Small Family Farm CSA

We Dig Vegetables

 

Small Family Farm
Below are current issues of The Weekly Dig Newsletter, from Jillian Varney, owner of the Small Family Farm. Stay up to date on what's happening on the farm!

August Eighth

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Perhaps one of the most beautiful things about the farm is the people. We package up these colorful, cute and tasty little boxes that are lovingly and quite strategically tucked together with care.   And when they are finally delivered, all you get to see and experience are merely the vegetables themselves lying naked and alone in the box. But what you don’t know, or have possibly forgotten, is that there are faces on this food. There are stories in their cell walls.

The production of vegetables is inherently social because of the impressive amount of labor hours that go into bringing them into fruition. Without the dozens of people who bring their two hands to the farm to pick the cherry tomatoes, green beans, carrots, basil, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, ect, we wouldn’t be able to manage the bounty any other way. The hours and hours spent doing this kind of work alongside friends builds a kind of relationship, sort of like a community, slowly but definitely. Steadily, these people become our friends and we become theirs. We share our stories with one another while we’re out there. We express to each other our dreams and reflections and ponderings while pitchforking garlic or harvesting kale bunches or weeding carrots. It feels comfortable and natural and casual.

While working on the farm, we literally wear our worst clothing-quite opposite to ‘town’ attire. Everyone out there is wearing their jeans with holes, their old thread-bare t-shirts or retired flannels with frayed cuffs and missing buttons. We’re in our muck boots, sun hats and work gloves. We look and unconsciously feel like we’re tough. It brings out a kind of crudeness in a person to dress in this way. One feels raw yet humble in nature to be crawling on the ground to weed or squatting to harvest or bending low to hunt for cucumbers. Conversation and movement pair so well together that it feels almost like dancing. Talking feels easy and when you have the rest of the day ahead of you, there is always time to tell the long version of your story.

Some people come here because they crave this kind of work. I know I did. I find it interesting how many people come to help on the farm from the world of academia. The heady and educated and worldly are drawn in. The people who have spent much of their lives inside buildings or behind books or screens or using pencils and computers as their primary tools are the ones who come running to the farm. The farm feels like a retreat to some, even if it is for just one morning a week.

And who isn’t comforted to be surrounded by so much bounty? It’s like a Festival of Food, week after week! It’s a Harvest Parade! It is a social gathering around food that feels so ancient and primal. We are a bit of a motley crew, but we pull it together for the sake of supper. We go home tired and dirty and we prepare our dinners with memories from the fields.

CSA originated in Japan in the 1960s. The Japanese word for CSA is Teikei which translates to “food with the farmer’s face on it”. Teikei also means “cooperation”, “linking up”, or “joint business”.   But I love how the word embodies community. Our faces and stories are inside these vegetables as much as anything else. Can you see them? Can you hear them?

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

Broccoli-   Some of the nicest looking broccoli that we have grown yet this year. Many of the heads were nice and large this week. A lucky few received a cauliflower as well if the broccoli was small.

Sweet Corn- 6 Ears of Sweet corn per member this week.   Sweet corn is best eaten as soon as possible once harvested from the plant. If you must keep it for a few days, be sure to keep it in the refrigerator and keep it cold to preserve it’s sweetness and crispiness. The ears aren’t huge, but for the most part they look good and the flavor is excellent! We’re still keeping the coons out of the patch pretty well!

Eggplant or Cherry Tomatoes or Sweet Bell Pepper- Because eggplant plants don’t necessarily crank out eggplants, we supplemented with cherry tomatoes or a sweet bell pepper. It’s a bit of the luck of the draw on this one. The cherry tomatoes are the sun gold variety of you got these and they ripen orange. Don’t wait for them to turn red because they won’t! We love this cherry tomato variety because of how wonderfully sweet they are!   The remainder of members received a sweet bell pepper.

Green Beans- This was the first green bean harvest and it was smaller. The first picking usually yields tender and crispy beans. We can look forward to more beans in the coming weeks. .4 lbs per member.

Summer Squash and Zucchini- 3-4 squash per member. Summer Squash are the yellow ones and zucchini are the green ones. Zucchini 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 its generosity! Squash harvest will go for another month or so, so I hope you’re finding ways to use it up!

Lettuce- Red leaf lettuce heads. Lettuce this time of year is tricky to grow, so we’re happy to have these to share! Keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Cucumbers- 7-8 Cucumbers per member! Woah! Cucumbers are still hitting with a bang. It’s time to try out your favorite cucumber recipes that use a few of them. Think cucumber soup, tzatziki sauce, pickles….. My kids eat one for a snack!

White Onion- One nice and big white onion for everyone. Will keep just fine on your countertop.

Curly Red Kale- This is the most kale we have ever given in one CSA season. Lots of kale this year! But the members we talk to have told us that they love the kale and they don’t have trouble using it up. Let us know if you’re feeling overwhelmed with kale!

Tomatoes- 4.5 lbs. We grow a wide variety of tomatoes each year. About 12-15 different varieties. Some are romas (the longer more pear-shaped varieties with less water that are good for making sauce), yellow slicers, red slicers, tie-dye slicers, and the infamous herilooms that are slowly coming into season. Heirlooms usually ripen a little later in the season since they are a larger tomatoes and are not hybridized for early production. You are likely to receive a very wide selection of tomatoes over the tomato-growing season with a wide variety of colors. We recommend leaving tomatoes out at room temperature to ripen naturally. Remove them from their plastic bag and set them out on your counter or windowsill so they don’t get funky in the plastic bag and mold or rot on you. We pick tomatoes with a ‘blush’. This means that we pick anything that has any early signs of red or pink or color. Once a tomato begins to blush it will ripen fully off the vine and this still qualifies as a vine-ripened tomato. Their flavor will be much better if you just let them sit on the counter to ripen. We do not recommend putting tomatoes in the refrigerator at all, ever, unless they are nearly over-ripe and you need to buy yourself some time before you get a chance to use them up before they go bad. Refrigerators seem to suck flavor out of tomatoes as well. For the full experience, let them ripen on the counter!

Basil- Gorgeous bunches of basil this week. It is still so tender and delicious this time of year and pairs well with the tomatoes and eggplants that are finally in season. Tomato basil soup? Caprice salad? BLT’s with basil?

Carrots- One pound of the famous Small Family Farm carrots per member this week. They are so sweet and so fresh their hearts are still beating! They keep best in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Garlic- A delicious, fresh garlic blub that is not fully cured. Notice that there is a thick membrane around the cloves of garlic that is usually paper-thin. This is because the garlic is still very fresh and is not fully cured. This garlic will keep for months if left out on the counter, but I’ll bet you’re planning to use it up sooner than that!

Next Week's Best Guess: broccoli, sweet corn, beets, cucumbers, summer squash and zucchini, tomatoes, onions, celery, collards, melons, sweet peppers, Hungarian hot wax pepper, red cabbage?

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August First

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The electric fence Farmer Adam put up around the sweet corn is a success. It has been successfully keeping the raccoons out so far. Although there is (quite mysteriously) a very small amount of damage each night. Perhaps there is a very sneaky little baby raccoon, maybe the runt of the littler who is just small enough to skinney underneat or just light enough to jump over or just hungry enough to make the dive through. Whatever the case, our losses are minimal so far.

It is interesting to me how each season brings it’s own challenges with pests or diseases or wildlife. There is no perfect season for all crops-it is only the degree to which there are losses. This season has been notably light with insect pressure. We’re seeing remarkably low cucumber beetle and squash bug pressure so far. Even the relentless flea beetles are mysteriously absent. The cabbage moth and potatoe beetles are present but minimal. But we have a new pest that we have somehow gotten lucky with in the last 12 years that has finally discovered our delicious vegetables- deer!

The deer are favoring our sweet potatoe plants, the beets and our green beans and edamame. There was deer pressure in the snap peas this spring and a few carrot tops here and there, but they are returning night after night for the sweet potato leaves. Because this is a new problem for our farm, we don’t have any systems in place for keeping them at bay. We’re trying to keep our lazy ol farm dog, Mugzie, sleeping outside at night (rather than on the couch in our house-ugh!). But Mugzie might have poor eyesight or he just isn’t roused by the deer, because we don’t see him chasing them off ever.

Our farm sits atop an open ridge with very little woods for wildlife to creep out of. The deer and the raccoons must make a bit of a trek and be in a very brave mood to want to stand out in our open fields. But they tend to get up quite a bit earlier in the morning than we do, so I guess their tactics are working.

While keeping wildlife at bay is part of the battle on the farm, we are also starting to need rain. Our clay soils are beginning to harden into a rock-like consistency that usually just melts into a fluffy loam after an inch of rain. Irrigation is always the back-up plan but garlic harvest and onion harvest have been keeping the farmers and the crews running at top speed to get everything done before the windows close.

Encouragingly, melon harvest is looking promising. The watermelons and musk melons on the farm have never looked so good! We’re hoping that when we start harvesting they taste and hold as good as they look from the end of the row. Tomato harvesting is picking up, the bean plants are covered in flowers and I even spied an early ripe sweet pepper.

Nobody ever told me that farming was going to be easy. But with all of you CSA members at our backs we can handle the curve balls a little better!  Help us pray for a little rain this week.  (But don't pray too hard!)

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

Cauliflower- Organic cauliflower in the heat of the summer can be a tricky one to grow. These aren’t the largest or the most beautiful we’ve ever grown. They varied in size quite a bit. Some were large and some were small and we tried to make sure everyone got either one large or one small and one broccoli. I love how cauliflower has become all the rage in the gluten-free world. It’s such a versatile vegetable!

Sweet Corn- 5 Ears of Sweet corn per member this week.   Sweet corn is best eaten as soon as possible once harvested from the plant. If you must keep it for a few days, be sure to keep it in the refrigerator and keep it cold to preserve it’s sweetness and crispiness. The ears aren’t huge, but for the most part they look good and the flavor is excellent! So far we’re keeping the coons out of the patch pretty well!

Eggplant or Cherry Tomatoes or Sweet Bell Pepper- Because eggplant plants don’t necessarily crank out eggplants, we supplemented with cherry tomatoes or a sweet bell pepper. It’s a bit of the luck of the draw on this one. The cherry tomatoes are the sun gold variety of you got these and they ripen orange. Don’t wait for them to turn red because they won’t! We love this cherry tomato variety because of how wonderfully sweet they are!   The remainder of members received a sweet bell pepper.

Celery- This has been a tough year for the celery field. Very few local farms even try to grow celery because it is a very tricky crop to grow. It has very high water needs and prefers a silty-loam soil and high calcium. We don’t always have the perfect soil conditions for it depending on which field it gets planted into with our rotation from year to year. This year we’re starting to take them small like this because many of them are showing signs of some kind of disease. We decided to start giving them small, rather than leaving them out there longer to just go bad. Hopefully three more weeks of celery givings.

Summer Squash and Zucchini- 3 squash per member. Summer Squash are the yellow ones and zucchini are the green ones. Zucchini 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 its generosity! Squash harvest will go for another month or so, so I hope you’re finding ways to use it up!

Lettuce- You may have received 1 red leaf or one green leaf lettuce this week. We harvested some red leaf lettuce and some green leaf lettuce. You may have received either variety. Keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Cucumbers- 6 Cucumbers per member! Woah! Cucumbers are still hitting with a bang. It’s time to try out your favorite cucumber recipes that use a few of them. Think cucumber soup, tzatziki sauce, pickles….. My kids eat one for a snack!

White Onion- One nice and big white onion for everyone. Will keep just fine on your countertop.

Curly Green Kale- We wanted to give swiss chard this week but the plants are slow to regenerate after damaged leaves from a previous storm. We’re hoping to give swiss chard next week.

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper- These are probably the most mild hot pepper of all the hot pepper varieties. For a whimp like me, they are still plenty hot. Although they’re a little funny, because I have also eaten some that had almost no heat at all. They are also called banana peppers by some. These are the lime green, small pepper in your box. Later in the season they ‘ripen’ more orange and red in color, but for now they are still lime green;)

Carrots- One pound of the famous Small Family Farm carrots per member this week. They are so sweet and so fresh their hearts are still beating! Looking forward to more carrots coming-probably next week!

Next Week's Best Guess: broccoli, sweet corn, carrots, cucumbers, summer squash and zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, onions, celery, lettuce, basil, melons, swiss chard

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July Twenty-Fifth

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When I was a girl, my mother used to tell me I was her favorite child after I had just done something that pleased her. She would do this with a wink, and even in front of my other siblings at times. I remember feeling I had just eaten the mushroom in Mario Brothers and I would stand tall and feel proud. But I knew that she would do the same thing to my sister and my brother and tell them that they were her favorite, with a wink of course, in front of me. None of us ever felt jealous, for we were all well-loved and appreciated by our mother. Her praise would encourage good behavior and we each knew that we all got our turn in the limelight.

When asked what my favorite vegetable is, I would have to say it is the freshest and newest and prettiest vegetable on the farm. It is the root I have just pulled out of the ground with a ‘pluck’ whose heart is still beating with life. The one that looks alive and appeals to my sensory that day. It is the one that has just stricken me with its beauty and valor. It is the one that I have just sunk my teeth into and has made me go ‘mmmmmmmmm’.   The one that made me realize how much I had missed it while it was out of season. It changes, you see.

I love them all. As a mother loves all of her children, as we are capable of loving more than one place or one person or one color. I used to tell people that I didn’t like eggplant, for I had convinced myself that I didn’t. But the truth was, I hadn’t learned to love and appreciate it yet. It hadn’t captured me yet. I hadn’t prepared it in a way that I was happy with yet. No one else had cooked it for me yet in a way that made it taste good. But I was still an amateur cook and cooking with eggplant might be a ‘level 2’ vegetable- or at least it was for me.

When you’re in the fields harvesting eggplant on a sunny day, the eggplant come off the vine shining their sexy, sleek, black skin at you. They feel light, yet heavy in your hands and they’re so round and full and smooth and perfect looking. They suddenly appeal to you, and anyone might want to try and cook one. All vegetables have a freshness to them at the time of harvest that seems to slowly fade by the day (or even the hour depending on the temperature they’re stored at) after they have been picked. It’s sad to see it happen, but a reminder none the less, of the perishability of fresh produce.

One of the beautiful parts of belonging to a CSA farm is how incredibly fresh this produce is. It doesn’t taste like a supermarket. It doesn’t have stickers on it. It isn’t wrapped in plastic or coated in wax. The CSA box also forces you, in a way, to try new vegetables. You get to experience each vegetable in its season-in its limelight. The cucumbers taste so good to me now, but their quality will decline a bit and they’ll be old news in a few weeks and we will all have fallen in love with some other new and fancy vegetable coming into season like sweet peppers or melons or something.

It might even work this way with my mom still. She loves me most after a bit of a break. I am the most palatable when I’m fresh and perky and colorful. It’s okay with me, because I know that all things have their season and my siblings deserve their turn. I’ll be making eggplant parmesan this week. And thank you to mom for being such a great cook and making the first pan of eggplant parmesan that helped me learn to love it.

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

Green or Red Cabbage- The cabbages have to come out the field when they’re ready to come out. There was barely room in the box for them this week, but somehow we squeezed them in!

Cauliflower x 2- Organic cauliflower in the heat of the summer can be a tricky one to grow. These aren’t the largest or the most beautiful we’ve ever grown. They varied in size quite a bit. Some were large and some were small and we tried to make sure everyone got either one large and one small or two more medium sized heads. I love how cauliflower has become all the rage in the gluten-free world. It’s such a versatile vegetable!

Sweet Corn- 4-5 Ears of Sweet corn per member this week.   We started taking some of the corn a few days earlier than we wanted to harvest them because we’re already seeing raccoon damage in the sweet corn! Even though we have four wires of electric fence all the way around, somehow they bust their way in! Hopefully we can keep them out long enough that we still get a few more weeks of harvest! Keep your sweet corn very cold until you plan to eat it. Sweet corn looses its sweetness by the minute after it has been picked. We recommend eating it up as soon as possibly for the best flavor!

Eggplant- Very nice eggplants this week. Many people received a standard eggplant. If you did not receive a standard eggplant, you may have received an Asian eggplant. The Asian eggplant are long and skinney. They are loved because of their ease of just slicing them up and for stir fry pieces and because they have fewer seeds. Eggplant prefer 50 degree storage as well!

Celery- This has been a tough year for the celery field. Very few local farms even try to grow celery because it is a very tricky crop to grow. It has very high water needs and prefers a silty-loam soil and high calcium. We don’t always have the perfect soil conditions for it depending on which field it gets planted into with our rotation from year to year. This year we’re starting to take them small like this because many of them are showing signs of some kind of disease. We decided to start giving them small, rather than leaving them out there longer to just go bad. Hopefully four more weeks of celery givings.

Summer Squash and Zucchini- 4 squash per member. Summer Squash are the yellow ones and zucchini are the green ones. Zucchini 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 its generosity! Squash harvest will go for another month or so, so I hope you’re finding ways to use it up!

Lettuce- You may have received 1 or 2 heads of lettuce this week. We harvested some red leaf lettuce and some green leaf lettuce. You may have received either variety.

Cucumbers- 7 Cucumbers per member! Woah! Cucumbers are still hitting with a bang. It’s time to try out your favorite cucumber recipes that use a few of them. Think cucumber soup, tzatziki sauce, pickles….. My kids eat one for a snack!

Bunching Onions- This is the final week of bunching onions! Starting next week we will begin giving standard, white onions for everyone!

Lacinato Kale- The Lacinato is the most trendy variety of kale these days. It has a smoother leaf and darker green color than the green curly kale. My children love kale that is cooked in a cast iron pan with lots of coconut oil. I cook it until it is crispy and then toss it with soy sauce or tamari. Look for a fun Kale Chip recipe if you’re new to using Kale!

Mint- Mint is a very easy herb to grow and has been a hit in our household! It will come in handy making tzatziki if you haven’t made that yet! Mint is wonderful paired with cucumbers. It also makes a nice tea. You could even dehydrate it if you wanted to dry it and make tea with it later! A cold mint infusion for mint-water is also an idea.

Next Week's Best Guess: cauliflower or broccoli, sweet corn, carrots, cucumbers, summer squash and zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, onions, celery, lettuce, thyme?

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July Eighteenth

It finally feels like summer on the farm. Summer never really feels like summer to me until it’s so hot that our clothes are sticking to our skins and the cicadas are singing in the middle of the day. It feels like summer when you body aches from the heavy haul of cucumbers and zucchinis and cabbage. It feels like summer when your brain is so full and busy from the millions of activities happening everywhere all around you and all you really want to do is go swimming. It feels like summer when salad for dinner and something on the grill sounds good enough because you don’t want to heat the house up. The hot, humid air delivers a full-body summer experience that fully takes you over.   The shade of a tree never felt so good.

It smells like summer too. For the first time this week I began to smell the corn pollen. If I can smell it, so can the raccoons-so it’s a good thing we got the sweet corn trellising up this week before the raccoons could get to it. The basil harvest this week brings nostalgia unique to summer like none other. The smell of the tomato plants on our hands as we went through to harvest the first of our cherry tomatoes this week smelled like summer. The dill and the cilantro we have given in previous weeks brings a fresh summer smell that has a way of cooling and lightening the spirit.

The tastes of summer are upon us. The heat-loving plants like cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash and basil are the pioneers. Soon we will be blessed with the true summer gems that make us wait a bit longer such as sweet corn, melons, tomatoes and peppers. The lettuce begins to taste different too. While we are still able to grow lettuce in these early summer days, it’s not quite as crunchy and watery and smooth as it was in June. The lettuce gets a tad thicker and a little bitter in its resentment to the summer heat. All plants that choose to survive the brutal, scorching temperatures must ‘’toughen up” to make it out there. We say good by to the tender and succulent spring greens and hello to the sweet, crunchy and watery summer veggies that arrive to help cool and sustain us.

Most obviously, it looks like summer on the farm too. The corn is getting tall. The tomatoes are setting fruit. The fields are full and the horizon has a shimmery haze to it that will transport you anywhere you want to go. The lillys are in bloom everywhere and the dog spends his days sprawled out under the farm truck or under the canopy of any nearby shrub or foliage. The lightening bugs blink their blinky-blinks and the monarchs flutter their flirty flutters. Encouragingly, we have seen more monarchs this summer than any summer we can remember on this farm.

The children run bare foot and the baby’s only clothes are his diapers.   The relentless lawn won’t stop growing and we see small fruits hanging from the trees in our small orchard. The workers are tired, but they keep coming in tandem, on time and on schedule trusting in the reward of the satisfaction of finishing off a good season on a farm.

Summer.  Ah, Summer.  How we missed you all winter.  We're so glad you're here!  DSC 0036 2

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

Green Cabbage- This variety is called Quickstart. It's a looser head of cabbage than the really dense of storage varieties you can buy in the Fall. Quickstart will satisfy all of our desires for the cabbage flavor and texture and is a Summer favorite on the farm.

Broccoli x 2- Small to medium heads of broccoli again this week. 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!

Green Top Beets- We call them green top beets because they are so fresh they still have their greens on them. Beets greens are also perfectly edible and can be used like swiss chard or any cooking green. Beets will keep a terrifically long time if topped and kept in a plastic bag in the fridge. But you won’t have the room in your fridge to keep them since you keep getting more veggies, so just eat them up and anticipate more soon! 3 beets per bunh.

Summer Squash and Zucchini- 4-5 squash 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 generosity! Plenty more zucchini and summer squash to come.

Lettuce- You may have received 1 or 2 heads of lettuce this week. We harvested some red leaf lettuce and some green leaf lettuce. You may have received either variety.

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!

Cucumbers- 7 Cucumbers per member! Woah! Cucumbers hit with a bang. It’s time to try out your favorite cucumber recipes that use a few of them. Think cucumber soup, tzatziki sauce, pickles….. My kids eat one for a snack!

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

Curly Green Kale- Gorgeous bunches of curly green kale this week. Have you tried Kale Chips yet? It’s a great way to use up a bunch fast!

Basil- Basil is best used the moment it is plucked from the plant. But since this is the best condition we can get it to you in, it will just have to do. It was perfect just hours ago-see the pictures! Basil cannot be refrigerated! It will turn black in refrigeration! Basil prefers to be cut and set in a vase of water like fresh cut flowers. I’m not sure if it will spring back to life after being shipped to your dropsite or not, but it might be worth a try. Use your basil up quickly since it doesn’t tolerate storage well!

Next Week's Best Guess: cauliflower, carrots, chard, cucumbers, summer squash, Zucchini, green onions, lettuce, eggplant, celery? Cabbage? Mint?

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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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Recipes

Local Thyme Recipes

Here is a link to your post for the week:

http://www.localthyme.net/weeks-plan/week-of-july-11-2018-small-family-farm-csa/

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

COMFORTING CLASSICS 

Cheesy, Creamy, Brown Rice, Broccoli and Greens Casserole

Old Fashioned Southern Braised Collard Greens

OUTSIDE THE BOX

Farro Salad with Beets, Broccoli, Cilantro and Walnuts

Collard Greens with Cornmeal Soup