Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What to Do With Your Share---Week 3

The Spring lettuces just keep coming this week. You hear some folks say that you can’t grow respectable food using organic methods, but as the leafy greens in your shares have shown they are one crop that grows great, given the weather isn’t too extreme (like the last 7 days).

Being farmers living close to the fields, we get our choice of the extra and less than perfect lettuces. That means we can cut ourselves a couple Regina di Maggio butterheads for a lettuce heart salad this time of year. The center of these lettuces live up to their designation of butteriness (if that’s a word). They are so tender and delicious that they deserve to be a salad all to themselves. They are a five-star treat.

To compliment this salad we recommend the creamy garlic dressing below. You can use green garlic, garlic scapes or bulb garlic for the recipe. This time of year, of course, the fresh garlic choices are the best. Not much else is needed but lettuce hearts and a garnish.

This dressing is bold enough for romaine hearts too. We have lots of large romaines growing right now and you can expect to see a lot of them. Use the outer leaves to top a sandwich, burger or BLT and use the hearts for a nice Caesar salad.

Butterhead Lettuce Heart Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing
(dressing modified from The Silver Palate Cookbook)

1 egg yolk
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar or honey
1/4 cup chopped green garlic or garlic scapes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup best-quality olive oil

1. Take outer leaves off lettuce head (save them for another salad or sandwiches) until you are left with the tender heart. You may want 2 lettuce heads per salad. Wash, dry in a salad spinner, and place in salad bowl or individual bowls.
2. Combine egg yolk, vinegar, sugar, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process briefly.
3. With the motor running, slowly dribble in the olive oil.
4. Taste, correct seasoning if necessary, and transfer to storage/serving container.
5. Top salad with the dressing and garnish of choice (we used roasted pumpkin seeds).

We have to report that year's strawberry season is getting off to a tough start. It appears we suffered significant frost damage from the early-May cold spell, and may have other, yet to be determined problems. Of the two patches, the patch planted last year is doing the best. We will be talking to Extension to see what their opinion is. We hope that we will grow out of this slump.

The berries you receive might not have the shine and firmness that you are used to, but based on many samples, we feel that they are flavorful and should be handed out. We encourage you to use them soon, as they are a delicate fruit.

Hakurei Turnips
Everyone likes to be original, so most of our recipes are born of what is at hand and our creative hunger. But the more we search the web for recipes, the more we see that the aptitude of folks to cook fresh vegetables in imaginative ways is growing in leaps and bounds. I realized this as I searched for Hakurei turnip recipes the other day.

We have had an excellent harvest of Hakurei’s this Spring, and hope to have them in your share for a couple weeks. We don’t want to load you with a particular veggie without some cooking suggestions, so I searched for Hakurei turnip recipes, and found a slew of options. The curried Hakurei’s on The Veggie Project blog caught my eye.

The blog is posted as “a group of Boston-area families committed to cooking with local vegetables. During the summer of 2008, we each plan to try new vegetarian recipes with produce from local farms. We will use this blog to share information about the recipes we have cooked, and hope to inspire others to cook more locally.”

Curried Hakurei Turnips
1 chopped onion (you can substitute green onions or green garlic)
2 tablespoons oil
5 or 6 harkurei, sliced thin
2 teaspoons curry powder (makes a hot dish)
1 teaspoon salt
one lemon, cut into wedges

Sauté the onion in the oil for a few minutes until translucent. Add the turnips, the curry powder and salt and cook until everything is tender. Squeeze some lemon juice over the dish before serving and serve with extra lemon wedges.---We used lime. This is an excellent combination of turnips and onions.

In the Share - Week 3

BROCCOLI (F/P) One of my favorite crops to grow which means I’m a bit of a sadist. Broccoli is a finicky crop especially in our Springs, but they are looking as good as we’ve ever had right now.
STRAWBERRIES (F/P) 1 pint for everyone. Read Tom’s post for the whole story on the disappointing strawberry crop. But, did I mention the broccoli is outstanding this week?
LETTUCE (F/P) There are some monsters lurking in the field masquerading as lettuces. Try a decadent treat – farmer Tom’s butterhead heart salad. I plan to give the full shares a butterhead and a romaine. Partial shares get a choice of one.
HAKUREI TURNIPS OR PINK BEAUTY RADISHES (F/P) It's a hard choice, I know. Both are on the bulk list...
SPINACH (F/P) The storms and four inches of rain in the last week have tested the spinach. So far it appears to have survived. We are picking every leaf this week, so enjoy it while you can.
TAT SOI OR ARUGULA (F) Need something to jazz up your salads? A crunch or some spice.
HERB CHOICE (F/P) Mint, cilantro, oregano or dill
GARLIC SCAPES (F/P) The delightfully delicate flower buds of the hardneck garlic. See Tom’s blog for a garlic scape dressing to go with that butterhead heart salad. The scapes also work well in a Caesar salad for the romaines.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Bread of Life shares

NEXT WEEK: More broccoli, lettuce and radishes. Kohlrabi and kale. Sugarsnap Peas and endive.

It has been a crazy week here at the farm. Sheep arrived, a tornado threatened and we got four inches of rain. On Wednesday morning Tom Parker brought five lambs to the farm.

The lambs will stay with us for the summer, eating our grasses and clovers and depositing their good benefits on our soil. To keep the farm food safe, we always keep them at a lower elevation than our crops and work with them at the end of the day. Every three days we move them to a new spot where they have fresh forage. This mimics the natural movement of grassland animals and keeps them free from parasites.

Later that same morning, we had a tornado warning. Several of the CSA members here on their farm shift got to join us down in our root cellar.

All clear with only rain and hail. Nothing to speak of compared to the plight of others in Sedalia and Joplin.

As far as the rain goes, it was getting dry so we didn’t mind the first inch or so. Now we are very much hoping it will cease and desist immediately.

Forecasters call for a hot and sunny week. Sounds just fine to your farmers. Give us some sun already!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Week 3 Bulk List

If you like Spring vegetables, take advantage while they are still around.

Lettuce: $3.00/head
- you can specify butterhead, romaine or leaf lettuce
Tat soi: $2.50/head
Hakurei turnips: $3.00/bunch
Radishes: $2.00/bunch
Herbs (cilantro, dill, mint, oregano): $2.50/bunch
Green garlic (last week): $3.00/bunch

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

In the Share - Week 2

Week 1 bok choi harvest

LETTUCE (F/P) We got "pea-size" hail this afternoon, so expect some extra speckles on your lettuce this week. The bruising is small enough to ignore when the lettuce tastes this good.

HAKUREI TURNIPS (F/P) The first juicy Hakureis of the season. If you have never had this variety of turnip you are in for a treat. Go ahead, eat em like an apple.

GREEN ONIONS (F/P) More tender alliums to zest up every dish

TAT SOI (F/P) Related to bok choi. Use similarly, although the leaves are tender enough to chop up and eat raw. See Tom's post for more info. on our "Asian spinach"

BOK CHOI OR RED RUSSIAN KALE (F) This is the last of spring bok choi and the first of the kale. Either way you'll be eating well.

CHERRY BELLE RADISHES (F) The last of these red darlings until our next radish planting matures.

GREEN GARLIC (F) Chop up the tender white and light green half and add to well... every dish is better with some green garlic.

ASPARAGUS (P) I know it was difficult last week to walk by the asparagus for the full shares with none for you. You have been patient and now you get your reward.

HERB CHOICE (F/P) Fennel, cilantro and dill. We think the mixed bunches are popular so we will continue to make alot of them. Let us know what you think.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Parker Farms delivery

NEXT WEEK: More lettuces, turnips and green onions. Perhaps the first taste of strawberries. Arugula, spinach and kohlrabi.

The farm is a buzz with happy spring activity. Yesterday Fair Share Farm CSA member and beekeeper, Keith Stubblefield, visited to check the bee hives. We could tell by looking at the entrance to the hive that there were alot of bees.

Upon opening the hives we were greeted by this happy sight.

Good news for all those honey lovers out there (Farmer Tom being one of the biggest), we have some happy bees. For the last two years we have struggled to have sucessful bee hives. Out of eight colonies that we have brought in, there are just two remaining. But boy are those two looking good. Since they had filled up most of the space, we put two additional boxes on each hive. That will give them plenty of room to spread out and make even more honey.

Bulk List---Week 2

Still lots of extra greens, alliums and herbs out there. Get them while you can.

Bok Choi---$2.50/head
Tat soi---$2.50/head
Hakurei turnips---$3.00/bunch
Herbs (mint, cilantor, dill, fennel, lovage)---$2.50/bunch

Monday, May 23, 2011

What to Do With Your Share---Week 2

The freshness continues this week with the arrival of the Hakurei turnips. A big bunch is coming your way, so be sure to use the whole lot, tops and all. Add them to a stir fry, eat them raw, cook and mash them, there are lots of possibilities.

The green changes this week too with the addition of tat soi. We use it just like we would spinach and as a core ingredient in stir frys.

Stir Fry Soup

One thing to remember with this week's share is that it is still stir-fry season. We like Asian cuisine because it is adept at using lots of vegetables in a hot, cold, or fermented dish. Monday night we cooked up a stir fry using the week's vegetables and some stuff from the fridge.

To make things a little more interesting, and to make an even heartier dish we added chicken stock (you can also use vegetable or beef stock) just as we were done making the stir fry and made it a soup. Serve it in a nice big soup bowl over rice, garnish with cilantro, and it's a meal.

Radish Suggestions

Radishes it seems are one of those vegetables that people love or hate. We love them because they are a great snack in the field. We wipe off the dirt and crunch into them. Their juiciness and spiciness are a refreshing treat when we walk by the patch.

Emily Akins knows how to enjoy them and came up with her own radish sandwich recipe on her blog (check our Blog Roll).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In the Share - Week 1

Hey there, it's farmer rebecca. Every week for the next 24 weeks, I will be letting you know what is in the shares plus a brief farm report. Here's the letttuces you will eating this week.

That's (clockwise from top left) New Red Fire (ruffled red and huge right now), Forellenschluss ('trout-back' in German, green romaine with red speckles), Quattro di Stagioni ('four seasons' in Italian, red butterhead) and Regina di Maggio (another of our Italian beauties, the 'May Queen', green butterhead with a hint of pink).

The farm crew is proud to bring you the following:

LEEKS (F/P) these lovely ladies need no introduction to our renewing members, but if you have never savored the buttery goodness of the leek see Tom's post for our favorite recipes. We have a good harvest this spring of our over-wintered varieties. Full shares get 2 lbs., partials 1.5 lbs.

LETTUCE (F/P) It is lettuce season and boy, we've got some monsters out there! Full shares get 2, partial shares 1.

GREEN GARLIC (F/P) Another early spring CSA share regular. It's a garlic that looks like a spring onion. Same idea, different allium. Chop it up, saute it with your favorite meal or eat it raw for the tenderest kiss of garlic.

CHERRY BELLE RADISHES (F/P) Bright jewels of spring bring color and crunch to the shares.

BOK CHOY (F/P) One of my favorite spring veggies. I could eat Tom's stir fry with bok choy every night and never tire of it. See his post for the recipe. Full shares get 2, partials 1.

ARUGULA (F) A little peppery kick to your salads. Partial shares get a choice of herbs or arugula.

ASPARAGUS (F) We have enough for a 1/2 lb. per full share this week. We just planted 600 ft. of a new patch, so hopefully in a few years we will have plenty. Partial shares will get asparagus next week.

HERB CHOICE (F/P) Cilantro, dill or lovage. We'll also have some bunches that have a bit of all of the above.

CHIVE FLOWERS (F/P) A little extra treat for your bellies or a vase. We like to sprinkle the chive flowers on top of our salads. Avoid the tough stems of the flowers, but the tender leaves are well, they are chives so you can eat them as such.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Bread of Life bakery shares

NEXT WEEK: More lettuces, arugula, radishes and herbs. Green onions and Hakurei turnips. Tatsoi and kale.


The day has arrived. We are at the starting line of the 8th Fair Share Farm CSA season. On your mark, get your salad spinner ready and eat!

The farm crew has been anticipating this day since February 9th when we planted the first seed in the greenhouse. Actually, you've got to go back further than that to November 2010 when we planted the garlic. No, that's not right either. Really you've got to go back to February 2010 when we seeded the over-wintered leeks that are in your share now. Alot has happened in the meantime. The rain has fallen, the sun has shone and the farmers have been lovingly tending the crops. When all of those factors come together well, you get a share that is bursting with springtime tenderness and beauty. We hope you all enjoy eating it as much as we have enjoyed growing it. Dig in!

The Fair Share Farm CSA Core Group met last Sunday at the farm. We had a great afternoon preparing for the season and looking ahead to some long-range planning. It was a bit cold and wet but we took a short stroll amongst the vegetables and out to the orchard where we planted an apple tree in honor of our dear friend and core group member, Kathy Brock. Kathy was a FSF CSA member for 6 seasons and was a vital and much-loved member of the Liberty distribution team. She will be dearly missed, but we will remember her whenever we bite into one of her apples. Ha! That would make her laugh, I think.

Welcome to the Vegetables

Welcome one and all to the 2011 Fair Share Farm CSA. The fields are in great shape this Spring and we are hoping for a bountiful season. For those of you who don't know, this part of the blog is written by me, Tom the Farmer. It is the spot you can go to get ideas for cooking each week's share.

Depending on time and personal energy, you may find a recipe from a recent meal here at the farm, a list of tried and true favorites, or other suggestions for cooking up your veggies (or all of the above). You can also search the blog, or go to our website and; a) search the Recipe page or b) check out our 2004 - 2007 Newsletter archive. In all cases you will find recipes that we have tested and tasted, and that each use a large array of share items.

Since the 2005 CSA seaon we have had leeks in the first week's share. This week's amount is heftier than normal, since we have to dig an entire bed before they flower, and want to get them to you while they are still fresh.

Once we made leeks as staple of our shares we found that those unfamiliar with this noble allium quickly fell in love with it. Part of the reason has been our suggested recipe. If you are new to leeks be sure to try Angel Hair Paste with Leeks and Garlic Saute. Last year's Asparagus and Leek Fritatta is also a winner. It is a good way to use the small bunch of asparagus. In future years, when our new patch is producing we plan on this item being a larger share.

Stir Fry Season
This week's recipe is a variation on the stir fry recipe in last years Week 2 blog. I recommend reading that blog post, as it references an excellent article on the basics of stir frying. We received lots of comments last year on how stir fry's became a delicious "go to" meal for many members.

On Saturday we had a hankering for just such a meal, especially after staring at these prime vegetables in the fields all week long. But as we pulled the ingredients together we realized that we had no ginger root in the house. We did find some candied ginger in the freezer though, and substituted it with great results.

Spring Stir Fry 2011
While suspiciously similar to last year's recipe I hope that it serves to illustrate that for many CSA share recipes you simply use what you have.

2 tbsp sesame oil
1-1/2 tbsp chopped candied ginger (or ginger root)
2 green garlic (bottom half) You can also add green onions
3 to 5 radishes
1 to 2 bok choi
6 to 8 lovage leaves (optional)
Cilantro for garnish

You can use the sauce from last year's recipe, or as we did, simply look in your fridge and find all of those Asian sauces that may be in there. We used a combination of oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar, chili garlic sauce and fish sauce.

First step is to ready the ingredients. For the bok choi you will want to chop the stems and the leaves separate. Likewise with the radishes, chop the root and the tops separate
Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside
Heat a wok or large skillet, add the sesame oil
Add the candied ginger, stir and cook for 30 seconds
Add the radishes and green garlic, stir and cook for 2 minutes
Add the bok choi stems, cook for 1 minute
Add the greens from the bok choi, and radish, and the lovage, cook 1 minute
Add the sauce and cook for 1 more minute

Serve immediately over hot rice and garnish with cilantro if desired

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bulk List---Week 1

We have a bulk list this year before the season even starts! For those newbies out there, each week we post a list of those vegetables we have extra of and sell to the membership. If you would like to purchase items simply email me (Tom) at my farm email of tom(@)fairsharefarm.com. Your order and a bill will be sent into distribution. You can pay the distribution coordinator and they will see that we recieve your payment.

Green garlic---$3.00/bunch
Cilantro, dill, fennel, garlic chives or mint---$3.00/bunch

Getting Ready for Next Week

The weather, the day length and the crops all say it is time to start the Fair Share Farm CSA season next week. For the past several weeks we have been sampling the fare and eating well here at the farm. Now it is time to start getting those fresh veggies to you.

Rebecca's recent email includes the details you need to know for picking up your vegetables and planning for your work days at the farm. We look forward to serving up a nice share next week.

In preparation, we have been uncovering many of the crops that were shrouded in row cover during the early Spring. The lettuce and broccoli are now out in the open air. Lettuce is doing great---beautiful multi-colored heads of leaf, butterhead and romaines still growing. The broccoli looks good too, though we have hade some loss due to voles and crown rot.

Over the last week we have had a lot of help from the Spring 2011 William Jewell College Ecology of Food class. Their professor and friend, Paul Klawinski, requires that the students put in service learning hours as a part of this exceptional class. On Monday a crew of 5 helped us wash and sanitize all of our crates. On Tuesday they helped us harvest, trim and clean 400 row feet of leeks. Thanks to all.

Monday also heralded what might be known as leek week here. Each year we plant leeks for harvest the following Spring. This year's crop, started in the greenhouse in February 2010, braved last years wet Spring and Summer, as well as a very cold winter with little dieback. As it starts its second year of growth it wants to flower, requiring that we harvest the leeks now instead of next week. You can expect a generous size share of this elegant and flavorful vegetable next week.

Leek week continued with the planting of this year's Fall crop. Over 1,600 leek transplants were trimmed and planted in a matter of hours thanks to our electric tractor and our transplanter. They will be ready in October and for the annual Thanksgiving shares. Next year's Spring leeks are still in the greenhouse and will go out soon.

Leek transplants

Planted leeks

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Beginnings of Summer

As farmers, we try to spend a lot of our time listening. Listening to the plants, the soil, the weather forecast, to better manage the farm. Since 2008, arguably our wettest and toughest year, we have modified our growing practices to alleviate the distress caused by too much rain.

From taking some areas out of production, to guttering our beds with our electric tractor, to using more mulch, these changes paid off in the likewise wet years of 2009 and 2010.

Last year we learned what we should have already known about planting summer crops like tomatoes---wait until it is warm. In 2010 late April and early May saw cold, wet days and nights that killed the feeder roots of three beds (about 300 plants) worth of plants and lead to a harvest at less than 50% of what we should expect.

This year we have been more patient, waiting for what looks like the beginning of day and night temps over 50 degrees. Tomatoes are heat loving plants, and plants that are warm and happy for their whole life grow just as fast, if not faster, than ones put out in the cold to start.

So Wednesday the farm crew set out 100 cherry tomato plants and 100 hybrid determinate plants. Yet to come are 100 hybrid determinates, 300 heirloom, and 200 paste tomatoes. We finish off our tomato planting in about a month with a final bed of summer (heat tolerant) tomatoes.

Tomato planting

Other goings on include walking by the strawberries every day and marveling at their lush green growth and many flowers. At the moment things look right for another successful strawberry season. Keep your fingers crossed.

Elsewhere in the field the broccoli and cabbage planted under the warmth of the row cover are growing as well as in any Spring. As they size up they make thier presence more obvious behind the shear fabric. Other crops are growing well too, as can be seen in the photo of this year's garlic crop.

Meanwhile, in the greenhouse, we are finishing up most of our seeding and moving plants from the greenhouse, to the cold frame, to the field. It is interesting to watch the cucurbit seeds germinate in the soil blocks, as their large seeds seem to explode through the soil surface and unfurl thier leaves.