September Nineth

I knew from the very first time I worked on a farm at the ripe age of 18 that the countryside was where I belonged. The feel of plants and soil between my fingers, the feel of the breeze and sunshine on my skin and the subtle sounds of nature all around me called to me in a way that I could not deny. I am reminded of my love of this work on these cool Autumn days when the sun is shining and the air is cool and the crickets are chirping. I feel something of a ‘second wind’ that energizes me even after a long season of hard work and focus.

I especially love this time of year for the foods that the good earth offers us. We are still getting greens and juicy tomatoes and sweet peppers. We’re still getting freshness and sweetness, even as the warming and more starchy foods come into season. I am still fascinated after all these years at how meaningful and appropriate the seasonal diet is. My body begins to yearn for the warming winter squash and potatoes. My mouth waters at the thought of apple pie and cinnamon. Thoughts of chilis and soups make me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside.

Today we came in from the fields for dinner to the smells of pumpkin bars and stuffed squash coming out of the oven. Momma Jane warmed our home with the delicious feels, smells and flavors of Fall on a chilly Monday evening. We sometimes joke that Momma Jane is our farm wife. So that Adam and I can both work full days on Mondays and Tuesdays, we have the warmth of Grandma Jane watching the kids and feeding us delicious home-made meals-the work she loves most. While it feels like she’s taking care of us, I know that we’re really all taking care of one another, sharing with one another the gifts we know best how to give.

We broke out the wool hats and sweaters and put socks on our feet and wore our boots again this week. I feel so cozy and prepared even when a cool wind is blowing if my body is dry and warm. I still feel the same level of love for this work that I did as a young woman and I am especially reminded by the feeling I get after being in the fields all day and then coming into a warm house. My body feels tired and tried, but strangely satisfied and fulfilled. Perhaps this is the same feeling an athlete gets at the end of their practice or work out? Humans have always loved doing hard things and have found enjoyment and satisfaction out of it. I also get my socialization and dinner out of the deal, so it feels practical and positive.

The weather will be a little wet this week and the cool breeze will turn cold soon enough. There will be a sense of urgency to get the roots out of the ground and into storage or CSA boxes. We will focus on wrapping up the last five weeks of Summer Share deliveries with enthusiasm and valor. The new and exciting Fall foods like Brussels sprouts, parsnips, leeks, spinach, sweet potatoes, potatoes and all of the fun varieties of winter squash will get us through keeping us warm and well fed while nourishing our bodies as well as our nature-loving souls.

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

Tomatoes- 7 plus pounds of mixed tomatoes.  Tomato production is slowing now with the colder weather.  We pick tomatoes with a 'blush'.  This means that we pick any tomato that is showing any signs of color since tomatoes ripen so quickly off of the vine.  If your tomatoes need more ripening, we recommend letting them sit out on your counterop or windowsil.  Only put tomatoes in the refrigerator if they are fully ripe and you need to buy yourself some time before you get to using it up.  Refrigerators suck flavor out of tomatoes.  The more you can leave them to ripen on the counter, the better their flavor will be.  We grow all kinds of tomatoes in all different shapes and colors.  Some of them are heirloom tomatoes (but the herilooms ripen a little later still mostly), the oval shaped romas that are more of a paste tomato and less juicy like a slicer.  We also grow all kinds of slicers that range from yellow to red to purplish-black to orange.  You'll know if your tomato is ripe if it feels slightly soft to the touch.  Even though your tomatoes were bagged in a plastic bag, they much prefer to not be in their little plastic bags.  Remove them from their plastic bag and allow them to 'breathe' on the countertop.  

Peppers- 2-3 Green or Sweet Bell Peppers per member.   Peppers prefer 50 degree storage temps so the fridge is a little too cold and the couter is a little too warm, so choose your favorite spot!  They're so delicious, I'm sure they won't last long in any home!  We enjoy putting them in fresh pico or Salsa, on pizza, witih eggs or even stuffed peppers if you're feeling ambitious!  

Brussel Sprout Tops-  Everyone received 4 brussel sprout tops this week.  Sweet and tender with a collard-like flavor.  The leaves will wilt down like spinach when cooked.  Simply delicious as a noodle bowl or rice bowl ingredient.

Napa Cabbage-  It is refreshing and crunchy, perfect for a salad green substitute or slaw.  It can also be used in a stirfry, casserole (stuffed cabbage leaves) or soup.  It is like two greens in one.  The top portion is more tender and perfect for raw dishes where the bottom is ideal for cooking.

Green Beans and Dragon Tongue Beans-  .64 lb bags of beans this week.  A mix of green beans and Dragon Tongues.  The Dragon Tongue Beans are an heirloom variety of beans that is cream colored, wider and thicker than a green bean.  This will likely be the last giving of beans for this year.

Red Potatoes-  2 pounds of freshly dug red potatoes per member.  Potatoes are one of the few crops that we do not wash.  They will keep better unwashed- and washing them can sometimes really scuff them up.  We will have either potatoes or sweet potatoes in the remaining boxes of the season.  The first couple of givings will be modest (2 pounds), and once we get them all out of the ground, we hope to increase the amount per giving once we have a better ideas of how our yields will be this year.

Spaghetti Squash-  These are the large, hard, yellow items in your box.  Spaghetti squash have the shortest shelf life in our experience of growing squash.  They are also all the rage in the gluten-free world these days.  Spaghetti squash can be prepared similar to any other winter squash.  Cut in in half lenghtwise, scoop out the seeds and discard.  Place the two squash halves face down on a baking pan with about a half in of water all around them.  Bake at 350 for abount and hour.  After one hour, turn the squash face up, drain any excess water and allow them to steam out and loose some of the added moisture from the baking process.  Once it is cool enough to handle, use a fork and scrape the noodle-like flesh into a bowl for working with.  They can be used like 'noodles' for eating a gluten-free spaghetti meal.  My personal favorite is to make the Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl with Lime Peanut sauce.  They also make great 'hash browns'.  

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper-  Some of these were picked in the lime-green stage.  The hot peppers were tucked into the top of the tomato bags this week to tell them apart from the sweet peppers.  Some of these hungarian hot wax peppers were turning red too.  Hungarian Hot Wax peppers are amung the most mild of all hot peppers which is why we grow them for CSA.  This is a good one to add to your salsas or sauces if you like a little heat, but don't want the dish to be over-powered.  They can be sneaky though, some of them pack more punch than others.  Taste as you cook to make sure you don't over-do it! 

Red Onion-  Because life is much sweeter with onion in everything!

Basil- One last bunch of basil for 2020.  For use on your pizza, bruschetta, or however you fancy!  Basil will turn black in your refrigerator.  Keeps best like cut flowers in a glass of water.  

We were able to harvest a small amount of eggplant and romanesco this week.  We used these items to fill in some boxes that had the space.

Next Week's Best Guess-Potatoes, lettuce, kale or chard, thyme, tomatoes, peppers, napa cabbage?, onion, broccoli, carrots or beets

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Recipes

Crunchy Napa Cabbage Salad witih Ramen Noodles

Roasted Spaghetti Squash Hash Browns

Italian Chicken Pasta Skillet with Tomato and Pepper

Crisp Brussels Sprout Leaves

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September Second

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Dear Adam,

This is a letter for you because we don’t get all that much time to talk to each other these days between the sounds and needs of the children, the demands of the harvesting crew and the pressures of the farm. By the time the table is finally cleared and the dishes are finally done and the children are finally sleeping we’re both too tired to fill one another’s cup. We show our love for one another through the loyalty we play to our roles. You are so constant and steady and strong.

You’ve been busy up until last week irrigating around the clock spending all of your evenings running water lines, managing the pump and assessing the effects of the drought on the crops. I see the extra weight that you’re carrying these days and I want you to know that I see you as my real life super hero. You work the hours that you do for the farm and the CSA, but you’re doing it too, for our family and I don’t want that to go un-noticed. The children get the majority of our kisses and cuddles and extra love, but I feel that when we’re loving them, we’re strengthening our family bond and that includes the bond we share.

The farm really does look good, by the way. Awesome, in fact. I know that you’re seeing the farm through the lense of a farmer assessing the damage and yields. You’re too busy putting out fires to even get the chance to slow down and sniff the basil. The beautifully cultivated fall brassicas, the awesome winter-squash crop, and the greenhouse full of onions and garlic are just a few of the signs of success.   The Fall Carrot crop is a little thin, but I know that you did everything you could to get water to them when they needed it most. We did get them weeded eventually and there will be time to weed the parsnips after all!

Hay, the Sweet potatoes are looking good too and the yields of potatoes should be twice what they were last year! I know that my optimist lense doesn’t often work to cheer you up, but I do think you secretly like it. The farm is too heavy to shoulder and you need me to brush some of it off. You took over the torch when Aliza was born and what a job you’ve been doing! This farm wouldn’t run without either one of us, but seamlessly you stitched the years together and the CSA boxes are full and beautiful and quality standards have improved because of you! I’m a bit envious in fact because my identity as a farmer has been handed to you and I have faded into a mother and a farmer’s wife. The cloak of motherhood is radiant and floral and I am so thankful and I would wish for nothing other than exactly the way it is now.

But here you are, living out your boyhood dream to become a farmer, and rockin’ it! Remember that we’re dealing with mother nature here. We’re doing everything right. The seeding, the cultivating, the transplanting, the harvesting, it’s all on time. The soil is fertile, the stage is set, the crew is here, but mother nature really does call the shots. You know all of this, but I thought it might be helpful to remind you how much I love you and appreciate you and how I see that you’re doing more than enough. The season is waning now. We’re almost there!    

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

Tomatoes- 7 plus pounds of mixed tomatoes.  Tomato production is peaking now!  We pick tomatoes with a 'blush'.  This means that we pick any tomato that is showing any signs of color since tomatoes ripen so quickly off of the vine.  If your tomatoes need more ripening, we recommend letting them sit out on your counterop or windowsil.  Only put tomatoes in the refrigerator if they are fully ripe and you need to buy yourself some time before you get to using it up.  Refrigerators suck flavor out of tomatoes.  The more you can leave them to ripen on the counter, the better their flavor will be.  We grow all kinds of tomatoes in all different shapes and colors.  Some of them are heirloom tomatoes (but the herilooms ripen a little later still mostly), the oval shaped romas that are more of a paste tomato and less juicy like a slicer.  We also grow all kinds of slicers that range from yellow to red to purplish-black to orange.  You'll know if your tomato is ripe if it feels slightly soft to the touch.  Even though your tomatoes were bagged in a plastic bag, they much prefer to not be in their little plastic bags.  Remove them from their plastic bag and allow them to 'breathe' on the countertop.  

Peppers- 4-5 Sweet Bell Peppers per member.  Still a fair pepper harvest again this week.  We have been pleasantly surprised at how many we're getting despite the disease and the cull rate.  Hoping for another good couple weeks of pepper sharing!  Peppers prefer 50 degree storage temps so the fridge is a little too cold and the couter is a little too warm, so choose your favorite spot!  They're so delicious, I'm sure they won't last long in any home!  We enjoy putting them in fresh pico or Salsa, on pizza, witih eggs or even stuffed peppers if you're feeling ambitious!  

Green Curly Kale-  Lovely green bunches of kale this week.  Kale keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  Some people just gobble it all up, but one member told me she likes to dehydrate her kale and keep it in jars for enjoying in soups in the winter as a way of preserving what she can't use now for later.  

Green or Red Cabbage-  Cabbage is so common and usual, it can be difficult to remember to appreciate our old friend.  Where would the world be today without cabbage!  An old childhood friend.  

Green Beans and Dragon Tongue Beans-  1.3lb bags of beans this week.  A mix of green beans and Dragon Tongues.  The Dragon Tongue Beans are an heirloom variety of beans that is cream colored, wider and thicker than a green bean.  Don't feel discouraged, but the fun purple stripes on the 'dragon tongues' magically disappear when cooked!  

Yellow Onion-  Because life is much sweeter with onion in everything!  

Spaghetti Squash-  These are the large, hard, yellow items in your box.  This is the first "Winter Squash" giving of the season.  Spaghetti squash have the shortest storage life in our experience of growing squash.  They are also all the rage in the gluten-free world these days.  Spaghetti squash can be prepared similar to any other winter squash.  Cut in in half lenghtwise, scoop out the seeds and discard.  Place the two squash halves face down on a baking pan with about a half in of water all around them.  Bake at 350 for abount and hour.  After one hour, turn the squash face up, drain any excess water and allow them to steam out and loose some of the added moisture from the baking process.  Once it is cool enough to handle, use a fork and scrape the noodle-like flesh into a bowl for working with.  They can be used like 'noodles' for eating a gluten-free spaghetti meal.  My personal favorite is to make the Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl with Lime Peanut sauce.  They also make great 'hash browns'.  

Garlic-  One bulb per member.  Asian Tempest Variety again this week.  Asian Tempest is a red skinned hardneck variety with a spiicy flavor.  They hae 4-7 cloves per bulb.  This variety has been cultivated and in the care of the Varney family long before Adam and I started to grow it.  Will have longest shelf life in the fridge, but will keep terrifically well on your counter for a few months too!  

Flat Leaf Parsley-  Parsley is such a fun summer herb to cook with.  I find myself really missing parsley in the winter months.  Parsley is lovely mixed into soups, sauces, marinades and salads of all kinds.  Find ways to sneak this super food into your meals.  Check out the Chimichurri recipe below.  

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper-  Some of these were picked in the lime-green stage.  The hot peppers were tucked into the top of the tomato bags this week to tell them apart from the sweet peppers.  Some of these hungarian hot wax peppers were turning red too.  Hungarian Hot Wax peppers are amung the most mild of all hot peppers which is why we grow them for CSA.  This is a good one to add to your salsas or sauces if you like a little heat, but don't want the dish to be over-powered.  They can be sneaky though, some of them pack more punch than others.  Taste as you cook to make sure you don't over-do it!  

Jalapeno Pepper-  These were also tucked into the top of your tomato bags.  A little easier to identify, Jalapenos are green and smaller.  They have more heat than the Hungarian Hot Wax.  Taste as you cook with hot peppers so you're not disappointed with too much heat!  

Bag of Minisweet Peppers and Sungold Cherry Tomatoes-  .53 lbs.  We gave a combination of cherry tomatoes and minisweet peppers in one brown paper bag this week.  This little goody bag is excellet for snacking!  We usually give cherry tomatoes in plastic clamshell containers, but we're experimenting this summer with giving them in brown paper bags instead.  This is one small effort at using less plastic on the farm;)  We like using less plastic, but the containers possibly do a better job at keeping them from getting smooshed?  Let us know what you think!

Next Week's Best Guess:  Napa Cabbage?, Toatoes, green beans, onion, garlic, brussels sprouts tops, lettuce?, romanesco and/or broccoli?, spaghetti squash?, potatoes

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Recipes

Argentinian Chimichurri Recipe with Parsley

Cabbage Egg Roll Keto Bowl

Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bown with Lime Peanut Sauce

August Twenty-Sixth

It’s funny how as we get older time seems to speed up. I watch our children pass the days away on the farm laying in the grass, picking flowers, building forts, climbing trees and just dreaming up projects and play for themselves. They graze the vegetable field harvesting only what looks tasty to pop into their mouths at that very moment. No care for tomorrow or next week or next year. They live fully in the now. In contrast their parents are buzzing around in circles running crews, managing the farm and putting out fires in every direction. I wish for them to revel in their childhood state as long as they are able.

The time of the day when we do finally slow down is at meal time. We all sit together over lovingly prepared meals, many times prepared by Momma Jane, and we are all still and calm together for a short moment a few times each day. In these moments of stillness and calm I never cease to be thankful for all that we have. The bounty is high, the meals are rich but boy, the days sure are short! We express our gratitude and thankfulness at each meal and appreciate all that goes into the beets or the corn or the tomatoes on our plates.

The harvesting demands on the farm are constant now! We are done planting crops for fall. Now is the time when we simply must harvest, harvest and more harvesting for much of the remainder of the season.   We are still trying to catch up on weeding, mowing and the irrigation is a constant job at the moment for Farmer Adam. Nearly EVERY crop has drip line irrigation on it right now. I’m not sure we’ve ever had a drought like this where every crop had to be drip taped because we had such a long stretch with no rain. Six weeks with no rain over 1/10th inch. I would say that his efforts are paying off though, the crops are growing and looking good. Tomato production is strong, peppers are still producing well despite the pepper disease we have going on this summer, and things are looking good for many of our Fall Crops such as parsnips, sweet potatoes, potatoes, broccoli, leeks, Brussels sprouts and so much more, thanks to well water and Farmer Adam’s sweat.

The farm needs tending to much like an infant. It needs careful watch and attention at all times. Our small family rarely takes a vacation in the summer months. We watch our friends go on camping trips and week-long get-aways as a healthy family should. I feel a yearning for these kinds of adventures and get-aways too, but our smallest child, the farm, requires us to be home watching and caring for her. I tell myself that in the Fall and Winter we will have our rest and adventure. We make our hay when the sun shines. It is also not as relaxing for us to leave the farm when know that twice the work will be waiting for us when we get back.

This isn’t our first trip around the sun! We know what we’re getting ourselves into each year that we operate a CSA farm. It’s a life that is hard work, but the rewards are rich to us. But the part I can’t seem to understand is how the time seems to be speeding up. How is this week 13 already? How did my babies get so big? Has it really been 15 years? Wait, it’s September already? I will slice into my tomatoes and enjoy every juicy cell of them. I savor the melon and suckle the cherry tomatoes. Slowly, slowly, slow.

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

Tomatoes-  6lbs of tomatoes per member.  Tomato production is in full swing!  We pick tomatoes with a 'blush'.  This means that we pick any tomato that is showing any signs of color since tomatoes ripen so quickly off of the vine.  If your tomatoes need more ripening, we recommend letting them sit out on your counterop or windowsil.  Only put tomatoes in the refrigerator if they are fully ripe and you need to buy yourself some time before you get to using it up.  Refrigerators suck flavor out of tomatoes.  The more you can leave them to ripen on the counter, the better their flavor will be.  We grow all kinds of tomatoes in all different shapes and colors.  Some of them are heirloom tomatoes (but the herilooms ripen a little later still mostly), the oval shaped romas that are more of a paste tomato and less juicy like a slicer.  We also grow all kinds of slicers that range from yellow to red to purplish-black to orange.  You'll know if your tomato is ripe if it feels slightly soft to the touch.  Even though your tomatoes were bagged in a plastic bag, they much prefer to not be in their little plastic bags.  Remove them from their plastic bag and allow them to 'breathe' on the countertop.  

Peppers-4-6  We are still getting peppers this year despite our pepper disease we have.  We expect that sooner than in previous years our peppers will decline in production.  We're also culling a higher percentage of peppers than normal.  Still a good couple weeks of peppers to come though!  

Red Cabbage-  One head of Cairo Red Cabbage per member this week.  Very dense heads that will keep.  Stores best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Melon x 2-  You may have received any combination of melons this week. So far this season we have shared the yellow watermelons, the cantelope, honeydew and also the canary melons (the ones with the yellow rind).  This is the final melon giving of the season and this week's offering is what we had left in the fields and in the cooelr to share.  

Onion-  One white onion per member.  

Garlic-  One Asian Tempest Garlic per member this week.  Asian Tempest is a red skinned hardneck variety with a spiicy flavor.  They hae 4-7 cloves per bulb.  This variety has been cultivated and in the care of the Varney family long before Adam and I started to grow it.  Will have longest shelf life in the fridge, but will keep terrifically well on your counter for a few months too!  

Cherry Tomatoes and MiniSweet Peppers-  .7 lbs total.  We gave a combination of cherry tomatoes and minisweet peppers in one brown paper bag this week.  This little goody bag is excellet for snacking!  

Green Beans  mixed with Dragon Tongue Beans-  .72lbs of green beans.  We had more beans out there to pick this week but we were a little short handed with our crew size this week.  We were also picking younger, more tender beans so the overall weight is just slightly less than last week.  More beans to come next week!  The Dragon Tongue Beans are an heirloom variety of beans that is cream colored, wider and thicker than a green bean.  Don't feel discouraged, the fun purple stripes on the 'dragon tongues' magically disappear when cooked!  

Carrots-  1 pound of carrots per member.  

Broccoli- 1-2 depending on size!  Broccoli keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Swiss Chard-  I was so happy that we had the time to pick swiss chard for you all this week!  Chard is a time-consuming harvest.  The plants need to be cleaned as they are picked and there are not a lot of good leaves per plant at this stage in the season.  But it sure is fun to have some diversity in our cooking greens this time of year!

Next Week's Best Guess:  Napa Cabbage?, tomatoes, pepeprs, hot peppers, green beans/dragon tongue beans, kale, onion, garlic, spaghetti squash, parsley?

Recipes

Chicken Fajita Quesadilla with Peppers and Onions

Stuffed Peppers

Sauteed Garden Fresh Green Beans

Warm Red Cabbage Salad

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August Ninettenth

This week on the farm has been busy and heavy!  Farmer Adam continues to find ways to get water to the crops that need is most. We are on a very long stretch with no rain. We did receive 1/10th of an inch last Friday night which was very quickly absorbed and seemingly insignificant. I search the forecast for chances of rain looking farther and farther into the forecast. The 10-day forecast is more of a dreamy forecast. Can they really predict the weather that far in advance? Are those precipitation percentages real or a mirage on the horizon? Adam says he feels uneasy when he can’t hear the pump running or knowing that something is getting watered somewhere on the farm.

One positive side to no rain is that the tomato plants are producing well. Tomatoes do love to have dry leaves. We actually have to search for the tomatoes amidst the foliage this year which is somewhat new. The plants look healthy and strong and are really picking up in production now. The bins of tomatoes fill up quickly and we haul bin after bin to the ends of the rows. The colorful array of tomatoes look lovely and we talk about salsa and canning and bruchetta and share recipes and veggie inspiration as we work.

The bodies of the farm workers are tired. We talk about our legs and elbows and knees as we work. We feel fit and healthy and strong, but also tired, a little sore and strained.   Our hands look like the hands of someone who digs them into soil. They’re thicker and tough. They look stained, a little cut and cracked and I don’t remember the last time my nails looked clean and presentable. Luckily the only one I need to present them to is the vegetable plants, and I appreciate their non-judgment.

We toss melons at harvest to clean up what remains in the fields. We finish up the last of the sweet corn harvest and are sad to have pulled the final succession of sweet corn out of the field but relieved of the duty of needing to protect the crop from sneaky raccoons. I’m sure those rascally raccoons are just waiting for their chance to get in there to clean out any unclaimed ears.  

This week we will begin harvesting our winter squash. Some of the shorter day varieties like acorn and spaghetti squash are mature and ready to be harvested. We will clip them and get them into the greenhouse to cure and dry and keep them safe from squash bugs and cucumber bettles who will readily move in on mature fruits that are left out too long. While it will be a few more weeks before we are shipping squash in CSA boxes, the harvest begins now and will be ongoing for a few more weeks still until we find the time to get them all out.

Squash are dense and heavy and we bend and clip and toss and bend and clip and toss and bend and clip and toss. Winter squash has such lovely Fall colors. The deep blues in the acorns and buttercups and bright yellows in spaghetti squash and rich oranges in the pumpkins and kabochas as well as the cream colored butternuts. I’m not ready to eat squash yet. I still want to eat tomatoes and peppers and sweet corn. I still want the summer warmth and the long days. But I do hear the crickets singing in the night and I see the monarchs taking flight. I see the apples ripening and I feel the nights are cooling. The load may be heavy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! I will not wish one of these magical days away!

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

Melons x 2- Everyone should have received a Canary Melon.  The Canary melons are yellow on the outside with a crispy, green-ish colored fresh.  Canary melons have been mistaken by CSA members for spaghetti squash as they are shaped similarly and have a bright yellow rind.  Their flesh is a little crispy like a cucumber or pear, but is sweet and unique.  We hope you'll love this melon as much as we do!  You should have received another melon either an extra Canary melon or cantelope or watermelon.  Canary and cantelope will ripen off the vine.  Feel free to wait a bit if you suspect your melon needs an extra few days on the counter to ripen.  The watermeons will not ripen off the vine, so feel free to dig right in on your watermelon if that is what you received!  

Sweet Corn-  5 ears of standar sweet corn!  

Sweet Corn (starchy)- 3 ears per member.  These corn are a bit of an 'oops'!  This succession of corn was supposed to have been ready to pick next week if the timing on the successions turned out the way we had planned, but this crop got a little over-mature.  It matured sooner than we realized.  The ears are big and beautiful, but not as sweet and crispy the way sweet corn should be!  They have more of a reddish color on the wrappers and the kernels are a little over-developed.  We thought this corn was still worth giving and could be used to make Elotes!  See recipe below!  We didn't have room in the boxes this week to give you all of this succession as we had hoped to have for next week.  

Tomatoes-  4.8lbs  Tomato production is picking up quickly!  We pick tomatoes with a 'blush'.  This means that we pick any tomato that is showing any signs of color since tomatoes ripen so quickly off of the vine.  If your tomatoes need more ripening, we recommend letting them sit out on your counterop or windowsil.  Only put tomatoes in the refrigerator if they are fully ripe and you need to buy yourself some time before you get to using it up.  Refrigerators suck flavor out of tomatoes.  The more you can leave them to ripen on the counter, the better their flavor will be.  We grow all kinds of tomatoes in all different shapes and colors.  Some of them are heirloom tomatoes (but the herilooms ripen a little later still mostly), the oval shaped romas that are more of a paste tomato and less juicy like a slicer.  We also grow all kinds of slicers that range from yellow to red to purplish-black to orange.  You'll know if your tomato is ripe if it feels slightly soft to the touch.  Even though your tomatoes were bagged in a plastic bag, they much prefer to not be in their little plastic bags.  Remove them from their plastic bag and allow them to 'breathe' on the countertop.  

Onion-  One white onion per member this week.  

Peppers- 4-5 peppers per member.  We are feeling a little discouraged about the pepper crop this year.  New to our farm this year, we're seeing some kind of disease on the leaves of the pepper plant that is causing the plants to drop their leaves exposing the fruits to the sun to get sun-scaleded.  We are picking more peppers at this stage on the greener side than what we would like to.  The last few years on our farm we have had fantastic pepper years giving large, beautiful red, yellow and orange peppers, so this years crop is a bit of a dissapointment to us;(  We are also tossing a large percentage of the peppers simply because they have rotten spots.  We planted peppers next to the road in a new field this year.  Maybe they don't like being next to the road (dust getting kickd up on the leaves?).  Maybe the new field didn't have the fertility that our more 'seasoned' fields have?  Maybe we just picked up some kind of pepper plant disease this year?  We are also trying a new method of mowing between the rows of peppers rather than cultivating and perhaps the peppers don't like the grass clippings/dust that gets stirred up in mowing between the rows?  

Broccoli-1 beautiful broccoli per member this week!  Broccoli prefers to be kept very cold for maxium storage life!  

Carrots- 1 lbs bags per member!  

Red Curly Kale-  Trusty kale is here to keep us stocked with greens in the heat of the summer when it's too hot to grow lettuce.  We did actually have a succession of lettuce that was supposed to be ready to harvest this week that was too bolted and bitter to harvest becuse it has not gotten rain since transplant.  So Kale it is this week!  

Green Beans- 1 lb bags per member.  Green beans are such a lovely summer treat.  They make such a nice vegetable addition to a quick summer meal!  

Cherry Tomatoes and/or Mini Sweet Peppers-  A modest harvest of cherry tomtaoes divided up for everyone this week.  We also picked a small quantity of mini-sweet peppers that we put in the same bags as the cherry tomatoes.  Some members may have received only mini-sweet peppers if we ran out of cherry tomatoes at the end of bagging them.  

Next Week's Best Guess:  Melon, red cabbage, green beans, onion, garlic, broccoli, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, swiss chard, carrots

Recipes

Sweet Corn and Coconut Milk Chowder

Elotes (Mexican Grilled Corn on the Cob)

Chocolate Kale Smoothie

Green Beans with Lemon and Pine Nuts

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August Twelfth

Vegetables farmers do love dry weather. But when it doesn’t rain for over three weeks in the middle of summer, a vegetable farmer in Wisconsin hoping to pull off Fall crops has to get busy! We love dry weather because vegetable plants do not love to have wet leaves for very long. Wet leaves to a plant is like wet feet and hands to us. Bacteria and disease flourish in warm, wet conditions on the surface of leaves.

Vegetable plants do need moisture though, but mainly at their root zone. A small farm like ours has a couple methods for irrigating that have worked well for us with the system we have available. We are able to lay drip-line irrigation over any crops that need water and use a Honda gas engine pump to pump water to the areas of the farm with crops that need moisture. We also have a low-tech sprinkler system that will water 5-6 bed at a time that are 250 foot long. It’s a bit of a hassle to set up and move around the farm watering 5 beds a time. A typical well will pump around 10 gallons per minute. We upgraded our well a few years ago so that we can pump 20 gallons per minute into 1700 gallon storage tanks and then irrigate out of these tanks. We have had days where the well is pumping water nearly all day long as we irrigate and drain the tanks continuously moving sprinklers and drip line to the crops that need water the most. The Kale, the potatoes, the Fall Carrots, the tomatoes, the peppers and so on. One crop at a time.

While irrigating crops is a ton of work for a small farm like ours, we usually have better crops in drier years. It’s a little easier to monitor how much water a crop gets when you’re the one dumping the water and not the sky! We can also make sure that certain crops do not get too much water, we have less soil erosion and much less disease on plant leaves. I’m not saying that we love to irrigate! If one inch of rain fell from the sky every Saturday night, we would be pleased and thankful. But we simply have no control!

The girls and I are reading On the Banks of Plumb Creek out of the Little House series right now. We just finished the part of the book where a plague of grasshoppers destroyed their wheat crop followed by a long drought period. Pa then had to walk 300 miles in worn out shoes to find work to earn money so the family could survive. We were reading these chapters while also experiencing in our own lives the reality of very hot, dry weather. Laura says in the book that when it was so terribly hot that she wishes she was an Indian so she didn’t have to wear clothes. I can even relate with this. Thankfully, a plague of grasshoppers and locusts have not come and eaten everything that is green in sight including the leaves off of the trees. Our children also have shoes that fit their feet and their Pa gets to work from home.

Even when times are hard, we can put life into perspective and know that actually, we are very fortunate and blessed and privileged in many ways. So long as we have access to fossil fuels, we will continue to enjoy the life that makes almost everything easier in a way that the Wilder family could only have dreamed of.  For better or worse, we don't live a life in fear of starvation, wolves, and panthers.  We have instead traded these primal fears for mortgages, pandemics and cancer.  No matter the fears and strife we must live with we can pick up our fiddle, as Pa did, and make the best of it.  We get along and love one another as wholely as we are able.  Rain or no rain.  

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

Sweet Corn-  4-5 ears per member.  We should have 2 more weeks of sweet corn givings ahead of us averaging about 4-5 ears per box.  While we have all seen sweet corn being sold on the roadside, sweet corn really does prefer to be kept cold.  From the moment it is picked, the sugars begin turning into starches.  For best flavor of your corn and the highest sugar content, we recommend eating it up as soon as possible.  Corn does need to be kept cold for any amount of storage to slow the process of the sugars turning to starches.  

Melons-  You may have received either 2 cantelopes or 1 cantelope and 1 watermelon.  Cantelope will ripen off the vine, but we believe many of these cantelopes to be ready to cut into!  If you want to give it a little more time on the counter it will ripen a little.  Cantelope usually smell like a melon when they're ready to eat!  Watermelons do not ripen off of the vine, so cut into your watermelon whenever you're ready.  Once a melon is ripe, it should be kept cold until you're ready to eat it!  

Summer Squash or Zucchini-  Squash harvest is waning very quickly now.  We may have one more week of zucchini and summer squash before we are done picking for the season.  The plants are almost tuckered out!  

Celery-  Small bunches of celery this week.  Almost every celery head was cut open this week to remove any bad centers.  We were having a little issue with the centers of the plants rotting out.  We cut the plants apart and bunched the stalks to salvage what we could from the patch.  We may have one more giving of celery before celery seson is over.  

Onion-  One white onion per member.  

Peppers-  3 per box.  So this is a little early to be picking peppers.  Some of the Ace variety is ripening to red. Some of you may have received a red pepper.  We are seeing some kind of a disease on some of our pepper plant leaves that is causing the leaves of the plants to drop.  Because the leaves of the pepper plants are dropping, many of the young, green peppers are exposed to the sun.  The sun will scald the exposed fruits.  This week we made the difficult decision to pick any of the green peppers that were exposed to the sun and in danger of being sun-scaled.  Our goal is to only give sweet, red, yellow and orange peppers all summer/fall, but in this scenario we are forced to pick some of them green before they ripen to colors.  Our hope is that you can find a use for a few green peppers this week.  Adam is working hard to try and stop the spread of this disease we have on the pepper plants with the boilogical fungicide that we can use (copper) that is approved for certified organic growers.  More on the pepper production next week!  

Jalapeno-  1 green Jalapeno per box.  In case you haven't heard, these guys are hot!  They're the small little green pepper in your box shaped like a hot pepper!  We do recommend wearing gloves when removing the seeds and membrane.  

Tomatoes-  Just over 1 lb per member.  We pick tomatoes with a 'blush'.  This means that we pick any tomato that is showing any signs of color since tomatoes ripen so quickly off of the vine.  If your tomatoes need more ripening, we recommend letting them sit out on your counterop or windowsil.  Only put tomatoes in the refrigerator if they are fully ripe and you need to buy yourself some time before you get to using it up.  Refrigerators suck flavor out of tomatoes.  The more you can leave them to ripen on the counter, the better their flavor will be.  We grow all kinds of tomatoes in all different shapes and colors.  Some of them are heirloom tomatoes (but the herilooms ripen a little later still mostly), the oval shaped romas that are more of a paste tomato and less juicy like a slicer.  We also grow all kinds of slicers that range from yellow to red to purplish-black to orange.  You'll know if your tomato is ripe if it feels slightly soft to the touch.  Even though your tomatoes were bagged in a plastic bag, they much prefer to not be in their little plastic bags.  Remove them from their plastic bag and allow them to 'breathe' on the countertop.  

Green Bean-  .84 lbs per member.  Nothing says summer like fresh, local, green beans!  Beans are such a fun treat!  This is one harvest where we can all be thankful to our fabulous crew!  Beans are a very time-consuming harvest.  Eat them up and know that they were picked with love by a fabulous crew of people sitting in a field together sharing stories, laughing and building community.  

Green Curly Kale-  A modest bunch of green curly kale for everyone.  The kale got a little thirsty.  We did end up watering the kale just a couple days before these bunches were picked.  We're hoping that the leaves from our next harvest are a bit more tender.  I could tell that these leaves were a tiny bit tougher picked from plants in dry soil.  Kale is such a generous, hardy plant.  We gave them a little organic nutrient boost in the irrigation water to keep them producing and growing strong!  

Broccoli-  1-2 heads per member.  A few luckly people may have received 1 cauliflower instead of a broccoli.  We are having such an awesome summer for broccoli and cauliflower successions thanks to careful planning in the winter months.  

Eggplant-  1 per member, Asian or Standard.  The eggplant plants seem to be taking a little break in production.  Eggplant plants are never high yielding.  While eggplant isn't the star of the show, those who love it are loyal and faithful.  Eggplant is lovely when prepared right!  If you havn't found the time to make Eggplant Parmesan yet, I recommend you give it a go and fall in love all over again!

Beets-  3 beets per member.  We didn't have a lot of beets this summer, but we're hoping to have a few more givings this Fall.  Enjoy your beets however you fancy!  They keep best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Next Week's Best Guess:  Melon, Sweet Corn, red cabbage, maybe celery, carrots, green beans, broccoli, onion, tomato, peppers, jalapenos, chard or kale, flat leaf parsley, maybe squash

Recipes

Watermelon Salsa

Cantelope Melon Sorbet

Broccoli and Rice Casserole

Beet and Kale Salad (with Tahini dressing and sunflower seeds) 

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Thank you Drew Shonka for a fun photo shoot and for contributing these photos!