Our next CSA distribution will be Monday August 13 and Thursday August 16. Despite widespread storms moving through the region on Wednesday, we received only 0.02″ of rain and remain in a desperate drought. The temporarily cooler temperatures have been quite welcome, though you know it’s been a hot year when “normal” August temperatures feel like a dramatic cool down. It’s been delightful to finally sleep with the windows open and the A/C off. And in other good news, our most recent monthly water bill wasn’t as bad as we feared, only in the $450 range instead of the $600+ we feared; a nice reprieve though still expensive. Read on for more farm news and product updates.
What a long, strange year it’s been. Our pre-season CSA literature forecast around 24 shares from May-October; it’s mid-August and we’re already at 20, just starting to seed and plant all the fall crops that will likely last well into November the way this year is going. We developed a very conservative plan for the first year of CSA, to ensure a good customer experience we could build on, and ended up with the best growing season we’ve ever had, at least in terms of produce quality and quantity. The CSA could probably be double its current size this year given our production success, which along with the personally debilitating heat and very early spring has definitely been a mixed blessing from our perspective. Our members are getting a very generous inaugural season, which we’re basically considering a thank-you for taking a chance on us.
Consider this the opposite pole to the year we feared and planned for, in which hailstorms, pest outbreaks, injuries, and any number of other disasters could have meant a less-than-ideal experience for members. Those fears are why we developed the customization system, defined the CSA as a full-year membership, and continued our focus on significant on-farm diversity, to give us the best chance to give full value in the face of adversity. Instead it’s been us taking the hit as we do the extra work to deliver abundant value in an excellent growing year. Farming is never what you expect it to be, which also means it’s rarely boring.
THIS WEEK’S PRODUCE
Cured sweet onions Same combination as last week.
Hot peppers: mix of Anaheim, Jalapeno, and Cayenne. See last week for descriptions.
Sweet peppers We’ll likely offer these in bulk-extra quantities this week, as the plants are producing heavily and we’ve had no wholesale orders. Try drying some for a winter treat on pizzas or pasta, or ground into spice mixes. Roasting & freezing also works.
Cherry tomato mix We visited the farmers market last weekend and observed some cherry tomatoes being offered only half-ripe. We pick ours fully ripe the day before delivery for highest quality.
Mid-sized slicer tomatoes These, too, may be offered in bulk. The varieties aren’t great for canning, but are excellent for freezing via roasting or cooked sauces. Drying will also work well with these.
Big ugly heirloom tomatoes
Amish Salad tomatoes These small, pinkish fruits look like large cherry tomatoes, and are best for roasting or grilling; their raw flavor isn’t that special.
Okra Try the interesting recipes/ideas suggested by reader Joshua on last week’s newsletter.
Cucumbers Mostly yellow cukes from the second planting.
Summer squash Small amounts of young squash from the just-starting second planting.
Cured garlic This week’s varieties will be Bogatyr (a general-purpose hardneck; the stalk will be cut long for ID) and Lorz (a mild general-purpose softneck). As with all of the softnecks we grew this year, the quality on Lorz may be below our usual standards. If you end up with a head of garlic of any variety that isn’t usable once you open it up, we’re happy to give a replacement; just leave a note in the produce comment section of your next survey.
We’ll stick with 4 herb bundles/full share and 2/part share this week. The chives are a little less perky than we thought, so they’re going back off the list for now, but the garlic chives are doing okay. The Kentucky colonel mint is flowering heavily in areas, and it has swarms of some kind of wasp-like insect on it. We don’t know if this insect stings, nor do we care to find out, so we’ll take it temporarily off the list.
ON-FARM FOOD THIS WEEK
We enjoy sharing what we eat, both as inspiration to CSA members and as documentation of the diversity and quality possible through local foods. These photos are from the last two weeks, as we skipped this in the previous newsletter. On-farm ingredients listed in italics.
Above, diverse pizzas on homemade crusts. From left to right: Potato & goat mozzarella; tomato, peppers, basil pesto, goat mozzarella; potato, sweet onion, goat mozzarella; cherry tomato, basil, & goat mozzarella.
Above left, breakfast of fried potatoes & eggs with roasted tomatillo salsa. Above right, fermented mixed spring vegetables (cabbage, beets, garlic scapes, turnips, etc).
Above left, baked homemade tortillas topped with tomatoes, basil pesto, home-cured ham, goat cheese; side of sweet corn. Above right, Greek Salad of sweet onion, cucumber, tomato, sweet pepper, scallion, fresh goat cheese, olives & dates from World Harvest.
Above left, homemade flatbread topped with potatoes fried in lard, roasted tomato sauce, fresh goat cheese. Above right, potatoes fried in lard topped with fresh salsa (raw tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onion, sweet corn).
Above left, “Mexican lasagna” or pseudo-enchilada of homemade tortillas layered & baked with tomatoes, scallions, roasted peppers, fresh goat cheese; fresh tomatoes on the side. Above right, simple caprese salad of goat mozzarella, tomatoes (White Tomesol and Cour di Bue), basil.Above left, homemade bread topped with fresh goat cheese, tomatoes, freshly-butchered chicken breast fried in cornmeal & lard. Side of roasted jalapenos stuffed with goat cheese. Above right, roasted Anaheims stuffed with goat cheese.