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!

September Thirteenth

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This week on the farm we contemplate the commitment it takes to produce these bountiful and beautiful boxes of food each week and deliver them on time to each dropsite week after week.  The devotion, dedication and commitment run deep.  CSA farming promises a steady supply of vegetables for 20 consecutive weeks from June through October which demands our full attention and focus. 

A CSA farmer must watch their crops carefully, especially in a season like the one we have had this year with exceptional drought conditions. Each crop has its own unique schedule it which it must be planted, cultivated, watered, and harvested.  Vegetable farming is time-sensitive and the crops and the weed do not wait the way yarn can wait to be knitted or a book can wait to be written or a house can wait to be built on a sunnier day.  An impressive amount of planning and then follow through is needed for this level of food production for a 400-member CSA. 

This week on the farm we had a delivery vehicle break down in the Madison area which required immediate action for getting that vehicle in to be looked at and fixed and then transported home. We also had our potato digger break down mid-harvest which required devising and improvising on the spot with a plan B and C in place.  These are just small examples of how a farm like ours needs to not only maintain daily operations and also needs to be able to act quickly, out of close attention and commitment to our work, to keep the operation running smoothly.

Your farmers don’t take much for a vacation in the summer.  We find tiny windows to escape for a few hours here and there to enjoy our children, our friends and our lives at large while also keeping the farm a top priority at all times.  I think of the farm as a child in itself with needs of its own.  It’s our baby that needs nurturing, attention, love and constant care.  They say the best fertilizer on a farm is the farmer’s footprints.  I believe this to be true because so much of our success, especially in a very difficult season as this, is due to very close consideration to our crops.  Folks, we’re committed. 

I also believe that the commitment is mutual.  You have made a commitment as well to the farm. You have shared your hard-earned dollars with us and have entrusted us to provide you with a delicious, flavorful, colorful and aromatic box of beautiful vegetables each week.  You show up at your dropsite as planned and pick up those veggies and dutifully prepare and serve them to your family.  You have made a commitment to buying local and supporting a local, organic vegetable farm and we recognize all that you do as well to uphold your end of the bargain. You are as vital to our success as the work done out on the farm. 

Commitment to anything is hard.  Like in a marriage, we stick to it through thick and thin.  We hang on, we compromise, we find ways to laugh and at times we fight.  But in doing something hard the rewards are rich.  We discover that it’s only as beautiful and magical and bountiful as it is because we have remained committed.  I see value in celebrating and recognizing all that it takes to bring the food to the table.  We’re doin’ it!  Good job, everybody! 

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What’s in the Box?

Tomatoes-  Another 8lb bag of tomatoes!  A reminder to remove your tomatoes from the bag and allow them to air out and sit at room temperature outside of the plastic bag.  A wide variety of tomatoes to share, pink, yellow, red, and ‘black’ heirlooms, red slicers, romas, we grow it all!  Tomatoes love 50 degree storage temps.  We pick any tomato with a ‘blush’ which means any amount of color that it has started to turn, we pick em.  They still qualify as ‘vine ripened’ tomatoes even when we do it this way.  If we picked every tomato when it was 100% ripe, you would instead receive tomato sauce in your boxes, and that gets messy!  We highly recommend not putting tomatoes in the refrigerator as refrigerators tend to suck flavor out of tomatoes.  For maximum flavor and enjoyment, allow them to sit on your counter to ripen and promptly use up once ripe!

Potatoes- 2lbs red potatoes this week. The first potato giving of the season.  We did not wash potatoes because we find that they keep better when not washed.  We also found them to be quite clean as the soil was so powdery at harvest time.  Yields look good this year! 

Napa Cabbage-  Not our very best napa cabbage harvest ever.  The heat this summer took a toll on the crop.  We ended up  needing to harvest many of the heads before they were completely filled out.  We were joking at harvest they’re more like napa lettuce as many of the heads aren’t dense like a cabbage typically is.  All the leaves can be used.  Napa cabbage is an Asian green and Asian vegetables are a favorite of flea bettles and Asian beetles.  They do have holes in them, but this is typical for organic Asian greens-especially when grown in the summer months.

Onion-  A white onion for every box. 

Eggplant- You may have received either an Asian eggplant or a standard eggplant.  Stores best at 50 degrees. 

Sweet Peppers- 4-5 sweet peppers per box.  We grow a very wide variety of peppers ranging from red, orange and yellow bells to the long, sweet carmen types that are pointed at their tip (these are still a sweet pepper and not a hot pepper).  Peppers are a very special fall treat.  Time for roasted peppers or stuffed peppers or however you like to eat them!  They freeze very nicely as well if just cut up and put in zip lock bags. 

Brussels Sprout Tops-  Did not know that Brussels is spelled with an ‘s’ at the end of the word? Yep, I’m not mis-spelling it!  Brussels is also always spelled with a capitol ‘B’ due to the fact that Brussels Sprouts were cultivated in Belgium (Brussels being the capitol city of Belgium), in the early 16th century.  This ancient vegetable may have even been cultivated as far back as ancient Rome times.  We snap the top off of the plant about three weeks before we want to harvest Brussels Sprouts to tell the plant to stop growing upwards and to start putting its energy into bulking out those sprouts.  Lucky for us, those tops of the plants are a tender and tasty green that can be eaten and enjoyed much the way you would cook with kale, collards or even Brussels Sprouts themselves. 

Green Beans-  .65 lbs of beans per member.  This harvest was a little more tender and sweet than previous hearvest.  We noticed while bagging that some beans had a little dirt on them.  Beans do not love to be wet and we don’t have an easy way to wash them, so we recommend giving them a little rinse before eating. 

Cherry Tomatoes-  1.2 lbs of cherry tomatoes per member.  A very generous giving of cherry tomatoes!  We hope you’re enjoying these little flavorful fruits as much as we are! 

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper-  Hot wax peppers ripen orange to red.  They’re technically a hot pepper, but quite mild on the spectrum of hot peppers. 

Recipes-

Garlicy Brussels Sprout Tops

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Peanut Soba Noodle Slaw with Napa Cabbage

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Tomato Galette

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Crispy Fried Eggplant with Cherry Tomato Sauce

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September Sixth

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September on the farm marks a transition.  The kids are going back to school, the crickets are singing their loudest chorus in full unison, the yellowjackets are experts at finding the sweet, ripe fruits, and the apple trees are, by some miracle, offering generous loads of fruit for our fall harvest delight.  I paused for a moment on Monday as I was walking up the hill as a glittering shower of small, golden leaves were flickering and shimmering as they made their ceremonious decent to the ground from the full height of the walnut tree in our yard.  Maybe the light was shining on them just perfectly at that moment, or maybe my legs were tired as I slowly climbed the hill and got lucky to witness the moment of beauty, but either way, it felt new and transitional and undeniably like Fall. 

We picked the majority of our Fall Squash this week.  We worked in teams snipping and clipping and tossing squash up to catchers in the macro-bins.  The bright orange fruits reminded me of the waning sunlight and how all the sunlight I was going to need to make it through another winter is stored up and bound inside these orange, yellow and red foods that will carry us through the voyage as we tilt slowly away from the sun.  The sun gold cherry tomatoes, the vibrant sweet pepper harvest, the bright and colorful carrots, the bins of hard squashes filling up our dry storage, the county fair coming to town next weekend, all promise Fall. 

While most of the winter squashes are safely in storage now, we will begin harvesting our potatoes this week.  We will break out our antique old potato digger that I believe to be one of the most amazing machines (and noisy) on earth, and begin harvesting potatoes.  We were noticing that the potatoes that we always hill when they are cultivated throughout the summer are still nicely hilled in powdery hills of soil that can be easily scooped up or smeared flat with your hand like sand on the beach.  Usually the hills are flattened and hardened throughout the summer from heavy rains hammering and compressing the soil down.  I’m a little surprised that when the wind blows the soil doesn’t just lift of and float away to be honest. 

Tomato harvest takes up a large portion of our time these days.  There are 5 rows that are 750 feet long.  We put black bins inside of wheel barrows and push them down the rows handing full bins over the trellising to the person on the outside row who can stack them in the truck.  Two trucks are needed now at peak harvest, one loaded with empty black bins and one for filling up with full bins of tomatoes.  Cherry tomato harvest is our favorite, a less labor intensive harvest where there is more time of talking, storytelling and what we were joking feels a little like ‘confession’ (for those of us raised catholic), as we talk to one another through the vail of tomato vines sharing our stories, revelations, denials, opinions, and denials. 

After one last, brutal week of heat what we are looking forward to the most is a stretch of cool weather.  Hope for rain is a lofty, comical idea, but cool weather would be a reprieve that will help us, and the plants, make it through to the end.  The heat takes more out of us than the actual work.  A few of us are reminded of our allergies as the ragweed is in full powdery form.  September is perhaps my favorite month providing a little more time for our last summer adventures, but reminding us that the inevitable is coming, Fall.  I look forward to better sleeping weather and an extra spring in my step as the cool weather returns. 

What’s in the Box?

Tomatoes-  8 Whopping pounds of tomatoes!  The number just keeps getting bigger!  A reminder to remove your tomatoes from the bag and allow them to air out and sit at room temperature outside of the plastic bag.  A wide variety of tomatoes to share, pink, yellow, red, and ‘black’ heirlooms, red slicers, romas, we grow it all!  This was the first picking and we’re so excited to be back in the tomato patch picking tomatoes again this year to share with you!  Tomatoes love 50 degree storage temps.  We pick any tomato with a ‘blush’ which means any amount of color that it has started to turn, we pick em.  They still qualify as ‘vine ripened’ tomatoes even when we do it this way.  If we picked every tomato when it was 100% ripe, you would instead receive tomato sauce in your boxes, and that gets messy!  We highly recommend not putting tomatoes in the refrigerator as refrigerators tend to suck flavor out of tomatoes.  For maximum flavor and enjoyment, allow them to sit on your counter to ripen and promptly use up once ripe!

4 Sweet Corn-  Final giving!  Sweet corn is a tricky crop to supply for CSA boxes. When sweet corn is ripe and ready to pick it is ideal to pick it and consume it that day for optimal crunchiness and flavor.  Sometime ears sit on the plants a little longer than we like because were still 4-5 days away from our next CSA harvest.  Or sometime successions all want to mature at the same time. Or, sometimes you get a giant wind storm (like we did a couple weeks ago) and your corn is all knocked over and the ears were slightly compromised.  This weeks corn is good, but not great, because of the aforementioned scenarios.  We’re eating it and are still so happy to have fresh, local, sweet corn!  We hope you enjoy it as well!

Green Beans-  .55 lbs of green beans per member this week.  A little less out there this week, but they do keep coming, so we keep picking them! 

 

Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes-1 pound bags per member.  These ripen orange.  Sun Golds are the most flavorful and juicy tomato of them all!  This is the only cherry tomato variety we have grown simply because they’re so darn good! 

Sweet Peppers-  4 per member.  Sweet peppers are beginning to come on a little heavier these days.  We are thrilled to be offering such colorful treats!  Sweet peppers could be red, yellow or orange bells or the carmen type (pointy at the tip) which are also sweet and come in yellow and orange.  No matter their shape or color, we hope you enjoy them!

Kale-  Lacinato kale to keep you stocked in cooking greens. The kale looked like late summer kale.  We cleaned the plants up and we’re hoping to get some re-growth that is more tender and perfect looking. 

Onion-  One white sweet onion for your everyday cooking glory.

Fennel-  One head of fennel per member.  Cut the fennel in half lengthwise and remove the core from the base of the plant.  The bulb can be sliced like an onion and sauteed like an onion even and in this process it looses much of it’s strong flavor. If you love the licorice flavor, shave it raw onto salads.  The frawns make a beautiful garnish and are also edible! 

Red Cabbage-  Smaller heads of red cabbage that store beautifully.  Very dense heads.  Red cabbage is a colorful addition to almost any kind of salad. 

Beets-  One pound beets per member.  Stores best in a plastic bag in the fridge. 

Eggplant-  One eggplant per member.  You may have received either an Asian eggplant (long and thin) or a standard eggplant. 

Next Week’s Best Guess:  Tomatoes, potatoes, spaghetti squash, napa cabbage?, brussels sprouts tops, onion, sweet peppers, green beans, cherry tomatoes, hot pepper,

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Our daughter, Aliza, put the basil bunches in every box this week!  Such a great helper!

Recipes:

Lemony Lentil Fennel Salad with Parsley

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Smoky Pork Burgers with Fennel and Red Cabbage Slaw

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Easy Caprice Salad

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Panzanella

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Classic Ukrainian Red Borscht (Beet Soup)

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August Twenty-Nineth

This week on the farm I am reminded of how much farming is like athletics.  There is a physical and emotional stamina required to make it through a long day on the farm filled with lifting, bending, kneeling, tossing, catching, clipping and chatting.  The harvest is getting heavier this time of year and we are hauling it in and filling up our storage bins.  This continual physicality also requires a good amount of emotional and mental stamina. 

While hauling heavy bags of sweet corn in the hot sun to the truck, I was reminded of my days as an athlete.  As a school kid I played soccer, swam on a competitive swim team, played a bit of basketball and volleyball and then ran cross country in high school.  My days in sports prepared me well for my days on the farm.  I remember swimming laps and running the track and making lap after lap around the soccer field.  I remember not loving every moment of it and the feeling of pushing my body to discover what it was capable of.  It wasn’t until later in life (as with many lessons in life) the true value of this perseverance became apparent to me. 

Doing hard things makes our bodies and minds stronger.  Later we discover that we have also developed character from our experiences of doing hard things.  The most rewarding and satisfying of all of our achievements are earned from crossing some kind of threshold beyond what is comfortable and what we are actually capable of. 

In the workplace it can be a little iffy asking people to push their comfort zone a bit.  If it was up to me, I would turn down the heat but unfortunately, I’m not in control of such things and the harvest must come in-heat or no heat.  But farm work has a way of drawing in those who are up for a bit of a challenge and like to step outside their comfort zone a bit. In the heat this week we talked about the Wim Hoff method and the said health benefits of exposing our bodies to heat and cold and temperature fluxuations.  We worked through a little heat this week and it was uncomfortable at times.  Most of us were up for a little challenge and most days we were able to end the day sitting on our bums cleaning garlic or onions for a ‘cool down’ the last hour or two of the day.  Keeping water bottles topped off was key to surviving the heat! 

I have always loved the athleticism of organic vegetable farming.  I love that my workout is built into my work day.  I love that I can eat whatever I want whenever I want.  I love that I sleep like a log and I have a deep sense of satisfaction at the end of the work day that I have done something meaningful with my energy. 

While I do love the physicality of farming, we are always thinking about ways to work smarter and not harder.  We love to use machines whenever and wherever we can to be as efficient as possible.  No one can sustain hard physical labor every day all day.  Many wonderful machines have made our lives so much easier, and we are interested in keeping our workers sticking around and not burning them out!   I feel like there is a nice balance here on the farm of working hard and a big enough crew that we can all take turns being the ambitious ones for certain harvests. 

Now, bring on the breezy, cool, 70-degree days of Fall!  I’m ready!  A little rain mixed in would be wonderful! 

What’s in the Box?

Tomatoes-  7 Whopping pounds of tomatoes!  A reminder to remove your tomatoes from the bag and allow them to air out and sit at room temperature outside of the plasitic bag.  A wide variety of tomatoes to share, pink, yellow, red, and ‘black’ heirlooms, red slicers, romas, we grow it all!  This was the first picking and we’re so excited to be back in the tomato patch picking tomatoes again this year to share with you!  Tomatoes love 50 degree storage temps.  We pick any tomato with a ‘blush’ which means any amount of color that it has started to turn, we pick em.  They still qualify as ‘vine ripened’ tomatoes even when we do it this way.  If we picked every tomato when it was 100% ripe, you would instead receive tomato sauce in your boxes, and that gets messy!  We highly recommend not putting tomatoes in the refrigerator as refrigerators tend to suck flavor out of tomatoes.  For maximum flavor and enjoyment, allow them to sit on your counter to ripen and promptly use up once ripe!

Garlic-  One bulb of the Armenian garlic per member.  Garlic will keep fine on your counter for a few months, but after the first of the year it should go in the fridge, but I’m guessing it won’t last that long at your house!

Hot Pepper-  A Hungarian hot wax pepper per member.  Technically the Hungarian hot wax peppers are a hot pepper,  but they are quite mild on the spectrum of hot peppers. 

1-2 Melons-  Melons could be either a cantelope or a canary melon.  Canary melons are bright yellow on the outside and are not to be mistaken for a spaghetti squash. Canary melons are unique in that their flesh is green and crispy like a cucumber.  We pick the canary melons ripe, so don’t feel like you need to wait for it to ripen and don’t wait for it to get soft!  Melons are usually fine on your counter until you get them eaten up.

Celery-  The final giving of celery.  We’ve picked over the largest of the celery by now, but there were still plenty of beautiful looking stalks out there.  We’re continuing to share celery for another week or two.  Notice how local celery is different from California celery, much greener and stouter than Cali celery, but wow, the flavor!  Celery greens can be used as well if you get creative!

4-5 Sweet Corn-  Sweet corn is a tricky crop to supply for CSA boxes. When sweet corn is ripe and ready to pick it is ideal to pick it and consume it that day for optimal crunchiness and flavor.  Sometime ears sit on the plants a little longer than we like because were still 4-5 days away from our next CSA harvest.  Or sometime successions all want to mature at the same time. Or, sometimes you get a giant wind storm (like we did a couple weeks ago) and your corn is all knocked over and the ears were slightly compromised.  This weeks corn is good, but not great, because of the aforementioned scenarios.  We’re eating it and are still so happy to have fresh, local, sweet corn!  We hope you enjoy it as well! 

Green Beans-  .65 lbs of green beans per member this week.  A lovely summer treat.

Carrots- Orange carrots for your carrot satisfaction. 

Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes-1 pound bags per member.  These ripen orange.  Sun Golds are the most flavorful and juicy

Sweet Peppers-  2-3 Sweet peppers are beginning to come on a little heavier these days.  We are thrilled to be offering such colorful treats!  Sweet peppers could be red, yellow or orange bells or the carmen type (pointy at the tip) which are also sweet and come in yellow and orange.  No matter their shape or color, we hope you enjoy them! 

Kale-  Green Curly kale to keep you stocked in cooking greens. 

Onion-  One white sweet onion for your everyday cooking glory. 

Green Beans-  .65 lbs of green beans per member this week.  A lovely summer treat.

Next Week’s Best Guess:  Red or Napa Cabbage, Sweet Corn, tomatoes, sweet peppers, eggplant, fennel, brussels sprouts tops, green beans, onion, cherry tomatoes?, parsley or basil?

Recipes

Tomato Pie with Brown Butter Garlic and Shallots (recipe contributed by CSA members who rave about how delicious it is)

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Elote (Mexican Street Corn)

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Chicken Fajitas

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Cherry Tomato Tart (Served at the Farm Dinner as an appetizer-Personal Favorite)

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August Twenty-Third

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This week on the farm we brace ourselves to brave the heat wave on the horizon.  Temperatures expected to be as high as 100 degrees this week on Wednesday.  These kinds of temperatures are stressful on the workers and also on the plants.  With no outlook for rain in the forecast farmer Adam is back to irrigating again.  We’re hoping the heat wave passes quickly and isn’t quite as hard to handle as it looks.  The humidity and heat are helping the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants to ripen as well. 

This week I am reflecting on the fabulous farm dinner we had this last weekend.  The dinner was a success in many ways.  The weather cooperated, the food was delicious, the music enchanting and the Turtle Stack beer added a festive and cheerful tone. 

The farm dinner is a LOT of work to put on.  While the tickets aren’t cheap, there is very little money made from this event.  But the money is far from our true motives.  Setting up the lights, the tables, the chairs, the plates, silverware, tents, flowers, and an entire outdoor dining area as well as a complete outdoor kitchen, is a tremendous amount of work.  Not to mention the hours of meal planning and the days of food prep that go into preparing a 6-course meal for 60 people.  And then a full day’s work for a small crew in clean up when the event is over.  Phew, what a task it is to pull off! 

The real reason is to offer an experience that is rare and special and unique to our CSA members.  To offer a romantic encounter on a small family farm, with the farmers, in the beautiful countryside, on a gorgeous summer evening. Meals where the food only travels a few hundred feet from field to table are exceptionally rare in the world today.  The food is good.  The food is very, very good.  But the setting and circumstances are purely magical.  In a world where the origins of our food, down to the very farm and bed they were raised in are nearly impossible to trace, I believe that dinners like what we accomplished this last weekend, are not only uncommon, but extraordinary. 

I have always believed that a community farm like ours should have transparency.  CSA farms should hold farm events or find creative ways to get their CSA members out to the farm so their CSA members can begin to cultivate a relationship with the place where their food is grown.  When you have been here you can hold a lasting image and impression in your mind and heart of the actual place where your food is coming from.  It’s not about being best friends with your farmers, but it is about being connected to the source of your food and the place and culture it is coming from. 

Certainly, farm experiences do not need to be pricy.  Coming up on Sunday, September 24th, we will be hosting a FREE family event.  We are hoping to offer cider pressing, pony rides, wagon ride tours of the farm, pumpkin picking and a potluck dinner.  This event is from 3-6pm and is an informal excuse to get out to the farm.  Community farms are intended to be places for community to gather and what better way to build trust, encourage a neighborly network, or simply spend a beautiful fall Sunday than on the farm breaking bread with your friends.

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What’s in the Box?

Sweet Corn-  5 ears sweet corn per member.  Sweet corn is sweetest the sooner it is eaten after being picked.  You will want to eat it up as soon as possible.  If you don’t eat it right away, be sure to get it into the fridge to keep it cool. 

Melons- 2 per member mixed variety.  Melons could be either a cantelope or a canary melon.  Canary melons are bright yellow on the outside and are not to be mistaken for a spaghetti squash. Canary melons are unique in that their flesh is green and crispy like a cucumber.  We pick the canary melons ripe, so don’t feel like you need to wait for it to ripen and don’t wait for it to get soft!  Melons are usually fine on your counter until you get them eaten up. 

Celery-  We’ve picked over the largest of the celery by now, but there are still plenty of beautiful looking stalks out there.  We’re continuing to share celery for another week or two.  Notice how local celery is different from California celery, much greener and stouter than Cali celery, but wow, the flavor!  Celery greens can be used as well if you get creative!

Onion-  One white onion per member this week. 

Tomatoes- 6 lbs+ per member this week.  A wide variety of tomatoes to share, pink, yellow, red, and ‘black’ heirlooms, red slicers, romas, we grow it all!  This was the first picking and we’re so excited to be back in the tomato patch picking tomatoes again this year to share with you!  Tomatoes love 50 degree storage temps.  We pick any tomato with a ‘blush’ which means any amount of color that it has started to turn, we pick em.  They still qualify as ‘vine ripened’ tomatoes even when we do it this way.  If we picked every tomato when it was 100% ripe, you would instead receive tomato sauce in your boxes, and that gets messy!  We highly recommend not putting tomatoes in the refrigerator as refrigerators tend to suck flavor out of tomatoes.  For maximum flavor and enjoyment, allow them to sit on your counter to ripen and promptly use up once ripe!

Eggplant and/or Peppers-  We almost had enough eggplants for everyone, but those who did not receive an eggplant got an extra pepper.  Everyone got two or three sweet peppers if they did not receive an eggplant.  Eggplants are a mix of the Asian and standard varieties. 

Collards-  Keeping you stocked in cooking greens for your salads, soups and fritattas.  Keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge. 

Glow Stick Carrots-  1lb bags per member.  These are a mix of purple, orange, yellow and a light orange/yellowish carrot.  We were amazed at their flavor and how straight they crew.  Sometimes the rainbow carrots can lack in flavor what they provide in appearance, but not these carrots!  Their flavor is amazing and sweet! 

Green Beans-  1.6 lbs of green beans per member this week.  A lovely summer treat. 

Garlic-  One bulb of the Asian tempest garlic per member.  Garlic will keep fine on your counter for a few months, but after the first of the year it should go in the fridge, but I’m guessing it won’t last that long at your house! 

Next Week’s Best Guess:  Sweet corn, melons, green beans, celery, tomatoes, hot peppers, onion, garlic, green kale, carrots, peppers

Recipes

Grilled Corn Salad

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Skillet Garlic Green Beans

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Classic Ratatouille

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Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole with Gruyere Featuring Carrots and Celery

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August Sixteenth

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A blessed 2.9 inches of rain have fallen on the fields of the farm since last week!  It came in a thrilling and exciting storm on Friday night in a blast of wind and rain with lots and lots of lighting.  On Monday we had our first actual rainy harvest day where we were harvesting kale in the rain with full rain gear enjoying every moment of it.  

Having finally gotten rain, the soil has softened and so have our muscles.  There is a sense of relief that is felt in the neck, shoulders, hearts and minds of farmers.  Like dried balls of tapioca softened and spongy from the hydrating drink, the farm is wet and soft once again.  The farm feels happy and the crickets sing their songs of summer glory. 

The farm is in peak production.  Ripe fruits in every direction.  We pick melons every few days on the farm as they ripen and when we open the cooler door, an intense smell of melons fills the packing shed.  Cucumber and zucchini harvests wane and fizzle.  Tomato harvest every two days that gets heavier and heavier with each picking.  I wonder how so many fruits can come off of these plants?  Even the minty smell of the tomato plants is reminiscent of summers and summers and summers ago.  The tomato plant smell awakens something ancient from within me like we have known each-other much longer than just a mere lifetime.  My desire for these summer fruits is hypnotizing and I enjoy their juicy flesh and flavors like a fiend.  My summertime fix can finally be satiated.  Complete with ripe sweet corn, my body will be

We have finally finished direct seeding all of our fall crops like spinach and radishes and carrots and beets.  We still have a little more lettuce and kohlrabi to transplant this week, but soon we will be done planting altogether for 2023, other than garlic, and we can focus on harvesting the fruits of all of our labors.  Amazingly,  we have been dropping seeds into soil for six consecutive months to supply the CSA with successions of over 40 different vegetables for a 20-week supply of food. 

This week we will continue green bean harvest which takes a crew of 6-8 people an entire day to complete.  The green beans are a very time-consuming harvest, but a favorite summer vegetable in every home.  The crew enjoys green bean harvest as well because when the plants are loaded with beans, the crew gets to sit down and it’s a slow crawl across the field with conversations brewing and bubbling alive and strong.  We get to huddle around with our heads bowed to the bean plants and solve the world’s problems together in a morning’s time while nibbling raw green beans.   

We will also be preparing for our 5th annual Summer Evening Farm to Table Dinner this Saturday night.  We’ll get caught up on the trimming and mowing and try to make the farm look pretty for Saturday night.  The farm dinner was an idea we had a few years back to invite you out to the place where your food is grown and to celebrate the bounty with you.  Mostly we want to cultivate memories and relationships with our CSA members so that when you think of your CSA farm, you think of the warm feeling you had with amazing company on a beautiful summer evening one August.  Next week I can tell you all about it, because you’re all there in spirit either way! 

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What’s in the Box?

Sweet Corn-  8 ears sweet corn per member.  Sweet corn is sweetest the sooner it is eaten after being picked.  You will want to eat it up as soon as possible.  If you don’t eat it right away, be sure to get it into the fridge to keep it cool. 

Melons- 3 per member mixed variety.  Melons could be either a cantelope, a yellow watermelon or a canary melon.  Canary melons are bright yellow on the outside and are not to be mistaken for a spaghetti squash. Canary melons are unique in that their flesh is green and crispy like a cucumber.  We pick the canary melons ripe, so don’t feel like you need to wait for it to ripen and don’t wait for it to get soft!  Melons are usually fine on your counter until you get them eaten up. 

Celery-  We’ve picked over the largest of the celery by now, but there are still plenty of beautiful looking stalks out there.  We’re continuing to share celery for another week or two.  Notice how local celery is different from California celery, much greener and stouter than Cali celery, but wow, the flavor!  Celery greens can be used as well if you get creative!

Cucumbers or Summer Squash/Zucchini- 1-2 items per member.  Zucchini, summer squash and cucumbers are really slowing down now.  We’re still getting a trickle to share with you here. 

Onion-  One white onion per member this week. 

Tomatoes- 4 lbs+ per member this week.  A wide variety of tomatoes to share, pink, yellow, red, and ‘black’ heirlooms, red slicers, romas, we grow it all!  This was the first picking and we’re so excited to be back in the tomato patch picking tomatoes again this year to share with you!  Tomatoes love 50 degree storage temps.  We pick any tomato with a ‘blush’ which means any amount of color that it has started to turn, we pick em.  They still qualify as ‘vine ripened’ tomatoes even when we do it this way.  If we picked every tomato when it was 100% ripe, you would instead receive tomato sauce in your boxes, and that gets messy!  We highly recommend not putting tomatoes in the refrigerator as refrigerators tend to suck flavor out of tomatoes.  For maximum flavor and enjoyment, allow them to sit on your counter to ripen and promptly use up once ripe!

Red Curly Kale-  Keeping you stocked in cooking greens for your salads, soups and fritattas.  Keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge. 

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper-  Also called banana peppers.  These are technically a hot pepper, but they are one of the most mild hot peppers on the spectrum of hot peppers.  Some of them aren’t even hot at all if you remove the seeds and membrane, but some are.  It’s a bit of a roulette.  Hoping we can share jalapenos next week. 

Green Beans-  1.10 lbs of green beans per member this week.  A lovely summer treat. 

Next Week’s Best Guess:  Sweet corn, melons, green beans, celery, tomatoes, hot peppers, onion, garlic, collards, carrots, peppers?, eggplants?

Recipes

Ultimate Kale Salad with Creamy Tahini Lemon Dressing 

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Best Egg Salad Recipe

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Home Made Mayo (or call it Aoli-for your egg salads, tuna salads and BLT's)  Because we got through A LOT of mayo at our house in the summer and to buy mayo using high quality oils is VERY expensive, so make your own, it's very easy!  Just make absolutely sure your eggs are at room temp!  I like to toss a clove of garlic in there for fun!  

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Cantelop Smoothie

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 Best Ever Green Beans

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