Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What to Do With Your Share---Week 16

The ebb and flow of this year continues, as the peppers start to ripen up, beans are ready for a first picking, and tomatoes start to wane. It is a time of year when the recipe is to simply cook whatever you have together.

I suggest two different recipes for this. The first is a hash of potatoes, beans and onions. It is a good way to use the modest harvest of beans that will be in the shares over the next few weeks. As a side note, it is interesting to read the entire newsletter the recipe is in (July 20, 2007) and see what we were up to.

Sorry, no food picture this week, just a slow-opening sunflower.
Another way to blend the share but cook a different combination is eggplant, onion, garlic and tomato over rice. You can use whatever proportions you like making this dish. Ours had a healthy amount of onion and garlic, but consisted mainly of chopped eggplant and tomato. First sauté the onion, eggplant and garlic for a good 10 minutes and then quickly chop the tomatoes and add them to the hot pot. It helps the sauce thicken up.

In reading an article on how last month was the hottest July on record, I came across this map. You can see that for us in Missouri the first half of 2015 was relatively cool. Guess we should consider ourselves lucky.

In the Share - Week 16

BEANS  ?  We will pick the patch tomorrow for the first time and we may only have enough for either full or partial.  Whoever misses this week will get some next week.  We planted beans four times this summer and are happy to get some finally to grow and fruit!

TOMATOES F/P  Roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and heirloom and hybrid slicers make up the mix.

DESIREE POTATOES F  Creamy yellow inside and blushing pink outside.  All delicious.

SWEET PEPPERS F/P  The peppers are ripening now.  Their are Carmen horn-shaped red ones, yellow and purple bells.


RED ONIONS F/P  An assortment of three types including the Tropea onion, from the Ruggieris ancestral homeland.


HERBS OR HOT PEPPERS F/P  We are sending in dried herbs, dried cayenne peppers and fresh hot peppers.  The basil may be gone for the season.

NEXT WEEK:  Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beans, salsa packs and garlic

Thursday morning we welcomed 62 new residents to the farm.

 Day-old chicks were shipped overnight in a cardboard box from Cackle hatchery in Lebanon, MO to the post office in Kearney where we picked them up and quickly got them to their new home.  For now they live in the brooder, a large box in the barn where we can keep them safe and warm.  Their first food from us goes on paper towels to get them started eating.

The chicks are Americaunas which lay blue, green or pink eggs, Dominiques that lay brown eggs, and Brown Leghorns that lay white eggs but don't expect any eggs from these little girls until sometime in February.  For now we check on them several times a day and make sure they are staying warm and well-fed and to get some free entertainment.  Kitten videos are okay, but these little girls (and 2 boys) are pretty darn cute.

Since they have arrived their downy coats have gained the first feathers on their wings.  Once they have all of their feathers we can begin to let them out for short runs in the grass.  By the Harvest dinner (Sept. 13!) they should be out in our little coop with a yard to explore.

And we saw this in the field - mating monarchs! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What to Do With Your Share---Week 15

August is waning, but it does still feel like summer. Tomatoes continue for now, with the paste varieties starting to peak. We normally reserve these tomatoes for bulk sale to the canners among us. This year they will end up in the share.

We grow a mix of paste tomatoes. Some are bush-type hybrids that we grow in tomato cages. They look like the ones you see in the grocery. The remainder are open-pollinated varieties that come from both purchased and saved seeds. The ruffled paste tomatoes even come in a variety of colors-pink, brown, and red. There are plum-shaped ones called speckled Roman, and a pear-shaped one called a pear tomato.

These tomatoes are best cooked. One trick to keep your sauce thick and to keep the juice from separating out is to always put your cut tomatoes into a hot pot. Work with a small amount at a time and keep the sauce well mixed. These tomatoes are meaty and great in sauce making.

On Friday I leave for a short trip to Indianapolis to be part of a medal presentation for my WWII veteran father Frank "Rocky" Ruggieri. He served in a naval group called "Scout and Raiders", the pre-cursor to the Navy SEALS. Part of his duty landed him in China as one of 2,500 Americans participating in SACO (the Sino-American Cooperative Organization).

His job was reconnaissance and helping the Chinese government fight the Japanese. This government later fled to Taiwan when the communists took control. The medal our family will receive will be presented by the Taiwanese government. A once in a lifetime opportunity.

My dad on the right, about 24 years old.

In the Share - Week 15

FINGERLING POTATOES F/P  There are some peace-sign shapes in with the fingers.

TOMATOES F/P  The tomato harvest has peaked but we will still have some for many weeks yet.

GARLIC F/P  Artichoke variety



SWEET PEPPPERS F  We are just picking the purple peppers while we wait for the red and yellow varieties to ripen.


ROMA TOMATOES F Tom's Italian ancestry must be to blame for the many varieties of Roma/paste/sauce-making varieties in our fields.  See his post for his thoughts on enjoying them.

HERBS OR HOT PEPPERS F/P  Basil or chives plus a few stems of garlic chive flowers.

NEXT WEEK:  Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, salsa packs, herbs and onions.

We had a nice dry spell this past week which gave us perfect conditions for killing weeds.  I ran the cultivator through the fall broccolis, cauliflowers and cabbages and then we all hoed the ones the tractor missed.   

The last of the fall crops - arugula, endive, lettuce, turnips and herbs were planted just in time to be watered in by the 1 inch + rain we got today. 

Throughout the day as we go about our tasks, we often catch ourselves scanning the farm for our big white dog.   He is gone, but not forgotten.  Thank you to all of you who sent your kind words of support and sympathy our way.  It lifts our spirits.  On that subject, long-time FSF CSA members, Janet and Kevin Day, asked us to share their thoughts:   

"First, we want to tell you how sorry we are about Rocky's passing. Seeing Rocky was one of the things we loved most about our farm visits, and I fell in love with him during my first visit to the farm when he was still a puppy. We will miss him, so we can only imagine how heartbroken you must be.

We also want to assure you that you can stop apologizing for what you consider somewhat skimpy shares this year. For one thing, we don't consider them skimpy. When we become CSA members, we understand that we share in the harvests, no matter what the weather and conditions bring. You farmers take on risks that other professions turn tail and run from.  By putting in with you, we also assume risks, but more than that, we support your lives and livelihoods while you dramatically improve your little corner of Earth. We've been members for eight years, and prior to that, Janet had been a member of three other CSAs, none of which have offered the amount, variety and quality of produce that Fair Share has, year after year.

But that's not all you two and your farm have offered us. You two have helped to create a community of local providers. Every Wednesday, during the CSA season, we pick up the freshest, most delicious produce in town and locally made cheese from two area dairies, Goatsbeard Farm and Skyview Farm. Then once a month, we get chickens and eggs from Tiny Whole Farm and meat from Parker Farm. And once in a while, we get bread from Companionship Bread, a local bakery you've hooked us up with. We've never belonged to a CSA that assisted their members in finding other local providers.

Every time we work a farm shift, it's like a mini apprenticeship. We've watched your land get healthier and more productive year by year, and we've borrowed ideas from you and applied them in our gardens. So thanks to you two, we're growing produce you've introduced us to using methods you've taught us.

So to our fellow CSAers, especially those new to Fair Share: thank you for joining us--and Tom and Rebecca--in this endeavor.  We hope you also see the bigger picture even with some "small" harvests.  Stick around and you'll be rewarded! "

 Many thanks,
Janet and Kevin Day

Thank you, Janet and Kevin!  We strive every day to deserve such trust and support.  We do love the community that has sprung up around us and hate to think what life would be like without you all.   We are looking forward to celebrating the harvest with many of you at the upcoming FSF CSA Harvest dinner on the farm on September 13.  Mark your calendars, if you haven't already, and keep your eyes peeled for an official invite coming soon.

2014 hayride at the Harvest dinner

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What to Do With Your Share---Week 14

This point in August is usually a blur, with a little bit of everything going on; harvesting, planting, weeding, mowing, irrigating, chickening and maintaining. Luckily eating makes the list too.

One crop that is coming on strong right now is the hot peppers. This harvest is timed well with the results of a recent study that concludes spicy food may help you live longer. It's only a maybe, but if you read the article you will find that hot peppers have plenty of nutritional and  anti-inflammatory benefits, while stimulating the kidneys, lungs and heart.

Our blog from August 3, 2010 has a good description of what your choices might be this week (partials shares  next week). The NuMex, hot wax and jalapenos all have similar medium hotness that doesn't last too long. Some may find them spicier, but they are more mid-scale hotness peppers.

When you cut them open it is the seeds and inner memberane that have the most heat, so stay clear of them if you don't want you hands to burn. Half of a jalapeno chopped up provides a nice kick to any dish.

In the Share - Week 14

EGGPLANT OR SQUASH F/P  Mostly eggplant with just a few squash coming in.  If you haven't tried the marinated eggplant recipe yet, I highly recommend it.

DESIREE POTATOES F  We have been leaning heavily on the bountiful potato crop for the shares.  They add some heft to what has been a difficult growing season. 

TOMATOES F/P  More heirlooms than hybrids this week including many green-when-ripe varieties like Aunt Ruby's, Green Zebra and Emerald Evergreen.



SALSA OR HOT PEPPERS F  See Tom's post for info. on our hot pepper varieties.

HERB CHOICE F/P  Basil, lemon bail or summer savory

NEXT WEEK:  tomatoes, eggplant, salsa packs, hot peppers, herbs and garlic. 


A cold front has dipped down from the North and we were glad for it.  It has stayed dry which is a benefit to us as we work to complete the fall planting.  Almost all is in and with drip tape on each row.  Farm apprentice, Semra, used the discs on the electric Allis  Chalmers G to  "gutter" the beds today. 

It is so nice to be able to do this work after two months of flooding rains.  For quite awhile attempting tractor work was a good way to get stuck in the mud.  If we have wet times in the future, this work will give a place for the water to drain away.

The CSA member job right now is harvesting the potato crop. They have sized up nicely and are plentiful too.  We have brought in over a ton so far this year and there's still more to dig.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

In the Share - Week 13



DESIREE POTATOES F/P  Pink on the outside, creamy yellow in the inside. 

EGGPLANT P  The eggplants and pepper plants are doing well in an area where the chickens were last fall.  Thanks, chickens!



HERBS F/P  Basil or summer savory

HOT PEPPERS F/P  A couple of jalapenos or hot wax peppers to spice up your week.


NEXT WEEK:  Tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, salsa pack, peppers, herbs and onions.

We had already started declaring 2015 the worst year ever before the dog died. 

Our dear boy, Rocky, left us on Friday, the victim of cancer.   Born in October of 2007, he came to the farm as a pup in January 2008. 

Rocky's first day on the farm

He grew into a 120 lb. sweetheart that was always game for a head scratch from a stranger.  Each CSA morning that day's crew would have to go through what we dubbed "the security check", which consisted of a friendly sniffing then he'd find some sucker to pet him down while the safety talk went on.  He was a Great Pyrenees/Anatolian shepherd mix, both breeds are meant to guard livestock from predators, in our case he guarded our crops and chickens.

Tom and I were very attached to our gentle giant.  He was an important member of the farm crew and he will be sorely missed.  A memorial to our lost pal has taken up a blank chalkboard in the packing room so that we can remember him as we work. 

What to Do With Your Share---Week 13

Losing Rocky has been a tough one for us. We can already see the change in wildlife habits on the farm. Raccoons are on the back porch. Who knows what's next.

Rocky was quite literally a presence in the area. We would see him wander in every direction of the compass. His influence was significant. We get tired just thinking of the effort he expended walking the hills of northeast Clay County, keeping the farm secure.

Watching him work was one of the great things about having him on the farm team. Sleeping, galloping or being petted by the kids, he was one of the finest specimens of a dog you could ever meet. His barking skills were second to none. RIP.

Happy dog in his element
Through all of this we still have to eat. At lunch the other day we hooked farm volunteer Joy on a favorite recipe of ours, marinated eggplant.  We are hoping that these beauties start kicking in for good soon, as the summer won't last forever. Her version is pictured below.

And the high tunnel has been eating too. On Sunday the cover crop of sorghum sudan grass and sunn hemp were mowed down, and then spaded into the soil on Monday. Happy eating.

 7 foot high cover crops