!  This is some of the nicest summer broccoli we have ever grown! 

Cucumbers-  The cukes are really slowing down now.  We were down to giving just a few cukes per member this week!  Maybe one more small giving of cucumbers next week, but they’re really slowing down now!

Summer Squash and Zucchini-  2-3 nice Summer Squash and Zucchini this week.  The plants slowed down in production a little, but we still stay faithful to harvesting every other day.  Summer squash and zucchini also prefer 50 degree storage.

White Onions-  Another week of  whole onions.  We did our best to pretty these up a tad.  So nice to eat onions so fresh and tender like this right out of the ground!

Red Cabbage-  Very nice heads of red cabbage for all this week! 

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! DSC 0129

Cilantro-  A nice bunch of cilantro for everyone!  Remember, we don’t wash our cilantro becase it tends to get slimy after it has gotten wet.  Cilantro isn’t a fantastic keeper either way, so go ahead and use it up as soon as you can! 

Sweet Corn-  6 Ears of sweet corn per member this week!  Boy are they delicious!  Sweet corn needs to stay very cold in order to keep it’s 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! 

Eggplant-  You may have received either one standard eggplant or two Japanese (or Asian style) eggplants.  Either way, it was a great eggplant harvest!  We recommend busting out your favorite eggplant recipes.  Try Eggplant Parmesan or Babba Ganouj (a smooth and creamy Middle Eastern Eggplant dip with Tahini).

Garlic-  You’ll notice as you go to peel this ‘green’ garlic that the membrane around each clove that is usually paper thin is still a much thicker, living layer on the garlic.  Go ahead and still peel this away, but know that it’s a little harder to detect since this garlic isn’t cured down just yet.

Celery-  Okay, so local celery is no comparison to California Celery.  I don’t know what they do to that stuff to make it so crunchy and light green and contain so little leaf.  But I’m here to tell ya folks, this is what local celery looks like!  It’s even a pretty good year for it with all of the rain that we’ve had.  The stalks are juicy and sweet!  Local celery has a stronger celery flavor when compared to our usual California Celery.  Don’t forget to use the greens in your cooking, salads and soups!

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.

Melons, Broccoli, Celery, Summer Squash, Zucchini, Cucumbers, sweet corn, beets, Eggplant, Green Curly Kale, White Onion, Basil, Hot Peppers


Grilled Eggplant Provolone

Baba Ganouj (Middle Easter Eggplant Spread)

Cool Toddie (Cucumber Smoothie or Drink)

Corn Salsa

The 2017 growing season will be the Small Family Farm’s 12th growing season!  Yet somehow 12 years has slipped by like a long weekend and we approach the dawning of a new one with the same excitement, passion, commitment and hope as any other year.  Our love for what we do does not fade or weaken, but it solidifies and cures and refines the way a relationship will over many years if honored through the good and bad. DSC 0149 1

Our five year old watches as friends and neighbors move.  People buy and sell homes-they change where they live.   She asks me, “Mom, will we ever move?”  I tell her “No, we will never move.”  And I think about how good it feels to say that, and I watch how she is comforted by my answer.  In our fast-paced world with so much change, ambiguity and variation it calms me that I know, if that is all that I ever really know, where home is.  While for many those kinds of changes make sense and need to happen, this family is very deeply rooted on this ridgetop.  The uncertainly that lies within even a new growing season brings enough apprehensiveness for one year. 

Lucky for us, we have a CSA Farm.  We are farmers in a changing climate, changing economic climate and amidst an impulsive and stimulating world.  But all that is given and known and predictable is extremely valuable and sacred in our lives.  Things like our homes, our families, or friends and where our food will come from.  The CSA model is stable and wholesome and refreshingly dependable for everyone involved. DSC 0133

We enter a fresh season with a new 20x20 walk in cooler that we put up last Fall that will make getting our vegetables cold easier than ever before.  We bought a new vegetable brush-washer this winter as well that we are very excited to work with to wash crops like peppers, cucumbers, and other root vegetables. 

We’re making preparations to begin our first seeding in the greenhouse the first week of March.  We begin with seeding onions, leeks, shallots, celeriac root and celery.  After a couple weeks we begin to seed crops like parsley, swiss chard, and then the brassicas like cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi and kale.  In just a few short weeks the greenhouse will start to feel and smell like Spring under a couple thin layers of plastic in a cute little high tunnel somewhere in Southwest Wisconsin.  The games begin.

We hope that our farm can become a constant in your lives.  We hope that you think of us year after year like part of your “home”.  That the buildings and the fields and the faces that represent this little Small Family Farm are an iconic image floating around inside your heart somewhere and are something that is not only comforting to you, but is a place where your nutritious vegetables come from.  Sign Up again for another year of your weekly or bi-weekly CSA share deliveries.  We are so honored to grow with you!