We had hoped to offer the first CSA distribution of spring on April 22nd/25th, but are having to rewrite this newsletter as another week of cold, overly wet weather looms with far less sun than than desired. We need some consistent warmth & sun to allow for winter spinach to green up properly and ensure a good harvest. We now anticipate distributing on Monday April 29 and Thursday May 2. This will technically be share #2, following the January share that served as an early-signing bonus for members, though it kicks off the full 2013 season. We have now closed the membership, so share #2 will also function as a full trial run of this season’s delivery routes & customization system; we ask that all members review our 2013 member guidelines for details on how this season will work. Read on for details on this share, what’s happening on the farm, and information on an upcoming CSA member event.
THIS WEEK’S PRODUCE
We’re well behind last year’s early start due to the cold/wet March & April, and this will be a somewhat small share, but we have several items we really want to get to members, and some farm food is better than none. We’ve been working on developing specific pages for the items we grow, with cooking & handling suggestions. Click on any links you see to learn more.
These items have a long storage life, and have done well enough over the winter that we’d love to get the remainder to you. The sweet potatoes are in excellent condition; we’ve been feasting on them all winter & spring. There are two varieties: Shoregold (above), which has orange flesh and tends to be fatter, and Laceleaf (below), which has white flesh and tends to be skinnier. Personally, we especially like the thinner roots as they’re very easy to slice into consistent rounds for roasting, but both will have excellent flavor.
Garlic will come in two grades: a few nice heads of our best remaining stock, and extra quantities of lesser-grade garlic which we have in abundance (above). Many of these are beginning to sprout and should be used soon, but we’ve been cooking with them for weeks and have found them tasty and usable. If you wish to do some preservation, we recommend roasting a large quantity of heads, and pressing the soft roasted flesh into a dedicated ice cube tray before freezing. The resulting cubes of roasted garlic paste make excellent “bullion” cubes for soups, sauces, and more. If they’re sprouting and you have a garden, another option is to put the whole head into the ground and let them grow into a cluster of garlic scallions; harvest them when they’re about pencil thick and use like green onions with garlic flavor. (We’re currently maxed out on space for alliums, or we’d be doing that with the remaining heads.)
This suffered somewhat from late snow cover and hungry voles, but we hope it regrows enough in the next few weeks to offer some fresh leaves to everyone. This, however, requires the weather to actually behave like mid-late April rather than March. It won’t look perfect, but will have good flavor and texture:a great cooking spinach and an enjoyable salad green.
Green onions (full shares only)
There will be a small amount of overwintered green onions, just enough to give full shares a taste.
Sorrel is a leafy green with a tart, lemony flavor. We’re hoping to have enough to distribute a small amount to everyone. If not, we’ll offer it among the herb choices instead.
Each member household will receive a selection of herb bundles. The survey will provide an opportunity to tell us what you would/wouldn’t like, though we can’t always fulfill exact requests. For this distribution, we think we can do 4 bundles/full share and 2 bundles/single share.
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.
Garlic chives: Similar to chives, but leaves are flat rather than round, and of course they have a more garlicky flavor.
Thyme: A versatile herb, good in salad dressing, with eggs, simmered in pasta sauce, and in numerous other preparations.
Oregano (probably): A slightly spicy herb that pairs nicely with thyme and can be used in similar ways.
Mint: Mint can be used for various culinary purposes, though we most frequently use it to add flavor to beverages. We have several varieties of mint, and each has a slightly different flavor. As the season progresses, we’ll offer a choice of varieties, but for now we’ll harvest whatever is poking above the ground.
Lemon balm: Mildly lemony herb, can be added to teas, salads, or sauces for flavor.
Catnip: For tea, or for feline entertainment (not all cats respond).
Tarragon (maybe): Nice licorice flavor, especially good with fish.
Eggs will be available this week, both for home/work delivery AND a dropoff at a centrally located member’s house for WH members (please review the member guidelines for details on how egg orders & deliveries work). We hope you’ll give them a try as laying will continue to pick up throughout spring. Even at $6/dozen, that’s only $.50/egg which is cheaper than soda, coffee, or candy and far healthier.
RECENTLY ON THE FARM
Lots of migratory birds are starting to arrive, and we’ve been enjoying the increased sounds & sights of spring. We have this year’s flock of breeding hens isolated with a chosen rooster, and in a few weeks will start a batch of eggs in our incubator for the next generation of laying hens and meat roosters. Lots of time has been going into starting transplants and managing the greenhouse, as well as setting out plants that are ready to go. We’ve also had to make some tough decisions on prioritizing winter/spring projects, some of which will likely no longer get done this year due to the weather (such as finishing the western orchard fence; it’s been too snowy/wet to drill post-holes and now our attention has to turn to vegetables).
WHAT’S GOING RIGHT
Spring really is coming, if slowly. The soil life has exploded lately, we’ve taken advantage of the few dry & sunny days to get lots of things seeded & transplanted, and we’ve been able to use the overall poor weather to get some background tasks done. We’ve also transitioned to a new feed source for our chickens, ordering a diverse mix of whole organic grains in bulk and grinding their ration ourselves, rather than buying in the pre-made organic feed we used to this. This results in a much fresher, higher-quality ration for the birds without a lot of the additives in the premix. We’ve expanded the CSA membership by about 1/3 and seem to have a lot of interesting new people in the mix; we hope to achieve good attendance at farm events this year so members can get to know one another and enjoy some of the community that’s part of CSA.
WHAT’S NOT SO GREAT
Farmers always complain about weather, and we’re no different. This very long stretch of mostly cloudy, wet weather has set us way back on many tasks, and the repeated rounds of heavy rain are even more problematic. Back in the winter we wrote that breaking the drought of 2012 could be almost as damaging as continuing it, and so far that’s kind of what’s happening. Soil temperatures have been slow to rise, and lack of consistent sun has hampered plant growth, while regularly soggy fields make it harder to control weeds & prepare ground for planting. Repeated rain & storms have also played havoc with our worker schedule, costing us a lot of scheduled work days that can’t easily be replaced.
See all the complaints above. While all this snow and rain in the last few months has temporarily removed drought as a concern, it’s worth remembering that 2012 stayed wet into May before the tap shut off and the temperatures soared for the rest of the year. Current weather is no predictor of future weather. Looking back at the January newsletter, when it had still been very warm & dry, at least our concern about going into 2013 in a continuing drought has been alleviated by all this moisture. Although that’s something like rescuing a starving person by force-feeding cake.
ON-FARM CSA EVENT, SATURDAY APRIL 27 2-4 pm
On this afternoon we’ll open the farm up to members who wish to take a nice spring walk through our diverse landscape. April is a beautiful time of year on the farm and a particularly good time to enjoy the woods. Wildflowers tend to be in full glory, and morels are a possibility. Late April is typically a great time to view migrating birds, before trees fully leaf out. And of course there will be many adorable baby vegetables. This will also be a great chance to meet other CSA members. Given the layout of the farm, we’d prefer to do this as a guided tour rather than an open house, so please plan to arrive at 2 if you’re coming; we’d greatly appreciate advance notice of your interest and plans as well.