Small Family Farm CSA

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July Eleventh

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Vegetable farming is an incredibly labor-intensive form of farming.   So intensive that even a small ‘10-acres of vegetables’ farm like ours requires 5-12 people working in and on it full time. Our crews are even tightly managed so that they are moving and at peak productivity all the time. The crews work hard and so I feel secretly envious of the corn farmers who plant their seeds, make a second pass to cultivate or spray herbicide early Summer on their one and only crop, and then harvest in the Fall. While envy is not truly what I feel, curiosity and amazement at the stark contrast in farming style is a more accurate description.

A highly diversified vegetable farm like ours takes an impressive amount of planning, even in the off-season. Everything from complicated seed orders to tightly laid-out greenhouse plans to very strict planting and cultivating regimens- it takes a high level of focus and attention that you might shake your head at if you truly knew. Harvesting and delivering must happen rain or shine-even when the weather is less than desirable to be working in.

I sometimes wish we had a more rich agricultural community where families and children were more closely connected to the reality of farm life. Because after all-this is where our food is coming from. I hope for a deeper pardoning for farmers. The way we pardon our family members who are in the army or they way we excuse the on-call doctor or mid-wife for needing to do their job when they are called to do it. Farming is glorified and honored, until the farmer is absent on a Holiday or a family gathering because they need to be on their farm for a time-sensitive task.

This weekend farmer Adam will not be coming to a wedding in the family because he knows already that he will need that time for irrigating the onions, cultivating the fall carrots and putting up fencing around the sweet corn. Time is precious and sparse. Weekends away are not an option. The kids and I will go while Adam is happy to stay home and work, but the guilt is thick and the understanding from the family mostly absent.

A small farm like ours doesn’t have management-level workers who can operate the machinery while we’re away. We don’t even have skilled workers willing to work weekends. Our culture is centered around the autonomous, the individual and the 40 hour work week. We’ve worked a century to get here. And I feel lucky and blessed to live in this age of plenty and convenience. I feel less trapped because I know I have alternatives. But I am committed and rooted and responsible to the farm. I also know that we are not autonomous, centered on the individual and limited to the 40 hour work week. We are a highly inter-dependent community farm that needs the community in order to function. We are nothing at all if we are not unified to make this possible. And even after a century of human rights activism, the farmer is not free of the demands the farm or mother nature places on him/her. The work on a farm cannot wait.

Thank you, farmer Adam, for your service and commitment.

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

Green Top Beets- The first of our beets of the season!  Three beets per bunch this week.  We like to harvest beets with their leaves on so that you can see just how fresh they are and you can use their leaves for cooking and eating.  Beet greens can be used like swiss chard or spinach greens.  Beets will store for a terrifically long time (months and months) if you trim their greens off and keep them in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Broccoli- Small to medium heads of broccoli again this week. 1-2 heads per member.  The Broccoli plants do not love the intense heat like we have been having. We're still getting a nice harvest, but they're not as nice as some of the Spring/Summer Broccoli we have grown. Broccoli likes to be kept very cold. Some dropsites are outside, so please plan to arrive at your dropsite as soon as you are able to rush your broccoli home and get it in the fridge to keep it green!

Kohlrabi or Fennel- Either a Purple or a White Kohlrabi. Remember to peel your kohlrabi! The leaves on the kohlrabi are also edible just like kale! It is in the same family of plants as kale. A reminder that for some strange reason, kohlrabi is best if you eat the whole thing once you cut it open. It seems to develope a bitter flavor if you save the other half in the fridge for another day.  We were short about 40 kohlrabi, so some people got two fennel instead.

Fennel- When eaten raw, fennel has a prominent licorice flavor. Typically the bulb of the fennel plant is eaten. The green stalks and frawns are perfectly edible, but usually used for broths or garnishing. To cut-up the fennle you need to cut off the bottom with a sharp knife, half it, and cut out the core near the base of the fennel which is sometimes too chewy to eat. Once it is cooked, it looses much of it's licorice flavor and your friends will never know it's in your dish!

Summer Squash and Zucchini- 6-7 per member.  Summer Squash are the yellow ones and zucchini are the green ones. Zucchin and summer squash actually keep best at 50 degrees. Some people will set them out at room temp and some will keep them in their fridge since most of us don't have the luxury of a 50 degree storage area. Wherever you decide to keep them, don't try to keep them long, because if zucchini is known for anything, it is it's generousity! Plenty more zucchini and summer squash to come.

Lettuce x 2- A bit of a mix of varieties this week.  We harvested some red leaf lettuce, some green leaf lettuce and some romaine lettuce.  No matter which variety you got, you should have gotten two heads. Lettuce keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Garlic Scapes- Each garlic plant produces 1 garlic scape per year. It is the plants effort at producing a seed head. If left on the plant, the small nodule you see towards the top of the scape would swell and develope into seed pod. But we snap them off to tell the plant to put more of it's energy into producing a larger garlic bulb and not to put energy into making seed heads. Lucky for us, the garlic scapes are scrumptious and edible! The best part to eat is the blunt end up to the little nodule. The tip is usually a little more chewy, although still edible!

Sugar Snap Peas- A .35 lb bag of peas this week. If you don't eat these all up raw and just the way they come, they are wonderful in stir fry, with a veggie dip or cut up onto a salad! They're very versatile and good in anything!  This is the final pea giving and the quality was down a bit this week due to the plants tuckering out a bit, so hopefuly you still find the quality acceptable.  

Bunhcing Onions- A cute little bunch of green onions. These are actually just small, immature standard oinons that are planted very close to eachother so they stay small and tender. They don't have all the bite that a storage onion might have. Edible from root to tip!  They're also great eaten raw with a veggie dip!

Collards- Collards is in the same family as Kale.  It can be eaten and cooked much like kale, although it does take a bit longer to cook.  A smooth leaf cooking green.  It is great for cabbage rolls, just cut out the stem, steam the leaf until it is pliable, and roll up your favorite stuffings (meat, rice and sauteed veggies.)

Cucumber or Asian Eggplant-  One cucumber per member this week.  As the cucumbers are just starting to produce, we didn't quite have enough to give everyone a cucumber, so we supplemented with an Asian Eggplant for those who did not get a cucumber.  Asian Eggplants are a long and skinney type eggplant that have a mild and smooth texture and flavor and are nice for stir-frying.  

Cilantro-  The cilantro plants were beat up a bit from the heavy rains and winds we had on Saturday, June 30th.  But we thought we could still get a harvest off of this succession.  There were some bad leaves that we tried to pick out.  Cilantro isn't a great keeper to begin with and with the potential of there being a bad leaf or two in there, we don't expect that it will keep long.  Use up your cilantro as soon as possible.  It will keep best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Next Week's Best Guess: broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, summer squash and zucchini, lettuce, garlic scapes, bunching onions, kale, cucumber, basil, beets, cauliflower?

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Local Thyme Recipes

Here is a link to your post for the week:

And here are the week's recipes -- enjoy!


Cheesy, Creamy, Brown Rice, Broccoli and Greens Casserole

Old Fashioned Southern Braised Collard Greens


Farro Salad with Beets, Broccoli, Cilantro and Walnuts

Collard Greens with Cornmeal Soup