August Nineteenth

The farm began as an amateurs ideal and dream to work for ourselves, raise a family in the country, and become surrounded by good, clean food that we had raised ourselves and that would nurture our bodies and sustain our hearts.  The decision to become farmers was also about a retreat back to a way of life that was simple, wholesome, and conventional.  We wanted a way out of the tall buildings and into the tall grass. IMG_0971Amy making the tomato bins stackable after finish up the Tuesday morning harvest.

As many young people do, I spent a good portion of my youth wandering and searching for meaning.  I searched all throughout central America, the western coast of the United States, parts of Europe and Asia and even Canada.  I moved and traveled and asked questions.  Eventually farm work caught my attention.  The idea of becoming a farmer and someone who knew something about growing food and plants and plant behavior became the path I walked with romantic ideals and an amateur’s passion. 

We bought the farm in 2007.  The buildings were so big and the yard was so beautiful and the fields were so vast.  The potential was so great!  My knowledge of what we were doing was so limited but our stamina and work ethic was so strong.  We had nothing but huge loans and eyes wide open.  The farm started with a tractor, a tiller, a few flats of transplants and 60 paid CSA memberships.  I still am so thankful for the families who believed in us so early on and wrote us checks and trusted in us. 

It’s amazing what happens in nine years.  It’s starting to feel like we know what we’re doing out here.  We faked it until we made it!  We believed that we could grow and run this farm and grow all of this food…and then we did.  The farm has grown to a point of financial sustainability and the health of the soil and the community around the farm continues to grow as well.  You don’t learn how to grow all of these crops and manage a business from putting a few seasons in as a farm hand on someone else’s farm.  It isn’t until your own neck and mortgage are on the line that you start to figure some things out.

I feel thankful that we still love it.  This life is far from simple and farther still from stress-free.  We’ve carved out a life for ourselves and designed an organized system for producing a wide diversity of food in successions that feed over 400 families for nearly half of one calendar year in Southwest Wisconsin and Northeast Iowa.  The food is good, the life is rich and the community surrounding the movement at large is powerful. 

We made it into the tall grass, alright.  The grass is a little thick at times, even.  The bugs are little heavy and the wind is a little harsh up here on the ridge.  You never know what’s hiding in the tall grass and there are patches of thistle and ragweed that can be difficult to manage.  But it’s when I watch the delivery trucks pull out on Wednesday mornings and see my daughter eating dirty carrots right out of the ground and when the heavy snow in January lays the tall grass back down again that I can sigh.  I can remember in those moments why the farm was a good idea and why we get up every morning and do it all over again. 

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

Charentais French Melon-  Everyone received two melons this week.  Everyone received a small french melon with an orange flesh that is a Charentais variety.  We thought these were delicious!
Honeydew or Cantelope Melon-  This was likely the larger melon in your box.  The honeydews have the green flesh and the cantelopes have the orange flesh.  You mave have received either one of these.  Some were a little more ripe than others.  You could let it sit on your counter for a day or two, but we think they should be eaten very soon!  

Tomatoes Mix Variety-  A whopping 6.4lb bag of a mixed variety of tomatoes.  One of the fun parts of being a CSA member is receiving a mixed variety of slicing tomatoes.  You have have received some romas, standard hybrid red slicing toamtoes or a few different looking varieties of tomatoes that could be red or pink or yellow when fully ripe.  You'll know when they're ripe by the richness of their color.  We recommend keeping your tomatoes on the counter until they are fully ripe.  Use them up as they ripen.  You can put them in the fridge when they are fully ripe, but refrigerators do seem to suck a little flavor out of a tomato.  Try to avoid the fridge/tomato combo if you can.  

Celery-  This week we cut the celery above ground in order to cut the centers out of the plants.  Some of the centers of the celery plants were starting to go bad but the outer stalks were still perfectly crunchy and delicious.  We cut them and bunched them this week.  The cut edges of the celery turn a copper color when they oxidize and this is very normal for celery.  Sadly, this is our final celery giving.  

Sweet Peppers-  Two to four sweet peppers per member this week.  Some of the bells are red, yellow or orange.  We try to pick the peppers 90% turned color.  Some of the orange peppers this week were an orange canary pepper.  These are the long, skinney, orange pepper that is sweet-not to be confused with the hungarian hot wax peppers that are smaller and *sometimes* turn orange.  IMG_0973Beautiful Sung Gold cherry tomatoes ripening in successions.

White Onion-  Gotta have that onion!

Sweet Corn-  Six to Seven ears of sweet corn this week. We were surprised at how big they got this year compared to previous years.  We tried a new spacing on our sweet corn this year and planted them farther apart so they plants got more sunlight, nutrients and water and weren't competing for these crucial elements to grow.  Either the Temptation or the Bodacious variety.  We were eating them right in the field, raw, fresh off the plant.  This is the best way to enjoy them with their maximum sweetness, but the next best way to get them is in your CSA box from your favorite CSA farmers (that would be us;)

Mini Sweet Peppers-  These are the really cute little red, yellow and orange peppers at the bottom of your box that are a new, fun variety that we tried this year.  Mini-sweets were all the rage at the Dane County Farmer's Market last summer, and we had to try growing them to see what the fun was all about.  Don't let these be confused with your hot peppers.  These ones are sweet!  

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper-  This is the longer, lime-green colored hot pepper that sometimes turns an orange-ish color when *ripe*.  These peppers are funny because they are usually picked lime green, but a small 10% of them will turn orange and get a touch sweeter as they "ripen".  Hungarian Hot Wax are also called "bananna peppers".  Despite it's big name, these are among the most mild of all hot peppers.  Technically they are considered a hot pepper, but they are not usually hot.  Although sometimes they are!  

Jalapeno Pepper-  This is the small, green pepper that packs a little more punch.  A couple members have told me they don't think they're very hot, but I guess I'm a little wimpy when it comes to heat, because they're hot to me!  

Cucumber-  About 2 cucumbers per member this week.  Cucumbers are going out of season here.  Maybe anoter week or so of them, but enjoy your favorite cucumber recipes while we still have them!

Pickling Cucumbers-  Another handful of the pickling cukes.  Do a google search for an easy and delicious refrigerator pickel.  Just suff them in a jar and pour a little brine over them.  I like to ferment mine and keep them totally raw.  Fermenting them is probably the fastest and healthiest way to eat them.  See my recipe below!  

Summer Squash, Zucchini and/or Patty Pans-  The summer squash and zucchini plants are looking pretty sad.  It's amazing to me how the plants can look like they are totally dead or dieing and are still cranking out fruits.  What an amazing plant for it's efforts to reproduce!  

Green Curly Kale-  I think Kale might be one of my favorite vegetables.  Rip it onto pizza, bake it into a fritatta, sautee it in coconut oil, make chips out of it or do a massaged kale salad.  So many fun recipes out there to try, so little time!  IMG_0978Funky Heirloom Tomatoes

Curly Leaf Parsley-  Because we had to put and herb in this week's box.  Parsley could be a nice addition to a fresh salsa or make tabouli with these generous bunches.  If you have a dehydrator and you don't think you'll get to using the whole bunch this week, lay the sprigs out on the dehydrator trays and dry them and store them in jars.  Parsley is a really nice additon to potato dishes.  Potatoes coming soon once we think we'll be able to fit them in boxes!  

Eggplant-  We had 200 Eggplant and packed 300 boxes.  We stuffed them in any of the boxes that had room and even those that didn't have room.  

Cherry Tomatoes-  We also had 200 pints of these cherry tomatoe and packed 300 boxes, so not every box got cherry tomatoes.  It takes a very long time to pick 300 pints of cherry tomatoes.  We had the tomatoes, but we ran out of time to harvest them.  With such huge boxes this week and such heavy harvesting all week long, I wonder why we couldn't fit the time in to get them picked?  

NEW!  Adam's Best Guess for Next Week!  

Disclaimer:  This is only our best guess from what we see up and coming from field walks.  Next week's actual box may look slightly different from this projection.  
Melon, sweet corn, red cabbage, sweet peppers, tomatoes, onion, garlic, summe squash, cucumbers, thyme, beets, green beans, eggplant.  


Roasted Tomato Bisque-  Thank you to one of our local members, Kathy Crittenden, who submitted these tomato recipes!