I’m curious to know how this went for you. What was it like to be a CSA member of our farm this year. Did you learn to look forward to the boxes each week or come to dread ‘more vegetables’? I know that CSA is not for everyone out there, but I certainly think it’s a worthy experience to put yourself thru. It’s a challenge that most city dwellers, if not encircled by vegetable gardeners, may never know.
If you’re not a gardener yourself, surrounded by gardeners or a member of a CSA farm, you simply do not know what it’s like to be overwhelmed by beautiful, raw food. What a noble challenge it is it try and pack as many vegetables onto a dinner plate as you possibly can. When there are people starving in countries all around us, and in this country, consider yourself blessed to be a CSA member. Think of yourself blessed to have too much food and friends and family to share the burden with. I myself, take for granted how truly rich I am. Now, I would really be rich if I had a ‘personal preserver’, or someone to spend their every day finding ways to freeze, can or dehydrate as much of this bounty as possible and carry it into the winter months ahead of us.
The farm is planning on putting in a large, commercial-scale root cellar this fall. By commercial scale, I mean like 15 by 20 or so. We’re gonna dig a big ol hole right in the middle of our hillside and build up a box with cement walls and a cement roof and put an energy efficient cooling system into it. I’ve always liked the idea of have a very low energy using system for cooling vegetables. I’ve heard too many horror stories about vegetables farms with coolers and compressors that go bad and need frequent repairs. The last farm that I worked on, One Sun Farm, they knew all of the cooling system repair guys in the 60 mile radius. I don’t really want to know any of them.
The system that we’re looking at actually takes an energy star air conditioner and converts it into a cooler. The system tricks the air conditioner into thinking that it’s never cold enough. You wire up a little digital thermostat to it and it will cool all the way until 34 degrees and will automatically turn off after that. It’s called a Cool-bot and they were designed by some young vegetable farmers, like myself, who got a grant to come up with an energy efficient method for cooling their vegetables for small-scale farmers, like me! We figured what would be more energy efficient than actually insulating the system with the earths thermal mass.
We’re hoping that the majority of our costs for running this system will just be for installing it. We have a little lump of money set aside to put this in the ground this fall and are looking forward to watching the fruits of our labor pay themselves off next summer. Up until now, we have not had a practical cooling system in place. We have been using two regular refrigerators and our neighbors cooler who lives 5 miles away. We’ve been making frequent trips back and forth from there picking up and dropping off spinach, carrots, broccoli and beans. Talk about in-efficiency! Our little wheels are always turning to think of ways to run a smoother farm for the upcoming seasons.
Sooo….WHAT’S in the BOX???
Yukon Gold or Russet Potatoes- We didn’t have enough golds to give everyone youkon golds. With all of the wet weather, we haven’t had a chance to dig any more.
Celeriac Root- These knarley looking root veggies are in the same family as celery (obviousely). They’re specially cultivated so that the roots grow large instead of the stalks. Don’t be afraid to use the leaves and stalks that are still attached to make soup, stock or veggie pot pie! Peel the roots and boil and mash them with your potatoes and make celeriac mashed potatoes. It gives them a smooth celery flavor.
Carrots- More orange roots to color your life.
Sweet Peppers- Some of these aren’t turning completely orange, red or yellow like they have been, again, with not a lot of sunshine this week, they’re turning much more slowly.
Hot Peppers-Remember that you can slice these up and freeze them too if you’re getting more hot pepper than you bargained for.
Fresh Lettuce- Beautiful heads of lettuce. So lucky to have these guys in the fall again. The flavor has been long missed since spring!
Spinach- More of this gorgeous spinach. Stores best in a plastic bag in the fridge. Have you made spinach stuffed shells yet? A bumper crop of spinach this fall!
Leeks- There’s a lot more work that goes into these little guys than it looks like. They were started from seed in March and have been taken care of all the way until just now. Harvesting is time consuming and cleaning isn’t always that easy either. Please enjoy your leeks. Leek and Potato soup any one?
Arugual- This is another fall cooking green. It has a very pleasant bitter flavor. Very popular among green connoisseurs.
Pie Pumpkin Winter Squash- Did you know that you can actually slice these in half, scoop out the seeds, and face them down on a baking sheet with a little water at the bottom and cook them… to eat? Momma Jane just made some mean pumpkin bars from real pumpkin yesterday! Check out her recipe.
Onions-Everyone can use and onion or two.
Next Week! A short list of items that we may have next week, but will not promise to have. Due to the unexpectedness of the season and perishable nature of produce, anything could pop up or go down hill unexpectedly.
Potatoes, Carrots, Celeriac Root, Kohlrabi, Broccoli, Lettuce, Arugula, Sweet Peppers, Hot Peppers, onions, leeks, Pie Pumpkins
Mashed Potatoes with Celeriac Root
Potato-Leek Soup with Celeriac
Butter Beans with Bacon and Arugula