Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What to Do With Your Share---Week 3

Things are happening quickly this week. The strawberries have kicked into gear, the potatoes and tomatoes look strong again, and the greenhouse is emptying fast. It is a significant annual benchmark when the summer planting is done, and we move into the tending and harvesting phase.

One crop that has just peaked is the frisee endive. The slender leaves of this salad green are mild and tender. The center of the heads are especially fine, blanched a beautiful white and light green. The summer heat ruins them, so enjoy them now.

Frisee in the field
We recommend having your butterhead lettuce and frisee over several meals. The first time you make a salad peel and use the outer leaves, leaving the hearts. Your next salad use the tender centers. Tough to duplicate.

A staple dish the last couple weeks have been greens and pasta. Mark Bittman got us using this dish after we made his Spaghetti and Broccoli Raab recipe. Below is a recipe for a recent slant on the dish where we used kale. You can use about any combination of greens, spring alliums, herbs, cheese and pasta.

Kale, Green Onions, Bow Tie Pasta and Goat Cheese

1 bunch of kale
1 bunch of green onions
bow tie pasta, cooked
goat cheese
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp sea salt

Chop the kale leaves and stems separately. Chop the bottom half of the green onions. In a sauté pan heat 1 tbsp. olive oil and cook the kale stems and green onion bottoms for 3 minutes on high heat.

Add kale tops and salt, stir and cook for 2 minutes more. Turn down heat to medium and cook 10 minutes, adding liquid if it burns. Push vegetables to one side of the pan. Fill the other half of the pan with pasta, toss to warm. Serve topped with goat cheese and green onion tops.

In the Share - Week 3

STRAWBERRIES F/P   A quart for everyone this first week with hopefully much more to come.

LETTUCE F2/P1  More butterheads and red leaf varieties. 

FRISEE ENDIVE F/P  Great just in a salad, but see Tom's post for more info.

CHOICE OF GREENS  F/P  Bok choy, kale or Swiss chard.

GREEN GARLIC OR GREEN ONIONS F Soon both will begin to bulb up and give us the real deal, but for a bit longer we have the young ones.

HERBS OR ARUGULA F  This may be it for the arugula offerings this Spring.

RADISHES F/P  Red beauties with quite the kick.  Roast or sautee them to remove the heat.

BROCCOLI F/P One of our better Spring broccoli harvest is underway.  No crazy hot-pink heads this time! 

NEXT WEEK:  More lettuce, greens, herbs, broccoli and strawberries.  Kohrabi and spring turnips.

We are happy to say that things are much improved here since our last report.  The tomatoes and potatoes are green and growing back quickly.  We have loads of ripening berries in the strawberry patch although in most clusters there are several dead flowers (see above).  It seems like the freeze was a long time ago.  This week our worries have moved on to the lack of rain.  The irrigation pond is full and every row of crop is getting a line as it is planted.  We have barely had any rain as the stormy weather surrounds us.  The sky darkens but refuses to let loose over our heads.

The last few days have felt like a real Midwestern summer - hot and sticky with no rain to clear the air.  On days like today in the farm truck's passenger seat rides a big cooler of ice water.  The workers and animals alike keep hydrated as we race around the fields. With his full winter coat still on, Rocky is sticking to the shade during the day to keep cool.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What to Do With Your Share---Week 2

As a farmer you have the type of nightmares that revolve around waking up in the morning and finding all of your crops dead. While we certainly did not have that, we woke up to some scary stuff on the 16th and the 17th. As Rebecca filled you in, we are sticking to our game plan and moving forward.

The shares this week are literally heavy with lettuce. We have honed in on some spectacular varieties over the years, and we savor their appearance in the shares. Enjoy this peak season.

Our favorite thing is to make a good dressing, assemble some veggie, carb and protein items, and mix them all together. The salad below of beets and lettuce is topped with Goatsbeard cheese and roasted pumpkin seeds.

Tonight we took advantage  of one of our other partner vendors, Parker Farms for a filling salad. To make the meatballs mix one egg and 2 tbsp. of ground herbs (a mix of mint, rosemary, thyme, fennel seed, oregano, or other savory herbs). Fry them in 2 tbsp. olive oil and drain on paper.

Fill your salad bowl with rice and lettuce. Top with the meatballs, broiled asparagus, pumpkin seeds, and the dressing of your choice. Tough to beat.

All in all it has been a crazy few days. Here are a few more scenes.

Rebecca hilling the potatoes before the frost

Newly planted tomatoes in a 30 mph wind

In the Share - Week 2

ASPARAGUS OR BROCCOLI F/P  The freeze slowed the asparagus harvest to a non-event, luckily the broccoli is starting to mature.

RED LEAF LETTUCE F/P  We love these red ruffley lettuces.  Half green & half red they make a beautiful salad all by themselves.

BUTTERHEAD OR ROMAINE HEIRLOOM LETTUCES Full shares get one of each.  Partial shares get a choice.  The heat is kicking in and we have a lot of lettuce in the field, so we are picking extra this week to keep ahead. 

ARUGULA  Full shares get both an herb choice and arugula, partial shares choose.   Add to your salad for a nice kick.

HERB CHOICE  Cilantro, dill, tarragon

BOK CHOY/TAT SOI  Add to some fried rice with farm eggs and you have yourself a meal!

GREENS CHOICE  Kale, Gail lan, Swiss Chard.  Partial shares can also choose the bok choy

GREEN GARLIC  the same concept as green onions, the young plants.  Use it fresh in salads.

NEXT WEEK:  More lettuce, broccoli, greens and herbs. 

FARM REPORT:  All hell broke loose after we last reported.  Two nights of freezing temperatures threatened to stop the harvest when we had barely begun.  In preparation, we covered the fields including the strawberries with their flowers and young fruit and the newly transplanted tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, cukes and tender herbs. 

We thought we were prepared for the forecasted 36 degrees F Friday morning.  Unfortunately, it was much colder than that.  We registered 32 on our temperature gauge behind the greenhouse.  Out in the far field it must have been even colder.  Under the row cover the tomatoes were hit hard. 

Surprisingly, the plants without mulch fared better, including the peppers, eggplant, squash and cucumbers.  The potatoes lost much of their foliage but were better by yesterday.  After some time to evaluate, it looks like the damage is temporary and many of the plants will grow back with good health.  We have replaced the worst of the tomatoes with extra plants from the greenhouse.  We also send much appreciation to the fine folks at Gibbs Road Farm (KC,KS) for giving us extra plants. 

Meanwhile, the chickens were oblivious to all the plant drama this week.  Instead they are happily exploring their new home in the spring-planted cover crop of oats and peas.  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What to Do With Your Share---Week 1

Welcome, and welcome back to everyone. We are happy to be starting the 2014 season and beginning the harvest. We have been busy seeding, planting, irrigating, cultivating, row covering and mulching this season's crops, and now is the time to eat. We are looking forward to a good season.

The bad news this spring is that the leeks did not fare the winter well and we do not have enough for everyone. The good news is that we finally had some of our rhubarb plants produce and we are having it as a choice. Someday we plan on having enough of both for everyone.

The leeks did not survive the winter nights, as 27 were in the single digits and 9 were subzero. A tough end of the season after a hot and dry summer. They were double-whammied.

The rhubarb has also faced more than one scorching summer, not ideal for a plant that thrives in Anchorage. But this year it came up well in the cool spring and we have a chance to enjoy it. One easy way to do that is to make a rhubarb crisp. This is a simple and somewhat old-fashioned dish that can’t be beat when you have fresh rhubarb. It is also a great way to get acquainted with its taste.

Rhubarb Crisp

3/4 lb
chopped rhubarb
1/2 cup
evaporated cane juice or sugar
2 tsp
lemon zest
Juice of 1
1/3 cup
butter, chilled
1/2 cup
1/2 cup
brown sugar
1/2 cup
1 tsp
1/2 tsp
freshly grated nutmeg

What to Do
° Preheat oven to 375 degrees
° Chop the rhubarb into 1/2-inch pieces. Mix with the sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice and set aside for 10 minutes to an hour to macerate.
° Mix butter, flour and brown sugar until lumpy. Add oats, cinnamon and nutmeg.
° Pour rhubarb into a buttered baking dish. Add half of the flour/butter/brown sugar mix and stir. Pour the other half over the top.
° Bake for 45 minutes or until bubbling and browned.

In the Share - Week 1

RED LEAF LETTUCE  It is Spring salad season when the tender lettuces thrive. 

BUTTERHEAD LETTUCE The most tender of them all are our heirloom butterheads.  Enjoy them while they last. 

ASPARAGUS  We will have asparagus for two weeks, before we let it grow its summer ferns.

KALE  Some kale soup would be perfect for this weather we are having.  39 deg. forecasted for Thursday night - yikes!!

BOK CHOI & TAT SOI  Every CSA member would be happy if they had the stir fry as a tool in their culinary workshop.  Tom did an easy primer a few years back

SCALLIONS  aka green onions, young and slender.

LEEKS OR RHUBARB  See Tom's post more on this choice.  The first harvest from the rhubarb patch coincided with a miserable survival rate of the over-wintered leeks.

HERB CHOICE  Cilantro, dill, common chives and garlic chives.

NEXT WEEK:  More lettuce, asparagus, and herbs.  Green garlic, radishes, and Swiss Chard.


Here we are - first week of the CSA for the bulk of our members.  The last three weeks of harvest for 52 shares came from our high tunnel.  Now it is time for the real harvest to begin.  Mother Nature is in full control in the fields, toying with us as we race around tending to the Earth's carpet.

Luckily we have a great crew to get the job done.  Linda and Jody are working part-time since early March.  Dustin and John joined us as full-time apprentices in late March.  It makes all the difference to have a good team and this year we certainly have it.  Below is teamwork in action as we cover the newly planted squashes and cucumbers to protect them from pests. 

Our team grows by 8+ people every Wednesday and Saturday morning.  CSA members with friends, family and children in tow descend upon us to reap the harvest.  The farm shift requirement is imbedded deep in the Fair Share Farm CSA.  Tom and I first met on a long-standing CSA farm outside of Rochester, NY.  I never would have met the love of my life if Peacework Organic Farm didn't require its members to help at the farm.  And we continue to see so many benefits from bringing our families out to the farm, getting everyone's hands in the soil and giving the young ones a chance to pull food up out of the ground.  Not to mention the relationship that is built between people, or as CSAers like to call them, eaters.

The Fair Share Farm CSA Core Group is an amazing group of talented eaters who keep the whole community running.  There are 2 farm shift schedulers who make it possible for 150 families to come to the farm in an orderly fashion.  We have 15 folks who keep the 3 distribution sites humming with activity.  There is Inreach, Outreach, Events, Kid's Activities, Social Media and Cheese shares.  As you can see, it is not just about the vegetables.  Earlier in the month the Core Group met at the farm house.

Our lives are enriched by the bonds we have created around the most basic act of sustenance.  We are looking forward to another season with all of you.  We strive for a bountiful crop and hope you enjoy the fruits of our labor.    

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

In the Share - Week 3 Extended Season

 ASPARAGUS  An extra big bunch for all.  The hot weather has it growing fast.

LETTUCES (2)  We have plenty of lettuce for everyone to get two of what is left in the high tunnel.  We have butterheads, Forellenschluss, and red leaf lettuce remaining.

HAKUREI TURNIPS  See Tom's post for a stir-fry that uses the tops and the bottoms, plus bok choy or almost any other green you may have waiting for a recipe. 

RADISHES  More baby bunches from the high tunnel.  Just enough to give your salad a kick.

SPINACH  Probably the last harvest of the spinach in the high tunnel.  It fed us all well since last fall and we are grateful for it. 

TAT SOI  Both the tat soi and the bok choy in the high tunnel have been disappointments this Spring.  Not sure why, perhaps they got too chilled earlier.  You will be receiving baby heads that will fill in nicely in a stir fry or salad with other greens.

CARROTS It is nice to have fresh carrots this time of year.  The ones in the field are still so small. 

CHOICE:  KALE, SWISS CHARD OR GAILAN  We are clearing out the high tunnel so here is an assortment of greens to choose from.

HERB CHOICE:  Cilantro, dill, tarragon

NEXT WEEK:  The first week of the 24-week season!  Lettuces and salad greens.  Asparagus and green onions. 

After last week's cold spell, the temperature has increased dramatically.  We waited until the frost-danger had passed and now all of the summer fruits:  tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beans, cucumbers and squash are ready to be planted.  So far, we have 550 tomato plants in the ground, with another 350 to go.

It is also time to cultivate the spring beds.  Weeds are still small in most places and are vulnerable to the cultivator sweeps on the electric tractor.  The onion beds got the treatment yesterday and are looking great.

What to Do With Your Share---Extended Season Week 3

The spring high tunnel season is wrapping up, just as it feels as if summer is here. A cool down is coming, but the last few days have brought on the feelings of a strong sun and hot day. Time to change gear.

The asparagus puts out more the warmer it gets, and right now you can practically watch them grow. It won't be here forever, so have that favorite recipe a second or third time. Or try something completely new.

Last night the Asian greens were the perfect ingredients for a curry. Fresh spring vegetables, coconut milk, and curry powder were about all we needed for a restaurant quality dish.

Curried Spring Vegetable Stir Fry

2 medium or one large bok choi, stems and leaf chopped separate
3 hakurei turnips, cut into half-rounds
turnip greens, chopped
2 tbsp. ginger root, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 can organic coconut milk
2 tbsp or more curry powder
2 tbsp sesame oil
cilantro for garnish

Clean, chop and prepare all of the ingredients. Heat the oil in a wok or skillet. Add the garlic and ginger and stir for 1 minute. Add the bok choi stems and turnips, stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add the bok choi and turnip tops and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the curry powder, stir and then add the coconut milk. Stir and cook for 2 to 5 minutes until desired tenderness. Serve over rice with a garnish of cilantro.

Eggs for Sale
Do not forget, there are eggs for sale and you can order them by emailing us. At $5/dozen they are a bargain. We have begun to really see that, as the costs associated with managing a flock of laying hens has become more apparent.

The organic feed bill for the year is estimated at over $2,200. Add in about 2 hours per day of labor to feed them in the morning, collect, clean, grade and store the eggs, keep track of their well being, move them every month or so, and close them up at night and you are looking at another $5,500-$6,000 per year.

Our hens do not lay enough eggs for this math to work. They do poop though and that is counted in their favor. We are hoping that we can utilize them so that our vegetable income goes up. We are still learning and have them here for more reasons than one.

Morning parade