CSA distribution #31: end-of-season Thanksgiving share

It seems quite fitting that our final share of the 2012 CSA season will help members celebrate the most important holiday in our lives as farmers. We celebrate Thanksgiving as a true time of reflection of the past year’s work, pleasure, and pain on the farm and hope the presence of our produce on your own table will help add meaning and enjoyment to the holiday. We thank all our members for investing in our first season, and hope to build on this experience in coming years. See below for information on next year’s program, and the upcoming Thanksgiving share. NOTE: All distributions will happen on Monday, 11/19. 

No doubt some of you will wonder what to do about your final delivery bag. If you intend to remain a member of the CSA in 2013, just hang onto it and we’ll pick up where we left off in January. If you do not intend to remain a member, let us know and we’ll either try to pack the share in something else (like a plastic grocery bag) or just unpack the share contents directly into your cooler. We’ve had to label extra bags for some of you, either because you forgot to return them at times, and/or had extra-large shares with bulk requests. We have a list of all bags we’ve labelled for people, and after doing inventory this week will be emailing anyone who has unreturned bags so they can hunt for them and set them out on Monday. Anyone who has lost bags or otherwise wants to keep them for good will be charged $10/bag.

The following will be subject to change based on weather/crop conditions over the coming week; we’re in a season where things can change very quickly. Here’s our best estimation of what you’ll receive on Monday:

Carrots A short, fat variety, these have excellent flavor but not ideal presentation. Great for roasting, shredding into salads/slaws, soups, etc. Also great for eating snacking on plain, as the cold weather enhances the sweetness.
Parsnips These long-season roots should be valued like gold; they’ve been growing since early spring and thus displace any other product for the entire year. With a sweet, cold-induced flavor they’re excellent featured in roasted vegetable mixes and soups. Or for a breakfast treat, make “Eliot’s Breakfast Parsnips”, a recipe we first found in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, but that is also all over the web if you google it. Named for vegetable farmer extraordinaire Eliot Coleman, the recipe includes sauteing the parsnips in butter then serving them with toasted pecans & maple syrup. Yum!
Radishes A mix of watermelon and daikon radishes, these mild fall radishes are great shredded into salads/slaws, used in stir fries, or even roasted. We also like them chopped onto Mexican wraps with salsa & other fillings.
Sweet potatoes After several weeks of seconds, here you’ll get a nice selection of first-quality roots. These are excellent roasted or skillet-fried, made into pies, or added to soups. Remember to store on the counter, not the fridge. Any traditional pumpkin pie recipe can be made with sweet potato instead. Just bake the potato, scoop out the innards, and substitute for cooked pumpkin.
Turnips Use similarly to other roots, roasted and/or in soups. Vegetarian cookbooks are a great resource for creative root vegetable use, even for omnivores.
Beets Our fall beets were largely a disaster, but we salvaged enough to include one or two small ones for most shares. With low quantities, may be best featured grated/shredded on salads/slaws to stretch them further. Or include in a mixed collection of roasted root vegetables.
Leeks The distinctive flavor of these sweet alliums really benefits multiple dishes. We especially love leek & potato soup & leeks sauteed with eggs.
Onions These did not do especially well this year, but we’ll include a few remaining smallish red &/or yellow onions for culinary interest.
Garlic Our most depressing crop failure, we’ll include some garlic for those who want it but make no promises on quality.
Lettuce heads A selection of small lettuce heads. These have suffered somewhat from repeated serious freezes, and we’ve simply had too much produce on hand to start distributing them before now. Good flavor, just may have some leaf-tip damage to work around.
Spinach An early harvest of our overwintering spinach; not a lot but enough to feature in salads or other dishes.
Kale Mixed varieties great for sautes, soups, and more.

We had mentioned that there might be radicchio. Although it was showing good progress, the heads haven’t bulked up in time. Sorry for getting hopes up, but it’s not worth harvesting at this time.

HERBS (four bundles for full shares, two for partials)
We think all of the following will be available, but it depends on how they handle the string of cold nights coming up. At this time of year, flexibility is much appreciated if you want the maximum amount of herbs.
Orange mint

We’ve determined the structure & price of the 2013 CSA; read here for details. We’ll be expanding the membership and intend to deliver a January share if conditions warrant, so would like to finalize our 2013 membership ASAP. Existing members or interested newbies, please follow the above link and sign up if you’re rejoining (or tell us if you’re not). We encourage you to tell friends, neighbors, coworkers, and so on about the program to help us quickly and efficiently fill our new slots so we’re ready to go for January. Here’s a rough, don’t-hold-us-to-it list of possible January share contents to whet your appetites:

– If nothing goes wrong in storage: Sweet potatoes, garlic, butternut squash, a couple small onions
– If we have a harvest window (& not a continuous deep freeze) from mid-December to the distribution week: parsnips, carrots, daikon, leeks, maybe Jerusalem artichokes
– If December growing conditions are especially good & there’s appropriate harvest weather at distribution time: spinach, herbs

Though the days are growing much shorter, there’s as much to do as ever here. We finally finished planting & mulching all the overwintering alliums (garlic & various onions). Food preservation is still a big personal task for us, as we work through six bushels of apples, start a large crock of sauerkraut fermenting, and so on. The opening of hunting season always takes a chunk of Eric’s time, while Joanna takes on the frightening weed-load of chickweed that’s sprung up over the last month of pleasant weather. We also end up putting up significant mental & conversational effort into planning for 2013, working out all the myriad details related to next year’s business model for both CSA and restaurants. We intend to do both our seed ordering and a first CSA distribution in early January, so have a lot of planning to do in a short time to have next year’s planting plan and the full membership established by the end of December. We still have two hogs to butcher & process, along with more chickens and an unknown number of deer. Firewood needs to be hauled in from various parts of the woods, animal barns need some winterization work, we’ll need to move our produce-storage fridges into the garage for winter and do a lot of barn cleanup once the Thanksgiving share is out, and perhaps before the end of 2012 we’ll get started on the winter’s logging work. By February we’ll be starting the first seedlings indoors and off we go! A diversified farm like this is a year-round career, one which offers the flexibility and variability we deeply appreciate even when we’re tired.

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