Farms and Community

Last Saturday night we had about 70 CSA members and friends at the farm for our harvest dinner – a great turn out!  We spent a couple days clearing out our hayloft to set up tables for the event to squeeze everybody in.  I have to say it looked pretty cool.

I do wish all our CSA members were able to attend since the harvest party was just one small way to thank you for being members for the season.  Like I told those in attendance, we honestly would not be able to do what we do without CSA members.  Your making a decision to get your veggies in a way other than at your local grocery makes our farm viable.  With only a roadside stand or a stall at the farmers market, market gardening is a volatile, and, frankly, brutal business.  However, CSA members across the nation take the risk when writing a check in the spring that a tornado not destroy the crop and trust a local grower to provide an ample harvest.  This makes not only our farm a reality, but also hundreds of other small farms just like our own.  When a couple farms in upstate New York began the first CSAs in the early 1980’s, this was time when the family farm seemed doomed, especially here in the Midwest.  Operations were foreclosing left and right in the farm crisis.  Today, however, small family farms are making a comeback, albeit in a different form.  Many of us may not operate traditional 40-head dairies or 160-acre row crop farms, but our heart is in the land just the same.  So, if you are a CSA member, take pride in knowing that you are not just “part” of a movement, you ARE the movement.

In the Box:

  • Brussel Sprouts on the Stalk: Simply pull the brussel sprouts off the stalk and put to work.  I don’t know what to do with the stalk afterwards…croquet mallet? 
  • Parsnips: Look like white carrots.  
  • Napa Cabbage
  • Acorn Squash
  • Butternut Squash: These turned out really well this year.  Good color, good size.  
  • Red Kuri Squash: Cook as you would any other winter squash (buttercup, etc).  We made a coconut squash soup last night with Red Kuri and it was excellent.  We thought a good description for the squash was nutty, almost chestnut like.  
  • Russet Potatoes 
  • Swiss Chard
  • HaralRed Apples: These are pretty good for fresh eating (a bit sweeter than a Haralson), but, like a Haralson, are great for baking and sauce.  

Summer’s Coming to a Close

The produce season is about where it should be this time of year.  Last week we harvested all the onions and put into the barn to cure.  The tomatoes and peppers are coming due in a big way and those melons are ripe for their annual two week window.  I was peeking at the winter squash and pumpkins and many look like they are ready to go.  Nights are getting cooler and our minds turn to autumn.

With fall upon us, one thing which should get on your schedule is our annual fall harvest party.  It will be Saturday, September 24 at the farm from 6:30 pm to whenever.  This is a time to check out the farm and meet some other interesting people who are also CSA members.   This is an appetizer/drinks/bonfire event.  We used to do a potluck dinner, but this is more relaxed and casual affair.  We provide all drinks and snacks, so just show up for a while.

Another thing you should be thinking about in fall is turkey.  I’m happy to partner with a neighbor of mind, Alex Johnson, who is raising free-range turkeys.  His family’s been in the business since 1888 which makes him a 4th generation turkey farmer who really knows what he’s talking about.  Later this fall he will have heritage-breed Bourbon Red turkeys at $2.05/pound and standard white turkeys at $1.50/pound.  I’m helping him get the word out, so please call or email us to reserve a turkey and we’ll make arrangements.  

In the box:
Celebrity slicing tomatoes
A Green pepper
A couple sweet Carmen peppers
An orange or yellow bell pepper
Cippolini onions: this is a really nice, flavorful onion from Italy.  I dig it.  I remember when I was studying in Rome, you’d see long braids of these things in the markets.  I was thinking about this today and I just have to some more next year so we can do this because it’s so cool.
A smattering of Tongue of Fire beans: this is a fresh shelling bean.  Like dried beans, you can use in a soup or other dish, but the cooking time is a lot less since they are fresh.
Daikon Radish: This is the white radish with the top.  Peel and use as you would any radish.  Since it’s an Asian radish, a typical way I like to make it up is grated with some rice vinegar and sugar.
Yellow watermelon
Athena canteloupe