September Second

Ode to the Worker Share

Farm work may be considered by some to be highly undesireable.  Much of the work we do is done out in the elements.  We work in rain, wind, dust, heat and even the bitter cold.  On harvest days the work needs to get done no matter what.  While we may try to find indoor work on a rainy Thursday or Friday, the Monday and Tuesday crews take the brunt.  The sort of person who would be attracted to doing this kind of work isn’t doing it for the money or even the work out.

Farm work builds character.  Workers harvest, weed, plant, mulch, trellis and wash produce even if they are hot, cold, wet or uncomfortable.  There is plenty of heavy lifting, bending, kneeling and repetition on a produce farm.  And if we’re doing everyone’s favorite job, mulching, we all go home with chaff in our boots, bras, hats, hair and noses.  Who would want to do this work? 

Well, I say who wouldn’t want to do this work?  It’s not about suffering or even surviving, it’s all about the food.  I do admit that I love the athleticism of the work.  I love walking on uneven surfaces.  I love the fresh air.  I love getting so thirsty I can drink a quart of water in one quick break.  I even think there is a bit of a tuff-chick inside me that likes getting dirty.  I never was very good at keeping my nails clean and white shirts white.  It’s nice to be a farmer, where no one expects that of you anymore. 

The farm work on this farm, in case I haven’t mentioned it recently, gets done by Adam and I, our two full-time employees, Joe and Todd, and a revolving chorus of Worker Shares that come to work a 3.5hour shift in exchange for their CSA Share.  The Worker Share program, even it’s 6th year, still impresses me.  Every Spring when the Worker Shares call the farm to tell me they want to do the Worker Share again, I am amazed at how they keep coming back! 

We have thirty people who work for their CSA Share.  These thirty people share a few characteristics that I find highly desirable in a human being.  1)  They value where their food come and how it is grown.  They appreciate good, clean, organic food.  2)  They’re not afraid to work hard or get dirty.  3)  They joyfully build community.   Oh, and a Fourth one)  They are also fantastic at keeping commitments.  These are the kind of people you want to have in your life.  In the Spring they gave the farm a verbal commitment and thumbs up that they would be here to help this Summer and we crossed our fingers and hoped they would show up to work.  They all did!  And they all keep coming back week after week to work their shift.  I am not only grateful, I am amazed and impressed.  These people will restore your faith and trust in humanity. 

Doing this work alongside your friends for a wholesome purpose just feels good.  Sometimes we work and talk politics or religion.  Sometimes we joke and laugh and share ideas while working.  Sometimes we sing.  And sometimes we work quietly.  Depending on the task we’re doing and how long it takes-even the weather seems to play a part in the mood of the day.  After all, we are squatted right square down underneath the ever-changing outdoor atmosphere.  But to me it often feels like a form of meditation.  We are able to put our hands to work and turn off the mind.  Thankfully, we get to do this work together.    If it were not for the colorful and eclectic array of Worker Shares who help on this farm and breath life into it, I’m not sure where we would be today.  

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

Red Cabbage-  These are a very nice sized head for a red cabbage.  Typically, red cabbages are a smaller head of cabbage.  These heads were ready for harvest a couple weeks ago, but we couldn't fit them in boxes then with all of the melons, tomatoes, sweet corn ect.  The outermost layer looks like it needs to be peeled away to clean them up a little, but they didnt' look too bad.  

Tomatoes-  A hefty 8lb bag of tomato mixers this week.  A mixed variety of slicing tomatoes.  You may have received some romas (the paste tomato), standard hybrid red slicing toamtoes or a few different looking varieties of heirloom 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.  It's a great season for tomato sauce, salsa, bruchetta or soup.  Get creative!  This is the season we've been waiting for!  

Green Beans and or Purple Stripe Dragon Tongue Beans-  Alert!  We picked these beans on a dewey monday morning when the soil was still wet.  Green beans do not like to be washed or they will mold.  We did not wash our beans, so we highly recommend that you wash them right before you eat them.  They have a little dirt on them!  

Dark Red Norland Potatoes-  A 2lb bag of potatoes for all this week.  I love cooking with freshly dug potatoes.  These have a crispness to them that goes away once they've been in storage for a few months.  The red norlands have a bright red skin and a crispy white flesh that is lower on carbohydrates than some other varieties of potatoes.  These cook a little quicker (than, say, a russet) and are very versatile.  They can be mashed, roasted, stamed, fried or whatever.  Love the red potatoes!  

Carrots-  A one pound bag of carrots.  These were freshly dug with their hearts still beating and there little white-tip roots still attached.  You know they are fresh when their little whit tips are still on the end of the root.  

Yellow Onion-  Because everything is made more wonderful with an oinon in it.  This varity is called Ovation.  It is a similar variety to a sweet, candy onion.  They are great keepers.  

German Red Garlic-  I never have been much for detecting the subtleties in flavors in the different garlic varieties.  They all taste wonderful to me.  We love to grow hardneck varieties that withstand these brutal northern winters.  We love varieties with nice, large cloves that are easy to peel in the kitchen.  We also love the streaks of color that these red-skinned varieties have to offer.

Sweet Bell Peppers-  An impressive 5-6 sweet peppers per member this week.  A big mix of pepper this week from the large and blocky red, orange and yellow bells to the specialty yellow canarios and orange oranos which are a longer sweet pepper that come to a point.  Fajita time!  

Mini Sweet (Lunchbox) 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 sold in a pint clamshell, 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!  

Cherry Tomatoes or Eggplant-  We had 169 pints of cherry tomatoes and 100 eggplants, almost everyone received one or the other.  We even came up a few short.  Therea are more cherry tomatoes out there than we can get picked.  

Green Leaf Lettuce-  100% Green Leaf Lettuce to make a BLT.  

Basil Bunches-  Basil stores best if you stand the bunches up in a glass of water like cut flowers.  When basil is store in the referigerator, it will turn black.  Or, if you don't have a use for it all now, you could lay it on trays and dry it out in your dehydrator or oven on very low heat.  

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.  
Potatoes, carrots, red leaf lettuce, tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, eggplant, onion, green cabbage, spaghetti squash


Stuffed Peppers

Chilled Green Bean and Potato Salad

Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice 

Roasted Red Pepper and Sundried Tomato Soup