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!

July Nineteenth

Worker Share Perspective Article by Anna Jahns  (She's the one in the picture on the right)DSC 0129

What is your involvement in the Small Family Farm? Employee, Worker Share,

other?

Worker Share (Friday mornings!)

How did you first find out about/Start working at Small Family Farm?

A poster at the Viroqua Food Co-op!

How long have you been helping at the Small Family Farm?

This is my third year.

What is your favorite kind of work to do at the farm?

In general I prefer field work, but packing potatoes is kind of fun.

Why do you like coming to the farm? What keeps you coming back?

I like working hard as part of a crew of interesting, committed people.

What was the most surprising thing to you about SFF/Working at Small Family

Farm?

I was pleasantly impressed by what good business-people and managers Jillian and Adam are.  Running a successful CSA, especially with a lot of different worker share/employee crews, takes a lot more knowledge than just how to grow tasty vegetables.  They obviously have all aspects of their business down, and are great at managing people, too!

What is the hardest part about working on the farm?IMG 2980

Waking up early on my day off!  But once I get there I’m always glad that I did J

What do you do when you’re not at the Small Family Farm?

I work in natural resource management, so a lot of what we do isn’t so different from work on the farm, in terms of actual tasks if not the end goal.  It is nice to take a break from having to plan and orchestrate activities and just get told what to do for a few hours a week!  And for some inexplicable reason getting paid in veggies feels at least as good as working towards that paycheck!

Tell us more about your experience? What is a day of work like? What does a

season feel like to you?

Everyone arrives at 8:00, and Farmer Adam comes out to greet us, usually with a coffee mug in his hand.   “Good morning!  Welcome to Small Family Farm!”  This is usually quickly followed by something like, “Today we’re going to weed carrots!”  And then he steers us out to the carrots, reminds us what we’re doing, tells us how he wants them weeded (are we using our fingers? Hand hoes? Stand-up hoes?), and we all set to work.  Conversations start and stop as we leapfrog our way down the row – always remembering to put the work first (if we don’t, we’ll be reminded by Adam or each other)!  After the babysitter gets settled in, Jillian comes out to join us, which usually provides an extra influx of energy!  Her competitive nature and attention to detail mean that she can get more done, and more quickly, than most of the rest of us.  She corrects us when we’re doing something ineffective, or harmful to the desirable plants.  She reminds us to use two hands to go faster!  She also sings a really great little ditty to keep our spirits up along the way.  After a while, we might move to the other side of the farm and weed another crop, or pick some peas, starting new conversations with whomever winds up next to us in this new row, and I’m hoping just once to get my harvest bin filled before Jillian does!

This is how I think of my mornings at the farm in retrospect, but it is rarely that idyllic in the moment.  Sometimes we are pulling garlic in the pouring rain, and in shaking the mud off the bulbs we get it caked in our faces and hair and have to leave our clothes out in the sun for a week until the scent fades.  Or the ground is baked so hard and dry that a jackhammer seems like an ideal weeding tool.  Sometimes it is 90 degrees and we are hauling armloads of heavy mulch or trellising and wishing we’d brought bigger water bottles.  Sometimes in the fall the sun is just barely coming up and we are barehanded, picking spinach with the frost still on it, trying to work fast enough to un-numb our fingers (but yeah, Jillian is still faster).   I’ve worked in land management for over a decade, and I recognize the same pattern of morale on the farm as in every other job I’ve held that is tied to our Midwestern seasons.  August is always tough.  The days are getting shorter, but everyone’s bodies and minds are exhausted from cumulative months of short nights.  It’s hot.  It is crunch time – this is the last push before the fruits and flowers ripen, and it doesn’t seem like there’s enough time to get everything done.  Backs are sore, and the heavy harvest lifting hasn’t even started yet.  The excitement of getting to chat with new coworkers and old friends has faded, and folks might be starting to get tired of one another.  DSC 0370

And then – suddenly – the sun is lower, the nights are cooler, and there is delicious produce surrounding us on all sides!  How can you not be cheerful while filling tub after tub of red and orange peppers?!   Or anticipating that sweet, sweet day when it is finally time to get after the brussels sprouts?!  Except… sometimes even that part is hard.  Last year our area get hit by storm after storm, so that we were wearing rubber boots in the fields nearly every week.  By the time harvest rolled around, we were digging rotten carrots out of the ground, or having to toss moldy peppers off to the side.  It was discouraging, knowing that we had done so much right earlier in the season, and now we had to work extra hard to eek out just barely enough of the final product.  Adam and Jillian tried hard not to let their concern and disappointment show – but after working alongside them for months, we all know how much of their hearts and souls they put into growing each crop, and their concern was for much more than just their business and livelihood.

While I’m working hard each day, or when I think back on it after the fact, I always see myself as someone who shows up for a few hours, plays in the dirt, does what I’m told, and gets to take some vegetables home.  While I’m pulling weeds, or later on chopping up a salad, I don’t really feel that glow of “belonging to my CSA” that I thought I was supposed to.  When I think of it like this, though, as a whole season, it becomes clear to me that I really do have a connection to the people and the place.  We haven’t even hit the doldrums of late summer yet, and I’m already thinking with sadness of that last fall day of packing away the sweet potatoes and leaving Small Family Farm for the winter.  

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

Broccoli x 2-  Two beautiful heads of broccoli per member this week.  Wow!  We are so happy to share these!  Broccoli keeps best if kept very cold.  We worked hard to get these picked, cooled and iced as quickly as possible when bringing them in from the field.  We recommend picking up your box and rushing your broccoli home to a safe place in your refrigerator!  There is nothing more sad than yellowing broccoli from getting warm!  Also keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge to preserve moisture. Tomato Rows

Cauliflower-  Also a beautiful and stunning head of cauliflower per member this week.  Similar to the broccoli, rush your cauliflower home and into its safe place in the fridge.  So many fun recipes for cauliflower these days as a low-carb substitute for bread, potatoes and more!  Have fun with it!  There were probably ten boxes at the very end that received three heads of broccoli and no cauliflower.  

Green Top Beets- By "green top" we mean that they still have their greens attached to them on top;)  Did you know that beet greens are deliciously edible?  Yep!  You can use them in your cooking like you would spinach or swiss chard.  Our girls love beets boiled then peeled then cubed and tossed with butter.  

Green Cabbage-  It's always very exciting for the first week of offering cabbage each season.  These Quickstart cabbages aren't as dense as a storage type cabbage, but are all of the crispiness, greenness and lovliness that we look for in cabbage.  We sometimes leave an outer layer or two for protection on the cabbage, so feel free to snap off a couple of those outer leaves that may be not as tender as the inner leaves.  Should keep well in the fridge for two weeks.  

Summer Squash and Zucchini-  6-7 Squash per member this week.  Zucchini and Summer squash are producing well, be sure to get all of your kabob recipes, spiralizer recipes, and zucchini bread recipes out because it's high tide for summer squash and zucchini.  Remember that it can also be grated, stuffed in a freezer ziplock bag and frozen without blanching.  It could also be sliced, ziplocked and then frozen.  Squash is very easy to freeze if you just can't keep up!

Cucumber-  It's starting!  Two cucumbers per member this week.  A great way to help keep you cool!  Cucumbers in every box next week! 

Green Onions-  Still another week or two of green onions to hold us over.  It's fun to watch them get a little bigger each week as we harvest them!  Remember that you can use these guys all the way up to their tips.  We'll continue to harvest green onions/scallions for boxes for the next couple weeks to hold us over until the real onions start maturing! 

Swiss Chard- We plant a rainbow of chard colors including pink, red, white, orange and yellow.  As we harvest, it is usually the luck of the draw.  Your bunch may be a nice mix of colors, or it could be all white or all red.  It's hard to say!  The flavors are all the same, but the colors the leaves impart during cooking vary.   

Peas-  Sadly this is the final giving of peas for the season.  A half pound of peas per member this week.  We had a very nice run on peas this year with lots of helping hands to get them picked!  Thank you to all of the loving, patient and dilligent pea pickers on the farm!  

Green Leaf Lettuce -  You may have received one or two heads, depending on if there was space left in your box!  Summer lettuce is coming to an end 

Mint-  Cute little bunches of mint this week as our herb offering.  Likely won't keep long, ut best to keep like fresh-cut flowers in a vase in the kitchen or in a plastic bag in the fridge.  Use up quickly by either making tea or chopping it into a tabouleh salad.  

Next Week's Best Guess-  Cabbage, Beets, carrots, cukes, squash, celery, kale, lettuce, bunching onions, garlic, parsley, 

Recipes

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Casserole

Gluten Free Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

Beet Borscht

Beet and Goat Cheese Pizza (Beetza)

July Twelveth

The days are long.  Long and hot and humid.  The farmer’s bodies are tired and weary.  Not weak or worn just yet but feeling well-used and even sore muscles some days.  And the beginning of the heavy harvesting is only beginning.  Cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini, broccoli and cauliflower all need picking every other day.  The bending and the cutting and walking of heavy bins down 250 foot rows at 3-o-clock in the afternoon amid the 85 degree temperatures toughens you up.  It builds character.  This is the day-job.  This is not a weekend recreational excersize ajenda.  This is everyday life for the farmer. DSC 0347

The real physical labor in vegetable production seems to come in at harvest time.  The sheer weight of the produce adds up.  You’ll also begin to notice as the season goes on that your boxes will feel heavier!  We have been filling them up with leafy greens and fluffy foliage, but that space will gradually be filled with more dense and solid veggies like cucumbers, zucchinis, beets, cabbage, carrots and so on.

I feel thankful for the tractor.  The big, loud, stinky, huge tractor that consumes all of it’s oils and greases and fluids of all kinds.  The big chunks of steel filling up our machine shed that come in all kinds of weird colors and shapes that make vegetable production on this farm efficient and possible.  I think of how much extra work this would all be (if even possible) without them tractors.  I sometimes wish I was trained as a young person to work with horses.  I have a romantic enough heart that I just may have wanted to set the farm up using horses instead of tractors if I had been groomed differently from a young age. 

Even a little farm our size has 5 tractors.  Two for heavy tillage like plowing, discing, tilling and bed prepping.  The big ones are also used for digging roots, seeding, transplanting and mulch-laying.  We even have one small Allis Chalmers dedicated to a spray set up for spraying our expensive and in-effective organic sprays to kill bugs like flea beetles and cabbage loopers so your veggies don’t come covered in holes.  The other two small Farmalls are cute, antique-looking things that are used exclusively for cultivating.  The Farmalls are quirky, but I really love to watch Adam on the horizon beautifully hilling and cultivating a half-acre of potatoes in an hour or two using minimal energy.  Cultivating (or weeding by dragging steel shoe-like shanks down the rows between the vegetables) is stressful for farmer Adam, but he’s so dang good at it!DSC 0350

I know that there are some people who love farming because they have a fascination with machinery.  Machinery is fun to use.  It’s powerful and makes work extremely efficient and productive.  But machines are expensive, they break, they rust, they bend, and it takes a skilled person to know how to operate them.  Machines use oil and gas and we have designed our farm around them.  Neither Adam or I share this love or obsession with machinery that some farmers undoubtedly have.  We find them to be useful and valuable tools on our farm-but slightly annoyed by them-kind of like computers and cell phones these days too, right? 

I may not love the tractors and the machines, but I do respect them.  I put a lot of hours in on maintenance for them. I mind them.  I try to keep them sheltered and fed.  And I never take for granted how dangerous and powerful they are.  Today, I am merely thankful for them and that they help make this all possible. 

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

Broccoli x 2-  Two amazingly huge heads of broccoli per member this week.  Wow!  We are so happy to share these!  Broccoli keeps best if kept very cold.  We worked hard to get these picked, cooled and iced as quickly as possible when bringing them in from the field.  We recommend picking up your box and rushing your broccoli home to a safe place in your refrigerator!  There is nothing more sad than yellowing broccoli from getting warm!  Also keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge to preserve moisture.  

Cauliflower-  Also a beautiful, large and stunning head of cauliflower per member this week.  Similar to the broccoli, rush your cauliflower home and into its safe place in the fridge.  So many fun recipes for cauliflower these days as a low-carb substitue for bread, potatoes and more!  Have fun with it!  

Fennel-  Yes, another one of these funky things.  Fennel is a vegetable in the umbelifferea family-the same family as carrots, celery, dill, parsley and parsnips (an impressive family, I know!).  It's flavor, when eaten raw resembles licorice.  It is nice eaten raw if shaved very thinly with a mandolin into or onto a salad.  When cooked, fennel looses most of that licorice flavor and looks and tastes a lot like caramelized onions.  There is a small core at the base of the fennel that I like to cut out before eating.  The white bulb of the fennel is most commonly used in cooking, but the stalks and frawns are edible as well if you really love that licorice flavor.  The frawns also make a beautiful garnish.

Kohlrabi-  Cut the leaves off of the top of the kohlrabi and use them in your cooking like kale.  Using a pearing knife or a small knife, peel the outer edge of the kohlrabi off before you eat it.  These kohlrabis are so mild and tender and have a hint of sweetness to them!  Once a kohlrabi has been cut open, the flavor is best if it is eaten within an few hours.  Also wonderful if chopped into veggie sticks, sprinkled with salt and eaten raw and whole!  Kohlrabi is also called the "ground apple" because its internal texture is so much like that of an apple.

Summer Squash and Zucchini-  6-7 Squash per member this week.  

Cucumber-  We harvested the first 200 cucumbers of the season this week.  We had 200 cukes but had 300 boxes to fill, so 1/3 of the people did not get one.  If you did not get one, you likely received an extra squash.  Cucumbers in every box next week!  

Green Onions-  Because what would life be like without some kind of onion in our cooking?  Remember that you can use these guys all the way up to their tips.  We'll continue to harvest green onions/scallions for boxes for the next couple weeks to hold us over until the real onions start maturing!  

Red Culry Kale-  Redbore kale is loaded with all kinds of nutritious goodies.  

Webmd says:  

At just 33 calories, one cup of raw kale has:

Nearly 3 grams of protein

2.5 grams of fiber (which helps manage blood sugar and makes you feel full)

Vitamins A, C, and K

Folate, a B vitamin that’s key for brain development

Alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. (While kale has far less omega-3 than fish, it is another way to get some of this healthy fat into your diet.

Lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that give kale its deep, dark green coloring and protect against macular degeneration and cataracts Minerals including phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and zinc

Peas-  A record breaking 1.25lbs of peas per member this week!  Wow!  We have never before given this kind of weight in peas to members.  It has been a peas-ful growing season so far!  Plenty of helping hands to get these peas picked.  And imagine the conversations, laughter, stories and friendship that happens when we're picking them togehter as a crew.  A lot of love goes into these!  

Scapes-  Scapes are almost over.  We might have another small bunch for members next week, but it won't be long before we're pulling the real garlic blubs out of the ground.  Very exciting!  Remember that the edible part of the garlic scape is up until the nodule on the garlic scape.  

Lettuce x2-  A red leaf lettuce and a red oakleaf lettuce, or two red leaf lettuce heads.  Still plenty of lettuce to share each week.  Lettuce may be winding down a bit as the hotter weather takes hold.  Lettuce does not always hold well in the heat in the fields.  

Basil-  Very small bunches of basil per member this week.  We noticed that the plants were looking so lush and delicious, we wanted to share some of it with you.  Basil is very finnickey in that once it has been harvested, it prefers to be placed in water like fresh cut flowers and left on the countertop at room temperature.  Basil does not love to be refrigerated or it will turn black from the cold.  Basil also does not love to be washed once it was harvested.  We didn't have the ideal way to keeping it, so it was already starting to loose some of it's freshness by packing night on Tuesday afternoon.  So we recommend using it up as quickly as possible if you can because it likely won't keep long!  

Recipes

Cauliflower Broccoli Salad

Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Fresh Basil Leaves

Shaved Fennel Salad with Peas and Mint

Nacho Kale Chips

July Fifth

If you were not part of a CSA farm this season, and unless you’re a hard-core foodie (and I do hope you’re on your way to becoming one), you probably would not have salad turnips, kohlrabi, garlic scapes, dill and fennel in your refrigerator this week. These are out-of-the-norm items that, unless your CSA farmer gives them to you, tells you that is what is in season and encourages you to try new recipes, you might not be eating these things.  But ‘Horray’ for YOU!  You are eating these things, they are local, organic and in season, and I for one, think you’re awesome for doing it!DSC 0357

This is how a CSA season starts out.  Lots of leafy greens, quick Spring crops that can be grown in the midwest like radish, lettuce, kale and so forth to help hold us over until the fun, classic and traditional items like tomatoes, sweet corn, potatoes, onions and green beans can be grown.  You’re feeling proud of yourself for shaving those turnips on top of your salad.  You’re feeling adventurous for trying new Kale and Swiss Chard recipes and you’re feeling progressive for being part of a local, organic farm.  You’re feeling brave for eating those garlic scapes and fennel.  You even feel good in your tummy for getting all of this nutritious stuff into your body!  And if this is your second or third or more year of doing this CSA thing, you’re probably even feeling confident and capable. 

The CSA experience really isn’t even entirely just about the box of food.  With the rise of the well-marketed Hello Freshes and the Blue Apron’s in the world that offer the home-delivered boxes of food with recipe cards, I worry about the loss of ‘community and place’ and ‘local’ and ‘organic’ in these programs.  CSA is also about the place that it comes from and the people who partake in growing it.  For me it is hugely about community and family and eating locally and seasonally.  The Hello Freshes and Blue Aprons are well-marketed, competitive and convenient, but missing all of the golden gems that can be offered inherently in a CSA box share.  CSA is so much more than a box of vegetables and some recipe suggestions. 

These vegetables are grown with love by people who you can contact and at a place you can visit.  When you see that we get rain, you know that your vegetables are getting rain.  When you know it’s been dry, you know the farm needs rain.  When you saw severe storms on the radar, you think of your farm and hope the crops are okay.  When you see the pictures of the workers and the farmers in the fields, you have and intimate association and connection with the food, something that you can only get through CSA, farmer’s markets or growing your own food. DSC 0354

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

Salad Turnips-  These are the smaller white turnips bunched with their greens on.  These are nice if sliced very thinly on top of a salad with a mandolin.  The greens are also perfectly edible in any way that you might normally incorporate greens into your cooking.  Omlet with turnip greens?

White and Purple Kohlrabi-  Each member received one white kohlrabi and one purple kohlrabi-or maybe two purple kohlrabis.  We tried to give everone one of each, but had a few more purples than whites.  Cut the leaves off of the top of the kohlrabi and use them in your cooking like kale.  Using a pearing knife or a small knife, peel the outer edge of the kohlrabi off before you eat it.  These kohlrabis are so mild and tender and have a hint of sweetness to them!  Once a kohlrabi has been cut open, the flavor is best if it is eaten within an few hours.  Also wonderful if chopped into veggie sticks, sprinkled with salt and eaten raw and whole!  Kohlrabi is also called the "ground apple" because its internal texture is so much like that of an apple. 

Broccoli-  Everyone's favorite!  A broccoli for everyone!  Broccoli likes to be kept very cold to be stay fresh.  It also keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge. 

Red Oakleaf or Buttercup lettuce-  The red buttercups were holding up nicely in the fields and it won't be long before we aren't abe to get these tender varieties of lettuce as the heat season is approaching. 

Romaine Head Lettuce-  This romaine is maybe some of the nicest romaine we have ever grown.  Maybe soil improvement, maybe all the moisture, maybe the new variety, but we are happy with them!  We thought the huge leaves would make nice wrappers for chicken lettuce wraps or a spicy beef wrap.  Romaine is also great for making Ceaser salads with crutons, ranch dressing and chicken!  Yum! 

Sweet Peas-  Whaaaaaaaa?  Sweet peas?  .66lbs per member!  There isn't much in life that gets better than fresh-picked sweet peas!  And they have so much flavor!  So sweet!  We're expecting an even bigger giving next week!

Dill-  A super fun herb for making fun salad dressings, creamy dips or even soups with.  Dill is also nice dried if you can't use the whole thing.  We recommend laying the bunch out and dehydratig it.  Dill is very alkalizing in the body, so very healthy to eat!  This week it is flowering a bit, but the frawns are still perfectly edible even when the plant is at this stage.  

Zucchini and Summer Squash-  The zucchini and Summer Squah are starting!  Three this week.  The production on these goes up and up and keeps on going!  So dust off your old zucchini recipes, here they come!  Zucchini and summer squash are a very watery-soft squash that can be sauteed lightly into stir fries, marrinated and then grilled, or spiralized into a gluten-free pasta.  Zucchini and Summer squash don't have much flavor of their own, so they are great at absorbing the flavors of your home-made dressings.  They can also be used inter-changably in recipes.  The only thing really that differs about them is their color and shape. 

Garlic Scapes-  These are the long and skinney things that look a bit like a long string bean or something, but they should smell strongly of garlic.  These scapes are the garlic plant's effort at making a seed head.  Each garlic plant makes one scape.  If snapped off, the garlic plant will put more of it's energy into making a nice big garlic bulb rather than putting it's energy into making a seed head bulbous.  Fortunately for us, these scapes are delicious to eat!  Start chopping them up with your knife at the base of the bunch and use the little green chopped pieces like garlic in your soups, stir fries, pastas, eggs or wherever you might ordinarily cook with garlic!  You can also make a garlic scape pesto which has become very popular.  We like the chop up the garlic scapes beginning from the base of the bunch up until the little nodules on the scape-  the rest of the scape is still edible but a little more chewy.

Green Onions/Scallions-  The first giving of green onions.  These bunches of green onions are smaller this week.  This is the frist giving of them and the bunch size goes up as the onions grow and they get bigger over the next few weeks.  You can use every part of these onions in your cooking, all th way up to the tips of the greens!  

Lacinato Kale-  Lacinato is probably the most popular and trendy of the kale varieties today.  It is an heirloom variety (meaning open pollinated or not a hybrid).  Lacinato is a darker green than some other varieties of kale and has a smooth texture for cooking.  

Fennel-  Fennel is a vegetable in the umbelifferea family-the same family as carrots, celery, dill, parsley and parsnips (an impressive family, I know!).  It's flavor, when eaten raw resembles licorice.  It is nice eaten raw if shaved very thinly with a mandolin into or onto a salad.  When cooked, fennel looses most of that licorice flavor and looks and tastes a lot like caramelized onions.  There is a small core at the base of the fennel that I like to cut out before eating.  The white bulb of the fennel is most commonly used in cooking, but the stalks and frawns are edible as well if you really love that licorice flavor.  The frawns also make a beautiful garnish.

Next Week's Best Guess:  Lettuce x2, summer squash and zucchini, beets, kohlrabi, green onions, garlic scapes, fennel, sweet peas, broccoli and cauliflower

Recipes:

Cream of Broccoli and Fennel Soup (a long-time favorite of mine)

Spring Salad with Fennel and Orange

Risoto with Sweet Sausage and Fennel

Chocolate Kale Smoothie (Thank you Megan for these awesome Kale Smoothie Recipes!)

Classic Green Monster Smoothie with Kale or Greens

Sun Dried Tomato, Kale, Hemp Pesto (Thank you again, Megan, for this awesome Kale Pesto Recipe)

June Twenty-Eighth

It always feels strange to have the longest days of the year at the beginning of the season.  It doesn’t feel like the days should start getting shorter again already!  But it does feel like a blessing in some ways.  The darkness is sometimes the only thing that brings a farmer indoors.  When it’s too dark to work, it must be time for the farmer to quit!DSC 0189

In recent years as we have had small children, a more structured routine has settled itself into our lives.  The children demanded a firm dinner, work, family routine that simply was not present before kiddos.  While it can be hard to come inside during good, quality afternoon daylight hours to start dinner, keeping small children fed and on a solid snack/nap/meal/bedtime routine takes precedence for one parent (most often the mom) while the other parent (usually dad) keeps at it in the fields until the crew is gone and then finally called in for supper.  Eat at 6pm.  Kids sleeping by 7:30.  Parents catch up on admin work, straighten up the house, and even have un-interrupted conversations. 

The girls usually wake us up around 6:30am.  Coffee.  Breakfast.  Get dressed.  Baby-sitters and field crew arrive at 8am.  We work until noon.  One hour lunch break.  Back into the fields at 1pm and work with the crew and worker shares until 5, 5:30 or 6pm-depending on the day.  Wednesdays we work until 7:30pm.  Time passes quickly and in the long days of the summer like these, there never seems to be enough of it with so much to do.  We have childcare lined up for the morning shifts each day, while one parent (usually me) watches the girls in the afternoons.  In the afternoons with the girls I am able to do some simple chicken chores, laundry, make dinner and sometimes help the field crew for a bit or for as long as the children last. DSC 0187

Adam has been shouldering the brunt of the strict schedule.  He needs to be prepared each morning to direct a crew, be on time, keep everyone on task and quality check work being done and harvesting.  He has been managing the bulk of the tractor work as well including tillage, planting, seeding and cultivating.  He is even responsible for taking advantage of little windows of opportunity between weather for getting things done such as being on the tractor all weekend cultivating-since that is when it was finally dry enough to catch up on such tasks.

It’s grueling at times, but we actually really love it.  We might get bored otherwise.  We’re accustomed to a pace that ticks a few notches faster than your usual family.  We don’t sit around well and we don’t leave home well.  We do eat well and we have a strong sense of family and home and a deep groundedness that keeps us sane.  This is summer.  The family and the farm and the lifestyle change in the off-season.  We have a tide that we ride that ebbs and flows in a very natural and seasonal rhythm.  While our lives in this moment make feel un-balanced and a little too busy, it is important for us to remember that we will re-claim our sanity and eventually slower pace in the off season.  But for now….Summer has only just started!  DSC 0211

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

Salad Turnips-  These are the smaller white turnips bunched with their greens on.  These are nice if sliced very thinly on top of a salad with a mandolin.  The greens are also perfectly edible in any way that you might normally incorporate greens into your cooking.  Omlet with turnip greens?

White and Purple Kohlrabi-  Each member received one white kohlrabi and one purple kohlrabi. Cut the leaves off of the top of the kohlrabi and use them in your cooking like kale.  Using a pearing knife or a small knife, peel the outer edge of the kohlrabi off before you eat it.  These kohlrabis are so mild and tender and have a hint of sweetness to them!  Once a kohlrabi has been cut open, the flavor is best if it is eaten within an few hours.  Also wonderful if chopped into veggie sticks, sprinkled with salt and eaten raw and whole!  Kohlrabi is also called the "ground apple" because its texture is so much like that of an apple.  

Broccoli-  Everyone's favorite!  A broccoli for everyone!  For the sake of your broccoli and strawberries, arrive at your dropsite ASAP!  Broccoli likes to be kept very cold to be stay fresh.  It would also keep best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Red Oakleaf or red Buttercup lettuce-  The red buttercups were holding up nicely in the fields and it won't be long before we aren't abe to get these tender varieties of lettuce as the heat season is approaching.  

Romaine Head Lettuce-  This romaine is maybe some of the nicest romaine we have ever grown.  Maybe soil improvement, maybe all the moisture, maybe the new variety, but we are happy with them!  We thought the huge leaves would make nice wrappers for chicken lettuce wraps or a spicy beef wrap.  Romaine is also great for making Ceaser salads with crutons, ranch dressing and chicken!  Yum!  

Strawberry Quarts-  Hurry to your dropsite and save your strawberries from melting.  Eat them up quickly, they are very perishable!

Sweet Peas-  Whaaaaaaaa?  Sweet peas?  .43lbs per member!  There isn't much in life that gets better than fresh-picked sweet peas!  And they have so much flavor!  So sweet!  We're expecting an even bigger giving next week!

Dill-  A super full herb for making fun salad dressings, creamy dips or even soups with.  Dill is also nice dried if you can't use the whole thing.  We recommend laying the bunch out and dehydratig it.  Dill is very alkalizing in the body, so very healthy to eat!  

Swiss Chard-  We couldn't belive how thick, succultent and fresh the stems are on these babies!  Very perfect and gorgeious looking early-season chard!  Yes!  Don't let a leaf go to waste!  Remember that you can use the stalks and stems as well in your cooking!  See recipe below.  

Zucchini and Summer Squash-  The zucchini and Summer Squah are starting!  The production on these goes up and up and keeps on going!  So dust off your old zucchini recipes, here they come!  Zucchini and summer squash are a very watery-soft squash that can be sauteed lightly into stir fries, marrinated and then grilled, or spiralized into a gluten-free pasta.  Zucchini and Summer squash don't have much flavor of their own, so they are great at absorbing the flavors of your home-made dressings.  They can also be used inter-changably in recipes.  The only thing really that differs about them is their color and shape.  

Garlic Scapes-  These are the long and skinney things that look a bit like a long string bean or something, but they should smell strongly of garlic.  These scapes are the garlic plant's effort at making a seed head.  Each garlic plant makes one scape.  If snapped off, the garlic plant will put more of it's energy into making a nice big garlic bulb rather than putting it's energy into making a seed head bulbous.  Fortunately for us, these scapes are delicious to eat!  Start chopping them up with your knife at the base of the bunch and use the little green chopped pieces like garlic in your soups, stir fries, pastas, eggs or wherever you might ordinarily cook with garlic!  You can also make a garlic scape pesto which has become very popular.  We like the chop up the garlic scapes beginning from the base of the bunch up until the little nodules on the scape-  the rest of the scape is still edible but a little more chewy.

Green Onions/Scallions-  The first giving of green onions.  These bunches of green onions are smaller this week.  This is the frist giving of them and the bunch size goes up as they onions grow and they get bigger over the next few weeks.  You can use every part of these onions in your cooking, all th way up to the tips of the greens!  

Next Weeks Best Guess:  Romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce, bunching onions, zucchini and summer squash, kohlrabi, garlic scapes, broccoli, salad turnips, kale.  

Recipes-

Savory Zucchini and Chard Muffins

Fettuccini with Swiss Chard, Currents, Walnuts and Brown Butter

Sour Cream Veggie Dip with DillSour Cream Veggie Dip with Dill

Crunchy Spring Salad with Dill Dressing

Broiled Zucchini with Yogurt Dill SauceBroiled Zucchini with Yogurt Dill Sauce

 

June Twenty First

Strawberries are here!  Strawberries are something we were reluctant to take on in the early years of our farm.  We just didn’t know the process - the spacing at which to plant them, what varieties, how far apart are the rows?  How many plants to put in? 

But four years ago we decided that we were no longer afraid!  We had a cultivating tractor (to help keep the rows weeded).  We had done our research and we knew that having our own home-grown strawberries for our CSA members would be a huge hit!  The very next year we had more berries than what we could pick.  We quickly learned that we would need to bring in extra workers during Strawberry season to help get the highly perishable berries picked fast. DSC 0169

You will notice that our local strawberries may look and taste much different from strawberries you buy from the store brought in from California.  The golden state grows them as annuals and re-plants them every year on plastic with a drip-line and fertilizer feed.  On our farm we plant them the first year and don’t harvest until the second year.  We pick the same patch for three years and then turn it under.  The berries are larger the first year and seem to go down in size and production the following two years, but still produce somewhat heavily. 

We are picking from two different patches this season.  One variety is Honey-O and the other variety is Darselect.  At the end of each season we blanket the strawberry field with a fodder mulch (some farms use oat straw) to protect the roots from the harsh Wisconsin winters.  In the Spring the mulch is raked back to expose the mother plant and at that time the plants emerge and begin to sprawl out. 

Strawberries are said to have gotten their name because the plant vines out and sends runners in every direction multiplying with new plants growing in every direction.  The plants runners are “strewn” about straying and strewing in all directions.  A less popular theory is that all of the tiny seeds on the surface of the berry resemble straw or chaff or mote – describing the appearance of the achenes (little seeds) all over the berries.  In England, where the word “strawberry” was said to have originated, they grew in the wild long before they were cultivated or farmed in such a way that straw was applied to the patches. DSC 0179

On our farm we harvest strawberries when they are all the way ripe.  We do not pick under-ripe berries which makes them a highly perishable product.  Once they are harvested, we put them in our walk-in cooler immediately and there they sit until delivery day.  Once they have been removed from the cooler on delivery day, they should be consumed immediately.  We do not recommend trying to hold onto your berries for much longer than a day.  Eat em up!  But maybe you don’t need to be told that and they will have all been eaten on your drive home before you’ve even had a chance to read this newsletter!  We recommend making a fresh strawberry cream pie because there are few things in life that are better than fresh strawberries served on top of a lightly sweetened cream cheese folded in with whipped cream on top of a graham cracker crust.  Take it from me!

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

Strawberries!-  These beauties are at the top of your box so they dont get smooshed and so that they don't get water dripped on them from wet lettuce or other wet veggies.  

Rouxai Red Oakleaf Lettuce or Green Butterhead leattuce-  The lettuces this week are so tender and succulent.  How lucky we are to have all of this buttercruch lettuce so smooth and soft to make gorgeous spring salads with!  We had a very muddy and rainy harvest morning, but we did our absolute best and put a lot of extra effort and time into getting all of the mud off of the lettuce this week.  Will keep best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Red Buttercrunch lettuce-  Another fabulous lettuce offering.  This is gourmet stuff here folks!  These lettuces are so tender, I just want to eat salad for every meal.  Think taco salads this week with the cilantro and lettuce combo in the box.  Make chicken salads.  Seven layer salads.  Avocado salads.  Keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  DSC 0175

Garlic Scapes-  These are the long and skinney things that look a bit like a long string bean or somthing, but they should smell stronly of garlic.  These scapes are the garlic plant's effort at making a seed head.  Each garlic plant makes one scape.  If snapped off, the garlic plant will put more of it's energy into making a nice big garlic bulb rather than putting it's energy into making a seed head bulbus.  Fortunatley for us, these scapes are delicious to eat!  Start chopping them up with your knife at the base of the bunch and use the little green chopped pieces like garlic in your soups, stir fries, pastas, eggs or wherever you might ordinarily cook with garlic!  You can also make a garlic scape pesto which has become very popular.  We like the chop up the garlic scapes beginning from the base of the bunch up until the little nodules on the scape-  the rest of the scape is still edible but a little more chewy.  

White and Purple Kohlrabi-  Each member received one white kohlrabi and one purple kohlrabi. Cut the leaves off of the top of the kohlrabi and use them in your cooking like kale.  Using a pearing knife or a small knife, peel the outer edge of the kohlrabi off before you eat it.  These kohlrabis are so mild and tender and have a hint of sweetness to them!  Once a kohlrabi has been cut open, the flavor is best if it is eaten within an few hours.  Also wonderful if chopped into veggie sticks, sprinkled with salt and eaten raw and whole!  Kohlrabi is also called the "ground apple" because its texture is so much like that of an apple.  

Collard Greens-  I knew that you probably could not contain your excitement when you found collard greens, but these truly are a special treat!  If cooked well, collards can be a nutritious and delicious side!  They can be used in cooking a lot like any other cooking green, but they do take a bit longer to cook.  Check out a traditional recipe below.

Cilantro-  The cilantro was showing signs of bolting from all of the heat we had.  We had a lot of it too, so generous bunch sizes this week!  Cilantro typically does not like to get wet.  We did have to wash it since it was such a muddy harvest week.  We recommend using it up as quickly as possible.  Unless you want it to last longer, you could take the rubber band off the bottom of the bunch, wash it again if you think it looks dirty around the base of the rubber band, and then salad spin it good and dry and store it in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Radishes!-  We never thought we would get another harvest week out of these, but they still looked and tasted amazing.  This will be the final radish giving until fall when the cooler growing temps return.  Great if you cut the tops off of them and let them float in a bowl of water in your fridge and just snack on them throughout the day.  Some people even add them to a stir fry.  Their texture is wonderful when cooked!  Radish greens are so green, mild and nutritious, don't let those go to waste!  

Hakurai Salad Turnips-  These are such a soft and smooth salad turnip!  Great for slicing up thinly and adding to your salads.  Turnip greens could also be added to a quiche and no one would ever notice that they weren't spinach!

Next Week's Best Guess:  Lettuce x2, kohlrabi x 2, dill, swiss chard, broccoli, zucchini, summer squash, strawberries, garlic scapes, peas, maybe green onions

Recipes:

Collards Recipe with Bacon and Potatoes

 Glazed Hakurai Turnips Recipe with greens

No Bake Strawberry Cream Pie

Cilantro Lime Salad Dressing

 

 

More Articles...