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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!

July First

I find it fascinating to watch plants and their life cycles. With their sensitivity to daylength, light, temperatures, fertility and moisture, it is so interesting to watch plant behavior. Plants seem to have a knowing of when the days are getting shorter and when it’s time to get busy bulbing or flowering. They know when how to look for water and nutrients when they’re in short supply. They know when to open their leaves and soak up the sun and when to go to sleep and drop their leaves.

With no teachers or parents to guide them or show them, plants simply do. They seem to pass their wisdom through their own seeds onto the next generation of plants. With a little help from a farmer and the bees they thrive or survive and use incredibly crafty methods for spreading their seeds and roots. I think it would be increasingly more interesting to be a perennial tree or plant farmer who gets to watch their plants grow and change over generations. Many of the annual cultivated vegetable varieties we grow on our farm are hybrids where people hand selected the two parent plants for propagation. Some of the varieites we grow are heirloom varieties that simply perform well under many different kinds of growing conditions and rely on the wind and the bees to help them share their legacy.

Right now on the farm the garlic and the onions are beginning to make their round bulbs and they’re doing this with signals from the length of daylight hours. No matter what time of year we had gotten our onions in (early or late), they would begin making their bulbs now. The earlier we get onions in the ground the more time they have to establish a strong root system and send out as many solar panels as they can make (leaves) with the time that they have. After the solstice, no matter how big or small the plants are, they’re engrained to begin bulbing and all future energy use goes there.

Plants and animals alike are all affected by the circadian rhythms-the engrained clock inside of us that regulates our sleep-wake cycle around the 24 hour clock. I recently learned more about Photoperiodism which is the physiological reaction to a plant or animals to the length of night. They are classified under three groups according to the photoperiods: short-day plants, long-day plants, and day-neutral plants. Onions would be a long day plant that is highly sensitive to the photoperiod. Long day plants know to flower when the length of day falls below their critical period. Short day plants will only flower or be forced into maturity when night length has increased like in late summer. They are otherwise unaffected by when they are planted (early spring or early summer). Day neutral plants like cucumbers and tomatoes only initiate flowering after a certain developmental stage, and not from the length of day (or more importantly the length of night).  

Plants and animals alike are affected by so many external and internal rhythms. There are daily rhythms, seasonal rhythms, lunar rhythms and annual rhythms. Thank goodness for these rhythms and that something bigger than me is helping to steer the ship. While I sometimes wish we had a little more control, the submission of it is what makes farming so endlessly interesting, for better or worse! I’m just excited for onions. Is there a term for that rhythm?

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

Strawberries-  More berries!  We were able to have at least a quart for everyone this week.  These berries were not picked wet, so hopefully they should keep a bit longer.  We know they won't last long reguardless in anyone's home because fresh, local, seasonal strawberries are irrsistable!

Broccoli-  The broccoli has finally started!  Broccoli loves to be kept cold and won't keep long in this heat if left out on the countertop for too long.  Keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  Remember that your broccoli leaves are edible!  The leaves have more nutrition and vitamin C than the actual flower!

Zucchini-  We will never love zucchini more than we love it now as it is a new and fresh item in the boxes.  The zucchini harvest should stay strong for several weeks now, so break out all of your favorite zucchini recipes and get ready!  Zucchini and summer squash keep best at 50 degrees.  The fridge is a little too cold for them to keep well and the countertop is usually a little too warm, so it's up to you where you want to keep them!  They're great added to stir fries, kebobs, spiralized into noodles or even zucchini brownies if you feel like baking!  

Kohlrabi-  More kohlrabi!  You may have received either a green or a purple kohlrabi.  The purple and green kohlrabi have the same flavor and texture on the insides.  You do need to peel kohlrabi anyways, so it really does't matter which color you received.  Kohlrabi are alse called ground apples.  Their textrue is very similar to that of an apple, but they have the flavor of a broccoli stalk resembling a little of cabbage or even turnips or radishes wihtout the spice.  The greens on kohlrabi can also be eaten like kale, don't toss those out!  

Sugar Snap Peas-  While we tried very hard to grow snap peas this spring, we had a team of chipmunks working against us at seeding time.  They were eating the seeds right out of the ground.  We did re-seed a couple times, but the chipunks set us back a bit.  Who knew chipmunks could do so much damage?  Peas are very time-consuming harvest as well, so do know that a lot of love and time went into picking these little guys.  Another favorite snack that everyone loves!  

Collards-  A classic southern cooking green.  Collards can be used in cooking much like kale.  Remove the stems, boil in broth, strain and serve with bacon.  You'll fall in love with Collards if you havn't already discovered their lovliness!  Collard leaves are also great to be used as wraps to make cabbage-rolls.  Steam the leaves until their pliable and roll up your favorite fillings.  

Green Onions-  Because life is so much better with onions and we're still waiting for onion bulbs to size up! 

Garlic Scapes-  These are actually the garlic plant's efforts at making a seed nodule.  The plant sends out these scapes in mid June and it is the garlic farmer's responsibility to snap these off so that the garlic plants invest more of thier energy into making larger bulbs under the ground rather than sending its energy up to make a big seed head.  Lucky for us all, these scapes are delicious to eat and a satisfactory supplement to garlic while we wait for garlic harvest in about a month.  They're a very rare seasonal treat.  While you can eat the entire scape, the part of the scape that is most commonly eaten is from the blunt end where it was snapped off of the plant all the way up to the little nodule.  Above the nodule the texture changes a little and it's a bit more chewy.  Garlic scapes will keep for a while, but we recommend using them up in your cooking anywhere that you woudl normally use garlic.  They have a much more mild flavor without all of the heat and intensity of actual garlic.  Enjoy!

Lettuce-  2 heads per member this week.  You may have received 1 red leaf lettuce and one romaine lettuce or two red leaf lettuce heads.  The lettuce this Spring really has been wonderful.  We had a little issue with the bottom leaves on the heads rotting out (maybe from rain, maybe the field they were in), so we had to peel them back more than we would have liked, but still really nice heads to share!  

Dill-  Hefty bunches of dill!  Dill is lovely in egg salad, with salmon, home made dill salad dressings, veggie dips, soups and so much more!  If you can't use all of this dill this week, you can un-bunch your dill and lay it out on a dehydrator tray and dry the dill.  It coudl also be dried on a sheet pan in your oven if you don't have a dehydrator.  One dried, store in a mason jar with a tight lid!  

Next Week's Best Guess:  Lettuce, kohlrabi, snap peas, strawberries?, green onions, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, garlic scapes, kale, dill

Recipes:

Southern Style Collard Greens

Fried Egg, Potato and Collard Green Hash

Vegan Collard Greens with Chickpeas, Lemon and Tomato 

Lemon Dill Salad Dressing

Zucchini Pizza Crust

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June Twenty-Fourth

As a child I remember feeling excited by a thunderstorm. I loved the rush and thrill that I felt from lightening and thunder and heavy rain. I loved lying safe and snug in my bed falling asleep to the sound of rain and wind. I know that some children are freightened by thunderstorms, but I guess I was one of those odd children that reveled in the feeling of the powerful force of nature. I think there was a longing for a connection to nature that was amiss in my city-girl up bringing. I also think I had no real risk present to me in my safe home in the city that I was aware of.

Now I view thunderstorms through the lense of a homeowner and a farmer. I now know that high winds and heavy rain cause power outages, fallen trees, damage to property and clean up. The farmer in me worries more than I have ever worried before. I am no longer comforted and soothed by the sound of heavy rain, but I lie awake worried about the damage I will assess the next morning. I worry the pounding rain will shred our greens we are ready to harvest.   I worry the high winds will snap off pepper and squash plants that are newly uncovered. I worry about soil loss and muddy fields. I worry we will be working in slippery and muddy conditions with soil-covered plants. I worry the wash times on harvest days will be longer than usual as we try to wash away the splattered soil on our harvest. I worry about the tender and young plants that are being pounded on and whipped around in the storm.

Our farm has survived three flood years and one major drought season. I know we’ll get through it and at the end of the day we will have beautiful boxes of produce to present to you on delivery day. But I do worry, the way a mother worries for her children, as they are hardened off to the harsh and cruel realities of the big, bad world out there. Worrying is a specialty of farmer Adam’s. He worries ten times the amount that I do to the point that I worry for his health. I guess we’re just a bunch of Worry Warts out here.

Mother Nature is a powerful force. She demands respect and earns awe at her spectacular shows. But even as we are humbled by her force, she does not show mercy, even to those of us who honor her tremendous power. As organic farmers we do what we can to create resilience to the storms. We cover crop between our rows of peppers and tomatoes to hold the soil and limit erosion. We contour our fields to that water flows along the ridgelines, again limiting erosion. We add organic matter to our soils so they can absorb rainwater and feed the roots of our plants in a healthy soil medium. We use remay to protect young transplants from insect pressure, wind and heavy rain. We certainly have plenty of hedgerows for beneficial insects to overwinter and thrive on our organic farm.

Being organic is good, but we’ll never be immune to the immense power of nature and her storms. All we can do is use our experiences to learn how to better plan for them, as we do with our children. I feel thankful to be farming on a ridgetop instead of a valley. I feel thankful for rain, even when it’s a bit more than needed. I also feel thankful to be a CSA farmer that can share the risks and blessings of a growing season with our informed and compassionate CSA members.

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

Green Curly Kale-  Gorgeous bunches of curly green kale.  The bunches were mostly large with perfect looking leaves.  This kale is great for kale chips, added to soups, casseroles or any other of your favorite ways to use kale!  

Cilantro-  Nice bunches of cilantro for all.  Cilantro doesn't necessarily love to have wet leaves and we did have to wash the bunches this week because of the heavy rain splattering soil on the leaves.  Your cilantro my not keep as long as you might hope.  We encourage you to use it up quickly for maximum freshness!  Taco salads!  

Hakurai Salad Turnips-  This is likely the last week of turnips.  We were seeing more damage on the roots this week.  We allowed for some of this damage in the bunches because there was so much of it on amost all of the roots.  We're hoping you can just spot-peel the roots to look presentable for your salads, dips or stir fries.  Remember that turnip greens are perfectly edible and are even wonderful added to your stir fries.  Salad turnips are such a fun Spring treat!  Enjoy their unique flavor and texture this week while they last!

Kohlrabi x 2-  You may have received two green kohlrabi, a purple and a green or two purple kohlrabi. We tried to give everyone one of each color.  The purple and green kohlrabi have the same flavor and texture on the insides.  You do need to peel kohlrabi anyways, so it really does't matter which colors you received.  Kohlrabi are alse called ground apples.  Their textrue if very similar to that of an apple, but they have the flavor of a broccoli stalk resembling a little of cabbage or even turnips or radishes wihtout the spice.  The greens on kohlrabi can also be eaten like kale, don't toss those out!  

Romain Lettuce-  Beautiful heads of romain lettuce.  Romaine is also a Spring treat.  We love to make home-made cesar salads with crutons and a cesar dressing.  Romain leaves are also a fun gluten-free wrap alternative.  Fill the leaves with rice, hummus, meat, cheese or whatever you like!  

Red Oakleaf Lettuce-  Some of these heads were very small.  The red oakleaf lettuce is very tender and soft.  It has all the tenderness of a lovely spring lettuce, lacking some of the crunch.  It is very smooth and colorful and nutritious and a fun variety to try out for the foodie in us all!  

Green Buttercup Lettuce-  Some of these heads were also very small.  They ranged in size quite a bit.  Lucky for us all, the heart of a buttercup lettuce is the best part.  Enjoy the tenderness of buttercup lettuce and you'll understand why it's called 'butter"cup lettuce.  

Garlic Scapes-  These are actually the garlic plant's efforts at making a seed nodule.  The plant sends out these scapes in mid June and it is the garlic farmer's responsibility to snap these off so that the garlic plants invest more of thier energy into making larger bulbs under the ground rather than sending its energy up to make a big seed head.  Lucky for us all, these scapes are delicious to eat and a satisfactory supplement to garlic while we wait for garlic harvest in about a month.  They're a very rare seasonal treat.  While you can eat the entire scape, the part of the scape that is most commonly eaten is from the blunt end where it was snapped off of the plant all the way up to the little nodule.  Above the nodule the texture changes a little and it's a bit more chewy.  Garlic scapes will keep for a while, but we recommend using them up in your cooking anywhere that you woudl normally use garlic.  They have a much more mild flavor without all of the heat and intensity of actual garlic.  Enjoy!

Strawberries-  Strawberries are just beginning on the farm.  Unfortunately, we had to pick many of the strawberries this week in wet conditions.  The number one rule of harvesting berries is NOT to pick them wet.  We had to pick them wet in order to get them to you this week.  We danced around the rain storms all week and weekend trying not to pick wet berries, but it was unavoidable.  These berries will have little to no shelflife.  We recommend eating them up as soon as possible!  We know this won't be hard for you to accomplish!  We're also experiencing a lower than average production on strawberries this year on the farm due to deer pressure.  The deer were really hitting our fresh patch of strawberries hard this spring.  They really like to just eat the leaves of the plants in the early spring when there isn't much else to eat.  We're hoping to have next years strawberries inside deer fencing.  

Bunching Onions-  Lovely, lovely bunching onions.  Smaller bunches of green onions this week.  You can eat everything here.  You don't have to toss out the greens.  Begin cutting them up just above the roots and even use the green parts in your cooking.  Green onions are good raw in salads of all kinds.  They can also be cooked and added to stir fries, soups or however you like!  

Next Week's Best Guess-  Broccoli, snap peas, Lettuce, collard greens, zucchini, kohlrabi, bunching onions, scapes, dill, strawberries, maybe fennel

Recipes

Nacho Kale Chips

Strawberry and Cream Cheese Pie (no bake)

Kohlrabi Oven Fries

Oriental Salad Dressing (for all of your salads you're going to eat this week!)

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June Seventeenth, 2020

Farming in the time of Covid-19

The life of these organic vegetable farmers has changed very little in this time of COVID-19. We are home-bodies by nature and necessity this time of year. The only things that take us away from the farm are produce deliveries, trips to the hardware store or Cashton Farm Supply for feed or minerals. We go out occasionally for groceries, but mostly we reside on our ridge-top oasis in our little bubble. If not for the screens in our lives, we would know very little about the happenings of the world. The more I turn on the screens and radios in our life, the less I want to turn on the screens and radios in our life.

I feel thankful for our work that keeps us busy. The farm work is pressing and highly time-sensitive and a good distraction to say the least. I feel thankful for our kids who we can pull close and smother with kisses and breathe on and cuddle close to. They satisfy our human need for closeness, togetherness and comfort that is so lacking in the outside world today. Their worry-free attitude is refreshing and uplifting and I do what I can to preserve their sense of security and surety in the world.

But our lives have changed. There is a calmness that has settled in that I feel strangely thankful for. The Stay at Home recommendations give my hermit-like nature the excuse to fully revel in my hermit-ness, for better or worse. I do love to be at home. It does feel a little awkward though because we’re all a little worried, a little scared and little confused. My response has been to keep my mask on, my head down and my hands moving.  We are slowly processing and adapting to the changes that are possibly permanent in our outside world

But nothing makes you feel more hopeful, more optimistic or more cheerful than the sight of a vine ripened strawberry. Perhaps the taste of a vine ripened strawberry, maybe. I watch the peas climb up their trellising and the buttercup lettuce unfurl their rosettes. I watch the fireflies flicker in the summer evenings and the birds making their nests. I see new life growing and budding and fruiting everywhere and it’s hard to feel anything but thankful and hopeful.

There is so much healing and beauty in the world if we position ourselves in a place to where we can see it. So I don’t sound too naive or lofty, on the farm there is deer pressure, splitting kohlrabis, rotting heads of lettuce and missing tomatoes and melon plants from wind and chipmunks. There is weed pressure, plant diseases and insect pressure. But I don’t want to talk about these things at length and I don’t think you want to hear about them. Because at the end of the day, there are beautiful boxes of vegetables to share with you and it’s all because we get up in the morning and we work as hard we are able and we do everything we can to best of our human abilities with the best attitude we can put on that day. I have to know and trust that this is simply good enough.

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

Cherry Bell Radish-  Nice big bunches of Radishes to share with you again this week!  Thanks to the cooler weather, the radishes were holding nicely in the fields.  The Ruby of the box this week;)

Hakurai Salad Turnips-  These are the white globe shaped roots.  The smoothest textured turnip you'll find that is wonderful eaten raw like a radish.  They are lovely shaved thinly, sliced or grated onto salads.  They have a sweetness to them that makes them great for snacking.  The Pearls of the box this week;)

Green Oakleaf Lettuce-  The lettuce was cut, washed and bagged this week.  We don't usually cut and bag lettuce like this, but we had some issues with some of the heads starting to rot from the underside of the heads.  We still aren't sure what caused this, possibly the variety or possibly an issue with soil in that field.  It's was a high enough percentage of them that we decided to harvest like this this week.  I do think you should still plan on washing your lettuce agian, even after we had washed the lettuce, we noticed at bagging there was still a little dirt in the crevaces of some of the leaves.  These very tender oakleaf varieties are a Spring gem.  The Emerald of the box this week;)

Purple Kohlrabi-  If you're not familiar with this vegetable, it is in the brassica (or cole) family-the same as cabbage, broccoli, radish, turnips and so many others!  Kohlrabi are also called the "ground apple".  They're cruchy with a texture similar to an apple, but with the smooth, mild flavor of cabbage or even radish.  You'll need to peel off the tough outer layer of the kohlrabi to enjoy the crunchy inside.  The leaves of the kohlrabi can be eaten like kale, so don't throw them out!  Kohlrabi can be eaten raw or fried or baked or spiralized or really ANYTHING you can dream up.  They are very versatile!

Red Curly Kale-  Gorgeous bunches of red curly kale this week.  The kale is looking so nice

Rainbow Swiss Chard-  Swiss Chard never looks as good as it does in the Spring/Early Summer like this!  I love how the leaves look so smooth and healthy and vibrant!  Swiss Chard is in the same family as beets and spinach.  Chard has some of the earthy flavor that beets have and all of the smoothness that spinach offers.  The stalks of the chard are edible too, don't waste those!  

Cilantro-  We had a nice cilantro harvest this week.  Check out the Cilatnro Lime Salad Dressing Recipe Below!  It could make a nice dippig sauce for Spring Rolls or just dressing a salad!  

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 Recipes:

Cilantro Lime Salad Dressing

Spicy Kohlrabi Salad

Swiss Chard Fritatta

Kale, Red Beans, Cilantro and Feta Cheese

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June Tenth

Ode to the Mess                   

Making home-cooked meals is messy. Cooking is a labor of love born out of necessity to feed the humans we love in our lives nutritious, fresh, home-cooked meals. The meals must be put on the table in a timely fashion to avoid the hangry melt downs that happen in house-holds with growing, small people or hard-working adults that need their fuel and rest after a long day. I’m not a neat and orderly cook, much to my mother’s dismay. While I wish the time I spend cooking could be quiet, artistic, meditative and orderly, it is none of the above.

You can probably imagine how messy my kitchen gets. We have three small children underfoot (1 who is potty training) running in and out the doors of the house all day long. The dog, the cats, and the Adam bring in their dirt and dander and elevate the farm-house whirl-wind to a whole new level. Even as I’m cooking dinner, I’m running outside to pull up some radishes or arugula or some volunteer garlic scapes around the farm bringing in not only fresh vegetables, but the dirt still dangling from their roots. My sink fills with compostable food scraps quickly and the kitchen goes from clean to chaos in minutes. If my mother walks in, I know I’m going to get my 1,000th lesson on how we should all rinse our dishes, keep the counters clean and make sure the milk and mayo don’t get left out. She especially loves it when we have un-washed, freshly-gathered eggs in the kitchen on the counter top.

This newsletter is not to cause you alarm or invoke disgust in my admittedly dis-organized cooking habits, but rather a humble confession and possibly a plea for sympathy. My hope is that next time you’re cooking and you look at your own countertop and there are radish greens, asparagus ends, arugula roots and maybe even some…..dare I say it, dirt on your countertop, you feel less overwhelmed and besieged by the process. My hope is that you submit to the practice and indulge in the experience. I wish for you to trust that you will have a clean stove and countertop again, even if it isn’t until late in the evening.

I write this newsletter because I know that one thing that keeps many people from learning to cook or simply cooking at all, is the time it takes and mess it makes. It does take time and a good amount of it, especially when you’re chopping up all of these veggies and washing your lettuce leaves one at a time. I feel it is one of the most beautiful, meaningful and essential (buzz word of the year) uses of time. Perhaps I am not seeking sympathy but offering empathy to you.

Let the dirt on your countertop be a reminder that your food came from the earth and your intimate connection to whence it came. Let the piles of compost (or food scraps) make you feel rich from the bountiful harvest. Let the messy kitchen be a reminder to you of what a healthy, wonderful, mindful person you are who implements the time in your life for the very unpretentious act of cooking. May these words feel more like a rub on your back than a furrow of the brow. I, for one, am so proud of you! Cook on!

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

Asparagus-  This is the one item all season long that we acutually buy for the CSA boxes.  Asparagus is such a nice spring treat that we feel you must have it!  Aspargus likes to be kept cold and fresh.  You can stand it up in a shallow glass of water in the fridge and it will keep better this way.  In order to make use of every last bit of your asparagus (including the ends), you and trim the butts off and then use a potato peeler to trim around the outer edge of the bottoms of the aspargus to remove and fiberousness that is inherant in the ends of asparagus.  Consume it quickly as aspargus is much better fresh!  

Cherry Bell Radish-  We found these to be just the right balance between crispiness and spiciness.  They have a bit of spice that you woudl expect from a radish, but a of juciness and crunchiness that makes a radish good!  Don't forget that you can use the greens on your radishes!  They can be wilted and added to your eggs, sandwiches, pasta or anything that you're trying to make a touch healthier that you normally eat.  They can also be chopped finely and added to salads and eaten raw!  Stores best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Pac Choi-  I LOVE these guys!  You can eat every bit of these from the white stalks all the way up to the greens.  The entire thing is edible.  My favorite way to eat pac choi, every time it comes into the season is to make this asian style salad that I posted in the video below.  Don't forget the Toasted Sesame Oil, it's a crucial ingredient!  Stores best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Overwintered Shallots-  Can you believe that we actually harvested these last August.  We cured them, cleaned then and kept them in our cooler until now to share with you this week!  Keep them in your fridge to keep them from sprouting.  They're actually a seed, so they will want to sprout if brought to a warm temperature.  Shallots are a special addition to sauces, dressings and marrinades.  They can also be used just like an oinon.  They have a more concentrated onion flavor in a smaller package.  

Red Buttercup Lettuce-  Buttercup lettuce varieties are a real treat and a true Spring gem.  Buttercup varieties don't tolerate the heat of summer and cannot be grown mid summer.  These heads are so tender and juicy!  You can use the leaves like a wrap or just slice them up into a salad.  Keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Hakurai Salad Turnips-  These are the bunches of white roots that look a litlte like radishes, but have a sweet, smooth and crunchy texture on the inside.  These are a very unique seasonal gem on our farm, we have only grown them in the Spring under row cover.  You can eat your turnip greens as well as your roots.  The roots are lovely just sliced, salted and eaten as a snack or cut into halves or quarters and eaten with hummus or a favorite veggie dip.  

Spinach-  .5 lb spinach for all this week!  

Herb Packs-  The herb packs contain a basil, oregano, thyme, and sage plant.  Transplant these into containers of your choic or your garden outside.  Give them plenty of water at transplant and sunshine.  They should be very nice to have nearby this summer for all of your cooking adventures.  

Next Week's Best Guess:  Cherry Bell Radish, Kohlrabi, Hakurai Salad Turnips, Green and/or Oakleaf Lettuce, Green Curly Kale, we'll see what else?!  

Recipes-

Glazed Hakurai Salad Turnips with Greens

Asparagus wrapped in Phyllo Dough Appetizer

Pac Choi Fried Rice

Wilted Spinach Salad with Chopped Radishes and Shallots

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June Third, 2020

The growing season of 2020 will be our 15th growing season running a CSA Farm.  I still feel like a teenager myself to be honest.  Am I really more than 15 years old?  Some....how....the reality is that I have just had my 37th birthday and Adam and I have three small children that will be teenagers themselves the next time I blink my eyes.  These tiny seeds, these tiny people, these tiny fields grow and grow and the years slip on by.  Luckily, like me, the farm ages joyfully.  Experience is the part I love the most about ageing.  I love the confidence that comes with knowing what you're doing and what not to do to avoid hasty and foolish mistakes.  I love that I feel less and less nervous about just about everything, believing that everything really will be okay.  But 15 is still a small number of years, enough to make us feel confident, yet enough to keep us humble and open to all of the lessons yet to learn.

The thing about farming is that no matter how many years of experience you have or how expensive the machinery is that you're using, or how skilled the crew you have, you're still at the mercy of Mother Nature.  We still can't control the temperature of the Spring, stop the early frost in the fall or make it rain even when we need it really, really bad.  Being organic farmers, we can't stop the insect pressure or the diseases or the high winds.  This is the novelty, beauty and glory of farming, but it also the part that keeps one modest and alert. There is no sleeping behind this wheel.

The 2020 growing season is off to a fabulous start. We had a nice long window of time where it was dry and the soil was working up beautifully. We have been getting all of the crops in on time and the fields look impressive right now. The farm has that fresh, youthful look to it that is inherent in Spring. The crops have been getting cultivated on a somewhat timely manner and they have that clean look with newly stirred soil between long rows of young, healthy green plants. Even the buildings have been kept trimmed around thus far. The machines are all freshly oiled and greased. The crew is even fresh and chipper and excited for the harvest to begin.

It feels good though, to still love your work after ‘all these years’. It’s just the right balance of challenge and enrichment. It’s hard work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m not very good at sitting or standing still or even relaxing for that matter. Movement and work is my constant nature. I worried at one point that our family life would suffer because of how much work goes into running this farm, but the balance of work and rest, effort and reward and time spent away from one another vs time spent closely with one another is stabilized throughout the year. So far our kids still think they have a good life. We’ll see how that changes over the years!

I feel excited for fresh, green, local vegetables in a childish way this season. Adam brings the first radish down from the fields and cleans it on the end of his t-shirt for me and my eyes light up at the sight of the perfectly red, round visibly juicy radish. At first I feel a little shy like I have something I’m not sure I’m supposed to have and then I wonder if I should eat it or save it. He tells me to eat it but the two year old toddles up and says “AAAAAhhhhhh!!” and picks it up. Of course I give it to him. He eats slowly like an apple and I get to finish the last bite later when he appears to have had enough.   The look and feel of something so fresh and alive and colorful just out of the earth makes me feel fresh, alive and colorful too.

I sense that eating fresh, local, and seasonal vegetables make you feel fresh, alive and colorful too which is why you signed up for a CSA share. There is a freshness in this produce that is visible as well as taste-able. I especially love the part with the story behind the food. Through these newsletters this summer you’ll get the story too along with the food. I’m so happy to share this experience with you as we ride together through a season full of seasonal bounty!  

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

Asparagus-  This is the one item all season long that we acutually buy for the CSA boxes.  Asparagus is such a nice spring treat that we feel you must have it!  Aspargus likes to be kept cold and fresh.  You can stand it up in a shallow glass of water in the fridge and it will keep better this way.  In order to make use of every last bit of your asparagus (including the ends), you and trim the butts off and then use a potato peeler to trim around the outer edge of the bottoms of the aspargus to remove and fiberousness that is inherant in the ends of asparagus.  Consume it quickly as aspargus is much better fresh!  

Cherry Bell Radish-  We found these to be just the right balance between crispiness and spiciness.  They have a bit of spice that you woudl expect from a radish, but a of juciness and crunchiness that makes a radish good!  Don't forget that you can use the greens on your radishes!  They can be wilted and added to your eggs, sandwiches, pasta or anything that you're trying to make a touch healthier that you normally eat.  They can also be chopped finely and added to salads and eaten raw!  Stores best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Pac Choi-  I LOVE these guys!  You can eat every bit of these from the white stalks all the way up to the greens.  The entire thing is edible.  My favorite way to eat pac choi, every time it comes into the season is to make this asian style salad that I posted in the video below.  Don't forget the Toasted Sesame Oil, it's a crucial ingredient!  Stores best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Overwintered Shallots-  Can you believe that we actually harvested these last August.  We cured them, cleaned then and kept them in our cooler until now to share with you this week!  Keep them in your fridge to keep them from sprouting.  They're actually a seed, so they will want to sprout if brought to a warm temperature.  Shallots are a special addition to sauces, dressings and marrinades.  They can also be used just like an oinon.  They have a more concentrated onion flavor in a smaller package.  

Red Buttercup Lettuce-  Buttercup lettuce varieties are a real treat and a true Spring gem.  Buttercup varieties don't tolerate the heat of summer and cannot be grown mid summer.  These heads are so tender and juicy!  You can use the leaves like a wrap or just slice them up into a salad.  Keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Arugula-  Another Spring treat!  Arugula is higly alkalizing.  It is great raw in salads, wilted on pizza, sandwiches, wraps or eggs!  Get creative and adventurous with this one.  Do a google/pinterest search for arugual recipes and choose your favorite one!  

Spinach-  .5 lb spinach for all this week!  

Herb Packs-  The herb packs contain a basil, oregano, thyme, and sage plant.  Transplant these into containers of your choic or your garden outside.  Give them plenty of water at transplant and sunshine.  They should be very nice to have nearby this summer for all of your cooking adventures.  

Next Week's Best Guess:  Asparagus, Cherry Bell Radish, Pac Choi, overwintered shallots, red buttercup lettuce, arugula or hakurai salad turnips, spinach, herb packs.  

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Recipes:

Grilled Pizza with Fontina and Arugula

Linguini with Arugula, Pine Nuts and Parmesan Cheese

Pac Choi Salad with Sesame Dressing

Asparagus with Shallot, Thyme, Lemon and Parsley