The next CSA distribution will be Monday October 21 and Thursday October 24. There are five shares remaining in the season (including this one), culminating in the Thanksgiving share going out to everyone on Monday 11/25. Remember to consult our online calendar if you are uncertain of the schedule. The Fall Harvest Celebration is coming up on November 2nd as well: please be sure to complete the RSVP survey we sent out, to help us plan this major event properly. This is your best remaining chance to visit and take part in the farm this season, and we hope to make it a well-attended and thoroughly worthwhile event.
We’re deep into the fall transition, with the leaves turning and the shares rapidly shifting toward greens and root crops. It’s a beautiful time of year here, with generally stable and comfortable weather combined with the stressful enjoyment of nearing the finish line on another successful growing season. With our best chance yet of first frost this weekend, we’ll be working hard to strip the remaining summer items.
THIS WEEK’S PRODUCE
NEW! Leeks First taste of these. Their flavor & sweetness develops with cold weather, but they’re already tasting wonderful. Leeks often integrate dirt into their layers; slice them lengthways and rinse carefully to remove all grit.
NEW! Beets Mixed varieties, with greens. The long, cylindrical ones are the Cylindra variety. The ones with pink/white concentric rings are Chioggia.
NEW! Sweet potatoes We had a reasonable harvest and will be distributing these for weeks, but this week will be good “2nds”: roots with a bit of damage and/or extra skinny ones that won’t store as long as the 1sts. They’re as edible as anything else, but it’s most efficient to get these out first and distribute the better-storing ones afterward. Don’t even think about peeling these. The skinny ones are great sliced into coins and roasted.
NEW! Fall radishes The first harvest of daikon and watermelon radishes. These large radishes are great for stir fry, salads, and more.
NEW! Turnips Golden turnips, a new variety for us. So much food around we haven’t even tried them yet, but they’re plenty big & need to be harvested. We’d love to hear what you think of them.
Green tomatoes These didn’t store as well as we’d hoped, and were fed to the pigs Monday morning. Sorry.
Fresh shelling beans Wow, have these been an accidental success this year! One final week, from a last stripping of the plants pre-frost. These may be a bit more variable in maturity stage than before; cooking time may be a bit longer for the more-mature beans.
Napa cabbage Will take a week break on these, to make room for several other bulky new things. They’ll be back.
Broccoli Full share only. Looks like one more small amount is likely with side shoots and a few straggler heads. May offer as an either/or with our few remaining heads of pac choi.
Kale This is doing great, may be a larger amount than usual.
Sweet peppers We stripped the pepper plants of anything reasonably nice that remained; the sweets this week are mostly to fully ripe.
Green peppers The green pepper bins collected anything from fully green to partly ripe.
Ancho/Anaheim peppers Again, stripping these plants, so expect a nice pulse of these. Mix of green & ripe.
It is an otherwise big share, and time is precious at this time of year with shortening day length but still lengthy to-do lists. Thus, we’re going to save on harvest time and reduce herbs to 2 bundles/full share & 1/single share this week.
Thyme/sage mix If you’ve been liking that combination for the beans; it won’t be included by default this time.
Sorrel Lemon-flavored leaves make a nice addition to salads, for example.
Mint (harvester’s choice)
We adore saute greens & leeks cooked in butter with a bit of garlic and balsamic vinegar. Some very nice pepper sauces are a good option with the last pre-frost pulse. Sweet potatoes, turnips, and beets make the base of a nice roasted vegetable mix.
There will be no eggs in the near future, as the chickens have pretty much stopped laying. We have a lot of older hens slated for butchering later this fall, but had hoped they’d keep up laying a little longer. The whole flock seems to be going through a strong collective molt, which often happens this time of year and suppresses laying. First year birds often pick up to maintain a supply, but not this year. Remember that cold, late spring? That’s why we started this year’s birds later than desired, and that’s why they’re not laying yet. So none of us will be eating eggs for a while.
ON OFF THE FARM
We thoroughly enjoyed this past week’s break from harvest & distribution, taking a trip deep into the Missouri Ozarks to celebrate our anniversary (our thanks to the several wonderful folks who took care of the farm while we were gone). We filled the days at Meramec, Elephant Rocks, Sam A Baker, and Taum Sauk Mountain State Parks; Lon Sanders Canyon and Buford Mountain Conservation Areas; and Dillard Mill State Historic Site (along with various other stops) with many favorite activities including hiking, bird-watching, reading, sleeping, photography, historical discovery, exploring back roads, rail-fanning, and eating excellent food we brought from the farm. This trip was initially intended to be a multi-day float in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, but the outfitters down there can thank Congress for shutting them down and diverting our tourist spending to state parks instead. Now it’s on to the late fall/early winter leg of the farming season.
WHAT’S GOING RIGHT
Over the previous few weeks, we had several WWOOF-style visiting workers living here and helping out full time in exchange for housing, great food, and a full-immersion learning experience. We are so grateful to Kayci and Matt for their abundant help, which pushed us well ahead of schedule on the copious fall harvest & preparation, making our anniversary trip possible and improving the quantity and quality of many bulk crops like squash, sunflowers, corn, beans, cowpeas, and more. Below is just one field they helped us power through efficiently, now nearly ready for winter. The beds in the foreground are showing the first greenery of the germinating rye and vetch that will provide cover for the winter.
WHAT’S NOT SO GREAT
Congressional incompetence reached as far as our valley this week. Several furloughed members had arranged to come out and help us on Thursday, with a long task list developing of harvest & other work before the weekend frost, along with catching up from being away. Because of this expected help, we agreed to our regular Thursday worker’s taking the day off. Of course, the last-minute late-night resolution torpedoed all of this, sending our erstwhile helpers back to their regular jobs and leaving us short-handed.
The same day, we received notice from our health insurance provider that our current plan was not compliant with the ACA and would be terminated January 1st, meaning we’d have to reapply for a new ACA-compliant plan. Given that we still haven’t been able to successfully navigate Healthcare.gov far enough to even learn what plans are available and their costs, this was not welcome news. We’re very nervous about the future cost of health care, as it’s already a major expense & concern for us and will likely keep rising since we’re the young, healthy, business owners who are expected to shoulder the financial burden of increased coverage overall. We’re still cautiously hopeful that the predictions in this piece by Michael Pollan will turn out to be true in the long term: that the healthcare industry will take on big ag/big food when the insurance companies realize the major financial drag of the implications of the current farm subsidy system on health. But we’re finding it ironic that, in the short term at least, the economic viability of this farm–where we strive to grow the tastiest and most nutritious food possible–may well suffer.
Fall in Missouri is generally wonderful, and this year has been an especially good example. Stable weather, comfortable temperatures, proper rainfall…just delightful.