Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What to Do With Your Share---Week 11

The rain has been a welcome sight. Even better when it comes overnight after planting. Nothing like waking up to a dream come true.

With the accumulation of peppers, cucumbers, onions, garlic and tomatoes over the last few weeks we realized that it is gazpacho season. So we made a big batch on Sunday and have been enjoying it for lunch and dinner this week. If you are not familiar with this Andalusian delight, just refer to our primer on the subject in 2010.

And yes, garlic was mentioned in the previous paragraph. This year's crop is less than half what we planted, as the garlic seed we planted from the 2012 crop did not come up well. The culprit, no doubt was the record warmth of the first 6 months of that year. It was 107 deg F last year at this time! What was harvested this year though, appears to be good quality, and you will be able to tell for yourself this week.

Another recommendation for the week is to take advantage of the dried herb choice (by choice or by swapping). Some of the herbs we grow are best after a good dehydrating, and we have developed a energy efficient system of drying them in the greenhouse during the heat of the summer. Oregano, marjoram, thyme, lavender flowers, mint, and many other choices are available. They are often the secret ingredient to a meal.

In the Share - Week 11


SALSA PACK (F/P) The lovely tomatillo shines this time of year. Just add a tomato and chop it all up. Or roast it and it’s even better.

TOMATOES (F/P) More reds and pinks this week with a smattering of other colors.

CARROTS (F/P) Big, orange carrots out of cold storage.

GARLIC (F/P) The first garlic of the season: Musik, a hardneck type with big, juicy cloves.

SWEET PEPPERS (F/P) More sweet yellows and purples. Ripe red peppers are coming soon.

EGGPLANT (F/P)  Lots more of these beauties.  Check Tom's posts for the past few weeks for recipes.

CHERRY TOMATOES (F) We will get some to the partial shares next week.

BEETS OR CUCUMBERS (F) The last of both for a while.


NEXT WEEK: more tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and salsa packs. Potatoes and onions.

FARM REPORT: Rain at last. It had been about two months since the farm had any, so the 1.3 inches that fell on Monday was much appreciated. We got a lot of seeds and transplants in before it came so things are off to a good start for the fall.

flail-mowed sorghum Sudan grass

Tom mowed down the high tunnel’s cover crop of sorghum sudan grass and will soon incorporate it with the spader. The soil will get a month to digest its green dinner before we start planting in September.

 During the summer harvest season we spend many hours in the wash and pack area. All of the remodeling we did this past winter is paying off with plenty of cold storage, tables for sorting and sinks for washing. It’s a pleasant place to be during the heat of the day or during a rain storm.

Rebecca and Lauren.  Luke with Shawn and Monica.  The Rouyers:  David, Amelia and Frido.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

In the Share - Week Ten

Cherry tomatoes 

TOMATOES (F/P) This week the green-when-ripe heirloom varieties are beginning to ripen. If you got it from us, it is just days away from ripening no matter the color. Wait for the fruit to soften slightly and then dig in!

CUCUMBERS (F/P) The persistent cucumber beetles like to nibble the skin of their namesake fruit. They only go skin deep, so a light peeling will remove the damage.

SWEET ONIONS (F/P) This will be the last week for the Walla Wallas, our sweetest onion. There is more to come with lots of reds and yellows.

LETTUCE (F/P) We were surprised by the heft of these little heat-tolerant lettuces. This is the last of them until September. We don’t quite have enough for everyone, so the partial shares get a choice with the basil bunches.

BASIL (F) We are picking big pesto-making bunches of basil this week. It thrives in the heat and needs to be cut back. Chop it with some olive oil and whatever else you can spare: cheese, nuts, sunflower seeds and presto pesto!

EGGPLANT (F/P) Excuse me if I am distracted by my dinner tonight, check out Tom’s post for the super simple and super good eggplant pasta recipe. Yum!

POTATOES (F/P) It has not rained at the farm for 6 weeks, so we’ll see if we break any equipment trying to dig the potatoes tomorrow. It has happened, so keep those fingers crossed! The potatoes are small, but we are hoping to get everyone a quart this week.

SALSA PACK OR CHERRY TOMATOES (F) If you haven’t made salsa from one of our packs before, just chop the whole thing up along with a tomato.

PURPLE PEPPERS (F) This variety is a called ‘Islander’ and is mildly sweet when at its green stage. We pick them until our varieties that start out green begin to ripen. It won’t be long now as we sampled our first ripe red one today.

SUMMER SQUASH (P) This is the last of the summer squash until the next planting kicks in.

NEXT WEEK: More tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and cucumbers. Carrots, beets and garlic.

marigold and buckeye butterfly

FARM REPORT: Admist the flurry of the summer harvest, endless irrigation and fall planting, your farmers get a little lost in the details and often forget to stop and smell the roses. In our case it would be a marigold, since we don’t grow any flowers that need as much fussing as roses. The type of marigolds we grow are big and tall like the ones I remember at Mexican farmers markets. The zinnias are also brightening the farm with their carnival of colors. The two beds at the field entrance is a free u-pick garden for the membership, but it needs more picking than what the u-pickers take so we have put the flowers on the bulk list. Blooming flowers serve many functions in our farm-scape, as nectar sources for pollinating bees and butterflies, seeds for birds and attractants for beneficial insects that prey on pests.  And they are good at cheering up the grumpiest farmer.

What is that you ask? That is something to make a farmer grumpy. On Saturday, our Allis Chalmers G broke its axle. It is surprising that such a stout steel rod could snap, but then the tractor is 65 years old. I hope when I am 65 I don’t break my axle! On Monday, Luke and Lorne took on the project and removed the disintegrated old pieces of axle from the tractor. With the new axle on the way (thanks internet!), we are hoping to begin re-assembly by Friday.

On Sunday, we showed off the farm to a local 4-H group, led by Clinton County 4-H Youth Specialist, Debbie Davis. Tom and I were glad have the opportunity to talk about biological farming with the next generation of eaters and producers. We look forward to hearing how they progress on their sustainable agriculture project.

4-Hers on tour

What to Do With Your Share---Week 10

Right now we are in the midst of the best eggplant harvest we have seen on the farm. The fruit of this solenaceae beauty is quite captivating when you are lucky enough to be the picker. A bucket, and then a crate of all shades of purple achieves a level of visual stimulation that is not an everyday occurrence.

So we realize that it is eggplant season at Fair Share Farm like never before. We urge you to enjoy eggplant over the coming weeks. It is as perfect as we can grow it, and we do not know how fleeting it will be.

In last year's survey 60% of the membership said that the amount of eggplant they received was just right, 12 percent said they wanted more, and 28% said they wanted less. We think the survey shows that we are serving a community of vegetable eaters, though 28% have other preferences.

To help the 28% we are working on some killer apps for eggplant. This fiber rich vegetable has more recipes for it than any other. For us, some of the best start with roasting the eggplant. So here is a primer on that step, and tonight's recipe.

Roasting Eggplant
Last week's eggplant meatballs is a good example where it is good to have some roasted eggplant on hand. So is baba ghanoush, or tonight's Summer Pasta. Roasting is a great way to pre-cook eggplant so you can use it in a variety of dishes.

The instructions are simple:
Cut top from eggplant. Cut long eggplant lengthwise, round ones into 1/2 inch rounds. Brush with olive oil (seasonings optional), and roast in an oven for about 20 minutes at 450 degrees F, until eggplant is soft.
Summer Pasta
This dish is also simple.
Cook a pot of the pasta of your choice.
Roast some eggplant, let cool and chop coarsely.
Chop 1 to 2 tomatoes coarsely
Chop 3 to 4 tablespoons of basil.
Combine in a pan with some olive oil and cook until tomatoes are warm
Add pasta, toss. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with fresh or grated cheese.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

In the Share - Week Nine

heirloom tomatoes

TOMATOES (F/P) A good share this week, mostly reds and pinks with a few greens and purples.  Wash them before you eat them as we don't wash them at the farm.  Also, they are much, much better if they are never refrigerated.
LETTUCE (F/P)  One small, crisp summer lettuce head for everyone.
GREEN BEANS (F/P) The first round of beans did not fare very well.  We have more planted and are hopeful for a good crop later in the summer.
CUCUMBERS (F/P) The beetles are winning out there and it is only a matter of time before the squash and cukes bite the dust.  Another round of plants are on their way, but it will be a few weeks before they start producing.
BEETS OR CABBAGE (F/P)  The last of both until fall.  
HERBS (F) Basil, hot peppers or summer savory.
EGGPLANT OR PEPPERS (F/P)  The eggplant meatballs in Tom's post this week is super yummy.
CHERRY TOMATOES (F) We grow cherry tomatoes that are red, pink, yellow, orange and purple.  Try them all and let us know which is your favorite.

NEXT WEEK: More tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and cucumbers. Maybe potatoes and garlic.


It is a perk of the job to participate in the harvest of the summer fruits. The heirloom tomatoes are prized in large part for their thin skins and soft flesh, making it a delicate job getting them off the vine, out of the field, through the packing house and to distribution without bruising. The extra care is worth the effort once you have tasted a real tomato. We grow plenty of classic reds, but when your farmers go for a tomato it is more often a purple or a pink.  

The fall plants are getting planted in the field, with much more on the way. The fall transplants are seeded outside and they grow inside the shade structure until they are ready for the field.   This week we planted the first round of the fall broccoli and cauliflower. Soon we'll transplant these little lettuces.

Our big polar bear of a dog is ready for fall already.  Rocky's heavy coat keeps him chilled out on the concrete floor of the barn during the day.  He has the night shift to patrol the fields in the evening cool.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 9

Hard to believe that it is mid-July, but the heat and the tomato harvest say it is so. A month without rain has been hard on some things and good on others. The cracks in the ground are approaching the point where they give you vertigo, with no bottom in sight.

It does prime the pump of the fruiting vegetables though, especially with the warm nights. With all the tomato seconds we are delighting in the eating opportunities here on the farm. Tomato salad consisting of tomatoes and salt is especially tasty in July and August, so now is a moment to be savored.

It is also the peak of basil season. Our seeds come from Italy and live up to the name of Genovese basil. The summer savory is a treat too, also living up to its name right now. They both are great with any tomato, onion, pepper or eggplant dish. Just chop them up and add them during or after cooking a dish.

The recipe this week is for all of you that are not admitted eggplant fans. My Italian cousin Maria Fazio posted a picture of eggplant "meatballs" that I had to try. The were delicious and very nearly meatballs. The flavor, texture and aroma were all fantastic. To quote Rebecca "OMG those are really good, I could eat a whole plate of them."

This recipe is based on what we had handy and a search online for Polpette di Melanzane.

2 eggplant (about 3/4 to 1 lb)
1 to 1-1/2 cups bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Italian cheese
1 large egg
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp each dried oregano and marjoram
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
flour for dusting

Trim the top off the eggplant and cut it into rounds or slices. Brush with olive oil and roast at 400 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes, until tender. Let cool.
In a food processor chop the eggplant and then add the bread crumbs, garlic, eggs, herbs, salt and cheese and process until blended.
Form into "meatballs." Use some flour to keep the mixture from getting too sticky, and dust the meatballs with flour after forming them.
Fry in oil until brown. Drain on paper and serve as is, or add to tomato sauce.

Eggplant meatballs before frying
I'm sure it isn't something you might much think about, but sorting the best of our tomatoes for two different size shares at 4 different distribution locations is a skilled job. All hands but mine were on deck today as we consolidated the last two harvests into tomorrow's shares. It is an annual ritual that we are more than happy to perform.

Lorne, Rebecca, Lauren and Luke at work.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What to Do With Your Share---Week 8

There are certain signs that summer is in full swing. Here at the farm they include an excess of basil, cucumbers for all, the planting of the fall crops, and ending the day feeling like you were just in a prize fight. It is a nice job though, as you get to eat the fruits of your labor.

Last week the shares were a little thin, as we transitioned into the season. This week it's all summer, with tomatoes, squash, onions, cucumbers, carrots and eggplant. While I'm sure most of you know what to do with this variety, we offer a few suggestions nonetheless.

Morning harvest
Marinated eggplant. This is a delicious salad of roasted eggplant marinated in a balsamic dressing with raisins and pine nuts. The link is to our July 14, 2004 newsletter and is loaded with recipes and good info on eggplant.

Zucchini fritters. A family tradition going all the way back to Calabria, Italy, this August 2010 blog post recipe has creds from my sisters.

Carrot butter spread. Pureed carrots, sunflower seeds and peanut butter make for a great raw food spread. I haven't made this recently, but a little oil or water may help if it is too thick for your taste.

Colorful carrots

In the Share - Week Eight

pickling cucumbers

COLORFUL CARROTS (F/P) While the orange carrots are the sweetest, we like to grow some other colors to keep life interesting.

TOMATOES (F/P) This hot weather is good for ripening tomatoes, so expect a bit more in the shares this week. We grow the traditional reds as well as heirlooms in every color and flavor. 

SWEET ONIONS (F/P) More of the Walla Walla variety, perfect for your fresh summer salads.

SUMMER SQUASH (F/P) If we can keep the squash bugs and cucumber beetles from taking over, we should have squash for most of the summer. Fingers crossed!

CUCUMBERS (F/P) Ditto on the cucumbers. We always seem to have better luck with the pickling cucumber varieties than the standard slicers (see above). They taste great un-pickled and you may see some in your share this week.

EGGPLANT (F) We harvested some beautiful eggplant this morning and can’t wait to eat them!

 SWEET PEPPERS (F) We are leaving the green ones to ripen, but we will be picking the purple ones for many weeks to come.

LETTUCE (F) The summer lettuces can handle some heat, but this is a bit much for them. We are picking them small this week to catch them while they are still sweet.

HERBS (F/P) Basil, summer savory, dried herbs or hot peppers

NEXT WEEK: More tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, summer squash and cucumbers. New potatoes and green beans arrive.

eggplant harvest

Mid-July is always a hectic time of year for the farm. The fields are full of crops and we are running around like crazy, heat stroke victims to keep up with watering, weeding, mulching, trellising and harvesting them. In addition, we have new plantings of cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli to plant for harvest in the fall which leads to more watering, weeding and mulching. The plants appear to appreciate the care that the farm crew lavishes on them at their own expense and at the end of the day the farmer can rest easy knowing that the crops are getting a good drink whether it rains tonight or not.

Or the farmer can give up their evening of rest and instead do some canning. Just the other day the conversation turned to the question of what are the can-able vegetables, or was it cannibal vegetables. Almost any vegetable can be canned and now is the time to grab those pickling cucumbers and bulk beets and get canning … before they start eating each other… crazy cannibal vegetables … okay, obviously your farmer is suffering from heat exhaustion and needs to stop typing before she makes any more bad puns. Happy eating and good night!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

In the Share - Week Seven

SUMMER SQUASH (F/P) The zucchini and yellow squashes are coming on now. There are a few round and pattypan ones in the mix, eat them like any of the others.

CABBAGE (F) Celebrate our independence with a Fourth of July coleslaw.  Or see Tom's post for a July Julienne!

TOMATOES (F/P) We are going to do our best to get everyone a tomato or a few cherry tomatoes this week. Some may be less than ripe, so store on the counter until the fruit is bright-colored and slightly soft.


CUCUMBER OR EGGPLANT (F)  Just a first taste of these, with lots more to come.

SWEET ONIONS (F/P)  These are the Walla Wallas, great raw in salads.

BEETS (F) beautifully tasty.

HERBS OR HOT PEPPERS (F/P) Thai basil, Italian basil, rosemary or jalapeno or wax hot peppers.

LETTUCE (P)  Summer lettuce means crisp, crunchy heads

NEXT WEEK: More squash, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes. Carrots return.


melons ready for drip tape

Irrigation is the name of the game this week at the farm. Up until last week we were getting adequate rainfall and hadn't needed to irrigate the summer crops. We apply tons (literally!) of hay mulch to the plants and that holds in moisture up to a point. With the ground drying out and an irrigation pond chock full of free water, we are happily sending that water to the crops. The solar-powered pump pushes the water along the drip tape that we place along each row.  It is a laborous job getting all of the lines set, but once they are there we can quickly water the fields by flipping a switch.  

How about that, as if on cue it has begun to rain.  A short-lived shower, but we will take it.

Also this week we continue to work on everybody's favorite, the tomato.  This Spring was like no other, and certainly not like last year which was our grandest tomato harvest yet, weighing it a over 9,000 lbs.  We are not expecting such a stupendous harvest this year.  On top of poor weather conditions for fruit set in May, many of the flowers are being eaten away by white flies.

white flies on the tomatoes

Tom has not seen such a phenomenon since he had his little backyard garden in Rochester, NY. It only makes sense that a Rochester-worthy pea harvest should be followed by the same climate's pest.  We are spraying organic safer soap which should take care of the problem, but some damage has already occurred.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 7

July already. Hard to believe we are so far into the year. But the time has come for summer, and the need to tend its fruits.

The tomatoes are just starting, as are the peppers and eggplant. And while they had a very cool, wet start this year, they are starting to put on growth. We hope to harvest off them for the next 90 days, so we are working hard to make them happy. We are encouraged by the deep green in the leaves right now.

Solenaceous planting on the grow
When it comes to a salad, it's all in how you cut it. That is to say, is it cubed, shredded, grated, sliced or julienned. The latter is the shape of this week's recipe: Julienned July Salad.

The oft used ingredient list of whatever crunchy vegetables are in the fridge, makes it a space-saving and delicious salad. I used an Asian sweet and sour dressing since I have some Thai basil around, but most any dressing/garnish combination will do.

Julienned July Salad
2 small or 1 medium kohlrabi, peeled
1/2 medium onion
2 medium carrots
1 cup snow peas, strung and chopped
2 tbsp chopped Thai basil

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1-1/2 tsp honey
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp salt

Cut the kohlrabi, carrots and peas into matchsticks (julienne). Cut the onion into thin slices.
Combine the vegetables and basil in a bowl. Wisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over the veggies. Stir and let sit for 15 minutes to overnight.