Fall CSA: Third Distribution

I hiked up Mt Wachusett by myself last week. Kevin took Harvey to help him repair a piece of equipment. It was really nice to be away from everything for a half a day. I highly recommend it. I parked at the Audubon Sanctuary and hiked the mid-state trail, but there are lots of other trails and roads. I was impressed with how accessible it was. The photo is of Echo lake, close to the top of the mountain. It was a perfect day.

We took it easy last week. The pictures below might look like I’m a great mom and Harvey is a perfect kid, but honestly, snagging a smiling picture is an accomplishment. It was important to take a little time to be one on one with Harvey without trying to also get things done on the farm, or around the house and to take a little time away from Harvey, because parenting takes a lot of effort. If you feel like a terrible parent right now, don’t worry, you aren’t. That’s what Kevin tells me anyway.

Last Monday was Indigenous People’s Day. As I get older (35) time has gotten a lot smaller. One hundred years doesn’t seem like much. Five hundred is even comprehensible and can be a part of my linear understanding of time as opposed to some abstract, disconnected history. I can imagine New England before colonization and industrialization. I can stand in the forest even with the sounds of airplanes and car traffic humming in the background and imagine no suburban sprawl. No houses that couldn’t easily be re-made with natural materials. No fences.

But there are still people in that imagining. Many Indigenous people who managed a vast ecosystem with the intention of cultivating immense quantities of food to be accessible without excessive work.  The land management practices of Southern New England’s Indigenous peoples were so different from those of the arriving colonizers from Europe, that they couldn’t see what was right in front of their faces. They decided that because the land was not “improved” based on European standards that it must be up for grabs.

Many early contracts between Indigenous populations and settlers in Southern New England are now understood to be a cultural misunderstanding (perhaps deliberate misunderstandings in many cases) with grave consequences. Indigenous people harvested much of their animal proteins through fishing, foraging and hunting. They managed forests with slow-burning fires to create easily navigated hunting grounds. They negotiated land use rights between families and tribes. But there was no concept of land ownership, only land use. Fences would have no use, since there were no domesticated animals to contain (and keep away from the cultivated plots). When they made agreements with colonizers, they most likely understood them as land use, or usufruct rights, not ownership.

What if we had managed to preserve Indigenous sovereignty and adopted their views towards land and ownership? What would the landscape look like today?

Chris Newman, an Indigenous farmer in Virginia, is imagining a regenerative and sustainable food system that goes beyond any fantasies of going back to white settler-owned small farms.  He posted recently on Instagram:

What if agriculture could be completely different?
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What if farmers’ compensation and equity weren’t tied to the value and commodification of owned land, or a pipe dream that people will someday pay the “true value” for food?
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What if, for every 1,000 acres of “farmland,” only 100 were devoted to intensive regenerative agriculture, with the rest devoted to extensive indigenous management?
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What if that 900 acres were managed to produce a diverse, healthy, culturally appropriate diet for free or pay-what-you-can to communities suffering under food apartheid, all in a rich ecosystem expressing its natural character and remaining open to the public?
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What if BIPOC farmers spent 10% of their time doing this extensive management and actually got paid for it?
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What if we reimagined our ideas of what parks and green space – things the public happily pays for anyway – are, and what aims they serve?
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What if tax dollars, institutional endowments, and private fortunes paid for this low-maintenance landscape model?
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What if a farm producing 50K chickens for $1M revenue had an additional $1M revenue from extensive land management?
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What if half that extra $1M went to real living wages for people in the food system?
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What if the other half, free of the need to produce returns for speculative investors, turned that $20 chicken into a $10 chicken?
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What if we turned the power of public and large, private purses and landscapes toward an agriculture and ecology that ACTUALLY worked for everyone? What if we did subsidies in a way that actually works?
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What. If. We. Won?”

We are not going back to anything. We are going forward and one of our many opportunities for success (if the goal is to preserve our planet by protecting and sustaining the life on it) is to center Indigenous communities whose land we stand on right now.

We are very interested in expanding our vision of food production to be more equitable and sustainable.

Additional Resources (and indirect references):
Hunger For Justice Podcast Series
Commons and Enclosure in the of Colonization of North America
Chris Newman’s Blog
“Changes in the Land,” by William Cronon.

….back to the here and now. It finally rained a lot. Maybe better late than never? I don’t know. What a year. I keep catching up with farmer friends on the phone who I would probably have run into already at some point this year at a workshop or gathering of some sort if it weren’t for COVI-19 and it’s the same story for all of us. Somehow there is still food to harvest and distribute, but we can’t figure out how because it’s been such a tough growing season. It’s nice to have peers who understand. I recommend calling someone you love/admire/respect who you haven’t chatted with recently and ask them how they are doing.

What’s in the share:
carrots: one bunch
radish: one bunch
onions: one pound
sweet potatoes: two pounds
head lettuce: two
mild mixed greens: one bag (a little larger than salad leaf, just cut before adding to salad or lightly saute. We just ate some under lentils and rice and they were lovely.)
spinach: one bag
pumpkin/butternut: 4 pounds
napa cabbage: one head
peppers/eggplant/tomatoes: 1-2 pounds
choose 3: beets, sweet turnips, kale, collards, chard, arugula, fennel, frisee, bok choy, herbs
hopefully brussels sprouts*

*we have a bad case of aphids in the Brussels sprouts this year. We did everything we could to have great brussels sprouts (except for spray them with toxic chemicals). It’s rough. But that’s farming in 2020 for you.

Baby ladybug on a brussles sprout plant infested with aphids. Here’s some more info about aphids on the brassica family, in case you are interested. We are picking the best brussels to put in the share this week but unfortunately, we are going to loose a fair amount to aphids. They won’t be perfect, but we just ate a pint and they were delicious.

Fall CSA: 2nd Distribution

Harvey and I gathered acorns in our front yard on Sunday. It’s a heavy acorn year, a “mast Year” (I just looked it up, based on a vague memory). Mast years happen every 2-5 years, where oaks make loads of acorns, while other years they make very few. There is no definitive scientific explanation for this, but it has been theorized that in mast years there are so many acorns, some will definitely not be eaten by predators, allowing some oak trees to grow, while in other years, a lower production keeps the population of acorn eating species down.

Anyway. We might make flour. I’ve always wanted to make acorn flour.

Or we might not, but what was really great was doing something slow, repetitive and non-urgent. I’m sure many of you feel the way I do right now (super on edge, high strung, somewhat helpless, verging on hopeless . . . ) although I hope you don’t. It’s negatively affecting my ability to parent. I’m perpetually distracted.

A moment of collecting acorns (and spotting the ones that had germinated and planting them) was just what we needed. Mixed in with writing messages on the driveway to Dad (who was working at the farm) with chalk. “Dear Dad, Goodbye. Please water all the plants on the farm.” It was a great morning.

On Saturday we watched an important new documentary: “Gather”.

It’s about Indigenous American food sovereignty. It’s engaging, optimistic and so relevant. There are a lot of food/soil/regenerative agriculture films out right now, and we were reminded by a social media post by A Growing Culture that much of what is taught/shared/sold as regenerative and permaculture solutions to our food production/distribution problems are co-opted from Indigenous cultures. It’s important to remember that the knowledge and skills needed to produce a lot of food on a little land with less labor still exists. From the home page of A Growing Culture’s website: “Only 19% of arable lands are occupied by smallholder farmers, but small holder farmers make up 94% of the worlds farmers, preserving 95% of agricultural biodiversity and producing 70% of the worlds food.”

We encourage you to watch this film.

And eat your greens!

Hey, it finally rained a little, it has cooled down and suddenly the field of crops that looked the same for about a month burst to life. (We did resort to some irrigation to get us through). We have a lot of lush greens coming your way this week. We know some of you can be overwhelmed by too many greens. Here are a few ways to use up your greens:

Make pesto
Blanch and freeze
Also, eat lettuce and arugula first, pea tendrils and spinach have a much longer shelf-life. We just ate spinach last night from the farmer’s market the week before and it was in great shape. Bunched greens should go in plastic bags. Bok choy will last a long time in a plastic bag – take off twist ties!

For those of you who have been with us for the fall in the past, you know we like to do as much of an open-choice/free-for-all as possible. But this year was a really, really tough growing season, and we want to make sure produce isn’t wasted, so we are going to be a little more specific about what is in the share. You should feel great about this. By joining a CSA and committing to eating what is in season, and what’s available you are supporting a system with very little food waste. We are also, as we said we would, buying in some of the bulk items to supplement the share. This week your carrots and sweet potatoes come from Riverland Farm in Sunderland and your butternut comes from Sparrow Arc Farm in Vermont. If Vermont seems far to you, please know that Matt grew up in our area and moved away to find affordable farm land. The reality is there just isn’t enough farm land in our towns to feed us all, and supporting a regional food system is the way to go.

We think this is a great share.

What’s in the share:
One head lettuce
One bag lettuce mix
One bag spinach
One bag pea tendrils
One bag arugula
One Sugar Pie Pumpkin

One medium butternut squash (A note on these, we bought them from Sparrow Arc Farm, Matt used to run Look Out Farm in Natick way back when, and now farms in Vermont as an important part of the regional food system. Frost came extra early up there and the butternut was not able to be left to cure in the field before packing in the bins. In order to prevent the fruit from stabbing each other with their stems, the stems were removed. Don’t worry, they will still taste great.)
Choose 5 bunches: Beets, Sweet turnips (they are perfect right now, greens too!), radishes, kale, chard, brussels sprouts tops, dandelion greens, bok choy, cilantro, parsley, thyme
Mix and Match 5-6 pounds: Tomatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, peppers, eggplant (including fairy tale eggplant, we have a lot, please take some!!!)

Recipes

BEET AND TURNIP GRATINhttps://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/beet-and-turnip-gratin.htmlA gorgeous and light gratin – no heavy cheese or cream – just garlic and herbs and chicken broth to highlight the beets and turnips. (Fill in with sweet potatoes and or radishes as needed)
GARLIC ROASTED RADISHES WITH RANCH DRESSINGhttps://therealfoodrds.com/garlic-roasted-radishes/Roasting radishes mellows them and gives them a hint of sweetness from the caramelization.
BEET LATKES WITH SMOKED SALMON AND CARAWAY SOUR CREAMhttps://www.chatelaine.com/recipe/dinner/beet-latkes-with-smoked-salmon-and-caraway-sour-cream/These colorful latkes are perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
ARUGULA SALAD WITH LEMON VINAIGRETTE AND PARMESAN CHEESEhttps://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/arugula-salad-with-olive-oil-lemon-and-parmesan-cheese-recipe-1943201My favorite use for arugula is as a topping on a caramelized onion and goat cheese pizza but if you prefer a more traditional recipe, check out this super simple but very flavorful salad:
CARAMELIZED SWEET POTATO AND APPLE HASH BROWNShttps://www.paleorunningmomma.com/caramelized-sweet-potato-apple-hash-browns/This is one of my family’s favorite fall weeknight dinners. It’s sweet and savory with a hint of cinnamon. We serve this up with some maple breakfast sausage patties from our meat CSA.
SIMPLE LEMON PASTA WITH PARMESAN AND PEA SHOOTShttps://www.lifeasastrawberry.com/simple-lemon-pasta/Two different CSA members recommended this super simple pasta dish bursting with spring time flavors.
PUMPKIN PUREEhttps://www.thepioneerwoman.com/food-cooking/recipes/a11184/make-your-own-pumpkin-puree/This is my go-to recipe for roasting pumpkins. I roast mine up and freeze in baggies for use in my favorite pumpkin dishes all winter long.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH CHORIZO-SPICED KALEhttps://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/roasted-butternut-squash-chorizo-spiced-kaleThis hearty vegetarian dish uses the same seasonings as chorizo. Don’t have any Pimentón de la Vera picante? Don’t worry – it’s just hot smoked paprika. You can subsittute with smoked paprika and a pinch of cayenne.
FEEL GOOD FALL SALADhttps://www.gimmesomeoven.com/feel-good-fall-salad/Versatile fall salad with simple ingredients that can easily be swapped for what you have on hand.
GRILLED MUSHROOM AND BOK CHOY TACOS WITH ASIAN CILANTRO PESTOhttps://food52.com/recipes/29036-grilled-mushroom-bok-choy-with-asian-cilantro-pestoA vegetarian taco that you’ll want to make again and again.