Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Fair Share Farm CSA---Week 9


TOMATOES: A good mix of heirloom tomatoes this week. Enjoy these during this peak time period. Lots of water and work has gone into these beauties. Green Zebra, a favorite heirloom of ours, is ripe when green.

POTATOES: I can think of nothing better than a fresh potato salad this time of year. Potato, Onion and Cutting Celery, and German Potato Salad are a couple nice options. Any of the herbs in your share this week goes well with potatoes.

GARLIC: The garlic is at its perfect stage, freshly cured, juicy and flavorful.

SWEET PEPPERS: When they are in the house we regularly add our sweet peppers to any tomato or pizza sauce. Cut them thin and they need very little cooking.

BEANS: We've been patiently awaiting the bean harvest. This hot dry weather has created a halting growth pattern with the beans. Thanks to the CSA farm crew for helping with the Saturday harvests.

CUCUMBER: A second planting is giving us an extension of these summer fruits. These are all of the pickling variety.

OKRA/EGGPLANT/CABBAGE CHOICE: Harvest will dictate this mix, but look for a bit of everything.

HERB MIX: You will get a mix of herbs that will include some but not all of the following: parsley, cutting celery, summer savory, chives and marjoram.

FARM REPORT:
What a summer!  Phew! The heat and drought continue to dominate.  Most of the rain that has fallen in our region over the last month or two has missed us.  Here's the latest drought map:



The blue star marks us in the Extreme Drought category.  Luckily, the irrigation pond is still fairly full of life-giving water.  



In the background, you can also see hay bales from the native grass fields.  With dry pastures, our neighboring ranchers are needing hay for their livestock.  Native warm-season grasses are still green and lush and so we have had some of the fields baled for hay.

Thanks to the irrigation pond, we have happy plants growing for the fall.


cabbages after a few weeks in the ground

new lettuces planted today


The water from the irrigation pond also provides a refuge for nectar and pollen eating insects of all sorts.  While the unirrigated wildflowers dry up, our farm is an oasis of food for our beneficial and wild friends.  


bumblebee in the zinnias


honeybee in the buckwheat cover crop

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Fair Share Farm CSA---Week 8


CARROTS: These beauties were a question mark in April when they sprouted in the field and overnight temps in the low 20's required some hustling from the farmers to protect them. Our efforts paid off, and we have had a good harvest. Thanks to all who helped dig them.

TOMATOES: It is that time of year when the tomatoes are at their peak. The plants are looking good right now, and our second planting of summer tomatoes are starting to produce fruit. We hope you enjoy this week's plump share of the summer's favorite fruit.

ONIONS: More of our sweet Walla Walla's. A perfect choice if you want to put raw onion into your tomato and pepper fresh salad. Slice them thin, salt a bit, and savor their flavor.

SWEET PEPPERS: It is a wonderful time of year when we start to see the peppers turning colors. All are good fresh or cooked. The red bull horn type Carmen's are thin walled and best chopped or fried. The thicker walled yellow Escamillo and red/orange Islander can be roasted and peeled.

VEGGIE CHOICE: This week you can choose from salsa pack, okra, eggplant or squash. For you newbies, the salsa pack instructions for fresh salsa are here and roasted salsa are here.

HERBS: Top those salads and salsas with some fresh herbs. This week is a choice of parsley, summer savory, chives or herb fennel.

Recipe suggestions:
While we have not been posting regular new recipes for the shares, we hope that you have been using the many resources we have developed over our 15 CSA seasons. You can search for recipes within the Fair Share Farm system a couple ways.

1. Simply use the search bar at the left top of this page for recipes that have been on the blog.
2. Follow this link www.fairsharefarm.com/archive/info/recipes.html and search our old website.
3. Join the Fair Share Farm CSA Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/fairsharefarmcsa/) and check out all the recipe suggestions from your fellow members.

FARM REPORT:
 With many severe storms south and north of us last week, I guess we cannot complain too much about the dry weather.


Luckily, the irrigation pond is still fairly full of water, which we are carefully using to water in the fall crops.


This truckload of cabbage plants went in the ground last week.  When we aren't keeping the new plants watered, we turn the irrigation on the summer fruits like the peppers.  Peppers love water and need a good drink at least once per week.  So far, we have managed to keep them growing an making nice fruits for the shares.

 

On the other hand, the okra plants are perfectly happy with little water and lots of heat.  Since we planted the okra back in May, we have watered it only twice and yet it is producing enough fruits this week to include it as a choice for the 100 CSA shares.  It also has a beautiful flower.



Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Fair Share Farm CSA---Week 7


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MUSIC GARLIC: The heads are still in the curing process, which means they are extra juicy. We love this hard-neck garlic with its half dozen or more nice size cloves, as it is easy to separate and clean.

TOMATOES: A mix of heirloom and hybrid tomatoes of multiple colors. We irrigate as much as possible right now to keep these beauties juicy and the plants happy.

POTATOES:  These Red Pontiacs are the first we have dug this year. Red skin with white flesh they are great cut into chunks, steamed until tender, and tossed with butter, salt and this week's summer savory and parsley herb mix.

SQUASH: After this week the zucchini and yellow squash will be on hiatus. We have a second planting underway that we will try to nurse through the next 5 days of 99.9 degree heat.

CUCUMBER: Enjoy this week's cucumbers, as the first planting's harvest is about done. A second planting is growing for later in the season.

SWEET PEPPERS: The peppers continue to grow, and they are slowing starting to take on some color. This weeks peppers will be green or purple with some blush. Our October 5, 2005 newsletter (our original blog) has 4 recipes for green peppers.  It also has news from the farm from 13 years ago. Ah, memories.

HERB MIX: The irrigation has kept the summer savory and parsley lush so far. A good harvest will be good for them as the heat dome settles on us. Enjoy these aromatic and flavorful herbs. Chop them up and put them in potato salad, tomato sauce, squash dishes, or with meats.

We appreciate those of you who have been participating in the ferment share. This standing order for our ferments is very helpful to our venture. This week we are springing a new item on you, our Garlic Pickle Chunks. We ferment these cucumbers with a healthy dose of both garlic and cayenne pepper. Spicy, flavorful, refreshing and savory, they go well with most any summer meal. As we grow the ferment business we appreciate your comments on recipes.


FARM REPORT
The drought and heat wave one-two punch is hitting the farm hard.  Number one goal this week is keeping everyone from plants to animals to humans safe.  We start early in the morning each day to bring in the crops that are ready before they literally cook in the ground.

potato harvest

Hundreds of row feet of carrots and onions are waiting to be brought in.  The fermenting kitchen with it's little a/c unit has become a refuge for ripening tomatoes, curing onions, sprouting fall seeds and farmers who need to cool off.

onions curing in the kitchen

Once the fall seeds sprout in the kitchen they are moved to the shade structure by the greenhouse.


So far the plants are happily ignorant of the blast furnace outside their shady spot.  By the end of the month, they will be ready to go out to the fields.  Hopefully it will be cooler by then!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Fair Share Farm CSA---Week 6



GREEN ONIONS: First of the sweet Walla Wallas from the fields.  If you like to use onions raw in a recipe, these are the ones.

CABBAGE: The cabbage is as crisp as can be. It is always good to salt cabbage after cutting. It helps retain its crunchy texture.

YELLOW SQUASH and ZUCCHINI: This true fruit of summer is producing well at the moment.  Any of the zucchini or yellow squash make great "zoodles". We have a hand peeler that cuts the squash into thin noodles, called zoodles. Butter or oil, salt and pepper are all you need to cook up a tasty plate of vegetables.

BASIL: You can make basil pesto with a variety of ingredients. You can substitute sunflower seeds or pecans for the pine nuts. Any leftover garlic scapes sub well for fresh garlic, and grated Skyview cheese can take the place of parmesan.

CUCUMBERS: Peak cucumber harvest is underway. Like the cabbage, salt your cukes after cutting to help them retain crispness. They are delicious with a sweet onion.

SWEET PEPPER: As the pepper plants fill with fruit we are doing a bit of thinning to keep growth steady. Enjoy these first fruits.

CARROTS: The carrot harvest begins in earnest tomorrow morning.  Mainly orange varieties are ready with a sprinkling of yellows.

TOMATO: Surprise! Ripe slicing tomatoes in a June share is not the norm. Thank the heat for the early ripening of both the heirloom and hybrid types. The yellow and orange varieties tend to be less acidic than the red and purple tomatoes.

FARM REPORT:

Harvest at the farm has quickly gone from leafy and light salad greens to heavy fruits of squash and cucumber along with dense cabbages.  Each day another haul of heavy crates comes in from the field buoying our spirits along.  

 Sandy, the farm cat, and the zinnias

Bright flowers bring cheer to all who spend time in the patch.  If you are in the neighborhood, come on by and pick an armload of them.  The zinnias are bursting with flowers and could use some pickers to keep them coming.  CSA members can pick them for free, so don't be shy!

While Summer heats back up, we have started the first crops of Fall.  In the greenhouse the first cabbages are sprouting in their flats.  This little seedling will hopefully grow into a hefty head by October and feed us well.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Fair Share Farm CSA---Week 5


BEETS: If you are looking for recipes try Beet Hash from our 2009 blog or Beets with Butter and Maple Syrup from 2016. Eat both tops and bottoms!

LETTUCE: This is it for awhile. These romaines and red leaf lettuces in the shares have seen a very hot spring and have done well under the circumstances. A hearty mustard or yogurt based dressing with some green onions and fresh sprouting broccoli is a great green accompaniment to a summer barbeque meal.

SUMMER SQUASH: Tender zucchinis and yellow squashes from the first picking. In the mix is a new yellow squash variety we are trialing. It is very flavorful and does not have a lot of seeds.

GREEN ONIONS: Fresh shoots go great with about everything.

CUCUMBER: Very first from the patch. We mainly grow pickling types which tend to be firmer and crunchier. A light salting after chopping helps keep them firm.

SPROUTING BROCCOLI: Still delicious in week 5 of the season. This versatile vegetable has made our job easier as it is more productive and reliable than the head broccoli we previously grew.

KOHLRABI: A must for any vegetable CSA, this is the only week of the season you will get the crunchy and tasty kohlrabi. Peel well and eat raw.

BASIL/HERB MIX: The basil patch is ready for its first picking. We will mix in other herbs from around the farm that are also ready for the picking. Expect some parsley or summer savory with your basil.

FARM REPORT:
The heat continues which means an end to the lettuce harvest.  We ate a lot of salads over the past few months and really we are surprised to have one last week of romaine to fill the shares.  Despite the 11 days at 90 deg. F. or above in the last 30 days, the lettuce patch took us from freezing in April to cooking in June.

It has been pretty dry here and we had the irrigation running regularly, but last night three-quarters of an inch of ran fell.  It really perked up the fields. especially the potatoes and onions in the far field that don't have any irrigation tape. It is a big job to put tape down on all of those beds and so far Mother Nature has watered them enough.  We planted an insectary strip between the potatoes and the onions.  The beneficial insects that are attracted to the flowers in the insectary are helping to control pests on both crops.


Insectary plants include buckwheat, radishes, dill, cilantro, alyssum, and phacelia.  Another insectary on the farm is the cut flower bed.  Filled with mostly zinnias, it is open for free u-pick for members.  If you order off the bulk list we will cut them for you and send them in to your distribution site.


Last week we moved the laying flock into a block of an oat and pea cover crop.  They are enjoying eating through the canopy that is also providing them some shade in this heat.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

CSA WEEK 4: Strawberry sizzle


STRAWBERRIES: The heat has been tough on the berries and the pickers but you can't help but enjoy these delights of May. Strawberry dressing is always good this time of year.

SUGAR SNAP PEAS:  We took a break from these last year, but they are back on the roster. They are just starting, so it may be a small amount this week.

SPROUTING BROCCOLI:  Good raw with some strawberry dressing for dip, or cooked any way you would prepare broccoli.

GREEN ONIONS: Our bunching onions have sized up and we are happy to be able to add this fresh allium to the share.

KALE OR SWISS CHARD:  Get your green on!

GARLIC SCAPES: The tender flower stalk of the hardneck garlic plant.  Chop and add to anything as you would garlic.  The scapes are coming on a bit later than normal, but will have some for everyone this week.

LETTUCE (3 HEADS): While it sounds like a lot, we hope that the lettuce can grace your everyday meals for the next two weeks. The heat is not going to let them last much longer.  We have four types in varying stages of maturity. The butterhead and red leaf are the perfect thing for a tender salad. The crisp head and romaine varieties are what you want to top that burger or make a Caesar salad.

IN TWO WEEKS:  lettuce, greens, beets, sprouting broccoli, kohlrabi.

FARM REPORT:
It is sizzling hot out here, in case anyone hasn't noticed.  I could easily complain about the tip burn on the lettuces, the sunburn on the strawberries or the fact that the chickens are panting in whatever shade they can find.  Any farmer loves to complain about the weather, but it does little good.  We are seeing record-breaking heat and summer is a month away. 

Despite it all, the fact is we are all still eating pretty well.  Right now the farm is one big leafy quilt in various shades of green.  The solar panels at the irrigation pond provide the water, the soil provides the fertility and all we humans have to do is keep up with the harvest to make sure none of it goes to waste. . . and sweat.  We can't avoid the sweating.


Joining in the sweaty work his week were two former FSF apprentices, Lucas (2011) and Semra (2015), who both happened to be back in the area for a spell.  Much gratitude goes to them and all of the good people that have been pitching in this season.

The new laying flock of pullets have taken over the high tunnel.  They are stripping the flowering chard and bolting spinach of their remaining leaves and in general enjoying their first experience of eating what is left behind.


Meanwhile the summer crops are growing well and will soon start producing.  We put in all of the posts and the first line of string on the tomato plants.  The summer squash and cucumbers are flowering and will soon start their first fruits.  We keep them under cover to protect them from pests.


The cover crops of peas and oats are beginning to flower and will soon be ready to turn in.


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!