Small Family Farm CSA

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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!

 
germination

 posted March 19th, 2020

This e-mail is to stay in communication with our CSA members during this strange and uncertain time.  We have been asked by friends and CSA members if we will still be planning on providing CSA boxes for our members this summer.  Right now the answer is a strong and resounding YES!  

Fortunately, we are still 11 weeks away from our first CSA delivery.  Our hope at this time is that we will still be able to deliver your CSA boxes to the dropsites we have lined up.  We're watching closely to see what happens and if any of our current dropsites will be closed or in-accessible.  If you live near one of our dropsites and are willing to host as a dropsite in the event that your local dropsite is closed, please let us know.  We want to be prepared as far in advance as we can in the event that we cannot deliver to any given dropsite.  Right now this is our primary concern, and an easily navigable one at that if we are prepared.  

Never before has the work that we're doing on our Small Family Farm felt more important!  Providing wholesome, fresh, local, organic produce to our community members feels like an honorable privilege.  In a time of insecurity, uncertainty and scarcity, accessibility to fresh, local and organic produce has never felt more necessary. 

We want to assure you that we are busy out here on the farm planting seeds and preparing for an abundant and strong growing season.  We're lining up employees, greasing our equipment, changing our oil, and watching the snow melt while waiting for our first opportunities to get our tractors into the fields and start farming!  It is mostly business as usual as your farmers have a hermit-like nature and we secretly revel in the excuse to stay home and focused on our work and small family.  

While the work on the farm right now is mostly done by Adam and I (and one employee who comes one day a week), we are talking about how the farm will change when our Full and Part Time seasonal workers start working regularly in late April and the first of May.  We are also preparing in this changing climate for increased safety in our packing shed and food processing facilities.  Some of the ideas we are planning to implement are:

-Employees who are sick will not come to work or come into contact with the produce

-Everyone will be trained on how to properly wash their hands and will know where the hand washing facilities are located.  

-Hand washing will be encouraged more regularly this season such as before starting work, before returning to work from a break or absence from their workstation, before putting gloves on and after using the restroom.

-We also plan to clean our work surfaces in the packing shed routinely.  We will also be washing our bulk tanks and veggie washing machines more regularly.  

-Continued washing of all produce harvest crates after every use.  

We anxiously await the greatest sanitizer of all, the SUN!  I feel hopeful that with the return of the south winds and the lengthening daylight, we will all be out soaking up more sunshine, eating more green food and sneezing and coughing less.  The sun will tempt us into it's light and energize us into more movement and fresh air-giving our immune systems the the boost they are waiting for.  We'll get through this y'all! 

In the meantime, I wish you all health and strength in the days ahead.  Enjoy your social reprieve!  We'll stay in contact!  

Don't forget to sign up before April 1st to receive the Early Bird Discount (an automatic $30 discount on your veggie share).

Sign Up Season is Mud Season!

 
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posted March 12th, 2020

It's time to Sign Up!  Early Bird Discount Ends on April 1st! 

Mud Season is Sign Up Season!

The farm feels a little like a waking dragon.  It was curled up in its cave all winter slumbering and snoring, but it is now stretching its legs and yawning with it's huge jaws.  Soon the dragon will be out flying over head when the sun comes out flapping it's wings and breathing fire.  I'm doing what I can to preserve the peace and calmness while it lasts-shhhhing him back to sleep.  

But the only constant is change.  The seasons are changing and it's Mud Season on the farm now.  You know, the season between Winter and Spring?  The farmers and the kids track in mud and gravel and bring in sticks and bags of seeds from the greenhouse.  The chimney from the greenhouse is puffing smoke (the dragons breath) and as long as it doesn't get too windy, things work nicely.  When you enter the greenhouse doors it smells of wood smoke, soil and moist air.  The greenhouse feels warm and cozy inside and everyone wants to be in there, including the farm animals, but we're doing our best to keep the chickens out at least.  They love to take their dust baths in the front room where it's dry and dusty and search for seeds and bugs and even grass growing on the inside.  

Onions are popping everywhere filling up two lengths of tables in the greenhouse.  Today we seeded parsley.  On Monday we'll be seeding Swiss Chard, Cabbage, Kohlrabi and Kale.  We even seed Lettuce on March 20th which is a sure sign that things are picking up.  Lettuce is in the greenhouse for 4-5 weeks and is then transplanted.  After transplant it's only 45 days till harvest-or sooner when grown in the upper greenhouse!

We just bought a new "beater" farm truck for hauling veggies in and out of the fields with.  It seems like every 5 or so years we need to buy a new (old) truck to haul the harvest and crews around the farm in.  We never buy anything nice because you never know when it's going to get backed into by someone operating the skid steer (ahem, I have personally done this-but I was 9 months pregnant with Arlo when it happened and my range of motion was compromised) or when it's going to get a window broken out of it during winter squash harvest when we're tossing squash in the air (wasn't me this time!).  You don't want crews of muddy workers climbing into your nice truck on a rainy harvest day either!  But the windows do go up and down and it has leather seats and is 3/4 ton for handling the weight of the harvest.  She aint purty, but she runs good!

Sign Ups are coming in strong this year.  There are are a few other area CSA farms that we know of who have retired from CSA farming, we suspect that we may fill up sooner this year due to this fact.  If you're a returning CSA member, be sure to sign up soon to ensure your membership in the farm this season.  We really want to prioritize our returning members and make sure you have first dibs at the membership!  This e-mail also serves as a reminder that our Early Bird Discount pricing ends on April 1st!  Get the lowest price you can on your CSA share by signing up before April 1st either online or by check.  

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Winter Warmth from the Farm

Early Bird Sign Up for 2020 is Open!

Winter on the farm is restful.  Your farmers are enjoying some much needed time with family and enjoying a slower work pace with a reflective feel.  While the days are short we have slower mornings with time for the extra cup of coffee or tea.  I have even learned how to make sourdough bread (from Farmer Adam who has been making it on and off for a few years now).  We have slower evenings where we can actually make dinner together and clean up after dinner together.  Balancing farm life with family life is one of the trickiest parts of running the farm for me.  It feels good to have a season where family can be more in focus and the farm work less demanding and time-sensitive.  

We even went on a two week vacation out to California to see the Redwoods National Forest.  We took the train out and then rented a car and drove down Hwy 1 until we got to my Sister's house in Ventura California.  We stayed near my sister for a week where we got to eat fish tacos, play on the beach, watch seals, explore tide pools, visit a Museum of Natural History and do lots of swimming back at camp.  Vacations can feel a little like work too with three small children and all of the planning that goes into a trip and making arrangements for someone to watch the farm while we are gone.  It's good to get away, but I think it feels even better to come home!  

We were packing out orders to local coops and restaurants for most of the winter two days a week.  Our storage inventory is getting very low now and soon, hopefully, we can be done processing the harvest of 2019 and focus entirely on 2020.  The seeds are all here, the soil mix is here and the firewood for the greenhouse is here.  We will begin seeding in the greenhouse and keeping the fires going non-stop the last week of February.  

There is still daily work in the office doing taxes preparation, MOSA Organic Certification paperwork, field plans, greenhouse plans, searching for employees and so, so, so much more!  We are also logging in CSA members as they come in.  We are extra appreciative to those of you who sign up early so that we can get spend the time at the computer in February logging in members rather than juggling the computer work alongside the farming work once the season kicks off.  If you haven't signed up yet, but intend to, please consider doing this early!  

Another fun project for 2020 is that we are re-doing the floor in the upper barn above our packing shed in hardwood.  We plan to one day host farm events/dinners/barn dances up there.  We are hoping that it could also double as a space to cure our garlic in the summer.  This is a huge space on our farm that we have not used in all of the years we have lived here because the wild birds were getting in there making their 'messes' and the staircase going up was unsafe to use.  The exposed beams are getting cleaned up and it feels like we're restoring and bringing life into a part of the farm that has been neglected but has so much potential and beauty.  

Because I have a history of making newsletters a little too long at times, I'l bring this one to a close with a promise to write again in a month or so full of the excitement and joy of Spring that I feel warming inside me.  And because I could never say it often enough, our farm is thankful to you, the locavore, the community member, the vegetable lover for supporting small family farms like ours.  We're so happy to know you!  

 

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Greenhouse firewood all piled up and ready to burn.  
Hoar Frost on Lupin Plant
Chickens hesitating to come out on a snowy morning.
HIbernating Farm Machinery
Hoar Frost on Laundry Line
Cross Country Skiiing Ayla over to the neighbor's house to play.  

October Sixteenth

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The final week of Summer Share deliveries comes with a bittersweet feeling. We are nearing the end of the bounty. Not so very long ago we had taken for granted green foods, which were plenty. We will soon enter the season of eating stored roots and tubers that will provide the carbs and warmth needed to sustain us through the winter ahead. But the juicy, the succulent and the green will soon be gone. The fruits of our labors have been rich and wonderful, but now we are So. Very. Tired.

We still have a solid month of work left on the farm for the crew this season before we can finally throw in the towel. We will spend the next few weeks planting garlic, mulching garlic and strawberries and digging roots. We still have tomato trellising to take down and plastic mulch to rip up before the fields looks clean. We are hoping to do much of this work in dry, sunny weather which makes the work much more pleasant.

We are excited about Fall Shares this year. We still have two rooms in our packing shed filled with winter squash, onions, carrots, parsnips and we will continue to bring in more roots for storage. Left in the fields we will have Brussels sprouts to harvest, leeks, beets, rutabaga, daikon radish, beauty heart radish and still some greens and broccoli coming out.

Now, before we enter the house, we need to remove our layers of Carhart overalls, sweaters and layers of hats, scarves and gloves. Our bodies feel a little more stiff and our hands a little more thick. For dinner we have steaming bowls of squash, buttery Brussels and farmer Adam’s salty meat of choice for the night. We hold hands and routinely give thanks for this food from this farm and our little family.

The 2019 growing season was a good one. We had a little too much rain in the late summer, but somehow with all of the plantings we had in there was always plenty of food to pack the CSA boxes full of diverse offerings. We’ve had seasons that felt like much more of a struggle than this one with much greater loss. We will enter the winter with storage veggies to sell to area restaurants and food coops that will keep us busy filling orders a couple days a week. The only drawback to a good growing season is that there is more work to do bringing in the harvest, storing, washing and packing out orders.

We will also finish the season out strong with an amazing crew of helpers. I am always amazed at the hardy, enthusiastic and inspiring crew of people we have working on this farm. They show up prepared, excited to be doing this work and cheerfully return day after day. We have had seasons where help was hard to find, but this year we have a group of young people who continue to impress me with their perseverance and initiative. Without good help, a show like this would be hard to put on.

But really it takes all of us. We’ve got help, we’ve got experience, we’ve got community support and we even have mother nature on our side sometimes. Sometimes it feels like she’s not being very kind to us, but I know she’s just playing a fair game.   With my head bowed and my hands folded, I thank you. Thank you for sharing your hard-earned dollars and choosing to support a local, small family farm. Thank you for choosing to eat a diet heavy in a wide variety of plants. Thank you for stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying new foods. Thank you for buying food from a farm that farms in a way that protects our water, air and soil quality. Thank you for wanting to deepen your connection to where your food is coming from. Have a winter rich in family time, warmth, rest and rejuvenation!

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

Brussels Sprouts-  1 stalk per member.  These are the cool and funky sprouts on the stalks.  We left the work of snapping them off of the stalk to you!  You'll have to snap them off the stalk and store your sprouts in a plastic bag in the fridge.  The sprouts might require a little cleaning as well before you dine on them.  You could peel off an outer layer if you think it needs it and trim the butt of the sprout if you think it needs it again.  Some people cook their sprouts whole, cut in half or even with an X cut into the bottom of the sprout so they cook in the center more evenly.  It's up to you!  

Pie Pumpkin-  These little pumpkins are perfect for cooking up, scooping the squash out of the shells and using the squash to make pumpkin pie, pumpkin bars, pumpkin pudding or soup or whatever your heart desires.  These cute little pumpkins will keep splendidly on your counter looking cute and perfect for quite a while longer.  No need to refrigerate, just let it live on your counter until you're ready to cook it up!  

Broccoli, Cauliflower and/or Romanesco-  2 pieces per member.  You may have received any combination of two of these items.   

Watermelon Radishes-  Also known as Beauty Heart Radishes.  Cut the greens off of your radishes and the radishes will keep for months in your fridge in a plastic bag.  Radish greens are edible as well if you like to incorporate them into your cooking to add greens to your life while local greens are still here!  

Leek-  We dug one nice leek per member this week.  These are the long, white onion looking thing in your box with the green tops.  Leeks are a hardy, cold tolerant onion-like veg that brings it's own unique flavor to fall dishes.  We sometimes like slice them up and sautee them in coconut oil until they're crispy and garnish a fall squash soup with them.  Have fun with your leek and find a way to feature it's unique flavor!  

Sweet Potatoes-  2.5 lbs  A nice bag of sweet potatoes for everyone this week.  Did you know that sweet potatoes need to be "cured" after harvest?  We dig them two weeks before we pack them in CSA boxes and put them in a small room that is heated to 80 degrees with 100% humidity for two weeks.  This curing process hardens the skins, turns starches to sugars and help with the storage life of the potatoes and thickens the skin.  Sweet potatoes should not be refrigerated as the cold fridge will cause them to go bad.  

Green Cabbage-  Nice sized cabbages this week for you just in case you still wanted to make sauerkraut.  If sauerkraut isn't your thing, cabbage is so versatile, you could add it to almost anything!  

Sweet Dumpling Squash-  These are the squashes that look a little like delicata but are shaped like an acorn.  Sweet Dumplings are also called carnival squash and can be used as a substitute for acorn, butternut or almost any recipe that calls for squash.  They make nice soup bowls as well if pre-baked and stuffed with your favorite soup/stew recipe.  

Parsnips-  1lb  One of my favorite fall roots!  These are so fresh!  Parsnips are wonderful diced and added to soups, cut up with other roots to make a roasted root dish, or even coated in oil to make parsnip fries!  We have even deep fried them on the stove top and the sweetness in the root caramelizes and they're really a fun food to try!  They're even good in cake!  Instead of carrot cake, make Parsnip Cake!  

Peppers-  8  Many of the peppers were green this week.  We had to pick these peppers last week before the first frost which came last Friday night.  These will not ripen off of the vine, so you'll have to find recipes that call for green peppers.  They can be great if you make pizza, fajitas, fritattas or even a green pepper relish.  However you can get them in your bellies with the most amount of pleasure!  

Lettuce-  2 heads per member this week.  The lettuce heads were small again this week, but we considered them a bonus item since we could barely fit them in the box with all of the large items we had to fit into the box this week.  Having lettuce this late in the season is surely a treat!  We thought it was better to share small heads than no heads at all.  You may have received romaine, red leaf lettuce, red oakleaf, or even some green oakleaf lettuce was mixed in. It was the luck of the draw this week.  

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Recipes

Southwest Stuffed Acorn (or Sweet Dumpling) Squash

Sweet and Sour Cabbage with Bacon

Egg Roll in a Bowl (Cabbage Rolls without the Wrap)

Herb Roasted Parsnip

 

October Nineth

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The warm sun this week offered a reprieve from all of the rain and cold we have been having. Your farmers were beginning to worry. With the shorter days and cooler temperatures this time of year our chances for the soil actually drying out become thinner and thinner. Still so much root digging and field clean up work to do before the season is over.

The last leg of the season feels exciting. We have a list of everything that still needs to get done and we are slowly crossing items off of the list with each passing week. We are done digging our potatoes and sweet potatoes now. We will continue to work on digging our parsnips, carrots for storage, and other fun Fall treats like celeriac root, rutabaga, Brussels sprouts and leeks.

Still no first frost on the farm, but it looks like Jack Frost just may visit our farm for the first time this weekend with lows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night at 34 degrees, although it is supposed to be overcast those nights which may protect us from frost on the ridge. The only plants that we’re in danger of loosing are the peppers. We have had a really nice pepper season this summer offering generous quantities of beautiful peppers in the last several CSA boxes of the season. We may pick the plants clean before this weekend so that we can still give green peppers on the final Summer Share CSA delivery next week.

The farm workers are beginning to wear their layers to work. The back seat of the farm truck is mostly just piles of rain gear, hats, sweaters, gloves and coats of various kinds. As long as we have the right clothing and gear on, field work is pleasant and the feeling of sun shining on our faces is lovely.

One of the best parts about farm work is that most of the time we don’t have to work in buildings. We are very closely connected to the seasons and weather patterns. The feeling of doing honest work out under the wide open sky feels fulfilling in so many different ways. We love the athleticism of farming, and the health benefits of all the sunshine and from eating all of the nutritious food that comes off of these fields.

We’ll have to soak up the sun this week as it gives us a few more days to get the bins of woolies, long underwear and protective clothing brought up from the basement. I do love the feeling of coming in from working outside all day to a warm house that smells like soup. I love that Adam is forced indoors in the evenings and I know he’s coming in after work since it turns dark shortly after the work day ends. I dream of making apple pie and pumpkin cream cheese rolls.

Soon we will be tilling beds for garlic planting. Garlic planting is one of the last big projects we will need to complete for the season is over. We usually get it done the week after CSA Summer Share deliveries end when we have a week off before the Fall Share deliveries begin. Have you signed up for a Fall Share yet? There is still time and we have so many wonderful Fall Storage veggies to share with you. We’re planning to pack those Storage Boxes full of warming, delicious and hearty seasonal treats!

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

Brussles Sprouts-  These are the cool and funky sprouts on the stalks.  We left the work of snapping them off of the stalk to you!  You'll have to snap them off the stalk and store your sprouts in a plastic bag in the fridge.  The sprouts might require a little cleaning as well before you dine on them.  You could peel off an outer layer if you think it needs it and trim the butt of the sprout if you think it needs it again.  Some people cook their sprouts whole, cut in half or even with an X cut into the bottom of the sprout so they cook in the center more evenly.  It's up to you!  

Acorn Squash-  These are the famous acorn winter squash variety that we all know and love.  Acorns are lovely made into soup bowls as well!  They do not need to be refrigerated, just leave it on your counter until you're ready to use it!  Winter squash is wonderful just baked as well.  Cut it in half, remove the seeds and bake in a 9x13 with a little water at the bottom for about an hour.  Then scoup the softened flesh out and enjoy with butter or however you like it!  

Rutabaga-  Such a fun seasonal treat!  Rutabaga is a lot like a giant potato.  We love to peel them, boil and mash them with butter and serve like mashed potatoes.  They have a creamy, milld inside.  They're also great just cubed and added to a soup.  They're a low-carb sub for potatoes!  

Leek-  These are the long, white onion looking thing in your box with the green tops.  Leeks are a hardy, cold tolerant onion-like veg that brings it's own unique flavor to fall dishes.

Peppers-  5 peppers per member.  We picked any peppers with a 'blush' this week.  They ripen from green to color.  Since the forecast looks like it could frost this weekend, we 'went for it' by picking the plants agressively.  Green peppers are great in relish, on pizza or even in fritattas!  Have fun with these!

Jalapeno Pepper-  One Jalapeno per member.  Some of them did ripen to red this week.  

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper-  Possibly the final hot pepper giving of the year.  These are great for warming up your body when eating a stir fry or soup as the weather cools.  

Broccoli, Califlower, Romanesco x2-  You may have one caulflower and one broccoli or two broccoli or one romanesco and one cauliflower or two cauliflower.  Who is a math whiz?  How many combinations are possible with this?  

Roma Tomatoes-  2.3 lbs  Yes, can you believe this offering?  It's sort of unreal out seasonally strange, I know!  These romas were growing in a greenhouse we had them.  Many of the tomatoes from this patch were rotting for some reason so we sort of ignored the patch earlier in the season, but we noticed that there were really a lot of big and beautiful tomatoes in there so we picked what was good out of the patch in the greenhouse and shared them with you!  What a fun surprise!  

Parsnips- 1lb  One of my favorite fall roots!  These are so fresh!  Parsnips are wonderful diced and added to soups, cut up with other roots to make a roasted root dish, or even coated in oil to make parsnip fries!  We have even deep fried them on the stove top and the sweetness in the root caramelizes and they're really a fun food to try!  They're even good in cake!  Instead of carrot cake, make Parsnip Cake!  

Sweet Potatoes-  2.5lbs  Did you know that sweet potatoes need to be "cured" after harvest?  We dig them two weeks before we pack them in CSA boxes and put them in a small room that is heated to 80 degrees with 100% humidity for two weeks.  This curing process hardens the skins, turns starches to sugars and help with the storage life of the potatoes and thickens the skin.  Enjoy!  

Lettuce-  One head of lettuce per member this week.  You could have received a head of green oakleaf, a red buttercup, a romaine or a red leaf lettuce.  This is a welcome treat in the Fall when local greens become scarce!  

Celeriac Root-  These are the gnarly looking roots in your box with the greens still attached.  Celeriac root is a specially cultivated variety of celery.  It is in the same family as celery and is cultivated so that the roots of the celery plant grow large and not the stalks.  The stalks and greens are still edible in soups or stocks or however you like to use them.  Celeriac root is best peeled.  It is white and dense on the inside like a potato but it has a celery flavor to it.  You can also peel, boil and mash them with potatoes and get a celeriac mashed pototo.  We like to peel and cube them into smaller cubes and add them to soups or stews.  Celeriac root will keep for months if you cut the greens off and store them in a plastic bag in the fridge.  This is an old root cellaring vegetable from way back!  

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Recipes

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Potato Leek Soup witih Celeriac

Pureed Root Vegetable Soup with Parsnips, Celeriac, Rutabaga and Orange, Ginger and Tarragon

Parsnip Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

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