Hi Everyone, this is going to be a short email this week. I’m giving myself a break (eg: I don’t have time since Harvey only slept 45 minutes instead of 2 hours this afternoon) and giving you the option to broaden your perspectives either through reading or audio.
You probably don’t know that Erin, our super dedicated assistant manager, is also the Development Associate for The New Garden Society, a non-profit that brings garden education and therapy to incarcerated persons in the state of Massachusetts. She never asks for time off, but frequently tells me about staying up late writing grants, evening meetings in Boston, and about the afternoons once/month when she leads a workshop for students in the program.
A few weeks back I received their annual report in the mail and it brought me to tears. If you are interested in garden education, restorative justice, or are curious about the outside work of one of your farmers I strongly suggest reading this document:
Or, if you are interested, I listened to a Freakonomics Podcast during a long car ride this weekend that basically summed up my education as an undergrad. You can’t stop part way, because the first 20 minutes seems like propaganda itself.
For those of you who just want to feel warm and fuzzy, well, here’s a few pictures, but I strongly suggest reading/listening to one or both of these.
What’s in the Share GARLIC: We are giving you a large amount of garlic (1/2 lb small, 1 pound large) this is all the garlic you will get for a while, but use it as you like!. It will last on the counter until February at least, so no rush. TOMATOES CORN LETTUCE/ARUGULA CHOICE PINTS CHOICE: Cherry tomatoes, shishito peppers, mini sweet peppers, fairy tale eggplant, hot peppers BIG CHOICE: Kale, Chard, Scallions, Radish, Fennel, Cucumber, Zucchini, Squash, Carrots, Fresh Onions, Green Peppers, Eggplant, Probably some ripe peppers, more lettuce (below is a pic of last weeks small and large shares – yours would look different if you made different choices)
VERRILL FARM CORN AND TOMATO
TART (USES ONION, CORN, TOMATOES, SCALLIONS)
My mom joined us for camping
this past week and on the way home she helped me brainstorm recipes. She swears
by this tart from Verrill Farm in Concord. They just had their annual Corn
& Tomato Festival on Saturday which, if you’ve never been, is lots of fun
and definitely worth checking out. Put a reminder in your calendar for next
Scallions for EVERYONE this week! My kids are addicted to the scallion pancakes that I listed in Week 4 of the Spring Share (you can find it by searching on the Upswing Farm website if you missed it) but I’m going to try to talk them into switching it up this week. I’m a sucker for a caramelized onion, no matter what variety!
With school starting NEXT WEEK,
I’m starting to think about quick and easy breakfast ideas. My daughter needs
to be on the bus at 6:45 and I have a hard time convincing her to eat
breakfast, especially with the anxiety that comes along with starting a new
school year. It’s hard to resist this zucchini bread though! I use white whole
wheat flour in place of the all-purpose flour and make them as muffins (just
pour into muffin tins and decrease the cooking time to 30 min or so).
CAESAR KALE PASTA SALAD
No recipe needed! Grab a bunch
of kale from the choice this week, chop it up into smallish pieces and toss it
with 8 oz of cooled bow tie pasta. Add a splash of your favorite Caesar salad
dressing and top it with crumble whole wheat pita chips and a sprinkle of
parmesan cheese. Perfect for a hot summer night.
I am not a lover of eggplant. BUT I never pass up getting eggplant when it comes around because I adore Baba Ganoush. Not only is it fun to say but it’s also delicious. If you’ve never tried it, you must. You char the eggplant (this recipe uses 3 but you can scale it down based on what you’ve got) which gives it an amazing smoky flavor and then puree it with tahini, garlic and lemon juice. Eat it with pita chips, tortilla chips or, for even more veggie goodness, dip cut up carrots, celery, peppers or cukes in it.
The heat is going to be cranking up again this week – perfect timing for a refreshing chilled soup. If you’re looking for another use for your scallions just swap one bunch for the 2 leeks in this recipe.
What beautiful weather we are having . . . it feels more like late August, but I’ll take it. Cool nights aren’t the best for our hot crops, like tomatoes, cucumbers, winter squash . . . temps in the 50’s slow their growth and also increase morning moisture which can lead to an increase of fungal disease. Luckily, despite some disease pressure in the fields, our harvest is going to be bountiful for the foreseeable future.
And believe it or not, we’ve only got 7 weeks left of the summer share (including this one). If you haven’t signed up for a Fall Share, now is the time to do it, because the price goes up on Sunday! The fall share is ten weeks long, and is my personal favorite. Pick up is every other week, but lots of the produce keeps for more than two weeks, so you get a great variety, and its cooler so using the oven is an enjoyable experience.
So far it looks like its going to be a great fall. We’ve been on time with all of our plantings, the rain has watered them all in very well, and we’re trying to increase the amount of salad mixes, spinach and other greens based on conversations with members last year. Fall is a great time to be eating local in New England.
Want to sign up? Just email me (make sure to include the name you used to register for your summer share) and I will save you a spot, no need to fill out the form. OR you can fill out the registration form and make my life a tiny bit easier 🙂
Today we are harvesting the last of the fresh onions and trying to get as many of the storage onions into the greenhouse before the potential rain tomorrow. We’re having a great onion year. I’m going to put onions in the share this week just to get some of them into your homes and away from the farm since we are running out of places to put them. The onions you are getting in the share are still fresh onions, so they should be stored in plastic bags in the fridge, but they will keep for a while (like a month at least) that way.
If you haven’t just cut an onion in half, brushed it with oil and then grilled it until tender, now is a great time. Just sprinkle a little salt and eat it. Onions are NOT just for adding flavor to other vegetables!!
I also need to get some beets out of the cooler, so we are putting beets in the share as well. This is another one that is great on the grill. I cube mine, toss in a little oil then wrap them in tin foil and put on the grill as soon as it comes to temp. Beets want about 30 minutes on the grill, so put them on first and take them off last. You don’t have to eat them right away, you could put them in the fridge then mix them with some lettuce, sprinkle a little goat cheese and walnuts and have a great salad the next day!
The rest, you know what to do with. Montauk corn this week which is a personal favorite. Tomatoes are coming in hot! Lots in both shares. Tomato salads, tomato sandwiches, eating them like apples . . . we’ve got heirlooms too, so give some crazy tomatoes a taste this week.
I’m writing this email during Harvey’s nap so he and I can go back to the farm and help pick onions. He helped last year when we were hauling them in until 7pm (we got a pizza to eat in the field!!) so we’re hoping for a repeat. He’s been doing so great just hanging with us on the farm while we work. It’s really cute.
What’s in the Share · FRESH ONIONS (The red variety is ‘Red Long di Tropea’ an Italian Heirloom and the white is ‘Ailsa Craig’, a spanish heirloom. Both have sweet and complex flavors, and don’t cure down like other storage onions, so we’ve only got a few more weeks to enjoy them!) · BEETS · TOMATOES · CORN · LETTUCE · CHERRY TOMATOES/TOMATIOLLOS/SHISHITO PEPPERS/MINI SWEET PEPPERS/HOT PEPPERS (pint choices) · CARROTS/CUCUMBER/ZUCCHINI/SQUASH/KALE/CHARD/RADISH/ARUGULA/KOHLRABI/SCALLIONS/FENNEL/PARSLEY/BUNCHING CELERY/CILANTRO? (choices) · GARLIC
got loads of onions, so I thought I’d start by sharing a few winning onion
recipes this week:
The next time you’re camping, or just using a charcoal grill at home, give these beauties a try! You place the whole onion in the spent coals and let it slow-cook for a few hours until it turns into a smoky puree that is amazing in sandwiches, soups, dips, salad dressing or on your burgers and hot dogs.
MAPLE-MUSTARD CEDAR-PLANK SALMON WITH ONION CRUST
My mom is camping with us this week, so I thought I’d share
one of her recipes. It also happens to be loaded with onions! If you’ve never
used a cedar plank to cook your salmon you are missing out. This recipe is a
HUGE crowd pleaser and has been in my family for years. It comes from Yankee
Magazine so you know it’s going to be good.
Chopped salads are my favorite. I love the crunch factor and they’re different from the same old lettuce salads. This one uses lots of things you’ll find in your share and has a scrumptious feta-lemon-dill dressing situation going on.
GRILLED CORN ON THE COB
My absolute favorite way to do corn on the cob is to grill
it. Some people grill it with the husks on but I shuck them and put them right
on the hot grill rack. They only take a few minutes, just turn them as they
start to blacken slightly or when you hear them popping. If you really want to
gild the lily, smear some sour cream on them and sprinkle with chipotle powder
and a squeeze of fresh lime. PERFECTION.
Morgan Evans-Weiler started working with us part time in the summer in 2012. He’s a musician and artist, but loves vegetables as much as we do (maybe more?), and likes working outside in the heat. Plus there are less violin lessons to teach in the summer. So, for a few days a week, for a few months a year Morgan has come to help us grow food. He won’t admit it, but he could run his own farm at this point, and it has been such a pleasure to work with him and enjoy his company for all these years.
(A good sound track for this blog would start with ‘These are the days’ by 10,000 Maniacs.)
Unfortunately for us, Cornell University admitted him into their MFA program and he leaves this week to get settled and start orientation in Ithaca. As his friends we are happy for him, excited for this new adventure – we know he will make the most of it. But any time a good friend leaves there is always sadness. It’s hard to put into words how important Morgan is to us. Words like smart, kind, generous and creative don’t work to describe him because they are generic, and there is nothing generic about him.
We are so lucky for his help on the farm. He works hard, has a great attitude and is usually the person to remember to bring the ‘jam-box’ to the field. He takes feedback well, tolerates our BS, and knows enough now that his feedback to us is helpful and constructive and helps the farm succeed.
I don’t like to describe any part of our relationship as employer/employee. I know that’s what it is when he works for us and we pay him, but there is a social implication of an imbalance of power that I really don’t like. I need people to work on the farm to meet the goals I set for the business. I need to manage how the work is done and it’s on me to teach them, treat them with respect, make sure there are enough red knives to around and compensate them well in order to achieve what I hope is a common goal of producing great product with minimal impact. My employees really have the upper hand when it comes to power, because I need them.
A skilled farm laborer is hard to come by. Especially for a diversified vegetable farm, where the variety of tasks is so great it takes years to even begin to master them all. This year we raised our hourly to $15/ hour for all adults who have worked with us for at least a year (we do still pay minimum wage for part time high school and college students, but usually there is a lot of training happening, and it takes a while to help them develop their skills . . . every year someone returns they get a $1/hour raise). It still feels like not enough when I have an amazing crew that I can turn loose with limited instruction and get amazing results, but it is a step. We don’t pay overtime, or sick days (but anyone can call out sick any time without fear of losing their job) or offer benefits, but the work is seasonal. A part of why we push towards year round farming is because we want to create year round employment. And it is a great balance for someone like Morgan, who has other pursuits that can be flexible with the farming season. If we can create jobs that provide enough income and security to allow our employees to pursue other interests and passions then I think we are doing something right. Because otherwise we need to hope people are desperate enough, or idealistic and privileged enough to do hard work for low wages, and that’s not the world I want to live in.
We can’t do anything about the fact that the housing market around here is outrageous, but affordable housing would be another important offering we’d like to have for employees if we had land security.
Too many people look down on the work that is done on our farm as menial. Yes, it is hard. Yes sometimes it really sucks. We do whatever we can to prevent avoidable terrible situations, but sometimes its just 90+ degrees and the tomatoes need to be picked, or its pouring rain but CSA pick up is in 5 hours and we’ve got to get 150 shares on the stand. But probably most of the people who look down on this work wouldn’t actually be able to do it.
Try showing up without any training or practice and harvesting a crate of bunched carrots that meets our quality and speed standards (12 bunches in 12 minutes). Then move on to radish, then kale. Now hoe a 450 bed of beets well enough to prevent the need for excessive hand weeding. Now put a 4th string on the field tomato trellis. Now go do the seeding list for this week. Sure, none of it is rocket science or brain surgery, but it requires a lot of training and practice to be a productive employee on our farm. Constant constructive feedback.
And its like this on all farms, everywhere in the world. You don’t have to just eat venison and rutabaga in winter because we can (as a society) ship whatever, from wherever, whenever we want to (regardless of the environmental costs). Yes a lot of product out of season is inferior, but plenty of is it still pretty darn good. And we get to have all of those things because there are people who you will never meet willing to do that work. So, if you like eating and don’t grow all your own food, I suggest supporting social initiatives that advocate for workers rights, and for healthcare for lower wage jobs that aren’t traditionally covered. Because I’m sure you wouldn’t ever expect someone to do all the work to grow your food but deny them access to healthcare, fair treatment or fair pay.
We just took a break and rode the bike path from the Car Quest in Holliston to the park with the lake in Milford (don’t know what it’s called), ate a picnic supper and rode back, just before dark. I feel the need to tell you this since we saw three CSA members on our trip (two of them on a tandem bike!). We are trying to live it up while Morgan is still here, and trying to work off some of the junk food we ate at his going away party last night.
I made a pinata for the party. We talked about it in theory a lot this season and on Tuesday last week I decided I needed to make it a reality. I’m a super type-A, workaholic, and only value myself based on what I produce and what other people think of me. I work deliberately to quell this part of my character and occasionally attempt to exist just for the sake of existence or do things just because they bring me joy. Morgan is a role model for me in that respect. He follows his passion and deliberately makes time for and prioritizes his art and his music. So, I decided I had to make this pinata a reality, to honor the inspiration he gives me to attempt to access my creative side.
It took about 5 hours over the course of 5 days (all after Harvey went to bed) and was SO worth it. And we haven’t beaten it with a stick yet, so we still get to enjoy it hanging in the kitchen. And maybe we’ll keep it, to remind us of Morgan. OR maybe we’ll beat it with a stick, have a ton of fun and remind ourselves that nothing last forever. Not even your best friend farming with you on and off in the summer. Unless we move to Ithaca and buy a farm out there . . .
And on to the vegetables, because they keep growing, we keep taking care of them, and we keep picking them.
The share this week is very similar to last, lots of the same produce, lots of choice. We are encouraging you to take beets and onions, because we have a LOT!
The share this week: Lettuce Tomatoes!! Peppers Cucumber Zucchini Carrots Beets Fresh Onions (red and white, both delicious) Scallions Dill Parsley Kohlrabi New Potatoes Probably Corn. A note on the corn – sorry Tuesday for the smaller amount of corn. The coyotes plus some confusion on harvest quantities made me afraid we wouldn’t have enough for Thursday so we gave less than we had hoped for. I promise we will make it up to you in the coming weeks!
This is what I’m
talking about! Tomatoes, Peppers, Corn on the Cob, Zucchini – it’s the summer
share at it’s finest! Most of the recipes this week are multi-taskers that will
use multiple items from your share.
Peppers, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes – this recipe will use them all! This recipe calls for Italian Frying Peppers but I would just use regular peppers and add a shake or two of crushed red pepper flakes.
I love a good bread salad on a
hot summer night! This one has the perfect vinaigrette and will use up
tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and some of those onions!
While I don’t love using the oven in the summer, these stuffed peppers are worth it, and your oven will only be on for 30 minutes. Eat your dinner outside and it will be cool in the kitchen again by the time you come back in.
14 WAYS TO USE A BAG OF ONIONS
Caramelized onions are one of my favorite things. I like to
make up a big batch and then throw them in sandwiches, eggs, on top of burgers
and hot dogs, you name it! If you need a few more ideas for your onions, check
out this article with 14 new ideas for you.
ROASTED BEET, CARROT AND KALE SALAD
I’m sure I’ve mentioned that I love a good make-ahead dinner
and this one is perfect for a hot summer night. Roasted beets, carrots and
shallots (I would use my fresh onions here) are roasted and tossed in a
maple-mustard vinaigrette while they’re still warm and then they soak up all
that delicious dressing as they cool off.