CSA distribution #6 & newsletter

Our next CSA distribution will be Monday May 7 and Thursday May 10. New items will start to appear more regularly now. Growing conditions are continuing April’s trend of being quite nice overall, and our employees/workers are doing a great job helping to keep us sane (we’ll be writing more about them soon). Read on for produce details, photos & ideas for product use, farm updates, and more.

PRODUCE

NEW! Strawberries
Local organic strawberries are a real treat around here; we’re very proud of these. A few important notes: this variety, Sparkle, is very different from standard commercial strawberries. It has exceptional flavor, but as the tradeoff, poor storage qualities. Refrigeration should keep them in good condition for a day or two, but why find out how long they take to go bad? We think these should be eaten fresh, immediately, and not stored for later. There’s no need to do fancy things with these; just savor them one by one. To paraphrase Monty Python, these are berries for lying down and enjoying.

For the same reasons, we will not have washed/rinsed these in any way; they’ll be picked ripe directly into the delivery container and never touched again. This minimizes their handling and the chances for damage/bruising, but means they’ll have dirt on them. Wash them before eating, but only JUST before eating, as washing will also shorten their shelf life if they’re then stored. Also, there may be a few nibbles from various creatures; we’ll do our best to inspect as we pick, but if you find a few, that’s part of farming.

Full shares will probably get a pint this week (maybe closer to a quart if the yield is excellent), partial shares ~1/2 of what the full shares are getting. This is the earliest we’ve ever had strawberries (by at least 2 weeks), and the plants have plenty more.

NEW! Kale
While not as exciting as strawberries, kale will continue to diversify your options for cooking greens. Saute it with garlic, use it in soups, bake it as chips…there are tons of ways to enjoy kale.

Green onions
The last harvest of the overwintered ones, though our beds of spring-planted scallions are growing fast. Use in any cooking or salads.

Lettuce mix/heads
You’ll likely be getting lettuce mix for another week, though if the earliest lettuce heads mature quickly, Thursday may get some. We never get tired of salad.

Saute mix
Great mix of flavorful greens; try them in soups, salads, or cooked. We find a half-and-half mix with lettuce works especially well.

Radishes
Standard mix of colors and flavors, with all sorts of uses. Given how well they’re producing, we may offer the potential for a large quantity (multiple pounds) to anyone interested in pickling, preserving, or otherwise taking advantage of the bounty. Try this interesting recipe for roasted radishes our employee Kim tried and loved.

HERBS
A member sent us a good question about how we determine what herbs actually show up in your bags, and how that relates to the survey requests you make, so a quick clarification. No herb is guaranteed, because juggling all members’ preferences among ~10 herbs is a complicated process and we won’t always have enough to fill all orders. The survey text includes something like “this week full shares will get 5 bundles and partials 3″. The amount listed in a given week is the baseline of what we think we (or rather the herb plants) can handle. You’re welcome to request more than that, in fact we encourage it to help us be more flexible. Your rankings of desire will help us prioritize what to give you. So far we’ve been able to fill all top-ranked requests.

This week’s possibilities looks pretty familiar (though cilantro is probably only a week or two away from adding some diversity):

Thyme
Oregano
Sage
Tarragon
Kentucky Colonel mint
Orange mint
Garlic chives
Chives
Lemon balm

EGGS (sold separately)
Eggs are $6/dozen and will be no more than a week old when distributed (usually just a couple of days). There will be 4-5 dozen available on each distribution day.

FRESH GOAT’S MILK (sold separately)
Milk is $6/ half-gallon, no more than 2 days old. We had a question or two about how long the milk would store. We suggest using it within a week of the milking date (listed on the jar label). We’ve had people tell us that it has lasted longer than a week, but we don’t let it go beyond a week ourselves just to be on the safe side. Depending on what it’s used for, the resulting product can sometimes last quite a bit longer from the time it is made, just depends on what it is. We usually use ricotta within a week of making it (though freezing it is works well for longer storage), yogurt can last a week or two (though its flavor may get stronger/more sour if it sits too long), feta can age nicely for quite a while especially if brined, cheddar needs to age for a couple months at least, and so forth.

ON-FARM COOKING
We used to take & post more photos of our own farm-sourced meals, but have been neglecting that lately. Oddly, we preserved so much food last year that we’ve been working hard to draw down our winter stocks, and have had to make a conscious effort at times to eat enough fresh produce to offer suggestions and quality assessments for CSA members. But here’s a quick photo essay of some meals we’ve made based on spring CSA produce, and recipes submitted by members. Farm-sourced ingredients listed in italics.

Above left, egg-drop soup: chicken broth, spinach, eggs, chives, radishes (which add a nice water-chestnut-like texture). Above right, deluxe salad: lettuce mix, saute mix, radishes, fresh goat feta, boiled egg, garlic chives.

Above left, pasta: homemade egg pasta, with cream (milk) sauce & herbs. Above right, pasta: organic penne, asparagus, goat feta, herbs, sausage (fresh-ground pork, sage, garlic, ginger), goat’s milk.Above left, goat koftas over rice with lemon balm pesto, following recipes submitted by members. Koftas: fresh-ground goat, garlic, cilantro, fresh-ground paprika pepper, spices. Pesto: lemon balm, spinach, garlic, Missouri pecans, olive oil, served over organic rice. Above right, rice with greens & sausage: Organic rice sauteed with saute mix, radishes, herbs, sausage (fresh-ground pork, sage, garlic, ginger). This could easily be made vegetarian with mushrooms and/or other vegetables.

Above left, homemade flatbread with saute mix, pepper chicken (shredded chicken simmered in sauce of mixed dried peppers, onions, garlic, local honey), topped with fresh goat cheese. Above right, souffle: eggs, milk, fresh ricotta & feta, dried tomatoes.

RECENTLY ON THE FARM
Summer transplants are finally going out in numbers, such as these very healthy 5-week-old tomato plants. We’re testing various trellising methods this year, including cattle panels (above left) and homemade cages (above right).

Compost has been a major job lately; once we move the goats permanently onto pasture, it’s time to clean out the barn’s winter stockpile of nutritional goodness. If all goes well, this massive pile will be turned five times in fifteen days, keeping the temperature above 131ºF; we just finished turn #3 on Thursday afternoon. We’ll be writing more on this topic soon.

4 thoughts on “CSA distribution #6 & newsletter

  1. We use cattle panel for our tomatoes, too, and have found that it works well. We just have to be sure to continue weaving the vine up through the panel while the growth is young and tender, otherwise we run the risk of breaking the stems.

  2. Annette,

    Do you string them along the outside, too, to support the outer branches as they bear fruit? In the past we’ve used either cages, or just string, and are assuming we’ll still need to string them on the panels once they get branchy and heavy. What’s been your experience?

  3. I set up parallel lines of cattle panels last year and planted tomatoes between them. Worked pretty well, though we barely got any tomatoes. That was more of a weather, soil and location issue.

  4. Annette & Scott,

    The parallel-panel approach you use looks really good for smaller plantings, but it’s cost-prohibitive for us at the farm scale. We’re using a single panel down the middle of the row, letting the plants vine up it and using bed-lengths of string to hold them on. This lowers the cost and works better for the hundreds of feet of tomatoes we do. In past we’ve just used string between T-posts alone to support tomatoes, as many farms do, but feel it’s too unstable, so we’re trying the one panel approach to provide some central stability. We’ll see how it works.