Thanks to everyone for a wonderful season! If you are a member and have not taken the end of season survey yet, please do so to help make next season even better!
Good day all,
Well the day has come, time for the last box of the season. I cannot tell you what a privilege it has been to be your farmer for the year and to share in the experience that is the marvel of growing and consuming food. What really gets me is all the players involved. It not only takes you and me and Kevin and Jerry, Marienne and Willard who rent us land and encourage our efforts and Gray who lets us use his greenhouse and seeding trays and waters for us we are not there, and Heather who comes out on weekends to help and lends me her vehicle when the truck breaks down, and the people who supply the tools and boxes and seeds and not to mention the great roads we have in this country, but beyond the human side there is also the vast amount of biotic and abiotic forces at play: the rock and mineral that has been worn and weathered into soil and the glaciers that brought a lot of the really good stuff here and the plants that over eons have died to build up the soil’s organic matter and the water that, come and go as it may in inconvenient amounts, is essential and all those bacteria and micro organisms and fungi and insects that really do all the heavy work and that giant ball of fuel in the sky and, maybe most mysteriously, that inexplicable desire and thirst that all living things have (vegetables included) to live, grow, thrive and produce, driving this complex web of interactions.
And then we come along and stick a fork in it.
For the forks this week :
Cabbage/Cauliflower/Broccoli/Spinach Winter Squash—carnival, acorn, long pie pumpkin that was crossed with acorn Onions Garlic Sage Thyme (full shares) Brussels Sprouts (full shares) Collard Greens Rutabaga Beets—red and yellow Carrots—regular and baby
And one lucky member will randomly get our bumper crop of Jerusalem Artichoke—a little crunchy root with the texture of an airy carrot and the looks of a hunk of ginger. It can be eaten raw or cooked, I suggest trying a little bit both ways if you are this lucky person.
I will be sending out a little ten question survey picking your brain about the experience you’ve had with us this season next week. If you be so kind to fill it out it would be greatly appreciated and will help make next season all the better.
And with that I bid you all a happy fall and a merry winter. Thank you for being a part of the farm this year, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as we have.
Well everybody, we are in the home stretch, as they say. There will only be one box left after this one, so please bring any boxes you’ve been hoarding back to your drop site next week.
Back by popular demand this week is garlic! There has been no other single crop that has been requested so much this year as this little bulbous treat.
Most everything is out of the field now save some root vegetables and broccoli plantings that, sadly, aren’t quite going to make it in time for the last box. If anyone would like a halloween box of 75 heads of broccoli let me know.
The rest of the job is now taking down trellacing, rolling up row cover fabric, pulling out irrigation lines, tilling the fields under, packing away everything for the next season and sleeping a lot.
My apologizes to anyone last Thursday whose box was late for pick up. The truck we use for harvest and delivery broke down two hours into harvest that morning. Luckily there are more vehicles than people on the farm right now, and the family whom we rent from graciously lent us their station wagon to make the deliveries, and Heather has let me swap residential vehicles (my Toyota Tercel for her Honda Element) to get work and deliveries done while I’m fixing the truck. If there are any mechanics who want to do an auto work for vegetable trade next year let me know.
In the box this week:Mixed Lettuce Winter Squash (butternut, hokkaido stella blue chersunskaya cross, carnival, delicatta, or sweet dumpling) Sweet Potato Onions Rutabaga (full shares) Carrots Garlic Parsley or Cilantro
Sweet potato is a new item to the farm this year. Some of them were pretty rough looking coming out of the ground and a few got stabbed by the pitch fork that dug them out, but no worries, still delicious! The beautiful vining plants were a lovely addition to the garden with their morning glory style flowers and their creeping ground cover habbit. I look forward to planting them again next year and trying various varieties.
Many of you are probably looking for other things to do with your winter squash besides roasting it or cutting it up or sauteing. One of my favorites (which can also be done with the Sweet Potatoes) is making it into gnocchi. Gnocchi is dumpling like but eaten like pasta. Often made with potatoes, squash or sweet potato add extra color and sweetness to this satisfying, hearty dish.
At its heart, gnocchi is a dough made with flour, egg and a starch–squash in our case. The dough is rolled out in “ropes” and cut into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces that are boiled in water until they float. I think this recipe is a little over the top with the chilling of the dough and the boil time (I don’t chill the dough and I take the gnocchi out of the boiling water as soon as they rise to the top–which I’ll admit I’m a little more mystified/excited when this happens than I probably should be), but its a great place to start. The potato in the recipe is also not necessary for it to work or could be replaced with sweet potato. Also, sage will be coming next week if you want to wait to do it with sage–which is a beautiful compliment.
What an absolutely gorgeous streak of fall days we’ve been having. I love this time of year when the leaves are turning and the nights are chilly. Fall is in full swing as October dawns, the leaves are dropping one by one–although sometimes seeming like buckets-full as I try to keep them out of your boxes and salad mix at our out door packing station. As Heather says, though, it just serves to remind people that their food comes from someplace.
A few items of note: (1) After this week, there are only two more boxes left in the season. The last delivery will be Thursday Oct. 18th, so (2) please bring any veggie boxes you’ve been stashing all season to your drop site next week! Also, (3) my birthday is this month– actually on the last Monday delivery–any and all gifts can be left at drop sites or mailed to the farm address, how gracious of you.
Aside from the leaves, in the box this week:Spinach or Salad Mix (two-third share) Spinach and Salad Mix (full share) Winter squash–acron (dark green), carnival (multi-colored), or delicatta (cylindrical multi colored) Thyme Cabbage Rutabaga Beets Onions Cilantro (full share) Kale Hot Peppers (no longer marked or bagged, watch out!)
New comer to the box this week is our good friend the Rutabaga. Look familiar? The variety of turnip we grow, purple top, looks a lot like the Rutabaga. Although they can be prepared in many similar ways (roasted, sauteed, boiled and mashed), Rutabaga is not as enjoyable raw as turnips are, and tend to be heartier and cook up more like beets. In fact, beets and Rutabaga are a fantastic duo, in my humble opinion, both having a nice sweetness, texture and demeanor that complement each other very well. I like to think of them as siblings that you wouldn’t guess came from the same mother until you spend time with them together (they actually don’t come from the same family, though). Roasting them together with some olive oil and thyme (and carrots if they’re still around!) is one of my favorite ways of enjoying them. From there they can be a roasted root vegetable side to any hearty fall meal or added on top of spinach or lettuce salad with some feta or chevre and vinaigrette
Another personal favorite with this roasted combination is to make a root vegetable pizza with it. Simply add the roasted veggies to the top of a homemade or pre-made crust (you can use a light coating of olive oil as your base instead of sauce), put a healthy amount of kale on top (will reduce a lot and get real crispy and light under the high heat) dab dollops of chevre or sprinkle feta or parmesan and cook at high heat (anywhere from 400 to 500 degrees). A sprinkling of bacon or prosciutto is never a bad idea either…
Speaking of pizza, one of my other favorite fall pizza creations is squash puree with caramelized onions and, of course, kale. Roast up your squash, scoop out the insides and puree with a little water or milk or cream or butter (you can also just mash if you don’t have a food processor). Spread generously on plain dough as the base, add caramelized onions and kale on top and finish off in the oven at high temps. Apple slices really lend themselves well to this sweet fall combination as well.
Pizza dough is relatively easy to make, especially if you’ve made bread before. At its simplest it is water, flour and salt. I recommend perusing through some cookbooks or online for a recipe that fits your style. I would like to say a prefer a nice overnight fermented dough, as in this recipe, but I’m usually too spontaneous with my cooking to think that far ahead. Typically I like doughs that cook at high heat for short periods of time, Nepalese style, if you will, and will always pre-cook my dough, put on the toppings and then finish cooking it. From there, calzones or stromboli versions are only a flip or roll of the dough away.
Greetings all on this lovely fall day. The past several days have been ones of transition. Kevin has taken off for the west coast to continue (maybe even finish?) his schooling, leaving me to finish up the season. The equinox came, officially ushering in fall and, coincidently, ushering in the first frost of the year on the farm, the unofficial beginning of fall. Goodbye peppers, goodbye eggplant, goodbye tomatoes…hello winter squash and root vegetables!
It’s time to light up that oven and cozy around with some good fall comfort foods.
This week:Winter Squash (Kabocha sunshine, Baby Blue Hubbard, Delicatta, Carnival or Jester) Broccoli, Pac Choi, Collard Greens, or Potatoes Leeks Hot Peppers Miniature Basil (Pistou) Turnips Carrots Tomatoes (last ones!) Potatoes (full share)
I hope you enjoy the last tomatoes of the season, it’s been a good run. I did some tomato seed saving the day before the frost–you may recognize some of your favorite varieties in the picture. We did about 40 different tomato varieties this year, including the cherries, most of our tomatoes are heirlooms, so if you have any around still that you fancy you can do this yourself for next years garden by following directions from a gardening book or online.
The herb this week is a great little basil called pistou. It looks almost like oregano in this miniature form growing as a tiny bush and is at full maturity the size it is and can be used as you would regular basil, but a little fancier.
Kabocha Sunshines are going out in the boxes this week. My all time favorite squash, I regret to say there is not enough for everybody to get one. We had terrible pest problems this year with our winter squash (squash bugs!) and lost about half of the crop—mostly the softer thicker meat ones like Kabocha, Baby Blue Hubbard, Kuri and Buttercup (not to be confused with Butternut which faired just fine). So consider yourself lucky if you’ve been graced with a lovely rich, orange squash in your box.
If you are having trouble using up your turnips (what ? you still haven’t used the ones from a few weeks ago?!) Searing them in hot oil is great way to start. From here they can be added to any vegetable stir fry or tossed with a little vinegar and herbs for a side dish. They are especially good in a simple tomato curry dish:
Heat up oil in pan, add Tbls of mustard seeds, when they start to pop add diced turnips, shake so they are coated in oil then let sear. After they are seared add diced tomatoes and pistou basil. Add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice and salt to taste. Try a little at this point, if you want, add some turmeric or curry powder (or both) at this point you can, or serve as is over rice or couscous.
Enjoy the first fall box!
It’s that time of year, time for Old-Man-Winter’s more congenial younger cousin Not-So-Old-Man-Frost to threaten a visit to our fragile fields. When the eve of that day comes panic ensues and we frantically harvest everything that is left in the fields too tender to take a little freeze. In anticipation of this imminent event (maybe tonight? maybe next week?) we have gone and started harvesting clean the pepper plants to give their fruit safe harbor in your home. And as tradition goes, large amounts of bell and sweet peppers means fajita party time! Suitably we have also loaded you up with your usually tomato fix and an unusually large amounts of onions. You’ll have to supply the rest (tortillas, cumin, did you freeze any of that corn we sent you?, steak or chicken if your the carnivore type). In my opinion, the spice cumin is what makes fajitas fajitas, so no matter what incarnation you make, make sure to load it up with this flavorful south-of-the-border spice. If you’ve never tried making your own flour tortillas, I highly recommend trying to, its fun and makes the meal that much more satisfying.
The line up for the week:Mixed Lettuce Onions, onions, onions Bell Peppers, Bell Peppers Sweet Peppers, Sweet Peppers, Sweet Peppers Hot Peppers Eggplant or Broccoli Spinach (full share only) Basil or Cilantro Dill Heads Tomatoes Cherry Tomatoes
Enjoy the box this week, it looks like we may get by without a frost for another week or so, (lower parts of our field freeze sometime even if the general temp is not below 32 degrees) but savor each bite of those tomatoes as if its the last!
Alas, the time has come to write my final newsletter for the season. In less than 2 weeks I will be leaving the farm to finish my schooling, relegating Brandon to the role of solo farmer for the remainder of the season. This will give everybody who hasn’t done so even more reason to visit the fields: the man will need some company!
I believe it is appropriate to reflect upon all that I have learned this season (a ton! both on and off the field, from plants and people), as well as convey my gratitude for everybody who enabled me to gain this experience. Indeed, the name “Community Supported Agriculture” could not be a better descriptor for what is going on here. It takes a community to support this sort of farming: from the members who share the risks of a growing season with us, the generous folks who have shared their land and water with us (not to mention their home and humor!), and the dear friends that have come out to lend us a pair of hands when we needed help the most. No way could we have managed this season nearly as successfully if it weren’t for the involvement of so many kind and supportive people. Thanks you all so much!
All that aside, here’s what’s popping out of your box this week (watch out!)
Winter Squash (Jester – Full Shares only)
Peppers (bell, hot, and sweet!)
Onions (Red Zeppelin)
Cucumber or Summer Squash
Tomatoes (mixed and cherry)
This is an especially exciting transition week since we are starting to see our summer squash production peter out just as our winter squash is getting ready for plucking. If all goes well, full shares will be getting Jesters this week, and every box after this will have a winter squash in it. It is best to store winter squash in a cool, dry location where temperature does not fluctuate much. It will keep for months if stored in such conditions. When you do cut them open for roasting, a good tip is to cut lines into the slices you will be roasting (not through the skin, but close up to it) and drizzle it with olive oil so that the oil enters into flesh of the squash and doesn’t just pool or drain off the surface. Also, don’t forget that the oven-roasted or pan toasted seeds are quite delicious as well!
Another exciting development in this week’s box is the coexistence of salad mix and salad turnips. Cut thinly, slices of these turnips are a delightful addition to any salad; a refreshing, mild mustardy flavor that beds well for a nice vinaigrette. For anyone that will soon be going apple picking, this recipe for an apple-turnip-lemon salad looks like a surefire palette pleaser!
It’s been an absolute pleasure growing food for you all. I hope the food experience that Brandon and I have tried to create has not only provided many delicious moments and shared meals, but has also helped foster a stronger connection to the unique place and climate that we live in, and the special offerings of this rich land.
Enjoy the rest of the season, there is plenty of great food to come!