July Sixth

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  One of the foundational concepts of CSA farming is how farmers and community members share the risks and the bounty of farming with the community.  We share the bounty when the harvest is plentiful and the crops are abundant.  We also share the hardships when there is drought or flood or ‘just a bad year’ for certain crops.  Because we farm hand in hand with Mother Nature herself we are somewhat at the mercy of the cards we are dealt.  How lucky we are to share the risks and blessings of this livelihood with you all! 

This summer one of the hardships that we have all had to endure together are the strawberries.  It breaks my heart to have a poor strawberry season because we all love strawberries SO MUCH!  I want to assure you that your farmers have been doing everything in our power to ensure the success of the strawberry patches this year, but to no avail.  The blossoms were few and small.  The berries were small and bi-colored and the season was very, very short.  The bi-colored berries has a lot to do with the variety we chose which is always an experiment we have going on at our farm.  We are always trying new varieties to see what performs best on our farm. 

Our first year we grew strawberries we harvested 2000 quarts growing Darselect. It was a very encouraging experience.  We were overwhelmed, but decided it was worth the crazy harvest season.  The second year we grew Darselect we had a bad disease problem and all the berries were small.  We then planted a new variety called Honeyoe which produced a lot of very small berries.  We tried again the third year planting more Darselect which did not perform like the first year we grew them.  The fourth year we planted Cavendish which produced nice berries but they were white on one side.  Last year we planted Earliglow which produced very poorly.  The poor production could simply be the season.  We are hearing from other farms across Wisconsin that they are also having very poor Strawberry harvests this year.  This is probably our worst berry year ever and we are harvesting off of two strawberry patches. 

One take away is that fruit is difficult to grow.  Fruits are dependent on blossoms and blossoms are susceptible to frost, pollination, and fertility issues.  I would struggle to believe we had a fertility issue when we are so heavy on inputs and fertility management.  For strawberries will resort to the old farmer adage, “it was just a bad year” for whatever the reason. 

Next year we are excited to try a new variety of strawberries called Galletta.  Which is said to “produce large, bountiful, picture-perfect strawberries that are disease resistant, cold-hardy- and ripen in June“.  (I love the catalog descriptions that are SO alluring to a farmer in December dreaming of their upcoming season and hungry for fresh fruit!). 

We may not miss so terribly a poor year for celeriac root or zucchini, but a poor year for Strawberries is a little extra sad.  We want you to know that we're all feeling it together!  Thank you so much for sharing in the risks and the blessings through the fate of a the highly unpredictable growing season!  Fortunately, it's looking like it's shaping up to be an excellent broccoli and zucchini season, so we should be in good shape for green foods this year!  Cheers friends!

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(So Peas-ful picking peas in the morning!)

What's in the Box?

Green Cabbage-  This variety is called Quickstart.  It earns it's name well.  Quickstart early cabbages are a lighter, airier, fluffier head of cabbage.  They aren't as dense as the storage varieties, but they get us through just!  You can make egg rolls, coleslaw, cabbage rolls or sauerkraut.  Store in the fridge.

Kohlrabi-  We gave everyone a white kohlrabi or a purple kohlrabi this week.  All kohlrabi are delicious, no matter their skin color.  Just peel them and enjoy their crunchy, juicy insides.  Always rememer you can use your kohlrabi greens like you would use kale if you want more GREEN in your life!  Store in the fridge.

Zucchini and Summer Squash-  4 or 5 per member.   These two squashes can mostly be used interchangeably.  The color is the big difference between the two.  They do have subtle texture and obvious shape differences, but flavor is almost exactly the same.  Squash prefer storage temps around 50 degrees.  The fridge is almost too cool and the counter is too warm, so you might just have to pick your preferred storage location and go with that.  Squashes are SO versatile!  You can spiralize them into noodles, you can grill them, you can bake them, you can steam them, sautee them.  There are probably hundreds of different ways to prepare them and nature offers them in abundance this time of year, so have fun!  

Garlic Scapes-  These adorable scapes are actually the garlic plant's attempt at making a seed head.  The garlic plant sends up a little nodule that would grow and swell into a bulbous roud head with small garlic 'seeds' inside.  But we snap them off early to tell the garlic plant to put more of it's energy into making a larger garlic bulb below ground and not to bother putting energy into making a seed head.  It just so happens that they are delicious to eat!  We chop up the scape from the base of each stalk up to the tiny little nodule.  Everythig above the nodule is just a little tougher and chewier to eat, so not as ideal for cooking.  Use garlic scapes in your cooking like you would garlic in almost any dish! 

Broccoli-  This is about the last of the second succession of broccoli. We thought they did pretty well considering all of the stresses of the spring weather changes.  The next plantings are looking great and were hoping for a good supply of broccoli this year!  Store in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Cauliflower-  Yay!  The first cauliflower of the season.  It’s very simple and healthy to steam cauliflower and toss with a little butter for dinner!  Store in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Peas-   .8 lbs per member. A hearty giving of sugar snap peas this week! Picking peas takes up lots of time! But we feel that they’re worth every minute of it. Everyone loves to snack on peas. The entire pod is edible. They’re a wonderful addition to salads of all kinds!  Store in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Red Curly Kale-  Red kale bunches to keep you stocked in cooking greens.   Store in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Bunching Onions-  Bunching onions are a wonderful replacement for onions until we have them in a few weeks. Green onions, scallion or bunching onions, whatever you like to call them can be eaten from root to tip. Use up the white part and the green part! They make a nice addition to egg salads, potato salads or any kind of summer salad!  Store in the fridge.

Strawberry-  ½ pint for everyone.  Eat them up quick.  This is the last of our strawberry patches for the year.  Fingers crossed for next year!

Romaine Lettuce-  The lettuce this week is so tender and crunchy! We’re so happy to have such tender lettuce this far into summer! We’re also happy to be keeping the deer away from our lettuce patch finally this year as well!  Store in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Red Lettuce-  Sneak a small salad into every meal and stay feeling alive and hydrated!  Store in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Next Week’s best guess- Summer squash and zucchini, kohlrabi, fennel, collards, bunching onion, garlic scapes, broccoli/romanesco/cauliflower, green cabbage, lettuce.

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(Sweet Corn is just Knee High by the Forth of July!)

Recipes

Broccoli Cranberry Salad with Walnuts and Bacon

Kale Chips

Zucchini and Summer Squash Risotto