Summer CSA: Week 6

Baby Bird. They grew up and flew away.

I started this blog just like a regular blog. It’s still here, a little further down, but I feel like I’ve got to get this part out early on, so I don’t lose you. Kevin and I both need to take 3-4 days off next week. Harvey has a very low risk, small PDA (patent ductus arteriosis) which needs to be corrected.

Every fetus has a small duct that allows blood to bypass the lungs, because while in utero, mom is providing all the oxygen through the placenta not the fetuses lungs. After birth, normally within a few weeks, this duct naturally closes off. In 2 out of 1000 births this does not happen right away. By being open, the PDA allows for oxygen rich blood to go right back into the lungs, forcing the heart to work harder, and can lead to a whole host of complications. We have been monitoring his PDA since he was just a few months old, when his pediatrician heard a heart murmur.

I also had a PDA which was surgically corrected at 9 months.

Fortunately, Harvey’s opening is small, less than 1mm, and with the medical advancements in the last 33 years (do some math and you’ll know my age!) he doesn’t need surgery. We were able to monitor the PDA with annual visits to the cardiologist, and echo-cardiograms. Because it was small and he had no other symptoms, we waited to see if it would close on it’s own. At this last check up, his heart was measuring slightly large for his age/height/weight so our cardiologist recommended that we have it closed.

The procedure (it’s not surgery, it’s a procedure) is done with a catheter. They will go in through his leg through a tube and place a small plug in the opening, and heart tissue will eventually grow over the plug. It’s still scary, and I worry about it being traumatic for Harvey, but it is very low risk, and we are going to Children’s. There is a day of testing beforehand, and then a possible overnight after the procedure if extended observation is needed.

We are scheduled for July 25th, his 2.5 year birthday.

I am grateful that we live in a place and time when it is possible to diagnose and treat this condition and that we have insurance. Even while I worry about our own situation, I grieve for other parents and children who are not as fortunate.

The reason I’m telling you all this is because I need help. One of our key crew members is flying home for his own wedding that same week, and we are going to be dramatically short staffed. Erin is very capable, but it takes a lot of skilled workers to get it all done (and we rarely even get it all done) around here. A lot of crew members are picking up extra shifts and Ali is willing to take field shifts if we can get the stand covered. I am looking for people who can cover the stand from 12:30-4:30 Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, July 23, 24, and 26. Basically you just have to get vegetables onto the stand from the cooler, answer questions and help farm stand customers. The ability to lift 40 lbs is helpful, but not required. Please email Kevin if this is something you could do. We prefer if you are able to take a whole shift 12:30-4:30. kevin@upswingfarm.com

We’d also be grateful if a few people were willing to come by with weed wackers and cut the grass under the deer fence. This is not critical, but it helps to keep the fence hot and keep the deer out (we’ve had at least one brazen deer making his/her way through the fence). This could happen any time, but would need to be coordinated. Please email Kevin if this is something you could do: kevin@upsiwngfarm.com

And then on Thursday, July 25th from 1:30-4:30, we’d like to invite volunteers to come help with whatever tasks Erin needs to get done. Maybe seeding, maybe weeding . . . it’s too far away to know exactly what will be needed, but many hands can make light work. If you’d like to be a general volunteer that day, please email Erin: erin.b.espinosa@gmail.com

That’s it on that. We’re also going to my grandmothers 90th birthday this weekend in Connecticut. It will be good to see a lot of family, my cousins fly in from Las Vegas tomorrow!

Now . . . back to the blog.

July is already half over. This summer really is flying by. We turned over what felt like half the farm (it wasn’t, it was a little under an acre) to prepare the beds for planting fall crops over the next few moths. I like the view in the photo above because it really highlights this time of year: beds being turned over, new beds just taking off, the beans which you can’t really make out, being all bushy . . .it’s a very mid-July photo.

It is finally fresh onion time! Erin encouraged us to try a new variety this year – Sierra Blanca. I’m very partial to Ailsa Craig and Red Long di Tropea (the fresh onions you are used to, if you’ve been with us a for a while) and since fresh onion season is only about a month long, and I love both these varieties I didn’t feel compelled to try anything else, even if the other farmers at the variety discussion last December were singing the praises of Sierra Blanca.

But when you have an assistant manager as amazing as Erin, and she wants to try something, you try it. You can also thank her for the purple radishes, ‘Bacchus” that I also love.

Aren’t they lovely? The are slightly earlier than Ailsa, pure white and delicious (pretty much all onions are . . .). I haven’t done the side-by-side taste test with the other two, but even if it doesn’t win, it will still be on the planting schedule next year.

For anyone who feels intimidated by a fresh onion, just think of it as an onion that hasn’t cured yet and has a slightly sweeter flavor. You can use them just like any onion, and the greens can be used like scallion greens. Or, you can celebrate these treats by cutting them in half, grilling them and then just eating them straight up! They are so good!

We have an abundance of cucumber, zucchini and squash again this week. We still have two healthy plantings that we are trying to stay on top of, that’s 600 zucchini and squash plants an 700 cucumber plants. Jess has a zucchini fritter recipe below, and if you are into baking with vegetables then you have to try the zucchini/carrot cake recipe I tried this weekend. It was delicious!

The cucumber on the left has scars from where striped cucumber beetles chewed on them when they were baby fruit. This is superficial scarring and the flesh is still good. Just peel and enjoy. Here’s a chance to be cool, and accept that organic farming might mean that the skin of your cucumbers isn’t pristine and that’s ok. Isn’t it better to have to peel your cucumbers once in a while (I bet a lot of you peel them anyway) than to have to wash pesticides off of them all the time?

See – it cleans right up! I dug up an old refrigerator pickle recipe my mom sent me back in 2011, the first year I managed a CSA. If you are overwhelmed with the summer cucurbits (the plant family that cucumber, zucchini, squash, cantaloupe, watermelon, delicatta, butternut and all acorn squash belong to) give this recipe a whirl. We will have some dill and cilantro seed heads in the stand which you can use to add some extra flavor to your pickles. Cilantro seed is also known as coriander, in case any of you didn’t know the relationship.

So, you ask, what’s in the share besides onions, cucumbers, zucchini and squash? Beets! Lots of beets, Jess has some great beet 411 for you all, so read on! Also, I’d be really grateful if you ate some kale and lettuce this week – we’ve got a lot and we need to move it, but pretty much we are going to let you have a lot of choice this week. Next week is going to be a more standard, less choice based share.

What’s in the share:
Fresh onions
Cucumber
Zucchini/Squash
Beets

Choice: small 4 items, large 7 items

Kale
Chard
Lettuce
Arugula
Carrots
Beans!
Peas (probably no peas Thursday, the are really pea-tering out! but don’t worry, you got your extra pint already)
Basil
Dill
Parsley
Cilantro
Thyme
Oregano
maybe a few other things . . .

Now for some recipes from Jess!

LETS TALK ABOUT BEEETS:

Not everyone loves them. In my house I’m pretty much the lone beet-lover but I still love seeing them in the share. I boil them up and keep them on hand to toss into a salad or I make a little snack of beets with crumbled goat, feta or burrata cheese. If I’m feeling fancy, I squeeze an orange over the top and grate in a little of the zest and a quick drizzle of goat cheese. Or check out the recipe below for the beet, cucumber and feta salad with basil. Boiling your own takes very little effort but they’re SO much better than the over-cooked ones you get in a can.

Amazingly my kids are now excited to see beets when we pick up the share too! How, you ask? Two years ago Brittany posted a recipe for a Chocolate Beet Cake. I saw it, debated it, decided I couldn’t do it. Every time we got beets I considered it but couldn’t bring myself to try it. Finally, last year I pulled up the recipe again and read the reviews about how this had become people’s go-to chocolate cake recipe. I was still skeptical but decided to give it a try. Now if I could just sneak it past the kids…but alas, I was caught red-handed. Literally. They still tried it though and we all LOVED it! Super rich and chocolatey without any hint of beet flavor, just a delicious fudgy moistness. Give it a try – but maybe wear gloves if you’re trying to sneak the beets past anyone. 😉

CHOCOLATE BEET CAKE

BEET, CUCUMBER AND FETA SALAD WITH BASIL

I love it when I find recipes that I can make entirely out of the bounty from my CSA share and a few pantry staples. The perfect summer lunch!

ZUCCHINI FRITTERS WITH FETA AND DILL

Got zucchini? I like to slice it into thin strips, toss it with balsamic vinaigrette and grill it for a few minutes on each side but I have a hard time getting the kids into eating it this way. Fritters are a great way to use up lots of zucchini that the kids will still eat. I love the different spin on these with the feta, dill and lemon.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE GREENS! (USES LETTUCE, CUCUMBER, ONIONS, CARROTS, BEETS, FENNEL AND MORE)

All the rain we’ve been having means the greens are still coming in strong! Luckily lettuce is the perfect vehicle to highlight any and all of those awesome summer veggies. Pick your favorites and toss them up with this zingy honey-lemon vinaigrette.

SWISS CHARD AND CHIPOTLE TACOS (USES GREENS AND ONIONS)

Swiss chard, kale and other hearty greens are all great sautéed with garlic as a side dish or baked into pasta dishes, but I have a hard time getting excited about casseroles in the hot summer months. These tacos are the perfect way to use up your greens AND fresh onions.

CHARRED VEGETABLE AND BEAN TOSTADAS WITH LIME CREMA (USES ZUCCHINI, ONIONS, CABBAGE AND CILANTRO)

While we’re talking tacos we shouldn’t leave out these hearty vegetarian tostadas. They’re a flavor explosion and brimming with good-for-you ingredients.

GRAPE AND FENNEL SALAD

I adore this salad. It’s crunchy and flavorful but easy and the leftovers keep really well especially if you toast the nuts and keep them separate and sprinkle them on as you serve it.

ZUCCHINI CARROT CAKE

I (Brittany) made this with Harvey, as you might know if you follow us on social media. I did tweak it: I used 2 cups zucchini and 3/4 cups carrot and added 1/2 cup flour. I also made buttercream frosting, because I didn’t have cream cheese.


Summer CSA: Week 5!!

Wow, week five already? Can you believe it? I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel like 2019 is flying by. We are so fortunate for the excellent growing conditions of the last month and a half (that rain on Saturday was PERFECT). Our crops are coming in strong, and the variety is exciting. I’m just going to do a quick photo update from around the farm. It’s pretty random, so bear with me.

Black Swallowtail Caterpillars on Fennel (we promise we try to notice them and get them onto another host plant during harvest).
Picking peas last Thursday with our super cool crew. Yields have been high, but it’s still and incredibly time-consuming activity. So far we’ve picked over 100 buckets of peas!! This week might be the last week of peas, so enjoy!!
Harvey came to “help” with harvest on the 4th. He did great. He helped me put about 30 rudbeckia stems in a bucket, then ate a bunch of carrots, peas and cucumbers as he ran from person to person to check in, give hugs and carrots. Then the crew went with Harvey for a dip in the reservoir while I did wash, which is mostly like going for a swim.
Have you enjoyed the garlic scapes? Garlic harvest is happening on Wednesday! We’ll see some fresh garlic in the next few weeks! We are going to attempt a no-till conversion of the garlic field into the brussel sprout field by planting by hand then using more mulch around the brussels – we’ll see how it goes!!
Flower shares started last week! There is still time to sign up and there will be lots for sale in the coming weeks!

We have some veggies we need to move this week (scallions, red cabbage, zucchini/summer squash, peas and lettuce that will be in all your shares), but after that we are going to open up the last few items to a full choice. Small shares will choose 4 extra items and large shares will choose 7 extra items out of a list that includes: basil, dill, cilantro, parsley, thyme, oregano, chard, kale, mustard greens, dandelion greens, celery, fennel, pea tendrils, micro-greens, more lettuce if you want it, cucumbers, beets, kohlrabi, carrots and . . . that might be it.

Jess thought up some great recipes for the produce this week – we hope you enjoy!!

GRILLED GRUYERE AND ZUCCHINI SANDWICHES WITH SMOKY PESTO (USES ZUCCHINI/SQUASH & BASIL)

I make these sandwiches weekly during the summer. They’re quick, inexpensive and the whole family devours them. I usually make up a big batch of regular pesto whenever we get basil in the share and freeze it in silicone ice cube trays so I have plenty on hand which makes this recipe even faster. I love the Hearth & Stone Garlic Herb English Muffins (I get mine at Whole Foods) for these but they’re good with whatever kind you have on hand. I frequently swap out summer squash for the zucchini if that’s what I have on hand and they’d be delicious with tomatoes or peppers too.

BEER-BRAISED CHICKEN TACOS WITH CABBAGE SLAW (USES RED CABBAGE)

Who doesn’t love tacos?? This German inspired twist will keep things interesting but will still be on your table in 35 minutes.

11 WAYS TO USE SCALLIONS

Running out of ways to use up your scallions? This article has 11 different ways to use up whatever you have leftover.

SANTA-FE SALAD WITH CILANTRO-LIME-PEANUT VINAIGRETTE (USES LETTUCE & CILANTRO)

Whenever I go to The Cheesecake Factory I get a giant salad with chicken and corn and black beans with the most amazing cilantro-lime-peanut dressing. I love it so much that I finally googled and found this recipe so I can have it whenever I want. I despise canned corn though, so I use the frozen roasted corn from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s or better yet, I roast my own on the grill.

GRILLED KALE SALAD WITH PAPRIKA BREADCRUMBS (USES KALE & RADISH)

If you’ve never grilled a salad before, the time is now! Kale holds up very well on the grill and it’s amazing with this creamy honey dressing, apples, radishes and crunchy breadcrumbs.

BEET SALAD (USES BEETS & PARSLEY) – PLUS 4 METHODS OF COOKING BEETS

Beets topped with pistachios, goat cheese and a super simple vinaigrette. Great for barbecues or lunch on a hot summer day: Toss 6 chopped cooked large beets with 1/2 cup each chopped pistachios and parsley, and 1/4 cup each sherry vinegar and olive oil; season with salt. Top with crumbled goat cheese. If you’re not familiar with cooking beets here is a helpful article that details four different methods:

GIGANTE BEANS WITH FETA AND BITTER GREENS (USES CHARD/DANDELION & DILL)

Gigante beans are just fun. This hearty vegetarian meal highlights them in a tasty one pot dish packed with dill and feta cheese. This is also a great way to use up tomatoes so I keep this on stand-by for when the tomato crops are booming.

GRATED CARROT-KOHLRABI AND RADISH SALAD (USES KOHLRABI, CARROT, RADISH & CILANTRO)

Grate a mix of carrots, kohlrabi and radish through the large holes of a box grater until you have about 4 cups worth. In a separate bowl mix together 1 ½ cups water, 1 Tbsp sugar, ½ cup rice vinegar, ¼  to ½ tsp kosher salt and 2 Tbsp  mint or cilantro until the sugar and salt dissolve and then pour it over the grated veggies.

CURRIED COUSCOUS WITH BROCCOLI AND FETA (USES BROCCOLI & CARROTS)

Another quick and inexpensive vegetarian summer main dish that can be made in advance and served up whenever you’re ready for it. For an extra protein kick you can add grilled chicken or steak.

Summer CSA: Week 3

Golden Beet Glamor Shot, courtesy of Bob Durling Photography.

We’re making it happen, despite the limited number of dry days in the last few weeks. Luckily we have a super flexible babysitter, who is willing to change the time she works based on the weather. Last week we almost got the entire to-do list done, even with one crew member out sick, and the perpetual rain. We just couldn’t finish planting the winter squash because the tractor was slipping all over the hill. It’s just the butternut and we’ll get it in this week.

Bob Durling has been getting some excellent shots of the shares – the clouds are creating some really beautiful light. Above is the small and large share from last week (obviously, because of choices your share might have looked pretty different!). He also got a pretty epic shot of me, washing scallions in a make-shift set up in the rain, after forgetting to add them to the pick list last week. His exclamation upon exiting the greenhouse and seeing the situation was, ‘Ah! Aragorn is washing vegetables at the farm!”

We were just discussing creating a LOTR-themed CSA. We make a lot of references to the LOTR movies on the farm, particularly:
“What’s taters precious?”
“PO-TA-TOES. Boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew,”
“We ain’t had nothing but maggoty bread for three stinkin’ days”
Ugh, maggots, we know, not the word you want to hear when thinking about all the delicious vegetables you are about to eat, but a part of my goal is to get people comfortable with the reality that food comes from nature, and nature is complex, diverse and there are lots of insects, many of which go through a larval stage that also like to eat our vegetables. Cabbage root maggot, onion maggot, seed corn maggot, leaf minor (no maggot in the name, but its a maggot) . . . a big part of my job is managing for maggots. Ok. I’m done saying maggot.

Anyway, as you can see, we just keep farming, even when its raining and the crew has been pushing through some really wet, uncomfortable weather to get things planted, weeded, and harvested. So if you want to bake them cookies . . . .

I came home so filthy every day last week that Harvey has learned that he can’t run up and hug me right away or he will be covered in the mud that is coating my legs. But it feels good to face these challenges and still feel on top of things. This is the first year I have ever felt slightly over-staffed, and I’m excited to evaluate the results.

What’s in the Share
PEAS!!
Zucchini/squash and maybe cucumber.
CARROTS!!!
Lettuce (yes, more lettuce, its raining a lot, you can do it, eat more salad!!)
GARLIC SCAPES (they come but once a year, kind of like Santa)
Greens Choice: arugula, kale, chard, escarole, dandelion, collards, mustards
Roots Choice: beets, kohlrabi, radish
Herb Choice: Dill, Basil, Cilantro, Scallion, Mint

Jess’s Recipes

Let’s talk about arugula. It gets a bum rap for its bitterness and I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t a huge fan at first either. BUT when you pair it with the right things it really is amazing. This vibrant leafy green pairs well with tangy goat cheese or blue cheese, citrus fruits like lemon, orange or grapefruit and (my personal favorite) sweet things like dates or caramelized onions. The sweetness balances out the bitterness and makes taste buds very happy.

PIZZA WITH ARUGULA

One of my favorite things to make with arugula is a pizza: whole wheat crust, your favorite sauce (I love the Whole Foods Organic Pizza Sauce or Rao’s), caramelized onions, chorizo (either sliced Spanish chorizo or fresh chorizo sausage casings removed and browned in a pan first) and crumbled goat cheese Just before serving I pile it high with arugula. The pizza is good alone, but the arugula makes it AMAZING.

ROASTED AND RAW CARROT SALAD WITH HAZELNUTS AND ARUGULA

Another favorite is this salad that makes use of the carrots this week as well as the arugula and the honey-mustard vinaigrette plays the part of the sweet to offset the bite of the arugula. Lip-smacking good!

10 THINGS TO DO WITH GARLIC SCAPES, THE BEST VEG YOU’RE NOT COOKING YET

Seriously. They’re amazing and only around for a very short season. This article has the best ideas on making the most of this delicious early summer treat.

KOHLRABI, APPLE, CILANTRO AND MINT SLAW

This vibrant slaw is the perfect summer side dish. Kohlrabi is another veg that is highly under-rated. It’s a vitamin and mineral powerhouse and it’s delicious raw, roasted, or pureed into soups.

EASY KALE LASAGNA

When my kids ask me what we’re having for dinner there are certain things that will always get a cheer. Lasagna is one of them. Will they be slightly less enthused when they see that there’s kale in it? Probably. But they love lasagna enough that they’ll eat it anyway and it’s not easy to pick the kale out [insert evil genius laugh here].

SNAP PEAS WITH MEYER LEMON AND MINT

On the rare occasion that the kids and I don’t polish off the snap peas by the time we get home from picking up our share, I love to sauté them which really brings out their flavor. This recipe has all the flavors of the season with Meyer lemon (I won’t tell if you use a regular lemon) and fresh mint.

GREEN SALAD WITH HERBS (lettuce, arugula, herbs)

This recipe will work no matter which herb choice you pick this week and calls for lettuce and arugula.

SLAW WITH DILL AND SCALLION
And, a quick recipe from Brittany in case you still have a cabbage rolling around in your fridge from last week (this works with green or napa):

Chop one cabbage, on bunch dill and one bunch scallions and mix together.
Dressing: 1/3 cup mayo, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp celery seeds.
mix dressing on veggies and let sit in fridge for 1-2 hours. Enjoy. Good for several days.
If you are intimidated by so much slaw, you can use half a cabbage and then just wrap the remaining half in plastic to use another time. It will be good for at least another week.


Summer CSA: Week 2

Last week we our mechanic and friend passed away from a sudden heart attack. We had just picked up the monster truck (our old beater diesel that scares others away) and were about to bring him another truck that needs a new front end. In the last ten years that we’ve know him, both through this farm and Medway Community Farm he worked on over twenty different vehicles, tractors, mowers and implements for us doing repairs, fabricating custom parts and assisting in purchases. When you are starting a small farm from scratch on a budget, you work with what you get, frequently that means older equipment that needs attention. Which can be tough, unless you “know a guy”.

Without fail he was there to help, always at a cost far less than any other mechanic might charge, often at crucial moments during the season, and on top of that he was willing to work on annoying projects other mechanics might pass up. Maybe more than any other single individual he made the success of both farms possible. And he was a kind, patient friend along the way.

Just two weeks ago we had Harvey over there to pick up the Monster Truck, We spent some time with him, with his oxen and in his shop. He loved when Harvey came to visit. He’d let him explore and give straight answers to his questions. I left feeling grateful that Harvey had this person in his life.

He was a rare individual. His capacity for repairs and ability to live within his own values set him apart. We are so grateful to have known him and deeply saddened by his sudden passing. I write this here in part to process my own grief, but also to share with you that someone with great talent who can take a lot of credit for the success of our farm is no longer with us.

He loved our veggies, especially carrots, we planned to bring him a big box this week, so lets enjoy the share and keep in mind that the skillful work of this one, patient person was essential to our success.

But no carrots yet, those are reserved for Tommy this week.

What’s in the share:
(remember, these are best guesses)
Beets!
Broccoli!
Peas!
Cabbage! (napa and green)
Green Garlic
Frisee/Escarole/Chard/Kale/Bok Choy Choice
LETTUCE
Dill/Cilantro/Basil/Scallion/Thyme/Garlic Scape Choice
Zucchini (just for the large share this week – they are just starting, next week they will be in all the shares)

I started this email last night (Sunday) since I knew today we’d be pushing ourselves to make the most of the one sunny day this week, and now, at 7:23pm, I’m getting ready to finish up it, while Kevin (who just got home, pizza in hand, 20 minutes ago) gets Harvey ready to swim in the neighbors pool.

Yes, I said pizza. We work 10 hour days and have a toddler, you know we are going to get pizza once in a while . . . and pizza is delicious. But, being a farmer, and practically swimming in greens I had to cook some up to go on top of our typical mushroom/olive pie. In about 5 minutes, while also making sure Harvey and our lovely neighbor Olive didn’t bonk each other while playing “Monster fort” I made this delicious dish:

Saute one green garlic, chopped into bits (the whole stalk, except maybe the tips of the leaves) and then add one whole head of frisee or escarole, chopped into 1″ strips (just cut the whole head, I did not wash because it wasn’t gritty, but if you do want to wash I suggest washing after cutting). Cover for a minute or two then uncover and saute until all leaves are well wilted. Then chop a handful of basil, stir it in, along with a few tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and take off the heat. It is lovely, and healthy, and flavorful. This is a great recipe for any bunch of greens. There is a lot of frisee and escarole this week, so now is your chance to give this a try.

Also, a few notes: zucchini is just in the large share. If I could make zucchini all fruit perfectly on time and at once so I had a regular abundance I would, but alas, this is just not the way of things. Broccoli is delicious, spring broccoli is tough to grow, it prefers more mellow temperatures (not extreme highs and lows) but this broccoli is pretty great, please enjoy!). Harvey loves kohlrabi raw, cut into octagons, your kids might too. That’s all for me.

Also: find out what a garlic scape is!

Jess’s Recipes

GRILLED NAAN BREAD WITH GARLIC SCAPE CHUTNEY

Garlic Scapes are the curly stems that shoot up out of garlic bulbs. They will eventually flower but they are typically trimmed off to allow the garlic plant to use all of its energy on making a delicious flavorful garlic bulb. Scapes taste like a cross between garlic, onion and scallions and are fantastic sautéed with eggs or to top pasta, made into pesto, grilled or added to a soup or stir-fry. This recipe has you make the scapes into a mouthwatering chutney. If you don’t have time to make the naan bread just grab a ball of pizza dough at the supermarket or your local pizza shop and grill these up in no time.

SAUTÉED BROCCOLI AND BOK CHOY (broccoli, bok choy, scapes, scallions)

Broccoli stalks are highly underrated. The outsides can be tough so peel them off with a vegetable to reveal the sweet and tender inner stalk. This recipe uses the broccoli stalks and florets as well as bok choy for a simple side dish or add some chicken or steak and serve over rice for a main course. You can swap out the garlic for garlic scapes or scallions.

FRISÉE SALAD WITH BEETS AND ORANGE VINAIGRETTE (frisée and beets)

Frisée is a type of lettuce in the chicory and endive family. It has a slightly bitter or peppery flavor and looks exactly like it sounds. Pair them with beets and an orange vinaigrette in this side salad – add grilled chicken for a main dish.

WHOLE FOODS’ KALE SUPERFOOD SALAD (for kale & cabbage)

Have you ever tried that Kale Superfood Salad at Wholefoods? I love it but prefer to make it with my own ingredients so I searched around and found this recipe that is just as delicious and will use up your kale and cabbage. I usually make one big batch and have it for lunches or with dinner. The beauty of hearty greens like kale and cabbage is that they will last for a few days even with the dressing on them. I frequently don’t bother making the dressing in this recipe though and go with a bottled dressing. I have found Blueberry Acai Dressings but if not, I use a raspberry vinaigrette.

HERBY PESTO PASTA SALAD WITH CHARD (for chard and herbs)

It’s finally pasta salad season! I love having a meal that I can make earlier in the day that will be ready whenever my family gets hungry enough to come in from playing outside to eat it. This one is super versatile so you can toss in whatever herbs you have on hand. If you have enough basil, make your own pesto and skip the store bought they list here. I wouldn’t bother steaming the chard in a separate pan – I would just toss it in the pasta water for the last few minutes of cooking time or cook it first in the pasta water and remove with a slotted spoon and then cook your pasta.

SAUTÉED PEAS (for peas, scapes and herbs)

Here’s another great opportunity to use your creativity and make the most of your share. Heat up a splash of olive oil in a big skillet and add some chopped scapes or scallions and saute until just starting to soften, add your peas and saute 3-5 minutes until just crisp tender and then toss in whatever herbs you chose this week. Dill, thyme and mint would all be great choices here. No recipe needed – you’ve got this!

CHICKEN AND CILANTRO POT STICKERS (for cabbage, cilantro and scallions)

Pot stickers, or dumplings are a great way to make a main course meal with your cabbage. They’re surprisingly quick and the kids love helping. I frequently make a double batch and freeze half – you can cook them off right from frozen, just increase the cooking time slightly and make sure they come to temperature if you’ve got chicken or pork in them. This recipe will also use your cilantro and scallions. If you’re vegetarian swap out tofu for the chicken or leave it out all together and just increase the cabbage.

KOHLRABI FRITTERS (kohlrabi, scapes, scallions, kale)

Kohlrabi is something that I wasn’t familiar with until I started getting a CSA share but now I get it whenever there is a choice. Also called a German Turnip, kohlrabi is in the cabbage (Brassica) family and has a mild flavor like a cross between a cucumber and a turnip. The whole plant is edible and can be eaten raw but I typically strip off the stems and leaves and if the skin is feeling on the tough side I peel it with a veggie peeler. We love to make these fritters with them and I frequently mix half kohlrabi and half shredded carrots if we have them on hand. Scallions or scapes would be great in here too and I think this week I’ll add some shredded kale too.


Summer CSA: Week 1

Wow, the summer CSA is here. I can’t believe it’s June. What a whirlwind of a spring we had. That’s me, Brittany with the goofy smile, and Erin, our assistant manager, is the one actually doing some work (we are riding the transplanter, a tractor attachment that allows us to plant crops with water – there is a cute video of us on instagram planting leeks in 2018 if you want to get an idea of what its like).

We are having a deep breath week. Yes there are still lots of weeds to kill, but we got a TON of seedling and seeds planted in the last two weeks and we are finally feeling on top of things. Just in time because we are going to be harvesting for almost 250 CSA members this week. We are so grateful to all of you for signing up, and are looking forward to a great season.

We are still in a greens heavy period on the farm. Peas, carrots, beets, zucchini, broccoli, cucumber . . . they will start pouring in over the next few weeks, but for now, it’s greens, greens, greens. If you are like us and eat deliberately seasonally, this is no big deal, but I know some spring share members are telling me they are feeling like they might turn green from all these leaves we’ve been eating.

Trust me, when I tell you, you won’t. You should feel awesome. Yesterday I read and article that said we should eat more fiber (loads of fiber in greens). To prepare for market I was reading the nutritional content of things like swiss chard, kale and dandelion and boy, these greens are packed with all the vitamins and minerals we are supposed be getting lots of. Like Vitamin K, which increases bone density and can prevent heart disease.

I’m excited about this share. We’re on the other side of the wet and weird 2019 spring, and crops are really thriving. We hope you enjoy. Check out Jess’s recipes (or do your own googling) to get ideas for what to do with your veggies.

The best advice I can give you for enjoying your share is “chill out”. Don’t worry about making every meal the best you’ve ever had. Don’t try to make things too complicated, don’t worry about having the perfect ingredients. This is coming from someone who was a wildly, embarrassingly picky eater until about 18, when I realized I needed to get over it.

Revived arugula from market (chopped and ready to be served with a drizzle of olive oil and salt)

Make sure you read the tips on vegetable storage at the bottom of your CSA email. I took the limpest, saddest looking bunch of arugula home from market on Saturday. Trying to sell veggies on a 85 degree day is a challenge (but luckily you buy them so fast we rarely have any left). Selling the last bunch is tough, it’s what my dear friend Christy from White Barn Farm calls the “Old Maid”. Nobody wants it, so it just sits there, looking sadder and sadder with no other bunches to share shade and moisture.

Well, rather than let that sad bunch sit out, I pulled it off and put it in my bin to bring home, where it sat in the hot car for an hour and a half while I unpacked from market. Oh how I wish I had taken a picture of it, so withered, so frail, so flat and wimpy.

BUT! I untwisted the twist tie, chopped the ends off the stalks (important because it will allow the capillary action of the leaves to draw in water – yes, your leaves are still alive!) and submerged the whole thing in cold water while I cooked supper (creamy pasta with sauteed dandelion greens and swiss chard – two other sad old maids from earlier in the week).

Two bunches of greens, plus pasta was plenty, so I took the arugula (now very hydrated) out of the water, shook the water off and tucked them on top of some pea tendrils in a plastic bag I had in the fridge. The above picture is from the next night, when we enjoyed the arugula with leftovers.

That excessively long narration was just to emphasize that you’ve got to treat your veggies well (but you can recover if things get a little wilty). Get them home and int he fridge fast (unless its tomatoes, onions, potatoes, squash or sweet potatoes).

So, you are wondering, what’s in the share (and why does this farmer use so many parenthesis!?!?):

Week One

Arugula
Lettuce (heads)
Bok Choy
Scallions/Cilantro/Dill Choice
Swiss Chard/Kale/Collards/Dandelion/Mustard Greens Choice
Sweet Turnip/Kohlrabi/Radish Choice
Pea Tendrils
Micro Greens

(on the horizon: broccoli, peas, beets, zucchini, carrots, garlic scapes and more greens . . . )

Jess’s Recipes
(for those of you new to the share, you can read Jess’s Bio here in the first blog for the Spring CSA. It also has so very relevant recipes!)

“The official start to summer isn’t until next week but the weather has been gorgeous and I’m thinking about salads, graduation parties and grilling! Here are some recipes to kick-start your summer and to help you make the most of this week’s share:

GREEN GODDESS COBB SALAD

This gorgeous cobb salad can use up multiple ingredients in your share this week: scallions, cilantro, lettuce and pea shoots. Microgreens and radish would be delicious in here as well. I’m not fancy enough to use guanciale (salt-cured pork jowl) which is what the recipe calls for so I’ll use bacon or pancetta instead.

COLD-SMOKED SALMON SANDWICHES WITH MICROGREENS

Use microgreens or pea-shoots in this super quick sandwich. I’ll probably use cream cheese instead of mayonnaise or butter. Great for lunch, a light dinner, finger food at a BBQ or throw it all on a bagel or English muffin and call it breakfast!

CILANTRO LIME RICE

Put your scallions and cilantro to use in this quick side dish that would pair beautifully with pretty much anything you feel like grilling for dinner. If you’re short on time grab some of the organic brown rice freezer bags. Throw the dressing ingredients in the food processor while you microwave the rice – 3 minutes and DONE!

RADISH AND TURNIP HASH WITH GREEN GARLIC AND FRIED EGGS

Great for breakfast or breakfast-for-dinner, this recipe makes a mouth watering hash from radishes, turnips and green garlic. Top it with some farm fresh eggs and sprinkle with microgreens or pea shoots.

SPRING GREENS AND LEEK GRATIN

This decadent gratin is great to use up 3 bunches of whatever greens you choose this week. It calls for arugula and spinach but you could swap out dandelion greens, mustard greens or chard.

SIMPLE GRILLED BABY BOK CHOY

In less than 10 minutes you can have this side dish on the table. The sweet and salty sauce kicks up the mild flavor of the bok choy. I like to grill mine until it’s just crisp-tender. Make sure you stick to medium heat on the grill so the sugar in the sauce doesn’t brown too quickly.”

Enjoy!!


Virtual Farm Tour (Spring CSA: Week 5, Summer CSA Intro)

Summer is coming.

I made the joke to the crew that we were experiencing perfect day #4 of 7 as we hand-weeded the fresh onions last Thursday morning. Of course, with this lovely weekend behind us, that makes today the last perfect day of the year (if we only get 7) so, I’m going to call BS on myself. Since this week looks like it will be fairly lovely too.

This weather has felt like a gift. Crops are thriving, and our spirits are higher than they have been in a long time. I made sure to take a bunch of pictures of the farm this week to update on how things are growing. I’m using this blog both to say thank you for a great spring share (this week, 6/4-6/7 is the last Spring Share pick up) and HELLO! to the Summer Share which starts next week (6/11-6/4). Check your email for confirmation of your share size and pick up day – email brittany@upswingfarm.com if you think you signed up for a share but have not received an email by tomorrow, 6/4).

These are the fresh onions we were weeding last Thursday. We will start to harvest these in early July, and they will be in the shares for about a month, before we do a major harvest of the bulb onions.

We have some amazing crops growing right now, in a variety of stages. I’m going to just do a virtual farm tour for this blog, so sit back and enjoy.

We plant many successions of our crops to make sure we have a continual supply for as long as possible. We are seeding the third planting of cucumbers and zucchini in the greenhouse right now (by we I mean Erin). The first planting is protected under row cover and will not be uncovered until the plants start to flower. This year is later than most for us, mostly because the rain and wet soils made it hard to get in and plant, so we expect our cucumber and zucchini to be about a week later than last year, but once they get going, we will have them until disease take down the last planting in September. This requires constant planting. Although cucumbers and zucchini can survive all season, we need heavy yields to make harvest profitable, and after about 3-4 weeks of harvesting every other day, the plants start to slow down, or to succumb to disease. That’s why we plant another succession that’s ready to go right when the first crop slows down.

We plant basil on a bi-weekly basis until we know the downy mildew will take down even the youngest plants, usually in September. Basil is another crop that can be grown cut and come again, and we frequently do make bunches from pinched stems and let the plants keep growing, but usually we only do this once, then clear cut and start cutting the next planting. A good reason for this is that young crops are typically healthier, which means they are easier/faster to pick and provide a higher quality product. Another reason we will clear cut the first basil planting in the tunnel is because we want to plant the last round of tomatoes in there, and they need to get out of the way.

We are planting 4 rounds of tomatoes this year (and I wish I took a picture of all the successions for this blog!!! The last round is just germinating in the greenhouse). Our first planting was planted the week of the first spring share. The second planting went in on Thursday last week (that’s the big planting with the cherry tomatoes, heirlooms and lots of red slicers). The third planting is disease resistant red slicers and cherry tomatoes to extend the field harvest and then the last planting is going into a tunnel (after the basil). We think the protection of the tunnel will keep the leaves and fruit healthier because they will be protected from the fall rains, and help us have tomatoes well into October.

We are planting the 3rd/4th rounds of kale, chard, beets, bok choy, lettuce, sunflowers, scallions, carrots, radish, dill, cilantro and arugula tomorrow! We planted the previous rounds the Friday before last. Because of the late spring our plantings have gotten a little compressed, but it’s ok, it’s better to get them into the field and then try to hold them there than to keep them in their trays.

Oh, and the peas have flowers! That’s really exciting! We planted 300 extra feet of peas this year in two plantings, and they are WAY healthier than last year. We are excited for a good pea harvest. We will see them in the second week of the summer share, hopefully for a month!

We’ve been “tractoring” a lot too. Kevin is out there now cultivating everything he can. Above is photos of our winter rye/hairy vetch cover crop, which was a little stunted by the saturated soils, but has really taken off these last two weeks. We had to turn in a little more than an acre last week to allow the plants to break down so we can plant winter squash, the second round of sweet corn and melons, more cucumber, zucchini and all the rest in a few weeks. We will turn in the last acre and a half in about a week to prepare for late plantings of summer crops and fall root crops.

This is the winter squash . . . it’s just seeds we planted last week. We transplant our winter squash in an effort to combat both weeds and the striped cucumber beetle, which feeds on the young leaves and can kill emerging seedlings in the field, or, if they don’t kill them they can transmit a disease called bacterial wilt which will kill the plants as soon as they start to set fruit. We don’t use chemical pesticides so we plant well hardened off plants covered in surround (a natural clay) which acts as a repellent/shield against striped cuke beetles.

Winter squash is one of the crops we plant just once. Here are some of the others (not pictured, the sweet potatoes which we plant as slips and we finished planting this afternoon):

Emerging potato seedling. The brown on the tips of the leaves was actually us. We use a flame weeder to kill weed seedlings that have sprouted right when we see that the potatoes are starting to emerge. The flame only slightly singes barely sprouted potato plant, but gives it a huge leg up on the weeds. We plant potatoes just once, in a big block and then harvest from mid-July until October.

This is Brittany cultivating the celery root, which is planted in April and not harvested until October. The leeks are in the next beds but hard to see, but also planted just once.
Garlic was planted last October, mulched in December and will be harvested between July 10th and July 15th. The garlic scapes should show up any day, and will probably be in the second and third weeks of the summer share. Scapes are the flower stalks of the garlic plants, which need to be removed to make the bulbs larger, but are edible and tasty, dare I even say trendy?

So, that’s the tour. I hope you enjoyed it!

Here’s the list for the last week of the spring share. If you are in the summer share you’ll get another email next week with information about what is in the first summer share. I blog every week about something or other and include a list of what’s in the share. You can always find the blog on our website.

What’s in the Spring Share, Week 5
2 heads lettuce
1 bag pea tendrils
1 bag salad greens
1 small bunch dill
1 small bunch cilantro
1 bunch kale
1 bunch chard
1 bunch dandelion/collards or radish (choice)
1 bunch salad turnip
1 green garlic (garlic stalk harvested young, can be used like garlic or scallion – you can eat the whole thing)

Jess’s Recipes

I have a wedding to go to this weekend and I love it when I can combine a couple of my CSA ingredients into one recipe so I thought I would feature a few recipes that “marry” up ingredients this week.

PEAS WITH LETTUCE AND GREEN GARLIC

If you’ve never tried cooking your lettuce here’s your chance! The lettuce is added just at the end so it still has all of its crunch. Paired with the green garlic, this dish will really highlight your spring share and it’s super quick which I like in a side dish.

CUCUMBER DILL SALAD WITH LEMON VINAIGRETTE

Lemon and dill are the perfect match in this light spring salad. If you have radishes left over from last week, toss them in! Pea tendrils and microgreens would also work in here.

ONE SKILLET POLENTA WITH GREENS AND BEANS

This recipe is SO fast and can be made all in one pan but it’s also filling AND the kids will eat it so it’s a major win around here. Marry up your greens or just use one variety. Top with microgreens when it comes out of the oven if you have some left over.

4 Tbsp olive oil
1 tube polenta, cut in 15 slices
1 can black beans
Few Tbsp Romano
1 lb. greens (kale, chard, broccoli raab, spinach, dandelion, mustard)
1 jar pasta sauce
8 oz sliced Havarti
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil

Drizzle olive oil in large skillet. Slice polenta in ½” rounds and lay in large cast iron skillet. Rinse beans and pour over polenta. Sprinkle with Romano. Rinse and shake greens. Chop coarsely and spread over beans. Top with sauce and cheese and sprinkle with dried herbs. Put lid on and simmer 5 min. Alternatively, use a 9×13 baking dish and bake, covered at 350 for 45 min. Uncover and cook 15 min. more.

BAKED ORZO WITH CHARD, FETA AND DILL

Swiss chard and dill pair up with feta in this quick weeknight pasta dish. This dish would also love to get hitched up with the Cucumber Dill Salad listed above.

PEA TENDRIL SALAD WITH RADISHES AND FETA

Here’s another chance to use up any leftover radishes! Salty feta, sweet honey, tart lime and crunchy pea tendrils and radishes.

TEX-MEX CHARRED CORN, BACON AND JALAPENO PIZZA

I’ve been seeing corn on the cob in the supermarket but if you can’t find any Trader Joe’s and WholeFoods both sell frozen roasted corn that would work great on this pizza. Use Naan bread, pre-baked pizza crust or make your own pizza dough. Finish it off with fresh cilantro and microgreens!

DANDELION GREENS WITH DILL AND A CRISPY EGG

We just got more 10 baby chicks last week and they have me thinking about all the luscious eggs we’ll be getting in a few months. Take advantage of the dandelion greens while they’re around this spring and sauté them up with some fresh dill. Great for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

SAUTEED SALAD TURNIPS WITH TURNIP GREENS

While it’s always a good idea to separate your turnips from the greens as soon as you get home, don’t toss the greens! They’re packed with antioxidants and nutrients and pair perfectly with the turnips in this super simple side.

ENJOY!!!!


Spring CSA: Week 4

Yikes. I didn’t take any pictures last week. What’s with that?
I’m pretty sure its because we were going 110 mph trying to get in all the work we couldn’t get done all month. On Thursday and Friday the team planted 2500 bed feet of sweet corn, broccoli, beets, lettuce, kale, bok choy, sunflowers, zinnias and snap dragons. We spent the beginning of the week cultivating all of our earlier plantings and preparing the beds for the end of week planting. This morning we got started on preparing all the beds for our peppers, eggplants and field tomatoes, and Kevin was out until 7pm, mowing and plowing the winter rye to be prepared for sweet potato slips (which arrive next week!!! yikes!) and winter squash, which we will start in the greenhouse this week. Plus more corn, kale, chard, lettuce, beets, carrots, etc, etc.

This just in – a plowing picture from Kevin!

On Saturday I snuck away from the plant sale to finish the direct seeding that needed to be done before the rain on Sunday night. I planted a 150′, 3 row bed of arugula, another bed with mustards and radishes, another bed with lettuce mix, and two beds of parsnips (I do truly believe they will work out this year).

The arugula, mustards and radishes need to be covered with proteknet (a row cover that keeps out pests, but doesn’t trap heat) to keep out the flea beetles. You make have noticed small holes in some of your radish greens or arugula leaves in the last share. It’s because the flea beetle was out in force and the wind that comes across the top of the hill at this time of year just does not allow for a perfect seal. If we didn’t cover at all the beetles would leave us with nothing to harvest, and early on the extra heat is a benefit, so we accept days like last Friday when we just have to check the row cover on the whole farm 6 times to make sure it’s not coming loose in the wind.

This is all leading up to my point, which is that, I end up doing a lot of walking to plant just one, 3 row, 150′ bed of arugula and then put hoops and cover on it. In fact, I did the math and it’s a quarter mile!! You all should quit paying your gym memberships and learn how to farm. It’s a great way to stay fit. Plus think about all the time you’d save not having to go work out . . .

I struggle with the scale of Upswing Farm. I find our farm uncomfortably in-between an actually small scale farm (like only a walk-behind tractor, no big tractors) and a larger scale like 20-30 acres, with more opportunity for fallow periods, larger equipment with wider wheel bases (our beds are 5 feet from center-center and 6′ would allow for a higher planting space to tire track ratio) and implements like a tractor mounted seeder (which maybe I should already have, but when I’m planting one bed of this, then a bed split between cilantro, dill and basil, then 3 beds of carrots every 3 weeks . . . the time to adjust the seeder is the same (maybe more because now there are more hoppers and seed plates . . . the walking part doesn’t actually take that long.

So, I’ll just continue to get my workout while at work.

What’s in the Share:
Lettuce: Lots!
Radishes: 2 bunches. Sorry, we try not to overwhelm you but two plantings ended up maturing at the same time. Jess has some great recipes to help you enjoy the bounty
Kale!
Scallions
Carrots (mention last week, actually in the share this week)
Baby broccoli raab (think of it as a green)
Some other greens . . . TBD! Maybe Spinach, Collards, Dandilion, More Kale . . .

Jess’s Recipe Ideas

BIG BATCH ROASTED KALE This recipe calls for 4 bunches of curly kale but you can easily scale it down or up and use whatever type of kale you have. Cook a little longer for the sturdier varieties (like curly kale) and reduce the cooking time for more delicate varieties or baby kale.  https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/big-batch-roasted-kale
lettuce
CHICKEN, ENDIVE AND BLUEBERRY SALAD WITH TOASTED PECANS This is one of my favorite spring or summer salads and works wonderfully with lots of varieties of lettuce. I’ve also skipped the chicken and had it as a side salad, crispy endive, creamy goat cheese, toasty pecans and a sweet tangy honey dressing. Yum! https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-endive-blueberry-salad-with-toasted-pecans
scallions
SCALLION PANCAKES These are great as an accompaniment to any Asian dish or just as a snack. I usually use half white whole wheat flour. (Don’t tell my kids!) https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-scallion-pancakes-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-107405
spinach about the same as this week
SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE MELTS These are a delicious weeknight meal AND a great way to trick your kids into eating spinach. Mine will eat almost anything if it’s covered in cheese.

https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/spinach-and-artichoke-melts

QUICK-PICKLED RADISHES Pickled radishes are great on tacos, in salads or on sandwiches – especially a Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich. Don’t worry if you don’t have a mandoline, just slice thinly. You can also throw in other veggies too, like turnips, carrots and scallions. https://gratefulgrazer.com/home/quick-pickled-radishes/
ROASTED RADISHES WITH BROWN BUTTER, LEMON AND RADISH TOPS Last week I gave you a honey glazed roasted radish recipe so I thought we’d try a savory one this week. I love that this uses the greens as well.  https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/roasted-radishes-with-brown-butter-lemon-and-radish-tops-364609
CARROT, DATE AND FETA SALAD This Middle Eastern style salad is always a crowd pleaser with dates and feta cheese. If I’m in a hurry I don’t bother making the ribbons of carrots and soaking them, I just coarsely grate them.  https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/carrot-date-and-feta-salad-recipe-2109574
SPAGHETTI WITH GREENS, TOASTED GARLIC & BREAD CRUMBS This recipe calls for broccoli rabe but you can easily substitute whatever bitter greens you have on hand. It’s a great flexible, one pot meal that can be on the table in less than 30 minutes! https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1012419-spaghetti-with-broccoli-rabe-toasted-garlic-and-bread-crumbs
maybe micros
AVOCADO EGG TOAST WITH RADISH & MICROGREENS I like to do a meal that includes eggs at least once a week. They’re always quick and budget friendly and when you have chickens you have stay on top of your egg consumption! We love egg salad and this one is unique with avocado and diced radish for a little crunch.  http://www.californiagrown.org/recipes/avocado-egg-toast-with-radish-and-micro-arugula/

Spring CSA – Week 3

Beautiful, but still wet. Our neighbors have some lovely trees.

Ok, everyone. Lets stop with the rain dances. I know some of you wish it would rain every day, but I’m telling you, just hold off for a few weeks. Yes, please, two weeks – or at least this one. I’ve got plants to plant and the soil is still so wet in our field that I can’t turn over the winter rye. I’m switching and scrambling and squishing and making it work, but boy would it be nice to just get a week of dry weather.

The soils we work with are rainbow, silt loam. They are lovely, fertile and leave a silky feeling on your hands at the end of a long day of transplanting or hand weeding. They hold water really well, which is an asset in summer. But in spring, when we need the soils to be dry enough to get our equipment in and prepare beds, its very tough, especially when it rains constantly. Water also naturally drains from the top of the hill we farm, and the water table is particularly high, making it even harder for the land to dry.

Not only does water make it hard to work the soil, but it also leaches nitrogen and other essential plant nutrients from the soil. Both through the water and, when the water is stagnant the nitrogen can actually convert to a gas and escape into the air. Learned that one today when researching nutrient leaching to make sure I didn’t just forget how to farm over the winter . . .

We are making it work, and I just thank my lucky stars that it didn’t do this in 2017 (our first full year, and the year Harvey was born) because I might have thrown in the towel from the get-go! No, probably not. But when I think back to what a lovely growing season it was that year I can’t help but feel like I was given a gift to help me make it through.

So, I’m tough, I’ve got a great crew, you are lovely, understanding customers and it is about to be summer. No, really spring, you’ve done enough, I insist, let’s let summer take a turn.

You know in about 3 weeks I’ll be complaining because its not raining.

The share this week has some smaller vegetables in it. They just didn’t not size up the way I had hoped, and the farm we are partnering with (White Barn Farm) is having similar problems with the slow, wet start. But, the cool thing is that it’s only May 20th and we’ve got a lot of veggies coming at you from our wet fields!

Here’s a quick, fun fact to brighten up this dreary blog post: did you know you can eat violets, aka Johnny Jump-Ups? Even the ones that grow in the yard. They are lovely on cupcakes for decoration, or in a salad. I never follow through, but every spring I want to make cupcakes with heaping mounds of buttercream frosting and decorate with violets . . . because eating flowers definitely balances all that butter and sugar . . .

What’s in the share:

Spinach: bagged or bunched, not sure which, most likely 1/2 pound
Mini Head Lettuce: 3 heads
French Breakfast Radish: (these are not my best radish greens, but the radishes themselves are primo!) 1 bunch
Mini Bok Choy: You can just chop this stuff up to toss in a salad/stir fry. I find it easier to wash after I chop it up. It will be hard for us to get all the soil out because it has rained so much.
Arugula: 1-2 bunches
Random bunches choice: mustard greens (really good ones, Erin’s first solo-direct seeding and they are maybe the best ever) small hakurei turnips with large greens you can and should eat, cilantro, maybe dandilion, collards, more tokyo bekana and/or kale
Green Garlic
Pea Tendrils
Over-wintered carrots from our friends at the Neighborhood Farm.

Jess’s Recipe Recommendation

Baby Lettuce Salad with Raspberries, Cranberries & Feta

May is National Salad Month so it only seems appropriate that we start out with this gorgeous spring salad with raspberries, dried cranberries and feta cheese. This would be equally delicious with strawberries or blackberries and you can easily swap the feta for goat cheese and use pecans or almonds in place of the walnuts.
https://amindfullmom.com/stir-fried-chicken-bok-choy/

Lemony Pasta with Cauliflower, Chickpeas and Arugula

Packed with arugula, cauliflower and chickpeas this hearty vegetarian dish is quick and easy. Vibrant lemon and salty capers pair perfectly with the peppery arugula. Use whole-wheat pasta for even more staying power.
https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/lemony-pasta-with-cauliflower-chickpeas-and-arugula

Honey-Glazed Radishes with Crunchy Seeds

I love crispy radishes and the French-Breakfast Radish Toasts from week one have become my new go-to breakfast but I know there are a lot of people that are opposed to the “bite” of a radish. If you’re one of them, this recipe is for you. Cooking radishes makes them milder and these quick 15 minute Honey-Glazed Radishes with Crunchy Seeds are sure to make a radish-lover out of you and your whole family.
http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/263894/honey-glazed-radishes-with-crunchy-seeds/

Baby bok choy:

Barley Salad Bowl with Sugar Snap Peas, Baby Bok Choy and Green Romesco Dressing

Bowls are all the rage now and they’re great for a busy weeknight since you don’t need to think about side dishes – everything’s in there already. This one combines barley with Sugar Snaps and roasted Bok Choy. You’re going to want to put this Green Romesco Dressing on EVERYTHING.
http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/263924/barley-salad-with-sugar-snap-peas-baby-bok-choy-green-romesco-dressing/

Spinach: Ham & Cheese Pizza with Spinach and Apples|

Spinach’s distinction for making Popeye strong isn’t just a story designed to get kids to eat spinach, it’s based in fact. Spinach contains C0-Q10 which is a muscle-strengthening compound and it’s especially beneficial for heart muscles. The trick is getting your kids to eat it. I challenged my 8 year old to find a recipe containing spinach that he would eat and this pizza is what he came up with. As an added bonus  it was so easy he was able to make it himself!

https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/ham-cheese-pizza

Green garlic: Grilled Green Garlic

Green garlic is young garlic plants that are harvested before the garlic bulbs mature. It has a delicate, mild garlic flavor. This spring-time delicacy is only around for a short time so enjoy it while you can! This recipe calls for grilling the bulbs until they’re butter-soft and can be spread on toast or added to mashed potatoes. The green parts are delicious too – like a garlicky scallion and can be substituted in any recipe that calls for scallions. You could also sauté them in a little butter or olive oil and sprinkle them on top of mashed potatoes or eggs.

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/254485/grilled-green-garlic/

Choice: dandelion greens/collards/mustards:

Maple-Bacon Greens

This recipe calls for dandelion greens but it’s really a very versatile go-to recipe for any type of greens: collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, beet greens, radish greens. etc. This is a great way to make the absolute most out of your CSA share and use up every part of those super fresh vegetables. You can use garlic (or green garlic) in place of the onions and, if you wanted a more savory dish, skip the maple syrup. If you’re vegetarian (or out of bacon) just drizzle some olive oil in the pan and move on to cooking the onions.

https://abraskitchen.com/maple-bacon-dandelion-greens/

Baby salad turnips: Quick-Pickled Baby Turnips

Don’t be afraid to try baby turnips even if you’re not usually a turnip fan. Baby turnips or salad turnips are mild and tender and don’t have the bite that some people are opposed to. You can chop them up and sauté them with their greens, dice them and throw them into a fried rice dish, roast them, grill them or slice them up in your salad. You can also pickle them! This recipe makes slightly sweet, slightly spicy pickled turnips but you could use any quick-pickle recipe if this one doesn’t sound like your thing.

https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/quick-pickled-baby-turnips

Pea tendrils: Garden-Fresh Mint Julep

My kids inhaled the creamy pea shoot soup from week one and I love eating my pea shoots straight out of the bag but I couldn’t resist sharing this unique way to serve them. This drink is a spin on a mint julep and while we missed Derby Day by a few weeks, this cocktail will be good anytime you can find fresh pea shoots.

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/272747/garden-fresh-mint-julep/


Spring CSA: Week 2

Snap peas just grabbing on to the first line of trellis last week.

Week one is under our belts. We hope you are enjoying all the fresh greens! There is a lot more where that came from. I thought I’d tell you a little bit about the pea tendrils we put in the shares. The picture above is of a snap pea plant growing in the field. The tendrils are reaching out to grab on to the trellis to hold the plant vertical. With the right fertility these plants can get 6 feet tall before July!

Harvey inspecting the pea tendrils for week 3/4 of the spring share.

The pea tendrils we put in bags and eat as greens are produced in trays in the greenhouse. It allows us to use our greenhouse space even more productively (although at this time of year we are basically just filling up the spaces where we might otherwise walk the place is so packed!). Tendrils really isn’t the right name for what we bag for the CSA. Pea greens, or pea shoots might be more accurate. My cousin, Greg, re-named them ‘pea ticklers’ when we brought some to Thanksgiving last year.

We soak pea seed for a few days then spread them in trays and cover them for another few days to wait for uniform germination. We use organic 4010 field pea seeds from Lakeview Organic Grain in upstate NY. – they are super cool, and send a great newsletter.

After we have germination and the seeds have set into the soil we take the covers off and they look like the photo above. It takes about 5-7 days for them to really green up, but once they do they start to grow fast! It takes about 3 weeks from when we start to soak pea seed until we harvest. Which is actually amazingly fast!

We hope you enjoy them. We like to just eat them in salad or toss them in with a cooked pasta and Alfredo sauce. Or stir them in at the end of a stir-fry.

So, now that you know a little more about peas you probably want to know, what’s in the share?

Spinach: 1 bunch
Lettuce Mix: 1 bag
Kale/Swiss Chard: 1 bunch choice
Tokyo Bekana: 1 Small bunch
Bok Choy: quantity TBD
Scallions: 1 bunch
Bagged greens: TBD
Storage potatoes: 1 pound


Here’s what Jess Suggests for recipes:

Scallions & Bok Choy:

Mild, crispy and tender – Baby Bok Choy is delicious eaten raw and I will frequently slice it into thin strips and toss it with a salad dressing or just munch on the leaves whole. My kids? Not so much. This stir-fry is quick and easy and the ginger-honey dressing is so delicious even the kids will love it.

Stir fried chicken and Bok Choy https://amindfullmom.com/stir-fried-chicken-bok-choy/

Lettuce (probably 2 heads, or bagged loose):While my family isn’t vegetarian we try and eat vegetarian at least a few nights a week. This Southwestern Salad with Avocado Dressing is always a big hit, even with my meat loving husband, and I almost always have the ingredients on hand. 
http://pinchofyum.com/spicy-southwestern-salad-avocado-dressing

Choice: Kale or Swiss Chard:

Swiss Chard is packed with nutrients and antioxidants and pairs perfectly with Italian sausage and pasta in this quick weeknight dish. This recipe is very forgiving and will accept more or less chard depending on what you have on hand. Swap out sweet Italian sausage if you’re not into spicy.

https://www.williams-sonoma.com/m/recipe/penne-with-chard-and-sausage.html

Spinach, 1 bunch:

This Strawberry-Chicken Salad with Pecans is a sure sign of spring and we need that with all the cold, rainy days we’ve been having. I love to add poppyseeds to the dressing and I substitute whatever kind of nuts I have on hand – it’s great with almonds, walnuts or pistachios if you’re out of pecans. Sometimes I take out the chicken and toss in some mushrooms and have it as a side salad.

https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/strawberry-chicken-salad-pecans

Micro greens and storage potatoes:

We love breakfast for dinner at my house. Eggs are something most people have on hand all the time and if you’re like us and have your own chickens, eggs for dinner becomes mandatory so we’re not overrun with eggs. This Crispy Bacon-Hash Browns and Egg dish can be served in individual ramekins or just toss it all into an 8×8” pan. Top it with your vitamin packed micro greens and dinner is done!

https://cookingontheweekends.com/bacon-hash-browns-and-egg-casserole/

1 bunch Tokyo Bekana:

Tokyo Bekana is a mild lettuce-like cabbage with tender ruffly leaves. I’m planning on tucking mine into these spring rolls with coconut milk poached chicken, basil, mint and grated carrots and a sesame-ginger sauce. My kids will eat almost anything if it’s wrapped up into a roll whether it’s a burrito or these spring rolls. In a hurry? Skip the poaching and use rotisserie chicken (or shrimp or tofu). Don’t want to deal with rolling the rice paper wraps? Just serve it all as a salad. Got leftover cilantro from last week’s share? Toss it in!


“I, the Once-ler”

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.”

I used to think that was the moral of the Dr. Suess book, “The Lorax”. I’m pretty sure that’s what most people think. Now, having read the story about 200 times in the last year to my book-hungry two-year-old (yes, I can recite almost all of it, I practice in the shower sometimes) I’m pretty sure the moral is smack-dab in the middle of the book.

For those of you who haven’t read it in a while, or at all, here is my quick summary: a young boy wanders to the outskirts of town seeking the “Once-ler”, a hermit who lives in a decrepit old building.  For a small fee, “15 cents and a nail and the shell of a great, great, great grandfather snail,” he pays the Once-ler to tell him the tale about the Lorax. The Once-ler starts by telling about himself, when he first came to the area, an enthusiastic entrepreneur, he arrived in the truffula tree forest, and started a business making “Thneeds” out of truffula tufts (“a thneeds a fine something that all people need”).

After he makes his first thneed the Lorax appears out of the tree he chopped down.  He is essentially a forest spirit, charged with protecting the trees and the creatures that live in the forest. He asks the Once-ler not to chop down the trees and the Once-ler argues he is, “doing no harm,” and “being quite useful” and continues to build an empire out of chopping truffula trees to make thneeds, which “everyone, Everyone, EVERYONE needs.”

Just as we start to learn of the ramifications of the Once-ler’s “hacking the trees to the ground” the true moral comes. The Lorax comes to the Once-ler and tells him the Barbaloots (bear-like creatures that eat truffula fruits) will have to leave the forest because there is not enough food left.

“They loved living here but I can’t let them stay. They’ll have to find food and I hope that they may. Good lucks, boys, he cried. And he sent them away.”

Here it comes . . .

“I, the Once-ler, felt sad
as I watched them all go.
BUT. . .
business is business!
And business must grow
regardless of crummies in tummies you know.”

Am I right?

The Once-ler and his family (and indirectly everyone buying Thneeds) destroy the forest, pollute the water and soil and then just leave with their money when there is nothing left to harvest. They can’t be bothered by starving animals, polluted water or air, they’ve got to get “BIGGER”.

By the time the boy comes to hear the story of the Lorax the soil is still so polluted that only “Grickle-grass grows”. And then, the Once-ler has the audacity to suggest that the Lorax’s final message was that this boy (or someone like him), who had no role in the destruction of the forest, should somehow with ‘the very last truffula seed of them all’ (think of the limited gene potential) and a toxic wasteland rebuild what he destroyed . . .

It’s preposterous.

Yes, someone like us must care a whole awful lot.  But everyone has to care enough to check themselves when they are being a Once-ler and a thneed-buyer and creating the problems others will have to deal with in the future. We all do it. How often do we do the wrong thing when it comes to the environmental or social repercussions of our actions?  I’m so concerned with my impact on the world that it’s practically crippling and yet I still do, and buy and say (or don’t say) things that have a negative impact on others.

It’s impossible to exist without negatively impacting others or taking up space that could be taken up by something else. The greatest challenge presented to us as humans, capable of realizing our impact, both present and future, is deciding what that impact will be. It is so un-sexy to deeply and actively care about how our actions and purchases affect the rest of the world. It’s definitely not what the marketers are telling us to think and feel. I even read articles by activists that suggest being concerned about the social and environmental impact of our individual purchases is a waste of time.

There are so many of us and we consume so much and produce so much waste. The only choice left if we will not take individual responsibility is to enforce policy.  What if there had been regulations in place that ensured the Once-ler harvested the truffula trees in a sustainable way? Would there still be a forest? Would the Once-ler still be making thneeds? But regulation gets in the way of ‘the free market’ and individual freedom to dominate resources when possible, and they are hard to create and hard to enforce.

The line, “business is business” is homage to capitalism. To the idea that businesses are so essential to our collective well-being that we must make allowances, and turn the other cheek, regardless of the consequences. But too often the consequences are indirect or, the Once-lers of the world hide the impacts to protect their bottom line, and their shareholders. Or the consequences only affect marginalized people (or people who don’t exist yet) who don’t have the resources to protect their rights.

Staying optimistic is really hard, especially if you aren’t very optimistic to begin with (like me). But without optimism, without believing that our actions are meaningful, that small change is important, that our own voices matter as do those around us, we won’t be able to reach any kind of solution.

I’m not offering a solution here, but, since it’s earth day I will suggest that you ask yourself before you buy something:

  1. Was a person exploited to make this (under-paid, exposed to unsafe working conditions . . . if we can’t take care of people we can’t take care of the environment)
  2. Will this be garbage some day? (Wood, natural cloth, metal, glass, food . . . these things will decompose or burn or are easily recycled , they will become something else – its plastic mostly that will inevitably be garbage and it comes in so many forms. Also, services, like music lessons, vising a museum, listening to a podcast are pretty low impact.)
  3. Do I really need this? Will it meet a need, will it make me happy for more than a moment?
  4. What else could I do instead? Is there a place where I can get this used? Is there a lower-impact option?

Changing our buying habits is a start, but it won’t be enough. Consider advocating for policy, like the plastic bag ban in Ashland, MA. Its a small impact compared to the 4,000,000,000,000 bags used world wide annually. But it can influence other towns to join, or maybe even the state or the nation?

Oh, and be nice in the process. It’s hard to not be self-righteous and judgmental and condescending and rude. I struggle with it too.  It comes from a place of frustration and feeling overwhelmed with global problems that will require epic collaboration to resolve. But it doesn’t help, and when people feel defensive, they are less likely to listen, and even less likely to change. So be kind, be understanding, and believe, that if given the chance and enough information, people will want to do the right thing. And remember, we are privileged to even have the space and time to write and read this post and consider our impact. If someone is struggling to meet their basic needs, or the needs of their family, how can anyone nit-pick their purchasing decisions? Advocating for social justice is a step towards environmental sustainability and more important than recycling or buying ecologically friendly things. People who are taken care of are more capable of taking care of others and the world around them.

We use too much plastic on our farm (seedling trays, soil bags, greenhouse skin, row cover, soil bags . . .). We are working to reduce the plastic on our farm, but in the mean time we will continue to use it for as long as it is usable, source it as responsibly as possible and recycle whatever can be recycled, even if it means driving to special recycling facilities to do so.

We also still do a fair amount of tillage to prepare the soil for planting. Ever since I became aware of no-till production about five years ago I have run minor experiments, and paid attention to soil quality and crop quality when it comes to tillage, and I can tell you, less tillage=healthier soil=healthier crops. The problem? We are squeezed onto a small acreage trying to make enough money to stay in business when real farming is barely a viable option in our area. If we had long term security we’d be investing heavily in a variety of improvements to lessen our impact on the soil. But for now we will continue to use minimal tillage, grow cover crops, and work towards long-term land security. And be aware and care.

We can’t have no impact, but we will do our best to have the least impact possible, and to constantly improve, because we love this world, we love life and beauty and joy, and we want to preserve, protect and promote that for as many others as possible.

Happy Earth Day!