Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In the Share - Week 20

TENDERSWEET CABBAGE (F/P) The name says it all. The first out of the fall cabbage patch, which is looking good.

LEEKS (F/P) They are smaller than we’d like but they are a more northern crop that just survived a blaster of a summer. We’ll have them at least one more time before the end of the season.

BEETS (F/P) Full shares get both beets and turnips. Partial shares get a choice of Hakurei turnips or beets.

GOLD BALL TURNIPS (F) These are the real deal. The turnips have sweetened and bulked up during these cool fall days.

CHOICE OF GREENS (F/P) A wide assortment of choices here: arugula, Swiss Chard, Rapini, Collards.

EGGPLANT (F) The eggplant is putting on its fall flush before the frost comes so enjoy them while you can.
SWEET PEPPERS (P) ditto on these guys. Won’t be too many more ripe ones. Then we’ll start on the green ones.

POTATOES OR ONIONS (F/P) Full shares get a choice with peppers.

BOK CHOY/TAT SOI (F) We direct seeded these and are bunching them at baby size for the best stir fry.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Parker Farms shares, Of the Earth fruit shares

NEXT WEEK: More turnips, greens, eggplant and peppers. The fall broccoli and cauliflower begin. Sweet potatoes and garlic.

When the weather is as pleasant as this everyone wishes that they could be a farmer, working outside with the leaves changing and the crisp sunrises. The farm crew surely appreciates such a lovely office after such hot summer. There were times this summer when we dreamt of September days like these. All of this pastoral beauty is tempered, however, by a serious shortage in precipitation. We have been irrigating non-stop since mid-July. July and August can get pretty dry in our neck of the prairie, but usually by now we have received a nice autumnal soaker. Last September we got 6 inches of rain in one week. This September we are officially at 1.1 inches for the month. Cracks in the ground persist even pretty close to our irrigated crops. We are supremely indebted to the irrigation pond and solar powered pump. It was an investment, but it is paying us back this year.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 20

One thing we like on the farm is a good harvest, especially in the Fall. The crops coming from the field now are as green and healthy as we have ever had. We attribute much of this to the farm’s soil fertility plan. The majority of our Fall crops are preceded by a cover crop of chickling vetch and oats. We plant it in April and turn it in at the start of Summer.
This organic matter breaks down just like a compost pile. We plant into it when the soil life is at a healthy peak. The past several seasons we have seen the cover crops create strong, green plants. We feel our results show how productive organic techniques can be once you have brought your soil to life.
For the nine years we have been here we could have been spreading synthetic 10-10-10 fertilizer to grow vegetables instead. If we had gone that route and fed the plants chemicals, we would have provided no improvement to the farm’s ecosystem. The plan for such a farm is to buy chemicals for all of your days. You gain nothing long-term.

We are glad we don’t go that route. We feel good that with our growing methods we can see such a response from the land, and know that it has improved in health. We often bemoan the fact that if organic farming practices had received the support that conventional ag got back in the 1970’s “go big or get out” days, the US would be so much farther along in organic acres planted and techniques learned. If the farm had 40 years of growing under its belt, it would be that much more fertile and energy efficient.
In the present we have some excellent cabbages. The flat-top heads in your share are Tendersweet cabbage. Its leaves are thinner than many cabbages, making it somewhat delicate. It is a raw treat and is perfect for salads of any kind.

Gold Ball Turnips
We hear on-line that turnips are the new beet. We hope you agree, as we are looking to pull some fine ones this week. Our inability to grow rutabaga (it was big last year) has been limited, so we have replaced them with Gold Ball turnips. I encourage you to try them in the recipe below.
White Sweet Potato, Gold Turnip and Garlic Mash
I hope this combination sounds good to you. These vegetables create a very creamy mash, and a quite unique, rich flavor.  

Ingredients1 large or 2 medium O'Henry white sweet potatoes
1 large or 2 medium Gold Ball turninps
6 cloves of garlic; whole, skins removed
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup of milk
Method1. Wash vegetables, and peel if desired. Cut into chunks. Put in pot with just enough water to cover. Add garlic and salt.
2. Bring to boil, turn to simmer and cook until tender. Drain and return to pot.
3. Mash vegetables (or puree with a blender), add butter and milk. Blend.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

In the Share - Week 19

O’HENRY SWEET POTATOES (F/P) White sweet potatoes are super creamy and oh so sweet!

GARLIC (F/P) Soon it will be time to plant next year’s crop but we still have many heads for eating.

HAKUREI TURNIPS (F/P) Welcome back the Hakureis! Eat em like an apple, in case you forgot.

LETTUCE (F/P) We are so close to having enough lettuce for everyone. There may be a few folks on Saturday that we’ll have to send something else. It was darn difficult to get these babies to sprout in the summer heat, but they are looking good now.

BOK CHOI/TAT SOI BUNCHES (F/P) Stir-fry season is back. Check Tom’s post for a reminder.

KALE, RAPINI OR COLLARDS (F) Aphids are invading our brassicas. We will try not to send them in with the shares, but wash well and check the backs of the leaves just in case. PLUM

PURPLE RADISHES (F) I am loving our fall radishes. They are so juicy. Add em to your stir-fry for a crisp crunch.

SWEET PEPPERS, HOT PEPPERS OR OKRA (F) The summer crops are winding down, but we’ll have a bit more until frost.

HERBS OR ARUGULA (F/P) Sage, thyme, basil or arugula.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Bread of Life Bakery shares, Of the Earth fruit shares

NEXT WEEK: More turnips, greens, peppers and herbs. Leeks, beets and cabbage. The Autumnal

Equinox this week marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall. Days and nights are even in length and the plants respond by slowing their growth and sweetening with the cooler temperatures. With only five more CSA distributions after this week (last pickup: Oct. 26 & 29) it is time to celebrate the completion of another successful season. Tom and I look forward to this time of year all season long when we can finally relax and just have a good time with our community of eaters.

We hope you all can attend the 9th annual Fair Share Farm CSA Harvest Dinner on October 29th from 4-6 pm. As always, the event will take place at St. James Lutheran Church, 1104 Vivion Road (same spot as the Spring Signup) and everyone is asked to bring a dish for the best local, organic potluck west of the Mississippi.

  The Fair Share Farm CSA Core Group is planning a fun event including a raffle to benefit our Veggie Voucher fund. Raffle tickets cost $1 (cash only) and you can buy as many as you want to increase your chances of winning. Thank you to Blue Bird Bistro and the MisFit Ranch Bed and Breakfast for being the first two to donate gift certificates for the raffle.

With it being Halloween weekend, costumes are encouraged. Prizes will be awarded for the best children’s costumes. If you would like to help with set-up, clean up or have something you would like to donate to the raffle contact Ann & Mark Flynn, FSF CSA Social Coordinators. Ann and Mark will be sending out an evite to all of our members soon, so watch for that in your inbox.

What to Do WIth Your Share---Week 19

The last days of summer are here, with the Autumn Equinox occurring at 10:04 am on Friday. The days keep getting shorter, and the nights are growing cooler. Farming for a living makes you realize that the sun is the true clock of our lives, not the digital device on your wrist or in your phone. We enjoy this time of year, as the sunrise creeps south every morning, reminding us to stock up and prepare for the Fall and Winter, and enjoy the beauty of Autumn.

Asian Greens
Speaking of seasons, it is once again stir-fry season. Our wok is getting a workout with the Asian greens, turnips, radishes and hot peppers that grace the shares. Now is a good time to make the most of these nourishing green vegetables. Our Stir Fry Primer is all the farther you have to go to master the art of the wok.

Hakurei Turnips
The Hakurei turnip is one of those vegetables that make us happy to be CSA farmers. We are pretty sure that not too many folks knew what they were before they joined the farm. It feels good to be able to offer a new vegetable to people and have them enjoy it like you all do. The Spring planting was a great success, and this Fall’s will certainly rival it. Don’t forget that both tops and bottoms are edible. So be sure to use the greens too, either in a salad or a stir-fry.

O’Henry Sweet Potatoes
We hope that you enjoyed the orange Beauregard sweet potatoes in the Week 17 shares. This week, as promised we are handing out a white sweet potato called O’Henry. We trialed about 30 feet of these last year and were very happy with their productivity and taste. White, sweet, potato says is all about these delectable tubers.

Digging sweet potoatoes with the CSA

We think a good way to try these out is to mash them. It really brings out their sweetness and creaminess. Simply cut off any tough spots, cut into large chunks, and then boil or steam until tender. While still hot mash them before adding some salt, butter and milk/cream. Yummy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In the Share - Week 18

                                         mulching the fall brassica

POTATOES (F/P) Last of the “Irish” or “South American” potatoes for the year. Enjoy!

ONIONS (F) Probably the last of the onions too.

RADISHES (F/P) Oh my, we have a lot of radishes on our hands. Too hot for you, you say? Slice them up, dress with vinegar and honey, let sit and then eat without fear.

EGGPLANT OR OKRA (F) The eggplant has rebounded nicely from the summer heat and the okra will continue until the temps. get too chilly.

SWEET PEPPERS (F/P) Still got some ripe ones out there and hopefully will for a bit longer.

CHOICE OF GREENS (F/P) Rapini, Kale, Collards and Chard. See Tom’s post for more on enjoying your greens.

ASIAN GREENS or ARUGULA (F) We direct-seeded some bok choy and tat soi this summer after our greenhouse seedings wouldn’t sprout in the heat. Now there are lots of baby bok choy and tat soi in the field to pick.

HERB CHOICE (F/P) Basil, tarragon, parsley or a dried herb. Partial shares get a choice of an herb or arugula.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Parker Farms shares, Of the Earth fruit shares

NEXT WEEK: More radishes, eggplant, okra, greens and peppers. Hakurei turnips and O’Henry white-fleshed sweet potatoes.

On Saturday afternoon after a productive CSA harvest morning, the farm hosted the 2011 class of Growing Growers apprentices. Growing Growers offers workshops and farm tours to those who desire to start a career in local, sustainable agriculture. The topic of the September workshop was Pests, Weeds and Disease, or as the coordinator of the Growing Growers program and farmer at Blue Door Farm, Laura Christensen, quipped, “The Plagues.” Unfortunately for the students not a pest, weed or disease was in sight to identify at Fair Share Farm (ha ha).

After a stroll through the fields, a demonstration of the electric tractor and the solar-powered irrigation system, we headed to the wash & pack area of the barn. There we had a conversation about what the CSA membership means to us as farmers. The stats. are impressive: over 1,000 hours of on-farm labor provided, an active and engaged core group, money and support provided up-front before the harvest begins and endless hours saved schlepping to the farmers market.

Even more than these, the greatest benefit for us is the guarantee of a reliable income no matter what the season. This year is a good case in point. Too little rain and too much heat led to disaster in the Cucurbit patch, meanwhile the tomatoes flourished. Last year it was the opposite: lots of squashes, cucumbers and melons but few ‘maters. While no farmer wants to see a tenderly nurtured crop turn to dust, we sleep a little easier knowing that our balance sheet is not dependent on any single market favorite. Instead we are fortunate to have as our task to feed our member families well. The diversity of crops in our fields and the adventurous appetites of those who eat them is our crop insurance.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 18

Today was a big day as we finished up our Fall planting (except for the garlic). All of the crops for the remainder of the season are in the ground, and so are the many cover crops we plant. Such days are milestones to us, as we can tick “planting” off our current to-do list.

Enjoying the fruits of the harvest is next on the list, with a kitchen counter full of potatoes, greens, radishes, onions, and many other goodies. We begin craving the late season harvest this time of year, with many of the vegetables harkening back to Spring. But thereally nice thing about this time of year is that there are also tomatoes, peppers and sweet potatoes around.

If you did not link to the Mark Bittman recipe I talked about last week I suggest you do now, as it could become a favorite for many I know. We have it on a regular basis, especially when there is broccoli raab around. A simple dish that starts with toasting bread crumbs in a pan, before sautéing some greens and garlic, and ends by adding some pasta and cheese and tossing it all in the pan.

Tomato Radish Pesto Sandwich
We often fix a quick sandwich at lunch, full of whatever is at hand. We especially like the crunchiness of a good radish and a homemade spread. For the spread we took some leftover pesto and mixed it with a little mayonnaise. Fresh sliced tomatoes, radishes, and a few leaves of arugula filled in the middle of some good bread, and we were ready to picnic.

Arugula Radish Salad
The arugula we are harvesting right now is as good a quality as we can get. It is growing big and green right now, with not too much spiciness. If you find it a little strong, be sure to dress it well, as tart flavors like vinegar mellow out it’s bite. To make a nice fresh salad simply clean and chop some arugula and put in a bowl. Add a generous amount of grated radish, add some creamy garlic dressing (or dressing of your choice), toss, and serve topped with pumpkin seeds or nuts.

Bulk List---Week 19

The farm is reviving as the Autumn nears. Now is the opportunity to take advantage of extra greens, spicy radishes, hot peppers, and basil. Make and freeze some pesto now before the frosts come and the plants are gone.

We also highly recommend that those of you that like hot peppers think about making a big batch of Jalapeno en Escabeche. There is more info on this delicious recipe in our Week 10 blog. We make a quart on Sunday and it is already about gone.

Radishes: $2.50/bunch
Jalapenos: $2.50/pint
NuMex Anaheim hot peppers: $2.50/half lb
Poblano hot peppers: $2.50/half lb
Arugula: $2.50/bunch
Large basil bunch: $3.00/bunch Basil (pesto size bunch): $3.00/bunch
Kale/broccoli raab/mustard greens: $3.00/bunch

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

In the Share - Week 17

SWEET POTATOES (F/P) If I had to pick only one vegetable to grow I would probably pick these sweet roots. They are tasty, nutritious and the plants thrive in our hot, humid Midwestern summers.

GARLIC (F/P) some say the artichoke variety we are handing out this week is the tastiest. See what you think.

ARUGULA (F) A favorite in our kitchen. All it needs is a simple vinaigrette, but for a real treat toss it with some hot roasted potatoes and garlic.

PINK BEAUTY RADISHES (F/P) We’ve got loads of these lovely ladies this week, just in time for a radish sandwich!

SWEET PEPPERS, OKRA, EGGPLANT OR HOT PEPPERS (F/P) The eggplant is coming back to life after it’s “near death experience” in the summer heat. Take your pick of the late summer fruits.

CHOICE OF GREENS: KALE, COLLARDS, ASIAN GREENS, RAPINI (F/P) An assortment of gorgeous greens. Rapini, or Broccoli Raab, is similar to a mustard green but at it’s peak it will make a small broccoli floret. We are picking some before it has started to flower so that we don’t miss the best stage for the lovely greens.

GREEN BEANS (F) The bean patch took a lot of punches from the dry, hot summer and still produced a nice flush of tasty beans last week. Another couple of pickings may be all it has left.

HERB CHOICE (F/P) Basil, sage, parsley or a dried herb. Partial shares also get a choice of arugula with their herbs.

TOMATOES (F) Not sure how many tomatoes we will have until we pick the cherry tomatoes tomorrow. We’ll send in all we’ve got.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Bread of Life Bakery shares, Of the Earth fruit shares

NEXT WEEK: More peppers, eggplant and okra. Radishes and greens. Potatoes and onions.

One of the fringe benefits of being a farmer in the countryside is that you share your work environment with many species that are not often found on the factory floor or in the office tower. Some of our fellow creatures we see every day, the butterflies and birds, our dog and the cats, the katydids and the dragonflies. They are so common that they often go unnoticed or our gaze fixes on them for only a moment before we get back to the task at hand. The appearance of other creatures is much more uncommon, so that when they are spotted we stop with full attention. This week we had our first fox sighting on the farm.
He/she was hunting the many grasshoppers that are in our fields. Foxes also eat rabbits, voles, mice and birds we are told. They say the young foxes that were born this spring leave their den in the fall to forge on alone. Perhaps this little one had just struck out on his own and was happy to find such a bountiful harvest of grasshoppers. We saw him again today so he must have decided our farm was worth a return trip.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 17

This week you will be able to feel Autumn approaching in air, as well as your share. A morning low of 48 degrees greeted us on Tuesday as we harvested. A welcome relief from the hot days of July and August. And the delicious crops of Fall also greets us now, with radish, arugula, greens, and sweet potatoes finding their way to the dinner table.

Sweet Potatoes
A recent article in the LA Times talks about the resurgence of sweet potatoes as a “go to” food for many Americans. In the past decade sweet potato consumption in the US has doubled. On the menu at many a restaurant, this delectable tuber is seeing a popularity it has not known for some time.

Here at the farm we have doubled our sweet potato production of just a few years ago. We have found that we have more consistent results growing them than crops like winter squash, and we like them just as much. We have settled in on growing two separate varieties; the old standard orange “Beauregard”, and the white skinned and fleshed “O’Henry.” The former is in your share this week, the latter in two weeks. We hope that you enjoy them and that they serve as a good substitute for winter squash.

Sage, aka salvia officinalis, is an herb known through the ages. This aromatic herb is traditionally used in sausage making and turkey stuffing. It is also a wonderfully matched accompaniment to sweet potatoes. Simply clean and cut your sweet potatoes, add some olive oil, salt and chopped sage, and roast at 400 degrees until tender and browned.

Broccoli Raab
Among the greens choices this week is broccoli raab, aka rapini. With the taste of both broccoli and mustard greens it is quite hearty. We suggest checking out our Week 3 blog from 2009 for more info and a link to a great article by NY Times food writer Mark Bittman.

Roasted Green Beans
One thing we enjoy about the CSA work days at the farm is the chance to talk with the members and hear how they prepare the vegetables in their share. On Saturday in the bean patch Janice Marsh talked about her incredible simple recipe for green beans…roasting them.

That was all we needed to try it out. Her simple instructions (see below) produced a delicious dish. Thanks Janice.

Green beans
Olive oil

Snap the stem end off the beans and pull the strings off the sides. (While the beans are tender, it will help to get rid of the string).
Toss beans with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and salt to taste.
Roast at 400 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes, until desired tenderness.

Herb Tins
We buy herb tins at the start of the season to have a convenient container for providing you with the choice of a dried herb. We like this tins not only because they are attractive and work well, but because they are reusable.

So, if you have accumulated some tins and are not using them around the house, you can bring them to distribution and they will find their way back to us, and then back to you.