Summer CSA: Week 13

Quick note: there are 4 more weeks (including this week) of the summer share. Fall Share starts the first week of October. Flower share has two more weeks including this week.

Hello, Everyone. Last week I avoided talking about EEE (eastern equine encephalitis) and the aerial spraying of Anvil 10+10, but now I feel like I need to say something. The farm was sprayed on Tuesday night, the 26th, at least based on the MDAR (Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources) maps, posted here. We did not harvest produce on Wednesday until after the plants had dried (which is common practice for fruit crops) and didn’t harvest leafy crops until Thursday, all of which were washed, as usual with town water and several of which were covered overnight with products we already use to exclude pests/deer.

Yes, EEE and mosquito borne diseases are scary, and I don’t want to diminish the fear people feel, especially since I am someone who faces exposure on a daily basis. Some of the fear is real, some of it dredged up by dramatic reporting and gossip. If you a concerned about contracting EEE, the best thing to do is avoid mosquitoes. MDAR has a table, that you can use to make sure you are inside during the times mosquitoes are most active, and other tips for how to protect yourself.

For those more scared of the impacts of the aerial spraying of Anvil 10+10 on your health, I feel fairly confident that this was a low impact spray. Anvil 10+10 (based on reading I did last week when I found out about the aerial spraying) contains two active ingredients, one is a chemical replica of pyrethrin, a substance approved for use on certified organic farms that many organic farmers rely on to control certain pest populations. It has been thoroughly tested on mammals and in low doses shows no adverse health impacts. This is what MDAR has on its FAQ page:

Are there any restrictions on consuming fruits and vegetables from home gardens or local farms?
No. The US EPA has established a tolerance (acceptable level) for the product that allows wide-area mosquito application on food crops, fodder crops, pasture and grazing areas. The application is not expected to leave a detectable residue on food crops, pastures, or forage crops. Livestock may graze in treated areas following the application. As always, consumers should rinse any homegrown or purchased fruits and vegetables with water before preparation or consumption.”

I’m not saying I think the aerial spraying was a good thing, but honestly, I don’t think I have the expertise to make the call. I also don’t think we should just accept the decision of the authorities (in fact, I firmly believe the opposite – always think critically, challenge and question, especially when fear seems to make the answer to a complicated question easy) but in this case, based on my understanding of the pesticide used, and the way it was going to be applied, I don’t believe any of us will experience adverse health effects.

I am curious, though, about what monitoring will be done to evaluate the effectiveness of the spray. In our fields, pests that I know would succumb to a direct application of a pyrethrin pesticide showed no noticeable reduction in population after the aerial spray. But, the spray was designed to target flying adult mosquitoes at night, and many of the pests that might succumb to an application of pyrethrin, like the striped cucumber beetle, take cover during those hours.

Also, for those of you imagining pesticides falling like rain, the ultra low volume (ULV) method used to apply Anvil 10+10 essentially creates a fine mist, that falls very slowly, increasing the chances that it will come in contact with a flying adult. The half-life of the active ingredients in this product is less than 12 hours when exposed to sunlight and air. Yes, there are still risks to other, non-target species, which I believe to be the single, greatest argument against broad area applications of pesticides, but this is a pesticide that does not persist nor are they spraying it on a regular basis.

I will admit I got bit by mosquitoes 4 times on Friday, 4 days after the spray. I didn’t realize what was happening because I’m so used to pushing through discomfort, it took me until the 4th bite to notice. Also, it was only 4pm, but I was in the shade, near the wash station making bouquets for market. I got some bug spray which I would otherwise never use.

Of course an aerial spray will not kill all mosquitoes. So how do we know it killed enough to justify the effort and potential adverse impacts to non-target species that are also susceptible to the toxicity of the pesticide?

It is not my intention to sound like an advocate for aerial pesticide applications, especially on such a wide area, I am, on principal, strongly opposed. But this is something that happened, and I’ve done probably four hours of reading in the last ten days to try and learn more about EEE, Anvil 10+10 and the risks/effectiveness of aerial spraying and I can’t come to a conclusion on whether it was the right thing to do. My gut tells me no, but then again, my loved one didn’t just die from inflammation of the brain, and I do worry for my family. But, I doubt the aerial spray actually decreased our risk, or at least I doubt it decreased it enough to be worth the effort, cost, and potential ecological impacts. We live across from the Charles River in Bellingham and they regularly spray the river/marsh at night from a truck. We still can’t go out in the evening without being eaten alive by mosquitoes, so I just can’t understand why the spraying is even worthwhile, if so many can survive.

It might be that when people want to live close together in areas with lots of mosquito habitat (both natural and human made), they need to accept one of the repercussions is mosquito borne diseases and then the subsequent applications of pesticides that will be used in an attempt to control them. Or figure something else out. The main principal of organic agriculture is doing the work up-front to create an environment where plants/animals will thrive, reducing or eliminating the need for chemicals to control pests, diseases and weeds. I’m sure there is something that can be extrapolated from this philosophy and applied to future management of mosquitoes and mosquito borne diseases.


A little weedy, but the sweet potatoes are looking good.

It was quiet the whirl-wind last week, despite my email about exiting the ‘exponential season’. Harvey has been spending more time with us on the farm. It’s such a joy to find ourselves finally able to be mostly productive and have him around, but its definitely still a challenge. Thanks to everyone who was flexible and patient with us while we tried to give you change and keep Harvey from coloring on himself with markers and that sort of thing.

The share this week is great, as usual in early September (although we love all the vegetables of all the season . . .). We appreciate the variety of this time of year and we hope you are able to thoroughly enjoy the vegetables we are harvesting now.

What’s in the Share:
Tomatoes
Carrots
Lettuce
Choice:Arugula, Bok Choy, Kale, Chard, Celery, Cilantro, Dill
Mix and Match by weight: Zucchini/Squash, Beets, Onions (the last of the fresh onions!!), Eggplant, Peppers
Pint choices: cherry tomatoes, tomatillos, shishito peppers, mini sweet peppers
Melons and Spaghetti Squash

Jess’s Recipes

WHAT TO DO WITH THAT SPAGHETTI SQUASH

I wasn’t too familiar with spaghetti squash until I started with Upswing. It just wasn’t on my radar. Now I adore them! They’re super easy to roast up. Just slice it in half and scoop out the seeds, brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper (and maybe a pinch of brown sugar if you’re into that sort of thing) and place them cut side down on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 until tender – about 45 minutes. When they come out, let them cool for 10 minutes or so and then scrape out the flesh which really is remarkably spaghetti like. You can top it with pasta sauce and meatballs just like regular spaghetti, toss it with pesto or try this recipe with fresh herbs and toasted hazelnuts (it’s one of my favorites):

ROASTED SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH HERBS

SPACHETTI SQUASH AGLIO-E-OLIO WITH RAINBOW CHARD

Here’s another one that combines more of our CSA bounty into one delicious dinner:

SPAGHETTI SQUASH 4 CHEESE PESTO “LASAGNA”

This is what I’m going to be making this week with my spaghetti squash – it has all the flavors of a hearty pesto lasagna without all the work of an actual lasagna.

CAPRESE SALAD WITH HEIRLOOM TOMATOES AND BURRATA

This gorgeous salad is a new spin on a traditional caprese salad, using burrata cheese instead of mozzarella. If you’ve never tried burrata, you’re missing out.

ORZO WITH SMOKEY TOMATO VINAIGRETTE

This pasta dish is one of my favorite ways to use cherry tomatoes. Not only ridiculously easy but also delicious and different from your typical pasta with sauce.

JALAPENO BAGELS

If you’re wondering what to do with all the spicy (or mild) peppers I’ve got a great solution. My son came home from school at the end of last year with a recipe for jalapeno bagels. I still haven’t gotten the full story on why exactly they got this recipe as a handout, but he has been eager to try them. We made some up last weekend and they are DELICIOUS. He loved helping to make them and while they aren’t “quick”, there isn’t a lot of hands on time. We used half white whole wheat flour and I added salt to the water bath and then pressed some flaked sea salt on them before I baked them. They’re amazing with a little cream cheese (you could even make some scallion cream cheese with your extra scallions) and some everything seasoning or a bit of Mango-Habanero jam from Tangerini’s.

MUSHROOM BOK CHOY SOUP

Whenever I see bok choy my first thought is usually a stir-fry but I came across this recipe and it looks ridiculously good with ginger, lime and cilantro.

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