Last week of the Summer CSA! (Fall starts next week, you’ll get an email in a few days with the 411 on the Fall share pick up.)
Thanks to everyone for joining us for the last 16 weeks. It’s been a good growing season and we’ve got a great team working with us this year. We are grateful to be nearing the end of September and not be totally burnt out, but we have done a good job the last few years deliberately trying to take care of ourselves.
It’s hard when the culture of farming (both peer to peer and the perspectives of outsiders) makes you feel like you are only worthy if you are working yourself to death. I fell prey to that culture early on, working endless days and buckling to the culture of “hard-work-one-upmanship”. Sometimes you have to work hard, crazy hours, and sometime you do, as I reference in the Week 12 blog. But, sometimes you don’t, and with careful planning you can take 3.5 days off in September to visit your grandparents and swim in a rapidly cooling, but very refreshing lake.
You know you need it when your two-year-old thinks a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard is vacation.
We are happy to come back and work hard to continue to pull the rest of our storage crops out of the field. Before we left we put row cover over most of the fall crops we will be harvesting in the end of October and November, not because they need more heat, but because the darn dear might eat all of them if we didn’t. But now they are protected (until the deer start kicking through the row cover) and it feels good to have crops set and growing.
We are only 1/3 of the way through harvesting sweet potatoes and we already have over 2500 pounds! We may have over done it!! Luckily it is always my goal to have some sweet potatoes and carrots to donate a bed or two to the Boston Area Gleaners. Sweets and carrots are something they don’t get to glean very often but they are in very high demand. We will let you know if the Gleaners are coming in the next few weeks if you want to join and help harvest for the donation.
We like to wait to harvest storage roots like carrots, beets, turnips and radish until we get at least a light frost. Frost changes the growth habit of they biennial crops and causes them to convert some of their starches into sugars, making them extra sweet, and slowing their growth which allows them to store longer.
We are mostly done weeding and cultivating for the year (yay!) and there is just a little planting to do in the greenhouse, which does require a lot of moving things around, but can be done by a few people in a day. We are saying goodbye to most of our crew over the next few weeks, and those who remain have reduced hours.
I have a little more time for reading and thinking at this time of year, here are a few items of note I hope you are interested in, before we get to what’s in the share:
I read this great article two weeks ago and wanted to put it in last-week’s email but then I was forced to write about our land transition so I didn’t get to bring it up. You should read it to get all the details, but the take away is you can’t just take pills and vitamins if you want to be healthy. Eat a lot of quality produce. It really does matter. Here it is: FRUITS AND VEGETABLES ARE TRYING TO KILL YOU
I also went to a free NOFA/Mass workshop on soil health and fertility assesment at Chucalogg Farm in Uxbridge. I was feeling particularly down in the dumps and I knew a workshop would help me get some perspective.
I am interested in raising the healthiest food possible while also improving the health of the soil I use to grow that food. It’s one thing to simply use chemical soil testing to figure out what nutrients need to be added to grow a healthy crop, and a whole other thing to try and manage the ecosystem of a soil to produce a really healthy crop. The amazing thing is that we can, as farmers and land managers, actually sequester carbon into the soil by having a LOT of life in the soil. The proxy test is a simple way for farmers to measure the life in their soil, which correlates with the amount of carbon in the soil. Learn more about soil carbon cycle here.
Well, that’s some food for thought. Here is the food for your bellies.
What’s in the share:
Sweet Potatoes! They have been curing for roughly two weeks, but could probably stand to sweeten up a little more. Just leave them in a brown bag in a cabinet (or just dust them off and leave them on the counter for at least a few days).
Delicatta Squash (see Jess’s recipes for some ideas)
Choice by weight mix and match: leeks, tomatoes, green peppers, eggplant, onions, potatoes, tomatillos
Choice by bunch/item: boy choy, carrots, radish, turnip, kale, lettuce, scallions, cilantro, dill, arugula, escarole, frisee,
Maybe a few other odds and ends
DELICATA SQUASH HOW TO
Delicata squash is here! I am a squash lover in general, but delicata is one of my favorites. It’s loaded with Vitamins A and C and the skin is very tender and 100% edible. If you’ve ever tried to peel a squash, you know how genius this is. The simplest way to cook it is to give it a good wash, slice it into ¼ to ½” thick slices, toss with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast at 425 for 25-30 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until it’s caramelized. If you really want to gild the lily, bring about ½ cup of maple syrup to a simmer in small pot and add ¼ cup of packed fresh sage leaves. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Pour this over the squash for the last 15 minutes or so of the cooking time. Oh! And you can roast the seeds just like you would pumpkin seeds!
QUINOA STUFFED DELICATA SQUASH
If you’d rather make more of a meal out of it, try these! Stuffed with quinoa and studded with raisins and hazelnuts.
Escarole is in the same family as endive and is a staple in Italian cooking. It can be sautéed, added to soups or eaten raw in salads. It is mildly bitter so in a salad it pairs well with mustardy vinaigrettes, salty cheeses and a bit of sweet from apples or dates. I think I’ll be using mine in this gorgeous Italian soup.
GREEK POTATOES WITH CURLY ENDIVE, SPINACH AND LEEKS
Curly endive is another mildly bitter green that is delicious raw or cooked. I get a little bored with salads (and my kids are not always fans of leafy greens) so I like to cook them into things.
CHICKEN POZOLE VERDE (USES TOMATILLOS)
This is a deliciously different take on a chicken soup. I have had a hard time finding hominy at Whole Foods but they definitely carry it at Wegmans and Market Basket in the Mexican foods section.
SUPERHERO MUFFINS (USES CARROTS AND ZUCCHINI)
If you’re looking for another use for your carrots and zucchinis, these muffins are a nutritional powerhouse and a big hit at my house. Great for breakfast or as an afterschool snack. They’re made with almond-meal and can be made gluten-free if you’re sensitive to gluten.
CHICKEN WITH CREAMY DILL AND LEEK SAUCE
Whenever I see leeks, I think of this recipe. This is my favorite way to roast chicken. Not only is it super easy but it makes a whole meal in one roasting pan (although I usually add a salad as well). As an added bonus, cooking the chicken on a base of veggies keeps it from splattering grease all over the oven, causing massive quantities of smoke to pour out of the oven and setting off your fire alarms. While this is a great way to ensure that your family knows it’s time for dinner, I prefer the quieter method used in this recipe.