CSA distribution #4 & newsletter

Our next CSA distribution will be Monday April 23 and Thursday April 26. We had several households join us for the mid-April event and enjoyed sharing the farm with their families. All slots are still open for the late April dinner, though the May dinner is now booked. Several members have expressed interest in the mid-May cheesemaking event, which will definitely happen given that we’re now milking the full herd. Below we’ll give more information on upcoming shares, events on and around the farm, and more ideas for using share contents.We’ve gotten off to a very early start this year because of the absurdly warm winter & early spring, given that our planned weekly CSA season is May through October/November. Above left is the view on April 16, 2011; above right is the same view on April 14, 2012; note especially the stage of the leaves on trees in the background. We have no template for how to handle such an early spring. In 2011 we began market sales on May 7, bringing radishes, garlic scallions, green onions, and herbs. In 2012 we began CSA distributions on April 5 with leeks, garlic scallions, green onions, spinach, and herbs and have been going strong since. This is great for members enjoying early produce, but it’s also stretched thin our supply of overwintered early items, which we expected to last into May. Some, like spinach, had to be harvested early to avoid bolting, so we had to start in on others like garlic & onions to make the shares worthwhile to justify distributing (and not losing) the spinach.

We probably should have dialed back the earlier delivery quantities of alliums to stretch these longer, but the record-warm March threw us for a loop and this is part of learning the very different planning & harvesting patterns of CSA instead of market. So we’re going to have to back off more for a few weeks to balance out the produce supply until more spring-planted items kick in, and thus the next few weeks’ shares will be a bit smaller though new items will be popping up.

PRODUCE
This week’s share will continue the transition from overwintered crops to spring-planted crops. We have one harvest left of leeks, garlic scallions, and green onions, so will be doing one each of those for the next three weeks, and the spinach is done (though new spinach is growing fast). But radishes will be abundant and we’ll have the first salad mix. Most alliums should last well in the fridge, though we did receive a report from one member of green onions going limp really fast (& one bundle in our fridge looked sad sooner than we would have expected). Did anyone else experience this? Along these lines, root crops like radishes will store best if the greens are removed from the roots (both are edible, but do better separated).

NEW salad mix
As shown above, this will be a mix of lettuce varieties (above center), along with a mild mustard (above right) and possibly beet greens. A flavorful mix great for pairing with radishes, herbs, and your favorite dressing. A small amount this week with more coming on.

Spring radishes
The share may overall be small this week, but we should be able to offer a relatively generous quantity of these; don’t be shy about asking for extra. Though we usually get stuck in the rut of simply eating radishes raw on salads, they can be prepared in many ways: pickled, roasted, and braised, for example. A common theme in the recipes we’ve found is to pair them with butter (either plain butter or flavored with herbs). Here’s a sampling of radish recipe ideas.

Roasted (note that this uses the tops, too)
Radish butter
(we tried this and loved it as a spread; even Eric who normally really doesn’t like butter straight)
Crostini
Pickled (fridge, not canned); anyone have a favorite recipe?

Perennial leeks
Last week for these, which make excellent soups and stir-fries. Next week garlic scallions, then green onions, then maybe a lean week on alliums (we’ll try to save up extra chives/garlic chives), then hopefully garlic scapes should begin to appear.

HERBS

Thyme: Setting flowers, but still nice flavor.
Oregano

Kentucky colonel mint
: Excellent infused into a sugar syrup as a base for drinks, as well as for Middle Eastern & Mediterranean dishes.
Orange mint:
Excellent for tea, desserts, etc.
Spearmint:
We haven’t been offering this because I’m usually less excited about its flavor, but we made some really tasty chocolate milk infused with this variety. So in case you’re feeling limited by only two mint varieties…
Lemon balm
Chives:
These are blooming now. The blossoms make lovely garnishes and are edible, though the blossom stems are tough. Leaves can be used as usual.
Garlic chives
: Likely to be a slightly different variety than the past weeks; thicker leaves.
Sage:
The flower buds are forming, and I often equate flowering in plants with development of strong/bitter flavors…BUT, apparently sage blossoms are edible, and so far the leaves have tasted plenty good to me. So, we’ll keep offering it.
On vacation this week: Tarragon has been harvested pretty intensively the past couple weeks and needs to rest; suspect it will be back next week.

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. Yolks are bright yellow-orange; these birds are great foragers.

MILK (COMING SOON)
We expect raw goat’s milk to be available by next week’s deliveries, offered no more than 2 days old at $6/half-gallon jar. This is not a product for raw consumption, but for use as an ingredient in home cheesemaking, baking, cooking, or any other use in which the milk is appropriately pasteurized. If you wish to drink it, gentle home pasteurization can easily be done with a saucepan and a thermometer. We’ll be publishing more details on milk handling (both on farm and at home) in the coming week. As recent events have demonstrated, the liability risk to our farm (both pathogenic and political) of allowing raw milk consumption simply isn’t worth it, so we require all purchasers of raw milk to (a) visit the farm first and inspect our methods for themselves, and (b) to sign an agreement stipulating the proper handling of the milk.

RECENTLY ON THE FARM
It’s been a very busy and tiring week on the farm. Beyond losing time getting involved in local news (here and here), we handled the rest of goat kidding, the hatching of 25 more chicks, lots of field planting & maintenance, multiple frosts, our annual organic inspection, several sets of visitors, and so much more. April’s weather has been nearly perfect, and though the weed-load and overall workload remain really heavy, we’re happy with how most crops are developing and are looking forward to the many coming attractions, including:
From left to right, spinach, head lettuce, beets, strawberries. Yum.

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