Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What to Do With Your Share---Week 24

This is officially the latest we have ended the regular season in our 10 years as a CSA. Hard to remember, but the spring was so cold and wet that things took longer than normal to kick in.

We consider this year to have been a success. It is measured in many ways. One thing we realize is that we have continued to buy crates, and run out of them. A clear indication of an increase in volume.

The endive is a new item this week. A truly nice addition to a salad, it is nutritionally beneficial, being low in calories, and a source of fiber, vitamin A, and minerals like manganese and iron. Us a dressing with some sharpness and sweetness to cut through any bitterness, like the Sautéed Lemon Maple Frisee from our June 8, 2010 blog.

Glad we could get out some more garlic before the end of the season. Our harvest was less than half of what we planted last year due to the asters yellow disease. The good news is that the garlic that did make it is apparently now asters yellow resistant. We are planting it in hopes of sharing a bounty of garlic next year.

Have to mention the unique lady beetle invasion that took place on the farm Monday afternoon. A swarm descended on us covering everything between the house and the silo. We are not sure where they suddenly came from, but welcomed their arrival. A good sign going into winter.

Thanks for your support this year. We look forward to continuing to improve Fair Share Farm for you.

In the Share - Week 24

first frost

LETTUCE (F/P)  Just enough out of the field to get everyone one for the last week, all butterheads or the speckled heirloom, Forellenschluss.

CARROTS (F/P)  Freshly dug with their tops on, stubby Chantennay-type. 

GREENS CHOICE (F/P)  Kale, arugula, or tat soi.  Partial shares include a choice of endive.

ENDIVE (F)  The frilly French lettuce, also known as frisee.

SWEET PEPPERS OR EGGPLANT (F)  It warmed up last week before the frost and a few more fruit ripened in the process.  Here's the very last of the summer fruits.

WATERMELON RADISHES (F)  Spicy when fresh, they are sure sweet roasted.


HAKUREI TURNIPS (F)  A gamble when we planted them, they are just now sizing up for a small tender bunch with very edible greens. 

SWEET POTATOES (F/P)  More orange Beauregards.

HERB CHOICE (F)  Cilantro, dill, parsley or a dried herb.

GARLIC (F/P)  We planted 3/4 of the field on Monday before the rain.  With only a bit more to go, we are letting go of a bit more for everyone.

NEXT WEEK:  (The first week of the extended season)  Sweet potatoes, leeks, red cabbage, spinach, potatoes, herbs, lettuce, and bok choy.


Whew!  Your farmers are very much enjoying a beautiful Fall after a busy year.  This is the last week of the regular 24-week CSA season.  For almost 100 of you, this is the last week of the CSA.  Thank you for spending the season with our produce.  We hope you feel well-fed from our local family farm.

Looking back, we are always amazed at how much we all accomplish working together.  Ten years of the Fair Share Farm CSA has breathed new life into the farm.  This past Saturday was typical of the crazy wonderful support we see here.  With some time left after the morning's harvest, the CSA crew went to work removing the tomato plants and supports from the fields. 

Fifty of you will continue with us for four more weeks.   The high tunnel is mostly full of green goodness.  We did have problems this fall with the lettuce crop, both inside and outside.  We've had to pick good heads wherever we could save them from their bolting behavior.  But we have beautiful spinach other salad greens and fresh roots in the high tunnel, more under row cover outside and crates of roots in storage to keep everyone full of good food. 

And finally, we continue to pour over the 2013 survey results.  Here are some of our finding so far:

1.       In general, the percentage of members responding from each distribution location matches the actual percentage of members at each site.

2.       About 1/3 of our members have been with us for over 5 years.

3.       Over 40 members responded saying they buy bulk.

4.       112 out of 113 respondents say the pick-up process is clear and effective (nice job distribution teams)

5.       97% say the produce quantity is adequate and is a good value for the price.

6.        96% of respondents say they will sign up again next year.

7.       96% say they use the blog.

8.       It appears our least favorite vegetables are radishes, turnips, eggplant, okra and kohlrabi. Eggplant and okra are also favorites of many.

9.       The membership is not overly interested in communicating internally (87% do not presently use the blog comment capability or Facebook.)  It appears that some people are not aware that we presently have a Facebook page where recipes and other information can be shared. It also appears that folks can “like” and “comment” but cannot post to the wall.

10.   It appears that there is adequate interest in purchasing processed items (78% said yes, or they would probably buy processed food.) Also 29 of 30 members that sampled fermented pickles at the 10th anniversary party said they would buy them if offered.

11.   In responding to what they liked most about the CSA work days the word work was used 23 times, learning 14 times and seeing 13 times. What was liked least was nothing (12), heat/hot (16), and drive (5).

12.   In responding to what members liked most about the CSA the word blog was used 21 times, love (19), and produce (15).

13.   What folks liked least appear to be related to personal inconvenience of pickup times and/or location, the fact that choices dwindle as distribution progresses, wanting more in the swap box, timing of bulk list and blog posting, and wondering why there is a bulk list instead of us sending everything in that we harvest.

14.   Folks want more opportunities to buy eggs.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

In the Share - Week 23

CABBAGE (F/P)  We are sending in an assortment of types:  Napa, Savoy (with ruffles) or smooth-leaved. 

GREEN PEPPERS (F/P) Ahead of tonight's forecasted frost, we cleared out the pepper patch.  Expect a bit of color but mostly greens and purples. 

GREEN TOMATOES (F/P)  These are pure green tomatoes that should be cooked.  See Tom's post for tips. 

LETTUCE (F/P)  One luscious butterhead per share.

SWEET POTATOES (F/P)  After a month of digging we finished the harvest on Monday.  All told, we brought in over 3,400 lbs. - a new record.  This week everyone gets cream-colored O'Henry's.

BROCCOLI OR CAULIFLOWER (F)  More broccoli side shoots and the beginnings of a second flush of cauliflower.

HERB CHOICE (F)  Cilantro, dill, thyme or sage.

GOLD BALL TURNIPS (F)  We love these roasted with some herbs and olive oil.  Mix with other root vegetables or eat them alone.

LEEKS (F/P) Another round of leeks for all. 

NEXT WEEK:  More sweet potatoes, lettuce, herbs and beets.  Watermelon radishes, carrots and greens.

Fall is here in all its glory.  The sun was shining on us as we dismantled the tomato patch on Monday.  The farm crew spent many an hour walking the rows and its always a little sad to see it go.

Before the season ends, Tom and I wanted to thank you all for your responses to the annual CSA member survey.   We were glad to hear that so many of you enjoyed the 2013 season as much as we did.  The survey is one of our most important tools as CSA farmers and we have been very fortunate for the past several years to have Gary and Jan Glauberman on the CSA Core Group as survey gurus.   We love to hear from you all and we use the information in our planning.  We also admit that when 96% of you say that the quality and quantity of the shares was on target, your farmers do sleep easier at night! 

There were a few comments related to the topic of how we decide what is in the share each week.  Tom and I have a rough idea of how much we want to provide of each vegetable when we plan out the year in January.  We like to have a good variety of greens, roots, and fruits with lots of favorites and a sprinkle of something different.  The herb choice is important to many.  Tomatoes, berries and broccoli always win the survey, but many of you also love beets, okra and turnips.

As the crops begin to mature, we make a list for the week of what is ready for harvest.  Some items like carrots, potatoes, onions and garlic are harvested in bulk and then doled out usually every other week for as long as they last.  Other items are picked the day of distribution and we often don't know how much we will have until we bring it in. 

By the time we are a week away from the share going out we have a basic list.  By Monday, that list is fleshed out into full and partial columns and other items are added as the harvest begins on Tuesday.  By the time we send out the bulk list Tuesday afternoon we have a pretty solid idea, but nothing is definite until the final box is packed.  

We attempt each week to provide neither too little and too much.  We have some good vegetable eaters in the membership, but there are also many among us with busy schedules that don't always accommodate time for food preservation.  For that reason, we endeavor to supply a week's worth of produce and not much more.  Sometimes, like at the peak of the tomato harvest or before frost, we give may you a bigger dose, but usually we are careful not to overload the shares with too much of a good thing. 

We think that the last thing any self-respecting local foodie, organic-minded conservationist wants is to waste food.  The weekly bulk list provides for those of you who want to put up extra and it gives the farm an outlet for the excess. 

Well, that's all I've got for now.  We'll try to get to more survey responses next week.  Until then, happy frost day!!

What to Do With Your Share---Week 23

We expect to see a big change in the field tomorrow. The summer crops will be dying, after having produced an impressive harvest. This time of the season can be rather abrupt, but we welcome it as a sign to move on.

The plants are going, but the fruits remain this week. There is still a splash of color in with those green peppers and tomatoes. One good combo of your many share items is a hearty hash.

There are at least three hash recipes that have appeared in the blog. A sweet potato cabbage hash, beet hash, and green bean, potato, onion hash. These recipes generally involve shredding or dicing the major ingredients, and pan frying them until browned. Tonight's combo for us included white sweet potatoes, green and hot peppers, onions, and dill.

To plagiarize our 10/6/09 blog post... As year 6 10 of the CSA draws to a close "what do I do with green tomatoes?" hopefully isn't a questions members have in mind. Fried green tomatoes, green tomato and pepper relish, green tomato salsa, and green tomato curry are but a few of the recipes from our archives. Tried and eaten many times by us farmers, we can attest to the wonderful flavor green tomatoes can impart upon a dish.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

In the Share - Week 22

BROCCOLI (F/P) We have picked most of the first heads and now are picking the side shoots.  Full shares get broccoli and a choice of more broccoli or cauliflower.

SWEET POTATOES (F/P)  big, beautiful orange-fleshed Beauregards

LETTUCE (F/P)  A mix of varieties from the field.

BULB FENNEL (F/P)  Whoa there, the fennel has grown fast and large.  See Tom's post for some culinary suggestions.

CHOICE OF GREENS (F) Bok choy, tat soi, kale or arugula


KOHLRABI (F)  These are the larger, fall season varieties.  Don't let their size scare you, they are tender and juicy.

GARLIC (F/P)  We are saving all of the rest of the garlic for planting later this month. 

TOMATOES (F)  We picked green tomatoes today.  Expect them in your share next week.  Until then enjoy the last of the ripe ones.

WATERMELON RADISH (F/P)  See Tom's post for more on this vivid fall treat.

HERB CHOICE (F/P) Cilantro, dill, thyme, or rosemary

NEXT WEEK:  Broccoli, green peppers, green tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, sweet potatoes, cabbage, carrots, lettuce and leeks.


The farm crew gave up a day off last week to take advantage of the beautiful weather for re-siding the back of the barn.  Thanks to a good platform designed by my dad, we had a sturdy work area.  The old lumber came off quickly in the morning and the boards went up in the afternoon.   

The end result looks pretty nice if we do say so ourselves.

With frost coming any day now, we have been very focused on harvesting the tender crops.  The sweet potato harvest continues with 400 feet left to dig.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 22

Last year, because of the hot, early spring the season was ending this week. This year, due to the cold, wet, late spring we still have two weeks to go. And a good thing, because there is lots in the field to harvest and eat.

One new item is the watermelon radish. We plan to have more in future shares for those of you that are fond of them. And what's not to be fond of. This year they are at their juiciest.

If you are not familiar with them it is worth noting that almost all of the radish's hotness is in the skin. Cut it into rounds and peel, and you have the most striking raw vegetable you will ever ate. Great to snack on, or grate into a salad as a colorful addition.

Peel the heat off the radish (or keep it on for a kick)
Bulb fennel is also new to the shares this week. Use it anywhere you would celery. It is also great chopped and added to a fresh lettuce salad, or roasted.

As far as the sweet potatoes go, we received a great recipe suggestion last year and put it in the blog-Roasted Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges. It is a regular dish for us, perfect for the toaster oven.

While we are feeding you, we are also feeding the soil and our new batch of chickens. We recently turned under our summer cover crops to let them digest in the ground until the spring. The chicks are being fed a ration of organic grains, along with some of the tomatoes, lettuce leaves, and other goodies that would normally go to the compost pile. They are also feeding the soil as we move their trailer down the beds. Thanks go to Kathi Whitman for selling us the trailer and run before she moved to Utah.

Rocky loves the newly spaded beds
Chick trailer, "breezeway", outdoor run and electric fence

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

In the Share - Week 21

romaine lettuces

LETTUCE (F/P) Our best guess is that last hot spell gave the lettuce a fright because almost half of our varieties are going into premature bolt, including some precious heads in the high tunnel.  Crud!  Others are holding on strong and everybody will get one of those until they run out.  Some may also get some baby heads that had to be cut before they get their full bolt on.

TOMATOES (F/P)  The harvest is dwindling, but the plants continue to slowly ripen fruit.  We barely missed a frost this weekend so we'll have them for at least another week.

LEEKS (F/P)  The first digging of the fall leeks.  Can't wait!

BROCCOLI (F/P)  The broccoli is starting to settle down a bit and cold nights make it sweet.

CAULIFLOWER (P)  Partial shares get a choice of cauliflower or more broccoli.

SWEET PEPPERS (F/P)  The ripe ones are getting scarcer but these warm days help. 

CARROTS (F)  Orange sweeties from our recent digging.  There's another bed out there that we are looking forward to eating all winter.

BOK CHOI (F) We planted whatever seed we had left including red ones, white-stemmed and green-stemmed varieties.

HERB CHOICE (F)  Cilantro, dill or basil.

NEXT WEEK:  More peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and beets.  Bulb fennel debuts.


Fall is easily our favorite time of year.  The air is clean and crisp.  Snuggled in our hoodies and jackets we are greeted by the morning sunrise a little later every day.  With nothing left to plant, we focus on the harvest.

fall morning radish pull

In any extra time we have on CSA mornings, we tackle the sweet potato harvest which is breaking all previous records.  Last week we dug a whopping 680 lbs. out of a 200 ft. row.  With several more rows to dig, we encourage anyone who still owes hours to get on out here. 

Luke and Lorne leading the way

When the planting ends, work on the infrastructure begins.  First on the list, the back of the barn.  Some of you may remember when we re-faced the front of the barn two years ago.  Some of you even helped us on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year.  Luckily we stayed injury-free and the barn is much improved.  This time around because of the lay of the land we are fifteen feet up off the ground for the entire project.  For this reason, we are sticking with the "professionals" on this job.  The farm crew plus an extra hand here or there should be able to get the job done. 

back of the barn (before)

What to Do With Your Share---Week 21

Change is setting in. Less than a month ago we had a 5 day stretch of 95-100 degrees. Now we are dodging frost and living comfortably. October days can be the most beautiful of the year. The cooler temps help the fall plants grow best, and have also slowed down many of the munching bugs.

Rocky joining us for the morning harvest
The stars in the field lately have been the broccoli and cauliflower. It has been wonderful eating as much as we can. They are two of the best raw vegetables to eat for nutrition, taste and texture. And if you have a favorite dressing, they are the perfect vessel.

Peeled broccoli has beautiful color too.
We eat lots of our broccoli simply cooked; by steaming and then mixing with some butter, lemon juice and salt. It's good at any temperature.

The other thing we do a lot of is peel our broccoli stem. Fresh broccoli is tender throughout. It is a shame to waste anything but a little peel and a trimming of the end. If you have not done this before , we hope you try it and get even more of a meal from your share.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

In the Share - Week 20

BROCCOLI (F/P)  The broccoli packs a flavor punch this week.  We are blaming those hot days in our recent past.  Steamed with some butter and lemon is all the help it needs.

TOMATOES (F/P)  The harvest is about over, so enjoy them while they last.

CABBAGE (F/P)  Choice of Chinese (Napa) or standard cabbage.  See Tom's post for some helpful hints for making slaw.

SWEET PEPPERS (F)  Ripening is slowing down considerably.  Expect green ones soon.

SWEET POTATOES (F/P)  O'Henry are creamy yellow sweet potatoes.  These are the first of many yellow and orange sweet potatoes out in the field waiting to be dug.  If you still need to punch in your hours, come out on a harvest day and more likely than not we will be digging the sweets! 

BROCCOLI OR CAULIFLOWER (F)  Full shares get a choice of either more broccoli, or a cauliflower.

ARUGULA (F/P)  Our second planting is coming on well and the lettuce isn't quite ready, so enjoy an arugula salad this week.

RADISHES (F/P)  If the heat of the radish is too much for you, try lightly steaming or dressing with a honey vinaigrette.

HERB CHOICE (F/P)  Sage, cilantro and basil


NEXT WEEK:  More peppers, broccoli and cauliflower.  Leeks, carrots, beets and lettuce return.


What a whirlwind of a week it has been.  Thursday we replaced the plastic on our 30 x 96 ft. high tunnel.  It was quite the job for six of us and luckily we didn't rip it in two, but we sure tried!  It went better than our first attempt a year ago and we have new ideas for improvements in 2014.  Today we put the ends and doors back on so she's ready to be buttoned up when frost threatens. 

This week we also began to break new ground in the far field below the grapes.  In 2012, sheep on loan from the Parkers grazed.  This summer the chickens ran through.  Now it is our turn.  Tom took out Grandpa, the family's 1962 International 504 bought used by John Graff, Sr. in late sixties. The discs are of a similar vintage. After several passes the ground is chopped up a bit and ready for spading.

Add in the regular harvest routine and then, by some miracle, Tom and I escaped the farm for a full 48 hours.   Between the Saturday rain (very nice!) and Monday afternoon we lounged at a B & B in St. Joseph, Missouri.  It was a welcome rest after the normal rollercoaster of a season we get here on the edge of the prairie.  Besides napping and eating too much pizza, we also managed a walk along the river, 3 antique malls, and several museums.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 20

Time for fall cabbage this week. And choices abound as we hand out round, flathead and Chinese varieties. They are all good eaten raw in a slaw. The trick to a good slaw is to shred the cabbage, salt it (about 1 tbsp. per medium head) and let it sit in a colander and drain for about an hour. Shake and press off any excess water and you have slaw that will remain crunchy and not get watery.

The next step in slaw making is choosing what extra ingredients to add, and what dressing to make. The first thing is to see if you have any veggies in your fridge or share that would enhance a cabbage salad. Peeled and grated kohlrabi, radishes, peppers, pears, apples, raisins, and nuts all go well in slaw. Herbs like cilantro, parsley or chives make a good garnish.

For the dressing the possibilities are pretty endless. We often use either an Asian dressing (sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, honey, ginger), a Mediterranean one (olive oil, white wine vinegar, honey, garlic), or a mayo style (mayonnaise, white vinegar, honey, ground black pepper).

For the first time since early March, Rebecca and I were off the farm overnight. We took a two evening rest in St. Joseph, Missouri. It was well worth the journey as we stayed amused and relaxed.

Our visit to the Glore Psychological Museum included a look at the impressive vegetable production, storage and processing operation of the former State Lunatic Asylum No. 2. As the copy below shows, they weren't small potatoes (the facility housed 3,000 people). From what I can tell from the lower photo, they even fermented cucumbers in quantity.