Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Week 3: Spring, gone so soon?

In The Share:
SPROUTING BROCCOLI:  Our new favorite plant on the farm.  It seems to handle the temperature swings better than most of our other cool season (ha!) crops.  No need for trimming, just chop it up or eat it whole, it is wonderfully tender.

ASPARAGUS:  Enjoy it while it lasts!

LETTUCE:  Usually we pick the lettuce the day before it goes to our CSA members, but the heat sent us in to save the last of the crops out of the high tunnel before they cooked.  Some of their outer leaves are tip-burned. If you tear that part off, there's still a good amount of juicy center.

SWISS CHARD:  One of our favorite greens to add to almost any dish. This first picking from the field is very tender and fresh.

RADISHES AND TURNIPS:  The heat has turned them spicy, so we recommend a quick stir fry. If you are eating them fresh a little salt can help with any bitterness.

KALE: A first picking here too, these leaves are ready for your recipes.

CILANTRO AND DILL:  The herb bunches this week are a lush as anything we have every grown. This abundance calls for making a dip, heavy on the greenery. To 16oz of sour cream add 3/4 cup chopped herbs, 2 tbsp oil, salt and pepper. Good with raw sprouting broccoli.

Farm Report:
The heat is on!  It takes a toll on the cool season crops like lettuce.  This week's lettuce has been under shade cloth for the past week as we attempt to hold it for the CSA shares.  Butterhead lettuce and 90 degree temperatures don't mix so good.

While the Spring wilts away, Summer is in the ground and growing.

All of the first round of hot weather crops are in:  tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, okra, tomatillos and eggplant thanks to the hands of many.

Speaking of farm hands, Tom and I wanted to give a shoutout to Semra Fetahovic, who apprenticed on the farm in 2015 and has returned to work with us for the next month.  Semra is set to complete her Masters in Organic Agriculture at a German university.  When not helping with turnip picking, she is helping us with our Instagram feed and ferment sales. Check out the Instagram stories from today at fairsharefarm!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

CSA Week 2---Great Greens and More

In The Share
TAT SOI: When a vegetable is this deep green, you know it's good for you
RADISHES: Slow to grow this spring, these are the first
BUTTERHEAD LETTUCE: The first butterhead of the season is always a treat
RED LEAF LETTUCE: Good for everything from sandwiches to salads
SPROUTING BROCCOLI: The plants in the field have started to make their first flower buds. Look for this broccoli cousin in your share for awhile.
BRAISING MIX: Greens that are best sautéed, perfect for a dish of mac & cheese & greens
GARLIC CHIVES OR ARUGULA:  Every dish deserves a little topping.

What to Do With Your Share
This is a good time of year to take advantage of the opportunity to add such an array of delicious, fresh greens to your meals. We offer a couple of suggestions here to compliment your shares. On the Asian green side of things, here are recipes for both bok choy soup and stir fry soup. These are both especially good if you have a good broth to use. Some folks keep it creamy with coconut milk.

The braising mix and sprouting broccoli make a nice addition to either a boxed or home-made version of mac & cheese. Greens can be a part of many dishes, adding both heartiness and nutrition.

Farm Report
It has been quite a couple of weeks since we last wrote.  On Tuesday last, we were a part of a six-person crew that carried out a controlled burn of the 150 acres of native grasses on the family farmland that surrounds us.

This was not our first rodeo, as they say, and we managed to get it all done safely by the early afternoon.  If you look closely, in the background is the green oasis of Fair Share Farm surrounded by the smoldering moon scape.

Native grasses have a long relationship with fire which reduces the competition from cool season grasses and shrubs, while at the same time cleaning up old thatch that can smother the new season's growth.

Meanwhile, the vegetable farm work continues at a Spring sprint.  The fields are filling up with the last of the cool season crops.  The weather has switched from winter to summer in a short week's time, so we will see how all of our lettuces, cabbages, carrots, onions and potatoes hold up.  The potatoes are just now peaking out of the soil.

Our new flock of laying hens (I guess they are technically pullets) are getting close to 3 months old and growing well.  We are hoping they start laying by the end of July.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

CSA Week 1---Our 15th Season is Underway

Swiss chard and alyssum in the high tunnel

In The Share
CABBAGE: From cold storage.  These are sweet right down to the core, so don't throw that core out but enjoy it as a crunchy snack.  
CARROTS: Another vegetable we have kept in cold storage to hedge our bets. Harvested in early November, they are a real treat.
BOK CHOI: Fresh from the high tunnel.  Check out our stir fry primer blogpost from 2010.
SPINACH: Enough for a good omelet or a hearty addition to a salad.
CHARD OR SPROUTING BROCCOLI: If you are new to the CSA, the sprouting broccoli can be chopped or used whole, no trimming necessary.
GREEN GARLIC: From the field.  They are smaller than other years, but very tender.  Tonight I chopped it up and added it to sautéed chard during the last minute of cooking.

Farm Report
Greetings and welcome to the first week of the 2018 CSA!  We, farmers Tom and Rebecca, have joined forces on the blog. From now on, you will have one blogpost from us for each CSA share instead of us writing separate ones.  Tom is still covering the how to eat things portion and I cover the farm report with some overlap.

This space is where I (Rebecca) usually gripe about the weather, but holy hell what a Spring this has been!  Ice, snow, and freezing temperatures for the last three weeks have thrown our schedule for a loop.  We did our best to adapt to the forecast by double covering all of the transplants already in the field, holding the many more inside the greenhouse and putting covers on all of our tender seedlings that had just popped their little heads above the soil.  It appears our efforts have paid off.

Sprouting broccoli happy under cover

With the forecast looking warm for the foreseeable future, we have wasted no time getting back to planting.   

freshly planted cabbages

Amidst all of the weather drama, we must also acknowledge a milestone.  This year marks the fifteenth year of the Fair Share Farm CSA!  The community of good folks who have supported the farm over the years are many and we would like to thank you all.  Whether you are brand new to the CSA or a 15-year veteran we are filled with gratitude for the life that you have breathed into our family farm. 

If you want to get a snapshot of our first CSA year, check out our blog post from 2013 where we reminisce about it:  First year of the CSA. It is part of a series we did in 2012 recounting the history of the farm and farmers back during our 10 year anniversary. So enjoy those past chronicles as we begin another season.

Friday, February 2, 2018

CSA 2018: Join Now!

Oh, wintertime on the farm! It conjures up visions of drowsy farmers curled up with a good book around an crackling fire.  Alas, even farmers are not immune from the modern condition and winter for us includes more spreadsheets than catnaps.

The "off season" does offer a break from the sweaty toil of summertime and some time for reflection.  2017 was a year of experimentation with the CSA and the new ferments business.  The 2017 CSA member survey has been a very helpful tool to judge the season behind us and plan for the one ahead.  Here are some highlights:

  • 68 people responded out of 85 memberships
  • 86% liked the changes we made in 2017 overall
  • 93% liked the every other week shares
  • 91% said they received a sufficient amount of produce
  • 91% felt the bulk list was an easy way to supplement the share
  • 96% liked the online signup
  • 98% said they would renew in 2018
  • Pricing:  34% said keep it at $250, 50% said raise it to $350, 12% said raise it to $400.
  • Favorite items:  strawberries, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes
  • Least-liked items:  turnips, fennel, lettuce, beets, chard
  • Add items:  more tomatoes, green beans and peas.

  • With these results plus our own farm records in mind we have decided to keep things similar to 2017:  every-other week share, with some added variety and quantity, and a share price of $375. 

    Regarding pricing: Through the handy software at Small Farm Central we were able to keep tabs on the value of the weekly shares and decided to split the difference between what we expect to hand out in 2018 ($400) and what the members want ($350).  These prices include a 15% discount off retail price that we give the members since they are in effect buying in bulk from us.  We will be planting more tomatoes and adding back some peas and green beans.

    Bringing back the sliding scale:  For 14 years our CSA offered a scale of prices that allowed for families with lower incomes to afford the shares.  With the move to the online signup last year, we scraped this core concept because we couldn't wrap our heads around how to implement it in the new system.  Now, a year later we think we have figured out how to bring it back.  When you go through the process to join the CSA you will be given three price options:  $425, $375, and $325. The center of the scale ($375) is what it costs the farm to grow a share of produce. Those that can afford to join at the $425 end of the scale allow for others to join for $325.

    Partner Vendors:  We are happy to announce that most of our Partner Vendors are back for another season.  Parker Farms natural meats, Goatsbeard and Skyview cheeses and Companionship Breads are available in 2018.  Tiny Whole Farm, who has provided the CSA with chickens, is not returning because they are shifting focus to running the Red Rooster restaurant in Polo, Missouri.  We at Fair Share Farm will also continue to offer egg and ferment shares.

    If all of this sounds like something you would like to be a part of, membership is now open for the 2018 CSA.  We welcome you to join our CSA and eat well all season long.  Follow this link to join now:  fairshare.csasignup.com   The strawberries will be here before you know it!