Summer CSA – Week 12

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Cool shirt day was cancelled last Thursday, but I wore mine anyway. We hand weeded the fall carrots (except for one bed) while we waited for the dew to dry on the tomato plants.
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Now the “yellow house field” is looking sharp (yes we need to finish one bed of carrots, can you see which one?).
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I spotted some lacewing eggs on the stalk of a carrot leaf while hand-weeding.  Lacewing larvae are great beneficial predators who feed on soft-bodied pests like aphids.  The carrots are right next to the brussels sprouts, which can sometimes get infested with aphids at the end of the season.  I’ve seen several adult lacewings recently, so I hope we’ll have lots of larvae to keep the early aphid population in check.

We’ve been busy, as you can imagine, harvesting, mostly tomatoes, but plenty of other veggies.  Last week we managed to sneak in a final hand-weed on the fall carrots and they are looking great.  We also seeded 32 flats of spinach, 10 flats of lettuce, 4 flats of kale and few other trials.  Those were our last seedings for the field – we will plant more trays for our low tunnels and greenhouse for the winter share, but it feels pretty weird to be almost done with seedling production work for the year.

I’m writing this late tonight, so I’m going to cut the blog a little short.  I actually started working on my Labor Day blog, but couldn’t get it together for this week, so I’ll send it on Labor Day!

There are some new veggies back in the share this week, and the volume will start to drop from the summer peak right around now.  Enjoy the transition in September, my favorite month to eat in New England.

What’s in the Share:

Tomatoes (again, and still, and until they are gone) – There are lots of heirlooms and paste tomatoes this week so get creative.  This is a great time to try an heirloom if you are afraid.  With your 20% added value in your CSA, your heirloom tomatoes are costing you just $2.40/lb.  That’s CRAZY talk.  We might need to reconsider our pricing . . . There won’t be heirloom tomatoes in the delivery share – we can barely get them out of the field and onto the farm stand without bruising them, but if you ever stop by the farm or the Ashland Farmer’s Market let us know and we’ll get you an heirloom if we’ve got them. Also, those of you who take a few tomatoes with minor blemishes, you are cool – thanks.

Sweet Peppers! Lots this week, they are delicious roasted, or sauteed with onion, or chopped into fresh salsa, or dipped in hummus, or just eaten like an apple!  The horn-shaped peppers are the best.  They have a juicy sweet flesh.  Don’t be afraid, they are my favorites.

Choice: Swiss Chard, Lettuce and Celery: An odd choice mix, perhaps, but we sell them all for $2.50/bunch/head so it’s easy for calculating value.  Small gets to choose one item, large gets to choose two.

Choice Mix: Carrots, Beets, Potatoes, Zucchini, Squash, Onions and Cucumbers (maybe the last of the year!  We spotted cucumber mosaic virus while picking today).

Herb Choice: Cilantro, Basil (definitely the last of the year)

Cherry Tomatoes and Husk Cherries

You’ve got this – no recipes this week – share your recipes on facebook or instagram if you’ve got some good ones for other members to enjoy!

 

Summer CSA: Week 11

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Olivia and Victoria are headed off to college this week – we are really going to miss them!

I want to take a minute to tell you how great our crew is this year.

It has been the grossest weather I have experienced as a farmer.  It has not been fun to be outside most days.  So muggy, so hot . . . yuck.  But our crew kept their spirits high throughout, even when picking tomatoes in a 100 degree greenhouse, or when they were picking their millionth bean or tomato, or pulling weeds for hours on end, or putting up with their crazy bosses’.

Your produce would not get to the stand without them, so if you get a chance, say thanks.  There are several crew members who just work mornings, 7-12 in the field, picking, planting and cultivating vegetables, who you don’t get to meet but who are just as integral to our farm – if you want me to pass any messages along, let me know!

We are still knee deep in tomato season, not quiet so many in your share this week, but still plenty to enjoy!  I made some great frozen sauce (well, just cooked tomatoes, I add the garlic and herbs when I thaw it out in winter). It was Sunday, my parents came to visit so they took Harvey to the zoo, and I got to do some great preserving.  I do more freezing than canning because of my limited time and excellent freezer space.

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We will have seconds tomatoes for sale in the stand this week, ask the stand attendant.  We sell them for $1.50/lb, minimum 5lb purchase.

My mom made Panzanella for dinner Sunday.  If you haven’t ever made it or tried it, it’s simple and good! I think this is the recipe she used. We used almost 3lbs of tomatoes and kalamata olives instead of capers. It was good today at lunch too.  You could also just make this as a salad and have toasted bread with it, it would also be delicious.

Also, Tuesday and Delivery Shares, I know the corn wasn’t ready for you last week – but it is this week, get ready for what most likely will be the last of our corn for the season.  Next year we will probably try to plant one more round.

What’s in the share:

Tomatoes

Corn (Probably just Tuesday, maybe a few ears on Thursday)

Cucumbers (probably the last big haul of the season, we will have smaller amounts for the next few weeks)

Choice Mix: Fennel, Beets, Zucchini, Squash, Carrots, Green/Purple Peppers, Red Onions with the option to sub in lettuce, lettuce mix and basil (definitely the last basil of the season, there is serious downy mildew out there, a sad annual occurrence on organic farms.  Not to worry, cilantro is almost back (along with hot peppers)!

Cherry Tomatoes/Sweet Peppers

Garlic – It was our intention to have massive amounts of garlic for the CSA this year.  A delivery of terribly weedy straw in later October (and nothing to substitute) left our garlic un-mulched.  In retrospect I think we should have mulched and dealt with the consequences. Frost heaves and the deep freezes of March killed about 1/3 of our seed – which has survived without mulch all other years, but the slight slope (probably only 1degree) allowed some soil to wash away from the garlic cloves, exposing them to cold temperatures.

That explanation is more for those in the know about garlic – if you aren’t ready to dive into garlic growing 301, just know that we don’t have as much garlic as we want, so we have been hoarding it to make sure we get the right amount for seed next year before distributing it (garlic is grown from garlic cloves, yes you can plant the garlic we give you – its a great choice if you like a bargain, you are getting it for about $8 a pound but if you tried to buy it as seed it would cost $18-$20/lb).

Recipes:

Baked Haddock with Tomatoes and Fennel

Roasted Tomato with Fennel and White Beans

Fennel and Cucumber Salad

Beet, Cucumber and Feta Salad With Basil

Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

Summer CSA – Week 10

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If I were to write a spoof horror film based on my job, it would be called, “The Ripening.”  It would be filmed Blair Witch Project style, first person, amateur camera work . . . from the perspective of a panicked farmer rushing around the farm trying desperately (on a hot, humid day) to harvest as much produce as possible before a looming rain storm.

I realize this might not totally make sense to all of you, but I just wanted to try and help you understand how much pressure there is to pick, pick, pick – especially when the weather is hot, and things are ripening (and potentially becoming over-ripe/splitting/being attacked by pests) at a rate barely within your capacity to manage.

Last Friday we rushed through the field tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, grabbing only the ripest ones, then rushed to the storage onions, a harvest project that went on all week.  We wanted to get them out of the field before this epic stretch of wet weather which would have made harvest much harder and potentially reduced the storage life of the onions which we need to last until February. We tried to grow less onions this year, but somehow we grew more . . .

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Brittany putting Red Hawk onions in bins to be transported to the greenhouse to cure.

We did great.  We didn’t get every tomato, there will be splits in the field this week, and about 100 bed feet of the healthiest, sturdiest onions got left at 7:00pm when Kevin and I bailed so he could put everything we picked into the greenhouse to cure and I could take Harvey home for a desperately needed bath and bedtime.

Harvey is only just able to be on the farm without completely detracting from one person’s productivity (unless of course he is sleeping).  He is definitely not helpful (I mean come on, he’s a year and a half old . . . ) but we decided that both of us being there with Harvey was more productive than one of us going home with him, which is a big change.  Just barely, but it was also nice to spend time together.

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Harvey found the cherry tomatoes, “mados”, just beyond the pepper beds, next to the onions we were picking. 

We picked a lot of tomatoes on Thursday and Friday, and more to pick tomorrow. This week and next will be the peak of tomato season for our farm this year, much earlier than last year. Get ready for large amounts.

This woman has some good advice for freezing tomatoes/cooked down tomatoes: Save Time Preserving Your Tomatoes

 

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The real gem in this picture is the volunteer nasturtium that is still going strong in the greenhouse.  It came up through the weed-mat in May, and has been thriving ever since.  Oh and those tomatoes are amazing too.

We also have a lot of cherry tomatoes, which are great cooked as well as raw.  I made a fast pasta dish last night for supper.

1/2lb onion (sauteed on medium heat until translucent) + 1 clove garlic (crushed)

1 pint cherry tomatoes (cut in half and cooked with onions, after the onions were almost done, for about 3 minutes on medium heat)

1.5lb zucchini (cut in half and roasted in oven at 400 for 25 minutes) then cut into bite-size pieces after cooling slightly.

10 basil leaves finely chopped, more would be better but I only had ten

cooked pasta (whatever you like) coated in olive oil

Put pasta on a plate, put veggies on top, but basil on top of veggies.  Enjoy.

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I’m not a food photographer . . . but this was delicious and easy.

We also still have cucumber coming out of our ears.  So if you want to make pickles now is the time.  I strongly recommend this article on how to make your own fridge pickles.

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This was about 1 pound of cucumbers, cut into spears.  I made random brine for them (1/2water, 1/2 cider vinegar, 1 tbsp salt plus thyme, bronze fennel seeds, mustard seeds, pepper and marjoram) we’ll see how they taste, but it was fast and easy.

I appreciate everyone continuing to eat fresh this week.  The corn is still coming in but there are more bugs than before.  The corn will be in a choice so if you don’t want more, no problem.  If you do, it still tastes great but there will be more damage to remove this week. We will offer a few carrots/beets/onions/potatoes in the choice but we really need you to eat the produce that doesn’t hold, like tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, melons, cherry tomatoes, peppers and corn.

Olivia made excellent corn chowder that you can find the recipe for here.

We are going to start to see ripe peppers in the share.  We leave at least 50% of all ripe peppers we grow in the field because of extreme blemishes, so we value them at a very high value (the same as grocery stores). We grow mini-ripe peppers because they are less likely to have bug damage/sun scald – so don’t be worried that a small pepper is a hot pepper, they are just mini sweet peppers.

What’s in the share:

Tomatoes (something like 4-5lbs in the small share and 7-8lbs in the large) Please handle these gently, we take great care not to damage them when harvesting/bringing to the stand.  Treat vegetables like eggs.

Melons (2 per share)

Sweet Corn and Lettuce (in a choice with carrots/beets/onions/potatoes – read instructions carefully this week!)

Cucumbers

Zucchini

Sweet Peppers

Beans

Cherry tomatoes – try roasting them whole!

(The eggplants are going through their august slow-down, we should see more back in the share next week)

Enjoy!

 

 

Summer CSA – Week 9

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Kevin and Zach picking last weeks corn.

(This weeks blog entry comes from Erin – with a few notes from Brittany in the mix).

With temperatures in the 90s and summer produce in full swing, we are quite literally in the heat of summer. At this time of year we are excited to distribute some of the summer CSA favorites—tomatoes, peppers, melons, fresh onions, etc. Additionally, at this time of year, we are able to donate extra food and “seconds” (produce that is not in marketable condition) to area food pantries and food access non-profits, such as The Boston Area Gleaners. This amazing non-profit supports both small-scale farmers and food insecure individuals by harvesting extra produce directly from farms and distributing this produce to those in need.

You may be surprised to hear that 1 in 10 people in Massachusetts are living with food insecurity. This means people lack access to healthy, fresh food and a balanced diet. Food insecure people may not have the financial means to get to a full service grocery store, afford kitchenware to cook, or afford wholesome foods at all.

Here are some ways you can help:

  • Support availability of local farm land and keep farm land close to home.
  • Support or donate to local non-profits and farms working to fight hunger.
  • Advocate for food access program funding (such as the Healthy Incentives Program) in local, state, and national government.
  • Last but certainly not least…Donate to our very own CSA member, Debra’s fundraiser for The Boston Area Gleaners!! Debra is a supporter of our farm and food access advocate, who is using her biking skills to raise awareness for the Boston Area Gleaners.
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This week’s corn in he background of our AMAZING winter squash crop. It’s looking GOOD.

What’s in the share:

Cantaloupe (Why did the melons have a church wedding?) – these are field ripened and delicious – enjoy soon after pick up!

Corn (Brittany’s note: ears are bigger, but the worms are a little bigger too – this is a great week to try cutting the tips off before shucking if you are squeemish – remember, no peeling back ears at the stand, we are all subject to the gamble of growing corn organically.)

Tomatoes: Tomatoes are comin’ in hot, here are some recipes that will still leave you wanting more…

Homemade salsa

Corn and tomato pasta salad (add basil and cucumber for some extra flavor)

Oven-roasted tomatoes

Cucumber

Beans: Try Sauteed Italian Flat Beans or Lemony White Bean and Flat Bean Bowl

Zucchini

Peppers

Lettuce

Basil: To keep your basil fresher for longer, place your bunch in a vase of water. If you haven’t tried making pesto yet, now is the time! Use it as a topping for pasta or a spread for your grilled veggies and sandwiches.

We will have potatoes and fresh onions for sale at the stand for those CSA members who want them!

It’s Week 9…already?!

The share is half-way done—you may be feeling like you are in a veggie heaven or you may still feel a little overwhelmed by all this delicious produce. Here are some links to easy at-home preservation techniques that will make your bounty last and make you feel like a true local foodie.

Pickling

Freezing

Canning

 

Thanks for your support, cheers!

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