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!

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September Twelfth

I’m not much of a TV person. I’m too busy to find time for it, but on occasion I catch a glimpse of something that looks interesting. Anthony Bourdaine’s cooking and travel shows that my mom used to watch would catch my attention long enough to slow me down for a few minutes. I began to discover his works and appreciate his perspectives and discoveries regarding food and travel. Shortly before his death, he stared the documentary film Wasted which we recently watched.

The story of food waste in the world is interesting to me, to put it politely. As a farmer, I feel acutely aware of the losses that happen at the point of productivity. There is much less loss on a CSA farm than on a farm that puts all of it’s eggs in one basket and produces just one or two crops for wholesale production. The beautifully designed CSA farm is diversified enough that when one or a few different crops don’t produce well in one season, we have enough other crops that we’re growing that we can always still manage to fill boxes with the many other crops we grow to meet our harvesting needs.

The film Wasted talks a lot about the different levels of food waste starting on farms, in grocery stores, in homes, and in restaurants. It also talks about the environmental impacts of food waste as well as the social and the economical effects. I dream of a world where we can lower our standards on the shapes and quality and size that our food comes in. Food needs to be produced ethically, organically and locally. Most inspiringly, as the film suggests, we can all do better as using everything, and wasting nothing. The term ‘nose to tale’ cooking means using every part of the animal, as well as every edible stem, leaf, stalk and fruit that our plants provide. As a result, we will all become more creative chefs in the kitchen, we will be healthier from eating a more diversified diet and will we create less waste! Astoundingly, a head of lettuce takes 25 years to decompose in a landfill. Food for thought!

We have been having a bit of rough time since the recent rains on the farm. The rain and the humidity affected the storage of our onions. Nearly 60% of our onion crop this year are ‘seconds’, as we call them. The onions did not cure down fast enough because during the crucial time that they should have been drying down, we had very wet and humid conditions, so instead of drying down rapidly, they very slowly dried down, causing many of them to simply begin to rot. We decided, after much thought, to give everyone a ‘second’ quality onion this week. We wanted to give these sooner rather than later so that they could still be used before they deteriorated any further. There are still hundreds of pounds of onions we sorted through that we will sadly compost.

Additionally, the melons that we gave this week also had tiny spots of decay on them. We did our very best to keep these for you in our cooler, and even though we had a pretty good melon year so far, we decided we would rather give the melons this week with small spots on them than not give them at all. We hope that you, our faithful CSA members, can help forgive this quality issue. We want you to know that we put our CSA members first and strive our hardest to only ship beautiful, first quality produce whenever possible. There are huge food losses on the farm that you’ll never see because we try very hard to never give second quality crops.

And finally, the tomatoes this week were also low-quality. Blaming this final quality issue on the rains, we have never had such a short tomato year as this. Our tomatoes fizzeled out much sooner this season than ever before. We are still hoping to give everyone a few tomatoes again next week, which will likely be the final week of tomatoes because the plants did not tolerate so much rain and moisture.

Thank you for your patience and understanding! I encourage you to check out the film Wasted and cultivate in your heart a certain level of pardoning to your farmers for some hardships in a growing season. Learn how to cook with your kohlrabi leaves and broccoli stems. Meanwhile, we’ll work on the best looking and tasting crops we can possibly grow! Thank you!

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

Sweet Peppers- Two sweet peppers per member this week. We’re still waiting for sweet pepper production to pick up. We grow mostly colored sweet peppers, so you likely won’t receive many green peppers from us unless they were accidentally picked unripe or unless there is a danger of frost and we pick them green before they have a chance to turn colors. We’re patiently waiting for all of the colorful and beautiful pepper varieties we selected to start sharing with us their true colors. C’mon peppers!

Green Cabbage- The cabbages were on the cute side this time around. Nothing too huge, but more of a young, tender and manageable sized cabbage. There were about 20 people who receive a Napa Cabbage instead of a green cabbage.

Dragon Tongue Beans- .42lbs of dragon tongue beans per member this week. Beans are best eaten fresh! Don’t try to keep them long! We washed the beans again because they were so muddy at harvest-something we had just done for the first time last week that went well! A nice hearty helping of beans for all this week!

Yellow (2nd) Onion- Nice onions that may need a little trimming around a soft spot at the top. Use it up quickly!

Tomatoes- 2 lb bags. Tomato production is near the end. Remember to leave your tomatoes out on the counter to ripen. We’re sorry about these tomatoes not looking the best. The later in the season, the less-beautiful and perfect the tomatoes look.

Red Beets-   A generous handful of beets this week. Many of these beets are smaller, which many people really love because they take less time to cook. Still sweet and lovely as a beet can be!

Kohlrabi- Remember these from the Spring? Kohlrabi love the cool weather of the Spring and Fall! Peel them and enjoy their apple-like texture on the inside with all the flavor of a crispy radish or spring turnip!

Brussels Sprouts Tops!- Yes, these are unique offering! These are the tender shoots off the top of the Brussels Sprouts plants. We snap them off this time of year to tell the Brussels plant that it’s time to stop growing UP and it’s time to put their energy into sizing up those sprouts on the stalk. These tops can be used like any other cooking green such as kale or collards. Tender and delicious! Tell us how you used them! No waste!

Cilantro- Just about everyone received cilantro this wee, but we ran a little short and about 30 people received Dill instead.

Eggplant- Either a standard eggplant or a long and skinney Japanese Eggplant.

Curly Green Kale- Kale is the beloved staple at our house! Kale chips! Kale in egg roll filling, kale in your frittata, kale in your soup, kale it up!

Yellow Doll Watermelon- These are the small, yellow watermelons in your box.  We tested the Brix on these and they were up to 15 on the Brix test.  Sweet!

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper x 2- These were tucked inside your tomato bags. Hungarian Hot wax are amongst the most mild of hot peppers, but they may surprise you! Hungarian Hot Wax are usually found a lime-green color, but they also ripen orange to red. We don’t want you confuse your hot pepper for a mini-sweet as we have begun sticking minisweet peppers in your CSA boxes.

MiniSweet Pepper- 1-2 very small minisweets again this week. I know it’s a very small giving, but these guys are just starting to produce now too. Minisweets are one of my children’s favorite foods. They can eat piles of these things in one sitting. The minisweets are red, yellow and orange. The only possible issue here is that since they are small peppers, they could easily be confused for a hot pepper. But I assure you they are not hot so long as you are able to differentiate in your CSA box which is the minisweet pepper and which is the Hungarian hot wax pepper. Have fun learning your peppers!

Next Week's Best Guess: Winter squash, collards, mint, beets, carrots, sweet bell peppers, lettuce, kohlrabi, tomato,

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Rain, Rain. Go away!

September Fifth

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We have simply had enough rain now. I typically do the writing part of the newsletters for the week on Monday nights. Last week on Monday night after I had saved and closed my word document and went to sleep, a whopping 10 inches of rain fell in the night. We woke to the reality of another Driftless area flood. Towns, farms, bridges, roads, and homes washed away in the night while I slept soundly with my windows closed.

Thankfully for us, we are located on a Ridgetop and much of the rain runs downhill. The immediate damage from last week’s flood was exposed potatoes from the hills of the potatoes washed away in the downpour of continuous rain. The rain also shredded the swiss chard leaves and turned the basil black.

The after-affects are still to be determined. The flood were followed by a week of mist, fog, and overcast with nearly 100% humidity every day. Vegetable plants, like many other people and animals, do not like to be wet all of the time. The leaves of a vegetable plant, if wet for two weeks solid will become blighted, diseased and begin to rot. Especially many of the root crops that we have yet to dig that have been sitting in wet soil for thus long. One week later, as I write this newsletter, heavy rain is falling again. We are expected to have continual rainfall through Wednesday afternoon.

The rain makes it just as difficult for the trucks and equipment to get into the fields to harvest and work. We’re feeling a little nervous about what all of this rain means for the rest of the harvest season. We were noticing that our fall spinach looks a little like it’s melting. The young and tender spinach plants are yellowing a little and look like they’re suffering from too much moisture.

If we do see a lot of rot on the produce we are harvesting this Fall, it also means that the crew will have to do a lot more selecting for quality. We will have to sift through the harvest and pull out rotten carrots from the bin and watch for rot on the beets and so forth. This extra attention to quality means that not 100% of the crop may be as perfect as we want it to be if second quality vegetables slip through our quality checks. Due to a higher percentage of second quality.  

On the positive side, we did get most of our winter squash crop harvested. The pumpkins, the acorn, spaghetti squash, and kabocha are all in. We still need to get the butternuts and sweet dumplings, but we’ll get them in over ‘hell or high-water” as they say (which has a more literal meaning than I’ve ever used that expression).

Ideally, a vegetable farm doesn’t really need much rain past September. A dry Fall is desirable on a farm. We are done planting now and any crops we had time to plant are established now. We will need dry weather in order to dig our fall root crops. Dry weather will prevent disease from rotting out our Fall Brassicas. It will enable us to cultivate and weed our Fall Brassicas. A dry Fall also means beautiful Fall Colors! Let’s all pray for a Dry Fall with sunny and cool days leading up to Thanksgiving!

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

Sweet Peppers- Two sweet peppers per member this week. We’re still waiting for sweet pepper production to pick up. We grow mostly colored sweet peppers, so you likely won’t receive many green peppers from us unless they were accidentally picked unripe or unless there is a danger of frost and we pick them green before they have a chance to turn colors. We’re patiently waiting for all of the colorful and beautiful pepper varieties we selected to start sharing with us their true colors. C’mon peppers!

Red or Yellow Potatoes- Yes! Finally potatoes! 2.5 lbs per member this week. Freshly dug potatoes scuff easier than potatoes that have been in storage. We do not wash potatoes because they are less likely to scuff and get damaged in the washing. Unwashed potatoes also stay fresher and keep longer. After eating storage potatoes all winter, there is no comparison to a fresh-dug potato! Some potatoes were washed this week because they were so muddy at harvest. We did not wash all of them because there was so much mechanical damage from using the washing machines to wash them.

Pint Cherry Tomatoes- The cherry tomatoes are the Sun Gold variety. Sun Gold’s 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!

Green Beans- .75lbs of green beans/dragon tongue beans mix per member this week. Beans are best eaten fresh! Don’t try to keep them long! We washed theb beans again because they were so muddy at harvest-something we had just done for the first time last week that went well! A nice hearty helping of beans for all this week!

Yellow Onion- One nice yellow onion for everyone. Will keep just fine on your countertop.

Tomatoes- 3.5 lb bags. 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!

Carrots- Some of Small Family Farm’s famous sweet carrots! 1 pound per member.

Napa Cabbage- These are the chinese cabbage heads in the box. The leaves, which are the harvested organ, lay side by side densely, are lime green coloured with white leaf veins and have a smooth surface. The vegetable has an oval form and weighs 3-5 lbs. It develops similar to other head-forming leaf vegetables such as cabbage or lettuce. Best eaten in an Asian slaw or very traditionally used to make kimchi.

Green Leaf Lettuce- One small head of lettuce per member this week. The lettuce was not loving the heat and rain of recent weeks, so the heads were smaller and the leaves a little tougher than we like in a head of lettuce, but this it the nature of summer lettuce.

1 Da Vinci Melons- The Da Vinci melons have a dark green rind with orange flesh. These melons should all be ripe, even though they don’t quite look like it on the outside. We lost a lot of these melons in the field because we waited too long to harvest them. It was hard to tell that they were ready because their rind was so hard and green still, but they were splitting open and going bad and perfectly ripe on the inside. Likely your Da Vinci is ripe, even though it might not look like it;)

Yellow Doll Watermelon- These are the small, yellow watermelons in your box. We ran out of Da Vinci melons, so some people (about 20 people) received two yellow watermelons and no Davinci Melon.

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper x 2- These were tucked inside your tomato bags. Hungarian Hot wax are amongst the most mild of hot peppers, but they may surprise you! Hungarian Hot wax are usually found a lime-green color, but they also ripen orange to red. We don’t want you confuse your hot pepper for a mini-sweet as we have begun sticking minisweet peppers in your CSA boxes.

MiniSweet Pepper- 1-2 very small minisweets. I know it’s a very small giving, but these guys are just starting to produce now too. Minisweets are one of my children’s favorite foods. They can eat piles of these things in one sitting. The minisweets are red, yellow and orange. The only possible issue here is that since they are small peppers, they could easily be confused for a hot pepper. But I assure you they are not hot so long as you are able to differentiate in your CSA box which is the minisweet pepper and which is the Hungarian hot wax pepper. Have fun learning your peppers!

Garlic- One beautiful bulb of garlic per member this week. We shipped a porcelain german white garlic this week. Garlic keeps well on your countertop in dry storage.

Next Week's Best Guess: watermelon, green cabbage, tomatoes, sweet peppers, onion, beets, kale, dragon tongue beans, Hungarian hot wax pepper, minisweet peppers, kohlrabi, eggplant, thyme

August Twenty-Nineth

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One of the most beautiful parts of being part of a CSA farm is the connection to weather patterns and the seasons. There may have been days when you were at work or at home and noticed the storm coming in, the heat wave or that is has been dry lately. You maybe even thought of how these weather patterns were affecting your crops or imagined what it was like for us out here on the farm.

Eating within the seasons reduces your carbon footprint from eating out-of-season produce from who-knows-where trucked in from who-knows-how-far away. Your vegetables are always fresh and taste like it. Spring vegetables are green and detoxing and crispy to clease and nourish us from a long winter of warming, starchy roots and squashes. Summer is hot and long and the fruits of the season are juicy and cooling and quick to prepare. I even love the late-summer veggies like sweet peppers that offer color and flavor and texture as our juicy fruits fade away.

Tomato production is plummeting. I always feel quite sad about this fact when it inevitably happens because we look forward to tomato season all year long. When tomato season hits, it hits with a bang and never lasts long enough for me. This will be the final week of such hefty givings of tomatoes. Make your pico-de-gaillo or your gazpacho or your tomato soups while the season lasts. Our summer cucumbers, zucchinis and summer squashes are finally over. Winter squash harvest becomes the new heavy harvest.

Because I am blessed enough to live amidst so much bounty, it never makes sense to go to the grocery store or coop and shop in the produce aisles when there is so much at home already. And I love that a certain kind of loyalty has grown within me to eating within the season. It feels like me and summer are buddies. We’re one with one another. I feel like I’m wearing summer’s crown when I cut up melons and slice tomatoes and drink cucumber water.

I don’t mind when summer passes the baton to Fall because then I can look forward to butternut squash and Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. I love Fall Spinach and broccoli and romanesco. Fall is the Finale. It is an explosion of colors and flavors and foods that last. We see much less perishability in the Fall Veggies because many of them will need to sustain us through the winter. In the end we will store carrots, parsnips, celeriac root and carefully cured onions and garlic and sweet potatoes.

Eating within the season also feels like a reunion with an old friend when they come back around again. I even love the part of missing the tomatoes in the off season. I’m too much of a seasonal loyalist to buy slicer tomatoes out of season. I love the anticipation of wathing for the first of the asparagus that comes up in the spring. I love walking the rows with the girls and hunting for it and reveling in its bounty by eating asparagus for every meal once it finally does arrive, because I know the season is short. And now, we can look forward to pumpkin pie and potato leek soup!

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

Pepper- Two sweet peppers per member this week. We’re still waiting for sweet pepper production to pick up. We grow mostly colored sweet peppers, so you likely won’t receive many green peppers from us unless they were accidentally picked unripe or unless there is a danger of frost and we pick them green before they have a chance to turn colors. We’re patiently waiting for all of the colorful and beautiful pepper varieties we selected to start sharing with us their true colors. C’mon peppers!

Red Potatoes- Yes! Finally potatoes! 2.5 lbs per member this week. Freshly dug potatoes scuff easier than potatoes that have been in storage. We do not wash potatoes because they are less likely to scuff and get damaged in the washing. Unwashed potatoes also stay fresher and keep longer. After eating storage potatoes all winter, there is no comparison to a fresh-dug potato!

Cherry Tomatoes- The cherry tomatoes are the Sun Gold variety. Sun Gold’s 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!   Some people received two pints this week.

Green Beans- .95lbs of green beans per member this week. Beans are best eaten fresh! Don’t try to keep them long! We washed the green beans again because they were so muddy at harvest-something we had just done for the first time last week that went well! A nice hearty helping of beans for all this week!

Cucumbers- 1 Cucumbers per member! This is the final giving of cucumbers for the season. How I do love cucumbers while they last, but all good things must come to an end!

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

Tomatoes- Another heft 8 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!

Carrots- Some of Small Family Farm’s famous sweet carrots! 1 pound per member.

Melons- This week everyone received two melons, but we gave three varieties of melons so not everyone received the same varieties. We shipped some Honeydew (or Arava melons that have the green flesh) and some Cantelope melons. Everyone received one Yellow Doll Watermelon. These little yellow watermelons are sure to be a crowd pleaser! Cantelope and Honeydew (or Arava) will ripen off the vine. Be patient and let your melon sit on the counter until it starts to smell like a melon. Don’t put it in your fridge unless you’re sure it is ready to cut up. You will know that a cantelope or honeydew is ready when they have a strong melon smell.

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper- These were tucked inside your tomato bags. Hungarian Hot wax are amongst the most mild of hot peppers, but they may surprise you! Hungarian Hot wax are usually found a lime-green color, but they also ripen orange to red. We don’t want you confuse your hot pepper for a mini-sweet as we have begun sticking minisweet peppers in your CSA boxes.

MiniSweet Pepper- I know it’s a very small giving, but these guys are just starting to produce now too. Minisweets are one of my children’s favorite foods. They can eat piles of these things in one sitting. The minisweets are red, yellow and orange. The only possible issue here is that since they are small peppers, they could easily be confused for a hot pepper. But I assure you they are not hot so long as you are able to differentiate in your CSA box which is the minisweet pepper and which is the Hungarian hot wax pepper. Have fun learning your peppers!

Garlic- One beautiful bulb of garlic per member this week. We shipped a porcelain german white garlic this week. Garlic keeps well on your countertop in dry storage.

Next Week's Best Guess: watermelon, French melon, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, onion, garlic, carrots, potatoes?, chard, green beans, Hungarian hot wax pepper, minisweet peppers

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August Twenty-Second

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The farm entered a new chapter this week. We are beginning to feel a seasonal shift. Maybe it was brought in with the rain we had or maybe it is because the sweet corn ended or because the zucchinis and cucumbers are ending. We also got a reprieve from the heat the last few days which has felt like a blessing.

We are continuing to harvest tomatoes which are producing heavily right now. We are filling the bags of tomatoes up this week as full as we can possibly fill them with hopes that they survive the transport okay. Tomatoes can be tricky to figure out how to share a large quantity in a box with so many other veggies to squeeze in there! We are in peak tomato season now and are enjoying all of the lovely abundance. The harvest is heavy and the rows of tomatoes are long! We do see that the plants won’t continue to produce quite the way they have been as we have been picking so heavily now for a few weeks.

We will begin harvesting winter squash this week. Some shorter-day verities like acorn, spaghetti squash and kubocha squash will be the first varieties to harvest. Winter squash is harvested and then taken to the greenhouse which is a dry environment for ‘curing’. All winter squash varieties should cure for up to two weeks to dry the stem down so the squash will not rot in storage. We will give winter squash the last 5 or so weeks of deliveries as well as in the Fall Shares and Thanksgiving boxes.

We have been catching up with some of the most important weeding projects on the farm and are turning our attention to almost exclusively harvesting. We will continue to keep up with some weeding projects on the farm, but harvesting becomes the main priority in the second half of the season here.

We transplanted out the last of the crops that we will transplant this week such as fall lettuce.   A couple weeks ago we finished transplanting the last of our Fall Brassicas such as broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrai, rutabaga and napa cabbage. We also seeded fall Spinach, daikon radish, cilantro and dill and parsley.

I am also excited to start harvesting potatoes. We will begin harvesting potatoes soon. Kohlrabi, broccoli and an early napa cabbage harvest are also around the corner. Sweet Pepper production is expected to pick up. We can hope for 5-6 sweet peppers in each CSA box in the weeks to come. Green bean harvest will also continue the next couple weeks with dragon tongue (a mulit-colored bean) coming into season soon. There is nothing that beats a good green bean.

We are also very excited about our second Annual Summer Evening Farm Dinner scheduled for this Saturday, August 25th here at the farm. There are just a handful of tickets left if you would like to dine with us outdoors on the farm and enjoy some of the best seasonal goodies with other foodies like yourself. This event was to create an opportunity for you, our CSA members, to come to the farm and have a beautiful evening here that creates a lovely, lasting memory from the place where your food is grown.

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

****Due the rains this week, some of the produce is a little wetter and a little dirtier than usual. Some produce we wash customarily, but some items we do not wash because we are limited by time, they don’t handle washing well or because under normal conditions we do not need to wash certain things (like tomatoes or melons for example). Please excuse any extra dirt or wetness this week and give your melon or your zucchini a quick rinse!

Pepper- Some people received two peppers, and some people received one. It depended on wether or not you received one or two pints of cherry tomatoes. We’re still expecting sweet pepper production to pick up in the next few weeks.

Cherry Tomatoes- The cherry tomatoes are the Sun Gold variety. Sun Gold’s 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!   Some people received two pints this week if you only received one sweet pepper.

Green Beans- 1.25lbs of green beans per member this week. Beans are best eaten fresh! Don’t try to keep them long! This week we washed the green beans because they were so muddy at harvest-something we had never done before. A nice hearty helping of beans for all this week!

Summer Squash and Zucchini- 1 squash per member. They were a little dirty this week because of the early week rains. 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. This was likely the final zucchini and summer squash harvest week.

Celery- Likely the final giving of celery this week. Local celery usually has a stronger celery flavor that what we’re all used to-California celery grown in more mild temperatures with high water inputs. With the diversity of crops we are growing on this farm, this is about the best celery we can offer. Celery is great in soups, egg salad, or even cold summer pasta or potato salad dishes.

Cucumbers- 3-4 Cucumbers per member! Cucumbers are finally slowing down. We will be lucky if we are able to give one or two cucumbers next week, so enjoy them while they are lasting as they are quickly going out of season! Maybe one more cucumber week?

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

Cabbage- You may have received either a green or a red cabbage. These are the last of our summer cabbage pickings.

Tomatoes- 8 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!

Beets- Three large beets per member this week! Beets will keep very well for months in a plastic bag in the fridge. But I’m sure you can find a fun summer dish to use them up in! Try roasting them!

Melons- This week everyone received two melons, but we gave three varieties of melons so not everyone received the same variety. We shipped some Cantelopes, some Canary melons and some Honeydew melons. The canary melons are unusual in that they are bright yellow on the outside and are still firm and crispy when fully ripe. The canary melons have a flesh like a cucumber but taste sweet (sometimes even like bubble gum when perfectly ripe). The cantelope are orange on the inside and usually a cream color on the outside on the rind. Cantelope and Honeydew will ripen off the vine. Be patient and let your melon sit on the counter until it starts to smell like a melon. Don’t put it in your fridge unless you’re sure it is ready to cut up. You will know that a cantelope or honeydew is ready when they have a strong melon smell.

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper- These were tucked inside your tomato bags. Hungarian Hot wax are amongst the most mild of hot peppers, but they may surprise you!

Next Week's Best Guess: watermelon, French melon, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, broccoli?, onion, garlic, carrots, potatoes?, chard or kale, cucumbers, green beans

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Recipes

Teriyaki Green Beans with Cashews

Blue Moon Celery Salad

Cream Braised Cabbage (a simple and surprisingly delicious recipe!)

August Fifteenth

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I have discovered that making dinner is my meditation. It clears my mind. It is the ritual that resets my brain, comforts me and brings me ‘home’ again. I’ve always been too much of a busy-body to deeply delve into meditation. I’m not against it, just wired in a way where I can’t sit for too long. I’m too pragmatic, too busy, too hungry! Some people run, some people read, some people watch TV, some people maybe even smoke or drink or sleep. I cook.   And I don’t mind spending hours doing it.

I find that it also calms the children. They love it when I stay in one place for while. After a day of everyone running around the farm and people going in and out the front door and the farm truck and tractors going up and down the road and the phone ringing and the chores calling, we settle it all down with the smell of onions and garlic sautéing in a pan with oil (probably the most amazing smell in the world). The kids are magically soothed to the sound of veggies being chopped on the cutting board, to the sound of something sizzling in the cast iron pan, and to the clinking and clanking of pans and dishes being rustled around on the stove and countertop. When mom is in the kitchen cooking, life feels good and safe and predictable.

I wouldn’t say that I’m an awesome cook. I’m learning, progressing and certainly logging in the practice hours. The kids like to ‘help’ too. Well, I shouldn’t say they like to help me, they like to make their own dishes. We make fantastic messes that might stress out the average mom, but I have fully surrendered to the messes with three small children. The mess is a sacrifice I have been willing to make for the sake of fostering a love for cooking and vegetables in these little people.

I don’t get a CSA box of #1 produce each week, but I do have access to the piles of ‘seconds’, as we call them. In an effort to use up these bins of veggies culled out at harvest or in the pack shed, I process more veggies than one might normally process in one meals preparation time. It sometimes takes longer to cut around the blemishes and curves of the mis-shapen and imperfect veggies, but I don’t mind because I feel rich with the bounty.

My senses are fully alive in the kitchen. I smell the fresh basil as I mince it and revel in the aroma. I feel the heat from the stove and the weight of the pot. I move swiftly and surely from one countertop to the sink to the stove and then back to the countertop in my familiar comfort zone. I hear that the pan is starting to sizzle and pop. I know the veggies need stirring. I take it slow and stir. Just stirring and watching and breathing. I taste the soup to know if it needs salt or more herbs or more time to cook.

When the food is ready to eat, the meditative practice doesn’t have to end. Finally I get to sit down after everyone has food on their plate, silverware, drinks, napkins and has come to the table. We share our simple blessing and words of gratitude and the meal feels intentional, purposeful and wholesome. Slowly, we fill our bellies and our hearts with the warmth that comes from being fed a meal made with love. I breathe again and feel full.

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

Broccoli/Pepper/Eggplant-   One head of broccoli per member or 1-2 peppers (depending on size) or 1 eggplant. We’re expecting sweet pepper production to pick up in the next few weeks. There will be a lul in broccoli and cauliflower for a little while until Fall Plantings come on and eggplants will likely be a low production crop this summer.

Sweet Corn- 6 Ears of Sweet corn per member this week.   This is the final sweet corn giving. 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- .64lbs of green beans per member this week. Beans are best eaten fresh! Don’t try to keep them long!

Summer Squash and Zucchini- 1-2 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. We may decide to quit picking zucchini and summer squash soon as they are starting to fizzle out fast. Thank you Sqash plants for all of your amazing gifts!

Celery- Smaller bunches of celery again this week. Local celery usually has a stronger celery flavor that what we’re all used to-California celery grown in more mild temperatures with high water inputs. With the diversity of crops we are growing on this farm, this is about the best celery we can offer. Celery is great in soups, egg salad, or even cold summer pasta dishes.

Cucumbers- 7 Cucumbers per member! Cucumbers are finally slowing down. We will be lucky if we are able to give one or two cucumbers next week, so enjoy them while they are lasting as they are quickly going out of season! It’s time to try out your favorite cucumber recipes that use a few of them. Think cucumber soup, tzatziki sauce, refrigerator pickles, cucumber salad….. My kids eat one for a snack almost every day!

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

Collards- Collards are in the same family as Kale and Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts. Don’t feel intimidated by the Collards. Find a classic southern collards recipe (you can’t go wrong with bacon;) or just sautee them with and eat them with eggs in the morning and you’ll never know they aren’t kale!

Tomatoes- 8 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!

Sungold Cherry Tomatoes- One pint of cherry tomatoes per member this week. Remember that these guys ripen orange, so please don’t wait for them to turn red. These are the best tasting tomato on earth. Check out our recipe for the cherry tomato tart below! It’s to DIE for and will be served at our Farm Dinner in a couple weeks! Wow your friends and family with this recipe!

Beets- Three large beets per member this week! Beets will keep very well for months in a plastic bag in the fridge. But I’m sure you can find a fun summer dish to use them up in!

Melon- You may have received a yellow watermelon, an orange cantelope or a green honeydew. We tried to give everyone a cantelope, but they weren’t all ready yet. We will have a melon for everyone again next week, but it’s hard to say which varieties will be ready. Watermelons will not ripen off the vine, so there is no need to wait to see if it is ready. The cantelopes and honeydews will ripen off the vine, so if you know they are ready, keep them in your fridge until you get a chance to use them up. If they are not ready, leave them on your countertop to ripen. You will know that a cantelope or honeydew is ready when they have a strong melon smell.

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper- These were tucked inside your tomato bags. Hungarian Hot wax are amongst the most mild of hot peppers, but they may surprise you!

Next Week's Best Guess: beets, cucumbers, summer squash and zucchini, tomatoes, onion, celery, swiss chard, melons, sweet peppers, Hungarian hot wax pepper, red cabbage?

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Recipes

Tomato Tart!

Marinated Celery Salad with Chickpeas and Parmesan

Chunky Celery Soup with Wild Rice