CSA distribution #2 & newsletter

The next CSA distribution will be coming up on Thursday April 5th & Monday the 9th, the second share of the year following our January distribution. (Members: We’ll get the survey out sometime in the next couple of days.) There are enough early spring items ready now to do a small but tasty share. Everything we’re harvesting for this share has been in the ground since last fall, and we’d have a bit more diversity on the leafy greens front if the warmth hadn’t caused some plants to bolt so quickly. On the bright side, spring green alliums and herbs are beautiful and growing rapidly, so the share will be heavy on these. Members should also take note of the scheduled April on-farm events; we’d love to have you out to share all the spring developments, including newborn goat kids (see below).

PRODUCE

Perennial leeks: A nice overwintered leek, not as sweet as mid-winter varieties but a good allium flavor. Mix of sizes from near-scallion to quite thick. Use stems sauteed in almost anything; make broth with tops

Garlic scallions: Young garlic plants (planted from heads that were runts); chop/mince the stems into anything for good fresh garlic flavor. Make broth with tops.

Green onions (for full shares): Small, tasty green onions great for lightly cooking or mincing onto salads, eggs, stir fries, and more. These tend to have a stronger flavor than scallions. Entire plant can be used. These will be for full shares only this time, but they should grow enough to provide for everyone by the next distribution.

Spinach: Almost certainly the last harvest of the overwintered spinach. Very large leaves with nice texture and good flavor, though not as sweet as in mid-winter. Great for salads or cooking. A few holes from small hail received last week. We hope to delay harvest until just before the distribution for maximum freshness, but are monitoring closely for signs of bolting in the warm weather (mid-high 80s for Sunday, argh!) and will harvest immediately if we have to, in order to preserve quality. Our greens last two weeks at least after harvest, so this shouldn’t be a problem in any case.

HERBS

All members will receive a bundle of the first five herbs listed, and a choice from among the last three. All of these herbs will keep nicely in the refrigerator for two weeks at a minimum, likely longer.


Thyme: A versatile herb, good in salad dressing, with eggs, simmered in pasta sauce, and in numerous other preparations.

Oregano: A slightly spicy herb that pairs nicely with thyme and can be used in similar ways.

Mint (not shown): Mint can be used for various culinary purposes, though we most frequently use it to add flavor to beverages. We add mint to chilled water in the refrigerator, infuse it into tea, and make a mint-infused sweet syrup with sugar or honey (as a base for lemonade or mojitos, for example). We have several varieties of mint, and each has a slightly different flavor. Bundles may be mixed this time.

Lemon balm: Mildly lemony herb, can be added to teas, salads, or sauces for flavor.

Chives and/or garlic chives: Green leaf stems which can be treated like small scallions; chop them into or over all kinds of dishes (salads, soups, eggs, or almost anything) for a nice touch of flavor and color.

Choice from the following:

Tarragon: Nice licorice flavor, especially good with fish.

Sage: One of Joanna’s favorite herbs. Especially tasty when sauteed in butter or oil.

Sorrel: Leafy green with a strong lemon flavor. Excellent mixed with other salad greens, wilted below meats, or used to infuse flavor into sauces.

EGGS (SOLD SEPARATELY)
From pastured hens fed certified organic feed mix, fresh weed trimmings from fields, cooked on-farm meat & fat scraps, kitchen wastes, and other on-farm supplements. Eggs are $6/dozen and will be no more than a week old when distributed.

MENU IDEAS
Quiche/souffle/frittata: Eggs, green alliums, herbs, and cheese make a wonderful spring combination.
Spinach salad: Make a quick dressing with oil, vinegar, minced green allium of choice, and herbs. Toss with spinach and hard-boiled eggs.
Kebabs: Marinate meat and/or veggies with Mediterranean dressing of thyme, oregano, garlic, mint, and more. Grill and serve over sorrel leaves.
Allium pasta: Saute sliced leeks and garlic scallions in butter, and add some herbs for good measure (thyme, oregano, sage, for example); toss with pasta.
Egg-drop soup: Heat meat/mushroom/vegetable broth of choice (possibly made with trimmed allium greens), simmering with lemon balm or sorrel for flavor. Drizzle beaten egg in through fork. Top with minced scallions or chives.
Member ideas: Feel free to share your own plans, ideas, suggestions, or results with these products in the comments below.

(Note: We’ve gotten behind on setting up the recipe feature of the blog due to the lack of snowy periods over the winter combined with the early and unrelenting arrival of spring warmth and work. It’s still on our to-do list, and we’ll get to it as soon as practical.)

COMING SOON
There will likely be a week’s gap before the next share, but it all depends on weather. Spinach will be done, green alliums and herbs should continue strong, and the first spring-planted crops should be ready (radishes and hopefully lettuce/salad mix). Other items planted and growing include beets, carrots, mixed greens, peas, fennel, and more.

RECENTLY ON THE FARM

Highlights of the past few weeks included planting new fruit trees and blueberry bushes, lots of weed management throughout the growing areas, and hosting a paid tour for the MU Grow Your Farm program. We’ve also been doing a great deal of seeding and transplanting while preparing for goat kidding and starting eggs in our incubator. Both the animal and plant population of the farm are rocketing upward.

Speaking of which, these two surprised us Friday mid-morning as the first kids of the year, a few days earlier than expected. They’re the second generation born on the farm, as their mother, Quartz, is a yearling doe from one of our founding does, Garlic. Thankfully for a yearling, she kidded with no problems, and given how large she was we’re glad there are only twins and not triplets. With our background as geologists, we’re establishing a naming scheme for all farm-bred goats loosely based on mineral classes, such that Quartz’s two kids this year will be Zircon and Opal (both are silicate minerals, as is quartz). We’re now just a week away from fresh milk again, and are quite ready for all the fresh yogurt and cheese that brings.

As mentioned above, both April CSA member events will be a great time to see these and other kids along with everything else that’s going on.

3 thoughts on “CSA distribution #2 & newsletter

  1. As a CSA member I love getting these updates about what’s going on on the farm.

    I’m enjoying these unseasonably warm days, but I’m also wondering about how it’s going to effect what grows well and what doesn’t. Besides the greens and the problem of bolting…will the early spring warm and dry weather (although we have gotten some rain in the last week or two) have an impact on anything else?

  2. Yes, it’s a problem for many things. Lots of root crops need cooler temperatures for best flavor; there’s a good chance things like radishes, carrots, and even beets won’t taste as good (or even bad) if this doesn’t let up. Same for greens like lettuce, which will turn bitter in overly hot temps, at least spring varieties meant for actual, you know, spring, not June in April. Hot days dry out the soil quickly and require us to do more watering/irrigation, more work than we need or want to be doing this time of year.

    It also continues to raise concerns about crop losses later in the spring, if we ever do get a true seasonal cold spell. In past years we’ve had frosts as late as mid-May here, and mid-April is average. However, our strawberries are already in full bloom, but their blooms and fruits are not at all frost-tolerant. They can be covered and hopefully preserved, but that’s more work for us with no return. We’re also feeling intense pressure to move our entire planting schedule forward, but that’s a significant risk given the potential for frosts on well-established warm-weather crops. Plus it’s just not that easy to fast-forward; our planting plans are set up to be manageable for the entire course of the growing season, integrated with all else that goes on on the farm (like goat kidding), and fast-forwarding creates that much more work and stress.

    Finally, this is encouraging early weeds and insect pressure that we don’t get in a “normal” year. The abundant weed growth has been keeping us overly busy far earlier than usual, and makes it harder to get some things started properly. For example, carrots especially benefit from weedless germinating conditions, and this can often be achieved in spring as many weeds don’t get going until warmer temperatures, but now the weeds are in full germination mode at the same time as carrots and so are offering far more competition as well as making a lot more work for us. And lots of pests are already active that might either have been frozen back in a cooler winter, or at least waited; this too causes more work for us and possibly less/worse crops.

    This spring already feels far more exhausting and non-stop than past springs, even though we have more help than ever, are more organized than ever, have CSA instead of market which is far less time-consuming, and in most other ways should be reaping the benefits of good planning. But a year in which the weather is two months ahead of schedule just throws all good planning out the window and puts us on paths unknown.

  3. Meant to comment earlier, but we made an absolutely delightful pasta the other day, inspired by overwintered spinach, and this CSA distribution would have most of the ingredients. Boil pasta, saute some spinach (or other green) in some olive oil and garlic (or other allium, but if you’ve got garlic, go for it) and combine. Dress with ricotta or a thick yogurt (or something similar) and toasted nuts (pistachio, pine nut, pecan, etc) and if you like, some dried chiles. So good.